Friday, 17 January 2020

The Reality of a Professional Gambler

Professional gambler storiesSo many punters would love to be a professional gambler. I must admit, I love a good professional gambler story. 

They detail often gritty, determined if not private people who have both ability and a dream. The focus being able to make a living and stay ahead of the game. No easy task. I noticed this comment from an anonymous reader who took the plunge and decided he could make it as a professional gambler. 

When betting it pays to use a decent website which offers the best bookmaker deals and check out odds because each point makes a difference over a season. Presently, punters are taking note of the next horse racing events. Take a look at the top 10 betting sites for horse racing, offer and more.

In response to this insightful post Becoming a Professional Gambler Anonymous said... 

This post is a true reflection of being a professional horse gambler. I tried to go pro a few years ago after a number of profitable years as a semi-pro. I had won around 15 grand over a 6 year period and decided to go for it. Unfortunately, it did not go to plan. Being a gambler doesn’t mean you have to spend a day on a horse racecourse and spend an entire paycheck. Usually, the things don’t go the way you want, and your favourite horse finishes the race behind all other – that’s a bad luck – but you also should know when to stop. 

The pressure is different when you go full time. You can try too hard or get negative when things don't go your way. With only betting the flat it is a short season to make money and I had a bad start to the season which really put me on the back foot. During the year I missed out on 2 big priced winners through family commitments both costing me nearly 100 points profit. These missed chances were very hard to take. I managed to get my act together late on in the year and won 5 grand in the last 10 weeks of my season but it was all too late. 

I had missed my chance and had to go back to working full time. It was a difficult time but I learnt a lot. I don't regret taking my chance. During my gambling over the last decade I have had a number of near misses to land big wins to break into the big time and with a little luck I know I could be betting full time now,. There is a very thin line between gambling and investing, the horse races are sometimes decided by inches and photo-finish, so it is always good to have a few horses as back up plan.

I have had 4 or 5 narrow defeats that cost me 25 grand in winnings. I even had 2 near misses in one week that cost me winnings of 12 grand. You are always left with the feeling of what if! I have had numerous big price winners. Horse racing can be lucrative in gambling, but you also have to think outside the “box” sometimes, if things are going south for your pocket. I have won 4 grand, and lots of 2 grand on single bets in my time to relatively small stakes but it is hard to break through when you have a family and commitments.

Have you ever fancied yourself as a professional gambler? Perhaps you gave it a go or still winning and making a living from what you know best. Great story from Tony Ansell: I've Made £750k Betting Honestly on horse racing. Good luck to all.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

When is the best time to bet?

Time to bet

It's a pretty open ended question. 

How often do you bet?

I've often been criticized for not betting enough. ''What are you waiting for?'' Impatient. I understand the regular Joe at the bookmakers is waiting for the next race. He's an eager devil waiting for the next race before the last has finished. Most bet on favourites. If the horse races don't come fast enough they dabble with the greyhounds. Trap 1. If that isn't enough, they bet on virtual racing. The only good thing about that is animal welfare. 

The two-year-old season isn't like any other age group of horse. 

Each year we start with a blank slate. A fictitious piece of chalk in hand, drawing a picture of long-legged horse. Yes, it's black and white. The picture forms with every day's racing. I feel like George Stubbs, the English painter of horses. Whistlejacket. That was one of the horses he painted, not a jacket you wear to wolf whistle girls.  

It takes time to understand the early two-year-old racing. Without a reference point - a level of ability - we're guessing. That doesn't sound like understanding or objectivity. It isn't a word someone would invest money, hey. I kind of ''guess'' the price of oil will go up. It doesn't instill much hope. 

So the early season is all about watching the races and individual horses; to learn about each.I have watched a race twenty times. It can be a tiring endeavour. I have been known to fall to sleep mid race or watch one umpteen times because I keep dropping off before they cross the line. However, you can just about guarantee I watch every race and horse (repeatedly). Why? Because I want to know more than the average punter. Joes Bloggs doesn't really think about these things. Understanding, knowledge & proven ability takes time. 

The early-season form can be tricky. A horse finished second, so everyone thinks it will win next time out. It might do just that. But if it beats a slow horse (remember, we don't know it is a slow horse, yet) then we may bet and feel like a complete idiot. So many horses are beaten in this manner. We wait until those form lines start to build. In addition, using Group Horse, I look for significantly entered juveniles. In truth, I have a number of ways to make assessment. All parts of the jigsaw puzzle. 

The season started in March/April and I will be unlikely to bet in that first month. Most people would be pulling out their hair, teeth chattering, eyes bulging as they look at the race cards in the daily paper. I could wait forever. I'm not betting for fun or humour, the buzz or whatever. I bet for all the right reasons. That it is a bet with value. 

