Back to Basics - Part 1

Today we have the first article from a new contributor, Nick Hardman. Nick will be bringing us a punters diary feature in the coming weeks but, today, he's gone back to basics with Part 1 of an in depth look at one of the most key aspects of successful punting - mindset.

Welcome Nick and over to you!



PART 1 – A successful punters mentality

It is estimated that only about 1% of all punters make consistent, long term profits. Why do you think this is? Are they expert form analysers? Do they have inside information? Are they experts in market movements and trading? Are they more adept at picking winners than the average punter? Do they have some secret formulae that no one else knows about?

The answer to all these questions is - maybe.

What I can tell you is that all successful punters, irrespective of their methods and chosen sports that they bet on, have a successful punters mentality. This mentality is born out of discipline and the understanding of long term rewards.

The first thing that any aspiring punter has to understand and accept is that losses occur. How you react to these losses is often the difference between long term success and failure. No-one likes to lose, that’s human nature. We all know that chasing losses is the quickest way to wipe out your bank. Also, we all know that not chasing losses is a lot harder in practice than it is in theory!

One of the best ways to approach it is to consider your betting as a business. That is, after all, what the Professionals do (seeing as it is their livelihood!). Imagine you run a business and you manufacture an item that sells for £25. However, each item costs £20 to make. Your net profit is £5 on each sale. You invested £20 to make your item and it returned a profit of £5, that’s a 25% return on investment, which by any business standards is an excellent return!!! You sell enough items in a year to make a tidy profit. You would be happy with that right?

Apply the same mentality to your betting. Consider your winning bets as your revenue from the sale (£25) and your losing bets as the cost of manufacturing your item (£20). In other words, you should still be happy right? In fact you should be over the moon with a 25% return on investment from your betting! And you certainly would not need to change anything from your current practice. Do you see the logic? If you can view your losses this way, accept that they will occur and in the long run you are making a good return on your investment, you will have taken great strides towards developing that all important successful punters mentality.

So what do you do when you have a losing day or a losing week?

The answer is .... nothing.

If the methods or systems you use are proven over time then any losses will be recovered and profits will be made. If you use a portfolio of systems then there is an excellent chance that a losing run in one system will be compensated for by a winning run on another system. If you react by increasing your stakes or increasing your volume of bets by straying from the given rules of a system, you have taken the first steps to becoming one the 99% of people who do not make long term profits.

This key principle of discipline also applies to your reaction to a winning run.

People realise that chasing losses is a bad habit that ultimately ends in disaster. But how you react to a winning run is equally important and has just as much influence over your degree of success. One common mistake is letting the winning run lull you into a false sense of bravado. Cue a massive increase in stakes, and a sense that your bank is now big enough to cope with a few losses until a winner inevitably comes along. This is just as harmful as chasing losses and is a recipe for disaster. It is an undisciplined approach that will see you adopting the same mentality when your winning run comes to its inevitable end. You may get away with it for a while but eventually the absence of a structured, disciplined approach will find you out and wipe you out.

One of the ways to overcome the temptation to get carried away after a winning run is to take some of your profit out. Re-calculate the stakes on your reduced bank and continue as you started out. This will help you stay focussed and maintain that all important discipline. How much profit you take out, and how often, is entirely up to you but I found this approach was a real turning point for me. Brick by boring brick as they say! The other common habit is to be overprotective of your increased bank and adopt a more conservative approach.

I used to bet small while winning and large when losing. It made no sense!

It was not until I developed the discipline to stick to my staking plan through both winning and losing runs that I began to realise long term profits.

Another common mistake is setting unrealistic goals or betting to achieve something tangible. For example you may set your target as a new car, a holiday or to pay off an existing loan. This will give you an emotional attachment to your betting and can put you under undue pressure. Any losses will be interpreted as a step away from your target or goal and cause an emotional reaction such as loss chasing.

Another mistake is trying to “win” your betting bank. It took me years to get out of this habit. I always told myself I could do a lot with a starting bank of £500. So what did I do? I used to put £50 into my account and try to win that £500 as quickly as possible. Needless to say I wasted £1000s trying to “win” £500! Start out with a bank you can afford. If you feel you need a bank of £500 but you cannot afford it, put money aside until you have the amount you want to start with. Do not make the same mistake I did!!! Even on the occasions when a small £50 to £100 investment gets turned rapidly into a “bank” of £500, there is very little chance you will suddenly adopt a systematic, disciplined approach. Let me use my own personal experience to show you what can happen.

The turning point for me came when I turned a £200 “bank” into £2700 in under 2 months. Sounds good right? In hindsight the writing was on the wall long before the inevitable happened. I had a completely gung-ho, random approach. A few big price winners to small stakes would be followed by several losses and a huge wager (often risking all) to get back on track. I had no staking plan and no system, but I was winning enough to be convinced that I could always find that one winner to get me out of jail (including laying short price favourites for no reason other than they were short priced!). This random approach continued until the bank was a healthy £2700.

A £70 win bet one Sunday afternoon was to become a turning point for me. The horse lost (it actually came last at odds of 6/4). Never mind I thought (!), with such a huge bank, recovering that £70 loss was only a matter of time. After all, I had recovered all my losses to date. Soon the recovery mission put me down £300, then £1000 down and it got worse. Eventually I went £1600 all-in on an Irish bumper favourite @1.87. It slipped up and failed to complete the race. I was wiped out. As strange as this may sound, losing £2700 chasing a £70 loss is the best thing that ever happened to me as a punter.  I have not looked back since.

Reflecting on what went wrong - it was not the chasing of the £70 loss that was my downfall. The truth is I had been betting with no system, no staking plan, no money management and no discipline. I kept focussing on where I thought this could take me as opposed to where I had started from (a bank of £200). There was absolutely no logic, pattern, system or structure to my betting. I was cautious whilst ahead and reckless whilst behind.

The lack of discipline was blatantly apparent when the dust had settled.

I knew I could pick winners, I knew I could read form and I knew I could find value. I was happy to spend hours and hours reading the race-cards and all the race statistics. But I didn’t know how to make money. After this Eureka moment, I knew that discipline was the key to any future success.

One definition of discipline is “to train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way by following systematic instruction”.

In order to have discipline you first need a set of rules to follow. A betting system will provide you with this. This could be a system purchased from a vendor, a system you have created yourself or any systematic set of rules you use for making your selections. It could even be as simple as following a profitable tipster such as Pricewise or Hugh Taylor.

You will also need a set of rules for your money management – a staking plan. Train yourself to follow the rules of your system and manage your bank in accordance with your staking plan.

Do not stray from the rules whether winning or losing. This is the key. Do not react to losing or winning runs by straying from the rules of your system or from your staking plan. Learn to do this as second nature and you will have the mindset of a profitable punter.

To summarise, finding a successful betting system or method is only half the battle. That alone is not enough to make you long term profits and make you a successful punter. The rest of the battle is developing the successful punters mentality – the disciplined approach through both losing runs and winning runs. Try and avoid emotional attachment to your betting. Accept losing runs and stick to your methods. Don’t let a winning sequence tempt you into taking additional risks because you feel lucky or you think your bank can take a bigger hit.

Remember, you cannot win every bet. You cannot win every day. You may not win every month. But if you use proven systems and learn the profitable punters mentality, you will win in the end.

It is not about winning every bet. It is about winning often enough to make a profit in the long run.

The second part of Nick's article will be here next week

Have a great weekend


PS Leave a comment if you agree or disagree!



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