8. A DAY AT THE FRONTON

 

So far I have been giving you theory, percentages and angles. All of this must come together on a practical basis at the fronton. I have chosen a typical program, the Saturday matinee of March 19, 1977 at Bridgeport, to illustrate how I apply some of the principles I have been telling you about.

In books of this type it is usual to illustrate a day where all that the author does is win. I have shunned this approach. It is somewhat unethical and tends to create unrealistic expectations on the part of the reader.

As I have said again and again, successful gambling is a matter of getting an edge. The bettor starts out in jai-alai with an 18% expected loss due to the pari-mutuel "take." In other words, a monkey betting at random would lose, on the average, 18% of the dollars he wagered. Overcoming that handicap and making a profit requires betting on players with above average chances of winning, at odds which are attractive. It does not mean winning every game or cashing a high percentage of tickets. It only requires cashing a few tickets at high enough average prices to return what you bet, plus a satisfactory profit. All this has been explained in detail in earlier chapters.

The day I have picked for this chapter is a fairly typical day in which I had some bad luck and some good luck. I could have picked a program where I had unusually good luck, but that would have given you a false impression of what a normal day at the fronton involves. I can assure you that if you go regularly you will experience many extreme days, as I do. On the one hand, I can recall an evening in which my entries got to Perfecta-winning point on 10 separate occasions, but I did not cash a ticket (I was hoarse for three days after). At the other extreme, I have won as many as 5 Perfectas in an evening. On that occasion I was with a man who was attending jai-alai for the first time. We sat down, and the teams we were betting on won the first 16 points that were played. The odds against his happening are over 60,000 to 1. It was absolutely incredible. When we lost the 17th point, my friend turned to me and said, in all seriousness, "Did something go wrong?"


As you read this chapter, you will have the opportunity to make your own bets. If you choose to do so, don't read past the warning messages until you have made your picks. The warning message is:

GAME x RESULTS FOLLOW - PAUSE HERE, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PICKS!

Click here to select a specific game

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GAME 1
I arrive about a half hour before the first game, taking a seat in the front row, just behind the serving line. From this vantage point I find I am best able to observe the players as well as the amount of "break" on the ball and just how close it is to the side wall.

I begin by jotting down my regular ratings * of all the players, making the post position adjustments, and adding them up. This saves time later on. All I have to do from here on is adjust the ratings for scratches (there were none), team bonuses, and players who are playing above or below their normal levels.


* Note: The ratings in this chapter are those I was using in March of 1977. They are subject to change over time. For that reason, I have not shown the details of the calculations in every game. The purpose of this chapter is to give you the flavor of how to go about using the ratings to make sensible wagers, not to provide you with a set of Bridgeport player ratings to use.

Here is what the Official Program showed for the first game.

My skill rating analysis produces the following results:

 

Post Position
 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8
Front Court

10

8

9

8

12

12

8

8
Back Court

10

9

8

11

8

8

11

10
Post Position Adjustment

0

+ 0.5

- 1

- 2

- 3

- 3

- 3

- 2

TOTAL

20

17.5

16

17

17

17

16

16

Clearly, Team 1 (Olasolo and Arregui) has a big edge in this game. The problem is which teams to box or couple with them. Team 2 has a 17.5 point rating, and Teams 4, 5 and 6 are all at 17. In the case of ties or near ties, I usually prefer the stronger players, going with the best raw skill rating totals (i.e., ignoring the post position adjustments).

On this basis, Teams 5 and 6 are tied with 20 points; Team 4 has 19; and Team 2 has 17. Therefore, Teams 5 and 6 should be coupled with Team 1 in Quiniela/Perfecta betting. Examining these alternatives, Team 5 is satisfactory. Orbegozo is the best of the frontcourters in the early games at Bridgeport. Calzacorta is a fair backcourt player, making up for his tendency to drop easy * catches by hustling a lot.


* Throughout this narrative I use the word "easy" somewhat loosely. You should appreciate that this is to be taken only in the relative sense. There is nothing truly "easy" about spearing line drives that can take your head off!

On the other hand, Team 6 is a question mark. Chirtu is one of the newer players, and my rating on him is still provisional. But I like his style. He may be better than an early game player. His partner is Okoki, a former jai-alai Judge here. While Okoki's win record is good, he usually has a strong partner and a good post position. Post 6 will hurt him. Okoki drops far too many balls and is out of position too often to suit me. He has a lot to learn. Team 4 also looks good, despite their slightly lower rating. Durango is erratic, but Gondra is a real hustler, and they have an excellent record playing together.