Never feel as though you are in a rush to bet. Don't look for bets. It will addle your brain to a point where you don't know when or why you are betting. Betting isn't fun. It shouldn't be fun. Losing money isn't fun. It is business. Bet for all the right reasons. 

You will know when it is time to bet. 

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Professional Gamblers: Alex Bird Backed Mill Reef to Win £100K

Alex Bird Professional Gambler
The face of gambling has changed with technology. 

Take a look at https://www.sunbets.co.uk/racing/meetings/today/R to see the latest odds.

The old-style pro gambler plying his trade at racecourses across the country. Alex Bird, known as the original pro bettor, learned his trade from his bookmaker father. He decided it paid more to be on the other side of the counter. 

He needed to be at the course because one technique he used to beat the bookies was betting on photo-finishes. Even on today's betting exchanges, there is a market for those who have an opinion of any result. However, on course, in those days of old, there was plenty of time to bet while the photo was developed. 

Bird noticed that more often than not, the horse on the far side looked to have won. This was an optical illusion. 

It was reported he made 500 consecutive winning bets and in the process made a fortune. 

Such was his influence in the betting ring, that he could make false favourites. He employed an army of bettors who placed his money off course, sometimes betting up to 50K a time. As the on-course bookmakers set the SP price, he would often bet what seemed significant sums of money on another horse, followed by punters, making sure his 'original' fancy drifted in the betting. 

Bird used race times to find winners, similar to Phil Bull who was the founder of Timeform. 

He detailed how Mill Reef broke a track record on firm going but also won in the mud when winning the Gimcrack. He concurred this was the mark of a great horse and backed him at 4/6f. Bird placed his biggest bet £60K. Mill Reef trounced his rival by four lengths. 


Mill Reef Winning Epsom Derby 1971
The following year Bird backed Mill Reef to win the Epsom Derby in 1971. This son of Never Bend, trained by Ian Balding in the ownership of Paul Melon, won by two lengths. Alex Bird was reputed to have won £100K on this exceptional bay colt. 






Mill Reef Racing Record:

Winner of 12 of his 14 races. He was runner-up in those defeats. 

Coventry Stakes (1970)
Gimcrack Stakes (1970)
Dewhurst Stakes (1970)
Greenham Stakes (1970)
Epsom Derby (1971)
Eclipse Stakes (1971)
King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (1971)
Prix de l'Arc de Triompe (1971)
Prix Ganay (1971)
Coronation Cup (1972)

Mill Reef was retired at four after sustaining an injury but a noble stallion and sire.  

Bird was as studious in his later years as younger.  Just a year before he passed away, in 1990, he backed Final Shot to win the Ayr Gold Cup. The horse was backed form 40-1 - 10s. 

Alex Bird's Golden Rules to Making Your Betting Pay:

1) Hold your bets if there is a change in the going.  

2) Bird love each-way bets, especially maiden races with 8 - 10 runners with just a few noted form horses. Oppose the favourite and combine the second and third favourites in each-way doubles/trebles. 

3) A good 7lb apprentice is worth their weight in gold. 

4) Never bet on the first show - horses usually drift in price on the second or third show.  

5) Bird rarely bet on handicaps. 

6) Never bet on three-year-old maiden fillies. 

You may be interested in reading Alex Bird's: The Life and Secrets of a Professional Punter, published in 1986. [Written with Terry Manners]. It details his story covering almost four decades from 1946 - 1985. 

In this modern age of technology, it would have been interesting to see how Bird would have figured. In truth, such a man would have used betting exchanges to his advantage. Successful gambling is as much to do with the principles of working and discipline. When you consider how many modern-day pro gamblers work, they seem to lack by his lofty standards. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Pro Gambler: Betting Big Odds On

Odds On Loser Challenged by Clown
Pro gambler stories are always popular. To walk in the shoes of someone who puts their money down - betting they know more than the bookmaker (who thinks they don't). A battle of wits, judgment and courage. 

I say courage because for some professional gamblers they have a lot more to lose than win. How come? 

When they bet huge odds on.   

Betting odds on takes a certain mentality. You find comfort in the fact that your horse is favourite. All the money is on this beast. You are happy to be part of the crowd. There's safety in numbers. 

What could go wrong? 

Odds-on winners are good but odds on losers hit you hard. All that positivity comes back with an equal measure of negativity. You literally feel like a clown is following you around the racecourse. He's pointing at you: smiling, laughing, sneering, mocking. You feel as though your trousers are going to fall down at any moment and you can't remember if you put on boxers.

