Friday, 26 February 2016

William Hill Planning to Introduce Self-Serving Betting

WILLIAM HILL are planning to introduce self-serving betting terminals and will also ensure all employees are paid the national living wage from April 1, as the bookmaker unveiled their full-year results for 2015.

In a trading statement last month the firm revealed a 22 per cent drop in operating profits to £291.4 million for the 52 weeks ended December 29 2015, compared to £372.2m for the same period in 2014.

This was largely due to the introduction of the point of consumption tax introduced by the government in 2015.

Overall net revenue was down one per cent, but the company believe they are now in a good position for 2016, and announced a £200m share buyback, as well as raising their share dividend 2.5 per cent to 12.5 pence.

Good international growth.

The Australian arm of the brand performed well at the end of 2015, and that has continued into the new year. The betting app is one of the highest-rated in the country, and during the William Hill-backed Australian Open, around 1,000 new customers were acquired each day, leading to a 680 per cent increase on tennis in-play betting.

A self-service betting terminal is due to be introduced in shops during the first half of 2016 as part of William Hill's omni-channel approach, and from April 1, all employees will be paid the government's national living wage of £7.20.

The wage has been extended voluntarily to all employees between 18-25 as well as those over 25, and is expected to benefit around 4,500 of the 12,500 William Hill UK retail employees.

Commenting on the results, William Hill chief executive James Henderson said: "In the last 12 months we have made substantial operational progress against our three strategic priorities of omni-channel, technology and international.

"As one of the largest scale businesses in gambling, the board is confident in the outlook for the year ahead and believes the group is well placed to deliver on its growth strategy." 

At 9.15am on Friday, William Hill's share price had fallen 0.85 per cent to 398.30 pence.

Thursday, 25 February 2016


A Maiden Auction fillies' Stakes over 1 mile on Standard going. 

Not the most exciting of races with the betting suggesting it's a two-horse race. 

Ruby Wednesday is a three-year-old daughter of unfashionable Mullionmileanhour. Bred by her trainer John Best, racing in the silks of Harris, Beckett and Millen. 

This bay filly may be no world beater but she has shown ability on both starts to date. A respectable fifth on debut at Lingfield over 7f and a sterling effort earlier this month at Kempton when relatively fancied at 5/1. She lost by a nose. A shade unlucky not to taste glory that day, defied by a trip which most likely was a shade too short. 

A straightforward horse, this extra furlong should suit and I would be surprised if she didn't run on well to the line and win this. 

The odds are nothing to shout about but this could be a good day for connections.   

Sunday, 21 February 2016

First-season sires to watch in 2016

With the new Flat turf season on the horizon a number of readers have expressed an interest in this year's first-season sires. The table, below, details the information concisely. I will highlight a few points of interest.

There has been much anticipation surrounding the new crop of two-year-olds from Frankel standing at Banstead Manor Stud (GB). The sire's fee in 2013 being £125,000, making his offspring limited and consequently expensive. From a selective list of talented blue-blooded mares 98 live foals have seen just 23 yearlings sold at auction. This factor indicates that most juveniles will be home bred from leading thoroughbred owners and no doubt a good few with H R H Prince Khalib Abdullah. 

With an average sales price of 423,483Gns and median price of 305,250Gns there has been no lack of interest in just 23 yearlings which made the sales. It is likely these will be the better physical specimens.    

It will be interesting to see what impact Frankel's two-year-olds can muster this season. It would be a triumph to achieve a group winner this term.

A first-season sire's success is dictated by winners and all eyes will be on the first juvenile to make its debut. You can guarantee this breeding operation has been conducted meticulously. 

From a list of high achievers Frankel give this year's first-season sires additional excitement and anticipation of what could be.   

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Dark Horses: The Best Horses in Training for 2016 Flat Turf Season

How many times have you heard of a talented two-year-old when it's led into the winner's enclosure! Be honest, it doesn't take Einstein to work out a decent horse when it strolls clear of the field. In fact, it can be rather irritating when all too often racing feels like a closed shop while those in the know take advantage of inside info, words from connections or the pigeon the horse was meant to have caught on the gallops. 

Just imagine if you could know the best two-year-old horses in training, many before they have even set hoof on the course. Too good to be true? Well, that's what Group Horse have done for many years. They have detailed the best juveniles in training from handlers big and small across the country. Such is their confidence, they guarantee their list of prized dark horses will reveal every Listed and Group-winning two-year-old over the Flat turf season. It might sound an incredible statement but it's perfectly true. If you want to see for yourself, take a look at Group Horse website and download last year's list of 100 top horses. It provides evidence of the class of horse they know before the crowd. 

Just think what you could do with that information. The opportunities it would bring. 

With the new Flat turf season Group Horse will be detailing this incredible information free of charge. Their website is updated on a daily basis and make no mistake it will find winner after winner. 

Know the best horses in training.   

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

A Random Professional Gambler's Story

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.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Grand National 2016 - Ante Post Racing Tips

It's getting to that time of year when we take a view on a few big meetings. The Grand National has 126 declarations at this time but it's a race we always take an interest and Karl ''The National Man'' Wales is a tipster who knows this race better than most. He has been looking for a few ante-post positions so I would advise readers to take note. (Pictured, Many Clouds, Grand National 2015 Winner)

9th April 2016 - Ante-post tips

The Druid's Nephew (Neil Mulholland) 25/1 
Goonyella          (J T R Dreaper)   33/1 Skybet
Soll               (David Pipe)      40/1 
Night In Milan     (Keith Reveley)   66/1 Paddy Power
Ballycassey        (W P Mullins)     100/1 Paddy Power 
Mon Parrain        (Paul Nicholls)   100/1 Paddy Power

Good luck to all