Category Archives: Betting Advice

Finding an edge in betting

Finding an edge in betting

Once you make that all important discovery that it’s value odds that you need to be focussing on and not picking winners, the next stage in ones betting education is to find an edge.

Just how do you do that though with so many expert bookmakers and punters analysing stats in much finer detail then you’ll possibly be able to?

It’s extremely difficult and time consuming to manually price up horses or race every day and so it’s sensible to try and create a system and automate as much as possible.

Initially it’s very tempting to try and cater for all circumstances but this is a mistake. We did this when we first started working on the Holy Grail. We had over 20 different factors we deemed important at the time such as form, goals scored, goals conceded, reputation, league position, team news etc all used to create an overall price.

The trouble with this is that you will at best end up with the market price at best because you’ve factored in everything and probably done a poorer job than the market too.

We then saw the light and decided to focus on just one piece of statistical analysis and analysed in as much detail as possible, better than most others could. When you’ve done that you still have to be able to apply that information and convert it into a price.

It’s important to then test the prices that you’ve created against the market for a long period. It’s tempting to tweak the system to cater for additional scenarios or because one or two horses finished dead last but try to ignore this and focus on the long term. 500 bets is an absolute minimum for determining if a betting system is working.

We have had long term success with the Holy Grail system and despite an unusually disappointing last season, the system is looking good again.

The Holy Grail results from last season highlights another important point that by analysing over too short a period is another potential pitfall. Admittedly, a season is not a short period but in the context of 3 or 4 seasons in which we’ve been running the system and considering the overall profits we can expect last season to be an exception. The margins are very small when betting at log odds and last season’s deficit could have been overcome in a handful of bets.

When you get it wrong or have bad luck by doing things properly and staking sensibly you will lose relatively small at worst but if you win you can win big.

Of course when things do go awry, you have to take caution and assess whether it’s just a blip pr whether something may have changed to make your system unlikely to continue to be profitable. Fortunately, the Holy Grail seems to be back on track and after close analysis last season was a bit different to any other. I mean Leicester City won the league for one thing! Remember too that even bookmakers with their guaranteed edge still have long periods of overall losses in sports betting.

There are horse racing festivals where nearly all favourites romp home and I remember a few years when bookmakers lost millions and were praying for a draw in the Premier league when there was hardly any before Christmas!

The Market Movers profile is another system that make use of an edge. The edge with these is that we are fastest to react to moves on the exchange. We are able to assess the size of the movement, at what odds they are and how much money has been staked to determine whether a selection is likely to hold value. So far we have made over £1500 to £10 stakes in less than 3 months. The ROI of around 20% is almost unheard of.

We could further tweak the system to account for only handicap races, race with more than 8 runners etc etc but we have an edge and by trying to cater for more scenarios we run the risk of eroding it.

That’s not to say that we won’t analyse further and look for patterns and potential improvements but unless something significantly strong over a long period is uncovered, it is very much a case of if it aint broke…

Dynamite21, one of our profitable tipsters from the Tipster Table has started to see the correlation between profitable tipsters and those that specialise somehow. Another brilliant example is the new tipster profile WhippaSnappa who focuses purely on 2 year old horses and who has made over 200 units this month. I also know that one of our other most profitable tipsters focuses almost solely on trainers.

If you want to start improving your betting, our number one tip at BettingTools is to specialise.

The Market Movers profile is another system that make use of an edge. The edge with these is that we are fastest to react to moves on the exchange. We are able to assess the size of the movement, at what odds they are and how much money has been staked to determine whether a selection is likely to hold value. So far we have made over £1500 to £10 stakes in less than 3 months. The ROI of around 20% is almost unheard of.

We could further tweak the system to account for only handicap races, race with more than 8 runners etc etc but we have an edge and by trying to cater for more scenarios we run the risk of eroding it.

That’s not to say that we won’t analyse further and look for patterns and potential improvements but unless something significantly strong over a long period is uncovered, it is very much a case of if it aint broke…

Dynamite, one of our profitable tipsters from the Tipster Table has started to see the correlation between profitable tipsters and those that specialise somehow. Another brilliant example is the new tipster profile WhippaSnappa who focuses purely on 2 year old horses and who has made over 200 units this month. I also know that one of our other most profitable tipsters focuses almost solely on trainers.

If you want to start improving your betting, our number one tip at BettingTools is to specialise.

Portfolio Approach to Betting

Portfolio Approach to Betting

I have always had a strong interest in the stock market, I buy and sell shares regularly, trade the FTSE 100, and have even dabbled in Forex over the years to good effect. All the while building a portfolio of investments to fund my retirement (still a long way off yet!) and I have done it very successfully to date.

I have very much leaned on the buy low, sell high strategy and banked some very good gains over the years, while maintaining a balanced portfolio of investments. Everything from AIM shares, to FTSE 100 companies, I spread and manage risk effectively, and this is the key element to making money long term.

At the beginning of February, with a friend, we set out to apply a ‘portfolio’ approach to betting as an experiment and as the results have been very good I thought it would be a good time to expand on this idea as something that is very workable and potentially very profitable if you go about it the right way.

I have always regarded following just one tipster blindly as very dangerous, a losing run hitting can hurt and wipe out any gains made, but I am also very aware that if tipsters and sports are viewed as investment ‘instruments’ then there should in theory be a way of managing risk and maximising return by spreading the risk across multiple tipsters and sports, to try and limit the effect any one element of the portfolio has on the overall performance. Risk management and exposure management applied to horse racing and sports betting basically – it is a sound way to make money long term with the right elements in place.

When we initially set up our portfolio we were learning as we went along. We had a fixed betting bank, but soon discovered this had to be increased significantly to sustain the level of staking and the amount of bets we were placing on a daily basis. So we increased the betting bank, and decreased the stakes to ensure that we were in a position to weather any bad run, but also able to maximise the returns when things went our way.

Getting the right bank / staking formula is essential. With too small a bank, and too high stakes, the chance of a wipe-out is significantly increased. We have found the right medium now, but I will expound a bit more on that further down in the article.

Choosing tipsters was easy, we knew who we wanted to follow, and over the last 4 weeks this has remained fairly consistent. A few days ago we added 2 additional tipsters as ‘investments’ in our portfolio also. Each tipster has a different betting style – some are more analytical than others, some are value focused, while others are just very knowledgeable in the sport they specialise in and know a good betting opportunity when they see one. It’s a nice mix right now.

We also decided that in order to limit risk and exposure we would also cover multiple sports and this has served us well. Horse racing is the main sport we cover, but football is also another. Again, with football we cover multiple tipsters to ensure that if 1 has a bad run we have a couple of others who can balance that out, and this has proven to be a winning strategy over time.

I really like the idea of seeing bets as ‘investments’ and building a portfolio of this nature. Tipsters essentially become ‘instruments’ in the portfolio, and as we go along and spot talent early enough we will be able to hopefully ride a few tipsters right to the top of the table. I have already seen a few very good ones and have taken a risk on a couple of newbies lately who I think have real potential to shine over time. I always analyse their tipping style to ensure it fits in with our overall portfolio goals and this is essential because we like to see a nice mix of odds, across the whole market spectrum.

Odds are an important consideration, and just recently we decided not to bet on anything less than 4/1 in our portfolio with regards to horse racing. The returns were minimal for the stake risked, and this also served the purpose of reducing our overall bet exposure amount on a daily basis as well. To be honest I haven’t noticed a huge difference since we did this, so it was a move for the good.

So how is the portfolio made up? Well, essentially it is a mix of my BV Value bets (about 8-10 per day) that have a high margin. I aim for a 80-100% margin here with the value bets, anything less is not worth the effort I feel. Incidentally, the value bets have outperformed the tipster bets considerably, with less than half the stake turnover, and near on double the ROI. So anyone who really believes I am out of form with the losers I have had on the board lately… it’s just a matter of time! :)

The 2nd element of the portfolio contains the BV System Bets. I trialled this extensively in the forum for a month to double-check I was on the right track here, and I am. I have now included any system bet that hits 4/1+ as an immediate and automatic bet. We have also now introduced the Laying aspect I looked at extensively during the trial period, laying overbet shorties to lose. This has been producing some great profits for minimal risk and something we are keen to extend and implement further in the coming weeks.

The 3rd element is a combination of tipsters from the Betting Tools tipping board. These are carefully chosen to ensure we have a nice balance, I alluded to this earlier. We initially wanted a minimum of 15% ROI as a qualifying criteria, but have relaxed this on a couple of tipsters who show real potential – a bit of speculation doesn’t hurt and they are proving their worth to date.

The 4th element of the portfolio is football betting. We identified a few of very good football tipsters, and of course I will let the cat out of the bag and tell you that our main man Brian is one of them! I am sure you can guess who the rest are :) The idea of combining sports like horse racing and football is sound… it’s about limiting exposure and spreading risk again.

So the portfolio is in place. Initially we made mistakes, but this is to be expected in a new venture into unknown territory. I had read up on the forum posts about betting all the tips on the board, and knew that approach was fraught with danger due to the big swings into profit and loss territory, but the overall concept was what initially got me thinking… I knew it could be done more selectively as I was already using the principle in my own financial investment portfolio. So why not try it out on betting?

