Old horseplayer

Derby Week is here, so here’s Mike’s advice on wagering, from Robert Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966):

“Mike amigo, do you also tout horse races?”

“I often calculate odds on horse races; the civil service computermen frequently program such requests. But the results are so at variance with expectations that I have concluded either that the data are too meager, or the horses or riders are not honest. Possibly all three. However, I can give you a formula which will pay a steady return if played consistently.”

Prof looked eager. “What is it? May one ask?”

“One may. Bet the leading apprentice jockey to place. He is always given good mounts and they carry less weight. But don’t bet him on the nose.” (90-91)

…Prof played ponies with two accounts, betting one by Mike’s “leading apprentice system”, another by his own “scientific” system. By July ’75 he admitted that he knew nothing about horses and went solely to Mike’s system, increasing bets and spreading them among many bookies. His winnings paid Party’s expenses while Mike built swindle that financed catapult. But Prof lost interest in a sure thing and merely placed bets as Mike designated. He stopped reading pony journals—sad, something died when an old horseplayer quits. (142)


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