Monday, 26 October 2015

The Tortured Champion: A Professional Gambler From the Age Of 14!

They called him The Tortured Champion: Stuart Errol ''Stu'' Ungar.  He who was born in New York City and raised on the city's Lower East Side, became a professional gambler at age 14, a year after his father, who was a bookmaker and bar operator, had died. Stu was an incredible gin rummy player. At age 10 in '63, he won his first gin rummy tournament in a Catskill Mountain Resort while vacationing with his parents. At age 14, he was regularly playing and beating the best players in New York. At 15 he dropped out of school when a well known bookie staked Stu to the $500 buy-in in a big gin rummy tournament.

Stu won the $10,000 first prize without ever loosing a hand, a record still held in the card rooms of New York City. A week later, after giving his parents $1,000, he lost the rest on horses at the Aqueduct racetrack. It was a sign of things to come.

Ungar moved to Miami where the juiciest Gin games were. He did well but his weakness for sports and track betting drained him of any success. In 1976 Stu reached Las Vegas, broke and just about beaten. Somehow he found the money to enter a $50,000 tournament. On the last two hands he forecast the losing player's cards - correctly. This bravado was another bad career move as it meant other players feared his skills. As a result, he could no longer find any games outside the tournaments.

It wasn't long before he decided to try his luck at blackjack. He'd cleaned up on poker tables from Nevada to New Jersey and the time was right to move on. One night at Caesars Palace he won $83,000 but the manager stopped the play. Stu retaliated by correctly forecasting the last 18 cards left in the single-deck shoe. That was the beginning of the end for single deck blackjack tables. They were removed from Caesars and later from other casinos, and Stu's picture was posted up in the security rooms of dozens of casinos. Result: Stu was banned for life.

His next feat was to bet any takers $10,000 that he could perform yet another memory miracle: he offered to count down the last two decks in a six-deck shoe! There were no takers. Then in January 1977 a former owner of Vegas World and designer of the Stratosphere Tower stepped into his life. Stu Ungar met Bob Stupak. The new taker offered Stu $100,000 to count down the last three decks, half-way through a six-deck shoe. If Stu lost he'd owe Bob $10,000.

Memories of this amazing feat still linger on today in Las Vegas. To the astonishment of onlookers, and Bob, Stu didn't miss a single call from a total of 156 cards. When Bob handed him a check for $100,000, it marked the beginning of a lasting friendship between them. All over the world, Stu Ungar was now a household name in the gambling community.

In 1980 at 24, Ungar entered his first world championship. He won and to silence the critics of his "fluke" he won the next year as well. He wasn't done with pure gambling though and he lost $900,000 in RAZZ game in an afternoon, $1m in a craps session and picked up $5m from Larry Flint (the porn king) over many heads-up sessions. Ultimately his fever for action took everything in the physical world and his drug addiction was close to taking his life.

In 1990 Ungar was once again in the fore at the WSOP Championsip. At the start of day 3 of the event he was a very solid chip leader but when play began he was no where to be seen. A search was made and his hotel room forcefully entered. He was found laying on the floor, unconscious. Despite this he returned to play and finished 9th, which in 1990 was $20,500 (2005 it was $1,000,000).

By the 1997 WSOP tournament in Las Vegas, Ungar hadn't been in the frame for over 7 years. He was seen around the gambling Mecca playing in small games but was pretty much written off by the poker world. He didn't have the money to enter the Championship event but an hour before play an anonymous benefactor produced the $10,000 entry. Four days later the greatest comeback in poker history had occurred and the record of three victories established. In all he won 10 major No limit Hold'em tournaments out of the 30 he entered!

Two months later he was broke again. Another year of oblivion and Stu was on the comeback trail again with his old friend Bob Stupak offering to cancel his debts and signing him up for commissioned card play. With $2000 of Stupak's money in his pocket (spending money) he checked into a cheap downtown hotel. Two days later he was dead. He left behind a 15 year old daughter.

He once said although he could conceive of a better poker player than himself, not in the next 50 years of the world would there be a better Gin player.

A film of Stu's life was produced in 2003 and is called High Roller or sometimes Stuey.

