Following on from my first “Workshop” article, I want to discuss how you should go about finding winners, what you are really seeking and the positives and negatives of using tipsters.
Anyone can find winners, it really isn’t hard. If backing frequent winners was your only goal then simply picking through the cards and betting the horse with the lowest forecast price, that had run and placed within the last 30 days would be a very simple method to nail lots of winners. But I very much doubt whether that approach would yield any profits.
So I prefer not to try and tell you how to find winners as really I don’t think that’s what you are trying to achieve. What I think you’re trying to achieve is find enough winners that pay for the losers so that you make profit overall. To do that the winners that you find will need to backed at Value Prices. Although you might not buy into or totally understand the concept of value, it is what you seek!
That said I do feel that what is sometimes driving this need to find winners is a preference that we all have to be winning more often that losing and that essentially means a strike rate above 50%.
The better value is often found at the bigger prices as are higher Returns on Investment. But for many I think that backing winners regularly is mentally easier to handle and backing at the top of the market, i.e at short prices, is in fact inherently lower risk than backing longshots.
To prove this I want to share some stats with you:
Blindly backing favourites of all UK races from 2009 to date at Industry SP
Bets Wins WinStrike SP_PL PlaceStrike ROI
28042 9003 32.11% -1930.46 59.18% -6.88%
Blindly backing the 4th in the betting
Bets Wins WinStrike SP_PL PlaceStrike ROI
25765 2460 9.55% -4817.67 30.56% -18.70%
(Note: the number of bets is slightly different due to joint favs/joint 4th etc)
So although backing favourites blindly, or backing the 4th in the betting blindly, will both lose you a lot of money in the long run, backing favourites will lose you a lot less since the edge that the market has is greatly reduced.
These figures are based on industry SP and therefore you will find that they are less pronounced with exchange prices. But the longshot-favourite bias is still real and is something that you certainly need to be very aware of.
It essentially means that the edge required to have an advantage over the market is smaller and therefore (in theory at least) it is easier to profit in the long run backing favourites.
I found this article http://betting.betfair.com/education/-generic-betting-principles/the-art-of-bookmaking-1-110111.html which goes into more detail and I’m sure there’s more out there if you read some good books.
So the drive to find a profitable angle with a high strike rate and potentially lower stress levels is there. My own attempts at this have produced a decent little system that currently has an overall strike rate of 59% and a ROI OF 16%. (See Favs System on the forum)
By the way I’m not suggesting you should stick to the top end of the market by any means, I just wanted to point out that for those looking primarily for a high strike rate that the profits are out there. For those that can stomach losing runs and are prepared for them, then finding a way to beat the market at bigger odds can yield very impressive results. Looking for value in the double figure odds ranges is something that the best have mastered, the likes of Pricewise and Hugh Taylor spring to mind, if only making money from their selections was practical!
Your hunt for Value.
Coming up with your own selections means you’ll either be using a quite rigid system or your own “method”. Your method might be very specific or quite vague. But there is always a method or a collection or methods that a punter is using, whether they consciously admit it or not! I’m going to suggest that it’s the punters in the middle of the rigid system to vague methodology spectrum that fair best. That’s to say that they know what they are looking for, but are always prepared to apply some common sense too.
There are about a gazillion ways you could approach the “build your own system/method” conundrum. So I’m not going to try and go in to detail here.
But in my own experience here are some useful tips/possible starting points:
- Look to find your own “niche”.
- Specialize in certain races/types.
- Look at trends, trainers, tracks, etc.
- Create a “to follow” list/notebook approach.
- Consider all markets, i.e win/place and each way.
- Remember as a punter you don’t have to bet in every race, whereas a bookmaker has to price every race – this is our advantage.
- Don’t ignore the option of betting on several horses in a race.
Useful starting points/sites (all open in a new window) :
- Horseracebase (http://www.horseracebase.com/)
- Flatstats (http://www.flatstats.co.uk/index.html)
- Racing Post (http://www.racingpost.com/)
- Smartersig (http://www.smartersig.com/home.php)
- pjmracing (http://www.pjmracing.co.uk/)
- High Stakes Gambling Books (http://www.highstakes.co.uk/)
The Tipster Route
Of course doing all this research takes time. -Time that in my opinion is well spent both in terms of the profit potential and in terms of the satisfaction in succeeding at something.
However this is time that a high proportion of you simply don’t have.
So this is where tipsters come in.
Using tipsters can be a very expensive route to take, as you are effectively trusting someone else with your betting bank. If it goes pair shaped it’s often a double whammy for the punter who has lost money both in lost bets and subscription costs.
