Betting On Horse Racing ~ Sensible Money Management (Part 2)
In a previous article I jokingly suggested I had put all my assets – my savings, the deeds to the farm, my kids’ Trust fund, and the proceeds from selling one of my kidneys – on a horse at Newbury. I showed this was potentially financial suicide, and an extreme example of bad money management.
I wrote that more often than not a losing punter will find himself saddled with a bunch of bad betting habits. It is these bad habits that have gotten him, and his betting bank, to where his is now – the Poor House.
To arrive at a change in fortune, and to start making consistent profits, the losing punter has to be prepared to make changes to the way in which he bets. In the previous article we talked about the cornerstone supporting my own personal betting strategy, and that is finding value in every bet you make.
You will only ever make a profit from betting if you consistently back horses at prices too high when compared to their actual chance of winning. This is exactly how bookmakers have made their money for generations – they consistently lay horses at prices too low compared to the actual chance of the horse winning. When punters continue to take these low prices day-in and day-out, it will only ever be the bookmakers who come out with a profit in the long run.
The second ‘bad habit’ I want to examine is the subject of inappropriate staking. What do I mean by staking that is not appropriate? Well, what I am driving at is placing bets that are generally too large in proportion to the size of your betting bank.
Before I expand upon this, the concept of a betting bank is a side-issue in itself. You categorically MUST have a sum of money put aside for the sole purpose of betting. It scares me rigid when I hear of people simply ‘dipping’ into their current account to place a bet using their debit card.
If you do not have a separate account for your betting activities, you cannot keep records, and you will not be able to answer that simple question, “Am I making a profit, or a loss?”
It goes without saying, that betting involves a degree of risk, and you should never bet with money you cannot afford to lose.
Getting back to inappropriate staking, the idea of lumping all your money on one horse is an extreme example of over-staking. Of course, on the one occasion this strategy may pay off. We had friends round a few nights ago to play one of those Race Night DVDs. I was comfortably in front by studying the form before each race, and placing considered bets at what I considered to be value prices. As you might imagine, I had a suitably smug expression on my face as we came to the last race, and our friends were complaining I enjoyed a ‘professional advantage’.
My wife then decided to put every penny she had left on an 8/1 chance. The race turned out to be the ‘lucky last’ for my wife, and she walked away with the whole bank!
But seriously, continue with these tactics, and it will not be long before you lose everything.
Personally, I would never consider starting any betting campaign with a bankroll of less than 100 points. In other words, I will divide my bank by 100 to arrive at my unit stake. You can see that I will only ever be putting 1% of my bank at risk when I place a bet.
This is a very generalised approach, and you might argue that a little more consideration should be given to a punter’s typical strike rate. True, if someone has a strike rate of 50% then it is statistically highly unlikely that he will suffer a run of 100 losers to go bust. So, in this case you might be justified in operating a smaller bank. Bear in mind that when flipping a coin, it is by no means unusual to see 6 or 7 ‘heads’ in succession, and losing runs in double figures do occur.
Erring on the side of caution, you could foresee two such losing runs occurring twice in close succession. In which case, I hope you can see that even when considering a system which such a high strike rate, having a bank of well over 20 points now seems very sensible.
With my own Redd Racing betting service, we enjoy what I would consider to be quite a healthy strike rate. However, we have experienced a negative swing of some 60 points during one particular month a couple years back. The account recovered to make a profit by the end of the month, but it underlined the importance of having a bankroll large enough to absorb the losing runs that EVERYBODY has to endure from time to time.
Indeed, it would probably be better advice if I suggested members of my service had a bankroll of 150 or even 200 points in reserve.
Yet I often receive emails asking me whether it is OK to deposit £100 with Betfair and start with unit stakes of £10.
Betting with stakes too high in proportion to your bank normally comes out of a desire to make money quickly. I think we are all guilty of getting overly greedy sometimes, and unwilling to think a little more long-term. People are inclined to set themselves unrealistic profit targets, given the size of their betting bankroll. Having a bank of £100 and expecting to be able to make £100 per month is not realistic. Get-rich-quick does not exist.
Akin to the Tortoise and Hare story, let me give you an example of where what might initially seem like a very moderate return, actually gives surprising results over time.
If you started with £100 in your betting bank, and increased this bank by just one-half of one per cent every day, after just 6 months your account would have a balance of £244 due to the compounding effect. You could more than double your investment in 6 months with this seemingly small daily profit return. Take that to your bank or building society and see if they can come anywhere near such a deal!
Hopefully this demonstrates how ‘slowly but surely’ wins the race.
To summarize, my advice would be to set your unit stakes at one per cent, or even one half of one per cent, of your total betting bank. By striking only value bets, and when the odds are in your favour, your betting bank will grow. As your bank grows, so you can naturally increase the size of your unit stake to make more profit – but your bets will still be in proportion to your bank.
In the next part of this Sensible Money Management series, I will look at more bad habits that suck money from the accounts of losing punters.