Wednesday, 30 January 2008

cash in on the over-reaction of mug punters to press reports

If you ever want to witness how much punters over-react to media speculation, take a look at a Next Manager market on Betfair. The current Next Republic of Ireland Manager has had nine men matched at below 3.5, four or five of them at odds-on. Mug punters just jump on the bandwagon blindly and prices just keep on going down to ridiculous numbers. And then the Irish press have the gall to say it's all just a field day for bookmakers when they are the ones fuelling the fire!

Cash in on the over-reactions - lay the short prices, no need to get involved laying someone at 100. Trappatoni crashed from 400 down to 1.73 on Betfair within 24hrs, and now he's back out to about 10.

Think of the facts - Ireland have no need to appoint a manager any time soon. Apart fronm the friendly next week against Brazil (the squad has already been picked so no point hiring a new manager to take charge of a team he didn't select), they don't have a match scheduled until September. So there's no rush. The market has been open since October.

The secret to trading profitably on Betfair - BACK HIGH, LAY LOW. Watch what losing punters do (eg jump on media bandwagons) and do the opposite!

Friday, 25 January 2008

the Australian Open finals


Maria Sharapova has been in dominant form this fortnight, flogging Henin in straight sets and then taking care of a broken-down Jankovic in the semi-final. She needed to be on her game early on, facing former no.1 Davenport in R2, so to maintain that form for a fortnight is an excellent effort. Her shoulder injury worries of last year seem to be gone and her serve is now a major threat again.

Ana Ivanovic hasn't looked in quite as dominant form, but she has reached another Grand Slam final. A 0-6 start against Hantuchova wasn't promising, but she turned that around to progress to the final. Melbourne is like a second home to her, she has family there and the locals have really taken to her.

The slate currently stands at 2-2, with no match going the distance (one injury retirement in 2nd set). The odds are heavily favouring Sharapova, a little too far in my opinion. Odds of 1.25 (1/4) on Betfair, represent an 80% likelihood of her winning - it can't possibly be that one-sided. Ivanovic looks great value at the other side of that (5 or 4/1).


Not exactly the final we were expecting! Novak Djokovic expelled those demons from his US Open final loss by thumping Roger Federer in straight sets and is a short price to claim his first Grand Slam title. Having been to a Grand Slam final once before, and with several tournament wins last year, you'd expect him to be a strong favourite. His record is 7-3 in tour finals and he is yet to drop a set in this tournament. Impressive.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has turned into a phenomenon. The most dangerous player in the draw outside the seedings surprised a few by taking out Andy Murray in the first round, but the momentum hasn't slowed down, taking down Gasquet, Youzhny and Nadal en route to his first, not just Slam final, but his first ATP Tour final! His record in finals along the way is extremely impressive, 15-2, including challengers and satellites. I must admit I thought his game was a bit one-dimensional before this tournament but that has been blown out of the water.

I hope this is a great match. There hasn't been a five-set final in Melbourne since 1988, it's about time we had another. But I think Tsonga's dream run has to end somewhere. Djokovic deserves to win a Grand Slam, he improved massively last year and now has the belief that he can compete with Federer and Nadal. Djokovic to win and a Serbian double for the weekend, but I don't think either are good things.

Societe Generale rogue trader scandal

What a surprise. Inside an ultra-greedy bank, one of its traders gets way in above his head and loses the firm £3.65 billion, far surpassing the Nick Leeson effort in the early 90s with Barings Bank. The only thing that surprises me about this is that there are not more cases of this. People with addictions can be found in all walks of life. Too many people with addictive personalities get into gambling when it really is something they should steer well clear of. And all financial trading is is another form of gambling....

This trader has speculated, got it wrong, cooked the books to cover his tracks while he gambled more to solve the problem. And then the hole he dug in the first place got worse...and worse... and worse. The biggest mistake people make when betting is trying to chase losses - all it will do is send you to the poor house mighty quickly.

Discipline is the most important trait for betting. Sometimes it just isn't your day - recognise it early and stop for the day. Walk the dog, go for a run, go to the movies, do anything but get away from the TV and the computer so you don't get back online and try to win back what you have lost. There's always another day, another race, another game....

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

paddock watching

There is an excellent series of articles this week in the Racing Post about what to look for in the paddock - i.e. when horses are parading before a race. Membership is required but it is free. Once you have signed up, click on the Racing Header, go to News - Cuttings Library, and search for 'paddock watching'. Assessing whether a horse is fit is not the easiest the thing to learn, but once you know what you are doing, it should make a big difference to the success of your betting.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Hewitt is gone as a player if he keeps that up

The late night epic against Baghdatis was no excuse - the simple fact is his gameplan is not good enough to match the likes of Djokovic. That grip with heavy topspin on the forehand may have served him well for 10yrs but he needs to find the killer shot to finish points. The younger, stronger blokes like Djokovic will eat him for breakfast every time. Considering the betting was 1.2 Djokovic before the match, punters and bookies are onto it as well, at least against the top players. Watch for anomalies in prices against lesser players at other events. He can still beat up the small fry, but anyone with a decent game will really trouble him.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Hewitt v Baghdatis thriller

Early in the fifth set of the Australian Open clash, over £10 million has been traded on Betfair. It is after 4am in Melbourne, yet most of the crowd are still there.

Over £500k has been matched on Hewitt at 1.01-1.03, when he was 5-1 up in the fourth set and had two chances to serve out the match, with at least one match point.

His serve keeps failing when in position to win the match, he did it again in the tiebreak to go two sets all.

The betting has swung heavily both ways, the lowest price on Baghdatis to date has been 1.28. £200 has been bet on the Cypriot at over 100/1, with a top price of 300.

An amazing betting contest - sport is made for betting!

