This is part two in the series about how to bet for a living. You may remember in part one, 'How To Be A Professional Gambler', that I talked about the differences between romantic fiction (i.e. the usual media portrayal of pro punters) and reality.
I told you about the three main unifying themes of professional bettors, which sets them apart from hobby bettors. These are dedication and hard work; discipline; and, bankroll and money management.
Whilst I appreciate they may not be the three most sexy principles of betting, they are certainly the triumvirate of traits that will set a winner apart.
I also told you in that piece about the two pro players I know, GM and KL. Actually, GM has now retired after a set-to with Betfair, who were the medium through which he made his living.
But KL still makes his living from betting today. And he still uses Betfair. KL is a football trader. A hardcore football trader. A hugely successful football trader, who lives in a big house and drives a (reasonably modest, in fairness) fast car... And he's what he calls 'semi-retired'.
Want to know the secret of KL's success? Well, there are three:
1. dedication / hard work
3. money management
Were you expecting me to say something different? Sorry, but if you're a romantic then I hope this is the wake up call that puts a slab of reality onto what can be a crippling misconception. (I receive at least one email a week from people who know nothing about betting, telling me they want to 'go pro', and asking me what they need to do. When I tell them about bank etc, I generally don't hear back...)
Reality bites, and there are two observations in the cold light of that: the first is that pro punting is not easy nor is it especially sexy. The second is that people ARE making a very healthy living from it.
So let's focus on that second point for a minute, and dig a little deeper into it. And let's use KL as an example.
KL is actually Kevin Laverick, a friend of the blog, and someone that a hundred footy punters signed up with last season. The feedback I've had regarding Kevin, and his approach, and his customer service, is - without question - second to none.(And his results of course!)
People LOVE Kevin! (As an aside, it's little wonder that they do, because he's so totally focused on their success, answering emails, phone calls, SMS messages and so on. In truth, that's more than I'd be prepared to do, and I absolutely don't know of anyone else who would do that either).
But the main reason people love Kevin is because he knows his onions (and how!), and he's prepared to help teach people, rather than just feed them a diet of 'tips'.
Here's Kevin's story:
Kevin is a Yorkshireman, who spent his formative years working as an accountant for the mining companies. Perhaps that's where his 'dead eye' for numbers comes from. No matter, for Kevin's other passion was - and still is - football.
He played until he was 45, and then he managed local semi-pro teams. Kevin understands football, and especially he understands what the meaningful elements of the game are. He's been betting football for over twenty years, and more recently has taken it up seriously.
In fact, Kevin became a professional football trader a little over four years ago, and he's been sharing his thoughts with great success for a couple of years, both on the trading and the straight 'old fashioned' win betting fronts.
To illustrate this, customers of the very successful 'Football Bets' service will know Kevin as the tipster, 99Reds. Since he started sharing his wisdom on the Football Bets service, those advices are showing a profit of over Â£4,500 to level Â£100 stakes. Or more than 45 points to whatever stakes you use.
Betting on football is hard, but Kevin's 'secret' (such as it is) is finding 'value'.
So the next question is 'what is value?'. This is a subject that deserves a whole blog of its own, and I'll try to do justice to the question albeit with a fairly brief answer.
Value is the difference between placing a bet because you think it will win, and placing a bet because you know that over time those bets have won more often than today's odds indicate the winning chance to be.
Let me run through that, because it's a very important concept: for value bettors, there is a price point at which any team becomes either unattractive or attractive.
For instance, if Manchester United are playing Bournemouth (excuse me!), would you bet Bournemouth at 3/1? The answer is probably no. [In point of fact, as a fan of Bournemouth, I have to tell you that the answer should be a resounding ear-puncturing NOOOOO!!!]
But what if Bournemouth were available at a million to one to beat Manchester United? Now, they're still very strong third favourites (behind Man Utd and the draw) as the most likely eventuality. But it's surely not a million to one chance that Bournemouth would overcome the odds.
Perhaps it's a 500/1 chance. That is, perhaps if the game was played 500 times, Bournemouth would win once. Perhaps it's a 1000/1 chance. Whatever. The point is that at some point between 3/1 and a million to one, Bournemouth become an attractive betting proposition.
The point when you consider that wager to be appealing is the point when you perceive there to be 'value' in the bet.
Remember, Bournemouth are still MASSIVE outsiders. But the available odds may be higher than the true chance of success.
Back to Kevin. His eye for value is expert. It is honed by two things: experience, and knowing where to look to find the material information which assists in defining value.
He's not looking to win every bet. Instead, he's looking for 'opportunities' where the market is in his favour. Betting at 3/1 when the true odds are 2/1 is a tremendous value play, even though you'll lose two out of every three matches. Because the one when you win will more than reward you for your patience with the losers (in this fictional case, to the tune of 33% overall).
Now Kevin is not greedy, and he doesn't need a monster sum of money to live off. Nor does he have any desire to endure the kind of nightmares of 'getting on' (getting his bets accepted) that the likes of Patrick Veitch attest to.
But still, he makes a very comfortable Â£70,000 a year from his semi-retirement. And that's not your average 'former bin man found secret code to betting success and now makes Â£70k a year' type headline trumpeted from the rafters.
I have very deliberately placed that fact deep in the midst of this piece, in order not to attract the silver coin chasers. Because they'd miss all that relevant stuff about discipline and money management, and be blinded by the numbers. (And sorry if that might sometimes be you. I want you - and indeed anybody who believes it might be 'easy' to become a professional gambler - to be fully in possession of what's involved).
OK, so at this point, some of you are probably thinking, "Wow, Â£70k a year from footy. That's where I want to be"... and others may be thinking, "Â£70k? Is that it?", and still others will be thinking, "I'd be happy with an extra hundred quid a week, let alone those numbers!"
Well, to the first group and especially the last group, good. To the middle group, there may be little point reading on as it will probably lead to further disappointment.
Why 'good' if you think making Â£70,000 a year or a bit less (depending on your needs) is a worthwhile aspiration? I'll tell you in the next installment...! 🙂
For now though, if you have any comments on this post or its predecessor; or on being a professional gambler; or on betting footy... leave a comment below.