How to Bet: 10 Steps to Betting Better

How to Bet

In this important post, I outline ten points that will make you win more money more often with your betting. Even if you think you know all of this, it may pay to review this as a refresher. Smart punters are always learning and re-learning.

So, without any more ado, here are my top ten tips for becoming a better bettor.

10. Keep Records

How to Bet: Keep Records

How to Bet: Keep Records

Your first 30 days for just £1

Yes, I know it's boring. But seriously, these days, it is very easy to keep records, especially if you have online accounts (because they keep the record for you).

But keeping records is simply an exercise in administration if you don't regularly review those records. Look specifically at where you're winning money. Is there a pattern there? Perhaps you have a stronger handle in sprint races, or novice hurdles. Whatever. Pay attention to where your strengths lie, and focus more on that.

Obviously, the converse is true. If you can't help but bet on the biggest races (Group races and huge field handicaps), and you discover you haven't backed a winner in these race types for six months, stop!

Or, and this is my preferred approach, keep a small 'action bets' pot, which is separate from your main punting pot. That way, you can still get involved in the races where you probably shouldn't (from a financial perspective), but want to from an entertainment perspective.

Let's always remember the value of small stakes betting for FUN. I know it has become somewhat 'shouted out' by the make money mob and the materialism of our current social malaise (don't get me started!), but readers of geegeez remain predominantly recreational bettors and the content here is designed to fully support that.

Nevertheless, that doesn't excuse you from keeping - and inspecting - your records! 😉

9. Never Chase Losses

How to Bet: Never Chase Losses

How to Bet: Never Chase Losses

Yes, yes. I know you know. But you still do it, don't you?! Me too, from time to time.

There is a fundamental flaw in the human psyche that needs us to be right. That, on a subconscious level at least, is one of the main reasons we bet. And it can be expensive.

Have you ever spent a period of time studying for a race, before placing your bet on the horse you've determined looks 'nailed on', only to see it unluckily fall at the last, get beaten on the run-in, never quite make it under a lambastable jockey, etc.?

It happens often, right? And the way we deal with such reversals of fortune will ultimately define the success or failure we have in the long term.

Because the problem with chasing is it's irrational, and it happens when you're in a bad place mentally. You spent an hour going through that race where the gods mocked you, and you lost twenty quid when you should have won two hundred. So what happens next?

The scenario that I remember from my ugly past - which still gets replayed roughly once every four months - is that I see a race going off in about five minutes time, I rush to the paper on the wall (or the internet race card), and I inspect the race conditions and the form of the favourite.

If the favourite looks good, I bet it. With more money than I backed the selection I took much more time over, which finished unluckily. That selection where I'd looked at all the other horses in the race, and made a clear case for my pick, and against his opposition.

Here I am saying, 'the favourite looks like he has a favourite's chance, so I will throw money at him and hope he bails me out'.

'Hope betting'. That is expensive. When that 'jolly' gets beaten, perhaps in a close finish (30% of favourites win, but 62% place), you may feel doubly hard done to.

Obviously now the spiral is gaining downward momentum, and control is lost. The wallet opens and the next favourite is backed on little more than a whim. Soon enough, the last tenner in the purse is being lobbed at a greyhound - a bloody greyhound! - to nick back a few more punting chips with which to attempt to steal parity.

You walk out of the betting shop a hundred and fifty quid down. Or five hundred. Or a tenner. It doesn't matter really. That's a question of the scale of your betting. But the point is universal.

You feel terrible. Forget the money. If you're lucky enough to be able to afford to lose that amount (which we all should be, but this is not a time of rational thinking generally), you will still be kicking yourself at the stupidity of it.

So here's the deal: although I titled this one as 'never chase losses', I fully appreciate that this sort of monastic discipline is beyond most people - certainly beyond me - and I want to make these pointers actionable.

When you next encounter the ugliness of the above, 'wipe your mouth'. Accept it. Commit to not doing it again, at least not in the near future. Do NOT repeat the scenario on the next payday, Saturday, whenever is your punting day.