After some deliberation, I decide to go with Team 6 on the grounds that Chirtu has been hot recently and my suspicion that he soon may be graduating to playing with the players of better class. So I have Team 1 as my clear favorite, with Teams 5 and 6 as my next choices. The next question is how to bet.

Coupling 5-6 in either a Quiniela or Perfecta would be low probability bets, so that simplifies things for me somewhat. I will couple only 1-5 and 1-6. The next issue to be resolved is whether to bet Quinielas or Perfectas. The odds will determine how I will bet.

With 10 minutes until post time I check the odds on the TV monitors located in the betting areas. Both 1-5 and 1-6 are at approximately 20-1 in the Quiniela betting. Those odds are acceptable.

However, I also want to check the Perfecta odds to see if I can do better there. As a quick rule of thumb, Perfecta odds should be about double the Quiniela odds. In this case that means that if the 1-5 Quiniela is 20-1, then the 1-5 Perfecta should be about 40-1 and the 5-1 Perfecta should also be about 40-1.

The screen shows both Perfectas at 45-1, indicating that the Perfecta pool is offering a more advantageous bet. Similarly, the 1-6 Perfecta is shown at 40-1, while the 6-1 is at 60-1. The average of the two is 50-1, or more than double the Quiniela odds, so in both cases Perfecta bets are the way to play. I don't normally play a 1-6 Perfecta (See Chapter 7), but the odds are high, and I keep having this feeling that Chirtu is going to be a good one.

I have a hot dog and a coke and wait until two minutes before post time before betting. The odds on 1-5 have shifted in favor of Quiniela betting by this time, however, so I bet as follows:

$4 Quiniela on 1-5
$3 Perfecta on 1-6
$3 Perfecta on 6-1

To balance things properly, I should have bet $6 on the 1-5 Quiniela (the total amount I bet on the two Perfectas), but I don't like to bet more than $10 on the first game of the day.

Sitting down to await the start of the game, I note that as the players warm up, Chirtu looks sharp while Pardo seems to be having trouble controlling the ball. I file that information.

The program shows Team 3 as the 7-2 Morning Line probable favorite, but the scoreboard has Team 5 the actual favorite at 4-1 and Teams 1 and 3 the co-second choices at 9-2. This is of no consequence to me as my bets involve Quinielas and Perfectas which are entirely separate wagering pools.

GAME 1 RESULTS FOLLOW - PAUSE HERE, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PICKS!

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The game begins, and I am anxious that Team 1 got off to a good start. My hopes are dashed when Arregui heaves his first throw over the top of the front wall. Team 1 sits down.

Team 2 runs 2 points, then loses to Team 4 which in turn loses to my Team 5. The 5 then beats 6 and 7 (as Pardo tries a putaway shot and throws it too low, exactly as I'd observed him do in practice). Then Team 8 wins a point. Round 1 ends with Team 5 in the lead with 3 points; my other teams have nothing at this point.

I get off to a better start in Round 2 as the points double, with Arregui (Team 1) throwing a nice outside placement to send the 8 to the bench.

Hernandez (Team 3) then drops Olasololo's serve, and my Team 1 has 4 points. Next, Olasolo scores on a tricky inside placement, bringing Team 1 to 6 points. They are at Game Point. With Team 5 in second place at this time with 3 points, I have at least a 50-50 chance to cash my Quiniela tickets.

Olasolo serves to Team 4, and an exciting volley begins. Gondra (Team 4) makes a good save on a difficult rebote. His floating return takes a high bounce (just missing hitting the wood floor). Arregui leaps into the screen, but can't quite reach the ball. Team 1 sits down with 6 points. I've blown my first chance of the day.

Team 6 is up. They are my other team. But Okoki drops an easy one, and I wish I'd gone with Team 4 instead. Now the 4 is at Game Point. Team 7 is their opponent. Pardo is out of position as the ball goes whistling by. Team 4 wins, and I'm a loser. The 1-4 Quiniela pays $37.20; the 4-1 Perfecta pays $99.00.

