Talking Betting with.......Marcel Mavronicholas
Racing Editor for bettingexpert. Always searching for winners "against the crowd" and trying to find the value.
How does a professional punter approach his profession? Today on the blog we continue our Talking Betting series as Stephen has a chat with pro punter Marcel Mavronicholas.
In our regular new feature we interview some of the people who rely on the world of betting to earn a living in a number of different ways. We try and get inside the mindest of these "insiders" and unearth advice for all BettingExpert punters.
In the next in the series, Pro-Punter Marcel Mavronicholas reveals his secrets and experiences.
How did you first get into the world of betting and gambling?
My dad introduced me to gambling when I was about 12. He used to take racing at Cagnes-sur-mer three times a week in the south of France when we used to live there in the seventies
What jobs have you done in the industry?
I have worked on most southern race courses and done all the jobs from giving change and paying out on the bag to clerking and making a book myself for numerous bookmakers. I currently am a licensed representative but find the expenses and dimishing turnover means business in unviable and it is not worthwhile.
What is the biggest win you have ever had?
My biggest win is a £20ew accumulator which won about sixty grand, four horses between 4/1 and 10/1. The races were what layers would term "bad each-way" races where very few of the runners had a chance and the place-odds were far greater than their actual chance.
How do you deal with the inevitable losing runs?
Losing runs are the hardest thing to control in gambling. Never ever chase your money is always the first rule, but you can also lose confidence and stop playing when you would normally play. Discipline is the biggest factor, the run will change, it is a good idea to reduce your stakes but proportionately not just for the odd bet till you start winning again.
What advice would you give to any aspiring punters trying to do it professionally?
You need a lot of time to do it properly, tremendous discipline, try and avoid too many short priced horses (if one thing goes wrong you lose too much money), better back two horses at 2/1 in the same race (1/2 coupled) than a 1/2 shot. The best are invariably each way bets (if you can get on nowadays) and combining then gives you even better value.
How has the game changed in recent years?
It has changed for the worse in more ways than one. Punters no longer go to races! It's true the majority stay away and gamble on the Internet and some even now have lost interest in horse racing. The game has been in a downwards spiral for some time. The NJPC and then the Gambling Commission have not helped with the sale of pitches and new rules, and gambling on the Internet through exchanges and bookmakers (that relocate offshore) have decimated the betting ring, apart from Saturday's and Festivals. Which in turn has depleted the fund available for the levy board to support the sport, therefore on most days we now have a multitude of grade six or similar races that most people are not interested in because the race courses no longer get sufficient funding from the levy to support the sport. It is a vicious circle, the decline has already set in and is decaying. Poor racing leads to fewer attendance's, fewer public leads to less bookies and less punters......and empty race courses.
Races can't be run for £2,000 or less, the owners are now turning away, it is no longer viable, they have no chance of recouping their investments even by winning races, so some turn to villainy aided by the new laws and betting exchanges. Fifteen years ago you could only lay a bet as a licensed bookmaker. Now everyone can. So when the prize money is pittance you will get more and more people trying to cheat even if it is only to cover expenses to survive.
These are harsh words but definitely true.
What are the hardest things about being a pro-punter?
Discipline and not going off the rails when it goes wrong. It can also be quite a lonely existence. I sit in my office at home (in a converted garage) and stare at a screen six days a week. You must have a social life outside of betting or it will dominate too much.
What mentality do you need to survive?
Other interests or hobbies to switch off.
Do you use "inside" information or purely your own judgement?
I do get inside information, but you can get too much. Your own judgement is very important now days, too much information is available, you have to concentrate on what you are good at.
Also with the exchange in play now people also send out "wrong" messages, manipulate the Market to their advantage.
My tip is to stick to your judgement unless you really know where the information comes from. The vast majority of tipping services are a scam, they proof loads of tips in the papers under different names and when they get a run of winners on any one of their said "tipping line" they then advertise it, try and impress the public telling you how good they are or they've been.
Never pay for tips. All the information is usually in the form book and there for you to watch now.
How do you see the game developing in the next ten years?
Bleak. I'm afraid that there are too few good days and far too many poor ones now, we are in a downwards spiral, the sport is not funded properly. A lot of race course attendance figures are doctored by concerts and other events that get massive attendance's but these people do not go for the racing and do not return.
Another big problem for the game is the hard core punters are losing interest as they struggle to get bets and have their accounts closed. All the big firms have software monitoring all their accounts and are only really interested in recreational punters, you now don't even need to back winners to get your accounts closed just back the wrong horses (ones that shorten, each way or where they "give you concessions" that they don't want to lay).
Most of these bookmakers would get done for false advertising if they were in any other trade.
-1/4 odds each way every race!! Some races they don't want to lay 1/5th odds. Win only I get told regularly (then don't advertise it if you don't want to lay it))
-money back this or that, then read the small print £25 only, on your mobile only.
- lay you to lose this much.....yes but not at the price you advertise.
-guarantee our prices all week from 8.30-9.00 ( Tuesday: yes Wednesday: £25 Thursday: £10 Friday poster disappeared no prices guaranteed )
All I am saying is don't give the concession and advertise it unless you will do what you say.
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"Discipline and not going off the rails when it goes wrong. It can also be quite a lonely existence. I sit in my office at home (in a converted garage) and stare at a screen six days a week. You must have a social life outside of betting or it will dominate too much." I enjoyed read it entirely!
Very interesting interview - Thanks Andrew !
Greatly interesting as always Stephen. Really find the opinions and perspectives of veteran punters fascinating. Hope you've got some more in the works.