After many requests, today’s guest is our very own form analyst Rick Williams. He talks us through each day of his working week and how he goes about analysing the form and making betting decisions.
Listen in for some fantastic insights into the life of a professional punter.
Punting Insights You’ll Find
- A normal working week for a professionals.
- How to combine video reviews with sectionals data.
- How to use perception vs. reality to gain an edge.
- What to look for in an IVR report.
- Some of the variables that are difficult to predict (and how to handle them).
- Why a maiden race can be a worthwhile bet.
- Rick Williams
Rick’s Closing Tip:
” The whole idea of the game is to make money, and if there’s money to be made in a Geelong maiden, then I’m happy to try and make it there. “
Episode 017: Finding Value And Beating The Market with Rick Williams
Welcome to Betting 360, your number one source for horse racing and sports betting insights. Coming around the bend is your host David Duffield, with another expert view to give you the winning edge.
David: Hi, this is David Duffield. And for Episode 17 of the Betting 360 podcast we thought we’d bring on one of our own. We’ve had quite a few requests from people who wanted to find out a bit more about a normal day, and a normal week for a professional punter. And we’ve got Rick Williams on to have a chat about how his week pans out, basically Monday through Sunday, and how he goes about trying to find some value and to beat the market. So let’s have a chat with one of our own, Rick Williams.
David: Hi everyone it’s David Duffield here. And we’ve had 16 episodes of the Betting 360 podcast. So thought it was time to get on someone well known to most of you, and that’s the man responsible for all the form analysis here at Champion Picks, it’s Rick Williams, how are you going mate?
Rick: Good thanks mate.
David: That’s good. Yeah we’ve had a few requests from newsletter, and members wanting to find out a bit more about how you go about it. So what I’d thought what we’d do is run through a typical week in what you do, in analysing mainly Sydney and Melbourne racing, but also the occasional hit and run mission elsewhere.
So we’ll just run through how a normal week pans out for you, and you can explain the work that goes into it. So might as well lead off on a Monday, what type of work are you typically doing to kick off the week?
Rick: The first thing I do on Monday, is basically cover any work that I have been unable to do during the previous week. And that’s mainly review sort of stuff, and it’s got a lot to do with, you know our ratings, and sectional times, and IVR’s, and putting it all together and recording certain things, and blackbooking horses, and doing the videos, and all those different aspects.
Obviously I try to do certain parts of that as they happen through the week, but you know, being that there’s only so many hours in a day, and not a great deal of what I do at this stage is fully automated, there’s some part automation, but there’s still a little bit of manual sort of work, which should change quite soon though. But it’s really just, you know first thing Monday get in, and you know really just do the grunt work of a lot of things that happened the week before.
David: So when you are watching the videos, what are you actually looking out for?
Rick: What we sort of look for is, we’re looking for, I guess what everyone looks for. You’ve just got to really, pay close attention, and everyone sees the big things, you know the horse that can’t get a run for the whole straight, or all those different sorts of things so you know it’s just a lot more subtle things that happen in races.
The horse might, you know just lose slight momentum. Geelong Synthetic’s an interesting one, for any horse that sort of comes wide on that turn, it’s like a big hair pin you know that Geelong turn on the synthetic, so you know that’s certainly a disadvantage there. And another thing that we obviously look for, especially through winter, is you know quite often with the track conditions, possibly that you know there’s a different fast lane so that the fence will be off.
So we’re looking for horses that finish quite well in the worst part of the track. Just all different little things that aren’t just the desperately unlucky horse.
David: Do you find that sometimes those unlucky horses can be over bet? I think you mentioned the case of Are There Any recently, where it was definitely struggling to get a run, and the next time it came out it was pretty heavily favoured by the market, but it wasn’t able to win?