This game illustrates how fast fortunes can shift in jai-alai. From a likely quick winner I went to a loser just as quickly. The key thing is not to dwell on misfortune. Over the long run there will be as many lucky breaks (which you will probably never think of as "lucky") as bad ones. Winning or losing depends on playing percentages to your advantage, not on luck.

 

GAME 2

During the first game I noted that Orbegozo, Olasolo, Calzacorta and Chirtu are all playing well. Pardo and Okoki are playing poorly today. These facts will enter into my evaluations of various teams as the program moves along. What I am looking for are players who are playing above or below their normal strength. This may cause me to adjust their regular ratings for the balance of the program.

As you might expect, the early game players tend to be a lot more erratic in their play. The better class players tend to be more consistent.

In Game 2, Team 1 (Hernandez and Arregui) and Team 3 (Durango and Muguerza) are highest ranked at 19 and 18, respectively. Teams 5, 6 and 8 all have adjusted ratings of 17. On an unadjusted basis, Teams 5 and 6 have 20 points; Team 8 has 19. To break the tie I choose Team 5 which has two 10-rated players (Lopetegui and Ibarra) over Team 6 which has a 12-rated player (Orbegozo) and an 8-rated player (Okoki). In general I prefer two medium-rated players over a team with one high-rated player and one low-rated one.

So my selections are 1-3-5.

With three minutes to post, the odds are as follows:

Quinielas
 

Perfectas

1-3

16 to 1

1-3

35 to 1

1-5

20 to 1

3-1

25 to 1

3-5

21 to 1

1-5

60 to 1
 

5-1

50 to 1

3-5

Not playable *

5-3

50 to 1


* The 3-5 Perfecta is one of the infrequently occurring ones which I do not play (See Chapter 7).

There is not much advantage either way for the 1-3 combination. The 1-5 combination shows a clear Perfecta advantage (2 times the 20-1 Quiniela odds = 40-1, which is less favorable than the average of the Perfecta odds of 60-1 and 50-1). The 5-3 Perfecta concentrates the entire bet on the 5-3 Win-Place combination, whereas a 3-5 Quiniela bet puts half of the wager on the far less likely 3-5 Win-Place combination. All in all, Perfecta bets are the way to play Game 2. I bet as follows:

$3 Perfecta on 1-3
$3 Perfecta on 3-1
$3 Perfecta on 1-5
$3 Perfecta on 5-1
$3 Perfecta on 5-3

A $15 wager on one game is a little heavy this early in the program, but a simple $6 Quiniela Box would only return about $34 on the 1-3 combination which has my highest favor, and that will not put me far enough ahead (on the day) for a win at this juncture. If I bet a $12 Quiniela Box, I'm not allocating my money to best advantage. For $15 I can do it the "right way."

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As it turns out, all this calculation goes for naught. The game is over quickly, with Team 2 (Belaza and Garrachon) winning. My three teams won only one point: What happened?

On one point, Arregui (Team 1) was caught flat-footed on the serve and never even made a move for the ball (It happens). On another point, Muguerza (Team 3) threw a beautiful booming shot, only to have it hit the scoreboard high above the side wall. (Like most pro sports, jai-alai is a game of inches.) And so it goes. The important thing is not to get discouraged, even by a disastrous game such as this one.

What have I learned from watching the play in Game 2? Well, I've learned that the Bridgeport Jai-alai Record  had the Trifecta ($441.60) in perfect order. Good for them. From my point of view this only means that the fans will be more likely to bet on their selections for the rest of the day, thus depressing the odds on those teams. This may give me an opportunity to bet against them at better-than-normal odds.

Game 2 was a "poor" game, not because I lost, but because most of the points were scored on errors and mistakes, rather than as a result of someone's skill. When you are betting on the players' skills, you want points to be won on skill, not mistakes. In games in which errors predominate, the more skillful teams often don't get to play again once they have lost a point, as another (weaker) team may accumulate enough points to win on errors by their opponents.

Orbegozo continued to look good in Game 2. Arregui played poorly, being out of position several times, and Okoki again looked bad.

 

GAME 3

Team 5 (Chirtu and Gondra) looks the strongest here. Chirtu played well in Game 1, while Gondra has a Win and a Place so far. Also, they play well as a team, with three wins and a second in their last eight games together. Teams 2 and 3 are ranked next, with Team 1 the only other team in contention.