Well we are over a month into it now, there have been good days, there have been break even days, and there have been bad days, but overall we are well up. In fact, we have never gone negative, apart from the very first bet we placed that we lost our stake on, from there on it was all uphill and have never gone into negative territory since which is a great result.

Combining tipsters, value betting, system bets, and lays is time consuming and takes some management! Thankfully we have things working brilliantly now in that area and it has fallen into place to form a systematic flow from selection to bet placement – and because we have such a great combination of betting covered, across different sports and multiple odds ranges, I can see this as something that has real long term potential to grow and generate profits.

Staking was the biggest problem we had. Getting the mix right. Initially we were staking way too high in relation to our betting bank, so we quickly determined that this was something we needed to get right. We were putting something like 1.5% of our betting bank on each bet, and given there were a fair few bets being placed this meant our market exposure on any given day was way too high. We reduced stakes to around 0.50% at that point, and even that was too high in relation to our betting bank initially – but as the profits have increased we are now sitting at considerably less than that and it would take some considerable run of bad results now to absolutely wipe us out. At the time of writing our stake equates to less than 0.30% of our total betting bank which is about right for the level of bets we are placing right now.

So is the portfolio approach better than value betting? Well, it depends. I stripped out all the bets, except for the value bets last night and in actual fact the value bets show more than double the ROI % we are achieving currently, with less stake turnover, so I am still a very strong advocate of value betting and always will be. But I do like the portfolio approach also to spread risk and exposure, so the right compromise is to include value, tipsters, system and lays across multiple sports, and effectively manage risk and market exposure to ensure that at any one point we are not over exposed to either one particular sport, one method of betting, one tipster, or one odds range.

The whole exercise has been a real learning curve, and the fact that we have generated the profit we have using such small stakes is remarkable, even to me. In fact, when we reduced stakes and defined our minimum odds range we have made more money than when we were staking higher regardless of odds.

The whole purpose of this article is just to encourage you and assure you that making money from horse racing, and sports betting in general is very possible. And very feasible if you approach it the right way, managing your risk and exposure effectively, and always keeping ahead of the market odds wise. By putting the odds firmly in your favour I consider sports betting as a very effective form of investment and certainly just as lucrative as investing in the likes of stocks and shares or spread betting. By knowing the market you operate in, you have a distinct advantage over those who don’t.

So if you have ever wondered if building your own portfolio is a good way to make money from horses and football, take a look at the following which demonstrates the return we have achieved from horse racing alone:

Betting Portfolio Stats

You can see here that on the horses we have placed 496 bets to date, had 108 winners, 363 losers and 25 void bets. We have staked £1,769.54, returned £532.85 in profit on that staked amount, and have realised a 30.11% return on investment. This is from horse racing only. Remember, this is just one month’s results. Longer term I would expect the ROI to fluctuate between 20% – 30% on bet turnover on the horses, which is actually very good considering the small stakes used to achieve that. On average we have bet just £3.75 per bet placed to realise that profit and it is only that high because we staked too high in the beginning until we realised the right level. And we have done this on a strike rate of just over 20%.

The key elements to building a betting portfolio are: a solid understanding of risk and exposure, good management and administration, value betting at the best odds with good margins, a systematic approach to selection, and an eye for a good tipster! If you think you have what it takes, then join the many who are starting to realise that horse racing and sports betting in general is not a ‘mugs’ game, but can indeed be a very good avenue for investment, with the expectation of a great return, if approached the right way.

And of course, all profits are TAX FREE.

Will keep you updated on the progress of the portfolio as we go along.

Until next time…


Cheltenham Free Tips

Cheltenham Free Tips

If you are looking for free tips for Cheltenham, Betting Tools are making all their horse racing tips free for the duration of the Cheltenham Festival.

This is an ideal opportunity to take a look at the quality tipsters competing in the Betting Tools monthly tipster competion, as well as follow along with their selections as part of the Cheltenham tipping competition they are running in the popular betting forum.

With a wide range of betting styles covered, from the more shorter priced selections, to the more adventurous value selections, there are free Cheltenham tips to suit every betting style.

Every tip comes with sound reasoning to support the tipster view, as well as details of where to get the best price from book makers or betting exchanges like Betfair to maximise your return.

With so many tipsters on the internet offering free tips for Cheltenham, it’s important that you know just how good the tipster is.

At Betting Tools all tipsters proof their tips in a transparant and fully reported system where you can look through the tipster history, determine their performance at different odds ranges, see their complete betting record, and view their overall return on investment.

It’s important when finding good quality tips for Cheltenham that you research tipsters, and all the necessary information is just a click away at Betting Tools.

Betting Tools are also running a tipping competition dedicated solely to Cheltenham. A large number of horse racing tipsters and enthusiasts have registered to participate in the forum and this is an ideal opportunity to get a general consensus on what horses they think will run well and could potentially win.

With big prizes to play for, the quality of the tips will be high and this is an ideal opportunity to see who is tipping what, and of course get some great free tips for Cheltenham. The competition will be intense, with over £500 worth of prize money to play for.

The Cheltenham Festival always provides a huge number of great betting opportunities, and Betting Tools also provide comprehensive resources for bettors. These include spreadsheets, links to other betting sites, a comprehensive blog containing the last Cheltenham betting previews on some of the big races, and a full list of bookmakers and their free bet offerings during the Cheltenham Festival.

David Stevens, aka DaveStevos, has also provided some valuable insight into some of the big Cheltenham races. These include the Ryanair World Hurdle Preview, Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Stan James Champion Hurdle Preview. He provides valuable insights and clues into the main contenders, the reasons why they can or cannot win, and then summarises with what he believes are good bets in the race. Well worth a read!

Everything you need to ensure your Cheltenham experience in 2016 is a positive and profitable one can be found at Betting Tools. Free Cheltenham tips, free bookie cash and bonuses, and quality insight into what the tipsters think can or cannot win. It’s a no-brainer that Betting Tools has to be an integral part of your Cheltenham experience.

BettorValue (BV)

Seeking Value in Betting Forecasts

Seeking Value in Betting Forecasts

Value can come in many shapes and forms. Some favourites can be good value, some mid-range priced horses can represent very good value, and of course those at bigger prices still can be exceptionally good value if they have conditions to suit. Value is something that is subjective, and often-times misunderstood by punters, so I want to show you how simple it is for punters to spot real value, without having to resort to tissue prices, ratings, etc. It’s all there, done for you, in the betting forecast!

Every major newspaper, online horse racing portal, and racecard provide betting forecasts for the racecards they publish. They employ ‘race readers’ to go through the race and form an opinion on the chances of each horse, and then generally translate their thoughts into a betting forecast at the bottom or the racecard.

Now the key here is to identify which race readers are the best at reading the race and forming a solid opinion. There are some better than others, but believe it or not I have been looking at this over the last few months and is pretty good at it! Another good one of course is the Racing Post, and then there is SportingLife at

In most instances the betting forecasts are similar, maybe rearranged a little bit differently, with each horse having a different odds forecast, or position in the betting, but by and large they can be relied on to a large degree to do what I am about to show you – which is how to find value at the top end of the market!

Ok, the best thing to do is open the race cards for each of the above sites, and write down the top 4 in the betting forecasts as they see them. This will generally see you having about 4-6 selections possibly, depending on the view of the race reader and their interpretation of chance equated to odds.

Once you have your list, then write down the betting forecast price next to each one from each of the publications. A spreadsheet is good for this, have 3 columns next to each horse and write the odds in decimal format for each of the betting forecasts from sites next to each of the horses. Once you have done this you should have a good picture of the overall view on a selection in this race expressed in an odds range.

Now, as we have decimal prices in our spreadsheet, calculate an average of the odds the selection is currently available at next to each of the selections.

Then go to and grab the best market price you can see for each one and record that on the spreadsheet in the 5th column. There is an example of this that I knocked together earlier below to show this in action. The race is for tonight so I don’t have the result. Even if those selected lose, the methodology is sound here and I wouldn’t be sharing it if I didn’t believe that it worked long term.

Now, in a 6th column we want to see what ‘value percentage’, or what ‘bookie advantage’ we have with each of these selections. In some instances you will immediately see a big negative number next to some of them (I would consider anything less than 100% as a negative from a value perspective – the bookie has this one!), this is because they are basically running for the bookie and there is no advantage in backing them. And remember, we are only working with the top 4 horses in the betting forecast here, so each of these is deemed to be a contender in the race according to the race readers.

Anything approaching 100% or better should be looked at closely as a possible selection to keep an eye on. We get this figure by dividing the market odds by the average odds. This is just a quick ‘value check’ indicator to give you a starting point. You can get more serious with this using the very good spreadsheet on Betting Tools that has all this in place already, just grab the top 4 in the betting forecast (including any joint ones at the odds).

Eliminate any that are overbet, or have a negative percentage, and concentrate on those that have a positive percentage… but this doesn’t automatically mean we have a bet just yet.

