Monday, 24 February 2020

You Won't Win

I know it's not horse racing but this article on blackjack, written by Arnold Snyder, is fascinating simply for his frankness in explaining his thoughts about the chances of winning in a game he has dedicated his life. If you are interested in blackjack, card counting or strategies, it makes sobering reading. Not sure if it has relevance to horse racing betting or trading but it makes a point or two that we may all relate.

[Written from the depths of a once-in-a-lifetime magnitude losing streak...]

I am now in the process of editing a new book which, by the time you read this article in Casino Player, will already be published. Blackjack Wisdom is a compilation of some seventy-five magazine articles I have written over the past fifteen years or so, many of which initially appeared in Casino Player.

As I wrap up this project, I must confess that an entire chapter has been excised from this book—and the single longest chapter at that. “Bucks in Flux” was, for many months, the working title of Chapter One. This chapter was composed of more than a dozen articles I had written over the years for various periodicals, all with a common theme—negative fluctuations.

Among these articles were such gems as:

“Is It all Just Luck?” from Card Player,

“Speaking of Streaking,” from Casino Player,

“Those *!%]#* Fluctuations,” from Poker World,

“Good Guys Lose and Bad Guys Win,” from Blackjack Forum, and many other fine essays which, I must admit, bore some of my favorite titles. Perhaps I will include this chapter, or portions of it, in Blackjack Wisdom II. Perhaps I will simply let these writings die, uncollected in any anthology. But I have trashed the entire chapter at this late hour, with a decision instead to end the book with this article you are reading right now. So, you—my Casino Player faithful—do not have to buy the book, since you already know how it ends!

Essentially, each and every one of the “Bucks in Flux” articles delivers the same depressing message, a message I have espoused in every one of my books, a message which can be edited down to three words:

You won’t win.

Do I really need fifteen articles to say those three words? I don’t think so. Though it occurs to me that all blackjack books should have at least one chapter titled: “You Won’t Win.”

The message delivered by most blackjack books and systems has always been the same baloney. Stanley Roberts’ Winning Blackjack was once advertised with the slogan: “Make every casino in the world your personal bank account!” Ken Uston’s Million Dollar Blackjack was promoted with: “Make $500 per day any time you want!” And these aren’t phony systems; these books contain legitimate card counting strategies.

You can’t always tell the real systems from the phonies by looking at the advertising. Promotion is a promotion. Authors of blackjack books, like authors of all “self-help” books—from weight-loss systems to multi-level marketing programs—are reluctant to deliver the message:

You won’t win.

Nobody wants to hear it.

When I self-published my first book, The Blackjack Formula, in 1980, and advertised it in Gambling Times magazine with the catchy, upbeat slogan: “Card Counters Beware,” stating in the ad that most of the blackjack games available in the casinos of the world were unbeatable with any card counting system, the publisher of Gambling Times, Stan Sludikoff, told me bluntly that I would never make any great amount of money trying to sell books with that type of pessimistic advertising.

Stan was write. Seventeen years later, I’m still just scraping by, still delivering that vastly unpopular message:

You won’t win.

Of course, there are a few players who do win. Professional card counters exist; they’re not entirely mythical. It’s just that I know that these professional players are so exceptional, so obsessed, so dedicated, such gluttons for punishment, so terror-stricken by the concept of working a nine-to-five job, so few and far between in every sense of few and far between, that, honestly, you are highly unlikely to be one of these human anomalies. And the most honest thing I can say to you, if you tell me that you really want to become a professional blackjack player, is:

You won’t win.

And the reason is fluctuations.

If you are anything like the masses of humanity, if you like to be rewarded for your efforts within some reasonable time frame, you won’t be able to take the fluctuations. Those negative downswings will be bigger, and harder, and longer lasting, and more upsetting, and more unbelievable, than your level of toleration. Your losses will tear at your heart, and fill you with emptiness, and leave you in a state of quiet desperation. I hear this from players over and over again. I hear this from players who claim to have studied diligently and practiced for hours on end, for weeks and months with a singular dream—to beat the casinos.

And they don’t win.

And they ask me why.

And I say, “Oh, it’s just a normal standard deviation. A negative fluctuation. It could happen to anyone.”

But it happened to you.

Your money.

Your hours.

Your months of dreaming.

And you didn’t win.

So, over and over again, in my books, and my columns, and my magazine articles, I feel compelled to deliver the message I have been delivering since my very first book in 1980:

You won’t win.

Some card counters will win, but not you. Some card counters will actually experience inordinate positive fluctuations! Wow!

But not you.

You won’t win.

Other card counters will be having champagne parties in their hotel rooms, celebrating that marvelous life of freedom and money and adventure that just seems to come naturally with the lifestyle of a professional gambler. But not for you. You will be among the unfortunate few who, statistically speaking, will be located in the far left tail of the Gaussian curve. Someone has to be there. It will be you.

I have been in that tail; it is a cold and lonely place. I suspect many of those who write about this game have been there, and they know what a cold and lonely place it is. Every professional card counter I know has been there. And if they have played blackjack professionally for many years, they have been there many times. These players have hearts stronger than mine, and I suspect, stronger than yours.

This much I know: it is easier to make a living writing about this game than it is playing it.