He shouts: ''Look at this chump, he backed an odds on loser!'' 

He gives you a couple of honks from his horn. Smiles. 

''Loser!''

He delves into a bag and pulls out a cream pie. Everyone on the racecourse is watching. Even the commentator [Tommo] is keeping the crowd informed. Bookmakers price up the odds whether you will get a cream pie over your chops.

You'd bet yourself, but fearful of what happened to ''that'' poor loser. 

Out of the corner of your eye, you spot a line of clowns limbering up with their best stuff. One is scooting around the course in a clown car as parts fall off along the way. 

I remember a story detailed in Dave Nevison's book which he spoke of one pro who bet huge odds on and hardly dare watch fearing any moment his horse would be struggling or notice (somehow) it was being ridden by a real clown. He's laughing at the crowd as he fires confetti into the air. He yells: ''You f****** losers!!!!'' 

Too many times that big, strong, colt returns to the paddock with cream pie all over his face. 

Strangely, they never called for a stewards' inquiry. 

The perils of betting big odds on.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Betting Outside Your Comfort Zone

Betting outside your comfort zoneBetting. 

How much would you have to bet before you felt uneasy? In ''uneasy'' I mean how many pounds, shilling and pence before you'd feel pretty peed off if it lost? 

The old maxim: ''Bet what you can afford to lose'' is, I guess, what most people do. 

Sensible.

Very few people bet crazy amounts of money fun. A percentage do who have a problem. But even those of a compulsive nature probably do their dough betting £20, £50 or £100 a time. 

Please, don't bet if you do not have a good reason why you can win. If you are basing your ''skills'' on looking at the form on the wall of your local bookmakers your knowledge base isn't likely to put you ahead of the game.  It's like studying for a test without really reading the book. There are plenty of pages bar the first and last. 

I love to watch business stuff, videos, info and people chatting about investing money. This bloke asked how much money would you invest. Basically, investing money you can afford to lose. He said about 30% of his savings. But this varies from person to person. Makes sense, hey!   

It depends on your comfort zone. It's a similar question with betting. How much is too much for you?

We have all seen people who have lost too much. While others are enjoying their day they sit withdrawn, blank expression, thinking how the hell did I lose all that money. They are struggling because it was more than they wanted to lose. Not a good feeling. Stepping outside that comfort zone.

Very few people would contemplate betting all their money on the spin of a roulette wheel. 

Black or red? 

Not many people would feel comfortable doing that. But how many could bet all their money - lose - and say: ''Let's go get something to eat, and you're paying'' and act as though nothing happened? In actual fact, not caring that it had happened?

I guess there are some people who could. I would love to meet them because they must be very confident they can make that money again. 

I imagine a number of people who have bet and lost all of their money are more likely to climb the stairs of the nearest high building and jump than decide which burger they want to eat.  

When betting, don't push yourself to the extreme if you cannot handle the consequence of the loss. Don't just think of the small loss on the day. If you have lost a fortune over the years, what is the total? It could well be £50,000. Did breaking those bets into smaller sums make it easier to swallow? 

I guess so. But it's still the same as betting a bloody big wedge. 


Be wise when you bet. 



Sunday, 3 November 2019

Should People Gamble?


It's a word that many people need to ask themselves. 

I'm not sure what percentage of the population gambled in the 1950s. I imagine it was the man's domain. Perhaps the lady of the house would enjoy a night at the bingo. This day and age, gamblers are, in my mind, what smoking was twenty years back. You will note that smoking has been removed from advertising. Benson & Hedges used to throw money at sporting events like it was going out of fashion just as it was with Embassy. Gambling is rife on TV but I am sure in the future it will be restricted or banned for the hard it has caused many who bet in a naive manner. 

Gambling is similar to someone taking drugs. It might seem like a good idea at the time but it can lead to problems which see people selling themselves on the street. 

I have never taken illegal drugs (beyond what the doctor has prescribed) and I have no intention of taking them. 

However, gambling is something I have done and witnessed from an early age. I don't consider gambling a problem for myself because I have an understanding of what it is all about. For myself, there is a plus because gambling gives the opportunity to make money. The reason why gambling is so appealing to many is that you can surpass the cost of living. Most jobs there is a limit. The structure of working in a capitalist society is that you are held back (or forward) by the structure of the system. 

However, gambling isn't something people should consider doing without much thought. Most people don't give this potentially disastrous decision much thought which is a problem. 

I would suggest to anyone that gambling isn't a good idea. But appreciate that life is full of gambles that need to be considered. 

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Do Slot Machines use Psychology to Get You Addicted?

