Talking Betting with.......John Basquill
Racing Editor for bettingexpert. Always searching for winners "against the crowd" and trying to find the value.
We continue our 'Talking Betting with' series today as Stephen has a chat with professionl punter John Basquill about all things betting.
John Basquill has been a pro punter for most of the past decade and now owns several racehorses while continuing to battle and study hard in the pursuit of profit from betting. Today on the blog he provides us with a fascinating insight into his strategies and mindset.
How did you first get into the world of betting and gambling?
10p win on Grittar to win the National got my heart racing while sat on my Grandad's knee, and everything grew from that. The Racing Post were kind enough of offer me some work experience on their Spotlight desk as an 18-year-old supposedly studying a Politics degree, which helped make up my mind that this was the sport for me.
What jobs have you done in the industry?
Spotlight writer for six months at the Post as a raw 20-year-old. I was too young and made bundles of mistakes, but made some good friends there, notably Simon Stanley and Andrew Barr. I now part own a couple of horses with Andrew and his knowledge is a constant reminder of the need to work harder and think more deeply. After that, wrote Teletext for the Racing Channel, moved to Sky as an all-sport journalist, then helped launch their interactive betting service. Quit eight years ago to go full-time punting.
What is the biggest win you have ever had?
£138 at 999/1 on Metal Detector at Towcester just after Derek 'Thommo' Thompson had called it as a faller in-running. Right place, right time, and ludicrously lucky it went on to win. Lord Alfred landing a gamble for my syndicate The Aftertimers was my biggest old-fashioned win.
How do you deal with the inevitable losing runs?
If I can get through the 15 minutes that follow a really bad bet, I'm fine. But, generally, my strategy would be more towards the risk-averse area of the punting spectrum. I find losing runs present too much self-doubt, inconsistencies in thinking, and can affect the way I am away from racing. I probably sacrifice a bit of profit for a quieter, less volatile approach, but it helps me be more consistent in my approach to life outside gambling. This 'chiselling' approach leaves plenty cold, but I've seen enough good judges go skint to know that you have to adapt your strategy to suit your own sensibilities when betting for a living.
What advice would you give to any aspiring punters trying to do it professionally?
Think very hard before giving up your day job. It's probably never been harder to get your money on, the markets are very efficient and the psychological jump from boosting your normal income to relying on your betting is huge. If you are confident and have enough evidence to suggest you can make it pay, then go for it, but don't cut ties with your 'old' life. Oh, and the very best of luck!
How has the game changed in recent years?
Punters are more informed than ever, bookmakers are more informed than ever, and it's harder to get on. The hive minds of resources like Twitter work extremely quickly, and edges don't last long. More and more analysis is stats based, and a good percentage of this is done by people without a mathematical grounding in statistics. These arguments sound impressive, but I'm old fashioned and still prefer to watch as many races as I can and trust my eyes and experience.
What are the hardest things about being a pro-punter?
Compared to 99% of jobs, it's not hard as long as you're winning. That may sound a glib thing to say, but anyone making a living out of racing or betting has to realise how lucky they are, there's far too much moaning from punters. There's plenty of people with proper jobs that would love to have the 'problems' a propunter has.
What mentality do you need to survive?
Enthusiasm, a fairly calm nature under pressure and an ability to not over-react to short-term setbacks. The latter is probably the most important for anyone starting out.
Do you use "inside" information or purely your own judgement?
Mainly my own judgement, but I'm often trying to second-guess connections, especially in low-grade jumps races, which is the area I do the vast majority of my betting. Given the prize-money structure in this country, you have to be mad or rich to get your horse a high opening handicap mark, and working out where the improvement is coming from is probably my favourite part of the game. I also talk to three or four other punters on a daily basis - we rarely agree, but I completely respect their judgement and the conversations keep me open to others opinions and ways of analysing races.
How do you see the game developing in the next ten years?
God knows - I hope to be hanging up my boots within three years. That would be 11 years as a fulltimer, and I'd be 40. A good time to do something else. Don't quote me on that, though - it's quite addictive, this game.
You can follow Stephen on Twitter @stephenh61
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