Chelmsford 2.40

You can see in the above example that Dutch Garden is a HUGE negative for me, the bookies want this horse and they can have it at those odds. But Fingals Cave is in the watch zone, as is Van Huysen, I would be very interested in those if the figure goes to 150% or greater. And Oak Bluffs, well some of the best race readers in racing deem this to be on average around a 7/1 shot and we can buy his chances to hit the frame at double those odds, around 14/1 – game on each way there I think!

Same goes for Red Invader, the race readers think that this one should be on average around 10/1 and we can have this one running for us to hit the frame at around 28/1 – game on again, 2 in this race at those odds against the front 2 in the market. We look to either hit the frame for a decent return, or cause an upset at the odds and have it right off!

If the figure is just below, or around 100%, leave it alone for now, but keep watching the market for it to drift. I love drifting horses! The more they drift, the more money I make when they win or hit the frame, and believe me drifting horses can and do place and win! The market is not the gauge as to how the horse will run, it is just an indicator of what they think the chance is, but one where they get it wrong a lot of the time also. Some of my best wins have been on big drifters, so when I see one going out I love it!

Ok, so we have our list of selections, potentially the best 4 or so horses in the race according to some of the best minds in the industry who have put together the betting forecasts.

We have determined to what degree each is running for the bookie or the punter.

Now, all we have to do is ‘bargain hunt’ the markets looking to secure a good margin on any selection which has a figure around, or above, 125% ideally (but preferably 150%+) in that 5th column! These are the horses that will represent real value against those running for the bookie.

Now, this may sound very simplistic, but believe me it works, and it is easy to do. The best time to do this is late evening before the bookie punters hit them in the shops the next morning. I backed Jack Of Diamonds at 6.50 the night before he won yesterday and he went off at 7/2 SP. There is a real advantage to price fishing in the evening before the bookie shops open the next day. You absolutely strip the bookie margin out and place the odds in your favour by doing this. They won’t all win, but if you can back 7/2 shots at 11/2 they don’t all have to in order to make good profits!

This is a very simplistic value-hunting method that I know absolutely works if you follow these instructions to a T.

The other thing is, I would seriously not bet on any horse under 4/1. Set yourself this as a ‘selection filter’, UNLESS the horse is a massive profit opportunity showing a big value percentage, in which case I would possibly make an exception maybe. But it is a judgement call and I personally think 4/1 is a good bottom price ceiling to establish. Look for something bigger than that price to provide real value and a good return against those running for the bookie and get them beat.

This is something as a punter you can do, without any knowledge of ratings, tissue prices, value even. As long as you know the basics, can spot when the odds are in your favour, you are in business and I would be very surprised if you couldn’t make money with this simple method long term – in fact I would bet that over time you will!

Think about it… some of the best minds in the racing industry have done all the legwork for you, they have compiled a betting forecast based on their reading of the minds, you have a consensus view on prices via the average, and you have a market to compare it against to find value. It’s a recipe for success as a punter.

AND, never be worried about backing 2, even 3 selections in a race. If the odds allow it, go for it. Some of the best returns I have ever had is when I have had a couple or more running for me, used in conjunction with a good value selection method it firmly puts the odds in your favour.

Now, this won’t work every day, there will be days when the favs win, but on days where they don’t there is a wide open opportunity to be right there with the horses that can beat them.

The other great thing about this selection process, this horse racing value seeking methodology, is that you don’t have to bet big stakes to make a decent profit from this. The returns soon add up at the odds and the winners more than compensate for the losers.

If I was just starting out ‘value seeking’ this is how I would do it. Start with the basics, understand the concept, see the returns that can be achieved over time, and milk it for all it’s worth! Backing horses that can and will win at odds in your favour and not the bookies. Of course if you win to much using this method you may kiss your bookie account goodbye… but hey, there are plenty of other bookies and if all else fails there is always Betfair! Not a bad problem to have really if you are on the winning side of horse racing I am sure :).

Remember this very important fact… the market will always OVERSTATE the chances of a selection winning at the top end of the market, and UNDERSTATE the chances of a selection winning at the other end. It’s how they make their money. They want you to think a horse is a ‘sure cert’ at low odds, it sucks punters in to parting with their money easily. Not every market fav deserves to be there, and when they are turned over all punters do is line the pockets of the bookies who layed them at odds much shorter than they should have been. The market lies! Believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you see… that concept has served me well over the years.

With Cheltenham coming up, this is a good method to use. You want to be looking for horses that can run well, at a backable price, to either win or hit the frame – and you are looking for a nice profit when they do. This is a great way to filter out those running for the bookies and setting yourself up for a good Cheltenham by backing value selections that can win time and time again at decent odds.

It’s a fact that 83% roughly of all races are won by the top 6 in the betting. By focusing your attention on the top 4 in the betting forecast on consensus opinion of race readers, you are not only eliminating the guesswork and form study, but it is an immediate value seeking strategy that takes just a few minutes per race to find good selections that have the potential to run well, with odds in your favour, and get a result.

Anyway, hope you find this useful. With Cheltenham coming up, there will be a goldmine of opportunities to profit from betting horses that can win, and this value hunting method, as simple as it is, can very possibly be the difference between having a profitable Cheltenham, or a losing one. Back enough Cheltenham selections at the right odds and you are sure to have a good one.

Designed to get you thinking – backing ‘fancy’ is a sure recipe for disaster, backing value is a sure recipe for success (in my mind anyway!).

Until next time…

Value Betting the BV Way!

Value Betting the BV Way!

Ok, another one of those BV rants… you might want to grab a coffee and make yourself comfortable as this is a fairly lengthy article… this time on value betting and what it means to me specifically.

I say specifically me because everyone has a different interpretation of what constitutes a value bet, so I relate this to me and my own personal experiences and understanding of the subject. If it is at odds with your interpretation that is okay, this is just my take on the subject and definitely one that is open to debate so nothing is hard and fast here.

Firstly, value is very subjective. It is the opinion of the punter whether a bet represents value, and to what degree. Some punters think that the notion of value is rubbish, a bet is a bet, and grab the odds at what the market offers will do, and I can appreciate that is the way they operate and certainly wouldn’t put anyone off that approach if it suits them. I use to bet that way myself so I do relate to that.

However, as I have progressed through the years I have come to appreciate that there may be a different way to make money from horse racing, a more value focused approach. I think this first came about by following Pricewise and Marten Julian for a long while early in my betting days. Pricewise epitomised value betting, and expounded the virtues of finding and betting horses at odds bigger than they should be, and I fast became a disciple of that approach and adopted it myself across all my betting.

In the early days I was very favourite focused, believe it or not. I felt the favourite was always the best horse in the race, and the market knew best, so I usually bet the shortie in a race and was just constantly disappointed when they were turned over by horses at bigger odds… which was a dilemma for me I just had to work through and find the solution to.

I think this is why Pricewise became so important to me. And Marten Julian also. I liked the concept of value, and I liked the notion of betting horses with unknown factors that could turn out to be anything at good odds. Marten Julian was a regular on William Hill radio back then and I followed him religiously… his website tips, his radio tips, everything. And at good odds, they won! Or they came very close to winning, so this is what got me thinking value. A sort of strange beginning really.

Unfortunately Marten Julian was producing too many winners and William Hill dropped him, which was unfortunate… however I did like his dark horses approach and even to this day I still look at his website and reminisce about the days when he was my hero – though I would never dream of paying for his tips, the prices he charges now is astronomical – but you get what you pay for and the guy is good.

So the BV journey into value seeking had begun! Pricewise was the guru of value betting to me, and I continued to follow him, study his analysis, read the book even that Racing Post printed about Pricewise, and just generally thought… this is the way forward. But the regularity of tips from Pricewise was such that I wanted more action, not just on Saturday and a couple through the week, hence my discovery and use of ratings.

I have already alluded to ratings, and how I use them. I started using initially, formulated a plan, calculated my own odds from the little information I had from the ratings, and then used that to compare against the market. It was a very feeble beginning and I regularly got it wrong, but I also frequently started getting it right, and I found myself getting some good priced winners home in front, which encouraged me to pursuit this concept even further.

In fact, I was making so much money from horse racing back then at that point that I gave up the day job! I invested in Proform Professional and started to really get serious about the whole game. My home office was a mass of computers, television screens, and this wonderful new concept of betting exchanges had created a huge amount of opportunities to back horses at prices considerably bigger than they were on the bookie prices. The bookies hated it, but suddenly 5/1 shots that could be backed at 9’s on Betfair seemed pretty damn good to me and I had a good few years of profits backing as many as 3-4 in a race at decent odds and opposing short priced favourites by laying them as well. It was (and still is) a punters dream!

But as time progressed, the long hours involved, the constant stress of knowing you had to turn over a large number of bets to show a profit, the new phenomenon of Betfair Trading that was distorting the prices, and the general drudgery of it all made me want to take things to a different level again, and this was actually just last year that I pulled back from most of that stuff, choosing a more relaxed way of betting. I even stopped for a good period of time completely and focused on other projects, but I still had the idea of value betting in my blood and I wanted to try and find a way where I could take the pressure off having to bet so many horses, and instead focus on less horses but get better prices about them.