Friday, 18 January 2008

latest tips

For some third-round Aus Open tennis betting value, read this from one of my columns.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Aus Open previews

I have written betting previews for tennis Grand Slams since 2000. To read my previews for the 2008 Australian Open, see them here at Punting Ace.

Getting the Best of Grand Slam Betting and Tennis Trading

Getting the Best of Grand Slam Betting and Tennis Trading

By Scott Ferguson

originally published at

Tennis Betting on an Exchange and The Grand Slams Betting on tennis has changed markedly in recent years. Once upon a time, bookies would offer a selection of matches, then close all markets when the match was scheduled to begin. Now in the technological age, we have live scoring from most tournaments, live television coverage and in-play betting. For punters, this means it's a whole new ball game....

To my mind, the best thing about betting on tennis is the live action. A two-runner market which can vary markedly on a single line call or unforced error offers enormous opportunities for the sharp-minded punter. But more about that later. Outright betting The French Open and Wimbledon are the two Slams with the least number of genuine winning chances. This is due to the specialist nature of the respective playing surfaces. Hardcourt is more of a 'middle-ground' surface which gives a greater number of players some chance.

Backing favourites in Slams has never been my go - the outright price at any time is always shorter than the combined all-up price, and that's without factoring in the fluctuations in-play. Even a brilliant player like Federer will have the odd shaky set where his match price drifts above the pre-match odds.

Let's take a look at clay - it is a different matter entirely to other surfaces. (This next section was written before the French Open 2005). If you pull apart the Federer Express' clay record, I'd be inclined to lay him. So he won in Hamburg in the leadup event, he's in great form. Well, actually, he won there in 2002 and 2004. His record at Roland Garros those years - R1 loss to Hichan Arazi, and R3 loss to Gustavo Kuerten. He has won two matches on the Paris dirt in his last three visits. Would you want to back him at 3.5??

In Grand Slams, the outright markets always have good depth. My personal preference is to look for longshots to trade on in the hope they can make it through a couple of rounds and the seeds start to fall away. If you can find a decent claycourter drawn amongst seeded players better known on other surfaces, you've found a prime candidate. How high a price you go depends upon how much you are looking to risk or win. If you're happy locking in a profit of a tenner, then aim high - 600+. If you're chasing three- or four-figure profits, then you might be better off looking at players in the 50-100 bracket. Points to take note of when trading outright markets:

1. Liquidity and market percentages are stronger overnight, many layers play safe and cancel their offers when play begins. If you want to leave yours up whilst play is going on, work to wider margins (ask for a few points higher to back, and lower to lay) as you can't focus on all the courts at once.

2. Many punters over-react while a match is in progress and will take a lower price than what will probably be available after the match when the dust has settled. Think about what price you would take after this match - ask for several points lower if you are keen to lay, or several points higher if wanting to back your player.

for the full article, click here

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Hot favourite for Aussie glory Henin is "better" than Federer

originally published Dec 7 2007 on

Scott's Spot - Scott looks at Henin's unbelievable year in 2007 and why you're best off backing her for the Aussie Open now

The Australian Open final is under two months away and recently we've been taking an early look at who is likely to be a contender in the Rod Laver Arena. I've taken a look at the women's lineup.

Justine Henin landed every prize on her schedule in 2007 in an amazing performance. After the breakup of her marriage kept her away from Melbourne, she lost just FOUR times for the rest of the year - to Safarova in first event back in February, Serena in Miami, Kuznetsova in Berlin and Bartoli in that unbelievable semi at Wimbledon. Since Wimbledon, she has won 25 matches in a row and has dropped just three sets.

This is as close to domination in the women's game since the best set of legs ever to grace a tennis court, Steffi Graf, reigned in the early 90s. While all the plaudits go to Federer, it's worth noting that his season record was 68-9. Henin's tally for the year was 63-4. One of them is priced at 1.66, the other at 2.3.

Onto Melbourne - what's her record like there? What's she likely to do during the northern winter? Well, let's face it - she's hardly likely to spend a month in a Krispy Kreme or McDonalds and put on two stone in weight. In the past she has headed to Australia early, played one preliminary event (Sydney) , won it (2004 and 2006) and then gone onto reach the Australian Open final - winner 2004, runner-up in 2006. She missed 2005 due to injury.

Whilst Henin goes from strength to strength, the chasing pack is a little less convincing.

For the full article, click here

Laying a book in a tennis tournament

originally published at

Scott Ferguson talks us through the golden rules of laying an ante-post book on a tennis tournament

Tennis punters aren't treated to many chances in long-term antepost markets. Racing fans get their big races up to 12 months in advance and a swarm of other races in a shorter time-frame, while football and golf punters can have weeks or months to get involved in their big events.

There is an art to laying a book in any market - it comes down to timing, margin and anticipating what the market will do between now and the end of the event. There was an excellent thread recently highlighted in our InPlay newsletter discussing laying every player in a major golf tournament, read it here.

Tennis, as you'll soon notice, is quite different. Having a draw full of knockout matches means the overall champion needs to defeat only seven opponents rather than the entire field. One player, such as Roger Federer, can dominate the market meaning you have to be careful about withdrawals and how to price up players based on which side of the draw they may be. With the advent of Winner with Federer markets, this adds a large safety net for layers - no longer can you get skinned when the 1.6 shot pulls out unexpectedly due to injury or fatigue.

When laying a book, the aim to is lay as many selections as possible at as low a price as possible. The longer the period before the event, the more margin you need to build in, to allow for various events - some players will run hot, others may have injury scares. When the players concerned at well down the market, then prices are independent of each other but if Djokovic or Nadal succumbed to an injury a few weeks before a Grand Slam event, the price of players around them in the rankings would shorten.