Team 2 (Ibarlucea and Ibarra) also has a great record playing together. I give Team 3 (Mazza and Muguerza) a slight edge over Team 1 (Belaza and Yogi). Belaza won the last game. But he doesn't seem to be playing well enough to repeat. Therefore, my selections are 5-2-3. This time the Quinielas offer better relative odds than the Perfectas, so I bet a $6 Quiniela Box on 2-3-5 and an extra $2 Quiniela on 2-5, my top choice.

GAME 3 RESULTS FOLLOW - PAUSE HERE, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PICKS!

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In the first round, Team 5 plays as I'd expected and runs three points before losing to Team 8. Round 2 starts with Team 8 serving to my Team 2. Ibarlucea drops the serve! How can these things happen to me?

Team 3 then starts the ball rolling for me as Mazza makes an "impossible" return, bouncing off the screen, to beat Team 8. On the next serve, however, he overserves to Team 1, which then gets hot and wins the game by next beating Team 4 (on Okoki's heave over the front wall) and Team 6 (on another Pardo muff) in succession. Belaza has won again, proving that you should never discount anyone who has won, thinking he can't do it again.

 

GAME 4

Belaza and Yogi both played well in the last game, as did Chirtu and Gondra. Muguerza is throwing with power today. Lopetegui is 2 points below his regular strength, and Arregui is about 1 point below.

In this game, Teams 4, 5 and 6 are very low-rated. Teams 7 and 8 look quite strong, with Team 7 on top in the ratings, since Orbegozo is playing slightly above his normal level. Team 3 is my third choice, based on the adjusted team ratings.

7-8 is a low probability combination, so I only couple 7 and 8 with Team 3. Since Team 3 is only a distant third choice, I limit myself to just two $3 Perfectas: 7-3 and 8-3. The odds are satisfactory. I do not consider 3-7 or 3-8 Perfectas since these combinations infrequently score in that order.

GAME 4 RESULTS FOLLOW - PAUSE HERE, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PICKS!

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Again I get off on the wrong foot as Team 1 runs three straight points. They then lose to Team 5 which loses to Team 6 which loses to Team 7. My 7 takes the next two also, then loses to Team 3.

I now need the 3 to get enough points to move ahead of Team 1 which has 3 points. But Team 3 can't put two wins back to back. Everyone takes turns winning thereafter, until Team 7 comes up again and wins two in a row to nail down the victory.

My highest-rated team has won the game, but Team 3 couldn't do well enough for a place spot. (The lowest-rated team of Pardo and Okoki came in second.) I'm now 0 for 4 on the day and have lost $39 so far. The important thing is not to lose heart. The players are playing reasonably formfully. It is just a matter of time until things go my way.

 

GAME 5

This game is a "mixed" contest, marking the first appearance of some of the middle game players coupled with some of the early game players. Teams 4 (Orbegozo and Azpiri) and 8 (Chirtu and Iriondo) are tied. They stand out by two points or more from the rest.

Team 1 is eliminated because Lopetegui is having a bad day. Team 2 is eliminated because Pardo is having a bad day.

Team 3 is eliminated because Olasolo and Arrarte have been completely blanked as a team over the last month or so.

Teams 5, 6 and 7 are eliminated as the three lowest-rated teams.

Therefore, I settle on Teams 4 and 8 alone.

The pre-game Quiniela odds on 4-8 are 23-1, while the 4-8 Perfecta is at 60-1 and the 8-4 Perfecta is at 45-1.

A glance at the "Perfecta Statistics" section of the program tells me that the 8-4 Perfecta combination comes up more than twice as often as the 4-8 combination. In fact the 4-8 combination has come in first and second (in that order) only about once per 100 games at Bridgeport thus far in over 4,000 games. Therefore, since Team 4 and Team 8 rank equally in my adjusted scoring system, the 8-4 Perfecta looks like the only good bet in the game. I bet a $6 Perfecta on 8-4.

I feel good about this one, and would normally bet more, but I'll be out $45 on the day if I lose my $6 bet. I'd like to save some of my stake for the more predictable later games. Besides, if I win this game, and the final odds are close to what the board showed when I bet, I'll be ahead over $300 on the day, a very comfortable position this early in the program.

GAME 5 RESULTS FOLLOW - PAUSE HERE, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PICKS!