Read more here.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Two-year-old racing set to change with novices stakes the norm

As reported on the Sporting Life
In a move designed to provide an improved programme and incentive for winners to run more often, around 90 per cent of maiden races in the first half of the season will be converted to novice contests on a trial basis.
The change is a result of extensive consultation with trainers and agreement of a clear need to address a long-held concern that two-year-olds who win in the early part of the season, prior to the introduction of nursery handicaps, have very few opportunities to assist them along the path of development.
Those opportunities that do currently exist tend to attract very small, uncompetitive fields, with an average of 4.83 runners per race over the last two seasons and an average starting price for the favourite of 10-11.
Ruth Quinn, director of international racing and racing development, said: "The BHA has been in consultation with trainers on this matter over the course of a few years and several different proposals have been raised during this time, but one thing that was generally consistent was an acknowledgement of the need to act to address this issue.
"We should have a system in place that encourages progression, and as things stand that development programme for two-year-olds in the first half of the season is not working.
"The idea of taking this significant step to convert a proportion of maiden races to novices effectively replicates the approach to the novice hurdle programme, where winners, maidens and unraced horses compete against each other on a regular basis.
"We accept that this is a major change and therefore potentially a brave move. However, only by making such a significant change does the BHA feel that it can offer a meaningful improvement to the programme for winning horses, whilst also reducing the number of small-field races at a time when this is such an important issue for the sport.
"The changes we make will be on a trial basis at first and we will monitor the success of the trial before committing to anything in the longer term.
"It is anticipated that early season novice races will largely be contested by debutants (akin to existing maiden races), but it is hoped that the amended programme would act as an encouragement for the majority of two-year-old winners to run again.
"A penalty structure will be put in place which avoids deterring debutantes or as-yet-unsuccessful horses from running against winners, which they previously would have avoided if they had been able to compete in maiden races.
"The BHA will monitor this penalty structure closely in the early part of the trial and will be ready to adjust race conditions where necessary if evidence indicates that any specific advantage is being given to either winners or to maiden horses in these new events."

Friday, 16 October 2015

Champions Day dual set for clash of the season

We’ve been waiting all season for the clash between two of the leading milers in Europe, Solow and Gleneagles, and it does now look like that match up will take place on British Champions Day as Gleneagles has been declared at the 48-hour stage for the contest.
The two horses were first scheduled to meet at Goodwood in the Sussex Stakes in what was being billed as the latest Dual on the Downs. However, sadly, Aidan O’Brien’s runner was pulled out due to ground concerns. Solow stayed in the race and won by just under a length after going off the 2/5 favourite.
Solow is set for his sixth start of the season on British Champions Day where he has a 100% record in 2015, with notable victories coming in the Dubai Turf, Prix D’Ispahan, Queen Anne Stakes and Susses Stakes. The French-trained horse has had a break since Glorious Goodwood and is likely to go off as favourite at Ascot, even if Gleneagles does remain in the contest.
The 2015 season started so well for Gleneagles as he scored in the opening Classic of the season, the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket where he was ridden to success by Ryan Moore. He has only once run since then, though, winning the St James’s Palace Stakes.
Solow v Gleneagles could go down in the history books as a classic. Here is a look back at three of the great clashes over the years in horse racing:-
Arkle v Mill House – 1964 Cheltenham Gold Cup
Many people still view the race between Arkle and Mill House in the 1964 Cheltenham Gold Cup as the greatest clash in the history of horse racing. The match up did not fail to deliver. Arkle, the younger of the two, was able to beat the former champion as Ireland got the better of Great Britain in front of a huge audience on TV.
Red Rum v Crisp – 1973 Grand National
Just like ahead of the Grand National 2016 runners, you always hope for a quality field in the world’s most famous steeplechase - and in 1973 we got that. Red Rum was fancied to do very well in his first attempt at the Grand National but if he was to win the race, he had to beat the Australian champion Crisp who many Down Under felt was a sure thing for the 4m4f contest.
It turned out to be an absolute classic as both horses were in contention when passing the elbow and towards the finishing line. In the end it was Red Rum who just got up to score for the first of three wins in the Grand National.
Kauto Star v Denman - 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup

Stable mates Kauto Star and Denman caught the imagination of many outside the world of horse racing with their clash in the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Both had their admirers and opinion was divided about who was going to win the clash of styles. It was powerful and dominant Denman who won the race from the front, forcing his races, including Kauto Star, into submission as they could not live with him in one of the great Cheltenham Gold Cup runs.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Tuesday's Racing Tips From High Class Equine

Just a few pointers as busy bee. 

4:20 Leicester - St Michel has decent win and place claims if priced 13/2 & less sp. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The Shadow - A Gambler's Tale

I found this old posting from 22nd May, 2008. It gives a fascinating insight about some of the UK's most influential gamblers: their character, speciality, wagers and trials and tribulations.

Great racing days stick in the memory usually because great bets were struck and won or lost and that in turn starts me off recalling all the great gamblers I have known over the years.

