A Gamblers Notebook

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Situation is

Submitted: March 25, 2020

Reads: 100

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 25, 2020



I like horseracing. I guess I like gambling too. I’ve always enjoyed the winning and never resented losing. Most of all I’ve enjoy the racehorses. Often you get to know more about their characteristics and personalities then their own trainers and connections. I’ve dragged my wife and two daughters up and down the country visiting many of the British racecourses. Five star when things were going well, and come to think of it, five star then they were not. As I begin tapping away at the keyboard, Damon Runyon’s coined phrase “All horseplayers die broke” is poignant.Having won over £60,000 in less than six month, 2010 looked like it was going to be my most successful betting year to date. With-in a week of mindless betting I am now showing a loss. Why did I alow myself to lose total control of my betting?

My hobby has led me to some very successful and fun years. Twice, I have enjoyed six month spells gambling professionally. However, I have alway found I am unable to sustain long term profit. It has been my temperament mindset and not my methods, preporation and tenacity that has failed me.

I first started betting at the age of sixteen. I was training to be a chef and worked split shifts, which basically meant I had the afternoons free. Many of the hotel staff enjoyed a bet. The chefs were no exception. It took just over five minutes to walk to our destination; a Mecca betting shop in Shepherds Market, just off Park Lane, London. The shop was full of multicultural punters from all walks of life. The atmosphere was club like – Punter verses bookmaker. A great cheer went up, Lester Piggott had just steered the 2-1 favourite home by a neck! I have to confess L.Piggott didn’t mean a lot to me at the time. Mind you, the name Piggott, certainly meant more to me by the end of the following year, when he managed to win 156 races. I digress. From that day on and throughout my apprenticeship, I spent many pleasurable afternoons listening to the Extel race commentaries; hearing tales from my fellow habitués of how they’d nearly backed the latest winner or how they’d nearly not backed a previous loser; studying form and the latest set of odds as the board man chalked up; not to mention finding time to have a bet. Yes, I was hooked. Unfortunately, at the time, I had no idea of just how extremely difficult it is to successfully prosper from betting on the outcome of a horse race. If I’d known, I would have saved a fortune back then. It can be an exspensive education.


A question of an education


The sceptic reader will probably be thinking, just another mug gambler who had a lucky spell. I know there is more to it than that. So, what really does separates a successful gambler from failed ones? Or for that matter are the doubters right in thinking all gamblers lose. After all, there have been gamblers throughout history who have won millions only to lose it all back. It’s a dream for millions of punters up and down the country to become successful gambler, winners. What separates those that win from the rest? What special talents do they have which enables them to succeed at what they do. I’ve found the answer alarmingly simple. However, for many, being able to implement these basic requirements is another story. In short, the answer to success comes down to two words; Mindset and method. When people start betting, or more accurately, gambling, they generally have neither of these attributes. Most professional punters have a method of some sort, through which they hope to keep themselves ahead of the game. The gap in knowledge between a professional and a recreational punter is surprisingly small. "The main difference is the professional has learned to cope better with the psychological demons that afflict gamblers, and which all too often force them to throw their hard earned profits away.’ For most people, the most ferocious of those ‘demons’ will always be the age-old weakness of chasing losses. It’s a familiar story. A string of consecutive losers leads to a big hole in your betting bank. Suddenly you find yourself placing bets you would never have even considered at the start of the day, just to try and get your money back. Usually, the results are predictably disastrous. No matter how successful you are, there simply can’t be any punter to whom it hasn’t happened at some time. What makes punters want to blast their way out of trouble? Psychological expert Steve Code has a theory. ‘From our very early years,’ he said, ‘men in particular are taught that to succeed in life we have to be good at what we do. In many ways our achievements at work define who we are as people. If we are successful, we feel fulfilled, rewarded and contented. 'For most gamblers, it’s a similar mindset. Most of our friends and family know that we enjoy betting – no doubt ask us for a tip on occasion – and just as in our working lives, we want to be perceived as successful at it. So when we have a bad day gambling, it’s that instinct that kicks in. ‘After a disastrous week in the office, most people wouldn’t just go home; they would stay at their desks until they had put things right. It’s the same for punters. No one wants to walk out of the betting shop or turn off their computer a loser. So we chase our losses in an attempt to put things right, not just for our bank balances, but also for our own self-esteem.’


