Be honest with yourself and record all your bets to help stay in control
Our football pundit has some words of advice for everyone who gambles
The maxim 'knowledge is power' should resonate with anyone attempting to be a successful punter, which also has to mean someone who is betting carefully and therefore in a safe and responsible way.
In my case, that means, while trying to achieve a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of football teams in an effort to unearth value bets, I pay close attention to how much I have been betting and what happened to those bets.
Keeping a log of each bet you place and monitoring your ongoing profit or loss is something that takes very little time and is hugely beneficial. If you are betting online or on a mobile app it is easy enough to check your recent and ongoing bets and, with many firms, you can also obtain a more extended betting history.
However, you may well be betting with several different firms, so to maintain a really accurate account of your profit or loss it is best to keep your own log of all your collated bets, which of course can take in cash bets too.
It is so easy as a punter to fall into the trap of feeling unlucky and hard done by every time something goes wrong. Good and bad periods can go on for a considerable time but, over the long run, your performance will reflect accurately whether you are really a punter who is making a profit or not.
Be honest with yourself because you could easily cheat by leaving a few losers off the list.
Importantly, always remember it's good to take a break from betting if a bad run of results is becoming a problem, giving you anxiety and causing you to bet in a different way to your usual routine.
A common mistake when on a bad run is to go looking for short-priced favourites to end the sequence with a larger than usual stake to claw back some funds, but I only ever bet when I consider it to be a value punt. Patience really is a crucial virtue if you are betting.
Fun bets are not supposed to be stressful
It also makes sense to distinguish between a fun bet and a more serious one. Any sporting event has elements of unpredictability but stakes should be tailored to your knowledge regarding the event in question.
I enjoy watching big golf tournaments and I love a day at the races and those experiences are enhanced by having a few bets. However, they would cease to be enjoyable if I was wagering at levels that could induce a loss with which I was uncomfortable.
Given how much time I spend researching football it makes sense to stick to smaller stakes when having fun bets.
Successful staking includes the discipline to never go chasing losses after a bad day, week or month and bankroll management is key. I bet at a level I am comfortable with and stick to the stakes that will win the same amount every time, so smaller stakes at bigger prices.
Some punters make the classic mistake of betting around a price and so will have £20 at 5-2 or £30 at 100-30 because it is easier to work out, but that is not a sensible long-term plan.
If in doubt back out
The vast majority of my bets are on football and it always makes sense to take a close look at the line-ups when they are announced an hour before kick-off. If I look at the teams and I no longer like the bet at the prices I simply lay it off on the exchanges and wait for the next opportunity.
This should apply to any type of betting. If something changes don't be afraid to get out of the bet and don't beat yourself up if that wager subsequently wins.
The Racing Post fully supports Safer Gambling Week and acknowledges it as an excellent opportunity for us all to reflect on whether we keep our gambling in check. Although Safer Gambling Week is only seven days, its message is ongoing and remains important. We have lots of resources available on our dedicated Safer Gambling page and more details can be found at safergamblinguk.org.