Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Racehorse Ownership Vs Racing Club


I've heard a lot of people saying they would love to own a racehorse.

I know a few people who own or have owned thoroughbred racehorses. I've been in a racing club which had a share in four horses and guess how much it cost per year? Just £200. Fair enough, you don't get any prize money (as that really would be incredible) but you get regular updates, the opportunity to visit the stable and owner/trainer badges to go to the races for free. Well, you paid £200, so you know what I mean. 

My friend Kevin McCourt has had a good few racehorses in his time. The last, Edgar, proved a very versatile and capable horse over both codes and paid his way before being retired. 

That is probably a rarity for most owners when you consider how difficult it is to own a horse to win any race. The likelihood of owning a horse that achieves a high standard to compete at pattern class is literally like finding a needle in a haystack. In fact, yearlings which cost a million pounds are very unlikely to attain that goal. 

One thing all within racing appreciate is the desperate level of prize money for the run-of-the-mill race. In truth, when you consider across the globe, how much money is bet on each and every UK horse race, a fraction of that money could pay for a winning prize of £10,000. Instead, it goes into the pockets of those who own the television rights which seems (surprise surprise) to be owned by bookmakers. 

Horse racing is like a conveyor belt and unless all go on strike the prize money issue isn't going to be resolved. I can guarantee if it did stop within a week every race would have a minimal prize of £10,000. It's unlikely to happen because most stables couldn't hold out because their owners wouldn't want to pay for horses not racing. 

Anyway, the lack of prize money means you want to think twice about owning a racecourse in this country. I don't imagine you would want to live in the UK and own a horse in America, but I'm sure the level of cost to prize money would be much better. 

Even a small training establishment in the UK would charge £15,000 - £20,000. The high-profile trainers cost substantially more. 

When the likelihood of actually making any money via owning a racehorse is probably, statistically, near-zero, you have a high chance of losing money. 

I joined the said £200 a year racing club and it was great fun. To all the world, when you are in the paddock, rubbing shoulders with all the other big wigs they don't know what money you have or don't have. When the horse wins you still cheer. 

I'd always side with the racing club unless you have plenty of money to burn. 

Good luck. 

Last post: The Secret of Winning at the Races

Friday, 17 January 2020

The Secret to Winning at the Races


I wonder if you have read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne?

It's a book originally published in 2006. A best-selling self-help book based on a film. It is based on the idea that thoughts can change a person's life directly. A lot of people must believe it too as it has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and been translated into 50 languages. 

While some believe every word, others claim the book promotes political complacency and a failure to engage with reality. (Basically, some are saying if you believe all this stuff you are mad).

Others say it isn't new or a secret. 

Scientists have detailed the book has no scientific foundation. 

The book was inspired by a tome written by Wallace Wattles in 1910 titled: The Science of Getting Rich.  

Byrne received this publication from her daughter during a traumatic period of her life in 2004. 

The book re-introduced a perspective from Madame Blavatsky and Norman Vincent Peale that thinking about certain things will make them appear in one's life. 

The Secret details examples of historic persons who have allegedly achieved success by this notion. 

You simply: ask, believe and receive. 

The origin is based on the quotation from the Bible's Mathew 21:22 '' And all this, whosoever, ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.''

The author states the importance of gratitude and visualisation in achieving one's desires and gives examples.

This understanding can be used to gain wealth, relationships, health, and thoughts about the universe. 

Very much a holistic approach to life, living and family. 

Much of the book's popularity can be associated with the appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. The book has led to merchandising and further book titles. 

Oprah Winfrey is a big proponent of this book. While others have taken a critical stance. Mark Manson, the author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck  says the book is ''full of misplaced cliches, silly quotes, and superstitious drivel''. He called it ''a playbook for entitlement and self-absorption, which anybody who reads it and implements its advice...will likely make themselves worse off in the longterm.''

Others have noted this tradition of New Thought and popular religion isn't new or a secret. 

In fact, the author's understanding and use of quantum physics have been rejected by a range of academics including Lisa Randall. 

Some have called this ''magical thinking'' akin to mumbo jumbo as new knowledge.  

Here's my question: Could you become a better gambler by simply asking and believing in the powers of the universe? 

If so, you may rightfully receive it. 

Happy Punting.

By Jason Coote

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Are Speculative Bets Good or Bad News?


Who doesn't love a big priced winner? 

I've had a few decent winners in my time. For example, winning £1,800 for a bet of £60. You know what I'm going to say, there have been far too many near misses or horses I didn't bet which turned into longterm regrets. The most disappointing bet of my life is one of these said outsiders. Unbelievably, it was priced over 300/1 on Betfair. You may be thinking I'm talking from the realms of cloud cuckoo land but as God is my judge it's perfectly true. A bet of just £35 to £10,000. With every winning stride of pure joy turned to dismay with the cruellest twist of fate.  

