Ten Golden Rules for Betting

Tue, Mar 23, 2010

Betting Theory

Ten Golden Rules for Betting


These are some of the rules that I try to apply to my own betting. They won’t suit everyone and they won’t be right for every style of betting but having some guiding principles can certainly be a help.

1 Be Selective

Bookmakers have to price up every race, every match and every tournament every day but we get to choose which ones we bet in. The ability to select both the venue and our weapon of choice is the single biggest factor in our favour when duelling with those bookies. The fundamental principle of any gaming business is that the players will ‘punt to extinction’ . The reason no bookie or casino minds a big winner here and there is their very high level of confidence that the money will soon be recycled and they’ve every chance of eventually getting it back. The vast majority of any bookmakers income is derived from that small core of punters who will always recycle until their available money is done. Don’t be one of the donors.

2 Specialise

Nobody knows everything about everything. Not even Stephen Fry. Specialise and become an expert in your field

This is not the same thing as being selective. Selectivity is about picking your opportunities, specialism is about increasing your expertise and knowledge in a specific area. If you watch a lot of all weather racing, why not use that experience by specialising and focusing on those tracks? Learn the running and riding patterns at each distance at each all weather course. Learn what is required to win in each type of race at each venue. Specialism can be in any one of a number of branches of any sport but any specialist expertise provides the potential for an edge as bookmaking businesses are largely ‘generalists’ . Even the biggest bookmakers in the world have only very small teams of people working on odds compiling on any given sport. Big Mac likes to shout ‘they knew! They knew!’. This is only rarely actually true.

You can specialise by sport, by event type, by race distance, by surface, by course, by trainer, by jockey etc etc. If you don’t know what to focus on check your records. You might be surprised what you’re good at and equally surprised by what you’re bad at!

3 Don’t Kid a Kidder

This is a biggy. I share my betting ups and downs with my wife. She knows what I’ve won and what I’ve lost at any given time. This was largely non negotiable as she has that typical womans intuition thing going on so that she knows within three nano seconds of me walking through the door whether I’m up or down on the day. Rather than fight this (tempting I know) I’ve gone with it. That route might not be for everyone but being honest with someone else is a good way of keeping yourself honest. Play a round of golf on your own and you may notice your score improves (what with the odd free drop, that well deserved Mulligan, and the few that didn’t count because you were genuinely distracted by that idiot in the buggy). Play with a partner and the scorecard tells the whole truth. Having a blog is another way of ‘sharing’. You see, now you and I are effectively man and wife. How do you like your eggs in the morning?

4 Bet To Bet Great

I’ve stolen this off golfing guru Dr Bob Rotella. He has a chapter in The Golfer’s Mind entitled ‘play to play great’. It’s well worth a read. Put simply it means focus with all of your energy on the matter in hand, which for our purposes is the next bet. Don’t tally up a final score, don’t think about what you might win by the end of the month or what you’ve already lost in the week so far. It’s about staying in the moment and enjoying what you’re doing for it’s own sake. It’s a bit airy fairy and philosophical but it’s also a really good bit of advice I think. Works on the golf course too, which is a bonus!

5 Level You Devil

If you can’t win to level stakes then it’s unclear that you can win at all. Don’t let flexible staking (also known as chasing) fool you into thinking that you’re winning when you’re losing. Even if your stakes are subject to change and fluctuation keep a record that reflects your profit on turnover as a constant. As the recent global economic meltdown has illustrated, keep chasing and eventually you’ll find that elusive black swan. In fact, there’s a chance you’ll career your combine harvester right into a whole flock of the buggers, writing off your valuable piece of farm plant and engulfing your world in a cloud of crimson blood and black feathered darkness.

6 Dron’t Dink!

Betting’s no different to most adult activities that we enjoy doing when we’ve had a few. Picking the England team, arguing, making sweet sweet love, driving… We’re a genius at all of these after a skinful we think but the reality is of course different. Do it sober, do it clean and do it straight. Crack open a cold one, or whatever, when the work is done.

7 If In Doubt, Leave it Out

Rather like the poker hand that we could have passed but kept playing because hearts have been lucky, it’s the bets we shouldn’t have had that undo us in the end. Human beings are hard wired to remember missed opportunities. We remember always the winner we were going to back before changing our stupid minds and leaving it out. What we forget is that there was usually a good reason why we left it out. What we also forget is all of those losing bets that we swerved. We too easily forget the winner that we nearly laid, the losers that we rightly left out. It’s those bets we didn’t make just as much as the ones we did make that define our overall balance sheet. In life they say you’re more likely to regret the things you didn’t do. In punting it’s more often the other way around. Your intuition is a powerful thing. Listen to it.

8 Don’t be Soft

Success in betting, as in anything, rarely comes easily and what the Texans call intestinal fortitude is often required. A certain hardness in your thinking is probably a good thing as is the ability to stand up to pressure and not wilt when the going gets tough. If you’re doing the right thing you have to have the courage to keep on doing it even when it’s hurting.

9 Don’t be Too Hard

The fine line between strength and machismo, guts and ego is a tricky one to traverse. Wanting to be right about something is not the same as being right and a refusal to admit that doesn’t make us bigger it just makes us poorer.

Being humble is one of the secrets of many good punters. The willingness to let go of a losing situation without feeling it dents your pride will save you fortunes and do wonders for you mental wellbeing.

Try this. Ask someone to stand opposite to you with their feet shoulder width apart. Tell them they cannot under any circumstances move their feet. Their feet must stay glued to the floor. Now bet them a tenner you can push them over with one finger. Most people go as stiff as a board and lean into you. Unless they’re Jonah Lomu, it’s usually pretty straightforward to push them over. Not being able to move their feet is what gets them.

A more flexible and smarter opponent will resist you by bending their body fluidly. If you push their shoulder back, they’ll push their hips forward. In this way they can shift their centre of gravity to remain planted and you won’t be able to push them over. Ah Grasshopper!

10 Don’t Listen to Golden Rules

Understand that there isn’t a punter drawing breath that hasn’t broken one or all of these rules at some time. I know I have.

Like I say, these won’t be the right rules for everyone. Maybe you have some of your own?

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2 Responses to “Ten Golden Rules for Betting”

  1. danmunn Says:

    Very philosophical Boycie! Good advice

  2. seanboyce Says:

    Hi Danmunn,
    Thanks every so much for logging on. You’re right it is a bit philosophical. Looking back I think I might spend a bit too much time thinking about betting!
    All the best,

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