The first thing you need to be aware of is that bookmakers don't get green books very often. Before an event (race, match, tournament), they'd be in profit for every selection maybe once in every 1000 markets, unless they were laying off along the way. Bookies can't tell a punter that he can only have £23.17 on a selection so they could have a perfectly-framed book, nor can they tell someone to double their bet to smooth out their risk. Betfair traders have options - you set the risk you're prepared to take and which selections you are prepared to lay.

For the full article, click here

Gasquet could be the big mover in 2008

Scott Ferguson looks at who the movers and shakers could be amongst the current Top 10 players on the ATP and WTA tours

originally published on

Instead of trawling through the 50-200 ranked players in order to find the big movers of the year, let's take a look at the top 10s and what I think they will look like come December 08.

1. Roger Federer. He lost nine times in 2007 and still had 1400pts to spare at the top of the rankings. And his main danger allegedly can't put in the legwork to make that step up.

2. Novak Djokovic. Getting ever closer to the top and still improving. Capable on all courts, leaving him more room to gather points. But is he now the hunted?

3. Rafael Nadal. Just three losses on clay in three years (107 wins), but the pack is getting closer. If Ferrer and Nalbandian can beat him indoors, then it's not impossible to see him being pressured on the clay. His chronic foot problems could be just an excuse in advance, or the ailment which may force him to space out his campaign.

4. David Ferrer. A big finish to 2007 on a range of surfaces make him likely to press for Masters Series titles and more.

5. Richard Gasquet. Once he gets his head right, he should be a permanent fixture in the top five. That's no guarantee though.


Now for the ladies

1. Justine Henin. The only thing threatening her is the perceived frailty of her body. Serena might trouble her a few times per year, but outside of that, she simply dominates the women's tour.

2. Ana Ivanovic. Closing in on the top ranks and the experience of getting close at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the year-end championships will serve her well. Expect to see her regularly in finals this year.

3. Maria Sharapova. Early signs are that her shoulder is back in full working order, which means look out for her opponents.

4. Jelena Jankovic. Has had nasal surgery in the off-season to correct breathing problems. How much can her body put up with? So many events, and so many thrashings by Henin. Not a lot of upside left for her unless she can start winning the big events, and that could be in the mind.

5. Serena Williams. Is talking up a big season by her standards, which means about 14 events. Unless she wins two Slams and stays fit, I can't see her going much higher.


For the full article, click here

Friday, 11 January 2008

Veterans of the tour are back on track

original article published at

2008 has only just begun but three veterans of the tour have returned with a vengeance, writes Scott Ferguson.

Elena Dementieva dropped out of the year-end top 10 for the first time in five years, and didn't progress to the final eight in any Grand Slam. Probably sick of the ridicule from fans about her super-lame serve, she has worked hard on it over the past few months. Opponents now face a faster, more varied serve which can finally win free points for the 26yo Muscovite. The previous model, a one-dimensional slice which did little more than start a point, often broke down under pressure, to the extent that Elena was better off receiving than serving.

Dementieva's groundstrokes are as good as anyone's in the women's game. The fact she has been able to reach two Grand Slam finals and be ranked in the top five with a schoolgirl serve is a remarkable achievement. Potentially, she can kick on to seriously contest the major tournaments consistently, but the real question is how will the new service action hold up under pressure? In front of her home crowd at the Kremlin Open in October, she defeated Azarenka, Safina and Serena Williams along the way to the title, all heavy-hitters ruthlessly looking to punish weak second serves. One tournament however, especially on home soil, is not a big enough sample to measure the progress the revisions to her service action have made.

for the full article, click here

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Sports guides - how to bet on various sports

Here are some great guides from Betfair about some lower profile sports. It's not all about football and racing you know!!




Rugby Union



Greyhound Racing

American Football


Gaelic Games

Soccer - Asian Handicap betting

Give Yourself An Edge - Play weak markets

Give Yourself An Edge - Play weak markets
By Scott Ferguson

Originally published at

Take a look at the highest rating sporting events on TV, then compare them to a list of the most popular betting events. The bookmakers follow these events closely, the punters follow them closely, so how are you supposed to make an edge?

Ask yourself this question: If a bookmaker has to price up English Premiership soccer, the Super Bowl and Australian NBL basketball all at the same time - which event is he more likely to make an error in?

Think about it - the vast majority of clients and the bigger bets are going to come for the higher profile events. Thus your bookie is going to spend 90% of his time doing the research, managing the risk, keeping an eye on the newswire and other prices on the big events as well. That makes it very tough for you to find an edge on those markets. Every little item gets reported on TV, on the internet, in the papers, so the markets tend to be well-formed with similar prices around the industry worldwide. Not to mention that nearly every time, someone else will always have faster access to the information trail.

Stop focusing on what's on TV, or at least the result of the event you are watching, and more on what can make you money. You can find weak markets everywhere. Bookmakers are always trying to bring in new clients by offering extra markets. Within major events, you can always find weak markets by shopping around several firms. American sports for example have plenty of player 'props' - scoring or statistical matchups against another player, or under/over a certain number, within a game.

For the full article, click here

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Sports Gambling Maxims - from

From an American college sports betting forum - similar to many of the previous ones I've posted.

When looking back at a year of college football, and necessarily college football betting, gone by it is easy to note some of the mistakes we have made in attempts to increase our bankroll. Though most folks who have bet for a long period of time should have overcome all of these pratfalls (especially if they hope to be at all successful) I see entirely too many betting "Veterans" make these "Rookie" mistakes.

So collected here for you today are
"Bryan Mulroney’s Sports Betting Maxims"
(Use them and prosper or ignore them at your peril.)