If a reversal like this keeps you straight for three to four months, as it generally does for me, then it is simply a self-levied 'stupid tax' on our entertainment, and our longer term quest to win a few quid.

Shit happens. But it shouldn't happen every week!

8. Don't Pay Too Much Attention to 'Stable Whispers'

How to Bet: Forget Inside Information

How to Bet: Forget Inside Information

We'd all love to believe that there exists a mythical shortcut to betting fortunes - and what more attractive fortune is there than one accrued from gambling - as a consequence of insider dealing. Stable whispers. Job horses. Plots.

First up, let's be clear. They do happen.

Second, let's be realistic. With all due respect, unless you're paying serious money, why the hell would anyone tell you?!

But we're weak. And we're fundamentally lazy. We want to believe that the bloke in the pub knows something. Or that the 'tipster with connections' is letting us in on a coup. Who wouldn't like a few friends like that?

Alas, nine times out of ten (stat made up on the spot to illustrate the point) the horse is beaten, or wins at far too short a price to offer a profit in the long term.

The problem with stable whispers is that they, like my out of control 'alter ego' in #9 above, only focus on the form credentials of one animal in a race. Dobbin may well have been 'lined up' for this event. He might even be 'catching pigeons' on the gallops. Plus myriad other banal cliches to exhort the virtues of one amongst a number of beasts facing the starter.

Yes, the problem is that this solipsistic (there, I've said it!) contention is akin to walking around with your hands over your eyes like a three year old and believing that because you can't see anyone else, there's nobody else there.

It. Is. Not. That. Simple.

Nor should it be. Where's the fun in that? Win and you want more. A dirty addiction; a filthy affliction, wedded to someone else's knowledge of one animal in a race. Lose, and you need a scapegoat. (Clearly, it should be you. But if your blind faith in others is such, then you're hardly likely to see your own reflection when it comes to the mirror of the post mortem...)

OK, too much sermonising there. The point is simple. If you already did your research and came up with a horse in a race, and then someone said it was fancied by the stable, great. Even if they fancy something against your selection, you might review the merit of that horse based on the form in the book (or however you choose your horses).

But taking one person's word for a single horse in a race about which you have no other opinion is irresponsible, and you ought not to do it. Next!

7. Watch More Racing.

How to Bet: watch more racing, back less camels

How to Bet: watch more racing, back less camels

All right, if listening to whispers is irresponsible, then how can we seize the ownership of our punting ways. Firstly, watch more racing. And watch it with your peripheral vision set to 'widescreen'.

What I mean by that is that betting is inevitably a pursuit of self-interest. We want to be right. We want to win money. As a consequence, why on earth would we watch any other nag but the one that could gloriously validate our pre-race assertions during the contest?

Er, because we probably will want to have another bet in the future... Again, flippancy aside, only one horse wins a race (apart from dead heats of course), and only one in six last time out winners follow up in their next race (stat not made up, but based on all UK winning horses in the last eight years).

So if you want to know about a horse's winning chance, in five out of six instances you'll need to look beyond the most obvious.

There are lots of ways to watch racing these days. The bookie, for sure. Some pubs show ATR and RUK, the industry channels. And ATR is free to many people with a digital telly. Subscription to will give you a lot of races as well. And will give you access to some races. will also allow you to review past races for free.

There is then no excuse for not watching more racing. Aside from finding the time to do it. If time is precious, then you'll likely have to accept that there is limited utility in this entire post, because pretty much all of the points here require a time for knowledge transaction.

[Incidentally, time is a curious construct, which seems to expand or contract in direct and inverse proportion to our needs for it! But it can be tamed, and previously lost hours reclaimed, with a bit of desire and a clear action plan.]

When time is of the essence, your records inspection will support you in identifying where best to focus your attention in the limited window available to you. If you have an 'eye' for sprints, watch sprints. Look for troubled runs, or poor piloting. Look for potentially unfit horses who ran well and then may have 'blown up' due to lack of match fitness.

