Mistakes Unsuccessful Punters Make
Racing Editor for bettingexpert. Always searching for winners "against the crowd" and trying to find the value.
What mistakes do unsuccessful punters make? What habits should you avoid if you want to succeed in betting? Today on the blog Stephen tells us the story of a sharp trader who like many punters, fell into bad habits and paid the price.
During my time as an on-course bookmaker and senior trader for several leading internet betting companies I have come across many different types of punter. By recognising their habits and failings we can all improve our skills and avoid the pitfalls that so many fall into.
Profile of a Real Punter....
Name: Mark Willoughbey*
Job title: Junior Trader (rugby-league/racing)
I first met Mark when he started out at a leading spread betting company in the late 1990's. It was a pre-Betfair age where prices were produced not by the blind copying of exchange generated prices, but by the skill and knowledge of individual traders.
This meant that the job of producing prices was down to "feel and experience" rather than automation, and also meant there was a far greater diversity in the prices available to the astute player if one shopped around.
Mark had clearly been a punter all his adult life and simply loved a bet (the first clue came when he walked in on day one with a small betting shop pen tucked behind his ear). This was to prove a very good guide as to his mentality towards betting.
At the end of every month when payday had arrived he would suddenly come alive, depositing all of his wages into a range of betting accounts ready for a massive "fire up" over the weekend on a wide range of sports. This was a brilliant place to work in many ways for anyone young and interested in sports, as basically you could work 24/7 (moving prices/answering phones) while at the same time watching and punting on virtually anything that moved.
There were a large number of extremely shrewd and well informed people working there who clearly earnt far more from betting than they would ever earn in a salary from the company. However at the same time it was the worst place for anyone to work if you had an addictive personality. It was something like the mesmerising effect that fruit machines have on some people, they daren't blink for fear of missing something and are completely engrossed with betting to the exclusion of anything else (including doing the job he was paid to do to the best of his ability).
Mark, being from the deepest North, specialised in rugby league and was actually a very good judge of how to price and trade matches in running for the firm. He had plenty of contacts within a lot of the clubs and would often be the first to find out team news/injuries etc.
When he had a "nap" on the Rugby league handicaps he had a big following of people in the office who would "sheep" him in. Often he would call a live match absolutely right on a Friday night and get the market and the result right...much to the delight of all the other traders/juniors in the room.
However, by Monday morning he would usually walk in sheepishly with his tail firmly between his legs.
When accepting the congratulations for landing another nap bet, he would admit to doing his "brains" in the betting shop when he went to collect his winnings, or losing on a wide range of other sports over the next few days online.
Mark fell victim to the disease that can haunt all punters, that desire to be "involved".
Once a taste has been acquired for betting a winner, it can be very hard to sit on your hands and wait. Landing punches on the bookmakers and the feeling that gives can be like a drug to some punters, and they want to feel that "buzz" all the time.
If Mark had simply bet when he had that edge i.e knew that the handicap line was wrong because of the team news he had exclusive access to, he would of shown a decent profit every month.
Shooting for the stars...
Like many novice players, Mark loved a multiple bet. He would often put his naps in the centre of a union jack or yankee, with several other fancies from a range of live sports over the weekend included in the bet, laying out hundreds of pounds in a bid to win the jackpot.
He would regularly find two or three winners in these bets and actually lose money, while bemoaning his luck that a narrow "unlucky" defeat had happened to stop a huge win.
So many players fall into this trap of trying to win far too much, when small win single bets at the best price available would be a far better system. Bookmakers love these multiples and encourage people towards accumulator bets and regularly publicise "huge wins" to show how someone turned £20 into £20,000. Experience tells them that these are very "high margin" bets for them, and their endless promotion of weekly football coupons should act as an alarm call to anyone setting out in the world of betting.
Real life and how bad betting can affect family and friends...
While in his early 20s and enjoying a decent job/salary means that any losses accrued on this betting "learning curve" are unlikely to be financially disastrous, they do have serious consequences if early mistakes are not learned from. We are all creatures of habit, and early bad habits are extremely hard to break.
Mark frequently relied on tapping his work colleagues/family to get through the month, always relying the following month on finding a few winners to "get out" of trouble.
This rollercoaster way of managing finances with regard to betting can only end one way, with friends falling out over unpaid debts and a shattering of an individuals reputation as trustworthy within the office.
The world of betting is littered with such tales of ruination, but rarely discussed because it does not suit the image that bookmakers like to portray of the gambling industry as "recreational" and a fun pastime. It is a serious business and needs to be treated as such by anyone hoping to make long term profits.
*name has been changed for privacy reasons but the story is a true one.
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Yes...I honestly think that staking is the hardest part of the whole game. Even now I find that after a good spell of profit it is very easy to get over-confident and play too big. That feeling of confidence can be a very dangerous thing, even when one has been betting for over twenty years!
Mark's story is a testament to the fact that skill alone means very little in terms of betting success, if it isn't coupled with tight discipline in what you bet (avoiding being an action junkie...) and tight discipline in terms of money management.
I found this particularly interesting: We are all creatures of habit, and early bad habits are extremely hard to break.
Personally I would have thought that it is the big mistakes that really get you thinking about things and make a change for the better in your life. For example, I did stumble a few times over bad money management and too aggressive staking in the past, but that's exactly what put me straight.