I recently had the pleasure of listening to a podcast featuring the one and only Phil Hellmuth. For people who are unaware of Phil, he is a professional poker player who has amassed a record 14 World Series of Poker bracelets and won over $21 million dollars in tournament prizemoney. He is known for his abrupt personality which not only makes him hard to read at the table, but also very entertaining to watch.

Phil spoke about the lessons he has learned to become a very successful poker player. I believe these lessons are just as valuable to those of us who gamble regularly on sports and racing.

Money Management

Phil believes this is the key to successful poker playing. He has seen far better players than him fail because of this. He’s also seen less talented players flourish due to excellent money management.

I've stated in previous articles that playing a very low percentage of your bankroll is the way to go. I am suggesting no more than 1% for racing and around 2-3% for sports betting, depending on your typical odds range. I would then be recalibrating this fortnightly or monthly. As your bankroll increases so will your bets. It keeps you in control.

When selecting your bankroll and size of bets you should be putting as little pressure as possible on your current standard of living. You don’t want the feeling of…if I don’t win this week can I pay the bills?

If you had to choose between great horse racing skills or great money management, then I believe money management wins every time.

Dealing with losing runs

Phil stated that he learns more about how he plays through his losing runs than winning runs. Sometimes you just get lucky, other times you do everything right and you get beaten. It’s important to review why this happened as it’s an inevitable part of the game.

So you need to ask yourself what lessons can I take from this going forward?

The recording of all bets is a must so you can review your results to see what you have done well and also what you have done poorly. You might find by eliminating certain areas like heavy tracks or certain courses you might be able to dramatically improve your profit on turnover going forward.

Goal Setting

Phil states that he lists all the goals he wants to achieve from poker and reads them daily to get into a mindset for starting to play a tournament.

We can relate this to what we want to achieve from our racing and sports gambling. Are we happy doing it as a hobby recreationally or are we wanting to take it to the next level? How do we go about achieving this? As humans we work better when we have a goal to work towards. Wanting to achieve this goal will keep us focused and disciplined, staying on task to achieve our desired outcome.

Don’t listen to outside influences

Phil mentions that his ego is the one thing he needs to keep in check to not get ahead of himself. He said “You are never as good as you think you are and never as bad.”

You must have faith in your ability to find winners and the process you use selecting the horses and/or teams. However, if you have had a bad day simply review it and ask yourself where did I go wrong? Learn from it and move on as best you can. If you have sound money management skills your bank should be able to cope and give you the ability to bounce back.

The flipside of course is if you are low flying and everything is winning. Review those results, see what you are doing that is working so well and enjoy the moment you have earnt it. However keep at the principals and working hard to keep the success going. Cutting corners because you believe your own hype will end a strong run very quickly.

Applying the above principals to your gambling routine definitely puts you in the right direction to make a successful go of it. Of course you will still need to find the winners and none of this works unless you can regularly produce them.

However, with consistent winning selections and applying the principles above you can be one of the small percentage of punters that is a regular winner.

Be more like Phil!