In the final half-furlong, the saddle slipped and the jockey went over the port side. I could have done with a big drink of something stronger after that misdemeanour.  

I am confident the horse would have won. You don't expect the saddle to slip on the Flat turf. But there you go. Gambling is never straight forward and winning and losing just moments in time. 

My brother has won a lot of money from a handful of speculative bets. For example, a bet of £20 to win £4,000. The horse was called Puggy, winning on debut for a relatively unknown horse trainer Roy Arne Kvisla, who had a season or two in the UK, after being a big name in his native Sweden. As it happened Puggy was a very classy filly who went on to compete in the Newmarket 1,000 Guineas. Anyway, that is another story, but a fantastic memory of what can happen when you bet on a horse at huge odds. 

Take a look at the race result here

Tony has had many similar days where he seemingly did the impossible. 

After all this talk, you must be thinking why wouldn't anyone be betting on 100/1 shots left, right and centre.

Here's the problem, not every outsider is value. Just as you need to assess the favourite because it's short odds you need to do the same with the rag to make sure it has something going for it. 

In many respects, betting on huge priced horses can be a frustrating business. However, good you are at finding these potential diamonds in the sand the strike rate is going to be low. It's the nature of the beast. 

Outsiders are a mirror image of favourites. 

Instead of a high win rate, you bet less in an attempt to win more. 

It may well be easier to put £2,000 on an even-money favourite than bet £10 at 200/1. The only answer to that question is your knowledge, insight and understanding.

The problem with betting on outsiders is that you feel you can take a risk because you only need one to pop up once in a blue moon.

That is true to a point. But as with so many things, it's a strength and weakness. Similar to the punter who does an each-way double to make a bet because the prices of each doesn't allow a single each-way wager. 

Are you trying to be too clever or trying to make a cup of tea with your beautifully crafted chocolate teapot? 

When betting outsiders you cannot afford to think just because you have big odds anything goes. 

It doesn't. 

Each and every speculative bet needs to be assessed as if you are looking at a favourite. Can it win? Is it value? Can it really beat the favourite... the list goes on. 

If these bets are pinned simply on the size of the betting odds you will be frustrated by the losses and the realisation (after the event) that very few were good bets. 

At best, speculative bets can be the turning point of a betting year or even a life-changing event. 

The day Eric Winner tipped a 100/1 winner!

When done to their best, they are a wonderful moment. To see that 100/1 shot hit the finishing line first is something very few punters will ever experience. However, betting on a big priced horse takes knowledge which far exceeds the favourite backers. Unless you have the odds in your favour the price means nothing at all. 

Good luck to all. 

Monday, 6 January 2020

The True Story about Professional Gambler Jack Ramsden

The True Story about Professional Gambler Jack Ramsden

Background 

In 1997, Jack Ramsden was hailed by ‘The Times’ as ‘one of the shrewdest backers in the land’. However, two decades earlier, when he married his second wife, Lynda, in March, 1977, Ramsden was still plying his trade as, by his own admission, ‘a pretty useless stockbroker’ in the City of London. Nevertheless, in 1980, Ramsden abandoned the Square Mile and the couple started out, with a few horses, as trainers on the Isle of Man. They sent their horses across the Irish Sea, by ferry, to compete on the British mainland but, after a while, sought new premises in the North of England. They finally settled on Breckenborough House in Sandhutton, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, which was described by one observer as ‘little more than a pig sty’ at the time of their arrival. 

Jack Ramsden Betting Philosophy

At Breckenborough House, Lynda Ramsden held the licence, while Jack Ramsden focussed on buying and selling horses, deciding where they ran and his professional gambling activities. Indeed, Ramsden once said that, to him, a horse was ‘a pedigree and a handicap rating that had to be placed.’ Aside from studying form, Jack Ramsden was a speed figure enthusiast, believing that, while even a superior performer could produce a slow time, an inferior performer could never produce a fast time. He also set exacting standards for his jockeys, in terms of pace judgement, famously mentoring Kieren Fallon, who was stable jockey to Lynda Ramsden between 1993 and 1996, and sending him to the United States to perfect his work in that respect. In his heyday, Jack Ramsden also had his own, retained bookmaker, Colin Webster, who paid him £5,000 a year for his advice.

