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Racing Future is determined to inspire a new generation of fans to enjoy the sport of horse racing.

BetMix Founder Dave Williams talks handicapping software

At Racing Future we are interested in new and innovative ways to make horse racing more accessible, and handicapping is a huge part of the game that has not seen much improvement over the years.  Handicapping is what a bettor does before a race when trying to pick a winner. Traditionally, a bettor would look at the track program or racing form and sift through all of the data about the horses with the goal of picking the most likely winner.  Casual players may only look at trainers and jockeys, while experienced handicappers will dig much deeper and consider numerous factors in their decision.  

Horse Racing Handicapping Software

Comparing horses using speed, pace, class, form, workouts, trainer and jockey stats, and bloodlines can be quite a daunting task for a seasoned handicapper and mind boggling for a newcomer.  We sat down with Dave Williams, the developer of Betmix.com to talk to him about why he created Betmix and how it can help new and experienced handicappers win more races. 

Racing Future: Dave, tell us a little bit about what Betmix is and why you created this website?

Betmix: First of all, I would like to thank you all for everything you are doing to promote horse racing to a new generation of fans.  I’ve known Dennis Mills for a few years now, and I am consistently impressed with what he is doing for the sport.  I know he loves racing as much as I do and if this sport is going to thrive we have to start attracting a younger audience, and RacingFuture.com is doing a great job of tackling this problem. 

One of the reasons that I created Betmix was to introduce a younger, more tech-savvy generation of people to the great game of horse racing through handicapping.  When you bet on a horse race, you are playing against the other handicappers.  The race tracks get their cut no matter what the outcome is, so when a bettor wins he is taking money out of another guys pocket, and when he loses he is giving his money to another player.  Quite simply the race track is just the middle man, playing the role of banker, making sure the winners are paid.  New visitors to the races often don’t realize this, they think that betting on horses is like betting in a casino where if you win you are taking the casino’s money and if you lose the casino is taking yours.  When you start to understand that you are playing against everybody else who has bet on the race then you see that the game is more similar to poker, and then you realize that as a new player you are really up against it when you consider that those you are playing against may have years and years of experience, and a vastly deeper understanding of how to handicap than you do. You may have some beginners luck, but over the long run you are going to lose more races than you win if you don’t have a tool that will help you arrive at the same informed decisions about who may win the race.  Betmix is that tool - we provide handicapping software that allows a new or experienced player to have the same access to information as the professionals.

How does Betmix Work?

Racing Future: So how does Betmix work and what makes it different?

Betmix: Well, Betmix is different in many ways but most people’s first impression about the software is how intuitive and easy it is to use.  The traditional way of looking at a horse race – through the Daily Racing Form for example, is not very efficient.  You are basically looking at a newspaper filled with row after row of tiny print data that you may or may not truly understand.  You have no way of parsing the information or making accurate comparisons.  It is difficult to compare one horse to the rest.  You end up marking up the paper and may miss some key points about a horses ability because it is buried in a row of data that you overlooked.

Betmix presents the user with a clean interface and allows them to choose what information is important, and allows them to decide how important that information is.  We have over 30 handicapping factors that a user can tell the computer to consider, and then we allow them to tell the computer how important each factor they choose should be.  That is what we call a Mix.  The factors you choose, and the importance of those factors is a Mix. As you select factors and assign values to them you see how the horses are ranked.  Each time you add or remove a factor you instantly see how that impacts the rankings of the horses. After you have created a Mix you can save it and apply it to any other race you encounter.  If you had just handicapped a 6 Furlong dirt race at Saratoga, you can name your Mix 6FDirtSaratoga, then bring that up again the next time you encounter a similar race and the computer will know which factors to turn on and what values to assign to them. The easiest way to get a feel for what I am talking about is to try the free race of the day at Betmix.  

Racing Future: That sounds great for an experienced handicapper, but if you are new to horse racing won’t you still need help in deciding how to create a Mix? 

Betmix: Absolutely.  The handicapping software that powers Betmix is going to rank the horses based on what you tell it to do.  So if you are not selecting factors that make sense for the type of race you are handicapping, you are going to get a bad answer from the computer.  We have tools that make creating a Mix easy for new players.

The tool that is truly revolutionary and simple to use is called MixMaker.  When you use MixMaker, you select a previously run race from our historic database.  Let’s say you are getting ready to bet on a 1 Mile Turf Allowance race at Woodbine.  You would simply go to MixMaker, select Woodbine from the drop down menu, then pick a previous day.  You can scroll through the races until you see a previously run 1 Mile Turf Allowance race.  Once you find that, MixMaker will ask you to tell it what the order of finsh for that race was.  You click a button that opens up the results of that race and then you input the top three finishers.  MixMaker will then automatically find the best combination of factors and settings that you should have used to handicap that race.  The idea here is that what was accurate in picking a past race will be accurate in picking a future race.  As a newcomer to handicapping you can start to see which factors are important for forecasting the result of a turf race (Turf breeding, late pace, best speed on turf, etc.)  You can accept the settings that MixMaker suggested or you can tweak them as much as you like.  Once you are happy with that Mix you can name it and save it, then apply it to today’s race.

Customer Response to Betmix

Racing Future: That approach sounds like a great way to learn the game.  How have your customers responded to Betmix so far?

Betmix: They really love it.  We have been fortunate to have a really vocal group of users who are helping us drive the development of our product.  Most of the new tools we come up with are created based on the suggestions and feedback from them.  We realize that we have to be super responsive to user questions and concerns, because we are asking them to try something completely new – and there is money involved!  We make customer service our top priority and want to make sure that every user completely understands how to use Betmix.  We find that the younger crowd “gets it” right away and that is because they are more familiar with using computers.  Our older users tell us that it takes them a couple of weeks to truly start trusting the Betmix system.  I love it when we get emails from them telling us that they are now using Betmix exclusively and that they are winning more races.

Betmix Future

Racing Future: What is in the works?  Are you still developing the product?  

Betmix: We have some truly groundbreaking stuff in the pipeline.  We are hardly spending any money on marketing, we are growing by word of mouth. Almost our entire budget is devoted to future development.  That is why we are so thankful that Racing Future has reached out to us for this interview.  We need all the publicity we can get! 

As I said before, we get inspired by user suggestions and feedback.  When you get a group of users that have been handicapping for decades, you are able to tap into a very deep knowledge base.  When those users start to understand what computers and handicapping software can do for them they start asking some really great questions, which in turn leads us to think about some fantastic possibilities.  

One of our programmers is a physicist by training.  When he started he knew next to nothing about horse racing.  I thought that might be a problem at first, but it has turned out to be a great thing.  When you are very close to a problem (and picking the winner of a race is nothing but a problem or a puzzle that has to be solved) you tend to try to solve that problem in a conventional way.  I have found that our physicist looks at things from the world of math and data and not from the context of horse racing.  His suggestions on how to solve the puzzle of handicapping are groundbreaking.  Right now we are in the process of changing our database structure so that we can ask extremely complicated questions and get back very accurate answers.  The new tools we are working on are going to really push the science of handicapping into new areas.

Racing Future: We are anxious to see the new stuff you are working on and hope you will let us know when you get there.

Betmix: Absolutely, we will let you know and hope that you will take another look at us then.  Thanks again for the opportunity to talk about Betmix, and please know that we are big fans of Racing Futre and all of the work that you do.  Keep it up!

Learn More

Watch a video walkthrough of BetMix

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