Turning off the tilt


So if we know that chasing losses will usually lead to disaster, how do we stop ourselves from going ‘on tilt’ as it’s known? ‘It’s important for anyone hoping to make money from betting to be able to see the whole picture rather than just one individual day’s betting,’ said Tony Bloom, professional gambler and chief executive of football betting specialists Premierbet. ‘The truth is there is never a last race, and a run of losing bets should only ever be seen as a temporary blip in a long-term sequence of results. Like all punters, I have soul-destroying days at times, but I’m always able to see those short-term losses as just a tiny part of my overall losses they incur in the short-term don’t have any real effect on their financial stability. That way, when the bad runs occur, you know those setbacks are only going to make a small, temporary dent in your betting bank rather than clear your bank account. In those circumstances it’s always easier to walk away from a bad day in action.’ While avoiding chasing losses is crucial to success, it’s equally important to remember to stay disciplined after a winning bet. The temptation to increase stakes, or to make bets you wouldn’t have otherwise after you’ve backed a winner, is another destructive habit to which many punters fall victim. It’s a failing not lost on Paddy Power Jnr of Irish bookies Paddy Power. ‘The betting shop punter who screams home a winner, then immediately heads straight for the betting slip dispenser the moment his horse crosses the winning line is just the sort of customer any bookmaker wants in his betting shop,’ he said. ‘It’s the guy who backs a winner and then walks out the door that I worry about.’ Even on the betting exchanges there’s evidence of poor discipline. How many of the people laying horses who have races sewn up at 1.01 are actually just punters wishing to clear their funds in time for the next race without having to wait for their bets to be settled? Plenty of people will simply rush into the next bet because things are going well rather than quit while ahead.


A Winning mindset


Never underestimate the psychology and emotion involved in gambling. The bNever iggest hurdle an investor faces is the twin emotions of greed and fear. Most gamblers don’t seem to be influenced by the latter, but the former is powerful enough. Gambler’s growing confidence leads to more bets and, as the odds catch up to them, more losses. Generally speaking, non-professional gamblers go wrong by risking too much of their bankroll on individual bets. They don't spread their risk thin enough over a big enough number of bets. Professionals use smaller bet sizes in proportion to their bankroll over larger numbers of bets. As a matter of fact, one good way to spot a non-pro is that he often has less than a half-dozen bets per week, and he risks more than two percent of his bankroll

Mindset - Key points to winning

Learn from your past experiences and then let them go. Be here now. The game is about tomorrow. You cannot live on past glories or die with the failures. You must get the best out of a good run and when you hit a bad run be sure to live to fight another day. You have to except losing is part of the overall statistical Patten of events. Occasionally, anything that can go wrong will go wrong - Be prepared! It is absolutely imperative to control yourself when things go wrong. Anyone can handle winning, but it’s how you manage your emotions when you're losing that makes you a good or bad punter. Learn how to lose without disrupting your decision making process. Treat each bet as a separate trade. Be patient and choose your races carefully. A definite selection should, as it were, come to meet you – not the other way around. They should stand out on merit. If there is a definite selection then you must decide - depending on your interpretation of value - whether or not it merits a bet. Never forget there is always another day.

Keep a Profit & Loss account. Be truthful! Review these figures regularly and analyze your performance. Learn from your past form. The best handicapping literature in the world are your own records. Try to “know what you do not know” The difference between success and failure is small. Therefore you need to continually work to maintain your edge and continually work to improve your performance. The knowledge that a well thought out sound bet will prevail in time has always been true and is one of the key foundations to successful betting. Maintain an organized meticulous approach, researching every detail. Successful punters think in terms of probabilities verses value and not fancies and certainties. Think like a bookmaker. Compile your own betting forecast and ask yourself if you would really offer those odds if you were a layer.

Practice - Key points to winning

Many traders talk about winning percentage, but smart traders are more concerned about total return and risk control. One bad losing trade can wipe out a long list of small, positive trades. Treat every race individually. If you're down £1,000, don't bet on a race you wouldn't be interested in if you were £1,000 up. Don't let what happens on the day affect your judgment.