Jack Ramsden Betting Successes  

Soon after his arrival in North Yorkshire, Ramsden started to attract attention for his gambling activities, not least from the major bookmaking firms, who were quick to limit their liabilities by restricting, or closing, his accounts. As is often the case with professional gamblers, separating the ‘wheat from the chaff’ when it comes to betting stories is not entirely straightforward. However, one notable for success for Ramsden that is definitely true – at least, it formed part of the evidence in a subsequent court case – was the victory of Arbory Street in the Billesdon Selling Handicap at Leicester on April 3, 1989. Returning from a 151-day break, the moderate four-year-old, who was winning for the one and only time in his 17-race career, was ridden clear in the closing stages by jockey Alan Munro to win by three lengths at odds of 13/2. In so doing, Arbory Street landed two bets of £1,000 to win and £500 each-way, both at 14/1, for Ramsden. He used the proceeds to fund an equine pool at Breckenborough House. 

The aforementioned court case produced another victory, albeit of a different kind, insofar as the High Court upheld a libel action brought against ‘The Sporting Life’ by Lynda Ramsden, Jack Ramsden and Kieren Fallon and collectively awarded the plaintiffs £195,000. After Top Cees, trained by Lynda Ramsden and ridden by Fallon, had won the Chester Cup in 1995, the ‘Life’ had suggested that the horse had not been allowed to run on its merits in his previous race, the Swaffham Handicap at Newmarket three weeks earlier. Jack Ramsden, who personally received £50,000 as part of the settlement, later said of Top Cees, ‘He’s been a good earner, one way or another.’ 

Summary:

Jack Ramsden’s son from his first marriage, Joey, has been a leading trainer in South Africa for over twenty years. He summed up his father very nicely when he said, ‘He has an incredible knowledge of pedigrees and form. He devoted most of his life to racing.  I suppose he has been a professional gambler for most of it too. He was never a huge individual punter, more a cumulative gambler, but a successful one.’ Ramsden Snr. came close to giving up in 1991, when he had difficulty placing bets and, therefore, making money, but reportedly made a profit in thirteen consecutive seasons before Lynda Ramsden relinquished her training licence for the second, and final, time in 2005.

Related post: Professional Gamblers: The Secret Guide to Phil Bull's Betting Success

Friday, 3 January 2020

Which Professional Darts Player Won The Bronze Bully on TV Programme Bullseye

Bullseye TV Game Show (Jim Bowen)
Darts is popular. 

I'm sure many readers can remember Bullseye a TV game show television programme based, not surprisingly, on a darts theme. 

Originally made for ITV network by Associated Television in 1981. Later, by Central Television from 1982 - 1995. It was hosted by Jim Bowen, a stand-up comedian who was influenced by Ken Dodd and television personality. 

Bowen was a straight-faced comic known for his bad jokes, who used to make fun of guests on the show. 

The animated mascot named Bully wore a red/white striped shirt and blue trousers. 

The show also featured Tony Green who helped with scoring the dart games and sideman for Bowen. Green was an amateur player who became BBC's lead commentator when showing the annual World Professional Darts Championships staged at the Lakeside Country Club in Frimley Green, Surrey. He worked alongside Sid Waddell, a talented Geordie entertainer and well respected within darting circles and known as ''The Voice of Darts''. He was also a gifted writer, comedian and nicknamed the ''Theif of Bad Gags''. Waddell wrote 11 published books including autobiographies of John Lowe, Jocky Wilson & Phil Taylor. 

He also wrote a racy novel in 1973 named Bedroll Bella (about a Georgie groupie) that was banned by W. H. Smiths. 

Back to Bullseye. 

In total there was 16 series of Bullseye and an incredible 354 episodes. The run time for the programme was 30 minutes. The programme was created and owned by Andrew Wood and comedian Norman Vaughan who had a successful career in television and theatre. 

The game show was based on three pairs of contestants with one person the darts player and the other answering questions. Prizes included a car, speedboat, holidays in addition to a tankard and silver goblet alongside a Bendy Bully (the show's mascot). 

The show was originally on Monday evening before being moved to its popular spot on Sunday. Later it was to be shown on Saturday afternoon. The show was planned for 1996 but cancelled after the network pressured Wood to modernise the programme which he deemed unsuitable. 

One part of the show saw a professional darts player throw nine darts and their total score would give a pound a point for the given charity chosen by the contestant. If the professional dart player scored over 301 the money would be doubled. Alongside this, the highest score of the series would win the Bronze Bully Trophy. This was based on series 5 - 13 (1985 - 1994).

Interesting that the highest charity points scorer was Alan Evans in 1984 with a score of 401. 

However, the Bronze Bully Trophy started in 1985. 

