Although, in recent years, he has backed away from putting his 'head on the block' in favour of less erratic employment, including as a horse racing presenter and pundit on Racing TV, Dave Nevison if a former full-time professional punter. Originally from Halifax, West Yorkshire, Nevison inherited his lifelong obsession with horse racing from his grandfather, but forsook a lowly-paid job in racing to become, as they used to say, 'something in the City'. However, in 1993, after a decade as foreign exchange trader, which he apparently loathed, Nevison was made redundant when his employer, Credit Lyonnais, closed its London operation.
Encouraged by his then wife, Lotte, Nevison left the City behind and, with his redundancy settlement, established a betting bank of £50,000. Initially, he adopted the 'traditional' approach of taking a view on which horse would win a race and attempted to identify one or two selections on the card. However, Nevison soon became disillusioned with travelling back and forth to racecourses as far afield as Sedgefield, County Durham from his home in Sevenoaks, Kent, for the sake of just a couple of bets, with no guarantee of success, and sought a more worthwhile modus operandi.
Taking a leaf out of the book of his fellow professional punter, and mentor, Eddie 'The Shoe' Fremantle – erstwhile racing correspondent for 'The Observer' – Nevison started compiling his own odds representing the chance of each horse in each race or, in other words, his own 'betting tissue'. Thus, by comparing the available odds with his own calculation, he could identify horses that were overpriced by the bookmakers and back them accordingly. Of course, he did not know which horses he would back until he saw the odds available, but he could bet in most, if not all, races on the card, often with multiple selections in a single race.
Backing multiple selections – possibly up to four or five in a race, according to the market – inevitably led to a modest strike rate, but by focusing on value, rather than finding a winner per se, Nevison guaranteed decent long-term profits. He made mistakes, but within four years of embarking on his new career was earning £50,000 a year, tax free. His methodology was fundamentally sound, but resilience was, nevertheless, the key to his success. Typically betting around £2,000 race, he reportedly won £60,000 in six months during 2008 but, in the same period, lost £140,000 on Tote Jackpot and Scoop6 bets.
In the early Noughties, Nevison owned a string of horses trained by local trainer John Best, to whom he was also form advisor, and was privy to 'inside' information. However, on the whole, he remains indifferent to racecourse 'whispers' or anything else that distracts him from the business at hand.
In 2007, Nevison published his highly successful autobiography, entitled, 'A Bloody Good Winner: Life as a Professional Gambler'. Of his attitude to winning, Nevison once said, 'I’m not a bad loser but I’m a bloody good winner and if a big ship comes in I like people to know about it.' The book offers a frank, honest, often brutally honest, account of how Nevison has fared over the years. As might be expected, his story is often exhilarating, sometimes depressing, but makes for essential reading, not just by dyed-in-the-wool punters, but by anyone with a passing interest in horse racing. Nevison is particularly scathing in his appraisal of certain jockeys and trainers, some of whom are household names but, on the whole, 'A Bloody Good Winner' is a amusing, enlightening and entertaining read.
In 2008, Nevison followed on with his second title, 'No Easy Money: A Gambler's Diary', which chronicles his quest to win £1 million between the Cheltenham Festival in March, 2008 and the St. Leger Festival at Doncaster the following September. Nevison provides a blow-by-blow commentary on his methodology, his bets and his results, good or bad. Inevitably, winning and losing creates emotional turmoil but, typical of an author who enjoys betting, especially winning, 'No Easy Money' is a good-natured, upbeat account of life on the road.
On Thursday, January 15, 2009, Nevison and his business partner, Mark Smith, came within a whisker, or twenty yards to be precise, of winning £360,000 at Taunton Racecourse. Having invested in 42 lines, at £2 per line, on the Tote Super7 bet, the pair selected the first six winners, including four 'bankers' and pinned their hopes on 9/2 chance Topless in the crucial seventh and final leg, the Carlsberg UK Handicap Chase. According to the 'Racing Post', Topless was 'well in command' on the run-in, but jinked right towards the finish and unseated jockey Jamies Davies with the race at her mercy, leaving Pangbourne, who had been matched at 999/1 in running on Betfair, to saunter home by thirty lengths. Reflecting on that fateful day, Nevison said: 'it put me off betting for quite a long time and made me question what I was doing.'
Interview on Racing TV - My Life Racing