1. Always be in control
This is maxim #1 because it is the paramount virtue of all bettors. Betting should not be done on a whim or just to have some cash riding on the game (unless you are chalking up the $10 wager as an entertainment expense.) When betting games you should be sober, clear headed, and able to explain in 20 words or less to a buddy why the money you’re laying is a “good bet.” If you cannot offer at least a moderately compelling reason for betting, you should pick your money up.

2. Leave your emotions at the door
Everybody is guilty of violating this maxim at one point or another. You “know” the Big 12 (or the SEC, or Big Ten, etc…) is the toughest conference in the country and so you want them to spank that undefeated OOC team that plays in the weak Big East (ACC, Pac-10, etc…) . You let your money ride on a bad line taking “your” team to beat up on the evil team from somewhere else. All too often folks rally behind a team or conference and leave their critical mind out to lunch. Betting on what you know best isn’t bad, but don’t let your allegiance blind you.

3. Understand the nuances
As a bettor you have to know the game. You need to know the difference between a moneyline bet and a wager against the spread. You need to understand the “vig or the juice” and you have to understand walking to your book and laying a “nickel” isn’t five bucks. Further, as you gain an understanding of sports betting, you’ll want to know how and where to “shop” for the best spreads. You’ll want to understand the “bonuses” you can get at real casinos, online casinos, and from your "neighborhood book." Each and every one of these items plays a role in a winning season and you should be well aware of them all.

4. Understand that winning is "long term"
This is a huge rookie mistake. You’ll see the guy in Vegas saunter up to the counter and lay $50 on a 10 team parlay (with a few moneylines tossed in…) to win some ungodly sum. He may make it through a game or two, but the probability of breaking the bank is roughly akin to that of your e-Toys stock shooting back up into the stratosphere. Now I have no beef with folks who like to parlay on occasion, but it should not be done haphazardly with the intent of gaining thousands on your $20 wager. Entertainment aside, betting should be done over the course of a season with a quality money management system and an attention to the nuances that can increase your winnings and "take home" greatly.

5. Remain skeptical
Just a quick look around online and you’ll see "Cappers" proclaiming 78% wins for the season or 80% on all five star plays, etc… Be very skeptical of anyone who claims numbers like these. You only need 52.5% winners to make a profit (assuming 10% juice) and anyone hitting at an 80% clip is unlikely to be selling his picks online rather than vacationing at his Italian Villa that he bought when he rolled his bank account nearly 10 times the first season… So with that in mind, take a good look at what is out there and use the “Professionals” like you would use herbal medicine – maybe they work, but you’ll be damned if you believe without a good deal of first hand experience.

6. Read, research, and most importantly watch
If you want to be successful in sports betting you need to know sports. To know sports, you should be watching as much as you can (great excuse for the wife if you HAVE to watch for your new second occupation) and further reading and analyzing when the games aren’t being played. In addition to hitting the sports mega-sites (and their recycled AP stories) seek out quality content at other sites (here at ATL,,,, etc…) and use the insights to grow your knowledge about the teams you are betting. Further, check out some message boards about teams you are considering betting that you only have minimal information for. Rabid fans of a team may be biased, but they will give you insight into minor injuries, coaching issues, etc…well before the national media (and if they’re a small team likely before any media at all…)

7. Don’t worry and don’t chase
You will lose. You will have a down week (and possibly down weeks). But don’t fret. If you do your homework, and make sure you are following the maxims above you will likely end the season a winner. Make sure you follow sound money management techniques and do not chase a loss by betting bigger on the next game or betting a game you planned to avoid in the first place.

8. Don’t spend your wife’s money
This might be more aptly titled, “Only gamble what you can afford to lose” but that has become so cliché as to be obnoxious. You already know this but it is worth a brief mention. Do not be ashamed if all your bankroll permits are a few $5 bets each weekend. There are plenty casinos that will be happy to take you wager. Stay within your boundaries and as you grow your bankroll you can increase the number of dollars you lay on each game.

Monday, 7 January 2008

The Zurich Axioms - Trading Principles

Originally written by Max Gunther, reprinted from Initially written for financial trading, but just as relevant for sports punters and traders.

On Risk:
- Worry is not a sickness but a sign of health - if you are not worried, you are not risking enough.
- Always play for meaningful stakes - if an amount is so small that its loss won’t make any significant difference, then it isn’t likely to bring any significant gains either.
- Resist the allure of diversification.

On Greed:
- Always take your profit too soon.
- Decide in advance what gain you want from a venture, and when you get it, get out.

On Hope:
- When the ship starts sinking, don’t pray. Jump.
- Accept small losses cheerfully as a fact of life. Expect to experience several while awaiting a large gain.

On Forecasts:
- Human behaviour cannot be predicted. Distrust anyone who claims to know the future, however dimly.

On Patterns:
- Chaos is not dangerous until it starts to look orderly.
- Beware the historian’s trap - it is based on the age-old but entirely unwarranted belief that the orderly repetition of history allows for accurate forecasting in certain situations.
- Beware the chartist’s illusion - it is characteristic of human minds to perceive links of cause and effect where none exist.
- Beware the gambler’s fallacy - there’s no such thing as “Today’s my lucky day” or “I’m hot tonight”.

On Mobility:
- Avoid putting down roots. They impede motion.
- Do not become trapped in a souring venture because of sentiments like loyalty and nostalgia.
- Never hesitate to abandon a venture if something more attractive comes into view.

On Intuition:
- A hunch can be trusted if it can be explained.
- Never confuse a hunch with a hope.

On the Occult:
- If astrology worked, all astrologers would be rich.
- A superstition need not be exorcised. It can be enjoyed, provided it is kept in its place.

On Optimism & Pessimism:
- Optimism means expecting the best, but confidence means knowing how you will handle the worst. Never make a move if you are merely optimistic.