Here is a list of the winners:

1985 - 86 : John Lowe (380)
1986 - 87 : Lionel Smith (365)
1987 - 88 : Ray Farrell (340)
1988 - 89 : Mike Gregory (380)
1989 - 90 : Eric Bristow (380)
1990 - 91 : Bob Anderson (380)
1991 - 92 : Mandy Solomans (363)
1992 - 93:  Mike Gregory (340)
1994 -    :   Kevin Painter (380)


   

Friday, 20 December 2019

Bookmaker's Odds Compiler Flaw that you can Exploit

I'm sure most gamblers can relate to this situation. 

And this is and isn't my pocket talking!

After the race, you realise you made a mistake. Now, you don't need to be Albert Einstein to appreciate the horse lost. I could draw a bell chart, add a little bit of algebra and a hypothesis if it makes me sound a tad more intelligent than the last tadpole I saw swimming about the pond. 

I'm sure I'm being unfair to the said tadpole who, at least, had the hope of turning into a frog and, even though remote odds, if you have read enough fairytales, a prince if a fair-haired maiden had a fetish for amphibians. 

Anyway... 

How many times does it take to learn something? A lesson? Mistake? I mean, you would think it would be once, twice, three (no not hundred) times and all would be well on Planet Bet. A place where instead of tumbleweed you see big bundles of cash blowing uphill, down dale, even flying through the air like a bullet into bookmakers' satchels who appear just at the right time. Smile. Then run away into a cloud.

You have no problems applying for a visa on Planet Bet. As long as you have money you are a citizen for life. Well, if you keep losing money.  If you win on a regular basis, you will be shown the exit. 

It's a one-way street to a planet that looks pretty much the same as the United Kingdom.

If there has ever been a profession where you live and learn it is gambling. I have enough guidelines to fill an A - Z.

But I still make mistakes that drive me to distraction. 

However, with every minus, there is a potential positive (Visa-Versa). You may be wondering what I am going to tell you that's so important. A way to take advantage of those dreaded odds compilers who so often hammer the value out of your selection. This may sound pretty basic stuff. However, when you get to the basics of most things they are pretty simplistic. There aren't too many scientists in the world but plenty of people making lots of money. 

This one thing is worth noting because it is going to save you money and help you find value in a given race. 

Beware of horses that pull. Especially running over 7f+. You've all seen the race comments:


  • ''Keen''
  • ''Pulled''
  • ''Pulled hard''
  • ''F*** that pulled hard'' 
  • ''Don't bet on that horse ever again ''Hard''
  • Jockey dislocated both shoulders 
  • Horse beaten by a strange bundle of money in the shape of tumbleweed

How many times have you tried to forgive a keen horse? You know the beast has ability but ''It's a little bit keen'' (we tell ourselves those words as if it will be magically okay because we saw a rainbow on the way to the racecourse so that must cancel out the 1,000 magpies we saw pecking out the eyes of some old lady who picked blackberries from a hedge.) 

You know where the old lady lived? A couple of stops from Cloud Cuckoo Land. 

Take note of horses that pull because they are a pain in the arse. The crazy thing about these horses is that bookmakers never (ever) seem to factor this ''pulling like a train'' phenomenon into the odds. Perhaps it's a double bluff because they think punters are so forgiving.

''It pulled, but because I had a dream about a Leprechaun last night I think it will be calmer today...'') (This was me last night).  

The beast is priced 11/4 but pulls like a 10/1 shot. How the hell can it start at such short odds? 

The only way that highly-strung beast will calm down is if you throw a handful of sleeping tablets in its path and play a f****** harp.  

Unless you are convinced a keen horse is likely to settle let it go by fast, slow, upside down for all you care, but don't bet on the thing until... 

In truth, we should target these horses as weak links and look for other ''more sensible individuals...calm...placid...'' in opposition. 

If I bet on another ''frighteningly-keen horse, that saw the last poor soul enter an ambulance with dislocated shoulders'' you have permission to kick me up the arse.      

Related post: Do you need to give free racing tips (to give good advice?)

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Horse Betting Odds: A Story to be Told...


When thinking about a bet - assess the betting. 

Sure, I look at the horses and the betting. However, make no mistake, assessing the betting is very important for obvious reasons. To start, your potential profit comes from finding value. No value - forget about winning long term.

Understanding betting is one of the major criteria for gambling success.   

I would find it difficult to assess a horse race without betting odds. I have followed the two-year-old horse racing niche for many years. Along that journey, I have gathered knowledge that far exceeds your average punter. I don't say that trying to big myself up because it doesn't make sod all difference. However, I have an understanding of betting which goes beyond basic odds. 

Here's the point. 

Betting tells a story. It details a narrative that relates to the horse's chance of winning or losing. 

