Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'm Not Going to Vegas (After All)!

Kind of old news but I wanted to update the blog.

To recap: I was gonna go to the Last Chance NHC Qualifier in Vegas on Wed. Jan. 25 because I won what I thought was a $500 entry into the contest and a $500 travel voucher in a Dec. 26 contest. I was totally there.

But the $500 entry + $500 "travel voucher" (is there such a thing?) showed up in my mailbox in the form of a plain old $1,000 check, which prompted me to reassess my plan.

I was still gonna go, last week I even went as far as booking a flight ($340 r/t, Newark to Vegas). BUT just a couple hours after I booked, I learned that NHCQualify was having a last chance, $400 online contest on Sunday Jan. 8, that offered about the same or a slightly better chance to qualify compared with the Vegas Last Chance.

So at that point I said ah screw it, cancelled my flight, signed up for NHCQualify, and tucked the $600 into my proverbial pocket to deploy for future contests.

Ultimately I opted out because the Vegas trip just felt like a goose chase. As I said previously, I totally would be in if they signed me up and told me to just show up. But when it turned into a discretionary decision, my thinking went along these lines:
1. The specs of the last-chance Vegas contest-- $500 ante, 5 NHC spots, max 150 field, 30% back in prize money 70% to NHC pot -- are nothing special.
2. I dislike flying, so the idea of night and redeye flights was not appealing. Granted there would be some adventure to going to Vegas, but for me that would be trumped by (probably) losing in the contest followed by a 7-hour full flight in the middle seat, culminating in a 6am arrival at Newark airport. I would be dirty, tired, and cranky -- no thanks!
3. When I won some coin back in March at a Monmouth contest, I didn't use the money to start flying to contests all over the place, so why would I do it this time (with just 1/6 of my March winnings)?

So that's my story and I'm sticking to it. There will be no NHC for me in 2012 (I finished up the track in the NHCQualify Last Chance this past Sunday).

I am looking forward to the long journey towards the 2013 NHC, which I hereby GUARANTEE I will qualify for. If I fail to qualify, I will give all readers a free one-year premium subscription to the RedRockorBust blog.

The fun starts next Saturday at Monmouth Park.


  1. Makes sense. I would do the same. I may be in Las Vegas that week, so I may give it a try, but I agree that Last Chance contest is rather unappealing.

    I can't find info on the contest anywhere. Per your description, does it have a huge takeout?

    >>> 1. The specs of the last-chance Vegas contest-- $500 ante, 5 NHC spots, max 150 field, 30% back in prize money 70% to NHC pot -- are nothing special.

  2. Anon, a couple weeks ago I e-mailed NTRA inquiring about the specs of Last Chance (I couldn't find info anywhere either), their response was:

    "$500 entry fee
    4 entries per person
    150 person cap
    30% back in prize money
    70% to NHC purse
    5 NHC Seats Awarded"

    So the contest seems pretty good if there are 75-100 players (there were 89 last year), but it gets less good w/more players, because while the 5 NHC spots is fixed, the $ going toward NHC purse increases with each additional entry.

  3. Good choice, Terry, as we discussed offline. The one thing these tournaments need to do (i.e. Last Chance, Horse Player World Series) is improve the flow of information and branding. Look for HPWS anywhere on the Web and all you get is a mention on the link to the Orleans' Casino website - no publicity, no other info. Even the NHC is sort of vague in its billing of the $2m tournament, in that I just saw something where the total purse is something more like $1.6m. There's just a lack of info out there, and your logic with the HPQ money was correct, since they didn't say "here's your plane ticket and entry form, now be there on Jan. 25".

  4. Yeah, horse racing definitely has a marketing problem. As I pointed out in a tweet a couple weeks back, the main promotion on *through year-end* was for a Dec. 11 contest. is only the main site for the $2 million main event that's coming up in 2 weeks.

  5. That's a really stupid setup, there's just too much wiggle room. If the NHC spots are valued at $6,500, which is what the cost non-member sites, then zero-takeout is around 92 players. But if the tourney fills, that's a 27% take, way too high.

    What they should do is after 100 entries, offer another NHC spot every 25 or 30 entries, and give away up to 7 spots. Then the thing fills up, they get 7 more spots to NHC.

  6. Anon I agree, they should have bumped up NHC spots awarded with more entries, OR changed the payout, say starting with the 101st entry 100% of entry fees are paid back in prizes, or at least flip to the ratio to 70% prizes/30% NHC pot.
    However I'm guessing that they get close to 150 entries even given the sub-optimal specs, given that this is truly the last chance I think a fair amount of players aren't going to be very price-sensitive with the NHC happening in the same venue 48 hours later. Urgency of now and all that.