Some of these pointers you will find in the form book. But you'll see much more if you watch races, even if you're relatively inexperienced.

And, trust me on this if you don't already know, the satisfaction of finding an unheralded winner in this way smashes the living daylights out of receiving a 'hot tip'.

6. Don't Bet Outsiders.

How to Bet: don't bet outsiders

How to Bet: don't bet outsiders

Again, I know this may be draining all the fun out of betting on horses, but here is a sobering fact:

In UK racing since the start of 2009, just 1.75% of all races have been won by a horse starting at 20/1 or bigger. And those horses account for a bigger amount of lost betting points than all lower priced horses put together (roughly 35,000 compared with roughly 31,500).

That's a quite staggering stat to my eye.

Generally speaking, big priced horses are big prices for a reason. Lack of talent, maybe. Lack of form. Or unsuitability of conditions are three obvious reasons.

Trying to be clever is the best thing you can possibly do when betting. But we have to acknowledge the time and the place for contrarian thinking.

This is the logical slot for my 'wisdom of the crowds' reference... this has been discussed in great detail by far, far more erudite and intelligent bods than me, but in essence what we're saying here is that if three people have to guess the number of sweeties in a jar, they could be miles away from the actual number, when their guesses are averaged out.

But if three thousand people estimate the number of sweeties in that jar, and their guesses are averaged, there's a pretty strong probability that the mean average will be very close to the actual number. [You can read more about the wisdom of the crowds here.]

In betting terms, this means that a bookmaker may open his book with a horse at say 8/1, but it will take very little time for the crowd to 'assist' the bookie in moving the horse's odds far closer to the true price. This might mean it shortens or lengthens, but generally it will move. By off time, the market will have a very solid idea of who should win, and the likelihood thereupon.

And we can see the effectiveness of this collective betting wisdom by looking at the patterns of market rank (i.e. favourite, second favourite, third favourite, etc) and market odds.

This table, taken from, shows the direct correlation between odds and win strike rate (and, actually, also losses).

Odds Bets Wins WinStrike SP_PL
A) Less than 1/2 1042 766 74% -30.71
B) Btw 1/2 & 10/11 3291 1757 53% -265.05
C) Btw Evens & 6/4 5017 2096 42% -282.66
D) Btw 13/8 & 9/4 10883 3377 31% -890.79
E) Btw 5/2 & 4/1 32822 7006 21% -3144.8
F) Btw 9/2 & 6/1 31966 4509 14% -4170
G) Btw 13/2 & 8/1 34509 3559 10% -4799
H) Btw 17/2 & 12/1 41145 2964 7% -7356.5
I) Btw 14/1 & 20/1 47408 2116 4% -10788
J) Btw 22/1 & 40/1 41723 842 2% -16591
K) 50-1 or above 30667 181 1% -18633

And this one illustrates the market rank principle in the same way:

Market Rank Bets Wins WinStrike SP_PL
1 31851 10156 32% -2365.2
2 29822 5673 19% -3865
3 29633 3982 13% -3899.1
4 29396 2806 10% -5421.2
5 28257 2200 8% -4480.5
6 26632 1438 5% -7052
7 23855 1017 4% -7485
8 20472 655 3% -7937.5
9 16752 468 3% -5826
10 13318 293 2% -5205
11 10191 190 2% -4173
12 7298 125 2% -3172
13 4870 74 2% -1936
14 3042 38 1% -1461
15 1869 26 1% -936
16 1085 15 1% -375
17 679 6 1% -395
18 411 5 1% -184
19 296 2 1% -211
20 168 1 1% -139

Again, we can see the direct relationship between market rank and win strike rate.

This is why I, and many others who are generally shrewder than me, look for a 'sweet spot' in the market. This is somewhere between the 'blindingly obvious' of short priced favourites, and the 'blind pin-sticking' of backing 20/1 and longer shots habitually.

