Who to Follow, What to Avoid

An interesting week we’ve just had, and a classic example of why you need to be selective with your betting. At the end of last week the points total was approaching +140 (+£1,400) and today we have are on just under +80 (+£800), that’s a huge points drop in the space of just a few days and provides both tipsters and followers with a wake-up call to ensure they are prepared for the extreme result swings that so often befalls horse racing.

This last week in particular demonstrates why it’s so important to ensure your betting bank is large enough to weather the storm, particularly if you are a religious follower of 1 or more tipsters. No tipster can get it right every time and there are going to be days / weeks / months even when things can go wrong, and you have to be prepared both financially to cover these periods, and mentally to ensure that your betting in the optimal state of mind.

A question that comes up at times is, “who is the best tipster to follow”? Brian kindly expounded his thoughts on this in a comment yesterday, and I have been asked several times via private message in the forum… and the answer is not clear cut, there are many factors that come in to play here, so I thought I would write this article to reflect my own thoughts on how I use the board, how I think the most profit can be made, and how to optimise your betting opportunities across a whole range of tipsters without having to religiously follow just a few.

It’s all in the tipster stats! There are some brilliant tipsters on bettingtools.co.uk, each one with strengths and weaknesses, and the best way to discover what those strengths and weaknesses are is to look at the stats for each tipster. Brian has now extended this even further by including additional information, like the average number of tips a day the tipster puts up, the average odds of the tips, and importantly the average odds of the winners.

The other valuable addition that was implemented last year was the winnings at different odds levels. This provides an absolute goldmine of information – both for followers and for tipsters.

For example, I went through all T’s tips last week, and that girl is brilliant at identifying big price horses that can hit the frame. Profits at odds greater than 16 are £1,621.72, equating to +162.10 points profit over that price range. But, if you bet her selections at odds of less than 16 you are looking at a whopping loss – so T’s strength is her ability to spot horses at big prices that can run well. As a follower you would then want to take notice of this the next time one goes up at odds > 16.00!

If you go through each of the tipsters you can see a pattern emerge – and as a follower it’s your money that goes on the line when a bet is placed – so you want to be sure that what you are betting on has a good chance of providing a positive return over time. In the above example you could bet T’s biggies with a fairly large degree of confidence because of her track record, but best avoid the ‘Blinky Blue’ bets :).

I singled T out there because it was a good example. If you do this across all tipsters you get a good feel for the strengths and weaknesses of tipsters.

You can glean a whole raft of information from these stats. You just have to look and pay attention to them.

The point I am making is… you don’t have to follow a tipster ‘blindly’, the tipping board is like a ‘sweetie shop’, so many different types of ‘sweets’ to choose from, so you just have to home in on the ones you like in particular and let the rest go.
Choosing tips based on tipster ‘strengths’ is a better way of bringing bets into your portfolio, and it can significantly reduce the risk of hitting a losing run when a tipster starts to perform badly. By covering multiple tipsters, with a bet or 2 from each, where they clearly have an ‘edge’ you are taking a lot of the risk out of your portfolio.

It’s a bit like picking stocks and shares. There’s an old saying… “don’t keep all your eggs in one basket”. The same can be said about using the tipsters and the tipping board.

Spread the risk around to reduce your exposure.

If you were heavily exposed to oil company shares 2 years ago you would have thought the chances of oil ever performing badly was damn near impossible! And at around $100 a barrel back then you would have had reason to think that – but things change, and yesterday I heard that the price of a barrel of oil can drop to as low at $10! Your oil share portfolio is looking pretty grim right now if that’s the case.

So start thinking ‘portfolio’ when deciding on what to bet on. Don’t follow a tipster blindly, identify their strengths and weaknesses… avoid betting on tips where the tipster does not have an edge, and every time one goes up where the tipster excels, GET ON!

Never follow a tipster based on their position on the board in any given month – it is volatile! It changes daily and is a good indicator of recent performance, but should not be trusted for long term betting decisions. You must dig deeper into the individual tipsters, even tipsters showing a level stakes loss, have strengths that should be punted.

ST is an example of this… he shows a loss on the current month board, and in general, but when he puts a big price one up in a maiden, or novice, or first time in a handicap race I always take a serious look at it. I trust his judgement in this area.

Arwel is the e/w man and you have to seriously take a 2nd look at his big e/w tips. If I see he has tipped up something I have also put up, then bingo, my confidence level soars. Arwel is also a classic example of why you should not follow tipsters based on their position on the board in the current month. At the beginning of last week you could have written him off for the month, he was nearly -30pts down and struggling to hit the frame, but this week he is back in the green and a strong contender once again. A classic example of why you should always do your homework on a tipster, otherwise you might very well have lost out on some good bets over the last few days, and in particular a 16/1 winner yesterday.