The plan to do this was towards the end of 2014. I started tipping up at Betting Tools early 2015 and it really served as an experiment. I still remember filling out the form on the BT website to become a tipster, the whole idea scared the hell out of me to be truthful. I had never done that before, but I knew I had to become value focused, and sort of model my betting on a Pricewise framework if I was to succeed – and Betting Tools provided the ideal platform for me to proof my tips and work on the concept and develop it further.

I still remember having to provide reasoning for a selection that had run recently, and the example was of a horse I had bet that day, but reasoning???? What on earth was that? I managed to make something up to justify why I had backed it, and it must have sounded good because Brian opened the doors and let me in… might have been the fact it won at around 10/1 I think that swayed it, I don’t know :).

I started putting together a number of bespoke data sources, building ratings, and generating tissue prices from there on. I started comparing the prices I had as a tissue price, with what was on offer in the market, and betting the ones that I felt were too big a price compared to the tissue. Sometimes this involved still having 2-3 in a race at decent odds running for me, but I had determined to use just small stakes and build up gradually from there. I didn’t want any big exposures, and this seemed like the ideal way to do it, small downside if they lose, big upside if they win, and it worked well. I remember doing something in the forum last year where we had Meebo at 33/1 win for us using something along these lines. It was a good result.

And this to me is the concept of value. When you can buy the chances of a horse at 10/1 that you believe should be closer to a 9/2, that represents value to me. Win or lose, if you have a sound set of ratings (both collateral form ratings and speed ratings), and you can generate a fairly good tissue price, then you have something to move forward with then, something to take into the market and use as the basis of comparison.

I love a good bargain! If I can buy the chances of a horse I rate at 4/1 for 10/1 then that to me is a bargain! Win or lose, the odds of a decent payout are in my favour. To some, if they can back a shortie at 2/1 that should be 5/4 then that is a bargain. The point is… if the market odds on offer are greater than the perceived chance in your mind, then it is a value bet. How you arrive at your conclusion is completely up to you, the ratings you use, the tissue prices, etc – they are all subjective, but if, in your mind, a horse should be a 9/2 shot, and the market says it’s a 10/1 shot, then take the market on!

But, before you do take the market on, make sure it is definitely a 9/2 shot in your own mind first. The market believes it is 10/1 for a reason, find that reason and then compare it to your own analysis to determine whether or not the market is placing too much emphasis on a negative, or too little on a positive.

Another aspect of value betting that I had to get used to, and found it really hard (even to this day I struggle with this sometimes) is selections running well but not winning. In the early days I was backing favourites a lot and they won a lot and I thought I was the dogs ears until I realised that despite them winning often I was losing money at the odds I was betting them at. I loved the thrill of having the winner, but hated the return I got from having found it, pittance!

So transforming myself from a shortie lover to a shortie hater was difficult to be honest. I wanted to back the shortie for the winning feeling it gave me, but I also wanted to oppose it because I knew that at the odds I could get a better return finding something to back against it.

It is a hard transition to make. And it’s one a lot of punters struggle with. I notice when I have a good win on the board I get new followers, which is great, but then a few losing tips and it’s ‘goodbye mate’ from a lot of them. They cannot handle losing… and certainly not for periods of time. Why should they have to handle it, it represents failure to a degree in most punters minds, and I fully understand that, I thought that way myself for a good period of time.

BUT, this is where it is important to realise that there is a difference between winning…. And winning BIG. The thrill of having a couple of quid on a winning 2/1 fav pales in comparison to having a couple of quid on a 50/1 shot! That I do know.

But the notion that you have to patiently wait for those 50/1 opportunities, back losers for a period of time before they surface even, is foreign to a lot of punters. They jump on-board AFTER the horse has bolted up, without realising that the next bolting up horse at 50/1 could be a way away – and they might have to suffer a lot of losers on the road to the next one. It’s harsh, but true, which is why I have gone to such great lengths to warn people off following me if they need regular winners – it’s nice to have regular winners, but I had a massive losing run for a long while back in March last year and dropped from +£803 profit to -£485 in the space of a couple of months without a big priced winner coming up – but with just 3-4 decent ones I got back up there again (and a few at midrange prices also).

Value betting is a risky proposition, which is why the potential upside is so huge when they pan out the way you anticipate they will. How many actual 2/1 shot favourites running for the bookie would it have taken to pull back that sort of a deficit? Well, in all honestly you wouldn’t live enough years to find out.

But how many 2/1 shots on the tissue, available to back at 33/1 or bigger would it take. Not many!

That’s the concept of value, looking for those 2/1 shots that are available to back at 40/1, and having the courage to punt them until you get a result. That’s a value bettor to me personally. It’s making yourself immune to losers, to preparing yourself to find winners at prices bigger than they should be, and having the guts to put faith in yourself as a punter to put money on those selections in the knowledge that they are running for you and not the bookie – that win or lose, that was a damn good bet feeling! And if you can say that after each bet, win or lose, you are a value bettor to me.

If you punted a horse that was 15/2 on your tissue price, and you could buy it at 9/1 in the market, and back it – only to see it come 2nd, hate the result, but know that it was a good bet and start looking for others like it, that is the value mind-set to me personally. I had that today with Top Offer, exactly that as quoted, and it was a disappointing result that it didn’t win, but you know what? It came 2nd… the market said it was 9/1 in the morning, and I said it was 15/2, was the market right or was I right. It would have won albeit for the heavily backed shortie in the race and horses that were a lot shorter in the betting were unplaced.

It’s about having faith in your judgement! Value betting is about grabbing an opportunity to profit at odds bigger than they should be, and having the guts to follow your instinct, win or lose. It’s about becoming immune to the losers and 2nd place getters, getting back to the stats, ratings, and form book, and finding the next value bet.

Which brings me to the next point. Not every 16/1 shot is a value bet. Not every 5/1 shot is a value bet, not every 50/1 shot is a value bet, they are only value if you can determine the odds they should be are considerably less than the odds they are at present.

More and more I am realising how important it is as a value bettor to have my own margin, a profit margin in a sense. I don’t always do it, but I am starting to think more and more that I should be. This process involves looking for a percentage over and above the tissue price. A bit like a retailer putting a mark-up on a product in effect. If a selection is 5/1 on the tissue then a 100% profit margin would make it 10/1 to buy.

This makes absolute sense and I must start using this more. My biggest wins have come about when I adopt this approach, so it makes sense to make it an essential part of my overall value betting strategy! Less bets, bigger profit potential sounds like a plan (it’s ok, I am talking to myself right now! A sign of madness I know, but then no one can ever accuse me of being sane, not when they see some of the donkeys I put up sometimes anyway! I’m still having nightmares about Donna’s Pride on Saturday!).

Do you remember Jaadu recently? That horse went off 4/1, I think it was 9/1 or 10/1 when I put it up, and we missed that one by a horse’s nose hair. That’s how close we came to getting the shortie beat in that race. For a big price horse to get that close to winning, was it ever truly a 9 or 10/1 shot, of course it wasn’t. I had it on the tissue as favourite at very short odds, and it almost proved to be the case with the run we got.

I punt for value, I punt for a bargain. As does Brian with his footie tips and others like him. We look for opportunities to back outcomes at odds bigger than they should be. That is value betting, the concept is proven to make money long term if you are good at finding value bets. You don’t win every time; you simply cannot as a value bettor. But if you can win often enough at odds bigger than they should be, then you will make a good profit over time.

As a punter you have to decide what is more important, regular winners at shorter odds that are generally running with a huge bookie margin, or a value punter who looks to strip out the bookie margin and punt at bigger prices on horses that should be shorter in the betting, despite this meaning that losers are bound to be more frequent.

If you want regular winners, then bet short. It’s a no brainer, but it’s not a profitable option unless you have a distinct edge you can exploit regularly – if you want proof of this take a look at the BV Select System selections and notice that the strike rate overall is something like just under 40%, which in anyone’s mind is pretty damn good, but overall if you back the shorties alone you are looking at a considerable loss despite the strike rate, the odds are against you!

Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Until next time…. BV.

The Seasons, They Are A Changing!

The Seasons, They Are A Changing!

It’s that time of the year again. Mid February, heading into March, and the horse racing scene is about to get very unpredictable in terms of results.

It’s always around this time of the year where the results start to go a bit crazy, horses that should win don’t, and horses that should have no chance suddenly bolt up at big odds. It’s a bookies dream this time of the year! They lay as many shorties as possible, and look for outsiders to make up their profits by turning over the favoured horses at the shorter end of the market.

It’s the changing of the seasons!

I was up this morning at 6.30 and went outside to watch the sunrise over the beautiful Cornish landscape and it was glorious! The sun was shining, there was a frost on the ground, the birds were singing, and the daffodils have started to flower… Spring is on the way.

For horses the change of seasons is important. Those who have been campaigned fairly steadily through the Autumn and Winter months start to feel the effect, and those who have been campaigned lightly, and who have now got better ground, find opportunities to win (often at decent odds), so as punters we need to keep this in mind now.