In any case, instead of filling an entire chapter of this book with some fifteen articles, written over a period of seventeen years, every one of which simply says, you won’t win, I’ve tossed the whole chapter out in favor of leaving you with just those three words of blackjack wisdom:

YOU WON'T WIN

By Arnold Snyder
(From Casino Player, November 1997)
© Arnold Snyder 1997

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Bill Turner's Brocklesby Stakes Race Winners (1996 - 2013)

Embed from Getty Images

The Brocklesby Conditions Stakes is synonymous with racehorse trainer Bill Turner. 

The first Flat turf two-year-old race of the season simply wouldn't be the same without the Dorset trainer who sends out his better, if not best, juvenile to compete in this significant race. 

The Brocklesby Stakes dates back to 1849. However, in those early days, it was a 12-furlong race for horses of all ages. In fact, it used to take place at the now-defunct Carholme racecourse in Lincoln. 

In this modern era, most racegoers know the Brocklesby as a fast and furious five-furlong sprint held annually at Doncaster racecourse. It takes place late March or early April and presently sponsored by Unibet with the feature race on the card the Lincoln Handicap. 

The Brocklesby moved to Doncaster in 1965. 

Since 1988, an array of horse trainers has proven they can win the Brocklesby, making a bold start to the turf season with hopes of showing a quality horse that can go on to better prizes. That has been the case and a number of very talented two-year-olds have won the Brocklesby Stakes before going on to Group class success, while some achieve the distinction of becoming stallions.

Two very talented colts to do just that are Jack Berry's Mind Games who won the 1994 Brocklesby Stakes by a neck from a horse called Jobran. The apple of Jack Berry's eye [a horse trainer who is known for wearing his lucky red shirt when going to the races and founder of the charity Jack Berry House] saw his sprinter win multiple group races but fell short of group 1 success. 

In 2016, The Last Lion, trained by Mark Johnston, won this Brocklesby in stylish fashion and later that season took the Middle Park Stakes Group 1. He achieved four victories from ten starts at two and was unraced at three when retired to stud for a fee of £7.500. 

Other notable winners of the Brocklesby include: 

The Bill O'Gorman-trained Provideo who won the Brocklesby Stakes in 1984 before setting a 20th-century record for a British two-year-old when he won 16 from 24 races. Surprisingly, his best performance saw him win at Listed class, while Timeform rated him 20lb inferior of the best juveniles of the year. However, he was named British/Timeform Horse of the Year for a feat that simply couldn't be matched nowadays because of the introduction of win penalties. 

Hearts Of Fire is another colt worthy of respect. Trained by Pat Eddery, this son of Firebreak won the 2009 Brocklesby by an authoritative two-and-a-quarter lengths. A versatile horse, he won on all types of going but proved best in testing conditions. He culminated a successful juvenile season when heading to San Siro, Italy, taking the Gran Criterium Stakes (Group 1) in soft ground by a head. Other victories at Listed and Group 3 proved a very talented colt. He concluded his race career in 2011 after racing four times in Meydan (UAE). A racing career of 17 runs, 4 victories and total prize earnings of £326,543 details a Brocklesby winner who achieved much. 

Santry had the potential to be a true star in the making when winning the 2017 Brocklesby by a head. Trained by Declan Carroll, this son of Harbour Watch won his next start under a penalty, then finished second in the Norfolk Stakes (Group 2) at Royal Ascot. Sadly, he was fatally injured on the gallops. Carroll said: ''He broke a leg on the gallops this morning. I can't belive we've lost him.''   

Bill Turner has won the Brocklesby Conditions Stakes an impressive six times. The first victory coming back in 1996 when Indian Spark thrashed the opposition by four lengths. This remarkable racehorse went on to race 143 times and won 14 races. Very few thoroughbreds come close to this longevity.  

In 2002, we saw The Lord, owned by Mrs M Teversham. This classy son of Averti won impressively by five lengths in testing conditions. He went on to win the Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes at Chester after failing to shine at Royal Ascot's Norfolk Stakes (Group 3) in between. The Lord was another fine horse who ran 68 times in his career, winning 8 times and achieving the highest official rating of 105. It was pleasing to see this dedicated sprinter win once at Listed class. A success most deserved. Without question, The Lord was Bill Turner's best Brocklesby Stakes winner, if not the best horse he has trained to this date. 

Spoof Master was something of an anomaly for Turner, being a Brocklesby Stakes winner at Redcar. This was due to maintenance work at Doncaster which saw the race take place at a different northern venue. In addition, Spoof Master made his debut when finishing second place on the all-weather surface at Lingfield Park. This son of Invincible Spirit made the most of that first-time experience by winning the Brocklesby by four lengths. In a racing career which saw him run 65 times, he won just 3 races. 

Next up, just two years later, Bill Turner would win the Brocklesby in 2008 with a filly named Sally's Dilemma.  Very few fillies are capable of winning this race and it must have made Turner's day to achieve this meritable performance for loyal owner E A Brook. She was pushed out to win by half a length from Stuart Parr's Doncaster Rover. She raced just 12 times in a two-season career and the Brocklesby was her greatest and only success. 