Perhaps many gamblers don't really consider what the betting means for the horse they are interested in. Let's say, you see your horse is priced 33/1. Just imagine, you bet £33 to win a grand (almost). But what does the price say? Clearly, it is saying it has, supposedly, a much less chance of winning than the favourite. This is a matter for debate because I'm sure there has been many a race where a longshot has thrashed the favourite and connections were pretty confident. On average we all know the rag has less chance of winning than the jolly. 

Here's an interesting point. The price of the given horse's chance of winning is very much dependent on the trainer. 

From my vast research into the two-year-old racing niche, I could tell you a number of stats that would surprise you. How certain high-profile horse trainers have more chance of winning at longer odds than shorter. How many trainers have little to no chance of winning on debut even with horses priced at short odds. How certain horse trainers can be backed with a high level of confidence if you know what you are looking for. 

As you can imagine, I'm not going to detail specifics because each and every word of wisdom is hard-fought. But I will tell you, with a little bit of hard work, the information is out there waiting to be found and asking questions that reveal data akin to finding a seam of gold. 

So when you bet on a given horse what is the betting saying. If you could put those odds into words what would you hear the trainer, owner, jockey or professional gambler say? 

From studying hundreds of two-year-old horse trainers I can appreciate more than most what chance a horse has from simply reviewing the betting. My analysis is often particularly strong on the horse's first and second start. Beyond those initial runs, the form can be assessed which helps where basic data cannot be found. 

If you bet on a horse priced 10/1 I would have an opinion. My opinion would vary from one trainer to the next. Quite often I would view the bet as good, bad or just plain ugly. 

The information I have gathered has to a great extent transformed my understanding. It has helped me assess races to a high level of accuracy and detail those horses with a live chance to those with little hope at all. 

There will always be exceptions to the rule. It is interesting when a two-year-old horse defies the odds that they often turn out to be very talented horses. 

The next time you look at the betting stop for a moment and consider what are the odds saying. It goes beyond the basics of fractions. It tells a story that you need to learn and understand. 

What is the influence of horse racing betting? 

It is more than pounds, shillings and pence. It is a variable which details, to a large extent, the truth of horse winning a given race. 

If you don't know what the odds mean for the horse you are about to bet then you need to be fearful of the layer who is about to accept your wager. 

Why?

Because there is a very good chance they know something that you don't.   

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Betting Strategies: Do You Want to Give Your Secrets Away?

I quite like writing an article about betting strategies.

Although, here is the problem. Do I really want to give all my good stuff away? By ''stuff'' I mean data that has taken a lot of work to find. We're not talking ten minutes on the Racing Post. 

It's a pretty average day this time of year for me to work 8 hours sifting through data. Basically, it's like a full-working day to find a scrap of info which may lead to a seam of gold. It is the equivalent to panning for gold. Most of the time you find rocks, sand, the odd fish and struggle with vertigo (that swirling pan). 

Basically, this information is for myself and my brother and related to two-year-old horse racing. The data I have found helps to narrow down the field and pinpointing winners. It is part of the jigsaw puzzle.

I can hear you saying: ''Well, this is all good ''stuff' but when are you going to tell me about these ''winning angles'' so I can put on a few quid and collect a wedge from the bookies?''

One of my friends shared an article I wrote on Reddit which hinted at an idea to make money gambling. It was more to get readers thinking about an interesting point. Someone replied saying they thought the article lacked any value. (Thanks). I guess they were the font of all wisdom (not).

I replied saying why on earth would I want to work 8 hours to give top information away for nothing in return? For all the world I would love to do just that (if you lived in a vacuum). But as soon as the info gets out of the bag, it is three-quarters worthless. 

The thing that gets me is that I am a giving person. I am always trying for others, helping and going the extra mile. Have you watched Judge Judy on TV? One of her favourite sayings: ''No good deed goes unpunished.''

Sadly, those words are true. 

My good friend Eric Winner says there are too many takers. How right he is. I've had people win £2,000 on an each-way treble I gave. I received thanks and interest for more of the same. (I don't need anyone's money) but they didn't even have the heart (certainly no soul) to buy me a drink. So have I got 8 hours to give away to someone who couldn't give a simple thank you? (These people are rare.)

It's a sad fact of life and the reason why we need to keep the good of life and get rid of the bad. I don't think it even registers with people but perhaps, again, that is the thoughts of a caring perspective.

It is, perhaps, too easy to see someone else's time as free and easy. I work on the information especially for my brother who is a plasterer. But would he plaster a couple of rooms for me in a trade for my equivalent time? I wouldn't like to ask. Luckily I do it for myself first and to others who I want to help. 

