It’s a myth, ostriches don’t actually bury their heads in the sand, I’ve been lied to all these years! Well, not really, I did discover the truth some time ago but for the purpose of this blog it serves a purpose.
Something that’s not a myth is that a lot of punters do bury their heads in the metaphorical sand. I’m going to go further and guess that I can confidently prefix ‘punters’ with ‘losing’. The first statement is quite astonishing, the second not so much.
How many people invest or spend money in any other aspect of their lives and don’t keep a record of it? OK, I’m going to pause there because I’ve thought about it, only the most anal would keep a note of every penny they spend in the pub, going to the cinema or buying a kebab. If you treat your betting as part of your entertainment you might as well stop reading now because this isn’t aimed at you.
The rest of you that are still reading, I’m guessing you all bet to win.
If you don’t keep records of your bets you are at very worst deluding yourself or at best missing out on maximising your profits.
I’m a bit smug because I’ve been keeping a record of all my bets for over a decade. The not smug bit is that I’m a very lazy punter. I feel very ashamed I don’t study. I’ve been lucky enough to have some shrewd/well-connected mates whose advice I’ve followed. At this stage in my life I’ve realised that although I’m undoubtedly missing out on the satisfaction of ferreting out a winner, it’s doubtful I’d ever be as good/well-connected as those I listen to – so no longer aspire to be.
My early days losing most of my cash wages in the Tiverton branch of William Hill on a regular basis aside, in recent years I’ve always bet to win money. Even today, working in the industry it’s not that often that I’ll watch a race I’ve had a bet in. I’d rather see whether it’s won or lost by a nose in the results than put myself through the agony of watching it all.
Like I smugly said earlier, I keep a record of all bets. I started using A4 books with the bets scribbled down with a ‘Cop’ or ‘Blow’ figure at the bottom of each page, a throwback to on-course field books. I’d keep the running total at the top righthand side corner. When things were going well there would be nothing better than writing down a great big circled C for ‘cop’ figure then adding to your total. Likewise, a bad losing page was a joy to turn over, literally a new leaf.
A few years later, I work mate of mine designed me a spreadsheet, take a bow Paul Clinton. This really was an eye-opener. I put my bets from my main sources into seperate columns, jumps, flat and all weather, I also had a column for ‘Various’ and ‘Multiples’.
There have been others on and off for sources that came and went. As with any type of gambling, even if you’re lazy, some things work for a while then don’t, as do tipsters. You need to see the figures, as painful as they might be, analyse them and make a business decision, it’s your money after all, if you’d be better off cutting loses. It’s happened a few times.
One of the biggest surprises, and a nasty one, was how much I was losing on multiples. As a punter you always remember your big wins. The figures in my old A4 books didn’t tell the full story. I always did a multiple of sorts when there were more than one bet a day, quite often half the stakes in doubles, trebles etc. It became apparent that I was doing my cobblers on them. It was making no sense, even with a good source, getting three 8/1 shots up in a multiple on a day is a bigger price than a year’s worth of those daily bets. I still give myself the chance of an unlikely huge win for a few quid when there are some big-priced selections in a day, but stakes must be kept realistic unless you really are gambling to win a row of houses, which really is just gambling. Mine weren’t, so had to adjust.
The other great thing about a spreadsheet is that the longer you have records for, the more confident you can be when hitting a bad patch that things will turn. I don’t dig deeper than the bare facts with surfaces and codes but the possibilities for a serious punter are endless to cross check and cross check. My mate whose tips I follow most regularly knows I have the data and sometimes requests them for his own information.
Back to the basics and the blindingly obvious, you need to keep records of your bets to know if you are winning or losing. On closer investigation you could be doing your brains, but take away the all-weather bets, bets in April, bets in novice chases and you are copping, you can separate the profitable to the not. It’s all going to be there; you can’t kid yourself and you are almost certain to be surprised at some of the results your records throw-up. If you’re going to bet seriously you need to treat it like a business and see what works and what doesn’t. In business it’s a no-brainer and in punting it should be too. Burying your head in the sand, as it turns out, not like an Ostrich, makes no sense at all.
PS: If your figures make it apparent that you are a useless punter you really need to have a steward’s enquiry with yourself and question how much more you want to lose. Maybe taking up another hobby would be more prudent? If you don’t know, you won’t know.
PPS: I hope Ben doesn’t read this because I’m sure he’d rather all his customers were still basking in that nice cop they had on a treble in 2016 and had no idea they were actually doing their brains!
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring