How To Deal With Losing
Like death and taxes, losing runs when betting are part and parcel of life. They can cause endless frustration and defy logic at times. Here we examine ways of coping and limiting the damage from these times when whatever can go wrong does.
Pro-punter John Basquill, who has enjoyed a supremely successful decade of betting for a living, correctly identified that the fifteen minutes after a poorly judged bet or moment of misfortune is the most dangerous time for all punters. This is the time when we are all at risk of getting "hotted up" and all reasoning and rationale goes flying out the window as we seek to recoup the losses.
This is obviously a completely illogical reaction to bad luck, but a completely human one that we all experience when the unexpected occurs. The last flight faller or last second goal can tip anyone over the edge, no matter how disciplined they believe they are with their betting.
The best policy seems to be avoid time-frames with betting. Don't have daily targets, or amounts one is trying to win in any given time period. Instead analyse the bottom line profit and loss during a period when actual trading or betting is not taking place, calmly and dispassionately, away from the action at the end of each month.
Only this way can one see where bad calls are being made and change course accordingly, safely away from the "red mist" that can descend when matters go wrong.
Compare the activities of a professional sports bettor to that of a professional sports person. This analogy works well when it comes to dealing with the heartache of a losing run. Even the best pro bettors go through losing streaks, but it’s the way they deal with their losses that sets them apart from consistent losers.
Imagine you’re a football manager who has just witnessed his team lose after extra time in a hard-fought cup tie. The last thing you want to do is wait a couple of minutes after the final whistle, then go straight into another high-intensity match. The team needs some rest and you need time to re-think your tactics, assess injuries and select a side capable of winning the next match.
Exactly the same principles apply to dealing with a losing run in betting. If you feel the losing streak is going to lead you to make poor decisions or apply your staking plan inconsistently, simply take a break. Give yourself a couple of days to take stock and work out why you’ve been making the wrong selections.
There isn’t a punter in the world that makes consistent profits by putting ill-researched bets on in a rush or by failing to follow a sound staking plan. There is no harm in taking a few days break. Freshen yourself up and get back at it when you're ready.
Patrick Veitch, one of the most feared full time gamblers in the UK since the 1990's is constantly evolving strategies in the battle to stay ahead of the game. Punters have never had a wider range of betting opportunities or choice, although it has to be said that "getting on" has never been harder for those with any kind of intelligence about value.
With this in mind Veitch now zones in on the shortest price horses each day and, after detailed research in depth into the races they are competing in, decides on a price that he is happy to back or lay. These decisions now form the basis of a largely exchange based operation, something totally different to the way he operated only five or six years ago.
Move With The Times
The dangers of standing still when it starts to go wrong can be illustrated by many failed punters, often some who have for years earned incredibly well from the game in the past. Johnny "Lights" Herndall was a massive player on the rails at racecourses in the South of England during the 80s and 90s before retiring. He was extremely well connected, an excellent judge of price and when to play and in what races, either as a layer or punter. However, with the arrival of the betting exchanges, the "secrets" that only he and a few others knew were "shopped" and his edge rapidly disappeared.
Before Betfair he might be given the "stable cash" to bet one of a leading yards newcomers in a modest maiden race, and would be aware that this horse was very strongly fancied (while the bookmakers were in the dark and pricing up largely off an untested industry tissue). With the dominance of the exchanges the odds of 4.00 or bigger that he might be able to bet at, now became 2.50 or less and the profit margin effectively evaporated overnight.
The best advice when the wheels come off and a succession of losers come along is to reduce stakes until feeling that your confidence has returned. If the punter's usual stake is 100, try reducing that to 25.
What actually often happens to many of us is we increase our betting levels when we are out of form, trying to chase after previous losses, and it is during this time that all the previous hard work and profits can be thrown away.
As on-course pro-punter Steve Noyce explained, "It is far better to plod along, in first gear and try to become a marathon runner rather than a sprinter who burns himself out". Getting the staking right is the hardest part of betting and it is far better to play bigger when things are going well, than to try and smash out of trouble when they aren't.
Less bets, more carefully thought through and placed only when an edge can be obtained. Cut out all the "interest" bets, i.e when a live match is on, and focus solely on an area where you have the most knowledge. Obvious advice, but it is so often ignored, especially when matters go wrong.