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Team 1 (Lopetegui and Gondra) beats 2 and 3, then serves to my Team 4 (Orbegozo and Azpiri). Orbegozo catches a ball in good position for a two-wall putaway into the screen. But, uncharacteristically, he throws it a little too softly. Lopetegui grabs it on the wood and guns a low, hard cortada shot to score the point.

When Team 8 comes up, they win their first point, but then lose on a chula in round 2.

Team 4 comes up again in round 2. This time the usually surehanded Orbegozo drops a ball which comes right to him, and I am a loser again.

If you don't think this is discouraging, you are wrong. All this calculating is mentally taxing; so far the payoff has been zero. What is particularly galling is that Orbegozo played poorly after playing well up until this game, while Lopetegui (whose team won the game) played well after playing poorly earlier.

At this point the man next to me explains to a friend that he "knew" Team 1 would win because "the 1 was due." (He must have missed Game 3 which was won by Team 1.) He then explains how the Management "arranges" these things. When he adds that he dreamed about the number 1 last night and intends to "stick with it," I gain heart. With flakes like this in the audience, scientific method must prevail.

 

GAME 6

This is the first singles game of the day. Four of the players are good singles players; four are inferior.

Of the good players, Lecube (#5) is the best. He is an unusual player who often drives me crazy. Lecube is one of the most spectacular players in the game when it comes to difficult plays. But he drops easy ones too often to suit me. When he's on top of his game, he is unbeatable. Singles games quite often feature one player getting hot and running several points in the second round to win. In post position 5, Lecube may not get up a second time if he loses in round 1. It would take quite a performance for him to beat all three of the better players in post positions 6, 7 and 8. I'll probably play Lecube to place in my Quiniela/Perfecta betting.

In post position 6 is Goyo. He has been winning less than 10% of his singles games in the last 3 weeks, so I decide to stay off him.

In post position 7 is Ibarreche. He hasn't done anything in singles recently either, but he played exceptionally well in the game just completed, even though his team did not win. I'm on the fence about him. He's been playing well right along, but hasn't won much at singles of late. He could be ready to break out of his dry spell.

In post position 8 is Arrieta. He has been playing very well at singles lately. In recent weeks he's been consistently throwing the chula and stringing points together once he gets the serve. This could be important in today's post position. If he can win his first point, he gets into round 2 against the weaker part of the rotation. With points doubled in round 2, Arrieta could easily throw a perfect game.

So I like 8-7-5. The Perfecta combinations 5-7, 5-8, 7-8 and 8-7 rarely come in. I'm not interested in betting on rare events, so I confine my wagering to a $3 Perfecta on 7-5 and a $3 Perfecta on 8-5. Again, larger bets would be justified, especially on my "best" bet of 8-5, but I'm still in the hole. Limiting losses is a discipline one must adhere to in gambling.

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The game starts. When Lecube (#5) comes up he wins twice, then loses to Ibarreche. So far so good. Ibarreche then beats Arrieta, and I'm feeling confident. 7-5 looks good.

But Ibarreche loses to Recalde to open round 2. Suddenly I'm not feeling so confident any more. Fortunately, no one gets hot in round 2. Lecube gets another point, then loses to Arrieta.

Arrieta catches on as I'd expected in the first round, scoring four straight times for eight points to win the game. Lecube and Lopetegui are tied for second. A playoff will determine place. If Lecube wins, I have a winning Perfecta ticket on 8 (Arrieta) and 5 (Lecube). I figure I have better than a 50-50 chance, even though Lopetegui is serving, normally a big advantage in singles. Lecube has the power to return the serve all the way to the rear wall, even though he'll be catching it far back on the court.

A volley starts, and Lecube is forced to scramble after the ball, deep in the back court. Off balance, he makes a great catch, but is only able to loft a soft blooper high off the front wall. Lopetegui races in for an easy putaway shot, misjudges it, and watches the ball bounce off his cesta!

This time my man got the break. My Perfecta ticket pays $91.50, so I'm ahead over $40 on the day. Naturally I curse myself for not betting more. But I remind myself that I'm saving my money for the games with the better players.

 

GAME 7

This is the first game of the day in which most of the Superstars appear. Three teams stand out in the ratings. Teams 1, 6 and 8 all have adjusted ratings of 27 points. The other five teams range from 23 to 25 points.