Do Slot Machines use Psychology to Get You Addicted?
A quick answer: You bet they do!

There has been lots of media coverage about the addictive nature of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. Basically, an FOBT is a betting machine where you can choose a myriad of games to play and bet. 

Whether you play roulette, slot machines or whatever games they display they have become a problem. 

I can't say I have ever bet on one of these machines in the bookies. I'm not keen on bookmakers as I find them depressing places where most people lose money. The FOBT terminals have been in the news because many punters were becoming addicted to playing them which had devastating effects on their finances and family life. Such was the uproar that the government restricted the amount gamblers could bet. I think it was at a level of £100 a spin. Not that I can see the difference between these betting machines than going to a brick-and-mortar casino. I honestly think it was a public relations episode to take the heat off the gambling problem that seems to cut across the country if not the world. 

I did play on the virtual slot machine via Betfair, one evening when I was a bit bored. I actually won a few quid. But it made me think how these games use psychology to keep you playing (and losing). The main psychological fact which they use is making a real song and dance when you get a small win. Also, it is nearly impossible from looking at the symbols on the reels that it is very difficult to work out whether you have won on any spin. In fact, I was left thinking I had won almost every go. This clearly is made to make gamblers carry on betting. I always, remember reading, in the good old day that slot machines are the most addictive form of gambling and that was decades ago. I would hate to imagine what they are like now. With the advancement of psychology as a tool to manipulate there is little doubt that most people can easily succumb to this gambling problem. 

After winning on the first hour or so of play I was tempted to have another go. Well, betting at small stakes, I soon realised I wasn't going to be winning £100K as the adverts like to proclaim. The small wins kept coming. I loved that jingle and the sound of virtual money dropping at will. However, the small wins didn't outweigh the bigger losses and after a while, I realised I had lost all the money I had won. 

What I found was that it is very difficult to stop pressing that play button. I felt like one of those pigeons in a psychological experiment where I pecked a disc when I saw a different colour and for my action received some corn. The trouble with playing the slots is that even a pigeon would stop sooner than most men or women! Yes, that is a joke. However, the psychology behind the slot machine is now so advanced that they are extremely addictive to a point that logic or common sense goes by the way. 

I would say never bet on these slot machines because they are truly bad news.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Gambling: Learned Helplessness

Lots of people gamble. 

If anything, there are more people gambling than ever. Men, women and children (given half a chance). This must have much to do with the increasing number of adverts pushed across the board. 

Football, darts, horse racing... At the commercial break you find you have been transported to a universe populated by Ray Winston and a variety of bets. Or some other geezer, who suggests you can boost your bet. That's trumped by a celebrity who says you can create your own bets. 

Planet Bet. A place where insurance brokers have fixed gadgets to zebra crossings so you can see the changing odds and likelihood that you may be run over or disabled by drunk driver or some old dear who is rushing home to check her Lotto. 

I wonder if adverts for gambling will go the same way as smoking? Every other sport was sponsored by Embassy or Benson & Hedges. You get the feeling that betting will follow suit as more and more people fall prey to what seems an innocent pastime. 

This post is about the more established gambler. The kind of gamblers who should know better. They love to bet. They win. They lose. But here's an interesting question. Do they ever learn?

It may seem a strange question to ask. However, has your approach to the way you bet changed with time? Have to become more successful? Have you stayed exactly where you started? 

If you went to evening school for five years, it would seem a touch different if you never progressed past basic mathematics. If someone asked how your studies were going and you said: ''I'm still taking basic maths'' you may get an odd look. 

''Wasn't you taking that class five years ago?''

''Yes!''

If that is the case for your betting, then perhaps you need to stop for a moment and consider a rethink. 

Why? 

Because what you've been doing doesn't make sense. 

Is the fact that people consider they cannot win at gambling the reason why they don't question an irrational behaviour? Perhaps, it is just an addicts mind? But I don't think so. In psychology there is a theory called learned helplessness. Where an animal receives an electric shock when it wanders to a certain part of its cage. Every time it goes there, it had a painful experience. Not surprisingly, after a while, it simply keeps away from this part. However, this behaviour remains even when the electricity is switched off. The dog, cat, rabbit, human has learned to be helpless.

Definition: Learned Helplessness

A condition in which a person suffers from a sense of powerlessness, arising from a traumatic event or persistent failure to succeed. It is thought to be one of the underlying causes of depression.

Is the fact that so many gamblers have resigned themselves to losing that they never progress to win?

