Betting 360 Podcast

This week’s guest is Phil, a member of Champion Bets.

Making the leap from recreational weekend punter to full-time professional is something many dream of but few actually try.  Phil tells us about his own journey.

Punting Insights:

  • The ups and downs of life on the punt full-time.
  • How to prepare for making the leap.
  • The hardest part of making a loving off the punt.

Today’s Guest

Phil, Champion Bets member.

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Podcast Transcript

Mark: My guest on today’s podcast is Phil. He’s a member here at Champion Bets and I just wanted to get him on to tell his story. It’s probably a little bit different to most punters so thanks for joining us, Phil.

I thought maybe you’d just want to start with your background outside of the punt and how long you’ve been at it.

Phil: I grew up in Bundaberg, dad was a school teacher, mum was a nurse. After finishing high school I moved to Brisbane and studied optometry. Graduated in 1987 and moved to Adelaide to work as an optometrist. There, I met and married an Adelaide girl. SA has been home for almost 30 years now.

Mark: And you have worked as an optometrist for most of your life?

Phil: Yeah pretty much, that’s pretty much all I’ve done. Graduated as a 22-year-old and just hit the big 50 and I’ve been an optometrist all that time.

Mark: And are you still working as an optometrist now?

Phil: Well no, as of the start of this year I’ve decided to give punting a try and see if I can make a living out of the punt.

Mark: Fantastic. And just with the punt, what’s your long-term background with it, were you always a recreational hunter or did you take it more seriously?

Phil: I found my earliest punting memory as a kid was my nana listening to the races on her radio. Dad enjoyed a casual bet, my uncle probably a bit more seriously, he owned some race horses. The best of his won a Stradbroke in 1978. Growing up, I had the standard bet on the Melbourne Cup, but that was about it. It’s probably really in my Uni years, that I started to enjoy a regular Saturday bet, but really, it was about the sport itself and the horses. As a Queenslander, you couldn’t help but love Vic Rail and Vo Rogue and Bone Crusher and Better Loosen Up, those were favourites of mine as well. But it really was recreation.

Mark: Have you punted much on other sports or has it mostly just been racing for you?

Phil: Pretty much racing, exclusively. I love the NRL and do have a bit of a bet on the footy but again, that’s more out of fun, I love watching the games.

Mark: So you said you started off really as a recreational punter and you’re at a stage now where it’s full time, or you’re at least trying it full time. What sort of came in between? When did you start taking it more seriously or thought that it might be an option to do full time?

Phil: Well it was fun at Uni my mates and I didn’t have a lot of spare cash and most Saturdays after a trip to Eagle Farm or Doomben we’d generally have even less so it was just fun, we all had no idea. After Uni I just continued the recreational bet most weekends for the next 20 years or so, but the turning point for me was about ten years ago when I came across a betting service by the name of SmartForm, it was run by Daniel O’Sullivan. He introduced me to the concept of value and ratings and betting ranks and proportional staking. The math and the numbers side of it really appealed to me. I followed his tips and advice and continued betting pretty small but amazingly started to make some consistent profit.

Mark: So from there was it, a fairly steady rise up to betting more and more and you continued to make profits and get to the stage where you can be a full time pursuit.

Phil: It was a pretty slow and steady process. Just when I was starting to increase my steaks and thinking that I’d found the path to riches, Daniel discontinued the service. I think that was in 2015. And at that stage, even though I’d learned a great deal from the SmartForm services, I knew that if I was going to continue to bet seriously, I still didn’t really have the skills or the time, for that matter, to do my own analysis. So I needed to find a new source for betting advice, bit of search and I came across Champion Picks, it was, then. I liked the fact that it had a similar rating service to what I was used to and it was run by Rick at the time. The service wasn’t afraid to make its results public which was pretty good, so I just picked up where I left off and continued to slowly build my bank up.

From an idea of turning or making it a full time thing, I suppose I hadn’t been enjoying my work as an optometrist for quite a while. I was constantly searching for an alternative.
At the time I was enjoying trading on the stockmarket and thought that trading for a living might be an escape. I was increasing my trading activity at the same time that I was increasing my betting activity. And found I was doing much better on the horses than on the sharemarket.

Mark: Yeah, a fairly common story, that. We hear from a lot of people who make the jump from the sharemarket to the punt. So when it sort of crystallised for you and you thought you’d be able to give it a go full time, was it a case of ramping down the optometry and ramping up the punting or was it just an overnight jumping to the full time thing?

Phil: It was a slow build up but the big factor was at the end of 2015, I sold my optometry business. That created the opportunity of being able to pay off the mortgage, which in combination with my daughter finishing high school and eliminating school fees, took away a lot of income pressure. I went back to working for wages in 2016 and reduced my working hours, so particularly avoiding Wednesdays and Saturdays and got a bit more serious again with my punting. By the end of the year, I’d made more out of punting than optometry. The key though was that I didn’t spend any of it. The profits were building in my bank account, basically as my escape plan. I worked out how much I needed to put away to have a decent betting bank and also 6 months of living expenses. I reached that figure at the end of 2016. So I started my full-time punting career at the start of this year. Figuring that if it all goes bad, I’ll have had a great 6 months and can always just go back to work.

