There is one area of this game I really need to improve on. And that is discipline. Well, it is more about how to keep control, in the context that I know I will always bet on horses that I shouldn’t….
We have all been there. Sat in front of the TV (ATR/Channel 4/RUK) we are transported to a world where we want to bet on everything. Not much. Just an ‘interest bet’. For me this is likely to be a Saturday afternoon, or during one of the big meetings. We know we shouldn’t. We know we haven’t looked at the race in any depth. We haven’t considered all of the runners or their suitability to the race conditions. But, we want to have something on so we can ‘enjoy’ the race. When looking in the morning we know what races we don’t want to bet on. We put a line through them. But, come 2 minutes before the off we find ourselves betting anyway.
The point of what you are about to read is not for me to repeat that nonsense about ‘discipline’ –ie don’t bet on races you haven’t looked at properly etc etc. It is unrealistic. I am going to continue placing these interest bets, the question is how to control them. I failed to do this last Saturday, again.
As you know I bet £20 per point. When you read on the blog ‘1 point win’ – that is £20 win for me.
These bets should be reserved for those races I have researched. I can spend 20 minutes – 1hour looking at a ‘Tip of the Day’ race, and then bet 1 point accordingly. For a Sprint Handicap, such as the Bunbury Cup (yes I highlight that because I found the 25/1 winner 😉 ) I can spend between 1.5-2.5 hours looking at the race. All this time and effort equates to 1-4 points on a race.
My problem is when I find myself betting £20 (1 point) on a race/horse 2 minutes before the off, that I have literally spent 30 seconds looking at. It is idiotic and irrational. Everything I know will sometimes go out the window… I find myself being convinced by the last trainer that has just been interviewed. When betting £20s on ‘interest’ bets, this approach, or lack of, becomes an issue.
Every day I write down the bets I place and the result so at any point I know where I am financially. I have a separate bank account that all by betting accounts are linked to, so again, over time, I know how I am doing.
Occasionally on a Saturday this list of bets and specifically the losses, can make painful reading.
Take the Saturday just gone, the last day of the Ebor meeting. At 1.30pm, on races through to about 4.30pm, I had bet about £40 across those races I had looked at and wanted an interest in. Half of this was on Banzari which was one of the Tip of the Day selection (a researched bet, despite the result!) ,the rest were some £5 interest bets across the Ebor and a couple of others. So, at 1.30pm I had bet £40 – fine. No problems.
By 4.30 I had actually bet, and lost, £185. £145 more than planned. Gulp.
My £5 on Quick Jack and Wicklow Brave turned into 20s on each for example (yes I think I was chasing –in the easiest race on the card ahem) Now, come the end of the day I had got this back to minus £10 but that misses the point somewhat. While I don’t ‘lose control’ like that very often, it happens, and there have been Saturdays/big Festival days when I haven’t got that money back, and cut my losses.
The important point to note here is that I don’t lose control in terms of stake size. I am simply spraying around £10s and the odd £20 like confetti – but it doesn’t take many bets like that to create a large deficit in an afternoon. I am not suddenly betting £50s or £100s.. And I am able to stop. £200 is probably my psychological barrier and if I hit that I will stop. It is a horrible feeling when you take a moment to think about what you have just done, and of course I promise myself never to do it again! (I can recall about 5 times this has happened since Christmas I think)
At this point it would be easy to repeat the words – ‘discipline, discipline, discipline’. ‘You will only be a successful punter if you are disciplined’
Well, yes that is true. But it is also true that I will be betting on a Channel 4 race again, 2 minutes before the off, that I haven’t researched. It will happen. It shouldn’t happen as much, but it will. I have faced up to that reality.
However I couldn’t afford too many -£200 afternoons on ‘interest’ bets before it would create a hole. I should have more control at moments like that. That is the issue.
So, the question is how best to manage this. Well a few things have helped me (although clearly I need to listen to my own advice more)…
- I try and ensure I haven’t ‘missed anything’. Tip of the Day as a process has helped me. Having gone through the stats, gone through every race looking at Pace etc, and had a glance at those races I like analysing and betting in (Sprint Handicaps on the flat, 3m+ Handicap Chases over jumps) I know I haven’t ‘missed a bet’ or a potential winner. I take time to make sure micro system bets are place, tracked horses have been looked at etc.
- With the knowledge that you are going to have an interest bet or two…set yourself a budget and reduce stakes dramatically. Why oh why some (hmm most) of my ‘fun bets’ end up being the same amount as a well-researched bet I have no idea. It is part in the context of having done quite well since last November I think – and if I am on a losing streak I do reduce my ‘interest’ bets. However it is no coincidence that when my ‘fun/interest’ bets are £2.5 or £5 I do ok. Probably because I am having more fun, and because I am more willing to find a ‘value bet’. It is amazing when you have lost a bit too much sat on the couch how your eyes are drawn to the top of the market when ‘chasing’. And rarely does this work out from my experience. Losing £35 on 7 C4 Races is much better than £140.
- Withdraw money from betting accounts – From my experience it is much easier to place bets when you have a few hundred sat in different accounts. Come last Saturday between Bet365, Paddy Power, BV and Betfair there was around £700 spread between them. Betting £10s and £20s like confetti doesn’t seem that bad, until you add it up. Mentally/emotionally it is easier to place larger ‘fun’ bets when the money is sat there. However if you have to deposit the money it makes you stop and think about what you are doing. It does for me anyway, even though it is still easy to deposit money in no time at all.
- Ultimately – just stop and walk away. Despite what some of you may think from what I have written I know I am in control of my betting. I measure my control via stake size. I know that if I have a bad ‘session’, in the context of my bank and my winnings, it isn’t disastrous. And I am confident I will get it back at some point. I will curse myself, and remind myself how much richer I would be if I stuck to the ‘researched bets’… But – if my stakes started spiralling – to £40s or £50s or even bigger, then I would start to think I have a problem. Whatever your normal stake size, if you find yourself betting much bigger than this on a single horse, I would turn of the TV and walk out the house.
I like betting on horses (I don’t bet on anything else). If I am watching a race I like having an interest in it. Sitting in front of Channel 4 on a Saturday afternoon is my opportunity to ‘switch off’ and enjoy watching racing. During the week I only watch those races I have bet in if I can, so Saturday is a chance to relax in front of the TV. This is more enjoyable when I have bet on a race I am about to watch. But normally I will have only studied one or maybe two of the 7/8 races in depth. With decent tools like HorseRaceBase and Geegeez Gold it makes having an ‘informed’ interest bet easier, but still dangerous.
I will continue having my ‘fun/interest’ bets, but I need to buck my ideas up, and start implementing some of my own advice on a more regular basis. So, next time I am sat in front of Channel 4 on a Saturday afternoon, I will set myself a budget, and I will reduce stakes to £2.5/£5 and see how I get on. Losing £200 on ‘interest’ bets in one afternoon is not much fun at all, and I clearly have much to improve on.
If you are more disciplined than me I would love to hear what works for you, and your mindset/approach to this great game of ours….