Some of the big pro gamblers I have only known casually but others have been close personal friends.

Free Horse Racing Tips, Click Here!The heaviest gambler I have met is probably J P McManus but I have only known him just enough to be on nodding terms and because so many of his huge punts have been very secret the buzz of seeing him in action scaring the pants off the bookies was not as high profile as most of the others of his kind. Much more high profile was Alec Bird whose speciality was place only betting. His standard bet was two hundred grand place only on a red hot favourite. He would be quite happy with a ten percent return on his money.

The shrewdest professional gambler I have known is the legendary Phil Bull the founder of Timeform. So knowledgeable and so thorough was Phil’s grasp of every aspect of racing and gambling that unlike any other pro gambler I have ever met or heard about, he would be quite happy to chew on his cigar, sip his glass of champagne and have a bet on every race in the card. To Phil it was simply the challenge of solving a very complex puzzle, the amounts he won were of no consequence whatsoever to him.

Probably the nicest big punter on the racecourses today is good old Barney Curley. Barney is a lovely man, frail and showing his age these days but he is approachable and friendly as always. He has a trainer’s licence these days of course and he still put the fear of the Almighty through the betting ring when one of his runners looks to be a Barney Curley special.

The maddest, wildest and most reckless gambler I have ever known is my friend and once East End gangster known far and wide as “H”. Those who have been around the East End as long as I have will know just who I mean. H is two years younger than I am and these days he is flat broke living in a housing association studio flat in Loughton, passing the time while he waits for a liver transplant looking after the gardens of the flats he lives in. I know personally and for certain that he lost millions on the horses and dogs.

I myself got down fifty grand in cash for him rushing round the betting shops of the East End getting a grand here and two grand there on a hoss called Admiral’s Cup. I got the last two grand down in a shop in Canning Town just in time to see it get beat a short head. He never turned a hair.

The story about H I have told before is when he and his wife and me and my wife were invited to Ladies Day at Ascot many years ago.

I looked respectable in a morning suit and a topper and our wives looked gorgeous but H turned up in a morning suit and topper but wearing his lucky black bootlace tie with its solid gold steer head fastener. The Jobsworths on the entrance to the Royal Enclosure copped the nark to H’s tie and would not let him in. H went berserk and stormed off to Tattersalls where he proceeded to try to wipe out every bookie with massive stupid bets.

He must have been nearly half a million quid down by the last race when he persuaded one of the big chain bookies to let him lay a bet of two hundred and fifty grand on a hoss called Kris at even money. This time his hoss won by the shortest of short heads and a wait of about five minutes while they magnified the photo finish. Once again he never tuned a hair. Not the slightest sign of emotion. Now he cuts grass and prunes rose bushes for old ladies for a cup of tea and a biscuit.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Professional Gamblers: Sidney Harris

Harris - like a hawk

Who is Sidney Harris? He is a famous punter that became interested in horses in his mid-forties. Sidney Harris was a stock market trader before he became a professional punter. Sidney made his largest gamble on Black Monday. The 19th of October 1987.

As the financial advisors' sat stunned unable to move watching their VDU screens losing their fortunes, Sidney had a lunchtime bet that the market would continue to fall and the public would continue to panic. That day Sidney netted over £60,000. He was one of the few individuals that were able to see a chance for profit from very adverse circumstances.

Free Horse Racing Tips, Click Here!Since his retirement from stocks he has since retiring from the Stock Market, Sidney has dedicated his life and time to horse racing. Sidney has also developed some remarkably good associates. When Sidney wrote his book, 'Horse Racing, The Essential Guide To Backing Winners', he had been a professional gambler for seven years. He recalled how he became a professional punter on the 26th of August 1993; one day after the 'Largest Bookmakers in the World' made the definite decision to disallow his betting. Their reason for the suspension of his accounts was they believed he was winning too much.

For the most part punters tend to rely on luck. No instance is the saying 'the harder you work the luckier you get', more applicable than in horse racing. According to Harris, 'each punter's journey is unique. Each travels a path that has no signs guiding them.'

Well established and often misguided ideas, will often lead many to repeat mistakes that eventually become debilitating and regularly indulged habits. You must have a defined strategy so you can easily see your mistakes and correct them. It is important to develop a common sense of sorts.

Fundamental Rules For Gambling - Suggestions Harris gives for professional gamblers:

1.Never back a horse unproven on the going.

2.Never back a horse from an out of form stable.

3.Never back a horse unsuited to a track.

4.Never back a horse ridden by a jockey with a poor track record.

5.Never back a horse whose trainer has a poor track record.

