How to beat those bookies
IN my youth the people who wanted to discourage you from gambling on horses would point you in the direction of the carpark at the racecourse, in particular the section reserved for bookmakers. There you would find the most expensive vehicles, all financed by mugs who loved to have a bet.
That may have been true in those days, but the modern story of “the punt’’ seems to be going in the opposite direction — at least as far as the individual (as distinct from the corporate) satchel-swinger is concerned.
Playing the odds has become an increasingly savvy marketplace, where astute punters have access to the sort of computerised information they could previously only dream about.
It has turned what was once only a remote prospect — winning on the punt — into a reality.
And on the other side of the fence the corporates are becoming increasingly vigilant in their attempts to identify the new breed of winning punters and lock them out.
A few friends of mine have received the “cut-off” notice from a big corporate operator. If you are perceived as winning too regularly, one day you are likely to get the punter’s “Dear John letter”. Just a short note politely saying your account has been closed, and remitting the balance of your money. No reasons are given. The fine print that you accepted when you joined allows the unilateral termination of the account.
You don’t have to be winning big amounts to get “cut off”. Some colleagues of mine who bet in $50s and $100s (rather than $1000s or $10,000s) have had the dreaded letter. Any request for an explanation from the organisation’s PR people is usually greeted with the glib (but frank) explanation that an analysis of your profile indicates that you are not a long-term proposition for them.
So what is it that makes a successful punter?
One so good that the bookies don’t want your business. There are probably a few fundamental rules you need to follow.
The starting point is that you need to have modest expectations, take short odds and play the margins. If your idea of a decent bet is one where you invest a small amount to win a fortune at cricket-score odds, forget it. Go buy a Lotto ticket.
Long-priced winners do come up from time to time, but statistically you will go broke waiting for them.
But if you are happy to spend an hour or so comparing websites looking for the cream of the markets which you can bet into, and for the opportunity to take advantage of a 5 per cent or 10 per cent (or even less) differential on which to lay off (betting against the same horse or team), you will be on the right track.
Second, you need to control greed. If you are looking at a healthy result at half-time of a game (or in a pre-post bet on a horse race) and an opportunity comes up to hedge your bet to reduce your profit but remove any loss exposure, you have to take it.
To have a no-loss situation for a profit of $100 is far better than a fully exposed potential profit of $300 even when your side is six goals up at three-quarter-time; it’s just not very exciting.
Third, you need to remove any loyalty or emotion from your betting. The astute punter never bets on his own horse, or his own footy team. If you are serious, sentiment has to go out the window.
Fourth, it is essential to harness impulsivity. A quick bet is a bad bet. You need to have a good look at the market, and track it over the hours (or days) before you get in. If you are serious about winning you can never bet for fun or entertainment.
Fifth, you need to isolate events where the bookies are completely having a lend of you. Taking $1.90 about one team where the opposition is quoted at the same price is just crazy. These sorts of markets are framed purely for the Bookmakers Benevolent Fund.
Sixth, it’s reckless to bet without doing your homework, making sure you have the latest information on track conditions, riding engagements, team selections and injuries and the like. Betting blind is a recipe for disaster.
If you can follow these basic rules, there is a chance you might make a quid out of it in the long term. It will take time, discipline and concentration, but it won’t be much fun.
And if you are any good at it, before long there will be a letter from your bookie saying you have been cut off. Who said it was a mug’s game?