In my 13 years in racing I’ve seen many talented form students fail as gamblers, yet many punters with a limited knowledge of form but a real, innate ability to gamble have succeeded.
The most underrated skill of being a successful punter is gambling ability. Discipline and the ability to take a long-term view are the key.
There really is no last race as a professional punter. The ‘short-term’ as a horse player isn’t one race or one day, but rather three months. The long-term cycle is closer to three years. You won’t know whether you’ll make it as a professional punter for at least that three years.
I’ve found it takes this long for the ‘variance’ to even out. Variance is just what gamblers call luck and, yes, it does all even out in the end! It just takes a long time for it to do so in racing – more so than other gambling.
I like to think that betting on any one race is 5% skill and 95% luck, and betting on racing over three years is 99% skill and 1% luck.
The ‘long run’ can be reduced with a greater number of bets that average a lower price. That’s because the natural run of outs you can expect is far greater when your average price is $10 per bet rather than $2. This is why larger syndicates using computer generated models are able to operate on a grand scale with smaller margins, betting into many more markets with great success.
Given that the long run takes so long to play out, bankroll management is of paramount importance. You must be able to weather the down times so you’re still in play to take advantage of the good times when they come.
You will have losing streaks. All punters do, no matter how successful they are. It’s how they deal with the adversity that losing streaks bring that defines them, and it’s also how it will define you.
The best gamblers do the same thing for the next race, no matter if they’re having a huge winning day or losing day. There is no chasing, no increasing bet size, no going home because you’re in front. It’s just another race, another singular event amongst the thousands that will determine the success or failure of the next three years.
You must be able to move on quickly if something goes wrong. Throwing something at the wall or yelling at the TV helps me to move on quickly rather than stewing on it, but each to their own!
I’ve found that staking no more than 1% of my bankroll on any one bet has worked best for me. This is more conservative than other punters, who are happy to bet 2% – 3% of their bankroll per race, but as I generally prefer longer priced runners, my run of outs and downswings can be longer than theirs. So preserving the bankroll is of even more importance to me so that I can capitalise when the winners do come.
Dealing with losing streaks is mentally the toughest thing you will deal with as a punter. And it’s much easier when you are young and single, so start soon! Marriage, kids, mortgages and the responsibilities that come with them make it even more of a challenge. Being able to compartmentalise and separate your work life from your home life becomes of utmost importance when this occurs.
Of almost equal importance is your actual bet staking for each bet. Most punters when starting out just level stake their bets (for example, have $10 on every bet). It is almost impossible to win if you’re betting like this. This is because every bet you have is different. Some races you have higher confidence than others. Some bets are bigger overlays than others. Some bets are smaller savers, or part savers. All must be treated differently.
Most serious punters back to win a percentage of their bankroll based on the price they have marked the bet, and/or the size of the overlay. I work off a hybrid whereby I have ten confidence levels, with increasing collect sizes for each. Each bet is given a strength level based on my confidence in the race and the size of the overlay compared to my rated price, and backed to win the appropriate amount.
It may seem like a very steep hill to climb, with very limited upside, if you can bet no more than 1% of your bankroll. But gambling on racing can generate a rate of return on your money that no other form of investment can match.
The number of races run per year offers a unique chance to turn over your money and generate returns. Take for example the NSW Ratings service I run for Champion Bets. Since the start of 2016, the service has returned 12.73% on turnover.
If you invested $10,000 at 12.73% (a great return for any stock portfolio), compounded monthly, it would be worth $11,357 after a year – a return on investment of 13.57%.
But racing and its betting opportunities offers you a chance to compound your return like no other. Since the start of 2016, my service has recorded 2,277 bets, and the same $10,000 bankroll has produced $113,000 worth of turnover. The 12.73% won on that turnover translates to $14,427 – a return on investment of 244%.
Obviously it’s a riskier form of investment, but the reward for success is great. The ability to turn small amounts of money over and over, with a small edge in your favour, is what separates racing and gambling from other investments.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and have picked up a few things along the way that will help you as a punter. Most of all, I hope it gets you thinking about racing and the different ways you can win playing this great game.
Part 1: Solving the puzzle
Part 2: Beating the big boys
Part 3: Pace gives the edge
Part 4: The importance of video analysis
Our NSW Ratings service gives you access to all of Snowy’s assessed prices, speed map comments and recommended bets, as well as a direct line to the man himself during meetings via our live page.