Mark: We’re in April now so that’s been about 3 full months. How have you found it?

Phil: Yeah it’s been … I’m loving it. The first few months were challenging to say the least in that we’re excited about starting this new career and I think the punting Gods might have a cruel sense of humour because straight after starting, I broke into the biggest draw down that I’ve ever had and it took about 10 weeks to fight back … to break even status. It’s been a great learning experience. March, though, just finished, has been my best month ever. So yeah, highs and lows.

Mark: The old lesson of variance is a very important role. You mentioned it’s racing that you concentrate on, in particular, is it Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide?

Phil: Yeah, I’ve tried a variety of Champion Bets packages over the last few years but pretty much settled on three which seem to suite my betting style and it made me kind of consistent, long-term profits. So I follow Snowy’s New South Wales Ratings, which is metropolitan and provincial New South Wales racing, Trevor’s Victorian Ratings, which is just metro, I’ve tried Melbourne and Chris’s New Zealand tips. I found those three always really know their stuff.

Mark: Fantastic, they certainly do. And what’s been, not necessarily in the last three months but as you’re taking your punting more seriously, what’s been the biggest lesson that you’ve had to learn that a lot of less serious punters don’t quite realise?

Phil: Well definitely the last few months, the worst part, well not even three months but forever, really the worst part’s definitely losing days. Which unfortunately happen pretty often, and not trying to let a bad day on the punt affect your mood. The difficult thing to get used to is the idea that the income is not consistent. It’s not like going to work, working your 38 hour week and getting your pay packet. So you need to prepare for the lean spells with a generous bank to be able to ride out hose bad times.

Mark: The concept of having a complete bank’s one that we continually push, so you’d say that’s definitely important?

Phil: No doubt. When you talk about unit sizes and betting appropriate staking, if you’re betting more than the bank that’s there or if you don’t have a bank, it’s too easy to go broke.

Mark: So you’ve made the jump that many of the people we speak to regard as the dream, and you’re now punting full time. Is it the dream life that a lot of people think it is? Has it been what you thought it would be, or better? Or worse?

Phil: It’s really every day, at the moment. But yeah, it is the dream life. I used to drag myself out of bed thinking, “here we go again”, now I jump out of bed and think, “right, we’re racing today”. How could you not love making a living out of watching and betting on horse races? To make a lifestyle even better, my wife and I have recently taken a long term lease on a villa in Bali because all you need to bet these days is an internet connection, it’s just as easy to do that in Bali as in Adelaide, so we’re now spending a lot more time over there which is fantastic.

Mark: Definitely sounds good. Other than what you have already spoken about, have there been any major challenges that you perhaps didn’t foresee?

Phil: Nothing that I didn’t foresee, no. As I mentioned before, it’s the uncertainty. I’ve got the idea that this is going to work, but at this stage being so new to it, it’s still almost a dream, rather than reality, so it’s just a matter of chipping away, making the right decisions and staking properly and letting the profits hopefully look after themselves. I suppose the uncertainty of it all is a drawback, but it’s also exciting at the same time. The best part is the freedom from the 9 to 5 and doing something I really enjoy, the ability of making an income out of something you love doing is pretty exciting.

Mark: Yeah great, as I say, it’s different to the 9 to 5. Very generally, what’s a typical day for you?

Phil: It’ll depend on the day. Saturday for me is intense. Saturday I’ll be up at 8:30 to get the early bets and from Snowy and Trevor, followed by the New Zealand tips coming in half an hour later, setting up all the ratings on Dynamic Odds. Checking odds trying to get the best price, setting alarms. And then, on to the races from midday on, generally on the computer screen from 8:30 in the morning til 5:30 that afternoon.
Other days, Wednesdays are reasonably. Tuesdays and Thursdays can sometimes have a New South Wales provincial meeting, a little bit more relaxed. Generally I’ll be having a bet 4 or 5 days a week and a couple days off.

Mark: Fantastic, it sounds like you’re having a good time with it.  Maybe we should speak directly to her, but any feedback from the wife? Are you definitely a happier and more content person to live with?

Phil: Yeah I think she’s appreciating me being a bit happier. It’s great to have her support, that’s a big thing too. It can be a little bit of a hard sell to say OK I’m going to stop working as an optometrist and make a living at the punt. I’m lucky that I had someone that supported me in having a go at that, so yeah it’s a super important part of the process.

Mark: Fantastic. Very good, that’s probably about all we wanted to cover today, thanks Phil. So thanks for coming on, as I said, it’s an interesting story and one that it’s a little bit different than a lot of our members but something I know a lot of them aspire to, so it’s really good to hear. We’ll definitely be checking back in with you in future just to see how it’s going, just to get an idea about the ups and downs and give everyone an idea of what it’s actually like to make that leap. So thanks for your time.

Phil: Thanks very much.