Don't Bet against Yourself

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I miss Barry Miller. He was a good friend and one of the best editors I ever had.

Barry served as editor of LottoWorld, a short-lived international lottery magazine that operated out of Naples, FL. The magazine lasted only three years, but during that time we had a lot of fun inspiring our readers to play 'hot' numbers in their various states to win lottery cash.

I was one of several associate editors who worked for the magazine. We had prognosticators who used computers, astrology and other methods to pick winning numbers for our readers. Some of them came amazingly close to hitting those numbers, including the PowerBall.

Barry hired me after giving me a test where I rewrote about 20 articles he had sent me. We were both gamblers and often went to the greyhound dog races or the thoroughbred horse races in South Florida.

Both Barry and his older brother, Eugene, were expert handicappers who won when they went to the track. I was a novice and it showed in my betting.

One of my habits was betting a couple of dogs in each race to win. 'Nonsense', said Barry. 'That's betting against yourself.'

'If you want to make money as a gambler, use common sense,' he used to admonish me even as he lent me more money to continue my wagering. 'Betting against yourself is not common sense.'

In his book 'Woulda, Coulda, Shouler' which I reviewed here recently, author-horse trainer Dave Feldman revealed his strategies for winning at the horse track. Feldman emphasized that horse handicappers should bet horses to win in stakes and allowance races since horses entered in those events are superior to claimers or maidens. He also said players should bet gimmicks (trifectas, exactas, pick threes, etc.) in the cheaper races.

When you bet a horse that is listed at 10-1 odds to win, you know how much you will be receiving if your horse wins. That enables a player to manage his money better. That is what Miller was referring to when he warned me not to bet against myself.

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One of my assignments at LottoWorld was to interview Pam Hyatt, a single mother and a college student who won an $80 million PowerBall jackpot. Hyatt lived in Utah. She had broken up with her boyfriend shortly before she picked the winning PowerBall numbers.

I asked her what the PowerBall fortune meant to her.

She broke down in tears over the phone. 'It meant...it meant my son could have his own room,' she said. I almost cried with her.

Miller also had me interview celebrities who played the lottery -- people like Julia Roberts, Tiny Tim, Robin Leach, Paul Hornung and Nicolas Cage. Each of them gave me their systems for picking numbers (Tiny Tim? said he used the addresses of best friends like Elizabeth Taylor) and they all made wonderful stories for our readers.

Although we put out a very readable magazine, we could not crack Madison Avenue which considered LottoWorld a gambling magazine and we couldn't get the national advertising we needed to stay afloat. After three years the magazine folded. Barry went on to write a lottery column for a couple of New York City newspapers while I drifted off to the Caribbean full of memories about a great editor whose words of wisdom remain with me.

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