Bookmakers and layers look for horses with a minimum of one of the 5 rules above. The horses that have one of the 5 conditions listed do make a above credentials as they make magnificent favorite pick. To put it bluntly, the punters that can not see past the bookmakers and layers fake hot picks will find themselves backing the losing "favorites".

If you successfully remove horses that have or meet one of the above listed conditions, you will have greatly limited the playing field. Thus you will have saved yourself enormous amounts of time.

Statistically speaking, it is very rare for an animal with such damaging characteristics rarely win the race. Harris remarks that you need to make sure your potential selections pass the above filters, the Fundamental Rules listed above.

Now if you want to think in more positive ways, there are other characteristics in a horse that you should look at.


1.Always back trainers who are in form. To find them look in 'today's trainers' in the Racing Post or on their website. You will be able to look and see if a stable is in form.

2.Always back a trainer with a good record at a familiar track. Turn to the Top Trainers section for the track in question in the Racing Post or click the appropriate button on the R.P. website and you will see which trainers are likely to be in contention.

3.Aim to back jockeys with a good track record. Turn to the Top Jockeys section and you'll see at a glance which jockeys regularly do the business at this track.

4.Check out horses with future 'multiple entries'. Multiple entries are a useful positive factor. A trainer looking for the right race will enter a horse in various races. Horses with multiple entries deserve extra scrutiny. Check the races these horses might have run in. If they've been pulled out of higher grade races and will still be running in lower grade affairs - they start to look interesting!

When asked for advice he would give to an armature or semi-professional punter Sidney Harris expressed, "Horse Racing is fraught with financial danger. You can literally lose your shirt and indeed your house on racehorses. Awareness is the key to finding winners in horse races. Every decent priced winner you'll ever find starts with one clue from a repertory of hundreds of possible clues. Once you find such clues - you're well on your way to uncovering profit."

In conclusion, Sidney Harris is a well educated, self made winner in the punters circuit. He literally has applied his knowledge of business smarts into making punting a profitable business for himself. Follow his guidelines and you too may find yourself successful.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

8:15 Wolverhampton Racing Tips (2nd October) SIS MAIDEN AUCTION STAKES (Tapeta) (CLASS 5) (2yo)

An intriguing Maiden Auction Stakes for two-year-olds over 1m 141y. Quite a restricted race type which favours form horses. Six of the eleven juveniles have race experience. The betting suggests this is a three-horse race. 

James Fanshawe's juveniles have been in cracking form of late with a debutante winner and impressive victor at Beverley on Thursday. Lord George caught my eye for a couple of reason - which I can't really detail - and I would have been fancying this son of Sir Percy to be a strong bet but the price has taken the sparkle off this grey colt. Saying that, this youngster has exceptional win and place claims from my info. I would guess he is priced to chance so anything over even money would, in theory, be value. If a major drifter that would be more interesting. 

Charles Hills now trains *Zzoro who was formerly handled by Clive Brittain. Newmarket's finest is retiring and I imagine this is the reason for the change. This son of Manduro was a relatively cheap purchase at 24,000GNS. He may have been priced 50/1 on all three starts but he is a progressive colt who ran a sterling race last time out at Newmarket. This April foal touched much shorter odds in-running and this is a marked drop in class by race type. Brittain held this bay in some regard and if priced at each-way odds could well make a viable bet to the favourite, especially if that horse is backed to big odds on. I'd be surprised if Zzoro wasn't in the first three. 

Another trainer who you don't associate with two-year-olds is Alan King. However, he has been in fine form and seen a couple of juvenile winners these last few weeks. This son of Intense Focus was weak in the market on debut at 25/1 but finished runner-up to the fair Theydon Grey. Invocation is a 20,000GNS Breeze-Up purchase who ran at auction class on debut at Chelmsford City over one mile.Could have fair each-way claims.

One outsider that may be worth a chance is Paul Eddery's Hepplewhite. There was money for this horse on debut at Windsor although started at big odds. This son of Rail Link didn't achieve a great deal when twelfth of fourteen. It is worth noting Eddery gave this colt a Group entry which looks misjudged but horses can disappoint on their first start and at incredible odds could have place claims. 

Conclusion: The betting suggests this is out of the three major fancies and it is most likely correct. Lord George has strong claims but if very short odds may give some value elsewhere. However, I do think this colt will take some beating. I like Zzoro, who looks a sound each way bet and if drifting to decent odds is well worth a bet. Invocation has claims although less fancied to the two mentioned. Hepplewhite may be worth a speculative bet at huge odds.        

Zzoro NR