It’s that time of the year where the form book starts to go out the window. Shorties who would have bolted up, suddenly find themselves getting turned over. Fancied horses underperform – and over the next 6 or so weeks everything will just seem to go a bit crazy.

We have Cheltenham coming up soon, then the Grand National, and then suddenly Flat Racing starts and all those horses coming through at that point into a whole new realm of racing opportunity will make for some great betting opportunities – it’s a time to look for real value, but it’s not always easy to find as often the information is dated, sometimes deliberately inaccurate, and basically you have to turn to intuition a lot over this period, read between the lines, look for outstanding stats, and generally be very vigilant as to what is happening in the market.

This is the one time of the year where the market can often be a good guide to the chances of a horse running well. Anything opening at big odds, then suddenly gets punted, should be looked at carefully now.

If I was a shorty backer right now I would be taking a holiday to be honest – the consequences of continuing to back shorties through the next 4-6 weeks at most meetings could have an adverse affect on the betting bank – and not in a good way!

It’s already started… more and more now the short priced ones are being turned over with great frequency. The bookies love it! But for punters it is a disaster – if you insist on betting at short prices, you really need to be absolutely sure that the odds are in your favour and not the bookies now.

If you have any doubt as to what I am saying here, just take a look at my BV Select System Lay Graphs – they are suddenly on the upward move with the shorties losing with great frequency. And in effect, when they are short and on my Select System list, they are not only the best horse in the race on the stats, but also the lowest price on the tissue. They should win, but they are being turned over at ridiculously short odds most of the time.

If ever you needed to ensure your selection is running for you, and not the bookie, now is the time! Ignore this warning at your peril.

The best and most profitable price point for handicaps, even through this period, is that sweet spot between 9/2 and 14/1. This is where the most winners will be found over the coming weeks – unless something is running in a 1 horse race at better than evens, stay away from backing shorties. Go each way on something at bigger odds to hit the frame or hopefully turn the favourite over if the price is short.

Remember, horses are not machines, they are unpredictable creatures, and like all animals they have a sense of knowing what’s happening around them. Nature tells them it’s getting close to the end of the season, or close to the start of the season. They pick it up in the air they breathe, in the grass they eat, in the flowers they see. They might appear stupid at times, but they know! And the fact they know is good reason to be wary right now at short odds!

Doom and gloom stuff there BV… well, only if you back shorties! If you like to look for value, and are willing to take a chance on a few at bigger odds this time of the year then it could be an absolute gold mine!

Every race has an opportunity – an angle to punt at value odds. You just have to choose your races carefully and look for the opportunities, they are there in most instances. It could be a big price one that is showing a low tissue price, it could be a good each way bet at mid range odds, it could be a decent forecast if you fancy a shortie and a biggie in the same race.

Every race has an opportunity to profit, it is just a matter of finding the angles now, exploiting them at good odds, and taking advantage of the change of season to make some good profits from horse racing in what will be a very tumultuous period for the next 6 weeks or so.

Until next time…


Tissue Prices and Ratings Explained

Tissue Prices and Ratings Explained

If you follow me, or have read any good horse racing books, you will have come across the term ’tissue’ or ’tissue price’ and maybe wondered what on earth it is. So the purpose of this article is to try and explain the term and why it’s so important to understand how tissue prices can have a very positive effect on your long term betting.

Tissue prices are a set of prices that are constructed from ratings converted to probability in most instances, though they can sometimes be constructed without this first step. However, in most instances a number of factors are first combined to arrive at a rating figure, and then that rating is converted to a percentage. This makes calculating the tissue price easier.

For example, if the probability figure suggests the horse has a 20% chance of winning, then that is essentially 5/1. If the horse is calculated as having a probability figure of 25% then again that equates to around 4/1.

You will often see this in the Racing Post, they provide a ’tissue price’ or betting forecast based on their estimation of chance, and this is usually seen at the bottom of the race card for each race. It is a guide as to what their race reader considered to be ‘fair odds’ for each runner, expressed in fraction form.

It is rare that 2 odds compilers will come up with exactly the same price for each selection, the process is subjective, but most of the time they will reach the same conclusion in as much as the favourite is x horse, it’s just the tissue price that may differ. I have noticed this on the Racing Post site and the Sporting Life site – they might agree the first 3 in the market, but oftentimes they disagree as to the order sometimes, and the prices apportioned to each as a tissue price more often than not.

Tissue prices are very useful, in fact I would go so far as to say they are essential. A good set of tissue prices can mean the difference between making a long term profit, or just lining the pockets of the bookie repeatedly. If you read my previous article, is your selection running for you or the bookie, then you will hopefully by now realise that bookie prices do not accurately reflect chance, the best guide to the chance of a horse winning is you, not the market. The market can point you in the direction of a winner sometimes, but often the prices are so prohibitive that it’s hard to make a long term profit following market moves because by the time you are on the edge being punted has long gone.

So why use tissue prices? The answer is simple… they help find value bets. If you can find a horse that’s 5/1 on your set of tissue prices, and you can back it at 10/1, then you have a huge advantage over the market. You don’t need a lot of 10/1 shots winning, that are effectively 5/1 shots, to make a substantial profit over time – and this should be your main objective, finding horses that are way overpriced and punting them at odds more advantageous to you than the bookie. When this happens you effectively wipe out the bookie margin and place the profit potential firmly in your wallet.

A long time ago I use to use a set of ratings produced by Infineform ( and found them to be very good for a long while until I progressed pass them, but I will use them now as an example to show how you can find possible value by converting ratings to odds, and then looking for real price discrepancies to punt at odds in your favour instead of the bookies:

Race: Sedgefield 14:20

Sedgefield 2.20 Runners

So working off a set of ratings from Infineform we can see that the rating is converted to chance first of all and then the chance is converted to decimal odds as a guide to fair price.

In the ‘Offered’ column is the odds currently available and the ‘Value %’ signifies to what degree the horses are currently running for you or the bookie.

You can see that the current situation shows that the main contenders, Seventeen Black, Charlie Wingnut and Chasma are all fairly heavily priced in the bookies favour right now, but at the other end of the odds spectrum with selections like See the Legend, where the target odds are 6.65, the current price on offer of 13.00 looks like a pretty decent value bet each way.

In this sort of a race I would only concentrate on those horses that have a target of less than 10.00, otherwise you are betting big price outsiders with no real chance of winning. At least this particular horse has a decent chance of winning, or hitting the frame, and the odds on offer provide real value.

While this is not a complete science, it’s a good way to form a set of prices based on ratings, and have something to compare the selection to in order to determine whether or not the odds on offer are better or worse than they should be. In effect you have a tissue price from the set of ratings which can then be used to compare the prices on offer against the odds you have generated.

Again, in this instance I like to see a 100% value% in my favour, or thereabouts anyway. It provides a safety buffer of sorts.

In this particular race Chasma won, but was heavily overbet, returning 3/1 SP. Charlie Wingnut came 2nd at 7/2, and Seventeen Black came third at 10/3. The bookie made a nice profit on this race with that result, as he would have layed them all at fairly short odds so it wouldn’t have mattered to him which one won at those prices, they were covered!

As you can see, the ratings you use can drastically affect the prices you generate as fair odds, or tissue prices. The more accurate the ratings, the more reflective the prices are you are working from.

I have found commercially produced ratings are better than free ratings. That’s not to say that free ratings are no good, but unless they are compiled with a high degree of accuracy they are pretty much worthless in my mind.

I see more and more people using ratings and formulating their own tissue prices, or fair odds, and this is great. Dynamite in particular has started doing this and there is an interesting thread in the forum detailing some great ideas about how to do this.

The source of your ratings, or the way you compile them, is very important. A poor set of ratings will generate disappointing results, but a good set of ratings can be a goldmine. I use a commercial service to provide my collateral form ratings, and then use 30-40 factors to produce a tissue for each race. Most of the time the horses I have priced up at 10/1 or less win, which is encouraging, but it’s when a horse that’s shorter on the tissue price than in the market appears that I pay particular attention. I go back through to double-check every fact first of all, then if it all looks good and there is no apparent reason for the discrepancy, then it’s a possible bet at the odds.

Ratings provide a ’rounded’ view of each runner in the race I feel. It allows you to look at all the positive and negative factors incorporated into 1 single figure – and it saves a lot of time. Using a median figure, you can quickly narrow down a race to just those main contenders, and then focus on them solely to find the winner. In most instances horses below my median rating figure don’t win, so they can be disgarded with a fair degree of accuracy. Those above the median figure are those most likely to win the race, and any with strong positives and a low tissue price stand out at that point. It’s just a matter of determining whether the odds they are available at make it a good value bet.

Obviously this approach is not suited to everyone, we all have our own way of doing things. This is a more ‘scientific’ approach to horse racing and because I enjoy the challenge of pitting my selection skills against the market I find this aspect of horse racing the most interesting and profitable for me personally.

The other positive aspect of ratings is that besides just highlighting 1 betting opportunity, there are sometimes many opportunities, maybe several horses in a race at decent odds that can be backed against a weak favourite that is either below the median rating figure or has strong negatives that suggest it just cannot win the race, despite what the market says to the contrary.

