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Question re Black Magic: The Ultimate Handicapper™ Software

Postby Michael Pizzolla » Tue May 18, 2010 6:57 am

Hi Wizards,

Got a thoughtful question about BLAM and the odds line from a long time supporter of PTS, but someone who describes himself as a casual player and doesn't have BLAM. Looking from the outside, using the PBS and PPF ratings, the way we talk about a race must seem like a foreign language, and I didn't realize it until I read this email.

Anyway, thought you would find this interesting, here's the email and my response:

At any rate, I really didn't email you to discuss my $12 "bomb" (har,har), but rather to discuss something which has continually confused me about the readouts from Black Magic that appear in your rants. These are always sorted by the odds column (OK, looking for value) and then compared to the contention line and/or morning line, but from what I can see there is no reference to the reason that a horse is ranked where they are, other than it is all in Two Excuse mode. So, I am trying to understand if the rankings are based on PBS, PPF, speed ratings, form cycle patterns, class, jockey switches (doubtful), or what. As a Master Magician user (I'm much too casual a bettor to invest in Black Magic), this is something that continually confuses me, since I look at PBS and PPF all day long. I'm happy of course to see a horse going off at long odds based on the odds line vs. the contention line and/or morning line, but I don't know what the underlying criteria is that says a given horse has a give set of abilities. It would seem that bets made solely on odds (or perhaps a solo speed or solo closer angle) compared to actual odds without consideration for some analysis of what the horse's abilities are would be doomed to runouts, with very long periods between cashing tickets. I hope I am making my concerns clear, but I keep thinking there has to be other recipients of your Rants that must be thinking the same thing, so I'm jumping in with what may very well be the "stupid question that no one asks, but really does want to know". So, any light you can shed on this subject would be appreciated. I am sure there is a lot of thinking that goes into this, so please don't take your valuable time writing a book just for me, but an overview would be much appreciated.

Not to be repetitive, but I really appreciate your contact, your honest effort to answer questions from what must be hundreds of horseplayers and your general interest in helping handicappers who are so routinely ignored by racetracks, even though they provide their living and tax money for the governments. Have a great week, I hope the golfing weather is great and thanks again for your support.



My reply:

Thanks for the email and kind words! You ask, as usual, very thoughtful questions.

The odds line that you see in the examples from Black Magic: The Ultimate Handicapper™ Software is based on many factors. If you use BLAM in positional mode, the numbers element of that line is indeed PBS and PPF. If you're in velocity mode, which is the one I use and upon which the line you see in my examples, the numbers element of the line is based on some very refined, properly adjusted, feet per second numbers. They have a track to track adjustment, daily variant adjustment, etc., so they allow more granular analysis of the pace scenarios.

In addition to that BLAM does the grunt work of finding patterns, opening horses Form Cycle Windows based on those patterns, (about as well as a dumb computer can do), makes a pace scenario of the race, weighs the factors according to that scenario, and from all of that makes a line.

What appears as a simple list of the odds line is in fact the result of a tremendous amount of research, computing, etc.

SO, the odds line in Black Magic: The Ultimate Handicapper™ Software is based on fundamentals. In the 4 years of testing and using BLAM, I'm constantly amazed at how the line is usually better at finding good value investments than I am looking at the race. I have learned to trust the line, and to verify what it has done, because we are dealing with a rule based piece of computer software, and sometimes it does things technically correctly, but some human judgment would reject that.

The challenge, then, becomes to find the good value investments from the hundreds of races we're presented with in a day. Now that the tedious work of handicapping is done, the BLAM Ultimate Odds Line having taken care of so much of it, we can focus on those races that truly present an opportunity, and leave the others to the 'fans' and the MOTOs.

Again, thanks so much for your support,

All the best,

Michael
Michael Pizzolla
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