So the next time someone criticises that you just don't quite give enough remind them that they need to bring something to the table. And not a manky old slice of bread not good enough for ducks.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Do You Need Free Horse Racing Tips (To Give Good Advice)?

They say writers writer, gamblers gamble and cooks drink!

I remember a few years back, I used to write an article or two for this new online platform. The name has been long forgotten. It was run by a lovely lady and I wanted to help support her by writing decent content. It was a mutual thing as I would get a link back to my website which was all fine and dandy. Very few writers are going to spend hours writing decent content for nothing in return. 

There wasn't a problem. It worked. She was happy with the content on what turned out to be a sinking ship simply because so few people contributed. 

I used to write professional gambler articles about Alex Bird, Jack Ramsden, Phil Bull, general thought-provoking articles about gambling theory and a few race reports about two-year-old horse racing which I specialise. 

Quite often I would write a post while thinking aloud and then conclude my thoughts with either a free racing tip or my obligatory '' I'll be taking a watching brief.'' 

It was simply the format I wrote because writers write, gamblers gamble and Delia Smith likes a glass of wine while sunning herself on the Norfolk Broads.

Anyway, after one such post about a race, I noticed a rare comment from a reader or another contributor. 

It read along the lines: ''You clearly have a great understanding of your horse racing niche but are you intentionally trying to confuse people?''

This was greeted by me with a mixture of emotions: humour, as in ways it made me laugh, and irritation because I thought it was a particularly stupid question. My post had taken at least an hour to write - their comment 9.58 seconds. Strangely, exactly the same time it took Usain Bolt to run a 100m World Record in 2009. 

(From a psychological point of view, I was intrigued that the person thought as fast as Bolt ran.)

However...

Why on earth would I be trying to confuse people? It was as if I had some hidden agenda. Perhaps (in their mind) I was being paid £1,000 by William Hill to confuse people so much they bet £2,000 on a loser and we had a business to take advantage of those who read random horse racing threads.

Perhaps they couldn't get beyond the comment ''watching brief''. 

I can tell you now, that comment was made to save people money rather than confuse them into such a state of bewilderment they phoned Tommo's Horse Racing Tips Hotline. 

The would-be annoyance received a polite, intelligent and reasoned if not slightly prickly reply because they had put me into a state of near anaphylactic shock. It was like I was writing from inside a wasp's nest.

I was left questioning myself with the words: ''Why do I bother!''

It reminds me of Billy Wilder's quote: ''No good deed goes unpunished.''

How true.

The crazy point about the race analysis (although no tip was given) was that the whole post was crammed full of information that I had researched from my own data which had taken unending hours and embued with 30-years experience. This wasn't the last three races of magnolia form found on the pages of the Racing Post. If my words had been a painting it would have been a George Stubbs Whistlejacket (1762) not a slab of square beige in a frame from Ikea.

Although the analysis didn't give a full-blown racing tip if the reader had dissected those rich, objective prose each horse mentioned could be appreciated quite easily. In fact, for the majority of runners, it detailed those with little chance to the major contenders. Even though the post said ''watching brief'' in so many words it gave a couple of each-way chances (including the winner). 

I felt like writing another comment to detail this fact but like the horse in another Stubbs'  painting Lion Attacking a Horse (1765), I was losing the will to live. I didn't want to get into a war of words because I can't stand politics. In the end, it's a futile conversation of two opinions the difference being that someone is trying to label you with their perception. To be fair, we can only take all these scenarios with a pinch of salt and be polite as one can be and move quickly on. It is either that or an ugly war of words on a subject which scales into insignificance when you see what is happening around the world. 

In truth, you don't need to give a free horse racing tip to give good advice. The sad fact for many tipsters out there is that their tips are not as good as someone who doesn't really give a tip.

Two, three, four tips detailing a horse, time, meeting and bet taking moments to write as boring as watching that magnolia patch of paint dry in its Ikea frame, which hangs on a beige wall of someone's random house. 

The no-tip analysis is akin to a hand-crafted tapestry worked with golden thread...

Make your mind up which you would rather read.

There's always a Mills & Boon for the romantic at heart.   

Friday, 22 November 2019

The Professional Gambler: Fame, Fortune and Failure

The Professional Gambler: Fame, Fortune and Failure
An interesting piece of research by David M. Hayano. (July 1984)

Hayano investigates the pursuit of the professional gambler with his insightful research. He is currently a professor of anthropology at California State University, Northridge.   