Rick: Yeah I think that perception versus reality’s quite interesting. And what we think on occasions should have happened, versus what would or could have happened. And that’s quite an interesting thing, once you start to think about it, because there really is no guarantee that had the horse got the run, or had this happened, or had that happened, that it actually would’ve won. So, it really is quite a fine balance, and I sort of tend to, I guess there’s some people out there that go more of what would’ve happened, and bet accordingly.
I’m sort of more the other side, where I sort of think that, well if everyone thinks that it was going to happen, you know it’s really not guaranteed. Certainly there was some interference, certainly the horse should’ve finished closer, but am I prepared to say it should’ve finished you know 3 or 4 lengths closer and won? No, maybe we’ll meet it in the middle.
David: Fair enough. We’ve listened to Vince Accardi on Carnival on a Saturday afternoon before, the RSN’s digital channel, and he’s partnered up there with Racetrack Ralphy. I’ve heard him say it’s easy to be unlucky than it is to win, would you agree with that?
Rick: I think so. Because you know really, generally the horses that win get the best runs. You know, so there’s a lot of horses that aren’t getting the right types of runs, so you know it’s pretty hard to win races. And most horses, you know sort of do at some stage during the race, have a chance to make a move.
And it’s an interesting point that Vince you know sort of talks about. You know the horse might’ve got held up with 50 to go, well you know over 1400, or it’s had 1350 metres before that to sort of do its work. So it’s an interesting theory, and yeah, probably you know back to your original question, probably something that can be over-rated at times by the market.
David: Alright. So I mentioned Vince, and you mentioned the IVR reviews that you do, might just want to expand on that, we’ve probably got some guys listening in that aren’t that familiar with it. So the, the Daily Sectionals site from Vince Accardi with a digital timing for every horse, what are you looking for just in general terms, I know you wouldn’t want to give too much away. But when you’re looking at the IVR reports, what are the main things that you’re looking at?
Rick: Well there’s 3 lots of things I get from Vince. And they’re the IVR reports, which is basically in layman’s terms using his theories, and records, his data bank, it’s his par times basically. I get the sectional review, which is basically a breakdown, and all of his intricacies of the different ways that he likes to read and interpret his data. Most of that’s quite in-depth, and the other one is the daily summaries, which basically is the, say that the 8 races with his final time, and a breakdown of the sectionals from the leader to the winning post, and the winner individually.
So that’s what I get, most of my work that I do is off that last file the daily summaries using the different sectionals, and reviewing all the different horses, and what they’ve done. It does take a bit more work, because you know we certainly don’t have you know the times and all the final work done for us like we do with the IVR’s. So that is quite an effort to manipulate that data, and use it in a way that we find to be valuable and beneficial. So yeah, that’s a bit of work, so that’s probably where, you know 90% of the time is.
And then the luxury of having those other finalised reports from Vince, which is pretty much for all your metro Melbourne and Sydney races, they come through all done and certainly very valuable information, and very valuable for saving time also.
David: So that covers the Monday, it’s a lot of video work, and a lot of reviews, both obviously of the videos, but also from the reports that you get through. What about on a Tuesday, what’s your focus there normally?
Rick: Look Tuesday there’s generally always a bit of carryover from Monday. And there’s always you know a bit of carryover, you never seem to always be ahead, or on the mark. You know every day that goes past there’s a meeting or two, and that’s work you’ve got to do again. So you know you’re never really up to date, you always feel like you’re chasing your tail a little bit. So there’s always a little bit of that sort of stuff to do on a Tuesday, and then really it’s you know bunkering down probably around this time, and getting stuck into the form for a Wednesday, which is generally you know focused on the Melbourne and Sydney mid-weekers.
David: So in a normal week Monday and Tuesday would be next to no betting. I mean unless one, a blackbooker maybe stood out on a Tuesday afternoon?
Rick: Yeah look, basically the black book on Mondays and Tuesdays is my guide. Just to find the time to sit down and do a full coverage of a meeting, it’s just hard to sort of find that time. And generally the horses aren’t too crash hot, and if there is any good horses running then hopefully they come through in the black book. And we can sort of isolate a race or two and do the form there, as opposed to having to go through you know at least 8 meetings.