A couple of important caveats to this are as follows:

1. If you identify a horse in the morning that you genuinely believe has been wrongly priced, then that's fair game. You will know by race time whether you were right to do this. If the horse has contracted into the 'money zone' (18/1 or shorter), well done, and good luck. If the horses are the same price or longer pretty much as often as you bet them, you may need to re-evaluate your technique.

2. If you identify a horse in an ante-post market that you genuinely believe has been wrongly priced, then that too is fair game. Again, you'll know by race time whether you made a smart call or not. And again, too many bad calls means it's time to get the metaphorical drains up and review the proverbial plumbing of your picking processes.

Either way, if your horse starts at 20/1+, you now know your chances of collecting!

5. Systemites Need Logic and Discipline!

How to Bet: Logic and Discipline

How to Bet: Logic and Discipline

Few things polarise thinking in betting circles as much as the use of betting systems. Here, I'm not talking about staking plans but rather mechanical rules-based selection techniques.

For instance, 'bet grey horses on a Wednesday when there's an 'E' in the month'. (I have deliberately used the most preposterous example I could think of).

When systems fail to be profitable, it is generally to do with one or both of the two main components involved in their operation: the system, and the user!

Let's look at that in more detail.

Firstly, the system. If you've been around racing for any length of time, you will probably have a pretty good 'bullshit detector', both when it comes to sales materials and system rules.

I've left the 'how to spot a scam artist' element for another day, because this is about you and me and how we can bet better.

So, the system. Use this as a rough framework through which to run a possible system, either devised by you, or bought by you.

1. Does the system have a vast number of rules?

Most of the best systems I've used are based on simplicity and strong (but often contrarian) logic. Every rule a system employs takes it a step further away from the most logical premise of all: a horse, in a race.

I'm extremely loathe to put a precise number for the rules threshold as that will be arbitrary, and in some cases fewer would be better, while other will demand deeper drilling and more rules.

Generally speaking though, more than five or six rules is probably whittling down to a statistically unrepresentative sample size. (However, to further complicate matters, experienced judges can still create micro-systems in very small pools of data, when they use a portfolio approach).

2. Are the system rules based on logic?

I saw a system recently that said, 'bet in all months except December'. When I asked why not December, I was told matter-of-factly that the system wasn't profitable in December.

In case you didn't know this already, the fact that a part of a variable (e.g. a month in a year, a going type, a race course) is not profitable is no reason in or of itself to exclude it. Equally, the fact that a part of a variable is profitable is no reason to include it.

It is the logic that underpins the rule that determines whether or not it should be included. Let's use a couple of examples to illustrate what I mean:

- Firstly, suppose I'm looking at a turf flat system which relies on the fitness of horses as its rationale. In this case, I might well be justified in excluding the month of April (the first full month of the flat turf season). Further, I might be justified in excluding a horse's first run of the season. Both of these exclusions would generally support the underlying rationale of my system, which is to bet fit horses, defined as those who were not having their first run of the season and in any case were running later than April.

- Secondly, let's say I was looking at the performance of highly weighted handicap chasers, based on the going conditions. Suppose I had a nice correlation of profit to loss based on going, from firm through to heavy. But suppose within that, the 'good to firm' category showed a loss whilst the 'firm' and 'good' categories (the neighbouring descriptions) were profitable.

There could be no conceivable logical reason to exclude races on 'good to firm' from my calculations. And, if the profile was sound enough, I'd proceed despite what looks to me like an anomaly. In other words, I can't explain why I'd exclude it, so I'll assume that in the future races run on that going description will conform to the general trend of races run of quicker surfaces.

These examples aren't brilliant in truth, but I hope you catch the general drift of what to look out for, and how to stop yourself from 'convenience fitting' (which I much prefer to the much misused 'back-fitting', a valid technique used by the likes of weather forecasters, insurance underwriters, and, gulp, system developers. Here's a Wiki definition of back-fitting).

Now let's look at the system operator, i.e. you or me!

