win, place & show [Updated August 2001]

WPS   2 prizes Experienced Mult Ent Sing Elim Continuous 
  Rnd1 Heat1 23  
   
  Rnd1 Heat2 17  Round 2 19  Final

  Polo

Ken Gutermuth, GA

2000-2001 Champion

2nd: Lance Fogel, PA

3rd: Bruce Reiff, OH

4th: Joshua Garton, VA

5th: Michael Cook, VA

6th: Mark Kennel, DE
Event History
1991    None      -
1992    None      -
1993    Stephen Kershaw      10
1994    Stuart Tucker      20
1995    Dennis Nicholson      29
1996    Bruce Reiff      17
1997    John Coussis      15
1998    Bruce Reiff      14
1999    Bruce Reiff     31
2000    Ken Gutermuth     26
2001    Ken Gutermuth     42

AREA Ratings:

GM: Ken Gutermuth

Race, Bet & Scheme

Sometimes a reputation can hurt your chances in a multiplayer game event. In the case of Win, Place & Show, however, several former champions managed to put their reputations to deceptively good use in the final. In the end, however, with 15 players matching wits in the final game, the winner was the horseplayer who differentiated himself best from the crowd at the right
moment. Timing, luck and knowledge were all combined well to produce a narrow victory, though not without the usual fair share of "racing incidents" along the way.

The preliminary two heats were set up to allow all first and second place players to advance to a big-table final. While this format favored the experienced player with regard to gaining the final, it then put those experienced players in a huge field of competitors for a wild final, where knowledge of the real favorites was of less value . . . or at least that was the theory. In fact, despite earning over $190,000 in the first heart, four-time champion Bruce Reiff failed to make the final with that. Fortunately for him, his schedule allowed entrance in the second heat, where he earned his invite to the final. Three other former champions (Ken Gutermuth, Dennis Nicholson and Stuart Tucker) also made the final, though with fewer bumps along the way. The final included eleven other significant challengers, most of whom knew the betting and racing tendencies of the former champions. Yes, the Foul Claim rules would have their inevitable use once again!

The first race of the final witnessed considerable trouble for several horses, dampening the chances of the favorite (and ruining a number of Daily Doubles). However, reigning champion Gutermuth managed to get it right, backing the 10-1 long shot and putting himself in the early lead by a $20,000 margin over the nearest competitor and by $50,000 or more over the vast majority who lost big money. Dave Steiner, Debbie Garver and Stuart Tucker were at least in the black at this point, but had considerable ground to make up. On the chance that the second-race favorite would cash a huge Daily Double payout, the price for Indian Giver went through the roof. Here, however, Bruce Reiff (the horse's owner) decided to use his reputation to foul up people's bets. Instead of ruining the horse's chances of victory with some creative jockeying, he bet her across the board, hoping to be the only one doing so. Unfortunately for him, the race was inordinately slow and Indian Giver was hung out wide on the turn, allowing the favorite to win. The resulting Daily Double pairing was bet by three players, putting Nicholson back into the hunt, boosting Garver's position, and dropping Gutermuth to second place by a few thousand. While Tucker was one of the few to bet the second race correctly, the low odds left him in a pack of players about $30,000 behind the two leaders.

As players scrambled to find ways to differentiate their bets from their opponents, the majority of the "also-ran" players lost big money on the indecipherable third race. The fourth began Nicholson's three-race losing streak. Most other players misguessed it as well--nobody bet on the winning horse, but Reiff managed to play his last money right on the place horse to stay in the running. Tucker also bet on "the Loser" to scrape his way back into the top four moneyholders.

As the fifth race's horses were being put up for auction, Tucker knew that the Roach would need some help, so that the game leaders could be caught. Second-place Lance Fogel played it safe, on Dying Ember, while leader Gutermuth covered the Roach while also backing Ember. Tucker bought the overwhelming favorite, Lobster Tail, while skilled tactician Reiff took the Roach (but cunningly bet on Traffic Cop). When Tucker took the Tail along the rail and then unnecessarily held her up three spaces on a passing lane, cries of Foul Claim were heard (though not by many). Tucker had indeed bet $1000 on the Tail to win, so his move was legitimate, though intended to cost $2000 out of the hands of more competitors than it did. The move failed to help the Roach, though, which innocently got caught in traffic, allowing Ember to bring home a solid lead for Fogel and Gutermuth (only a few thousand apart).

Thus, the final race would come down to "saving bets" by the leaders, and daring longshots by the closest contenders in striking distance of the leaders. Here Tucker's reputation of expecting Mona Lisa to win the final race served him well, as the price of the horse shot through the roof to $18000. But Tucker wisely yielded on the bid, later buying the longshot Captain Ahab--with the purse and a wise longshot bet being his only shot of overtaking the leaders and Garver. Reiff jockeyed Hannibal and bet him strong. Garver and Tucker bet Ahab, while Gutermuth split his bets on Ahab and Jungle Monarch. Leading by a couple of thousand, Fogel went the safe route, betting the usual favorites, Monarch and Mona. If Ahab won, Garner would take the event, but if Ahab came in second, Tucker would win by virtue of winning a share of the purse and by not betting on any horse to win. If Mona Lisa or Jungle Monarch won, Fogel would win. But if Mona failed, while Jungle Monarch came in second, Gutermuth would win. As it turned out, nobody betting the other longshot (Hannibal) was close
enough to catch the leaders if Hannibal won. Once the bets were down, four players of the 15 had a shot at the Wood. Another three potential winners existed (Nicholson, Steiner or Bruce Monnin) had any one of them switched his final bet to Hannibal.

As expected, the first turn involved rough rides for every horse that mattered. Only Swami--a hopeless horse--had a clean ride. Hannibal and Captain Ahab saved ground on the inside, but Ahab fared poorly in the second turn. Mona Lisa once again failed to fulfill the hopes of her owner, forced to run four wide in the first turn, earning the usual third place that she always gets on a bad day. Reiff managed to turn his last pennies into a final score of $78000 when his Hannibal won the race. All the players with bets on Ahab groaned loudly for having chosen the wrong longshot. When the dust settled, Fogel's optimism for his Dying Ember cost him the game, as it came in second instead of first, and he had bet Mona Lisa to Place. Gutermuth's Place-Show bets on Ember earned him enough to overcome Fogel's purse, thereby giving Ken a repeat championship.

With such tight competition, even the chaotic "big final" format was a test of all the skills of the top horseplayers of Win, Place & Show. Though former champs do well at this game, it takes more than a reputation to win--and more than a fixed race or two. Ken Gutermuth found a lucrative longshot early in the game and then judiciously built on that foundation without exposing
himself to too much risk. By the same token, he didn't become overly cautious either, as this is a game in which favorites often find hostile jockeys aboard. How else do you explain the repeated success of Hannibal in the Win, Place & Show finals?

 GM      Ken Gutermuth  [1st Year]   NA 
    NA   NA

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