AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

SIMON NOTT: Give Punters Enough Rope

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he recent Horse Racing Bettors Forum Betting Charter and the discussions around it have made fascinating reading in recent days. What has been most interesting to me is the extent and rapidity that punters are limited by bookmakers, especially modest staking ones. I’m guessing that the people making those decisions, or at least programming the computers that do it are very inexperienced in the unwritten realities of gambling.

There are a few examples, but I’ll just mention those seared into my psyche from personal financial pain. The first one is that staking is the most important aspect of keeping your head above water punting. One of my first Eureka moments as a teenaged punter was the discovery of the system where you back horses to win a quid plus previous losses, sit back and cop yourself what at the time was a week’s wages every couple of days with no effort.

The second reality I learned is that all tipsters win when you first follow them, as do systems. The teenage kid betting to win a quid plus previous losses opened a building society account and for a good week or so deposited a score a day into that book. The selections chosen by ‘Man On The Spot’ won with enough regularity to ensure that tanks weren’t stretched or stakes character building. Then came Glorious Goodwood, no winners and an ashen-faced teenage punter making repeated withdrawals from said account, then stood distraught and alone in a betting shop as the last of the tank was lost and all dreams of a life on Easy Street were shattered.

Later in life I became friends with some shrewdies and no less lazy. My card was being marked by some form students and people in the know. My meticulous records showed a winning year, over £6,000. The trouble was that although that’s a decent win, I was spending it as if I was winning £6,000 a week not in reality £100. At the end of that year I had a big proud figure in my book (I was yet to discover spreadsheets) but no tank. The winners had been kind and fallen in manageable succession. I made a resolution to bet like a man the following year, enhance my stakes and tuck the bookies up for five-figures, that des-res on Easy Street was within grasp again.

Stakes were doubled then doubled again, it all started so well. I remember telling one of my old bosses at Cheltenham that I’d started the year winning a record amount, and so I had, nearly four grand up to my enhanced stakes.

Then it all went horribly wrong. No matter how good your source or indeed your own skill you can be sure the losing run will come. Of course until it does you feel so invincible, it won’t happen to you. Making phone calls to bookies with bets that are not huge but all add up when they lose and lose and lose suddenly becomes soul destroying. Then you get that knotted up battle of wills that stops you sleeping at night, do you keep battering on head down and hope it will come right or admit defeat and slash stakes?

It took me to get almost seven grand down before having no choice but to wave the white flag. My bookies had got it all back with interest and I’d nearly knocked myself out of the game having to rely on the never-never to square up and live for the foreseeable future. Talk about when it stops being fun. As it turned out, my sources turned the corner and I clawed some back when back in my comfort zone betting in tenners, there’s another reality of betting, that tends to happen. When I did my sums at the end of the year, had I kept to manageable stakes and had a tank big enough to ride out the losing run we’d have had another winning year, lesson learned.

How many punters learn it though? Maybe a prerequisite for traders that make account restriction decisions for internet firms should be to have done their money in style punting. Give us punters enough rope and, well, you know the rest.

Not this one though, I’ve learned my lesson, a very costly one, but worth every sleepless night.

Simon Nott

skintmobSimon Nott is author of Skint Mob!: Tales from the Betting Ring