And of course there is Ron, who is the most successful tipster we have on the board. But even Ron will admit there are areas where he has strengths and weaknesses – his strengths are his naps and his biggies at odds greater than 10/1, a brilliant track record here, but at odds of > 3.00 and < 10.00 he shows a loss. So the focus on Ron’s tips has to be his naps and the selections at bigger prices for me. For me, I know I can find a biggie to get me and followers out of trouble when it matters, but I was surprised to see that I perform best around > 6 and < 11.00, so anyone following me would be well advised to stick to those odds ranges for my tips if they choose to follow me in – however, if I hit a losing run then you can be fairly confident that a biggie will surface at some point to get us out of trouble!

It’s this sort of analysis you have to do as a follower. You have to ‘spread the risk’, and rather than just focus on betting all of Tipster A’s tips, or all of Tipster B’s tips, you should really find the strengths and weaknesses of a group of tipsters within an odds range you like to bet, and have your radar on for the minute a tipster puts one up in that group where they clearly have an edge.

I personally don’t follow any one tipster, but I have identified tipsters who have particular strengths and I always look at their tips in detail to find the edge in a bet – and if it’s there I will at times have a few quid on it, or throw it in the mix with a couple at decent odds I have also running for me in the race. This has proved a lifesaver in the past, because oftentimes I miss something that another tipster has picked up on – and this can be the difference between a profitable outcome or a loss on that race for me.

I could have gone through all the tipsters in this article, but that would have defeated the purpose, which is to get followers to undertake their own research and form their own opinions. Instead of asking yourself ‘who should I follow’, ask yourself ‘what should I bet’, and importantly know WHY you are betting it!

There are many things in life that is a ‘numbers game’, betting horses is not always one of them. In this instance betting less at advantageous odds is a better way to make money. Just because a tipster puts up 5 a day, that doesn’t mean as a follower you also have to wade in (remember, the tipping board itself is a competition) – look through each tip, read the reasoning… has the tipster convinced you it’s a good bet, win or lose? If there’s just a single line with 6 words in it, does that instil confidence in you that this is a good bet. On the flipside, if there is an ‘essay’ expounding the virtues of the selection, is the argument being made a positive one? If not, move right along to the next one.

Reasoning is important, as a follower you have to be convinced that what you are putting your money into has a realistic chance of a return. If the argument is not sound, then don’t bet it!

The best examples of reasoning I have seen is Ron. He provides clear and valid points to reinforce why he thinks a tip is worth investing in. Clear, concise, and rational. Unlike me of course who just wades through with gibberish! But hopefully the point comes through also.

Nothing frustrates me more when I read the reasoning for a tip and it’s a one-liner that I can see for myself anyway – what I want is a valid and persuasive argument for this selection if I am to be expected to part with my ‘hard earned’ to back it. Otherwise to me, it’s just another horse with a couple of positives in a race anything can win – it’s a ‘luck’ bet and they are not good bets to make!

Anyone can say the horse is well handicapped and has Adam Kirby on board. I can see that for myself, and there may well be other horses in the race that also have a good jockey on board and are looking well handicapped. What makes this one so special as to make me want to bet it? What’s the stand-out reason for putting this one up over the fav for example? Is the fav weak? Why? Convince me this is a good bet, don’t just state the obvious as the market knows that anyway and has more than likely already priced it in.

What about the going, what about the distance, what about the trainer recent form, does the jockey ride the track well, how many days ago was it out and does it suit a comeback run in that period? How about breeding, should it be expected to stay that distance, or handle that ground. What about the jockey and trainer performance at that course in particular? These are all valid points and should be addressed.

That’s the “who to follow part out of the way”… what about the “what to avoid” part!

Avoid betting on any tip that is based on the jockey or jockey/trainer stat ALONE.

These are the most over bet selections – and never provide any real value. The market knows what you know, and unless you can get on at a value price, then ultimately you are just lining the pockets of the bookmaker whether it wins or loses.

Don’t get me wrong, the jockey / trainer / jockey and trainer stat is important, but only as a part of the whole argument for or against – never should a selection be based on that alone. As a tipster, if you do make your selection based on just one standout stat you are very much at the mercy of the market – and of course are very prone to a losing run the minute that jockey or trainer starts to falter (and they do, even the best of them eventually).

And as a follower you should always double-check that the selection is not being made on the basis of just 1-2 factors like the jockey or the trainer. They are very important factors, but only in the overall scheme of things, not on their own.

Think of the selection process, whether you are a tipster or a follower, as a synergy. The sum of the parts must add up to a number greater than that of the whole. In a scenario like that the horse has a good chance of winning! If the numbers fall short, it’s just another runner in a race that can be won by anything.

Hope you find this useful. There are so many good tipsters on the board, you have to narrow them down, and identifying and playing to their strengths is the best way I know how to do that without having to be tied to any particular one or few even.