One way I like to logically work through an issue is to try to respond to opposing arguments in my mind before I am presented with them in real life. This often leads to me changing my mind on a topic before I take a stance in the meeting room at work, or in the family room with my kids, or on Racing Twitter. So now, in my second attempt to convince some people that allowing unlimited entries at the NHC is the best way to address the issue of how to prevent one person from controlling more than the two entries that are allowed today, I am going to respond to not only arguments that have been made, but also some that have not been made.
“Justin, your idea to allow unlimited entries is essentially allowing the cheaters to cheat in the open.”
I don’t agree. If at the start of the year, every NHC Tour member has the option to win as many seats as they want legally, then it’s not cheating anymore. It’s just annoying. Plus, it can’t be stopped now and it’s probably already happening more than we know.
“Technology exists today to deter people from winning a seat in another person’s name. We should use that technology to catch any cheaters we can, even if we can’t catch all of them.”
What technology are you referring to? Yes, we can prevent picks from being entered in an online contest for two people from the same IP address. But do we really want to do that? Do we want to force two regular contest players who live in the same house to log in and enter picks from different IP addresses so that they aren’t DQ’d? Also, what if Bobby McCheater enters his picks and then drives to Starbucks to enter picks in the name of his daughter, Rachel McCheater? Or what if she is married and has a new last name and is now known as Rachel St. Collusion? How can technology prevent that? Or what if instead of being so brazen as to use his own daughter’s name, Bobby calls his buddy in another state, Ricky VonBeard, and has Ricky enter all the same picks as him? Or maybe the NTRA will start using technology that catches any person who uses the exact same picks as ANY other player in ANY other online contest that same day, so Bobby tells Ricky to use the best 10 of his 12 total picks, and just randomly select any number for the other two? Is the NTRA going to start checking to see if entries under different names use “sort of the same picks”. Or, what if Bobby is already double qualified to the NHC and decides to stop playing in ALL online contests for the rest of the year so that there is no evidence of his picks anywhere? Now you have nothing to compare his family members’ picks to. If you believe technology exists to prevent anything but the most reckless, blatant attempts to use a beard to win more than two NHC seats, then I’m sorry, you are extremely naive. Technology is not and will never be the answer. You may as well ask the NTRA to make a rule that says “We know you are cheating, so just be careful about it and don’t put us in a position where we have to DQ someone with the same last name as you because you were stupid and made no attempt to cover your tracks and now we look bad on Racing Twitter.”
“The NTRA simply can’t allow cheating. The recent DQ was the right decision.”
OK, what if instead of Rachel McCheater using all of her dad’s picks in an online contest, she accompanied him to the Hawthorne contest, where contestants only need to make a single $500 wager if they want? And what if Rachel said “Dad, give me your best pick of the day so I can come to Vegas with you and have fun like you and all your friends do every year.”? So Bobby gives Rachel his best opinion, she bets it, and it wins at 10-1. She now stands at $5,500 in the contest, which was more than enough to win an NHC seat in Hawthorne’s contest last November. Would that even be illegal in the first place? No, it would not. And if it was, could you stop it? No, you could not. Now, in the case of the recent highly-publicized DQ, I don’t have all the facts. It’s possible the culprits confessed to the whole thing, and admitted their intent to allow one person to play more than two entries at the NHC, which is illegal. But what if the DQ’d family member had said “Yes, I used my dad’s picks. So what? He’s a great handicapper and I trust him. But I intend to control the entry myself at the NHC.”? Then what? Is that even illegal in the first place? In a recent post on the NTRA website promoting the Last Chance Qualifier, the author of the post wrote this, as noted by Mike Beychok on Twitter…
That line about winning a seat for your traveling companion has since been removed from the original post, FYI. If the practice of winning seats for others is so common that the NTRA itself acknowledges the practice, then how can the recent DQ be made, short of a confession by the culprits?
Also, what if instead of waiting until you have already won two NHC seats and possibly drawing the attention of this amazing new technology the NTRA is going to invent to prevent someone from winning more than two seats, Bobby McCheater uses the name of his daughter or his friend across the country to win NHC seats BEFORE he has won himself a single seat? Now what is your amazing technology going to do?
I could do this all day and to be honest I am starting to bore myself with all the “whatifs.” I think my point is clear. Short of injecting every NHC contestant with sodium thiopental and rendering them incapable of lying, there is no way to prevent one person from controlling as many entries as he is capable of illegally winning at the NHC. And since the “crime” committed that resulted in the recent DQ is effectively the exact same act committed in the LEGAL Hawthorne example above, then short of a confession, the DQ was unfair.
“I just know one person would win 22 NHC seats if we allowed unlimited entries at the NHC.” (That’s me paraphrasing Jonathon Kinchen on the ITM Players’ Podcast)
On Show 110 of the In The Money Players Podcast, PTF interviewed Brian Chenvert, who just won the Pegasus Betting Championship. Chenvert, as mentioned on the podcast, was able to win seven entries to the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, five of which he was required to sell per the rules. Chenvert is obviously an excellent mythical bankroll player in addition to being repeatedly proven great in live money contests as well. So, to JK’s point, if Chenvert was able to win seven seats to the BCBC via the mythical format in broad daylight (using his own name), imagine what someone with his skill level could do under the cover of darkness. Just using Brian Chenvert as an example for the purposes of this discussion, what if he decided he wanted to control 20+ entries at the NHC. Does anyone believe he isn’t capable of doing so RIGHT NOW, under the current rules?
As it stands today, dishonest NHC Tour members that are determined to break the rules and control as many entries as they can at the NHC have an advantage over those of us who follow the rules because it’s the right thing to do. The only way to eliminate that advantage is to allow unlimited entries, and control how those entries can be played to prevent one person from getting 20 entries into Day 3 by using the same picks on all 20, and then just using simple math to win the whole contest. To me, that’s the nightmare scenario. Last year, I happened to have a good Saturday at the NHC and I made it to Day 3. Had I controlled 20 entries and used the exact same picks on all 20 for Days 1 and 2, then I’m almost certainly making it to the final table with at least one entry. That can’t be allowed. So prevent one person from using the same horse on more than two entries in optional races. That makes it harder to “legally collude” among your own entries.
I agree with JK. I don’t like the idea of one person controlling 22 entries. And I also agree that it could and probably would happen. But since there is literally no way to stop it from happening today, I think the NTRA should level the playing field, give everyone the same fair chance to gain that competitive advantage, and allow unlimited entries. Otherwise, get ready to see Rachel McCheater St. Collusion (married name) accept her trophy at Gulfsream Park during the next Eclipse Awards ceremony.