 Abstract: 

He investigated the history of gambling from amateurs to professional gamblers. Hayano describes how since the 1930s the social organisation of gambling has changed due to legalisation of casinos and cardrooms. This led to a completely new breed of professional gamblers. He describes four distinct subtypes: the worker-professional, the outside-supported professional, the subsistence professional and the career professional. The majority of professional gamblers eventually succumb to the pressures of gambling and encounter some degree of devastating social and financial failure. A small minority find relatively lasting fame and fortune. In this modern era, gambling is seen as a kind of leisure activity, aided by casino and betting promotions, often followed by by national media and publications. These conditions have helped professional gamblers pursue their specialised art with much more publicity, safety and potentially greater reward than ever before.

Professional gamblers have been hailed as free and independent spirits and also vilified as worthless scoundrels. Scholars have neglected the objective study of professional gamblers. 

However, Hayano's research offers an inside view of the professional gambler's life and play. This research used source material as well as over 10 years of research including participation and observation (mainly poker players in California and Nevada).

The concept of a ''professional gambler'' is vague, often abused by self-glorification and self-deception. The term full-time professional gambler should be used guardedly. It carries connotations of specialised training and education, membership in a guild or association, written rules of conduct, and additional formal traits. 

One of the earliest attempts to describe the professional gambler comes from Albert H. Morehead (1950). The May issue of The Annals, a publication devoted to gambling in which he discussed four subtypes of the professional gambler: the banker, the cheater, the compulsive gambler and the percentage gambler. 

Hayano detailed that Morehead's typology was much too broad with subtypes overlapping or not relevant at all. For example. the banker may be the owner of the casino or cardroom and, as such, a businessperson. Also, the cheater shouldn't be considered a gambler, much less a professional gambler. The compulsive gambler, a perpetual loser, should be placed in an entirely different category.   

Morehead's description of the percentage gambler as a skillful player with a feel for probabilities and odds seems to apply to some contemporary professional gamblers of an older generation. But this characterisation is misguided for many young professional gamblers of blackjack and poker have not acquired their skill through what Morehead termed their ''innate aptitude'' but memorizing and calculating specific mathematical formulae in their head (card counting).     

The professional gambler typologies vary with others such as the social, economic& compulsive gambler. It is established the professional gambler is skilled in one or more gambling games, reliant on skill, knowledge, and experience to win consistently. 

The basic definition of a professional gambler is someone who derives all or a significant part of their income from gambling activities. 

Hayano found four subtypes:

The Worker Professional:

This includes men and women who work on the side, but spend a large proportion of their time gambling. They are not gambling as a full-time career and seen more as a serious hobby than an occupation.  

The Outside-supported professional: 

This gambler has a steady income from savings, investment, and retirement fund or other sources. This includes retirees, housewives, and students who are trying to eke out a small profit from week to week. For example, their commitment to playing poker as a total way of life is minimal. 

The Subsistence professional:

This gambler is a consistent winner (but small wins). Their goal is to win enough to pay the bills and yet have a bankroll to play the next day. There is little commitment to betting with higher stakes and from a poker perspective playing tougher competition.    

The career professional:

Has made a social and psychological commitment to gambling as an occupation (even if totally broke). Most will not seek work but borrow money in order to return to gambling. Many bet high stakes and enjoy the lavish attention that accompanies high rollers.

It's interesting the desire for upward mobility of this subtype is moderate to high (compared to the other groups which are moderate or non or little).

It is worth noting that the subtype of any gambler is rarely permanent. This may vary from game to game or year to year. This change may be behaviourally, psychologically, and financially (which make studying/research difficult). In fact, all subtypes can merge with the ebb and flow of success or failure to win. Thus professional gamblers and non-professionals weather many changes of mood and fortune. The image of the totally controlled, unemotional, economically motivated professional gambler who wins year after year is a serious distortion of the facts. 

Games And Background of the Professional Gambler:

The aim of the professional gambler is to win enough money to sustain himself or herself (possibly others). This relies on their chosen game/sport. They do not make a living from pure chance as their talent is skill-based. Games such as roulette, craps, lotteries, dice, dominos, slot machines are fixed odds so long term the gambler will lose (or virtually impossible to win). 

With regard to poker, it is based on skill and chance. This includes blackjack (with regard to card-counting). Other games may include strategic board games (chess, backgammon, etc), football, horse racing using skill to analyse past information to predict the future. However good the professional gambler, it is only a possibility they could win it isn't likely or easy. 

Unsurprisingly, people who said they would like to be professional gamblers like to take chances in general. Twice as many men as women chose this profession, a so-called masculine activity. In addition, there is a marked difference in games of chose with regard to sex.

