There are a talented few who are able to compete in the World Championship of Handicapping, the same way they do for poker. These competitors have strategies and tactics that far out weigh the hopes of just getting dealt good cards or crossing your fingers that your horse runs its heart out. One of these horse racing wiz kids is Hal Wafer, better known as The Rogue Handicapper, and the man behind the Rogue Ratings system. He has competed, won, coached others to wins, and has even walked home with one of those really cool giant checks after placing in one of the biggest handicapping competitions of the year. After years in the business, Rogue Handicapper was reminded about how difficult and confusing it was for the new generation of curious bystanders, and  from that Rogue Ratings was developed.

Kayla Staples, Going Rogue at the Belmont!So after the big American Pharaoh Triple Crown win, my interest was peaked. I liked horse racing but quickly learned this was not as easy to break into as I had thought. I did my research to see how I could compete without reverted back to the insecurity of my sophomore year Statistcs 101 final, where I was barely hoping to come out with a passing grade, let alone a big win A+. I decided to look into the Rogue Rating buzz and I wanted to put this new app to the test. From what I understood Rogue Ratings was an algorithm that plugs and chugs and calculates everything, taking the calculations off your mind so you can just focus on your best bet. Rogue Ratings did the stats stuff for me—I was a fan.

After reading more and more about Rogue Ratings and deciding I wanted to put it into practice, I found myself enrolled in a handicapping contest at Belmont Stakes.
I was such a novice, I didn’t even know that a “contest” was different than your typical day at the track. I expected to show up and buy a $2 or $4 ticket and hope for the best like I had in the past.

A contest is the equivalent to Fantasy Football. You aren’t just watching one game, you’re watching a bunch at once, and you aren’t just betting on one team, but rather watching, hoping, calculating, and predicting whats to come next in hopes of scoring some points. If you understand football and follow the sport, Fantasy League isn’t too hard… but imagine you have never watched a game, you don’t know the players or teams, and you’re expected to put together a winning roster and outsmart a room full of pros based on guessing alone. This is the case in horse racing, where most of us aren’t regularly following this particularly quiet sport. It’s extremely difficult to just join in without prior knowledge, so instead we take a stab at interpreting the odds that don’t seem to far out of reach or my personal strategy, pick the most creative name, take the gamble, and see what happens. While you may get lucky enough for this to work once or twice, this isn’t the most reliable method and especially not in a contest setting where the stakes are high, the competition is skilled, and you’re wrong if you think you can guess your way to a win.

In a contest you make 10 bets. These 10 bets need to be placed wisely because you have two days, three tracks, what seems like hundreds of races, and multiple horses in each run. On top of that you have a huge crowded room full of handicappers who know what they are doing. Here, you play with the big dogs, and I was a small puppy very new to the horse racing world. In fact when I showed up and saw how many people were there and felt the energy in the air, I was pretty intimidated and wondering what I had gotten myself into. I had my Rogue Ratings app in one hand, a coffee in the other, and held on to my seat as the first shot went off and the horses peeled around the track.

My first day I was scared and for the first few races and just watched to see how it all worked. I knew the app was easy, because I saw the picks it was making as I watched the horses cross the finish line. It seemed almost too easy. I watched the app predicting win after win. I learned how to place my bets, I had expert handicappers giving me advice on when to bet, explaining the point system to me, and when they explained it all, my head would spin. Yet, I would look at my app, and there is was, highlighted in red, blue, green and yellow, the winning horses in the palm of my hand.

This is me on the scoreboard, in 22nd place at my very first handicapping contest!

This is me on the scoreboard, in 22nd place at my very first handicapping contest!

After a quiet reminder to myself that it was just a game, I decided to just jump in and see what happens. Just because I couldn’t help myself, my very first race I bet on the coolest name of the day, Rainbow Moonbeam, who lost the race to the Speed horse that the app predicted would win… which means I was a loser. A really big loser because I bet against the app! From that point forward I went right back to my Rogue Ratings strategy. The next race I decided to pony up with the blue *K* Key horse, and I WON! 19-1 odds and I won?! Those points went towards my handicap score and I moved up a notch on the leader board. It went on like this for two days. I would bet on the *S* Speed horse, boom, win! I bet on the *FTS* First Time Starter horse, but shoot that time the *R* Rogue horse took it. I won some, I lost some, but that’s the gamble. The more important fact–by the end of day 1, I was on the leader board, and by the end of day 2, I had ended the contest in the top 25, making me one of the best amongst a room full of pros.

I also learned some fun handicapping facts. In a contest you watch multiple races run at different tracks. And you do your crazy number crunching to trying to figure out the odds of all these horses, all of these races, and it’s all based on points. So lets say you have a horse favored 2-1. This is a pretty safe bet… don’t know why, but what I do know is they have this point system, and if you bet on this horse and it wins, you get two points. Now let’s say you have a horse with 30-1 odds. This is a risky bet and also means if by some miracle this horse pulls off the win, you get a whopping 30 points. So as you can put together, the bigger the risk, the bigger the payout. You are hoping to score big wins and big points to get a big total, and that total is what ranks you amongst your fellow handicappers. Now are you wondering how I cracked the top 25 in my first ever handicapping contest. How this totally clueless blonde girl who doesn’t even understand odds ranking up amongst the big dogs that scared me half to death when I walked in? Rogue Ratings, that’s how.

Rogue Ratings is the answer to horse races for the clueless better and I am living proof. When I walked in I thought I was dead meat, but here I am, alive and eager to tell the tale! Rogue Ratings gave me a real chance at winning by doing the hard stuff for me. No longer placing bets based on the creativity of the horse’s name or a rough shot in the dark at betting for or against the odds, Rogue Ratings is your answer.

The app is so clean and easy. Once you acquaint yourself with the Rogue Handicapper, welcome to the winner’s circle. And with free daily picks. What are you waiting for? Give it a try! Go Rogue.

About Kayla Staples

Going Rogue by Kayla Staples - Kayla Joy Staples is excited to be part of the Rogue Handicapping team. Originally from Tucson, Arizona this desert girl grew up exploring the outdoors, going to horse camps and was always up for a new adventure or challenge. Leaving Tucson for UCLA, Kayla became an active member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and graduated with a degree in Sociology and Anthropology. After attending a sorority alumni event at the horse track a few years ago, Kayla became increasingly interested in horseracing, and connected with the Rogue Handicapping team to help bring horseracing to the new generation of novice players, who like her want to get in the game (with a little help from the pros).

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