An excellent punter makes a decent living solely from trading football in running, where he has an array of complex algorithms that he follows to work out any slight edge or discrepancy in the prices offered between asian and exchange based markets. He can grind out superb yearly profits doing this and has no other source of income, so is entirely reliant on making it pay betting.
However, if he makes an error or a late goal goes against him, he can very quickly go on "tilt" and turn to any sport to try and recoup what he has just lost in the last ninety minutes. This can involve laying a horse or greyhound in a far larger stake than he would normally play at in-running.
Into his forties now, he recognises completely the madness of this approach, but it still makes a very big dent in his yearly income and cannot overcome it. Admitting frailties and vulnerabilities is a great first step for any punter, although doing something to combat it can be another matter!
The dreaded advice that no serious punter can counter. Often heard muttered by friends or family when a losing run is explained, it is not something that those of us who love the game can imagine.
Throwing in the towel, never betting again is a temptation when fate conspires against you, but imagine a life wondering around garden centres or National Trust properties while the racing or soccer is on, and you soon realise that one must refine rather than retire.
The search for better, more profitable betting is a never ending one, and "adapt or die" is a very good modus operandi in the rapidly changing world of punting.
What is a losing run? One person’s losing run is another person’s ‘accounted for blip’. But no profit-making strategy ever survived by relying on every single selection being a winner. It’s nice to go on a winning run, granted, but the reality is that even successful bettors, those who have shown the ability of a number of years and thousands of bets, will hit a losing streak at some stage.
If your losses are costing you and undermining your betting bankroll, however, then there’s something fundamentally wrong with your staking plan (i.e. how much money you’re placing on each bet) and/or your selection criteria (i.e. the reasons underpinning your pick). Losing runs will come and go.
But every losing run is a good opportunity for you to review both your staking plan and bet selection process. If both your staking plan and bet selection process are founded in sound betting theory, then just continue to bet and work through the losing streak. If your staking plan and selection process are inconsistent without betting theory to support them, make the appropriate changes before you go bust.
If you go on a long losing run, resulting in your betting bank dropping to unacceptable levels, then there’s something seriously wrong. Never, ever chase losses, however. Go through your spreadsheets of shame and if you look close enough you’ll see where you’ve gone wrong.
A good habit to get into when recording your bets, is to make a comment on your approach when placing this bet. Did you stick to your staking plan? Did you analyse that particular event as you had planned to do? And be honest. If you failed to stick your plan, make a note of it, even if the bet ended up being a winner.
Because when you review bets where you did not stick to your plan, you will see that they are costing you money. Some will be winners, but the majority will be costing you money. There's no better way to help you develop betting discipline and work your way though losing streaks than seeing the cold hard facts that these moments of poor discipline are costing you money.
This may sound a little harsh, but standing tall and resolute will help you work through a losing streak. As we stated earlier, losing streaks will happen, even when you apply a sound staking plan and bet selection process.
So when a losing streak comes, if you're doing things right, keep doing them. Keep to your processes. Keep to your staking plan. Keep making your selections. If you are doing things right, you will work through your losing streak and come out the other end with greater confidence.
Yes, losing streaks are difficult, especially your first or second prolonged losing streak. You will feel great self doubt, worrying that your good results have just been luck and that maybe you are not going to be the long term profitable punter that you hoped to be. But take it from us, your first losing streak will be the hardest.
Once you realise that losing streaks are common, and that you will work through each one by sticking to sound betting theory, your confidence as a bettor will grow and grow. If a losing streak throws you off course and leads you to make changes to a sound betting strategy simply because you need to find a couple of winners to restore your confidence, the only sue thing is failure. So when a losing streak comes, be brave.
Pick yourself up, dust yourself down and prepare more thoroughly for your next selection. The bottom line is that there’s no shame in admitting to yourself that you can’t turn a regular profit at a particular sport and calling it a day, or at the very least taking a break while you assess why and where you went wrong. It’s better to stop punting on a sport with which you never seem to achieve consistent wins than continually haemorrhaging cash.
Have a look at what else is out there, do some paper trading (that is, placing imaginary bets and keeping a record of their success or otherwise), identify a new sport to get involved with or attack the existing sport of choice with a brand new strategy. As the old adage goes:
“Fail to prepare, and prepare to fail.”