This is worst case scenario but almost everyone who’s dabbled with tipsters will have faced it; that is cutting your losses with your betting bank drastically reduced or bust and having been hit in the wallet with fees as well. That’s not good but it happening all the time, it’s why bookmakers love tipsters and why tipsters never seem to last long yet are reincarnating themselves time and time again in different guises. They often come out of the venture with a profit whether they are successful or not!
So, if you want to avoid this scenario of being just another disillusioned punter that’s lining both the bookmakers and the “not so clever tipsters” year on year, you need to take a harsh view of them. And that’s coming from someone who’s run his own tips service for 6 years! (More on that later).
For starters you need to set your spending limits. You might find a tipster that is the bees knees, and genuinely makes significant profits. But if the fees are on the high end of the scale its not going to be suitable for all but the well seasoned punter with a huge betting float. You see paying up front fees of say around £1000 per year/season, you’ll obviously need to make a £1000 profit before you’ve even broke even. Now if you’re betting £100 a point from a £10k betting bank and profits are typically 10pts a month then maybe it could work. (That’s assuming bookmaker account closures/restrictions don’t halt your progress). But for the majority such a proposition is not a good idea. You’ll can end up stretching both your betting bank too far with the higher stakes required to claw back the high fees, and over stretching your nerves with stakes that you are simply not comfortable with.
So if you’re starting out, my advice is to simply ignore those high priced services altogether, there will always be similar opportunities down the line so don’t be lead into thinking you’re missing the boat.
So once you’ve set your spending limits you’re now considering an almost endless amount of services, websites and what not. Most of which are… well you guessed it – not good!
So you need to have some qualifying criteria.
Now I could put down here a certain number of years history, or data, or proofed by certain sites etc. But ultimately that might not help. So really you’re going to have to use your judgement and put in as much research as time will allow.
At this point I want to highlight a very real pot hole that a lot of people are falling into.
An obvious shortcut in your research is to do google search for reviews and opinions of others. That would seem to make sense, right?
Well in fact no. Almost every review site has vested interests to sell you something and will make a commission on sales. (Yes I make commissions too). So ask yourself how well do you know the author? Do you trust them? Have you any experience of them in the past? There’s nothing wrong in principle of someone getting a commission for referring someone to genuine product that helps them, but you must remember that due to the anonymous nature of the internet, a lot of what you read cannot be trusted. It’s a breeding ground for cowards and scoundrels.
If you are reading blog comments or forum posts can you be sure that they are genuine?
That’s one of the reasons I try to be a straight shooter, I use my real name/address and I put a mug shot of myself on this site. On a professional level I want you to be able to trust me and on a personal level I like to take pride in what I do.
So casting aside basic criteria and free, 3rd party reviews, ideally you want a scenario where it costs you nothing or very little to test the tips yourself. You’ll then be free to either paper trade or bet with stakes at a comfortable level. (You can increase at a later point.) So, you’ll be doing your own assessment/review of the service in practice. You can then see if the published results are genuine with and can be 100% certain in your findings. Again though, this is a long winded process, you’ll want to be testing for between 3 and 12 months to get a real handle on most long term racing services to get the best possible assessment. So this is where another option comes in, and that is paying for reviews/research.
In the “olden days” (!) RID (Racing Information Database) used to be the port of call for tipster data. It’s a postal service that provided limited data that I’m not sure if it is even still operating. Either way I believe the new leader in tipster monitoring and reviewing is Secret Betting Club, they’ve been going now for quite a few years and I find them a great starting point for those looking to follow tipsters. Another to consider for 3rd party reviews, as well as a wealth of other data and advice, is Betting School Insiders Club. Both SBC and Betting School are successful in that they provide totally unbiased opinions on products and services. Either will not cost you much to try out and is by far a lower risk proposition than going by 3rd party reviews written by people that you know nothing about who quite possibly have ulterior motives.
|Tipster Services||Your Own Methods/Systems|
|-No searching for selections.
-Great results with the right advice.
-Requires no knowledge or skill.
-Can operate around day job.
|-Place bets when you get them or risk missing the price.
-Upfront costs can be huge.
-Most don’t last.
-Lots and lots of shysters.
|-Free! (Or low cost)
-Place bets when you’re ready.
-Almost always get the best prices.
-Fun. (If you’re that way inclined!)
-Lots of profit if you can find a good angle.
-Requires a level of understanding.
-Hard for the novice punter.
Ok so that’s all for now, I’ve written this post in a kind of “off the cuff” way so if you think I’ve missed anything or would like me elaborate on anything comment below.
Still to come:
- How to make money with Winning Racing Tips.
- Sorting the wheat from the chaff, dealing with the “inbox noise”.
- Beating Bookmaker restrictions and closures.