Team 1 has Ibarreche and Chasio. Both are hustling today. Team 6 has Lecube and the great Churruca ("The Human Vacuum Cleaner," so-called because of the way he sucks up any ball that comes his way). Team 8 has Chirtu and Chimela (Jai-alai's 1976 Player of the Year, a human fly who has to be seen to be believed).

Pre-game Quiniela/Perfecta odds are as follows:

1-6 Perfecta ..... 45-1
6-1 Perfecta ..... 50-1
1-6 Quiniela ..... 17-1
1-8 Perfecta ..... 70-1
8-1 Perfecta ..... 60-1
1-8 Quiniela ..... 30-1
6-8 Perfecta ..... Not Playable
8-6 Perfecta ..... 45-1

Clearly the Perfectas generally offer the best deal, so I bet $15 on the five playable Perfecta combinations, ignoring the 6-8 Perfecta which has only scored 20 times thus far in over 4,000 games here. The 1-8 and 8-1 combinations are only marginal in terms of frequency of winning (See Chapter 7), but the odds are so attractive that I bet them anyway.

GAME 7 RESULTS FOLLOW - PAUSE HERE, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PICKS!

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Team 1 scores a point, then loses to Team 3 when a powerful backhand throw by Chasio hits the ceiling. When Team 6 comes up, public address Announcer Erwin Shonfeld informs the audience that Lecube has just become a father.

I am thrilled for him and hope he celebrates by winning a few points. He plays beautifully; soon he and Churruca are at Game Point. But, it is "too soon" for them to win if I'm going to catch a Perfecta, since Team 4 is in second place after round 1.

Lecube serves to Team 1, one of "mine." After an exciting volley, Lecube drops an easy one! Ibarreche and Chasio pick up the baton and quickly get to 5 points. Now I want them to end the game, as a victory for Team 1 with Team 6 second will give me back-to-back Perfectas.

At Game Point their opponents are Ondarres and Echave. Ondarres dropped an easy one last time up, but when someone is at Game Point, Ondarres is the toughest man in jai-alai to get the ball past. He grabs Ibarreche's serve on the fly and whips a long low line drive an inch from the side wall. Chasio has no room, but manages a remarkable rebote. Ondarres pulls down the return and slings a fast outside placement. Ibarreche dives for it, but falls down!

The game goes on for a long time, with Lecube and Churruca eventually winning. But Team 1 only comes in third and Team 8 fourth. If I had played my favorite Perfecta System mechanically, I'd have combined Team 6 with Teams 1 and 4 for place and collected $131.10 on the 6-4 Perfecta. I have to be philosophical about these things. If I had wings, I'd be a bird. What counts is what you did do, not what you "should have done."

 

GAME 8

The adjusted team ratings for this game show Team 5 on top with 28 points, Team 6 next with 27, and the rest with 24-26. Team 5 (Bengoa and Churruca) are both Superstars, the only such team in this game. Also, they complement each other, so they are my top choice.

Playing 5 and 6 together is usually not productive, so I look for two other teams to play in the Quiniela or Perfecta with Team 5. Team 3 has Orbea in the front court. He is very dangerous in such an early post position. Team 1 has Aramayo, who is always tough in these middle games, and Echaburu, a solid back court man. In post 1 they should get off to a good start. Team 4 has an excellent record playing together, but a 5-4 combination is not a high frequency Perfecta.

I decide to go with 5-3-1. The odds indicate that splitting my bets between Quinielas and Perfectas is the best way to go, but I take too long with my deliberations and don't have time to get to both windows to wager. Since I'm not particularly excited about my chances in this game (because the ratings are bunched too closely together), I settle for a simple $6 Quiniela Box on 1-3-5.

GAME 8 RESULTS FOLLOW - PAUSE HERE, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PICKS!

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Team 1 beats Team 2 to start, then loses to Team 3. So far so good. Team 3 then beats 4 and also 5, despite a near impossible rebote shot by Churruca. We are starting to roll!

The 3 then beats the 6 as Orbea puts together back-to-back remate shots in sensational style. Team 7 falls next, and the only teams with points are my Team 3 (with 5) and Team 1 (with 1).

3 serves to 8. My nemesis from the last game, the great Ondarres, is in the front court for Team 8. As he did in the last game when I was at Perfecta Point, Ondarres grabs the serve and throws a perfect putaway shot.

8 loses to 2, which loses to 1 as round 2 opens, and two of my teams are still in the lead. If Team 1 can just win two more times, I am a winner again. Team 4 is up.