E A Brook was jubilant once more when He's So Cool won the Brocklesby on his second start after finishing third of seven on debut at Kempton, a disappointing flop at odds of 5/4. This son of One Cool Cat beat Redair at Doncaster priced 8/1. He raced 9 times at two, winning 2 times before being retired in August that same year.  

The latest Brocklesby Stakes win for Turner came in 2013. Mick's Yer Man won by five lengths. He followed up by winning at Musselburgh. Originally owned by Tracy Turner, this colt lost his form before showing a resurgence in 2014 winning at Listed class.

Later, he was sold privately and trained by T P Yung to race in Hong Kong. Interesting to note that his name was changed to Always Win (no wonder I struggled to find his name when searching the Racing Post database). Hong Kong horse racing has the luxury of exceptional prize money compared to the UK. For instance, Always Win won a sprint handicap off an offical rating of just 62 bagging an incredible £73,557.99 prize. In 2018, this son of Bahamian Bounty won two more races over six furlongs (those two victories alone totalled to over £141,000). Rising in the handicap to 85, with total prize earnings of £328,456 from 22 runs and 7 wins. 

The future looks bright for this Brocklesby winner who changed his name.

Great to see that Turner has Hell Of A Joker entered to run in this year's Brocklesby Conditions Stakes 2019

A trainer who has taken on the biggest stables and proven when it comes to talented two-year-old horses the Brocklesby Stakes is his to win.

Bill Turner Trains Zebra as a Racehorse



Photo: Mick's Yer Man

Want to know the best 2yo horses in training? Group Horse details inside info trainer would rather you didn't know. 

Friday, 24 January 2020

Ex-Gambler Turns Software Ace

Like all successful businessmen, Yuchun Lee is passionate about his experience of making money. The 42-year-old Taiwanese-American gushes about "big players", "advanced techniques" and "ace tracking".

None of these exotic terms relate to Unica, the software house based in Waltham, Massachusetts, that he founded in 1992.


Mr Lee is reminiscing about gambling tactics and his time with the Amphibians, a gang of top-grade students and graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Amphibians took on casinos and other gambling dens using a disciplined mathematical model of card-counting to lower the odds in their favour.


Today, their exploits form the backdrop for 21, the Hollywood movie starring Kevin Spacey and based on the book Bringing Down The House by Ben Mezrich.


The card-counting technique works only in blackjack, where the player bets against the casino, hoping to be dealt cards that add up to 21.

Covert activity


Mathematically-savvy MIT students, working to strict-allocated rules and acting in rehearsed roles, racked up impressive earnings during Mr Lee's era. Hand signals indicated to the team's designated high-roller when to bet heavily on a table.

These tactics were not illegal, but casinos made every effort to blacklist the team members. The thrill of outwitting casino security appealed to Mr Lee.


"It was like being a spy," he recalls.


The future technology industry executive got an early taste of hard cash when travelling with up to $250,000 of winnings strapped to his body. Mr Lee's card-counting streak ran from 1995 to 2000, before post-9/11 metal detectors could pick up the metal strip in a $100 bill.


The David v Goliath feeling is the same, plus the gusto, the team spirit we felt when we beat the casinos


Yuchun Lee on his software firm


"There were maybe three times a year we got caught with cash at an airport, but we were very organised, we had a lawyer ready to take our call," he says.

He was caught once, and relied on the pre-arranged lawyer to convince the authorities he was not transporting drug-dealing profits.


The sums of money involved were astonishing, even by the standards of the computer industry, where Mr Lee's company employs 500 staff with annual revenues of $100m.

At the opening weekend of a casino in Connecticut, Mr Lee and his team made a killing. Driving back to MIT in Boston, they gathered in a meeting room to pile up gambling chips worth $500,000, all made in just 48 hours.


Mr Lee fizzes with tales of his blackjack adventures. In fact, he is perfectly equipped to play his allocated role among spotters and card-counters wearing disguises to deflect observant casino security staff. Mr Lee played the Crazy Asian Gambler, whose job title within the Amphibians was the Big Player.

The Crazy Asian Gambler was an act that Mr Lee embraced with gusto, convincing the casino staff that here was a man who would abandon all logic in his pursuit of a winning hand.


Rogues' gallery


Team members who were identified were photographed and barred from the casino, which would then share their faces via its security firm with other operators. Mr Lee's five-year streak ended when he was barred from the giant Bellagio casino in Las Vegas.

By this time, he was already running Unica and came home to open his e-mail, where a purchase order for marketing software was awaiting him. The customer was the Bellagio casino.


Unica now has offices in eight countries


How does it compare with running a marketing software company? "There are some parallels. The David v Goliath feeling is the same, plus the gusto, the team spirit we felt when we beat the casinos."

Four of Unica's staff are ex-counters who have been blacklisted by the casinos. What kind of mind does it take to follow all of this fast card action?

Mr Lee produces a laminated card from his wallet. There are tiny numbers covering the credit-card sized item. These represent 10,000 hours of simulated blackjack rules. He maintains that by memorising this card it is possible to lower the odds in a player's favour.


"Anyone can do it."


Mr Lee still carries the card about with him, a tangible reminder of a time when, as a Big Player cherished by casinos, he was showered with extraordinary incentives to keep on gambling. "You would never have experiences such as these anywhere else. I was given a helicopter ride through the Grand Canyon at sunset."