Regardless of what ratings you use, how you view value, how certain you are of the strength of a selection… there are going to be times when your horse or horses just don’t win. No set of ratings will guarantee success all the time. No amount of value hunting will guarantee a profit all the time. Like all things ‘horse racing’, it’s just another weapon in our armoury in the constant fight against the bookie and the market in general.

Some places to start if you are interested in looking at ratings in more detail:

* Infineform – (concentrate on horses rated >= 60 and <= 85 here with LM >= 30 and CTY >= 80). The higher the HD and HG figure the better, but you want HD to be >= 80 and HG >= 50 for best effect. Good indicator for first time head gear as well as it is highlighted.

* Timeform – (Commercial service)

* Form Genie – (Commercial service – about £60 per month)

* Racing Research – (Expensive, about £10 per day, but excellent)

* Form Ratings – (Commercial service, untested, free trial)

There are a load more out there, it’s just a matter of looking around to see what’s on offer. The ones I have noted above I have either used in the past, or have heard good things about. Like all things, they are not guaranteed, but do provide a reasonable service. Form Genie in particular looks interesting now they have switched to a web based system and I have used them a long time ago for a few months and found their ratings to be very good with a good number of decent price winners from their top rated and dutch selections.

Timeform again is very good, industry standard in many instances.

Racing Research is very good also, Dave Nevison use to swear by these ratings when generating his own tissue prices.

Hopefully you have found this post of interest, will get a few more written now I have shaken the flu.

Confidence and Optimism in Betting

Confidence and Optimism in Betting

The Importance Of Confidence and Optimism

If I had to nail down to a couple of traits that a successful horse racing tipster or horse player needs, it’s confidence and optimism.

Without confidence and optimism everything else becomes so much more difficult. I know this from personal experience, and I know how important it is that you strive to build confidence and optimism into your betting, both as a punter and as a tipster.

Without confidence in your ability, and optimism for a positive result, every bet fast becomes a losing one, and every tip is tinged with a high degree of ‘doubt’ that is often a foretelling prophecy to the outcome of the race and your betting future in general.

I have seen it time and time again, especially when a tipster struggles to find winners. When every tip they put up is a losing one, and when every bet they place is just lining the pockets of the bookies. Confidence and optimism differentiate successful tipsters from mediocre ones, and it is these personal qualities that you cannot be without if you are to be a successful tipster and / or punter.

You have heard the old adage of getting straight back on the horse when you fall off. It’s essential to do this in almost any walk of life where difficulty has been encountered, but it is also one of the hardest things to do and it is a credit to people who have overcome their fear and got back on their own horse and continued to persevere, despite their setbacks in the past.

There is nothing more debilitating as a tipster or punter than to see points fall off the board and profits fast disappearing. It can be downright heartbreaking to be honest. I have been there myself and I know the feeling of utter desperation that takes over when tip after tip loses, and nothing seems to be working. But there is a way forward from this, and that’s why I want to share this as a blog post… there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Just recently I had the privilege of working with someone who is a very good tipster. All the hallmarks were there, but that inevitable losing run had begun to take hold and this person reached out to ask for advice and I was happy to help.

The problem was that tipping horses is ‘subjective’ and can be very much based on personal opinion. When the eyes are not looking in the right place, that personal observation becomes tainted by fancy rather than fact. In the above example it was just a case of getting back to basics – getting the essential elements back into place to ensure that every selection tipped up was backed with sound reasoning, and solid and rationale thinking. The results were almost immediate, winner after winner started to come through again and remarkable progress has been made. The deficit is being cut, and it won’t be long before the account is back in the green and real progress can be made again to show a good profit.

That’s all it takes, a re-evaluation of the selection method basically. It’s pointless flogging a dead horse. It’s far better to get off, survey the situation, figure out what worked and what didn’t, and start to focus on the positive aspects and avoid the negative ones.

The same principles apply whether you are a tipster or a punter. If something isn’t working, then why continue with it? The result is that things often get worse. Better to stop, re-evaluate, take stock by doing a personal inventory, and discover why things have developed the way they have and then take the necessary steps to ensure that the turnaround can begin, bet by bet, until the situation has been rectified.

Just recently I have had the flu and it has hit me hard. Harder than I could have thought really, everything I looked at made my head hurt, and trying to pick winners was damn near impossible. I could have continued tipping, and indeed did put up a few, but the results demonstrated that I was clearly ‘off game’ with my selections and the obvious thing to do was stop, have a good think about things, and plan to move forward once I was feeling better.

Confidence and Optimism are powerful weapons for any punter or tipster. Confidence in your own ability is essential, and having an optimistic outlook for a good result is imperative. If you place a bet, or put a tip up, and the confidence and optimism levels are low, there can only be one result – a losing bet or tip. Things have a way of transpiring to your thinking. I know it sounds strange, but when my confidence is low and I am not optimistic about a selection, then the result is almost always a negative one. But conversely, when I am feeling confident in my own ability to find a winner, and I am optimistic that the selection can and will run well, it more often than not follows that line of thought.

Call me ‘cuckoo’ if you must, but I know the power of the mind is immense. It is the one thing we have full control over, yet we only use a fraction of it’s real power and potential. Computers didn’t build themselves, humans built computers. Nothing in this world came about as a result of someone doing nothing! Everything we have today started out as a ‘thought’, an ‘idea’ and it is this creative and subconscious action that we must tap into as punters and tipsters if we are to succeed.

Again, call this weird, but one of the things I have been doing over the last few months is actually visualising horses, my selections, winning. I found this to be a powerful way of crystalizing in my mind what I needed to cover in order for that horse to win – it is a powerful concept and something as a punter and tipster you can really benefit from. It reprograms your mind in effect, turning you from a losing tipster or punter, to a winning one.

Believe it or not, one of the first big price winners came about this way I am sure. The horse was ‘Hot Pepper’ and it was past midnight when I found this horse. I had done a complete analysis of everything I needed to do, felt it was a good bet, and put it up on the board. When I went to bed I had ‘Hot Pepper’ on my mind, I ran through the whole race, furlong by furlong, before I fell asleep, and when they jumped off the next day I just knew that horse would win! It was that confidence, that optimism, that was at an all time high and there could be no other result in my mind – and so it proved, Hot Pepper won at 40/1.

The same thing happened with Expedite when I started tipping again in December. I had this horrible deficit to clear and I had told myself I really needed a big price one – I programmed my mind to find one, and it did. Expedite appeared as a 5/1 shot on the tissue a few days later and I was convinced this horse was the winner. All I kept doing, hour after hour, was having the word ‘Expedite’ repeating in my mind. I saw the race, visualised the outcome, and couldn’t wait for the off – the result was never in doubt. Expedite won at a staggering 50/1 and made a huge difference to how much I had to find to get back into the green on the tipping board.

Now I am not saying that you should ‘dream’ your way to tipping or punting success, but the power of ‘visualisation’ is such that if you can see yourself being successful in your own mind, you can begin to program that success into your selection and punting process for the better.

There is nothing worse than a tipster or punter on a ‘downer’. It’s hopeless – they lack motivation and enthusiasm, and every tip they put up on the board, or every bet they place, is tinged with negativity – there can be only 1 result, the one they expect – another painful sorry loser that comes last when it should have bolted up.

Confidence and Optimism – be confident. Approach your selections with confidence. Do the homework, know why you are putting it up, and be OPTIMISTIC that once you have tipped it, or bet it, that a good run will ensue and that before to much longer the winners will start flowing again. Program your mind for success – see yourself winning, see yourself being mega confident, see yourself spending your winnings – and it will transpire into reality at some point.

Napoleon Hill once said… “What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve”. So conceive the idea of success, see it, feel it, taste it, live it – and believe it to be so, then set about putting together a plan to achieve it. A sound, solid plan that can only result in one outcome – and know that what you conceive and believe, you can indeed achieve!

Why The Best Horse Doesn’t Always Win

Why The Best Horse Doesn’t Always Win

I wrote this post before I sent the ‘Conditions to Suit’ post to Brian, I meant to send this through first, so if it’s a bit ‘back to front’, I apologise. Grab a coffee, make yourself comfortable and get ready for another BV rant…

I have been pondering something I read recently in Davey Towey’s excellent book, The Solidus, and one quote I want to share with you is the basis of this article… “The horse that wins is not necessarily the best horse in the race, the horse that wins is the one that has the most factors in its favour on the day”.

What I am going to tell you now may, or may not, be the difference between you personally winning or losing long term when betting horses, but it will hopefully encourage you to take a step back, think about, and reassess the basis upon which you make selections.

The average punter has a ‘back to front’ approach to betting I think personally. They start out looking for the likely ‘winner’ of a race, when in actual fact what they should be doing is looking for the most likely ‘losers’ in the race first.

By reversing this process, the punter allows himself the opportunity to ‘narrow down’ the field considerably to just the possible main contenders. It’s a lot easier to pick a winner from 3 potential selections, than one from 8+ selections I feel personally.