But Aramayo flubs an easy one, and Team 1 sits down. From this point Elu and Chasio (Team 4) get hot and run out the game. I am $6 poorer. My profits on the day are down to $19.

 

GAME 9

This is one of the games featuring the higher-class late game players. Teams 7 and 8 stand out according to my ratings, with 28 and 27 points, respectively.

Team 7 has Bereicua and Chimela. Bereicua throws the hardest sidearm shot in the business. He has been hustling today. His partner is El Numero Uno among professional pelotari. This is a solid team.

Team 8 has Castro and Churruca who play very well together, having won three times and placed once in their last eight games as partners.

I like either one of those teams to win. With 7 or 8 on top, the best Perfecta bets have 2, 3, 4 or 5 in the place position. (A 7-8 or 8-7 Perfecta combination is extremely rare, over 200-1 as a betting proposition.) Team 5 is the highest rated of the four and features Orbea, who was hot as a pistol in the last game.

So my Perfecta selections are 7-5 and 8-5. I bet $3 on each.

GAME 9 RESULTS FOLLOW - PAUSE HERE, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PICKS!

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I will spare you a detailed commentary on this game. None of my teams did a thing. Team 6 (Ondarres and Iriondo) got hot in round 2 and ran four in a row to win; that was it.

You have to accept that there will be games like this when your teams do absolutely nothing. Just turn the page of your program and start handicapping the next game.

 

GAME 10

This is the feature singles match on the program. Two players tend to dominate this event: Churruca and Ondarres. Churruca is generally considered the greatest jai-alai player of modern times. While he is now past his prime, he is still a magnificent and incredibly consistent player. Ondarres is a different sort of player. Brilliant at both singles and doubles, he is somewhat insouciant in style. Although clearly superior, he lacks the intensity of players like Orbea and Bereicua. In fact, he generally looks bored on the court.

Today he has been killing me. I think he will beat Churruca this time. The fans favor Churruca slightly, which is all to the good from my point of view.

Of the others, Bengoa (#3) and Orbea (#8) have been playing superbly today. Both are excellent singles players. I bet a 5-3 Perfecta and an 8-5 Perfecta, again ignoring the reverse combinations because of their lower probabilities of hitting.

GAME 10 RESULTS FOLLOW - PAUSE HERE, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PICKS!

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Elu (#2) starts by running three fast points before Ondarres comes up and gives him a lesson. Ondarres also takes Churruca and Aramayo in succession. It looks like he may have the momentum for a perfect game. I would like Orbea to stop him at this point, however, in order to give me a chance at a Perfecta. But Ondarres rolls over him.

He loses the next point to Chimela and sits down with 4 points. Elu comes up again and continues where he left off in round 1, winning the game. Ondarres is second, Bengoa third. I was close. "Close" only counts in horseshoes, so I go on to Game 11, still clinging to a slim $7 profit on the day.

 

GAME 11

This is a tough game with a narrow range of from 23 to 25.5 in the ratings of the eight teams.

I settle on Team 8 (Bereicua and Iriondo) as my clear first choice for two reasons. First, both are playing very well today. Second, they have an exceptional record playing together, with three wins, two seconds and a third in their last eight joint efforts. When I add a "bonus" to their regular point total, they have the highest skill rating.

For some reason Game 11 is usually Aramayo's game. He wins in this game 15% of the time, despite the fact that he is saddled with poor post positions. Today he is in post position 5, teamed with the very consistent Recalde.

I bet a $6 Perfecta on 8-5.

Because of the closeness of the ratings, I "cover" with an 8-6 Perfecta (Bengoa has been hot) and a 2-8 Quiniela (Arrieta has been playing well, and Team 2 is actually the highest-rated by 1/2 point.) If Team 8 does well, I have a strong chance of cashing a ticket.

GAME 11 RESULTS FOLLOW - PAUSE HERE, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PICKS!

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Team 8 does miserably. It is a long game with everyone but 5, 7 and 8 having a shot at victory. I am losing $4 on the day as I turn to the final game in the program. But I'm not discouraged. In only four of the eleven games have my teams played poorly.

 

GAME 12

The final game on the program is the "All Star Feature Doubles." It is usually the most exiting game of the day at Bridgeport since the best sixteen players on the roster all play in this one. It is the prestige event from the players' point of view, the one in which they really go all out, their machismo on the line.