Monday, 23 September 2019

19 Things About the Life of Legendary Pro Gambler Phil Bull

1) Born, West Yorkshire, 1910

2) Son of a coal miner and school teacher

3) Started betting as a schoolboy

4) 1931 Graduated from Leeds University reading Mathematics

5) Love of horse racing and maths helped create his own Timeform handicapping system

6) He gave up being a school teacher to become a professional gambler

7) In the 1940s, he sold his tips under the pseudonym of the Temple Time Test

8) He was friends with bookmaker William Hill 

9) His betting records show that from 1943 - 1974 he won £295,987 (about £5M in today's money)

10) After the second world war, Bull and Dick Whitford created Timeform in 1948 

11) Bull headed the company until his death in 1989.

12) Timeform is now owned by Betfair Exchange 

13) In 2012 Frankel received the highest ever rating

14) Phil Bull was a racehorse owner and breeder setting up Hollins Stud in Halifax in 1947. 

15) He bred top class horses including Romulus & Eudaemon.  In his own colours, he won with Sostenuto & Charicle.  

16) By 1980 his stud fell by the way and he owned individual horses.

17) 1980 he was made Chairman of the Horseracing Advisory Council. (He lasted just 4 months)

18) One of his legacies is the Racing Post Trophy, formerly known as the Timeform Gold Cup established in 1961. He wasn't happy with the limited number of one-mile two-year-old races.   

19) Three horses have won the Racing Post Trophy before winning the Epsom Derby: High Chaparral, Authorized and Camelot.  

Monday, 12 August 2019

Should You Get Angry When Your Bet Loses?

Should You Get Angry When Your Bet Loses?
I'm sure YOU have had one of those days when a losing bet makes your blood pressure hit the roof.

If you bet on a regular basis it is par for the course (especially if you bet on golf). 

It has happened to me umpteen times and I could tell you stories about winning and losing bets which make you smile like a Cheshire Cat and others turn your hair grey overnight.

The losers can be hard to swallow. Like a jagged little pill. Those horses that get caught on the line. Those that run on like a steam train but lose on the nod. The worst are those bets which you realise (sometime before, definitely after the event) were a complete, bloody, irritating mistake (keep calm). Like the day I didn't lay off a horse in running at 1.03 (1/33) for a couple of grand. That was a mistake. A frustrating, stupid, irritating mistake. The days I have been thinking about betting on an outsider (a couple at 200/1 on Betfair) and seeing it, them, many of them, win. Heartbreaking. But whose fault was it? 


''MINE'' 

In some respect, if I have to learn a lesson, I would rather learn it quick and make sure it doesn't happen again. We all know they do happen again until the day comes when we are so sick of the stupidity of a missed or absurd bet that we start to carve an answer in stone. I think every gambler needs their very own 10 Commandments. Guidelines which keep them on the right track. As a gambler, If you feel you don't need guidelines I would question your thinking. You don't have to write them down or carve them in stone but they are there firing on all cylinders as synaptic nerves in that grey matter. Those delicious neurotransmitters which make sense, logic, reason and a myriad of emotions. 


''No wonder some people take Prozac'' 


I've had this conversation with my good friend Eric Winner. He is a sprint race analyst and has been betting even longer than myself. Eric says: ''He doesn't bet with emotional attachment'', because his method is objective and data-driven. There is a lot to be said for taking the emotion out of gambling. Emotion is called the why of behaviour. 

What motivates you? 

Anyway, my way of betting is data-driven, emotionally driven and based on a multitude of information both qualitative, quantitative, nomothetic and idiographic. So I can register with the temperament of gambling - winning and losing. Feelings of blood-boiling annoyance whether directed at a jockey (who looked like he was slurping a cool beer in an armchair) and predominantly at myself for not seeing the obvious. That horse is too keen every race so why should this day be any different? 

But does being angry about a racing result mean it is a bad thing? 

Some people would say yes. 

It probably varies from one person to the next and dependent on who they are as an individual. 

But for me being angry about a losing bet is fuel to find an answer to a question. To make sure, if possible, it doesn't happen again. And, yes, be, perhaps, even madder the next time if it happens again because I didn't learn from the last lesson. 

If I make a bad decision and the horse loses then I need to learn. Sure, there are plenty of horses that lose and run to their best. Those are not the issue. I have lost many times and even though it isn't ideal I am happy in the assessment of my choice and decision. But not when making a ridiculous mistake of a bet. That is a different story and needs to be knocked on the head. A sledgehammer to drive a six-inch nail deep into a piece of wood. Where it remains fast. 


So emotions when betting can be the curse of many a gambler. They can, to some extent, distort the mind. But they can also help build new understanding and discipline which can make those days of high emotion a thing of the past. 

Never Act Like These Idiots