Changing roles


In the film 21, Laurence Fishburne plays a casino security chief fighting for his job, as face-recognition software threatens to render his generation of tough investigators extinct.


Now Mr Lee revels in the potential of sophisticated software. The program he sells helps his clients spot a potential future customer. But just as his card-counting alter ego, the Crazy Asian Gambler, relied on cold mathematical odds, this product works on precision.


He encourages his clients to use data generated by the program with care. "We don't want to spook people by appearing to know too much about them."


And like Laurence Fishburne's security man, Cole, Mr Lee has seen the world change.


Airport security is a serious impediment to shifting the sums needed to raise the stakes on a table and the winnings that can result from diligent team work. And the quicker the money is carried away from one city, the sooner it can be used to bet against a casino in another location.


If hundreds of thousands of dollars cannot be moved through airport scanners, then surely a rota of drivers could be organised to carry the cash to selected points? Mr Lee nods in agreement at this suggestion. He still seems like a man who is very familiar with the milieu of the Big Players.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

How Do You Win at Slots?

Playing Slots - How To Win
Ask a casino owner where they make most of their revenue and you will hear them say: ''Slots'' In fact, most casinos make about 70% of their money from those technological one-armed bandits. 

True the arm has gone to be replaced by a button but basically, punters can't get enough of online slots. 

Take a look at Casumo's welcome bonus to get 200% up to £50 + £20 free spins.  

For all you slot players out there, you may have one question to ask.

How do you win at slots?

What strategy should your everyday punter use?

Is it possible to make a living from playing slots? To be fair, I haven't met anyone who makes a living but that doesn't mean to say people don't make betting on slots pay. 

Take a look at these secrets:

1# Bankroll management

It's an old adage, but bet what you can afford to lose. If betting £100, then you are wise to bet at a lower level unless you really want to chance your luck with high-priced spins. Basically, bet to your budget.

2# Connect play lines to... costs 

Whether playing live or online, play lines matter. 

Take  a look at what this expert had to say on the subject: 

''A common mistake slots beginners make is to consider pay lines relevant only when it gets on how to build a winning spin and calculate a number of coins won, while where pay lines matter the most – again – is the calculation of your slot machine’s actual cost. 


True, if you sit at a 25 pay lines slot and you bet only on 5 of them you can simply forget to hit one of those absurdly large payouts and see a six-figures jackpot coming to fatten your bankroll.

But try not to forget our first slots tip, as betting on all the 25 lines of trying to hit the jackpot will cost you considerably more than just going for a handful of those aiming to a more modest win. So, once again, what does your balance say? Can you really afford all those bets at once? ''


3# Don't be a slot player stalker

This isn't going to happen in your living room. However, if you go to a brick-and-mortar casino you will notice a lot of gamblers are playing. Like they have some kind of formula which means they win while you are like some newbie finding your feet. 

In actual fact, they are looking for what they term ''hot'' or ''cold'' slots. The hot slots being ones that haven't paid pay for a considerable amount of time, while the cold being those which have given someone a bundle of love (cash). 

Here's the thing you need to know. 


It's a lie

Modern-day slots don't work like that. It's all very random. If they pay out big, it doesn't mean the next spin will not go one better.   

4# Go for the maximum bet 

When you have loaded your slot with money you have to make a choice: 

The amount of money you will play on each bet. 

The point being that betting £1 four times is the same as one £4 bet. Although costing the same in total, they have different consequences. 

Our expert quote: 

''That is because online slots generally offer identical payouts whether you bet 1, 2 or more coins – changing only the multiplier you will have to multiply your winning by. Bet one coin and you will multiply your winning by 1x; bet two coins and the multiplier will be 2x; three coins and you will go for 3x and so on.''

Good luck. 

Friday, 3 January 2020

My Adventure Into Lay Betting: Trying To Miss The Giraffe...

One of my favourite quotes is that even a broken watch is right twice a day. As a gambler, I think most of us would like to have a better strike rate! Damn Watch.

Rambling...


Nothing changes, hey. I'm either quiet or you suffer from unending prose. The blog timeline details: spam, nothing, more spam, and My Adventure Into Lay Betting: Trying To Miss The Giraffe. [written 2013]


That latter topic sounds much more interesting. This adventure related to my laying horses to lose. That's two-year-old horses. I don't understand anything else. Now, I'm not going to talk too much about my approach or the philosophy behind my laying tactics because it is a work in progress and rather boring in its written form. 

I must admit I don't find any form of gambling particularly pleasurable. My reasoning is that I have the odds in my favour. As every speculator will appreciate, that betting slip (in mind if not in hand) often morphs into a stick of dynamite.  The fuse burning too damn quick. Lay betting can feel rather daunting. When you've laid the rag and it's travelling with the zeal of a six-to-four jolly it makes the eyes bulge, the heart race, and your pocket has a kind of lost empty feel. Not very jovial. Well, that's the nature of the beast. Equine. You know, those things the commentator keeps talking about. 


So how did the season go?


Well, I was amazed. I know what you are thinking? Is that a good or bad amazing? I just took a double-take to see if my hand had been blown off. 