Ask yourself some questions here. When a system says, 'I advise a bank of x points', do you start with a bank of x points? When a system advocates paper trading (as I always do) through all or part of the refund period, do you do that? If you are creating a system, and it suffers a losing run, are you likely to go back and 'tinker' with the rules?

If you don't use the recommended bank, or paper trade, or stick to your rules, fair enough. But you need to know that it may not be the system that is at fault... especially if it is grounded on the principles of sound logic espoused in the first part of this point.

As a user of one or more systems, we have a responsibility to be clinical in our trialing and / or betting approach. Like stable whispers, systems can be a bit too sterile for some tastes, and it can be argued that they take the magic out of the selection process.

However, for others, the narrowing of the selection process to a (hopefully) proven set of parameters is a joy, and the identification of those picks a happy moment in the daily routine.

Either way, a system user must either 'buy into' the logic of the system, or not. These days, when I see a system I can generally tell if it has merit or not by cursory inspection. After that, if I'm not sure, I'll use a database to interrogate certain rules to see if they make some sort of sense.

If I decide to incorporate a system into my portfolio, then I stick by it for a reasonable period. A reasonable period is three months at least (although it varies, depending on the number and price of selections).

Too many people lurch from one system to the next after a few losers, whining that the product doesn't work. If you're one of these, then forgive me, but how do you know if it works or not?!

In point of fact, there are stacks of betting system review sites out there these days, many of them reputable. Of course, we still do some reviewing here on geegeez. But most of the betting system reviews are now carried out on or, both of which are within the geegeez portfolio.

These are reliable sites, where products are trialed for sixty days, and a view offered not just on their profitability but also their ease of use, volatility and various other factors that influence the usability of a system.

So, no excuses, the evidence is there, and one needs to take personal responsibility for how and when systems are used. 🙂

4. Good Runs and Bad Runs.

How to Bet: good runs and bad runs

How to Bet: good runs and bad runs

I can't remember where I first read this, but it has always stuck with me, and I want you to try to remember it. I'll explain why in a minute.

"After a good run, expect a bad run. After a bad run, expect a good run"

Everything is cyclical: good times, bad times; night, day; yin, yang; blah, blah.

So here's your problem: you receive yet another email declaring that System A or Tipster B has been on the most rip-roaring tsunami of winners that you surely must be a mug not to pay up and join up.

Well, er, no actually. What should you expect to happen? "After a good run, expect a bad run."

I don't need to tell you that nobody is infallible, and alchemy was proven to be bunk in the middle ages when they were not very good at science.

If someone is telling you they've found a stack of winners... heck, even if you actually believe them!... the inevitability of a losing run in the near future is set in stone.

Let me put this another way: "After a bad run, expect a good run"

It is the most contrarian logic, maybe, but if one of the systems in my backing portfolio (note, I wouldn't do this with a laying system) has a losing run, I often increase my stakes.

Why? Because I know that if a system has made it into the portfolio, then I have confidence in the underlying logic. I also know something of the likely length of losing runs, based on the average odds and such like. So I know when to turn the taps on a little, and by how much.

This is the case with my own Winning Trainers (aka Dirty Two Dozen) as I write (22nd December). It's on a losing run of 43. FORTY-THREE.

But that was after a period when it had four winning months and is still over 110 points up since going live at the start of August. And, as these runs are wont to do, I - and other Winning Trainers users - have suffered second places at 8/1, 11/1, 17/2, 11/1, and 16/1 in those 43 losers. Bummer. But that's life.

I've increased my stakes for the second time in this run, and am looking forward to the inevitability that 'after a bad run, expect a good run'.

May I suggest that the next time an email or mailing piece tells you of a phenomenal run, you consider what I've written here.

Oh, and if you want to, you can read more about Winning Trainers here.

