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Friday, October 7, 2011

War Games

I come from the age of Intellivision, Atari and Strat-o-matic baseball. I've loved games since my dad brought home Monopoly during a snowstorm in Cayuga, NY and we played all weekend while a blizzard kept us homebound.

Playing in handicapping contests is no different. Yes, it is on my bucket list to qualify some day for the NHC Championships in Vegas, but I haven't really taken it too seriously. Yet.

I did sign up for my NHC card this year and have taken advantage of the free online tourneys, but there are usually way too many players for a decent shot at winning. I do play in the free Equibase tourneys every weekend, but you're relegated to making your 8-10 plays before the first race and then you're stuck with them. Inter-race strategy is out the window in that contest. I've faired pretty well this year, as high as ninth in one Equibase tourney, and sniffed it on occasion.

A couple of weeks ago fellow blogger and HRN editor Brian Zipse invited me to try out the new Derby Wars contest platform. Derby was created by Horse Racing Labs, a technology-based business focused on horse racing. These are the same folks that created the Horse Racing Nation website, which launched in 2009. I've had a great relationship with them over the years, even winning an iPad in their 2010 Derby contest, so when they asked me to test drive their new contest, I was all in.

I happened to be in central Pennsylvania at my in-laws for the weekend, so I had some time to monkey around with the site. The contest races were being held at Belmont, Arlington and Turfway, the latter two being tracks I rarely play. It's not like I was playing Global Thermonuclear War or anything.

I liked the visual effects of the platform and the ease of selecting your horse in each race. Some of the benefits of the graphics are that you could actually see the payouts on the same page after the race was run (something you usually have to hunt for at other sites). I also liked the fact that it updated as quickly as the tote board with the results after the race. In addition, being able to change your play up until one minute to post time can lead to much more of a strategic contest.

Some of the coming highlights to Derby Wars is that horseplayers can enter every Friday in October for $25 and a shot at a seat at the NHC championships. Saturdays offer bigger money games with cash prizes. Lastly, the entry fees are very reasonable with some entry fees as little as $6. I'm definitely planning on continuing to play, especially in the Friday tournaments for a relatively inexpensive shot at Vegas.

If you sign up for free before October 15, you can play in one free game (for cash money) on that day. There is also a demo video available here. Steve Munday, founder of the Wireplayers site, also has an interesting blog up about the contests.

Good luck this weekend and have fun.


Ellis Starr said...

I might be biased, having done well in Sunday's contest, but Derby Wars is an excellent contest site. What I like the most is the countdown clock for each race coming up and the very fast results display, which can be very useful when races are close together and fast decisions need to be made.

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