LEXINGTON, Ky. (January 27, 2020) – David Snyder has a philosophy when it comes to the realm of handicapping, one he has held tight to while navigating the changing landscape of tournament play the last two decades.
“I think what you will hear every veteran say is never change your style. Even when things aren’t going your way, don’t let it change your strategy because if you do, you’re playing Whack-a-Mole,” Snyder said. “Everything works for everyone some of the time. But you have to play in order to win and you have to stick to your strategy in order to – over time – benefit from your strategy when it starts to heat up.”
Snyder’s commitment to his particular style made an honest man out of him over the past year as his sustained consistency allowed the Mission Viejo, CA resident to earn 20,772 points and claim the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Tour title in a three-way race to the finish.
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The top trio of finishers on the Tour were separated by just 600 points with runner-up Bob Engelhard notching 20,384 points while third-place finisher Christy Moore finished with 20,172. Bolstered by two tournament wins on HorsePlayers.com and regular high-level results, Snyder was able to earn the $110,000 first-place prize, a 2021 NHC seat, and the chance to play for an additional $5 million in bonuses at next month’s NTRA National Horseplayers Championship Presented by Racetrack Television Network, Caesars Las Vegas, and host site Bally’s Las Vegas on Feb. 7-9.
“You’ve heard the expression that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while,” Snyder said of his Tour triumph. “Every strategy works once in a while. I’ve been at it for 20 years so I think first and foremost, you have to play or you can’t win. So I played pretty much every tournament I could. Just basically played every weekend.
“What was really working for me were those $75 tournaments where you can just throw it in and go to work. And if you were to look at HorsePlayers and look at my results, almost all my points came from those tournaments….and it finally added up at the end of the day. But just to reiterate, I’ve been playing for 20 years. There have been plenty of years where I did pretty well but there was nothing to show for it. So I think to some extent I’m kind of fortunate it turned out the way it did.”
Overall NHC Tour standings are determined by totaling a player’s top seven scores from eligible qualifying contests, which must include at least one live, on-site event.
This year marks the tenth time Snyder has qualified for the NHC and the fourth time he will go in as a dual qualifier, having previously earned two seats in 2014, 2016, and 2019. His best NHC finish came in 2014 when he cashed for $4,800 after finishing 42nd – and he views his overall tournament history through a good-natured perspective.
“If you look at my (NHC) results, I suck – me and a lot of other people,” Snyder cracked. “I remember the first one we played at Bally’s, my buddy and I, I think we came in last and second to last out of everybody. I think that the differences when you play every weekend and you stick to your strategy, you’ll have weekends where your strategy doesn’t work and you just go, oh well, no big deal …and you don’t think twice about it. But when you only go to the NHC once a year, logically, for your strategy to be spot on that exact weekend is like winning the lottery.”
A self-described ‘math guy’ who utilizes the sheets rather than pouring over the Daily Racing Form, Snyder said one of the biggest challenges in his quest to earn the $800,000 first-place NHC prize is adapting his style to the tournament’s format. NHC entrants are required to place mythical $2 Win and Place wagers, a much more simplistic approach than Snyder is comfortable with.
“I’m an exotics guy, so the hardest thing for me is I never bet win or place, ever,” Snyder said. “I go for the immediate gratification of an exacta or a trifecta or a super. And the interesting about the contest when you’re playing mythical is, you’re thinking points, you’re not really thinking dollars.”
The top five overall Tour leaders were rounded out by fourth-place Tour finisher Nick Fazzolari (19,780 points) and Ken Jordan with 19,463 points. Total prize money for the Tour was $325,000 with $52,000 going to the runner-up, $27,500 to third, $20,000 to fourth, and $15,000 to fifth.
Before the days on online contests, Snyder recalls himself and his fellow horseplayers having to participate in tournaments the old fashioned way by physically traveling across the country to different sites. That level of dedication is what helped shape the Tour, and Snyder’s own perseverance is what ultimately put him in his current enviable position.
“I think that’s what the Tour is, it’s a group of people who are committed and they’ll do whatever it takes. It takes that kind of commitment,” Snyder said. “I didn’t know it was going to take me 20 years. I’m just going to play my strategy and if it’s my turn, it’ll be my turn. If not, I’m still going to have a nice time.”
Draft Kings is the exclusive sponsor of the NHC Final Table. Official Partners of the 2020 NHC include Daily Racing Form, TVG, and NYRA Bets.