For the most part, it was amazingly good - with a slight disaster at the finish.


I started small laying juveniles to win five pounds a time. That may seem a pittance but it can be a costly affair if a 20/1 shot has an exceptionally long neck. I'm pretty sure I laid a couple of giraffes this year. Last time I go to the bloody zoo and say what lovely creatures. I'm not against laying a good few horses in the same field. Races would come and go. I'd be winning ten, twenty, fifty pound a race. Everything was going well. Amazingly so. After winning several hundred pounds I considered it was time to lay each horse for twenty pounds. I knew it was a risk but time is money and all that. It made me a little nervous. The bets ranged from laying favourites to huge outsiders. It can be slightly unnerving to lay a horse which could cost a couple of thousand. I always hope they fall out of the stalls and as fat as a pig. At that moment my potential terror of what could be turns to joy. Righteousness. Being right rather than religious. Obviously, there is a good reason why I lay such horses. There is an understanding, reason, professionalism. I'm not pinning the tail on the donkey - just trying to find it. However, that doesn't mean any horse cannot win. They do. The beasts. Those chestnut giraffes can be killers. 


To be fair I laid an incredible run of losers. In a matter of months, I had turned my five pounds to four thousand. In a sizable field of maidens, I would win up to two hundred a race. However, this approach doesn't allow you to just take any old race and wave my stick of dynamite. For starters, on many days there would be a limited number of two-year-old races. Certain race types were ignored.


I had a feeling of confidence.


For a moment I considered however fast that fuse burned if I filled my lungs with joyous - winning - air I could blow away that hellish spark.


On occasions I got my fingers burned. You have to remember that although I follow a professional approach there is something very different about working in practice to paper trailing. Thankfully I wasn't hit by a 100/1 shot. That would have been hard to swallow. But if you lay a bet you should never be surprised if it wins. It is probably sensible to imagine it will blow your socks off. I laid a couple of horses which won at 20/1. Not good. Although from my understanding I wasn't wrong in my approach. Horses win, horses lose, that's how it works. I must admit that in those early months of laying what must have been a hundred plus losers on the trot it all seemed ''amazingly'' straightforward. At the back of my mind (often at the front...and certainly in my pocket) I didn't believe it would last. I didn't expect it to follow a scenic path. I've watched  The Wizard of Oz. You have to meet a scarecrow, tin man, lion and a couple of flying monkeys before you get a chance to melt a green-faced witch and steal her bloody shoes. Although - thinking about it -hadn't she already lost them? 


I hit another couple of winners. A few bets cost a good few hundred. Financially it wasn't a problem but psychologically it was tougher. The next few lay bets made me really need them to lose. With a few winning days under my belt, I shrugged off the loss and by a week or two, I was back to an all-time high. 


However, little by little I hit a plateau. The four thousand pound mark became a wall. Each time I would climb the ladder to look over the other side I would be beaten to it by a giraffe who stuck out an incredibly long tongue. Sure the thing blew a raspberry before it came into view. I went from four thousand. Three thousand. Back to four thousand. Kicked in the nuts by a wilder beast. It was a struggle. I didn't feel the approach was wrong. A few of the decisions come down to a photo finish. Prolonged agony. I realised that I needed a tweak here and there. Knock a few trainers on the head because they had done my brain in. That learning curve felt as though it was tying me up in knots. I'm sure that the watch stopped when I wasn't looking.


The end of the two-year-old season was on the horizon and I was looking forward to a rest. One of the last bets was a killer blow. It didn't finish me off but it dampened my spirits which were already low. Of all days. I had been to the funeral of my aunt and switched on the races to see a Luca Cumani debutant which I laid for twenty pounds. The favourite struggled. In turn, I had an uneasy feeling...which continued to cause concern. The beast travelled like a gazelle. I gave up trying to work out whether its neck was long or short. Its legs moved fast. It hit the front, cruising Kempton's final bend and lengthened clear into the straight. The loss I had expected materialised costing nearly eight hundred pounds. It wasn't the best of feelings. 


I'll be back next year with my tranquillizer dart.



Saturday, 21 December 2019

The Concept of Value Betting

It is one of the oldest arguments in betting: are you better off looking for value or looking for winners?

To me, it is a no-brainer. Value is king. I am amazed anyone considers it a matter of debate, yet many do. Their thinking goes like this: what is the point of backing something because you think it is a big price if it has little or no chance of winning?

They will hold up as an example a football team that is playing away to the opposition that is generally accepted to be superior. Fulham against Manchester United at Old Trafford, for example. Fulham may be 12-1 but if you dare suggest that is too big a price, you are liable to be shot down in flames by those who believe that because the Cottagers are such big outsiders there is no point even contemplating whether or not they actually represent a value wager.

There is no point backing a string of big-value losers, they will reason. Refrain from getting embroiled in a debate with people who think this way. They are irrational and cannot possibly be winning punters in the long run. In betting, and in football, in particular, the value lies more often than not in the bigger-priced contenders. This is largely because of the average punter's fixation with the very shortest prices on the weekend football coupon.

Bookmakers can usually tell whether they will have a winning weekend simply by looking at the results of the top teams in the English Premiership and Scottish Premier League.

In the autumn of 2003, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Celtic and Rangers all won on the same weekend eight times out of 11.