David: So it takes us to Wednesday, and how does a Wednesday normally pan out for you?
Rick: Wednesday is quite a busy sort of day. It’s probably not too dissimilar from the Saturday, I’ve got to get up in the morning and obviously do the scratchings. Once the scratchings happen, sometimes there’s key scratchings that mean a lot, and sometimes there’s some that really don’t mean anything. But you know you sort of have to go over and you know check your prices, and your speed maps, and all those different sorts of things. Your track conditions, and make sure everything’s still in order, then you know I have to get all of that done into the final spread sheet to go out for the members.
From there I have to do all the race comments and all the races that go into that file as well. And they also go into the metro mail, then I have to do the tips for the metro mail, that then goes out to the members also. And then the last thing I generally do is collate all of that data, and select the horses that will go out for the tips, and get that data out. And then in between there we also provide a selection for the newsletter. And then probably sometime between 12 and 1pm is when the first race occurs, and we’ll go and you know look over the markets and see where the value is, and send out some SMS alerts accordingly, and update and welcome our members to the live page.
David: So when you are looking for the value that’s around, is it fair to say Dynamic Odds is a must have? You’d be lost without it. And once again there’s no, we’re not affiliated in any way with Dynamic Odds, other than our ratings appear there for subscribers, it’s just a tool that life would be very different without.
Rick: Yeah I think it’s, you know if you were a carpenter and you know had a good brand saw, it’s sort of just the same. It’s really a very valuable tool of the trade, and you know it certainly helps to be able to look at, you know 10 or 15 bookmakers on the one screen.
And you know we can rank it by rated order, or different rankings that you want to do to get it all in order, and it’s just a very simple and easy way. So that certainly is a very big help for that part of the job and even once race time comes, and if we have to decide whether we want to save on horses or risk them.
Certainly Betfair is a good indication, the behaviour there of what’s happening, more so Sydney than Melbourne, but you know still it’s market intelligence that needs to be taken into account. And that little Betfair graph that they have on there, just to see the market trend and sentiment is quite helpful also for making decisions.
David: And you mentioned speed maps as well, as being a key part of your analysis. So my understanding is that a good chunk of that’s automated from an algorithm that’s been developed, and that you’ve fine-tuned a little, but that only takes you so much of the way, then you need to use your, I suppose your experience and your racing nous to adjust where the algorithm has actually positioned those horses.
Rick: Yeah look you’ve always got horses, you know that have raced over a longer distance. Maybe first up over shorter, and you’ve got horses that are maybe been midfield, over shorter going up in distance, so there’s certainly different variables. You might have a horse that generally is an on pacer that’s drawn barrier 15 of 15 his last 3 runs and they’ve gone back, but he’s got a decent gate and he’ll probably resume his normal pattern. So they’re just a few different things that you really have to look at.
It’s quite difficult to get them 100% right all the time, because one thing we don’t know when we look at the data is, we don’t know what the owners have asked the trainer, we don’t know what the trainers asked the owner, we don’t know what the jockeys asked them, we don’t know what any of the instructions are, we don’t know how the horse is feeling. So they’re different variables that are out of our control that are difficult to predict. But certainly we feel that if we just concentrate on what we can do, and do the best job we can there and get it right more times than not, then certainly that’s a valuable way to help with our assessments going forward.
David: So that’s 3 days into the week and there’s only been one probably serious betting day. What about on Thursday, how does that normally evolve for you? What type of work are you doing on Thursday?