It is also the game where good handicapping is more likely to pay off than elsewhere. I find that I have a significantly better record in the finale than in the earlier games.

My rundown on today's Game 12 is shown below. Since it is a Matinee program, Spectacular Seven scoring is used. (The Single Point scoring is reserved for the evening programs.)

Team Adjusted Rating

 Comments

1

27
 Lecube is playing well

2

28.5
 Chasio is having an excellent day

3

24
 Aramayo is playing below par for him

4

25
 Ondarres is playing well; Azpiri is off his game

5

29
 Orbea is the hottest player today

6

25
 Bengoa is playing well

7

27
 Bereicua and Churruca have won 5
 of their last 8 games together

8

26
 Egurbi and Recalde play very well together,
 but Egurbi is not having a great day today

Teams 5 and 2 are the highest rated. Each has a hot player today. A 5-2 Perfecta bet is a natural. The odds are 23-1, not great, but acceptable for two teams of their strength and relative advantage.

Team 7 plays so well together, however, that they demand some part of the action.
A 7-5 Perfecta is another natural. The odds of 35-1 are very attractive, given the records of these two teams.

I also couple Team 7 with Teams 1 and 2 on the grounds that either of those teams is capable of streaking in this game, but is not likely to throw a perfect game. If either one somehow gets by the powerhouse Team 5, then Team 7 could beat them and go on to a perfect game before Team 5 even has another chance on the court.

Team 2 goes off the favorite at 3-1 odds. Team 5 gets away at 9-2 which is a very attractive price.

GAME 12 RESULTS FOLLOW - PAUSE HERE, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PICKS!

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Lecube underserves as the game gets off to an undistinguished start. Team 2 beats Team 3 and also Team 4 as Azpiri throws a rebote shot too low on the front wall. So far, so good. Three points have been played, and Team 2 has them all. They lose to Team 5 and I feel like the game is being choreographed to my precise requirements.

The 5 beats the 6, and up come Bereicua and Churruca (Team 7). Big point. Team 5 wins. They now have 3 points and are in the groove, complementing each other perfectly. Chimela is going up and down the wall, bringing the crowd to a roar each time he makes one of his incredible backhand catches while in the air. He's throwing with such power that the opposing players are trying to keep the ball away from him. But when Orbea is playing like he is, he seems to score every time he gets his cesta on the ball. I am feeling cocky.

Team 8 is next. It is a long point. Orbea and Chimela can smell victory. But Egurbi makes one great save after another for his team. Finally, 8 goes under. Team 5 has 4 points as round 2 starts and the points double.

Lecube and Mugartegui put up a valiant struggle, but a 150 mile-an-hour remate by Orbea on a great catch wins the point. Now only Team 3 stands between Team 5 and a perfect game. It is the fourth time today I've been at game-winning point and stood to cash a combination ticket.

Aramayo and Echave play hard. Aramayo tries a carom into the screen. Orbea races down the wood, leaps into the screen, somehow coming up with the ball. He twists and throws a perfectly placed two-wall carom right back into the screen to end the game! Mucho!

My 5-2 Perfecta pays $72.60, putting me ahead $53 on the day. During the program I wagered $111 in total (ranging from $6 to $16 per game), making my return on investment a very satisfactory 48% (= $53 divided by $111) for an exciting and enjoyable five hours at the Fronton.

Several points should be noted. First, I did not have extraordinary luck. In four separate games I got to where just one more win for my team would enable me to cash a Perfecta or Quiniela ticket. Twice I won that point; twice I lost. That is what one can reasonably expect.

Second, I did not have extraordinary high payoffs. My average winning Perfecta ticket pays about $120. My two winning tickets today paid $91.50 and $72.60, well below average.

Third, I did not vary my bets wildly. My betting pattern over the twelve games was $10-15-8-6-6-6-15-6-6-6-11-16, for an average of just over $9. Always taken into account was the question: How much will I be ahead or behind if I win or lose? I usually expect to bet about $120 in 12 games, and I shoot for a 50% average profit.

Finally, I did not lose confidence. I know that the approach I use gives me an edge. On any given day I may not cash a single ticket. Over an extended period, however, I can reasonably expect to wind up ahead if I stick to proven procedures which yield me an advantage.

You can do it, too!