Hayano's study of professional poker players revealed that many more men than females gamble as full-time work. The average poker player is male, white, aged 25 - 60, with some high-school education. Interestingly, it encompasses virtually every regional, religion, age, ethnic, and educational group.  Most poker players live in urban settings where casinos, card rooms, and associated gambling locations are found. The old days of professional gamblers travelling to find private games have turned into a sedentary lifestyle (especially these days of online gaming). This is beneficial to winning gamblers, as they are less likely to be robbed or highjacked.

The pursuit to be a professional gambler usually starts in adolescence, having some success gambling. The success may be so overwhelming that the individual never seeks non-gambling work (or something you do to get by if the gambling turns sour). Gambling can be seductive when viewed with job dissatisfaction, quick money, and ease in gambling opportunities. As Hayano says: ''Work and play, fun and games, merge''. These distinctions no longer exist. 

Professional gamblers tend to specialists rather than generalists. Some are only skilled in one game of poker or favour this compared with others. Or than horse racing gambler who specialises within a given age group of horse or race type. However, others may be more versatile perhaps playing poker and blackjack, while they gamble at golf while waiting for the football results.

Professional gamblers vary in how they bet. Some will bet their entire bankroll on a single game while others never risk more than a fraction of their wealth. In this sense, they can be fearless while others are very selective.  

Fame:

In the old days, a professional gambler's reputation was based on word of mouth. This modern era sees winners reach newspapers, television and news outlets. Publications such as The Gambling Times have helped with promotion and the legitimisation of gambling. 

In fact, an industry has been built to help would-be gamblers learn such skills. These aspects have helped fuel fame and fortune of those at the top of their game. 

Las Vegas hotels and casinos often sponsor gambling tournaments, which has helped with promotion and social acceptance. These include the World Series of Poker (Binion's Horseshoe Hotel, downtown Las Vegas), which offer dozens of competitions which contestants can choose. By far the largest group of professional gamblers come from poker players and draws large congregations. Young and old players compete to win perhaps 50 times their bankroll. 

The major professional poker gamblers rely on these games to accommodate such rich play which is unlikely outside major tournaments.

Many poker players refer to themselves as superstars or world-class players. This positive change in self-identity is a far cry from the days or ill repute and social negatives.

However, while many poker players enjoy fame others shun the limelight. This is certainly true of blackjack players whose major advantage is card counting. These players may be individuals or part of a collusive team.  Perhaps the most notorious of these was organised by Ken Uston, a former vice-president of the Pacific Stock Market, who in the 1970s turned to blackjack as a business and with a team won $1 Million from casinos around the world. Take a look at this publication The Big Player (1977).    

Fortune:

Here's a question, how much money does a professional gambler make a year? It's a difficult question to quantify. Gambling winnings and losing aren't regularly or evenly.  Many high-profile poker and blackjack players have won and lost millions in a year. For many professional gamblers, the only relevant figure is their bankroll at any given moment (how much is owed or loaned). 

Failure:

Permanent or cyclical loss is an occupational hazard for professional gamblers. Career gamblers must be able to cope with severe losses of both money and self-confidence after a fall. A major loss may see the need for a new bankroll this usually comes from close friends and peers. This is possible until the gambler has a reputation as a poor or erratic player or unlikely to be able to pay off debts. These transactions are often free of interest, often over the table, while the game is in play. 

This interaction raises the interesting question of how friends play against each other. This is borne out by the fact that high-stake game rarely sees a stranger come to the table. In fact, strangers are often treated with suspicion and judged by the way they handle their cards, chips and play specific hands. This is a vital skill of the professional gambler and one they are usually astute. They may be a good player, poor and even a potential cheat. 

Professional poker players would state they play hard against even opponents they have lent money. However, professional gamblers play in many different ways. 

Repeat losers face tough decisions regarding debts and failure. It may be time to stop gambling, play with smaller stakes, in different clubs, even another city or non-gambling employment. Often career professional gamblers can find the money to continue as they are more accustomed to highs and lows. In their eyes failure is temporary. They must find strength in the belief that their skill, perseverance, and new stake they will win. 

It is often the case, for years the same players will be seen sitting at the same gambling tables. Lending and borrowing may see friendships change. Gambling is the classic zero-sum game: winners win because others lose. Consistent winners move upwards to the tip of the competitive pyramid. This money comes from the middle and lower level players, from amateurs, hopeless losers, and former winners. 

Professional gamblers thrive on failure. 

It should be remembered in this new era of gambling has changed radically. Gambling has become more popular and more available. Professional gamblers are vastly more skillful, strategically sophisticated and sedentary than their historic counterparts. With greater wealth and leisure time, many individuals pursue gambling as a serious hobby on a daily basis. These two subtypes of worker-professional and outside-supported professional are appearing in greater numbers. This has made gambling more difficult for the full-time subsistent and career professional gamblers.