By most any measure, the recently concluded DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) at Treasure Island in Las Vegas was a smashing success. In response, organizers announced this week that purse money is being boosted for the event's affiliated NHC Tour in 2012 and additional bonuses will also be paid out.
The 13th annual NHC was won by less than one dollar in a thrilling finish after two days of competition among a record field of 480 handicappers. Michael Beychok of Baton Rouge, La. won the $1 million first prize and an Eclipse Award as the nation's best handicapper when his horse came from off the pace to narrowly win the event's final race.
For the 2012 NHC Tour, in which membership is mandatory in order for a handicapper to earn a berth in the NHC Finals, total prize money has been increased to $250,000, which includes new $50,000 bonuses for the top performers in the first- and second-half of the season.
Additionally, Tour members that win more than one sanctioned tournament will receive a $5,000 bonus for each additional win with a maximum of three.
The winner of the NHC Tour is also eligible for a $1 million bonus if he/she wins the NHC Finals in Las Vegas.
It will cost $50 to join the NHC Tour in 2012. The tour consists of dozens of tournaments held throughout the year at a variety of racetracks, simulcast facilities and online. Some will have an entry fee, but NHC Tour members will also be eligible to compete in several free online tournaments with berths in the NHC Finals on the line.
Other benefits Tour members receive include bi-weekly e-newsletters with event recaps and tips on playing in Handicapping tournaments; and special discounts on Daily Racing Form products, including 10 percent off some of its Past Performance plans.

Recent online reports have indicated organizers are considering expanding the NHC Finals next year to a three-day event. The reasoning behind the expansion is largely for television purposes. One idea being floated about is having the top performers from the first two days compete in handicapping “finals” on the third day that could provide television content for cable networks such as ESPN, much like has been done with tournament poker in the last decade.

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