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18/8/2000 edition

A Winner's Tips

A past punting acquaintance of mine came to know in his final years a successful professional who made more than a comfortable living. This professional, who used a number of aliases including Bert, retired many years ago. He would tell my friend stories about great horses like Tulloch which he had seen race on numerous occasions. He also had plenty of stories about racing personalities of a bygone era. Many he knew on a first name basis.

Bert developed a special relationship with at least one particular bookmaker who is no longer in the betting ring. He never revealed the name of this bookmaker. He considered it a breach of business confidence, but did say that the bookmaker made an absolute fortune. It is not drawing too long a string to the bow to say that this bookmaker also retired to a life of luxury.

Apparently this bookmaker also gave Bert the absolute top odds available in the betting ring for any of his bets. Not only that, should any of the main tote prices be better he would be paid at tote odds. That is how valuable Bert's information was. No doubt the bookmaker made a nice living off Bert's information and many a time there was a nasty losing race for bookmakers which he avoided.

Bert of course had many valuable opinions and observations about punting but for many years had decided that he would never share any with the run of the mill punter. He was very sensitive and took offence easily when losing punters told him he did not know what he was talking about. He once made up a list of many punting pointers in confidentiality and mailed it to my past acquaintance. Here are a few of the many points he made:


1. Punting must not be treated as a pure gamble but as a business. Records must be kept.

2.
To you win at racing you have to put in work. Nowadays punters do not even have to make the effort to go to the races to have a bet. It is impossible to make money by placing bets in the morning with the TAB and collecting in the evening. That is just a pipe dream.

3.
You have to learn to ignore tips from anyone, like race callers. These callers know very little about form. Their media bosses create the image that they are form experts. They are not. All their time is spent in learning the colours and names of hundreds of horses they have to call.

It is also common for bookmakers to give their best bets. Can you think of anything worse than taking tips from the "enemy"? Tips from connections of horses are also fraught with danger. I have friendships with some powerful connections of horses. When they were exceptionally confident, their horse's chances were always talked down in public. They would freely say the horse was a good show when they had no intention of backing it.

4.
I will never contemplate backing a favourite on the tote. If I took $2.50 on the tote when 3/1 is available in the betting ring, despite working long hours, full time at this game, I would lose. My winnings have been halved. The tote won't refund half my losses on losing bets.

5. It is essential to understand the basic statistics and percentages involved in punting.

a) This applies to a horse's chances of winning a race in order to know if you should back the horse. Backing horses at poor value in relation to their winning chances means you will long term not get enough winners to cover your losses. That is why backing horses on the tote is extremely difficult. You cannot control the prices you receive. The tote wins every race. In order to do that, a well backed horse has its price slashed in to such an extent that it is very poor value for punters, so should that well backed commodity win, the punters overall are still losers on the race.

b) Understanding what losing runs to expect. Most punters think if 10 selections lose in a row then the selections were no good. I know nothing can be further from the truth. I have had losing runs well in excess of 10 on many occasions. For me it was just business as usual because I knew there was absolutely nothing wrong with my professional selections. Of course, if the selections were just made on the hop then it is a different matter.

c) Understanding basic percentages. It is quite amazing but many punters today do not know that even money is 50% or 4/1 is 20%. They are not aware that the percentage chances for a winner in a race is exactly 100%, no more, no less and the more the total market is over 100% the worse it is for the punter.

If I did not have this knowledge I would be punting blind.

6. Staking of selections is very important. I have never made my bet size on one horse dependent upon what happened in a previous race. No staking plan can turn a level stakes loss into a profit. Anyone telling you otherwise is not to be trusted.

7.
I once had a punter tell me I was incompetent because when he told me he was going to back this 16/1 roughie in a field of 17 each way I was suggest that instead he should back another horse outright for the win. I told him I regularly backed more than one horse in a race to win. He said, and I have toned down his language, "You've got no idea mate. You reckon you do O.K. and you can't even pick the winner with one selection. If you back more than one horse in a race you must lose. You've got a losing bet before the race even starts."

After that I no longer discussed punting with losers. Let them lose.

8.
For many years I have not concentrated on picking the winner of a race. There is always more than one winning chance in a race. I have been backing horses that I considered offered good value. 

Next: Punt to Win 11/8/2000


 

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