I started to use this concept towards the end of last year and I am scratching my head and wondering why on earth this simple concept never dawned on me earlier, it’s such a basic principle, unyet it’s one that many punters miss the boat on and pay dearly with a succession of losing bets.

In his book, “A Bloody Good Winner”, Dave Nevison also highlighted this realisation as a ‘eureka moment’ in his betting career also. It just makes so much sense to narrow down the field based on the factors a horse needs to be in place in order to run optimally and hopefully win.

The ‘find the winner in one go’ approach is easy I think, that’s the reason why many punters opt to go down that route. They see the jockey is a high profile one, or read in the Racing Post that so and so trainer is on the ‘hot list’ and they latch on to that as the main basis of their selection. The problem with this approach is that long term there is a huge downside to this – the market has this information also, and by the time you latch on to it (unless you get on before they do), the price has generally diminished to odds more advantageous to the bookie rather than the punter.

The best horse in the race doesn’t always win! The horse with conditions to suit on the day will always be the most likely winner. By eliminating horses where the conditions today don’t match the winning profile of the horse, there is a huge profit opportunity waiting to happen. Refer to my recent article, ‘Horse Racing – Conditions to Suit’ for a basic guide.

I use to use the ‘find the winner in one go’ approach, or more specifically ‘find the winner in 3-4 goes’ with my own betting on Betfair for a long time – trying to find a few horses in the race that could turn over the favourite at decent odds. I still do it now to a degree, but less so as I have turned the process around completely and make more money in the process just betting 1 or 2 at decent odds and laying a dodgy favourite at short odds in the same race where possible.

The steps are simply…

1. Start the selection process by ELIMINATING those horses that cannot win based on their required factors. This could be unsuitable ground, inadequate distance, breeding stats, poor jockey form, poor trainer form, weight, handicap mark, days since last run, course preferance, course orientation, jockey performance at the course, trainer performance at the course, age, draw, etc. These are all factors that come into play when deciding what cannot win.

2. Once you have eliminated those horses you feel are disadvantaged by todays race conditions, the process of finding the winner becomes a lot easier. You are then working with a few selections that on the face of it DO have conditions to suit – you have a potential edge over the market at this point.

I personally like to narrow a race down to 2-4 or less selections (depending on the number of runners in the race: 2-3 in 8 or less runner races, 4 in races where there are more than 8 runners). I know that if I am left with just 1 selection after going through the elimination process, I have a potentially good bet just waiting to happen.

Using this process was how I found Golden Chieftain recently, a winner at 16/1, and Baron Alco at 16/1 who was narrowly beaten into 2nd by another of the 4 I had narrowed the race down to at shorter odds. It was also how I found Realize who was a nice 6/1 winner for us recently and was the only remaining selection after the elimination process was completed.

And this process was equally effective as recently as today when we picked up the nice winner, Wild Tobacco at 11/1 in a selling race at Southwell where I felt the front 2 in the market were vulnerable and looked to find something more likely to win the race with conditions to suit.

By first eliminating horses that can’t win, you are better able then to find the ones that stand a good chance – the decision then can be undertaken based on the odds available to find some great value bets.

Something else I have realised, more so in the last couple of weeks, is that focusing on 1-2 races a day is better than trying to find the winner across multiple races and cards. Punters become lazy and tend to take ‘shortcuts’ when faced with to much choice. So what I start to do is focus initially on the most valuable handicaps of the day as the priority – races where there is a lot of information about the horses, and only look at the lower grade races where there is definitely a ‘stand out’ horse at the odds when my tissue price is very low compared to what the market is offering – the ‘value radar’ is always on for those opportunities!

Studing better quality races makes finding winners that much easier when you have quality information you can use to eliminate horses and find winners.

There is also another reason I do this now. Horses, Trainers and Jockeys are competing for BIG prize money, so every one of them is trying to get their head in front. The motivation is there to win when there’s a lot at stake. Unlike an 8 runner handicap at say Southwell, with prize money of around £2k and horses that can barely walk, let alone run! Any nag can win that sort of race, but it takes a standout horse, with conditions to suit, to take home a big prize. Finding them is made a lot easier if you first eliminate those runners that simply cannot win based on the current race conditions and the runner requirements.

I no longer bet on races where there are more than 4 selections on my shortlist that can win. It becomes a chance bet then again. The more narrowed down the approach, the more effective it is, and the more likely you are to hit the winner.

Think about it… it makes sense to approach your selections this way. Isn’t it easier to focus on what can win, rather than what waste time looking for positives in horses that can’t get their head in front under the race conditions today?

Yes, it takes more time to reverse the selection process, I spent over 3 hours on the race at Wincanton won by Golden Chieftain, the selection… and have spent many hours on other races where the result hasn’t been so good, but ultimately the research has paid off and my win rate has increased significantly as a result.

If you need proof that this method of selection works, think back to the 19th of December, 2015 and take a look at my betting history. That was the day I came back to the tipping board, I was -£475.35 on that day.

Up until that point I was ‘winner in one’ focused with my tipping – I was looking for the winner amongst all the runners in a race – had some good success initially with that, got in to the top 10 position on the board, but then it all started to go wrong around the time of Cheltenham last year.

For a few months after that I was desperately trying to use the same short term ‘winner finding’ process as before to correct an inevitable long term problem – I was trying to find the winner in one go, when what I realise now I should have been doing was trying to find the winner in no more than 3-4 in a race that could actually win at decent value odds. It was only when I realised that I was doing things ‘back to front’ that the job of finding winners again was made that much easier.

The results speak for themselves, I pulled back that £-475.35 deficit, won the tipping competition in December and for this month I am currently +485.10 on the board overall and +£613.95 for the month.

Was that a fluke?

I ask myself that often, but I know it isn’t. Sure, I may not find the winner every time – but as long as I find it enough times to stay ahead of the game at the odds, the totals will continue rising. This ‘reverse method’ of selection works!

Eliminate horses that cannot win first, then focus on the one’s that have conditions to suit in today’s race that can!

Focus is the key. I realised that as an essential requirement now – I am like a lot of punters, I tend to suffer from ‘tip`itus’ at times. Ron has pulled me up on it just recently, and I know myself that I have a tendancy to get carried away at times, putting up way to many tips on any given day. So I have done something about it… I have restricted myself to 2 tips a day from now on and asked Brian to put in place the necessary restrictions to ensure that I cannot exceed that ever.

Why did I do that? To become more focused. There are tips, and there are good tips. What I want to do is apply the ‘elimination’ process to the selections I end up with as well – really weed out the ‘might wins’ and only put up the ‘can win’ tips. It also allows me to still focus on the areas I am strongest at, odds of >= 6 and <= 11, and >= 16. These are the tips I want to be putting up now, and 2 tips a day allows me the opportunity to really home in on my strengths in this area and identify the bets that have the best chance of gaining points and making money for followers.

It’s all part of the process to make myself a better, more profitable tipster over the longer period, rather than just look for short term success – the focus is very much long term for me now, and just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, the principles in this game are the same. Slowly catches the monkey!

I will leave you with a parting thought – Regardless of where you are on the board, tipsters are vulnerable to losing runs. Never make the mistake I made and assume that once you are +£700 up and in the top 10 on the board you are infallible. You aren’t (as I found out the hard way when I was in that position and then dropped rapidly!) – a losing run will wipe you out within a month at 5 tips a day. The fall is quick, the panic sets in, you chase losers, pray for winners, and it all goes horribly wrong so quickly! Better to have a sound selection process in place, set yourself limits and stick to them regardless of whether you are on a losing run or a winning one – plan to win, work to the plan. Expect the positive results, but be prepared for the negatives.

And for those who are in the minus zone on the board, there is good reason for hope. Don’t reflect on the past, look to the future. Take the necessary steps to correct things, look at your selection process, analyse your tips, learn from others, and apply what you learn to your own tipping style. It can really pay off big time and I can think of no other better place to learn than, there is a wealth of information available, you just have to look for it, and if you can’t find it then simply ask someone to help you – 2 sets of eyes are better than 1.

I still spend hours day trawling through tips on the board, asking myself why a tipster put up a tip – what was the basis of that recommendation, is it something I should apply to my own selection system, or something I should seriously avoid. So much to learn, and the opportunity is there daily to gain just that little bit more knowledge that can mean the difference between being a good tipster and a great tipster – it just requires a bit of effort to make it happen. I am still very much learning!

I will be expounding on the selection process more over the coming weeks in future articles, really delving into the subject.

“The joy is in the learning, the proof you have learnt well is in the positive result”.

Horse Racing – Conditions to Suit

Horse Racing – Conditions to Suit

When a Horse has Conditions to Suit, it’s More Likely to Win than Lose

I remember reading in Dave Nevison’s book, ‘A Bloody Good Winner’ once where he stated that if a horse has conditions to suit it’s more likely to win than lose, and at the time that just made so much sense – BUT, I ignored it for a good while after reading it, to my peril! This simple statement can transform your selection process, and it’s something that I realise now has to be the sole basis of putting up a selection on the board that has a half decent chance of getting it’s head in front when it matters.

