No CAW’s or Computer Assisted Wagers allowed in the NYRA Empire 6, is it as good as it sounds?

February 5, 2021

I have known for a while NYRA was looking at new wagers and going back to possibly the old pick 6 format or something like it. I thought that was a great idea. I and many other horseplayers are not fans of the jackpot pick 6’s. NYRA started paying out the Empire 6 daily as opposed to jackpot style, and have now announced officially that they will exclude CAW’s (computer assisted wagers) from the bet. The CAW’s are already excluded from the cross country pick 5 wager, or so it appears.

At first glance most will be happy about this as they view CAW’s as the enemy and there are a fair share of players who feel they have access to information not readily available to everyone, including but not limited to unplayed or open combinations in multi-race wagers. That is not exactly correct. They do have access to the pools, but so do you and I. The will pays and pool information is available if you seek it out.

The difference is the syndicates have computer models they invest significant money into that allows them to view and analyze that information faster and in many cases better than the average player. They can also, at least most of the time, put in multiple wagers at the push of a button. Is this advantageous, it sure can be. Is it an unfair advantage, probably not. They are not seeing open combinations in multi-race wagers and then playing them. After all, if they were, all the syndicates would be hitting them and there goes the single ticket jackpot payout. They are analyzing the value they look for and the angles verse value plays they make amongst other things. Even with models being tied into tote systems, they could never be assured the only ticket. If someone makes a bet the last second, as many do, no model or computer can anticipate that. If said bet is an open combination there goes your single ticket. It would be a flawed risky system at best. Do the CAW’s or syndicates take down their share of pools and single tickets. Of course they do. That is no secret but they do it by how they structure their wagers, the size of their bankrolls and investments, and the quality of their models. Are they getting bigger rebates than most, of course but they are betting more than most. I am happy with the rebates I get based on my play today. You should be also or be shopping for a better deal. They are out there.

In all competition there are advantages to be had. In the NFL teams have scouts and models they utilize. All are not the same or created equal. Racing is no different. Where money making is possible there will be competition and investing. You have to be prepared to play in the stadium where the game is. CAW’s are in the house and it will not be as easy as saying they are excluded from a wager to keep them out if they want to be in. I will come back to that.

I won’t go as far as to say I am a supporter of CAW’s or syndicates. I do realize they are a big percentage of the handle. I also realize they cannibalize the pools they help to grow. I think the racing community would be somewhat surprised if not shocked at our handles if the syndicates were suddenly allowed back to the Vegas blackjack tables and left our sport.

I look at it the same way I look at the cowboy ticket players today. I have been a professional player most of my life. For a long time my annual handle was up there with the bigger players. The game changed and I adapted to it. I love taking down a cowboy players go fishing 50 cent $480 pick 5 ticket with my $5 $120 pick 5 ticket. I want to out handicap them, out play them, not out spend, out fish, or out bet them. In today’s game you must bet less to win more. That includes money, races, and even days. There are 5-6 days a year I play like I used to, and that is still only at about 25% of what my handle was back when. If I can’t beat you on a small ticket played multiple times, I’ll wait until I can, and it will happen. The more cowboy tickets in the pool the better as far as I’m concerned. In the long run they all get swallowed and this is a marathon not a sprint.

As for the CAW’s or syndicates, to me it is very similar to the cowboy ticket maker. They spend a lot of money covering a lot of combinations. I have to find the sequence or play where I can out play them and they are using horses they don’t need, or missing one they do. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. It is not, but they are here ad so am I. Will some payouts we share in lose value? Yes. With discipline and patience and a no fear approach when you think you’ve found the spot, you can compete. This is my game, I’ll play anyone at it. Always have, always will.

Now, the important question remains, is this as good as it sounds for the everyday player, or even the ones who loath the syndicates? That remains to be seen, but more importantly can they be excluded if they don’t want to be? You can stop them from file uploading bets into the tote the last second. You can even exclude the account you know they play under from that wager. If they are not excluded from the track in entirety they will still have access for their models to handicap and look for the angles and value they go after. They can structure wagers based on their same information and bet like the rest of us do. They can also do it through a different account if they think the wager is worth their while. If as many believe they can see open combinations, what is to stop them from playing those combinations manually? Will they have to start earlier, sure, but can you really keep them out?

Additionally, there is more than one way to upload multiple wagers into the tote system. The NYRA announcement indicates no CAW but does not specifically state whether any type of file uploading wagers will be accepted, or if any hubs, rebate shops, ADW’s or known teams, players, or syndicates will be specifically excluded or how.

Does anyone think syndicates who bet millions a year might not have more than one account? Do we think they might not do business with different rebate shops? Do we think they might not work with smaller type syndicates, or other partners not quite on their level? Do we believe if they want to find a way into those pools they won’t be able to?

You can stop the wagers from being placed by a computer. I do not see how you can stop syndicates from playing them if they want to. Will they go after the Empire 6? If I had to bet I’d say no because they don’t have to. If this becomes a roaring success and the pools become large, I say they get in, if they are not already in. If you feel more comfortable playing into a pool where there is no CAW then this is a good place for you to be, maybe. I would be curious to see if players win percentages go up when they play against no computer assisted wagering. If there is food in the water there are sharks in the water.

The weather is fine, everybody in the pool……

Contributing Authors

Jon Stettin

Jonathan’s always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. Growing up around the game, he came about as close as anyone...

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