Rick: Well on the Wednesday I’m starting on the Thursday. And then basically again concentrating on Victoria or New South Wales. Generally Victoria, that’s where we try and focus, and you know generally that’s at Ballarat or Bendigo, or Sale or Seymour. And it’s basically just starting through the same process which is, doing the speed maps, and getting the base ratings together, and structuring it up, and then incorporating different things. And getting up on Thursday morning, and again you know we’re faced with different factors, different scratching’s, speed maps change, markets change, track conditions change, weather changes, and it’s just putting it all together.
And again then we have to do all the race comments, get them out, get it out in the ratings format to all the guys, then again we’re running the live page through the day, SMS-ing and alerting everybody. Then at this stage on Thursday you know we’re probably starting to get everything started for Saturday, and really start to get a bit of an idea of what’s going on there. And at the same time having a decent look at Friday also. As we sort of get into this time of year we find that, such is the strength and depth of the racing, that these days that are through winter are generally fairly low quality. We’ve got pretty decent horses and some good opportunities. I think it’s pretty important to try and cover those areas.
Plus a lot of the work we do with our typical black book type runners, a lot of it’s time based, and a lot of these horses do tend to appear in more lower meetings in lower sort of graded races, where there probably isn’t much attention. So that’s another thing that we try and work on. We are quite selective in that area, so it’s not like we’ve got 5 or 10 bets there every day. But we try and run a tight ship, because if you’ve got you know 20 black bookers popping up every day, it’s almost a full time job to run them, plus your database, your ratings, your videos, your times. So I try and be quite strict on my criteria to make the black book, so if they come up they’re pretty much there.
David: And just regarding the race class that you mentioned, I think it’s probably fair to say we ignore that more than most others. In that, like if there’s a black booker in, some people won’t bet in maidens, but if there’s a black booker in a maiden race, that’s probably more likely to make you interested than less interested just because the quality is not there. But also in the times work that we do, the maidens just go into the pot like the rankings for the day, along with everyone else. So is that a fair thing to say, that we probably ignore the class, the advertised class of the race more than most other people would?
Rick: Look as far as making a decision on do we bet here, certainly. If we got, if there was a maiden at Geelong on the synthetic and it had 10 hopeless horses, then they’re 10 hopeless horses, you don’t bet. But if there’s a maiden and there’s 9 hopeless horses, and one that we’ve seen as a standout, on the time somewhere else, then certainly the fact that it’s a maiden doesn’t really affect us. The whole idea of the game is to make money, and if there’s money to be made in a Geelong maiden, then I’m happy to try and make it there. Because at the end of the day, if you can make 5 units at a Geelong maiden, those 5 units are the same as if you made it in the Melbourne Cup, you know 5 units is 5 units.
David: Yeah, and just in terms of the rankings for the day, we’re not comparing you know say the two maiden races on the day to each other. They go into an overall ranking for the day, so it doesn’t happen often, but it may well be that one of the maiden winners was the best performed on the day.
Rick: Certainly. And that can come down to numerous different factors. Sometimes there’s been quite a few horses that we’ve spotted come through good maidens and go on to be very very good horses. So you can certainly find ones like that. And then there’s other factors which do involve race tempo, and all those sorts of things, which we do try and balance out in our final ratings. But when you use times there will always be a little bit of an imbalance for races that go very fast early, or very slow early. So we just need to be aware of what the final rating is, and how the structure and make up of that rating occurred, so we don’t get bitten on the backside going forward.
David: Okay Rick, we’ll leave it there now for this week’s episode. We do like to keep these around 20-25 minute mark, so we’ll leave it there for now. We’re only halfway through the week, Monday to Thursday has been covered, but we’ve got to talk about the rest of the week, and also just the tools of the trade, the essential things that you couldn’t punt seriously without. So we’ll pick it up again next week, thanks for your time today.
Thanks for tuning in to Betting 360. Get more in depth analysis, tips and that betting edge by heading over to ChampionPicks.com.au where you’ll find a full transcript of this episode. If you liked the show, share us with a fellow punter or drop by iTunes to leave us your thoughts. Betting 360, punting from all angles.
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