This caused a drop in bookmakers' profits as punters landed some significant accumulators. By the start of December, a blind £10 weekly five-timer on the quintet was showing a profit of £310. With their profits being dented, the layers reacted by strangling the match odds of the five teams that were hurting them.

Predictably, it did not prevent punters steaming into the so-called Big Five, even when they stopped winning so regularly. And with the hotpots shortening, their opponents were offered at even longer odds, leading to some decent paydays for those punters who took the rational view that the value lay with the long-shots.

The bottom line is that everything becomes good value if the price is right. You may head out of the house one day armed with £20,000 with the intention of buying a Mercedes. On the way to the showroom, you pass the Toyota dealership where the comparable car in their range is on offer at £14,000.

Your heart was set on the Merc but here is a car every bit as good for £6,000 less. You don't know why it is being offered so cheaply, but it is. You buy it and, whether you bank the six grand or use it to take the family to the Caribbean, you have made a value investment. So it is with betting. You intended to back Manchester United, but when you saw the prices and realised Fulham were so big, you backed them.

Many punters would, quite rightly, not dream of having a bet without searching for the best possible value, yet there are plenty who have no grasp of the concept of price-sensitivity and just back their fancies with the same bookmaker, be it on the phone, the net, or, more commonly, in the shop (internet punters tend to be more sophisticated and more aware of the basic premise that if you take the trouble to root out the best possible price you have a far greater chance of being successful over a long period).

Thursday, 12 December 2019

US Racing Bets – Top Tips

US horse racing tips
With races coming thick and fast this season, punters know they have unlimited chances to place winning bets. At different venues across the US, some of the nation’s top horses compete for honours. Just because you cannot be physically present at the horseracing venues, doesn't mean you cannot partake in the thrill of picking the winning horses. Below we share the daily picks of US races based on stats and current form so that you can place your bets confidently without having to watch how the horses perform at a land-based venue.

Louisiana Downs

At the Louisiana Downs, there will be seven races throughout the day. The first race features a couple of horses that dropped in grade that are also tipped as the favourites. One of these horses is Chick Lips who finished in a respectable eighth position. Going into this race, Chick Lips is the preferred choice, but he faces stiff competition from RootnandToon. The second race is a bit of a rivalry between Fast Dashing Candy and Karoles Patriot. The winner of the race is expected to be between these two, but Fast Dashing Candy has a bit of an advantage as he won his last race at Evangeline in November.

With a string of near misses during the whole of 2017, Pool Party Girl will want to start 2018 on a high by winning this race. It will be a tough task however as she has to finish in front of Reachingforthemoon. Reachningforthemoon herself had an indifferent 2017, but has the added advantage of experience. The other highlight event is race 5 with two favourites, FH Tochin and Hez Our Valentine. FH Tochin won her maiden over the C&D, though Hez Our Valentine drops into the race from an upper-grade race where he managed to compete.

Mahoning Valley

The first race at Mahoning Valley features a horse that was widely expected to dominate the headlines at the start of 2017, El Gordo Navas. However he failed to do so as a result of a number of injuries that limited his experiences. El Gordo Navas will face competition from Battle Crossing and Three Pillars for pole position. In race 4, Don’tbothermenow who struggled at this venue a few weeks back will be seeking a change in fortunes. Odds are in favour of Dontbothermenow more so as his main competitor, Magic Apple, who lost dismally.

In race 6 is an emerging horse causing waves in US racing known as Cindor Bolt. Cindor Bolt’s previous race is a testament to his ability and performance where he went on to win without any effort. Cindor Bolt’s is the clear favourite to win, while Game of Dreams and Enta the Circle are predicted to be close contenders.

Turf Paradise

The first race at Turf Paradise features two horses that dropped a grade, and they are both favourites to finish in the ‘Place’ positions. This will be the third race in a row for Miss N Wildcat in this race group and as such is expected to be more accustomed to the surroundings and the turf. Another fellow dropper is West Princess who will race for the first time in the race group. Miss N Wildcat is probably the best nap of this race based on experience on the turf, but a surprise from a fellow dropper, West Princess cannot be ruled out.


Race 5 is another highlight race to look out for with two favourites having contrasting fortunes. Son of a Royal is simply unbeatable while Trevor’s Call, on the other hand, is not exactly a world-beater but has shown consistency over the past year finishing among the top three places in all of his races. Based on consistency, Trevor’s Call may just be the top pick for this race.  

Saturday, 23 November 2019

The Opportunities of a Professional Gambler: Eddy Murray

Professional gambler stories One year as a Professional Gambler 2004-2005

This is a post from Eddy Murray:

This was my original post on the Betfair forum about my first year as a professional gambler.  This article led Inside Edge magazine to get in touch with me, and my work for both Inside Edge magazine and The Sportsman newspaper stemmed from it.

The first week of March last year I left work to go full time, and one year on, I'd like to put this thread up as perhaps some people may find it helpful.


Being a gambler is not something I ever expected to become. The advent of the internet, and the exchanges, have changed my life (for now) dramatically. I still can't quite believe its been just twelve months, but I for one have a lot to thank Andrew Black and Ed Wray for.

