The 18th annual National Handicapping Championship is this weekend in Las Vegas, and many of the best handicappers and contest players will descend on Sin City not only for a chance at millions in prize money but also bragging rights that last a lifetime.
Unfortunately, some of those aforementioned “best handicappers and contest players” aren’t actually in the NHC because they’re nameless silent partners of those who are.
It’s time to alleviate some of this, and one way to do it is to eliminate max entries in all tournaments. Rather than let players gerrymander the system by qualifying spouses, siblings, and friends, just let everyone play as much as they want and qualify as much as they want, and that’s that.
I’m not accusing anyone of doing anything wrong here. If I had the means to focus on the tour and NHC, I absolutely would try to qualify everyone and my mother to get the max opportunity to do well. Sure, it would sting a little bit if it weren’t my name on that big check, but my mom’s not Perry Martin. I’m sure she’d thank me at some point.
But it’s just silly not to let people play their entries in their own names. Not only does it benefit them but also helps the transparency of the contest. Juggling multiple entries is strategy; conspiring with another person is collusion.
I also like that no maximum on entries adds to the ease of keeping track of statistics—both from a personal milestone standpoint as well as an ROI standpoint. It looks real good when someone dual qualifies every year and has a couple cashes until you realize s/he actually has qualified 15 times through various people and has likely lost a lot of money.
Again, that’s not meant as a criticism. People spend thousands trying to improve their golf game and still suck. It’s about enjoying the rush of a winning selection, the camaraderie of horse playing, and going after the big score, and it’s OK if that’s not always a profitable experience, but the players who are profitable and do well deserve that recognition, too, and it’s harder to come by without a clear accounting of actual appearances and cashes.
The National Handicapping Championship is one of racing’s most innovative creations. It was ahead of the poker tournament and daily fantasy booms and ushered in its own era of contest play. The next step is to eliminate max entries and account for everyone’s participation.