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Derby Decadence: A How-To Guide
  • April 16, 2013 : 18:04
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The Kentucky Derby might be steeped in tradition, but if a significant portion of that is decadence, we'll reserve the right to sidestep it a little. This Derby season we urge you to indulge your inner Playboy and invoke those customs in a way that's more you riding the tradition than tradition riding you.

We wouldn't be Playboy if we didn't subvert something, so we've created this handy guide to help you do Derby Decadence in the vein of our own tradition.


Drinking | Dressing | Betting

For those inclined to take indulgent behavior a step beyond drinking and dressing, there is gambling. And since we’re in the mode of breaking with tradition, we’ve highlighted a few pitfalls of the betting life. You may have faith in your winning wisdom however you employ it, but beware of a few common afflictions that could influence your choices in ways you might not even recognize.

High Risk, High Reward

Many bettors—and problem gamblers, at that—believe the only way to bet is big. And it’s true; you won’t win big if you don’t bet in kind. But the most immediate drawback to the practice is that high-risk bets limit the capacity to win at all—you’d have to bet a large sum on the chance that a single horse will place a specific way. And since this is chance, and there are any number of variables at play, probability tells us we’re far more likely to lose it all than win anything.

No Playing Favorites

Further to the impulsive habit of slim-to-no-win betting is a superstition against placing bets on the horses tagged most likely to succeed, whether by public favor or statistics and track record. Bettors subscribing to this particular fallacy mistakenly believe the novelty of their choice—the fact that fewer people might be making it—will increase its luck. Stats might not always pull out, but they often do, and betting with the crowd is more likely to yield positive results than betting against it.

Don’t Follow the Undefeated

But if there’s one stat experienced bettors will follow, it’s the negative type, the type that informs us of a bad omen even, again, in the face of track record. It needn’t even be mentioned in certain circles that only eight horses who’ve entered the Run for the Roses undefeated have taken off with the title. So lucky streak or not, there’s not a chance in hell the pros of betting will lay their money down on this year’s unchallenged entrant, Verrazano. Unless, of course…

The Name Rings a Bell

This one is so tried, it can only be true: there’s something to be said for the power of association. Gambling being an impulsive and, some might say, dangerous behavior, the power of personal pull can be impossible to maneuver around. Verrazano, the aforementioned potential front-runner at this year’s Derby, is named after the suspension bridge that connects Brooklyn and Staten Island in NYC. Never mind the empire state of mind that lends the name power, how many people, native or otherwise, do you think have very personal attachments or experiences associated with that name? If that isn’t a loaded choice of nomenclature, we don’t know what is.

With Women Present

We’ll include, and finish, with this one only because it offends us to our very core. Perhaps more prevalent in cards-based gambling than in horse racing, but present nonetheless, is the belief that having a woman present during betting or play will jinx it. Gentlemen, if you’re a subscriber to this belief, we have one thing to say to you: it’s called getting lucky for a reason, so don’t hedge your bets.

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