3. Tipsters and Shysters

How to Bet: Beware of Tipsters

How to Bet: Beware of Tipsters

Tipsters. The very word sends shudders down my spine. I know a fair bit about racing, and I write a fair few pieces on here (and elsewhere) which conclude with a selection. But I am not a tipster. I'm much more of a systemite, I'd say.

The problem with tipsters in the main - though there are exceptions, some of them notably good - is that you don't actually know if they're any better at picking horses than you!

Another problem with tipsters is that many followers of tipsters want winners not profit. As long as the follower in question recognises that, there's no problem at all.

What I mean is that 'Honest 'Arry' could give five winning tips from seven in a week, but still lose money if they were all odds on, some of them heavily.

Now if 'Honest 'Arry' has a track record that is both in the public domain and has shown 'imself to be profitable, then all well and good. Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and all that; good runs and bad runs.

But if 'Arry's trick is to make people think they're winning because of the number of winning selections, then we have a problem. This happens more than you might imagine.

We need value in our winners. What is value? Well, aside from being another article entirely, it is this: a sufficient return to both justify and pay for all of the losers and leave a little bit besides.

This, I'm afraid, will often require the user of tipsters to keep records (gasp, again). But the bookie accounts will show the tale of the tape (recorded messages).

Now, don't get me wrong. Whilst I'm personally not a fan of tipsters (I prefer to back my own judgment, for better or worse), there are some good ones. Tom Segal (Pricewise in the Racing Post) is the most everyman affordable and effective tipster I know.

For a couple of quid a day, you can get real insights. I remember recently on the amazing 'Champions Day' card at Ascot, he put up two horses in the closing 30 runner apprentice handicap (amazing Champions Day, bar that), and they finished first and third. The winner, Edinburgh Knight, was 18/1 and the third was 12's, having been heavily backed.

Top tipping.

Gavin's brother Gary is a notable tipster of sprint handicappers at huge prices. They don't win often, but when they do, they pay for the losers and leave a lit bit extra besides. That's value. And he's been doing it for the twenty years I've known him. He's just a judge of these things.

So yes, you can find the occasional top tipster. But look for clearly documented evidence that they are who they say they are, and they have tipped who they say they've tipped. Again, OBE and ORR have tipster reviews which you can trust as coming from the geegeez stable of reviews.

Me? Like I said, I prefer to pick 'em myself, though I will often look to see what Tom Segal or Gary have put up (and they'll generally make my placepot perms at least!)

2. Be Selective!

How to Bet: Selectivity

How to Bet: Selectivity

It is impossible to win every race. Duh! But if you're the type who sits in a shop backing from race to race, or sits at home doing the same, here are some interesting pointers.

The top tipster in the Newspaper Challenge this year is Rob Wright of The Times, with an excellent 26% strike rate and a loss of 6.22% of all stakes invested. Across 8673 picks, that's pretty good going.

But blindly backing favourites this year would have yielded a 35% strike rate (more winning favourites this year than usual), and a loss of 7.01%

'Favourites' sits second in the newspaper challenge behind Rob Wright, with all other 'paper tipsters lower down.

However, if we look at the national newspaper 'nap' selections, we get a very different story.

There are fully seventeen newspaper tipsters in profit with their naps. The pick of the pickers is currently Blackpool Gazette's Steve Simpson, who is over 31 points in front.

My point here is that selectivity is much more likely to lead to profit than trying to bet every race.

If you must bet every day, no problem. Have that 'action bet' sub-bank ready. It makes sense that if you're following a system you trust, or you fancy one, you should be having a bigger bet than if you just want to have a wager.

There's nothing at all wrong with 'just wanting to have a wager'. I do most days. But I might have a tenner (or a fiver) on a 6/1 shot. Or I might even have two quid on a longer priced thing, for an interest. This is different from when I fancy something, and the stakes reflect that.

The numbers in the stakes above are unimportant. Some bet more, some less. The material point is that when betting for fun, use smaller stakes.

When betting based on a view, bet your normal stake. And be selective.