There are 2 distinct advantages in ascertaining the race condition requirements for any selection:

1. It allows you to quickly eliminate horses from the race who don’t have conditions to suit. This often reduces the field considerably to just a handful of main contenders, and saves you having to waste time considering horses that just cannot win given the conditions they are racing in.

2. It allows you to find good value bets, because this aspect is still something the general public don’t consider seriously enough.

Proof of both of these aspects can be seen clearly in recent tip, Golden Chieftan, in the big race of the day at Wincanton.

By going through and analysing the conditions each of the 14 runners required to run a good race, I could quickly eliminate well over half the field in that race, allowing me to focus on the one’s that could win… and then from them narrowed it down even further to just the 1 horse in that race that had what it took to win it. Golden Chieftan. He won at 16/1.

So what are the bare minimum conditions you should be looking for:

1. The Going – This is my #1 priority now – before anything else I look at the horse’s ability to handle the ground. Anything that has not at least placed once on the stated going gets a big negative from me. If there is insufficient evidence based on the horse’s performance on the going, then a quick check on the breeding stats is a good fallback position.

2. The Distance – This is the second priority for me. I have to know whether or not the horse is a fit for the distance. If it hasn’t run over this distance, or is trying a new distance (either stepping up in trip or down), you should always determine the suitability of the horse to that new race condition being imposed upon it. Sometimes trainers experiment with distance, you see this a lot. What you have to importantly determine is whether or not this horse is a good fit for what is being expected of it.

I like to see the horse having at least placed at the distance. This is a good starting point for me. They may not have won, but at least it proves they get the distance and the fact they didn’t win may have been due to other factors in the race.

If the horse’s race history is limited, or uncertain, you should always revert back to breeding to answer any questions you may have. What I like to do is check selection’s performance over the race, and if it has placed I still check the breeding to see just how suitable that distance actually is for the horse. Some horses may get a distance at a stretch, and have placed, but it is not a natural distance for them and it could have been other factors that saw it gain a place – e.g a very slow pace that allowed the jockey to get a good breather into the horse during the race. In a fast run situation the horse might well falter at that trip again.

3. Race Fitness – This is now a crucial part of my analysis, it never use to be. I now look at the days since last raced, and the position the horse achieved in that race in relation to the number of runners, as a key factor.

Some horse’s bounce back quickly, others need weeks or months to recover. Some horse’s retain fitness over a longer period, some don’t. You need to know, factually, in which of these two camps your horse resides in. Importantly, it also gives you a valuable insight into whether the previous run was ‘prep run’ for the race he is now. Trainers often use this tactic, and it is easy to spot if you have the right information.

4. Weight – It’s easy just to look at the official rating and say this horse is ‘well in’ at the weights. Many punters have been burned by placing to much emphasis on this factor alone. Horse’s fall in the weights for a reason…. They have been performing badly at the higher weights and the handicapper has stepped in to help them out a bit. This is good, but a well handicapped horse can also run a shocker of a race. The handicap mark is just one of the conditions you have to take into account, but decisions should not be based solely on it.

I like to look at the horse’s history at the weights now before placing to much emphasis on the handicap mark. If the history suggests the horse performs better within a certain range of weights, then that is an optimal condition for that horse – so if the other conditions are good, but this one isn’t, then you can still assume the worst and pass over the selection.

Of course if the weight history falls in line with the rest of the conditions, then this is starting to look like a possible bet, but there are other factors to consider also.

Never discount a horse’s chance based on a penalty or a rise in the weights. These horses win races, lots of them. Always check to see if you think the horse is showing signs of being ‘progressive’ before discounting a horse running under a penalty for a last win, or one that has been reassessed by the handicapper and had their mark raised. Horses often run well in these circumstances, and bargains are there to be grabbed if you get it right and identify a horse that can defy the mark.

A good example of this in action was my recent tip on Realize. The handicapper kept raising him, and he kept winning! Weight eventually catches up with the horse, but until such time as it appears to have done so, keep backing it if it looks ‘progressive’.

5. Jockey – It’s a fact that a good jockey on a horse that doesn’t have conditions to suit will run a shocker of a race. The jockey is not running, the horse is! To much over-reliance is placed on the jockey, and unfortunately I see that a lot on the tipping board. The market also under-prices these selections considerably and you need to know that the horse is capable of winning, with a good jockey onboard, rather than having a good jockey onboard and hoping he can perform a miracle on a horse that doesn’t want these conditions. It happens that sometimes the jockey does get it home in front, but it happens more often that they don’t and the bet was a complete waste of money.

Bookies pay horrible tricks on punters with regards to the jockey booking, and unfortunately the results bear witness to the fact that the bookies make a lot of money from ‘mug’ punters who have placed an over-reliance on the jockey booking.

6. Trainer – Another way the bookie gets you is with the trainer stat. If you read the racing post you will know that they highlight trainers who are ‘in form’, and this is very deceptive. Yes, they are in form, but more important to me is how well do they do at the particular course. Some ‘in form’ trainers have a shocking record at some courses… and you need this stat to reinforce whether or not the horse is likely to be prepared for the particular course conditions.

7. Days Since Last Raced – This is a critical piece of information and gives a good clue about the possible performance today. What I like to see is a good stat that proves a horse can retain fitness over a specific period of time. Then I look at the last run, to see if it could have possibly been a ‘prep’ run for the race it’s entered in today. How has the horse fared in the past after running x number of days after a run, this can throw up some valuable clues as to the horses performance then, and what is expected today.

I missed a 20/1 winner the other day because I didn’t check this stat in a race I had bet in. Had I have looked, I would have seen immediately that the horse was at the optimal fitness level to win, and the race before was just a ‘prep’ race for this one. Needless to say, I double check every runner in the race now for this vital statistic!

Another thing to consider is how well the horse runs ‘fresh’ after a layoff. This is ‘risky’ to bet, but there is an angle there if you get it right enough times. My record in this area of late is not good, so will be dropping this angle now, but I know of times where the tipster has got it right and the odds have been huge. There was a good example on the board recently when Arwel put one up off a break and it was only narrowly defeated. Some horses run well ‘fresh’, you just have to find the right ones.

Last but not least:

NEVER believe what a trainer says! I learnt this a long time ago. Colin Tizzard was interviewed on Racing UK about Golden Chieftan recently and he gave a somewhat cautious appraisal of his chance, saying in particular… “the horse is more suited to a left hand course”. What a load of rubbish! A quick look at the stats and you would immediately see that the results are pretty much level as to whether he jumps on a left handed course, or a right handed one.

Of course the minute he said this the betting on almost immediately flashed and the price went back out a point or so. Markets place to much emphasis on what the trainer says, and unless it agrees with your own conclusion ignore what they say. They are always ‘cautious’, and most of the time they get it wrong anyway. No trainer will tell you it will definitely win, it’s their head on the block, so they understate the positives and accentuate the negatives – and the market believes them and reacts accordingly.

Let the horse’s performance, history and stats tell you what you need to know without the ‘noise in the background’ putting you off.

The same can also be said for reading the press. If I took onboard everything written about Golden Chieftain on that day I would never have put that selection up and we would have missed a lovely 16/1 winner!

I listened to the guy on Racing UK giving the preliminary positives and negatives about the runners in the race also – his comments were somewhat negative I thought, and if I was a punter I would have been put off by that possibly.

It happens time and time again… the press and TV pundits know as much as about horse racing as my granny does. It’s all guesswork, and they almost always have a favourable word to say about the favourite! Bookies like that, they drop it a point or two in the betting immediately and make even more money when it’s turned over.

But importantly, the pundits know that they at least have a 30% chance of getting it right if they put up the favourite, which incidentally the tv pundit did in this race… though to his credit he did highlight the ‘dodgy’ nature of the jumping for that one albeit just one minute before the off!

The only racing pundit I ever listen to with regard to All-Weather racing is Jason Weaver on ATR, he’s the only one who actually comes across as knowing what he’s talking about. And on the radio (William Hill) I like listening to Andy Holding when he’s on as he is a wealth of racing knowledge and well worth tuning in to for nuggets on both the day’s horse racing, and also the chances of horses in future races.

What I am trying to get at is this… one positive factor alone does not make a good selection or bet. It is multiple factors coming together, providing ideal racing conditions for the horse, that more often than not determine its chance of winning before the race has even begun.

The market is the enemy! If the market says a favourite will win, remember this… they only get it right about 3.5 times out of every 10 attempts. That leaves the door wide open for value bettors to prove them wrong 6.5 times out of every 10 attempts. And you only need to get it right a couple of times at decent odds and you have a big advantage over the market who are left scratching their head wondering why a top jockey didn’t get that horse home in front, when the betting suggested it was a sure cert!

We know the reason of course, the horse did not have conditions to suit. It wasn’t necessarily beaten by a better horse, it was beat by a horse that DID have conditions to suit!

Be a smart punter, take the time to check your selections thoroughly before betting. If you follow a tipster, check their reasoning for the vitals – and then do a random sample yourself to see if in fact the conditions are what this selection really wants. By doing this you will save yourself a lot of money in the long run and find yourself in the winners enclosure more often with some very nice results at the prices!