On Consensus:
- Disregard the majority opinion. It is probably wrong.
- Never follow speculative fads. Often, the best time to buy something is when nobody else wants it.

On Stubbornness:
- If it doesn’t pay off the first time, forget it.
- Never try to save a bad investment by “averaging down”.

On Planning:
- Long-range plans engender the dangerous belief that the future is under control. It is important never to take your own long-range plans or other people’s seriously. In essence these axioms point to the benefit of having an investment strategy and sticking to it, regardless of what other investors say or do. If you don’t have an investment strategy, you could do worse than adopt these principles. However, don’t be afraid to add or subtract ones according to what works for you.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Part II of that article from PPM


When betting, learn early that you can’t back the winner of every race. If you’re really good at selecting, you may back about three winners every 10 bets. More than that, and you really are doing exceptionally well. Not that MASS of winners means profit. If you’re getting 40 per cent winners at evens, you’re losing 20 cents in the dollar. You need ANY AMOUNT of winners whose odds total enough to give you a profit. Thus, if you can get 20 per cent winners, you need an average price per winner of 4/1 to break even, and 5/1 to make 20 per cent profit. This is a tough ask. It can be done, but it’s tough. It needs work, which I’ve stressed as one of the ways you can hit top gear . . . through hard work.

(learn the maths of betting and how many winners you need to pick - this is vital)


What do I mean by the charts? I’m talking of the turn-and-finish pictures in the Sportsman, which cover Melbourne and Sydney city meetings, and any results charts you can obtain, with full finish positions. You can learn so much from looking at the camera charts. Where was a horse on the home turn, and where did it finish? Check out the stewards’ report for the race, and, if you can, take a look at the video replay. You’ll soon have a full idea of what went on in the race and which horses you should be looking out for next time around.

(old Aus method - nowadays you should be looking at race replays)


One of the first lessons I learned in betting was to make up my mind and not waver at the last minute. Those collywobbles just before the "off", which often see punters change their minds, and their bets, can, in the long run, prove disastrous. I recall in the late '70s changing my mind with a couple of minutes to go, and running off to bet the favourite instead of the 12/1 chance I’d been intending to back! No need to tell you which of the two ended up the winner.

(have faith in your original selections - that's when you did the hard work, not panicking just before a race)


Never listen to "advice" from someone you’ve never seen before, like the bloke in the pub who earbashes you. Why should you listen to him? For all you know, he’s lost a fortune betting on the races.

(it's your money, do your own research, you have nobody else to blame if you lose)


Never bet beyond your means. Simple as that. It’s something that needs to be said twice in a series like this one, because it’s so important. Once your betting gets out of hand . . . it means trouble.

(if you have an addictive personality, then don't start betting in the first place)


Try to work out patterns in a horse’s form. It’s amazing how many horses have their various campaigns worked out in the same fashion and how often they manage to stick to the script!

(history always plays a part in the future)


Most people can’t be bothered keeping a diary. Serious punters should make themselves work at such a thing. Having a day-to-day diary of your betting adventures will ultimately prove enormously useful. Write down what you bet, why you bet it, and what happened. You’ll soon begin to understand yourself more as a punter and be able to correct the mistakes that will leap out of the page.

(the more records you keep, the more data you have to fall back on and analyse your position)


Why not make more of an effort to understand the physical complex-ities of the racehorse? If you can look at a horse and know when it’s fit, then you’re giving yourself a nice edge over the crowd.

(some people swear by this, but it is something that takes time to learn)


Make yourself aware of the perils of the losing run. Even if you have a win-strike rate of 25 per cent, there’s a 5 per cent chance that you will encounter losing streaks of at least 11 and a 1 per cent chance of a losing run of 17 or more.

(if you are not prepared to lose money, then don't bet. Nobody wins all the time)


Don’t be like some people and dismiss systems out of hand. All approaches are systematic to some extent. Systems, even very simple ones, can be effective. Why not test out this one: If the favourite is unraced, back the next horse in the betting that has raced.

(most are rubbish, but no harm in always looking for new angles. Over time, others soon find them and the edge disappears though)


Don’t fall prey to pessimism when you’re on a bad trot. It’s important to be optimistic, positive and ready to take risks at any time in your betting life. Black moods, feelings of hopelessness are of no use. If you get really down in the dumps, stop betting for a while, think about other things, refresh yourself.
(a system/method is only as good as its worst losing run, and they will all suffer them at some stage. Have courage in your convictions and ride with it, but be prepared to bail out and take a break if necessary. Confidence counts for a lot in this game)


For the simplest approach, stick to single win bets at level stakes.

(very simple, very dull, very pointless IMO)


The great UK professional Alan Potts says you should maintain a minimum acceptable price of 2/1, and this advice makes good sense. He also says you should think twice about any bet at under 4/1. Potts wins big money year in, year out; he knows what he’s talking about.

(the higher the price, the less winners you have to find. At 2/1, you have to be backing the winner every third race just to break even. I prefer to find value at higher prices personally)


Why not concentrate on a distance range? Many professionals say they bet only on races at 1600m and further. They claim you need a lot more luck in sprint races, while in the longer races something can go wrong but a horse has the chance to overcome the trouble and win.

(specialise - Irish racing, all-weather, 2yos etc - you can't keep up with everything!)


Why consider letting the first race go by? This gives you the chance to observe the going and any effect of the barrier draw, especially on days when the track is affected by rain.

(just like watching the first 10mins of a game - watch closely and see what effect it has on your initial thoughts)


Alan Potts is a great believer in this maxim: No bet is no problem. Unlike most punters who seek action in every race, serious bettors know there is no problem in missing a race, even missing a meeting. As sure as the sun rises, there’ll be more race meetings, and easier targets than the ones you have missed.

