This is the first in a series of articles from our tipsters where they look back over the progress they have made as bettors and highlight some of the mistakes they made.
First up is horse racing tipster Greg Bailey.
A long time has passed since I placed my first “official” bet in one of my local betting shops. In fact this is now 25 years ago and I can still remember the mix of adrenalin, excitement and fear while putting down 10 Schilling (roughly €1 now) on an 8-bet accumulator consisting of odds-on football favourites only. I was convinced the bet couldn’t lose – in fact these were all bankers! The bet lost (of course!) and looking back with some distance now there was not a lot more I could have done wrong with this bet. Firstly with all the ignorance and confidence I had I didn’t need any form studies. Of course not, I had my gut feeling and that wouldn’t let me down, would it? Although there were some other betting shops nearby there was no need to shop around for better odds. If I’d be paid 8/1 or 9/1 doesn’t really matter, does it? It would still be a lot of money for a 15-year old guy… Also accumulators are a sure way to win some big money off small stakes, so why not add a 9th and 10th selections that further decreases your “edge” against the bookie? *pfff*
Does that sound familiar with some of you? If yes, don’t worry you are in company with 99% of punters that lose money on a regular basis.
The intention of this article is to address the errors I have made and the lessons I have learnt as I have progressed in my betting career, so you hopefully will not make the same mistakes. I will try to deal with the different issues point by point.
Perhaps one of my first huge error was that I have been betting solely with my gut feeling; actually for quite a long time to be honest. I didn’t know of any tipsters back then nor had I developed my own sound strategies. Looking back I can only describe this behaviour with two words: stupid and ignorant! Don’t ever think that you can beat the bookies by relying on just your gut feeling – the odds are against you (= the bookies profit margin)! I know it is tempting to have a bet on a Man U vs Chelsea clash (even more so when you are watching the match), but you really need to ask yourself “what do I know that the market/bookie doesn’t know?”. You can be sure that everything your “gut” knows the market also knows and hence is already included in the price. So why bother betting at such a disadvantage? If you want to become a professional you are not betting just for the fun of it, but to make money – so there is no room for “fun bets”. Yes, you might hit the occasional winner or two and you might feel that you have got it all, but betting without any reasoning (or to be more precise, betting without value) will surely lead to a loss in the long run. Stick to your own PROVEN strategies or consider buying advice from professionals.
MONEY MANAGEMENT/CHASING LOSSES
Well, I could write a book about this chapter, but maybe the most crucial and costly thing for me was that I always tended to over stake my selections. I never bothered looking at historical performances, so never really knew which drawback I could possibly expect. I was sure I could handle all the downswings easily, but man was I proved wrong! Sure enough, the first major downswing came along and I found myself in deep, deep trouble! This was both psychologically and financially very hard to take and often I had to deal with the worst possible scenario, which was abandoning a successful strategy. Following this nightmare I made it even worse by trying to chase the losses which resulted in a complete wipe-out of my bank most of the time! All the hard work, all the grinding day-in/day-out was ruined by just a handful of irrational and emotional decisions!
These days I’m not giving my mind the chance to act in such a manner anymore. I’m probably staking more conservatively than any other professional, using a bank of more than 500+pts for most of my strategies; in fact some of my most successful strategies I’m staking at €10/bet! Psychologically any downswing doesn’t cause any major problem for me anymore and further I don’t feel obliged watching every race (because there used to be a few hundred quid on it), which makes up for a much more relaxing and enjoyable journey.
SHOPPING FOR ODDS
Probably the most underestimated ingredient when trying to become a professional! Consider placing 1000 bets with a winning probability of 33% (the fair odds would be 2/1). In scenario A we are placing all of your bets at a price of 3.25, while in scenario B we are betting at a price of 2.75. For simplicity reasons let’s say we hit 333 winners and 667 losers from the 1000 bet sample (which would be the expected ratio given the 33% winning probability) in both cases A & B. Scenario A would yield a 82.25pt profit and scenario B would give you a LOSS of -84.25pts. A difference of 166.pts!!! Taking 3.25 or 2.75 is not too big of a difference one might say (and also the view I had in the beginning of my career), but the bottom line should be a warning sign for everyone! Hence ALWAYS SHOP AROUND for better odds, you can see that even small price differences can be the difference between winning and losing.
TAKING DAYS OFF = LESS IS MORE
I love to grind out my bets day-in/day-out and it is something that I truly enjoy even after 25 years in the business (and hopefully many more to come). I found it hard, though, when I need to miss out on any bets at some days due to other commitments. It was eating me up inside that I might miss a big winner or that my betting records are now “incomplete” and I really tried hard to get my bets in whenever I could. This resulted in days being stuck in front of the computer for 12+ hours, which is obviously ridiculous. I really had to put things into perspective and had to establish a much more relaxing view of things. In fact every bet is just a very very small part and will not make any significant difference to the overall picture, will it? In fact I’m placing more than 20000 bets/year, so why bothering about 500 missed bet? I’m taking Sundays off now and dedicating this day to other (more important?) things in my life. This was a really important step forward in my betting career!