The twelve months started fairly badly after nearly being killed in a car crash in Puerto Del Carmen, Lanzarote. That was a bit of a disappointment. However, on return to the UK, I had two or three very successful months, until suddenly I was hit by a double whammy. I had originally been winning on three different types of market, and suddenly overnight became a big loser on two of them. At the same time I had been guilty of expanding my own lifestyle and expectations (in a very human, but perhaps unwise way), and had also spent a third of my bank buying (music) recording studio equipment – the one thing which I'd always dreamed of having.

Losing half of my remaining bank in the space of a fortnight last June left me in deep trouble, and it looked like I was in danger of having made a massive mistake. There was one point where I had one final bet (not a huge one though) where I promised myself if it lost to stop and never bet ever again. It did end up winning. I asked Gamcare for advice, who were very helpful. When gambling messes up your sleeping, as well as your waking hours, it is a crushing realisation that you are in a mess.

There are no evening classes, A-levels, or MBAs in gambling. There are a small band of hardcore professional gamblers, nearly all of them at least partially on Betfair, who are literally some of the sharpest minds there are. Any amounts on any market above £100 are likely to be bets placed up there by one of them. They are equally as talented at gambling as a top barrister or doctor would be at their trade. Nobody walks into a courtroom and decides to be a top lawyer for the day, nor operate in theatre at the local hospital. The difference with betting is that everyone can (and most do) have a bet. What can be much simpler than having £10 on Manchester United to win a football match?

Last June (only three months after leaving work), I was in fairly heavy trouble. I had a certain level of my bank which I had set as a level I would try to never go below. When it reached that level, it looked like taking the gamble on becoming a gambler was one I was on the brink of losing.

At that point, the advice I received from another gambler changed everything. I was in contact with a number of people, mainly originally through Betfair's forum, but one of them I hold my hat off to, and have an enormous gratitude to, and respect for (you know who you are guv'nor). I managed to cross over and adapt my skills across a wide range of markets/sports, so that I had degrees of success in new areas. A key part of remaining a pro is the ability to adapt to a constantly changing market. You literally have to run to stand still to be successful in as fiercely competitive an environment as Betfair.

Winning money through betting is paradoxically something I feel very uncomfortable with morally. Are there people on the other side of these bets who are risking more than they can afford to lose? All the money originally deposited into Betfair has at some stage been earned in an office, a factory, a checkout, forecourt or salon. Much of it has real blood sweat and tears behind it. It makes me incredibly sad to read the figures from the big 3 that they have around 200,000 customers a year losing an average of £3,000 a year into FOBT's, as reported on a number of threads on the General Betting forum. One of my ex-girlfriends had only come to England with her mother many years ago, after her father's gambling addiction took their family to financial and emotional ruin, and her parents separated. There are real human beings out there who become just further statistics to fall by the wayside in the current pro-gambling British culture.

There's always the hope that if you do win, it's off a rich city trader, who is punting silly money for fun. Betfair has a very small number of seriously big winners (of which I am not one), but very few if any big losers. It has a vast legion of small losers. A football match can be more fun with a bet having been placed on it. The people who gamble for entertainment (whether they win or lose), as an enjoyable hobby to complement an already balanced life are perhaps the real winners. Given to this group of its customers, it is the better value and accessibility to a product they enjoy, that is perhaps Betfair's greatest success.

For every 100 winners in a calendar year, many of them will fall by the wayside the following year. One of the most famous posts on this forum has been 'The Story of Ster', who went from being a big winner to someone whose methods became horribly outmoded, and he found himself deceiving his family about his gambling problems. According to his last post he found happiness and support from his loved ones. For every passage of time, past present and future, there will be a number who are crushed through indiscipline/addiction/chasing/recklessness and/or greed.

A year full time feels like a lifetime. Gambling is neither a hobby nor a job, it is a lifestyle. One thread on here has had a user called TETO setting a target of £50 a day, whilst another has a user called 'Doubled' seeking to make £25,000 a year. Everyone starts gambling with £1's and £2's, and if they are good, that progresses to fivers, tenners, fifties, and then hundreds. There are people who bet tens of thousands of pounds per football match, horse or rugby team on Betfair, without blinking an eyelid. If you have two gamblers, one of them 5% better than the other, one could realistically make £20,000 a year from it, the second one could make £70,000. The difference between earning £26,000 a year in the workplace, and £32,000 a year could be four or five years' hard graft and promotion. A small difference in gambling skill can make an astronomical difference to the bottom line here though. The real shrewdies who use Betfair make about 10% profit on turnover, with a fairly astonishing turnover level by any layman's standards.

There is no security in the future of any gambler, bar their own ability to stash away whatever they can for a rainy day. I am 26, and I know that when I do go back into the workplace (something I hope to do) it will be at the bottom rung again. Each year spent as a full timer doesn't knock off a year of your real career at the bottom end of the ladder, it knocks off one of the best years at the end of it. It is quite a heavy burden for me, when most of my peers are doing well and forging ahead as consultants/analysts/bankers/lawyers/accountants/actuaries. Only hindsight will let me know if I did actually make the right decision at this stage in my life.