(discipline is key. Use some days purely for research)


Don’t ignore the minor trainers who take on the "big boys" in major races . . . give them respect. The logic is simple: The small man needs winners to make his name and to retain his owners and to simply survive.

(just because a trainer doesn't have stables the size of Godolphin or Gai Waterhouse doesn't mean they aren't good at what they do. They often specialise in a certain area and can be underrated by punters)


We all know it can be very helpful to keep a list of horses to follow but it’s also a good idea to keep a list of horses to oppose! Some horses are born losers but they run well enough without winning to keep punters coming in on them time and again. Check out these non-winners and put them on a blacklist.

(betting exchange punters profit from winners and losers - watch losers do it time and time again)


You really need to set up a proper approach with proper goals for each year’s betting. Think about the following:
(a) What are your profit expectations?
(b) How many bets will you have?
(c) How many losers can you afford?

(set aside a bank to bet with then get serious about it. The customary figure for a regular bet is 1-2% of your bank. Slow and steady wins the race, lumping it all on causes stress and can affect the rest of your life too much)


Develop your money skills. That is, your money management skills. The punter MUST manage the money, not the money manage the punter. Placing of bets and the amount of the stake must be decisions taken in isolation and not based on the results of previous bets, says Alan Potts.

(discipline and money skills are just as important as being able to read a form guide)


In the move from mug punter to professional punter the hard part is always facing up to the reality that there will be more losers than winners, more losing days than winning days, more losing weeks, and so on. Understand this. Record all your bets, analyse them and put everything into perspective.

(5% of punters win long-term and probably triple that think they do but are actually losing because they don't keep records)


Some professionals never feel happy if they bet on a big race and leave out a really great jockey who is riding everything to victory. I know pro’s who will always take savers at least on big-race riders. An example was in the Melbourne Cup: A professional friend backed Jardine’s Lookout but took savers on Glen Boss and Damien Oliver. It paid off. "I just couldn’t not back these blokes in a major race," he says.

(what a toss - you are either betting to win, or to have some fun like your grandmother. It either can win, or it can't, and that should show up from your initial analysis which considers those factors anyway)


My pal The Optimist says he never looks at pre-post prices when he is working out the form. It’s something for everyone to consider. "It influences the thinking too much if you see the market beforehand," says The Optimist.

(make your own assessment first before looking at other opinions - and betting prices are just that - opinions. This is key to having faith in your own analysis)


If you’re a punter who hates risk, then go for place betting. Go for doubles and trebles, and consider using The Patent, an English method of 3 singles, 3 doubles and a treble.

(place betting yes, but any form of multiples/parlays/accumulators means giving more percentage to the bookmaker - avoid them unless you are absolutely certain of having value on your side)


So, these 50 points come to a conclusion. Bet safely, but don’t shy away from a risk or two, pick your betting spots carefully, have a proper approach with a proper target in mind over 12 months, study the form . . . and make your decisions with care and good sense.

Some Maxims of Punting from various sources

I don't mind betting on the races, but it's no longer what I focus on. Here are some betting rules proposed in a leading Australian punting magazine, with my comments interspersed in red.

By Richard Hartley Jnr
Courtesy of Practical Punting Monthly
Australia’s Favourite Racing Magazine

As punters I think we spend an awful lot of time dreaming up new ways to win, or perhaps just new ways to lose! Punters are, in the main, optimists and dreamers and receptive to new ideas, advice and re-programming. Trouble is, much of what they seek and find they then proceed to ignore. Going back to old habits, even bad ones, often seems easier than trying to meet the challenge of something new and unknown. For those of you seeking some revolutionary breakthrough, I am afraid this article will not be what you want. However, I fervently believe that you will be able to learn something to your advantage. Basically, I’ll be passing on some commonsense ideas and a few thoughts about getting your betting life into shipshape order. You can take as much on board as you like.


Let me start with idea No. 1 and it’s SIMPLICITY. I recall a conversation with my colleague The Optimist some time ago and what he said struck me as being so sensible. “Horses do what they have done before, exactly,” he said. And it’s true. A simple approach, then, is to ask whether a horse has done before what you are now asking it to do. There are worse ways to go about your betting. It’s methodical. The logic is simple, isn’t it? Back the horse to do what it has shown it can do. Used in conjunction with a minimum standard of consistency, this approach can prove very useful. What is a minimum standard of consistency? I would suggest a minimum of 20 per cent for the win and 40 per cent for the place, though some of you might like the bar to be lifted higher (say 25 per cent and 50 per cent).

(define what you call average, good and great in terms of winning ratios)


This means getting an advantage. If your horse starts at 4/1 and you secured 5/1, then you have an edge on the price. Over the course of a year, should you continue to take advantage of such an edge, you are more than likely to end up winning. There are various ways of getting an edge. One is to look for a sure thing at a short price and back it in an all-up with your selection BUT back the hotpot to PLACE and your selection to WIN. Let’s say you feel that Lonhro is a good thing. He pays $1.20 the place. You put $10 on and get back $12. This goes on your selection at, say 5/1. If he wins, you get back $72 for an all-round profit of $60. That means you got 6.2 to 1 for the 5/1 chance, an increase or edge of around 24 per cent.

(a little risky if you ask me, 'sure things' do lose and even miss the place, so this is a risk I'd rather not take)


If you have good information about a horse, you have an edge over all those punters not in possession of such information. If you really do know something, whether from a tip from an inside source, or just some key statistical detail, keep it to yourself.

(do your own homework and do not rely on others to do it for you!)