Self-discipline is the ability to get yourself to take action regardless of your emotional state.

In order to make money betting on sports, you must either have information that is not being used by the betting public, or you must have a superior ability to process the information that is public

Method - Key points to winning

Open up accounts with as many bookmakers as you can, in order to take advantage of the best prices available.

Get access to the net and use the free Racing Post form at racingpost.co.uk.

Try to assess the true chance of a horse in a race and bet on the basis of their evaluations.

The first question to ask when you want a bet is: ‘How will this race be run?’ And the second: ‘Will it suit the horse I am interested in backing?’

Watch as many horse races as possible. Look at every horse in the race, not just the one you’ve backed.

When you find a horse ‘coming to the boil’ and running into form, back on a winnable rating, stick with it. It will almost certainly pay its way in time.

The going and the draw are the two most important variables in determining the outcome of any horse race.

If there are doubts about the going, draw bias, the price or any other highly important variable, wait till the very last minute until having a bet.

Follow horses that travel well in races and/or have demonstrated a turn of foot in a truly run race.

Cut out and keep the entries for big races. They are stuffed with clues about what trainers expect and, even more crucially, know about the horses in their charge.

Similarly, read and keep all the stable interviews with trainers. They will often give information about going and distance preferences for their horses.


The first thing I do is study all the cards of the day in order to identify which races are likely to offer the best opportunity of success. A five runner maiden with only a possibility of two or three likely to fight out the finish is far better to study than a thirty runner handicap over five furlongs with any number of runners likely to win. Knowing which races to play is as important as form study itself. After racing you will need to study races that have been run. This is where you will find your future winners. Below I have set out the basic beadrock to form study.


Criteria - After racing

Yesterday’s news is tomorrow’s bread and butter!


Form a daily routine, possibly in the evening when most of the population is settling down to some unprofitable and mindless television. Methodically work through the previous days results entering any relevant notes into your notebook and racehorse profile sheets.


Make a note of any horse which wins or runs well when it has:


1) Raced over an inappropriate distance of ground

2) Raced on unsuitable ground

3) Been unsuited to the racecourse structure

4) Made its seasonal debut or returned after a long absence

5) Shown it has scope for improvement

6) Finished strongly over an inadequate distance of ground

7) Experiencing ill luck in running

8) Shown sings of inexperience - A horse will be described as running green.

9) Has been equipped with blinkers

10) Producing a good time especially when racing under adverse conditions,

such as some of the above examples


Crieria - Before racing 


Work through the following criteria, marking or underlining each runner with a negative or positive sign. Use a green marker for affirmative and a red for negative. All the data can be found on the Racing post sight.


1)All noted runners.

2)Check trends of the race

3)Check Trainer trends for Racecourse, Last 30 days and type of race

4)Race fitness and number of days since last run.

5)Post Data - top three.

6)Post Rating - top three.

7)Handicap Rating - top three.

8)Course, distance winners or went close.

9)Check times and ratings of previous runs.

10)Is the runner likely to improve for its last run.

11)First time in blinkers or a return to blinkers if they had served the desired purpose previously.

12)Is the runner lightly raced with scope?

13)Will the runner act on the course? Has it proven itself on the course or similar type of course?

tudy previous performances and write down finishing positions on each type of track.

15)Has the runner shown a good attitude towards racing?

16)Has the runner travelled a long distance to get to the racecourse?

17)The effect of the draw.

18)Age of the competitor.

19)Two year olds: Breeding Data, Foaling dates and purchase price.

20)Was the runner well backed last time?

21)Check Trends Has the trainer a good record in this particular race?

22)Was the runner clear of the majority of the other runners?

(Flat, undulating, galloping, sharp, stiff, easy, straight ect.)  

24)Has the runner the ability to carry the weight set today?

25)Have the runner sound form lines?

26)Note any 2 year olds, which have proved they can make the running in a good time.

27)Has the trainer a good record at the meeting?


You should now have a clear picture of those runners with a sound chance. Now it is time to price up the race according to the true probabilities of any given horse winning the race.




© Copyright 2020 pfb. All rights reserved.


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