Trimming the Portfolio

The observant among you will have noticed the absence of ‘A Bettor Way of Life’ last week. I was slightly surprised that the lack of column didn’t provoke a Twitter storm and find its way onto News at Ten to be honest, but for those of you who were distraught, confused or simply didn’t notice, I can confirm that, owing to popular demand, this column will now be fortnightly instead of weekly.

Many of you will also no doubt have remarked that the column has not appeared on its usual Tuesday this week. There are two reasons for this: the first being that it wasn’t written.  The second is that I am a maverick. I am not bound by the usual rules of society and I will write as and when I please from now on. Unless Brian tells me it has to be on a certain date again in which case it will be.

But here we are approaching the end of the year and all I can say is ‘Thank heavens for that!’ 2015 cannot disappear quickly enough for me, in a betting sense at least.  I have been taking one step forward and then two back over and over again.  I have already regaled you with several of my tales of woe but suffice it to say that things are still stumbling along somewhat disappointingly.  I have, however, not rested on my laurels.  Much analysis of systems and strategies has been taking place in recent weeks.  I have slimmed down my various active methods as, looking back, I feel I was trying to attack on too many fronts at the same time.

In the New Year I will be letting you know what remains in my portfolio but, for now, I will content myself with telling you what I WON’T be wagering on in 2016.

In my debut piece I confirmed I had said goodbye to a highly regarded laying strategy on the basis of the staking plan. I am determined to stick to my guns and not attempt any system which requires any form of staking plan in order to return a profit.  There are many profitable systems out there which could potentially be enhanced by clever staking but I am only interested in those which show steady long-term results to level stakes.  At the end of the day I may make less in the long-term but I can do without the extra volatility.  If I ever mention using a staking plan again please slap me in the face with a wet fish.

Also gone are tipsters who specialise in long shots. These can prove lucrative over long periods of time, but the lengthy losing runs, coupled with the sheer exasperation of missing a winner, or at least backing it at 12’s when it was tipped up the night before at 25’s, is just too infuriating.  Again I am looking for solid, steady returns and I have trimmed my tipsters down and seen results improve accordingly over the last couple of weeks.

Horse-racing in-running trading strategies are also gone. I spent several hours a day for many weeks earlier this year looking at various possible profitable scenarios along these lines.  Back to lay and lay to back; targeting a doubling of your money, perhaps a trebling, or maybe smaller profits with a quick exit for a higher success ratio.  Turf, All-Weather and National Hunt races all examined; different sized fields taken into account; a focus on horses with a high ratio of having previously halved their Betfair SP in-running.  All these angles and more were studied in detail meaning there is so much of my life I will never get back.

I thought I had something at one point, but no. A fleeting glimpse of the golden Promised Land turned out to have been just a mirage disguising Grimsby on a wet Thursday evening.  Ironically the strategy I had alighted upon was 8 points down when I scrapped it at the start of October, but further analysis showed that had I just backed the qualifiers to win rather than tried to trade them for profit then I would have been nearly 30 points UP!  Maybe I have hit upon a successful backing system by accident – I certainly never seem to manage that on purpose – but it just helps to confirm to me the futility of searching for a successful in-running trading strategy on the horses.  I know there are people who claim to have found such a thing but then some people claim to have been probed by aliens, predicted the future via the stars and sat through a Justin Bieber song without wanting to twist their own head off, none of which I believe either.

Multiple bets too are pretty much getting the old heave-ho. I have tried the odd Yankee, Lucky 31, Canadian etc. on various sports with roughly the same amount of success on each.  That is to say – very little.  Placepots are something I may return to as I have had limited success with these in the past and have rather overlooked them in the last year or so, but trying to win on NFL ‘Against The Spread’ multiples armed with some statistics and absolutely no knowledge of the teams, or indeed interest in the sport whatsoever, is just ridiculous.  Between them the various multiple bets I have struck this year have cost me over 46 points.  As I said in week one – successful betting is as much about avoiding losing bets as finding winning ones.  This seems as good a way of achieving that as any.

So that’s it from me for this year. I shall be back in January with a new, trim and robust set of strategies in my portfolio.  Next year is the year I will get it right.  Isn’t it?

In the meantime I wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a spectacularly profitable sporting Boxing Day.


Paul Dixon is a lifelong sports fan and author of the book Fun and Games in Fife and Gretna– a humorous look at an Englishman’s journey into Scottish football. He has been making regular profits from betting since 2012.