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25/8/2000 edition

Punter Psychology

How to be a winner

Beating the races is very possible. It is a matter of HOW and DETERMINATION. Punters across the country beat the races each year and make a very nice income. They know how to beat the races and then have the determination to put their knowledge into practice.

Punting is what is called a negative sums game: that is because less money is returned to punters than is invested. Because the tote always and bookies usually take their cut only the smart punters who know how to win and have the determination to win will survive. These punters, along with the tote and bookies, take the money from all the losing punters. Unfortunately the majority of punters do not know how to make racing a paying proposition. Others know how, but lack the necessary determination.

I am at times very bored with the pessimists who say, "It can't be done." They are merely repeating the results of their own failures to make any money from racing. They punt with a negative attitude and actually budget to lose money each week. If there is a winning week they have been "lucky". Because I can't build a house or fix up a car I don't say "It can't be done." It is just as much nonsense to say that no punters can win at racing.

There are plenty of winners.
Look at all the punters who go to the track each week. Don't tell me they are all losers. On the contrary, there are plenty of regular professional punters who do very well from racing. They will tell you that it is hard work like any career, but financially rewarding. They will also tell you that ultimately you must be able to frame value markets or at the least , with any of your selections, have a very good idea about the minimum price you are prepared to accept. If the price is too short then you do not back the horse. If the horse is backed in even further from that short price you still do not back it. You do not look at it as a winner you are missing out on but rather as a poor value bet that loses over time.

These same professionals will also tell you that you cannot expect a racing system to make money for you. Like everyone else most were tempted by those system sellers' lists of past winners showing phenomenal profits, by the promise of huge rewards for no effort.

But as successful professionals they must be smart operators. They will tell you to ignore the stories about how a $500 bank and just a few minutes to work out each Saturday's selections can make you a $100,000. These professionals will tell you that racing systems are just a collection of rules designed to capture big priced, past winners.

These professionals will also tell you that all racing systems have a huge failing: they cannot take into account the horses that the system selection is running against. No matter how systems try to do it they cannot overcome this failing for the simple reason that the selection is made without any knowledge of the other horses in the race.

These professionals also go to the races fully prepared. No doing form or trying to work out what horse to back next in between races. They always go to the races knowing what horses they want to back. But these professionals are also quite happy not to back any one of their selections if in their opinion it is poor value. They go to the racetrack to obtain the absolute top odds available in the betting ring, even if just offered by one bookie. They do not go to the races to see which horses firm in the betting ring.

These professionals are also not scared off by big odds on any of their selections. They have long learnt to ignore betting ring fluctuations. They know that betting ring prices reflect nothing more than weight of money, that betting ring prices are basically a popularity contest. Most of these professionals will tell you about very wealthy punters who they know regularly lose, that these wealthy punters often punt in the same haphazard way as the losing small punter. These professionals can also tell you that very often it is this "wealthy mug" money that makes a horse firm in the market, with many small and medium punters jumping on after them, creating a snowballing effect.

Correct staking of selections is important.
These professionals will not stake their selections haphazardly. Nor do they use staking plans aimed at recovering losses. They also all know that the size of a bet should not be influenced in any way by how the previous selection went.

Understanding losing runs is important.
These professionals all know how to handle losing runs. They will tell you that most punters cannot handle losing runs, that they do not understand what sort of losing runs are possible with very good selections. Also most punters expect to lose because even though they won't admit it, deep down inside they assume they are backing very poor selections. So as soon as they have more than a couple of losing bets in a row those innermost thoughts become real, they automatically assume their selection method is no good and start ducking and weaving. A guarantee for failure. 

But most professionals can understand that too. A common remark is, "If I was trying to make selections from the form guide in Saturday morning's paper, often from race to race, I guess I would have to assume my selection method too was no good after a few losses. How any punters can seriously expect to make money that way is pretty difficult to fathom."

Are you prepared to win?
Well, it's up to you. Are you prepared to develop the expertise and put in the long hours needed to create accurate value markets? Are you prepared to develop the expertise and put in the hours needed to devise selection methods based upon form, not systems? Finally and very importantly do you have the determination to stick with your selection and staking method? Or will you be scared off by odds and say, "It's at 25/1. It can't win. I won't back it." And miss a winner. Or will you chop and change as soon as there is a losing run?

If expertise and long hours is a problem then The Professional Punter can help you.
But unfortunately if you do not have the determination, if you are going to be put off by odds, if you are going to chase heavily backed, short priced commodities for fear of missing out on a winner, if you are going to stake selections haphazardly or if you are going to chop and change as soon as there is a losing run, then you will continue to line the pockets of the tote, bookies and winning punters. 

Next: Punt to Win 18/8/2000


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