Hey, simple advice but how many punters ignore it at their peril? Your basic philosophy should once again be SIMPLICITY. That is, if you can’t win more than you can lose, then don’t bet. If your minimum loss can be 1 unit, then your minimum win must also be 1 unit. Even-money, that is. Just make that rule, never bet odds-on, regardless of the circumstances. This doesn’t apply to place betting, of course, because with that you have three chances to collect.

(applicable to large fields in horse racing, I'd adjust this sport - don't bet long odds-on)


Sometimes we get so carried away by a horse that we can’t see the wood for the trees. We continue to blindly back a losing horse in the HOPE it will win. Hope is not enough. Logic says you must EXPECT a bet to win, not just hope it will. So, always be honest with yourself when you are assessing a horse’s form. Don’t cut corners. Assess each horse fairly and rationally. Good old commonsense comes into play every time. If you have a nagging doubt, and you know you are casting for fish in a stagnant pool, then opt out. There will always be another day. Another horse. A better horse.

(you can't expect a 20/1 shot to win, but you can expect to get a good run for your money - be realistic)


If you don’t discover why a horse lost, or why YOU lost, you have little hope of ever learning anything. It goes without saying that we should re-analyse a horse that has failed for us. We look not just at its performance on the day but where we went wrong in selecting it. If you choose and then bet a horse, fancying it very strongly, and it runs poorly, then something is wrong. It could be the horse simply failed, maybe it had bad luck. But it behoves you to look again at why you selected it, especially if it simply ran badly after getting every chance. Why were you so wrong? What deceived you in the form? Did you put the emphasis on all the wrong aspects? And, most importantly, what made you miss the winner?

(learning from your mistakes is a key part of life!)


Dizziness due to success. A famous chess player once warned about this, and it’s something I feel punters should be aware of when the winners come rolling in, as they do from time to time. The lesson is to be extra-vigilant when you think you are getting well ahead of the game. I know a lot of punters who have blown big banks, sometimes when they changed their methods in the middle of a winning streak! Without being overcautious, don’t let enthusiasm get the better of you and warp your judgement.

(get cocky and you soon get caught out)


As in all forms of life, racing has its greats, its journeymen and its ordinary participants. It’s your job, as someone wanting to make money from the game, to choose the right people for the job. If you’re risking your hard-earned money, do you want an inexperienced boy to carry the torch? Do you want a jockey whose record shows a small percentage of wins? Do you want the horse to come from a stable that rarely gets a winner? I wouldn’t think so. My personal aim is to always try to stick with the strength. I reason that there are only a handful of powerful figures in racing, and they are destined to win more than a fair share of the races. I like my bets to carry that sort of “superstar” weight. When Damien Oliver, Glen Boss, Darren Beadman, Noel Callow, etc. are aboard, I feel better and if there are good trainers as well, that gives me an even rosier glow. You, too, should think carefully on this score. It’s one way of cutting back on your bets. Forget those in “minor” hands and wait for the horses that come from the power players.

(don't necessarily agree with this one - a good horse with a weaker jockey might be 10/1 instead of 4/1 ridden by a big name. Value plays a key part.)


The racing media being what it is, we are assailed daily with the views and thoughts of various jockeys and trainers. My advice is listen to them . . . but don’t take it as gospel. A friend of mine says we should always ignore what the jockey says. He doesn’t care who it is or what they say. His argument is this: They ride, that’s their job. Sometimes they study the opposition but who knows how carefully? Often they have never even been on the horse that they are talking about. So when you see Jockey X giving his mount the “rev up” on Sky, or predicting that it will win a major race, treat it all with caution. Weigh it up. Use your own judgement in deciding if the jockey has it right.

(very few trainers and jockeys do more analysis of the opposition than a half-serious punter - with the occasional exception, ignore them!)


If your betting stresses you out, then you are probably betting too much. That is, too much money and too often. It can mean you are betting more than you can afford. It means you are afraid of losing. It can mean your confidence is shot to pieces. If you’re at this stage, and racing has become less enjoyable than it was, then stop and smell the roses for a while. Have a break, build up your cash reserves again, re-examine what you’ve been doing, and when you feel refreshed then enter the fray again. But don’t return unless you’ve ironed out the problems that saw you under stress in the first place. Otherwise, you will end up on the same old merry-go-round.

(there's more to life than betting - never bet more than you can afford to lose. If your day depends on the success or failure of one bet, then cut back or you'll cut years off your life. Problem gamblers tarnish the reputation of all gamblers)


If you’re serious about this business, then give yourself time to do what needs to be done.
You know you have to study form but you can’t do it properly at work during a tea break, or even at lunchtime. Form study needs time and space. You need to think to make important decisions. So do yourself a favour and set aside some time each night to examine what’s going to happen the next day. Even an hour can be enough to look at two or three races in detail. You’ll be happier with the results than if you had simply rushed through the fields without proper analysis of every starter.

(expect to make money betting? Then treat it like a job. Put the time into it. A plumber didn't learn his trade in one day, neither does a punter)


Psycho peril is the tag I give to that awful state of mind when confidence ebbs and you seem totally unable to get back on a winning pathway. It’s very true that when you lose confidence it can mean big problems. Betting is all about confidence, and so is the selection process. A punter suffering "psycho peril" will find himself unable to make definite decisions. He’ll to and fro over various candidates and inevitably end up backing the loser and rejecting the winner. It’s a bad place to be when this sort of mental blackness takes over. So what do you do about it? Maybe the first move is to take time off. I know it can be tough to call a halt to your betting, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet. A rest can help you clear your mind, and forget about the losing streak. You can return in a week or so, feeling refreshed. Another approach to beat the blues is to re-assess your entire approach. What are you doing wrong? Can things be improved? Why are you losing so many times? Are you making stupid decisions and forgetting about your normal approach? It’s important to answer these questions fairly and honestly.

(no point spending all your life gambling if you can't enjoy it. Take a break from time-to-time, both when things are bad and when things are good.)


