At some point in time all people who bet have to ask themselves the question: Is this merely an expensive hobby for "fun" or something I can make enough money from to live off?
Most of us all fall somewhere in the middle. At various times we will feel confident that winning consistently from our views is achievable. At other times we feel embarrassed by poor decisions and bet "for an interest" or because a game we know nothing about is televised.
No punter is perfect and no punter has never made errors or chased. The important thing is learning from these mistakes and steering clear of them.
If you are serious about moving your betting in the direction of becoming a profession, here's 10 tips to help you along the tricky path.
1 - Find An Edge And Stay On It
This is key. Put theory to one side and concentrate on finding yourself an angle. A vital edge that means you can make a profit. Whether it is lower league football or specialising at one greyhound track, you need to become a cut above the crowd and form views that are not in the public domain i.e not in the price already.
2 - Don't Set Daily Targets
Pointless, futile and leads to chasing. On a quiet day at the end of each month, tot up the figures and record them. Try not to procrastinate over them and only focus on what went wrong and why.
3 - Keep Form Study And Analysis Separate From The Actual Business Of Betting
Get your opinions formed before the actual mechanics of betting and trading take place. Unless you are wealthy enough like Patrick Veitch to have a small army of bet-placers to do your business, it is essential to have a clear idea of what you want to do before the difficult task of "getting-on" takes place.
Trying to study form "on the hoof" during racing for example is very difficult and often leads to poor decisions. The ideal pro will have his prices formed in the morning and base trading decisions on them in the afternoon.
4 - Have A "Working" Betting Day And Avoid Playing At All When "Off"
A fatal flaw that we can all succumb to. There is nothing worse than turning the computer on one Sunday and losing a few hundred pounds/euros when you had no intention of doing anything. This can really upset the mindset and also ruin a day of rest. Forget the game completely unless utterly dedicated to it.
5 - Talk To Others But Don't Listen To Them!
The life of a punter can be very isolated and it is very important to touch base with fellow humans. Also chatting to people whose view we respect can provide another angle that had not been considered.
However, never be swayed too much especially during poor spells when self doubt can always creep in. "Inside information" or a "hot tip" are also best avoided in the longer term, principally because 9/10 the price will already reflect this "secret".
6 - Keep Betting Money Totally Separate From Day To Day Expenses/Life
Try not to merge "real life" necessities with money for betting. This makes life a lot less stressful and also makes us take a far more business like approach to money management/betting.
7 - Do Not Get Bored
Can be fatal. I often found when specialising in jumps racing that during the summer I was very vulnerable to playing on the flat purely because there was little else to do, (with very expensive consequences). All of us have a bit of "action junkie" in us and it is very dangerous if it takes over. Betfair can do this to a lot of otherwise very shrewd people.
8 - Avoid The Persecution Complex
Why me? How many photo's have I been beaten in today? What has the jockey done there? How did he miss that? Forget it! These things level out in time and we all tend to remember the unlucky losers and forget the fortunate winners!
9 - Don't Tell The Whole World When You Are Winning
"Won very small". "Lost very small". Six words that every pro-punter needs to learn off by heart, particularly if he is married or in a relationship.
10 - Relate Staking To Strength Of Opinion, Not To Position Financially On The Day Or Week.
The hardest to achieve but the most important. A former colleague of mine, lets call him Hunter, was an excellent judge of rugby league and showed the importance of staking to me. He watched a huge number of matches and had "ins" at all the main clubs and would have "positions" on a large number of games every week. After paying a commission agent/exchange charges etc he broke about level year on year on his weekly business.
However, where he was excellent and turned this opinion into huge overall profits, was where he had a very strong "nap". This would often be based on "team news" direct from one of the clubs where for example, a team was severely weakened by injuries or illness. He would find this out well ahead of the industry and really smash into the stronger team at all rates and in all markets. When the shock news became public he would have a massive edge over the layers who found they had huge liabilities at totally wrong levels.
In this information age such an "edge" has gone, but the shrewd punter is always on the lookout for the next one, while Hunter has now semi-retired and plays golf!
Easier Said Than Done
The theory with betting is often far easier to write about than it is to execute in practice. All of us have felt that flushed feeling when something goes wrong with a bet. That twitch to chase the losses and plunge on anything to immediately recoup the losses from a bet that we had thought home and hosed.
Here is where most of us go totally wrong. Betting is an intensely personal and private thing and controlling instincts and having a very strong mind are essential. Otherwise we can all become the "bookmakers dream punter", someone who bets in every race/game, playing bigger and bigger as we try and claw back earlier losses until the entire tank has gone.
Even the most astute and highly regarded backers such as Patrick Veitch has stated that he waits to settle his weekly accounts sometimes to make sure they show a profit. i.e settles them after a fortnight when he is back in front. This is purely psychological and means he feels "in the zone" going forward to the next period.
Racehorse owner and pro-punter John Basquill also states the importance of regular wins achieved by playing in a size well within his comfort zone. He has learnt that life outside of betting is far more relaxed if the bad days do not play on the mind too much, while in-running expert Steve Noyce emphasises how important it is to play a long, patient game and avoid the bad habits of smashing away that ruin so many.
These are punters who do nothing else other than bet for a living, and their ideas and attitudes are very important to understand even for people who see betting a recreation.
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