Take a stroll back to the betting shop
When I first started betting there was no facility to bet online and the only way I could get a bet on was to walk down to my local betting shop. However, in this modern world you can bet at any time of the day, on anything, online.
However, for me, punting has almost come full circle as I now rarely bet online. The main reason is that I found myself throwing away the odd fiver or tenner here and there on things I knew nothing about, purely for the sake of having an ‘interest’.
There is so much sport on TV it’s easy to fritter away money. Yes, it’s Liverpool v Arsenal tonight, I’ll have a tenner on no goalscorer. Oh what’s on tonight? Darts, yes let’s see what has been put up in the Racing Post and have a tenner on.
It soon adds up. Before I knew it my tenners had become a hundred in a week and any money I might have won on my specialist sport, horseracing, had gone back on sports about which I have no expertise at all.
The best way to counteract this is to go back to basics. Now, if I want to have a bet, I force myself to walk down to the shop and that has helped me cut out all the silly ‘interest’ bets. Can I be bothered to leave the family and walk a mile to the betting shop at 7.30pm, just to have a bet on the football or darts? No, of course not.
I will, however, walk to the shop at 10am most days and do my bets on the racing for the day ahead. It’s a nice little wander that gets me a bit of exercise and there is still a friendly culture in the shop. All the staff know me and how I bet, and it’s nice to have a chat with the regulars. I love talking about racing with fellow fans and there are lots in the shop.
Do I get the best prices available? No, and I still think it’s wrong that some firms offer shorter prices to shop customers than online.
I don’t have any problem getting a bet on in the shop, at least to my relatively small stake, whereas some online firms were offering me a maximum £4.50 bet.
I’d argue that one of the best things I ever did was go back to the betting shop and I would urge anyone who is having too many throwaway bets to do the same. Take away that temptation of having a mobile betting shop – open all hours – in your pocket and go back to the real one.
Real people are actually there too!
Gambling is not a way to make money
Everyone is different and what is right for one individual may not suit others. However, the key as far as I’m concerned is to never, ever, think of gambling as a way to make money.
Treat it just like any other entertainment expense. Compare gambling to going to a football match, or the cinema, or an evening out.
That way you can set yourself a limit because if it cost you a fortune to go to see a film, you simply wouldn’t do it.
Make a written note of every bet
WH Smith loves me. I am always popping in for notebooks, A4 paper, and red and blue pens.
I record every single bet I place in a notebook. Losers are entered in blue; winners are written in red. Hopefully, by the end of each year I will have used more red pens than blue ones.
There is simply no point betting seriously if you don’t keep a totally accurate profit/loss account for gambling. I update mine at the end of every day, and always know exactly where I stand.
Towards the end of a long, losing afternoon it is only natural to be tempted to try to blast your way out of jail with a string of bets you had no intention of placing before everything started to go wrong. That’s where keeping written accounts of every bet comes in. By chasing losses – and thereby losing control – you would have to add any number of totally unplanned wagers to the notebook.
All those extra losers – and most unplanned, unresearched bets inevitably will be losers – can make a significant difference to whether a punter comes out on top in the battle with the bookmakers during a 12-month period.
Witnessing the stupidity of chasing losses in clear blue ink is the best way to stay firmly in control in the future. Write everything down.
Place all main bets before racing starts
Even if you have plenty of time on your hands there are only so many races a day you can study seriously, so focus on the races you have looked at and forget the rest for serious punting purposes.
Racing comes thick and fast through the afternoon (and evening in the summer) and the one advantage punters have over bookmakers is they don’t need to bet on all of them. Indeed, it would be madness to do so.
The best way to do this is to have all your main bets well before racing has started. It could be overnight or in the late morning to allow Best Odds Guaranteed concessions to kick in, but once your bets are on you should shut up shop for the day, at least for serious bets.
This allows you to stake correctly, know exactly what is at risk on the day, and not worry about pressing up or chasing if the first few have gone down.
This obviously takes a bit of discipline, and if you’re one of those punters who likes a little action throughout the day then make sure you tailor your stakes accordingly.
You won’t have given any other races the sort of study time needed to make an informed choice, so why get involved to your usual stakes?
If you’re used to betting to a certain level you can feel a bit silly dropping to tiny stakes, but there’s no need to do so. I’m perfectly happy to have two quid on something for fun while waiting for one of my main plays to run.
Decide how much you are prepared to lose
I am currently weighing up whether there are good enough reasons to take the family to see a Christmas pantomime at the London Palladium. Oh no you’re not . . .
So fifty quid for tickets multiplied by four, dinner out, train into London and a few drinks inside the theatre probably means not much change out of £400. Maybe it’s worth it and maybe it’s not but the main point is, if we go it is money I am prepared to spend on entertainment.
And when you’re betting the worst thing that can happen is the worst thing that can happen, so you have to be comfortable before an event has started that you are okay losing the amount you have placed.
A day at the races is great fun but I have found it more difficult to remain level-headed when drinking, compared to my rather cautious usual approach. It’s too easy to whip out the phone, get giddy and overstake, usually upping the stakes as the card goes on.
Let’s have the biggest bet of the day on a bumper where all the horses are first time out. What could possibly go wrong? Sometimes the bets won and sometimes they didn’t but there were definite moments of regret.
One way I have helped to regain control of that situation and keep the fun aspect is to decide how much I am prepared to lose before I leave the house.
I don’t use my phone to bet in these circumstances, which means betting only in cash. You normally get worse odds and the each-way places are rarely as enticing on track but I am more in control.