I'd like to put forward my own opinions of the kind of people who I think would make successful pro gamblers. Every school boy wants to be captain of the football team, or seeing the prettiest girl in the school. I was neither, just a quiet studious swot who probably annoyed people by continually beating everyone in the exams, as well as probably other various nerdy and equally nefarious activities. Pets don't win prizes, geeks do. If you can remember the class genius/nerd, I don't think you're cut out to be a winner on Betfair. If you were the nerd, you have a chance. As I said before, nobody expects to turn up and be a brilliant doctor or lawyer, but everybody likes to have a punt, and most are happy to bet until they've done their cobblers.

I've personally written two specific programs/models which have proved invaluable on certain markets. One has half a million variables. The other I'm incredibly proud of, and wouldn't sell for 30k. Winning at gambling is extraordinarily hard to do consistently, and it takes an armoury of graft, skill and discipline to succeed. The technical skill and wizardry behind some of the API programming is itself several steps up from a relatively small fish like me.

Nobody is ever a real winner from gambling until the day they cash in their chips, and leave the casino. There are gamblers throughout history who have won millions, and lost it all back. If somebody asked me if it can be done, could I truthfully say 'yes'? I'm not sure that I could. I could easily be one of the hundred pros who whilst being successful for the last year, may fall by the wayside over the next. There is no tragedy in that – all that a man can ask for in life is the freedom to live by the sword, and you can only do that if it's possible to die by the sword if you fail.

Starting out as a full timer is not something I would recommend to almost any other person (out of a sense of moral responsibility, not attempted protection of an imaginary part of some imaginary pot of gold). It has been the most astonishing learning curve, and in my first few months I experienced both sustained exhilaration and sustained depression. Gambling success is a fickle mistress, with incredible runs of both victories and defeats entwined illogically by fate. Value is all-important – not winners. That's the first lesson to any gambler, and one which the majority don't ever start to comprehend. The secret is not getting more heads than tails, its winning more when a coin comes up heads than you lose when it's tails.

To be a real pro, gambling ends up becoming almost like a form of accountancy, with a good staking plan, and calculation of value as and when it arises. I no longer have any thrill whatsoever from winning or losing a bet.

It has been an amazing twelve months, and I am very fortunate to have been successful for now. I'm sorry if some of this thread comes across as arrogant – it's all genuine from this side. Some people reading this will be thinking about going pro, and I'm sure other people will be reading too. If you do go pro, then try to remember how much of a rollercoaster emotionally it can be especially at first. Have a level of your bank which you will not go below, and promise yourself you won't go below it. Then make sure you keep that promise. If I've learnt anything its how unimportant money is, and how precious the people around you are.

I hope some of this helps other people. There'll be another geek out there like me who is at the stage I was at a year ago. I hope everyone finds fulfilment and happiness, which is much more than gambling in itself will ever have to offer.

Eddy Murray , Spring 2005

http://www.eddymurray.com/

Thursday, 21 November 2019

In Search of the Outsider: The Significance of Trainers & Starting Price

From what we have learned so far, it becomes apparent that  finding an outsider with a lively chance of winning on debut needs a certain calibre of a trainer. The problem with following the elite is that their juveniles are very much in the spotlight. As we have mentioned, their reputation precedes them to a point where many are under priced.

Few trainers, however capable, feature a level stakes profit with their debutantes. In fact, most would make truly poor bets from a blanket approach. Even looking at the individual rather than the general? To a certain extent, this would be a pointless exercise. Why? Because it is a remote chance these two-year-old could win at speculative odds. It would simply dictate they have a slim chance of winning. For example, from just over 450 debutantes, how many two-year-old winners did Mick Channon train priced over 8/1? It was in single figures. Fair enough, a large number of his juveniles were fancied in the betting. But would that inspire you to wager? I wouldn’t be interested. It is surprising how difficult it is to win on debut – at any price. And don’t forget how many win against a field of debutantes. The statistics would no doubt plummet when racing against experienced horses primed to run for their lives.

What we are searching for is this: not the biggest stables and certainly not the smallest who rarely train a two-year-old let alone a juvenile winner. What we need is that trainer who has plenty of ammunition but somehow slips under the radar. There are a number of interesting candidates.

One of the best candidates is Michael Dods. In my opinion, he is a talented trainer of two-year-old, especially on debut. He has excellent statistics with his debutantes, which, strangely, seem to have more chance of winning at speculative odds than when strongly fancied. However, the icing on the cake for his debutantes is when running on the soft or heavy ground. I’m not sure if he goes for the type of horse with hooves the size of dinner plates but they often love testing conditions. If you see one of his juveniles priced 40/1, 50/1 or even 66/1 on debut, racing in the terrible ground they make outstanding each way bets.

Now, I’m not saying all of them are going to win. Who would imagine they could! This article is simply to highlight which trainers can go well at speculative odds in the knowledge that you have a fighting chance.

My brother bets on many horses just because he likes their physical stature. In fact, he goes to the extreme of not really caring who trains them. He's had so many big priced winners it is quite astonishing. What I want to highlight from his success is that gigantic-priced horses fall into a niche area to prove victorious. It is all about looking in the right direction. That is the reason why some gamblers win and others lose. They have the skills to know that rich seam of gold is within reach while others are searching unforgiving grounds. 

Make sure you read Part 3 (coming soon)