It can be advantageous to take stock and check out what the great punters of the past did to make themselves successful.
Pittsburgh Phil is an example. His maxims are important ones and well worth consideration. Let’s look at the major ones:
(a) Winners repeat frequently, while the beaten are apt to be beaten continually.
(b) Don’t believe you can beat the races without hard work.
(c) People who usually behave sensibly will behave stupidly once they set foot on a racetrack.
(d) Don’t win a lot one day and give it all back the next.
(e) Go about your business methodically and remain calm.
(f) The punter who loses his head, loses his money.
(g) Always have an opinion of your own. And stick to it.
(h) The only way losers can change their fortunes is by studying the form and analysing the methods of winners.
(i) Find out what winners know that losers don’t.

(excellent advice. And people who want to be winners can examine what losers do and avoid it)


This is a factor of our punting life that proves a constant worry. My suggestion is that you trust your own judgement when it comes to backing horses.
If you’ve assessed a horse as a 3/1 chance and it’s on offer at 10s, then get in there and back it.
Always, of course, bet within your means. Once you step aside the safety zone you’ll find that mistakes start to happen, and bad decisions happen, and you wind up with a "scared money" monkey on your back.

(there's always another race, another game - so don't put your life on it!)


Racing fans can get just about all they need now on the Internet. What a change from eight years ago when PPM first went online with our website! Everyone’s on the bandwagon today, and that’s a good thing. The huge amount of information readily available has to be an enormous aid for punters.

(do your research and don't take shortcuts)


At PPM and the PPD Club on the Internet, we’ve proved that long-range betting, both win and place and doubles, can pay off handsomely. Maybe it’s time you forgot the doomsayers and had a go at this form of betting? It’s risky but the rewards can be enormous, as our esteemed editor Brian Blackwell has proved in the last couple of years.

(not my cup of tea but it works for some. Long-term betting is far more popular in the UK than in Australia)


We can never know enough, no matter what part of everyday life you are part of . . . and racing is no different. Read up all you can and then pick out the best bits. It doesn’t matter who says it, you can consider it and then accept or reject it. A bit of money spent on a $50 book may give you one GREAT idea that can turn you from a loser into a winner.

(research the methods, not just the sport itself)


You have a couple of fancies for the day and can’t make up your mind if they represent value. The temptation is to muddle around and try a few dollars on the first one, even though you’re not sure. If this is the case, stop yourself. Missing a loser is not as good a feeling as backing a winner but one of the worst sensations is backing horses about which you are not sure and which lose.

(avoiding losers is just as important as backing winners - have discipline)


If you’re a hit-and-miss punter who oohs and aahs when your fancy gets beaten by a horse you thought was the danger . . . time to think about backing two a race. When you strike a race where you think two or more horses represent value, the first thing you should do is review your analysis and confirm your opinions. If you are still convinced, then be prepared to back both horses according to the level of value that’s available. Ensure the combined odds are not too low. If you get 5/1 about the two horses in a race, for example, you are effectively backing a 2/1 shot. This will suit some betting styles but may be a little too conservative for others. The alternative is to forget such races.

(useful in certain cases, but I'd prefer to back two 20/1 shots for a combined bet of 9.5/1)


Always remember that taking "unders" is a long-term disaster area. If a horse isn’t value for money, then don’t back it. Simple as that.

(learn how to assess prices yourself and be disciplined about the prices you take - or you'll go broke)


Take a long-term view about your betting. Don’t panic after a few losing days. Keep the goal in mind of an annual profit.

(one race, one day, one week means little. Everyone has losing streaks, keep your eye on the long-term figures IF you have confidence in your methods)


A form idea is to keep close tabs on what I call "momentum" horses. These are horses who improve sharply from run to run. Their winning form is good form. Lonhro has been an example. Many other top-liners fall into the same category. Just keep on backing these smart, formful horses. Look for horses able to accelerate at the end of a race; those that can put a race beyond doubt in a few quick bounds.

(good horses keep winning, but their prices get shorter each time - not one I'd stick to personally)


No matter how you approach racing, the formguide reigns supreme. And there are lots of them around, in paper form and on the worldwide web. Recent form is the form that needs your closest attention. Form from a year ago may be relevant in a minority of instances but it’s recent form that gets the winners.

(all factors are relevant, some more than others)


Get a good grip on the statistical side of racing. It will pay to have in the back of your mind certain factors that make racing tick day in and day out. Examples: 85 per cent of all races are won by horses that had their last start within the previous three weeks. More than 60 per cent of winners ran between first and fourth last start. Around 66 per cent of all winners are in the first three in the morning betting market in your newspaper.

(statistics and lies, you can make what you want of those figures. They are Australian, a bit dated and specific to that region of racing)


It’ll pay to keep in mind that you are betting against your fellow punter. You need an angle that he doesn’t know about. If you can find a new angle, you may find the horn of plenty.
Racing is all about angles on this and that aspect of form. Most angles have been discovered, used and mostly discarded. Can you find a new one? Statsman did recently with his amazing High 5 system. There are still lots more winning angles to be discovered from the formguide. Spend some time checking out aspects of form that you feel could lead you to winners that produce a long-term profit.

(whether betting on a tote, Betfair or with bookies, you are betting against other punters, so you need to do the 'hard yards' to know a little more than they do)


Greetings - welcome to the land of sports betting. One thing that bothers me about people betting on sport is that so many of them can't see past the obvious, which is usually horse racing and football. There are so many other sports out there to bet on, and more importantly, so many more opportunities going in these other sports. Open your eyes, expand your horizons and don't fall for the same stuff that everyone else follows - all that means is the information is way too public - if everyone knows about it, where's the advantage for you?