1. Commit to Learning

How to Bet: learn more about racing

How to Bet: learn more about racing

What a boring number one point, eh? Well, yes and no. It depends how you think about it really. For me, watching racing presented by intelligent people (I'm afraid you'll need a satellite dish or digibox for that, in the UK at least), is instructive.

Reading blogs - maybe even this blog - can be helpful. Reading books too.

It doesn't really matter how you learn best, whether it's the spoken or written word, TV, internet or a book or newspaper. What matters is that you understand that if you keep doing what you've been doing, you'll keep getting what you've been getting.

As cheesy and hackneyed as that maxim is, it is also true. So commit to learn more about horse racing and betting. Understand how the betting market works, and the different routes into it (ante post, morning prices, best odds guaranteed, exchanges, arbitrage, laying, tote, indices).

Learn more about trainers to follow. Look at how class affects performance. And pace. And fitness. And speed. And jockeyship. And trip. And so on and so on.

It is as impossible to know everything as it is not to learn anything when you commit to the subject matter. For me, this is a lifelong journey, irrespective of whether I get to continue writing here or not. I'll never lose my love for racing, and betting, and my thirst for knowledge remains as unslaked now as it was the first time I ever watched a race.

I have more books to read on the subject than there is time available (currently on Michael Pizzola's 'Handicapping Magic', a rare out of print US text written about ten years ago; and Racing Post's 500 Greatest Gambles, a bit of light entertainment with some interesting historical snippets that I'll drop into the blog from time to time), but that's ok. I'll get to them... probably. 😉

The other side of the coin, for more experienced racing bettors, is research. Who says you can only consume the work of others? The internet has both made huge quantities of data readily available, and made everybody a potential publisher.

This is how I got to jack in the day job and indulge my passion. And it's how I've ended up writing 5000 words here, when I only planned for about 1500...!

But this is not about me. It's about you: about you being a better bettor.

If just one or two of the points above resonate with you, and you vow to work on those elements, you'll have more fun, win more money, and feel more in control of your racing and wagering experiences. Surely, that can't be a bad thing!

Please re-tweet, like/share, or otherwise spread the love in this post if you think it worthy of such actions. Thanks in advance. 🙂



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39 replies
  1. john doland
    john doland says:

    A brilliant post Matt wise words indeed.May I wish you and yours a
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  2. Mal Boyle
    Mal Boyle says:

    Well played Matt—a decent Christmas present to give to us all, irrespective how much experience we have.

    Merry Christmas to you and all readers!

    Mal Boyle

  3. Dave
    Dave says:

    Thanks Matt for another great post.
    It’s always good to be reminded of the basic things that we all should know but seem to just ‘misplace’ as time drifts by.
    It’s also good to be reminded in an entertaining manner, however i must point out that I will be soon opening up my OED to check if some of those big words are valid entries 😉
    Hope you have a great xmas in Bisogno Towers


  4. tony
    tony says:

    Nice one Matt,one to keep.All stuff we know but great to recap.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours.Thanks for all the good stuff and
    regards to Chinelope.

  5. Roberto
    Roberto says:

    Merry Christmas Matt, (you mad muppet!).

    Still laughing at Chinelope’s greeting and self-flagellating at the wise article. (I said flagellating, NOT flatulating…. not today anyway).

    Oh and Happy New Year.

  6. Dave Wisbey
    Dave Wisbey says:

    Merry Christmas Matt,
    Thanks for that.Great article.
    I once had a stable whisper for a horse called Grittar, I told a few of my mates,and on the day of the National I overslept, and missed one of the greatest Nationals of all time,All my mates had backed him.


  7. Richard Dann
    Richard Dann says:

    I cannot add anything to the above, therefore I will just say Thankyou and MERRY CHISTMAS & HAPPY (PROSPEROUS) NEW YEAR.

  8. Peter Colledge
    Peter Colledge says:

    Lovely post, Matt, especially Number one. I do think the world of horse racing is a wonderful one, full of interesting people. Of course there are sharks out there, but the vast mass of folk are in it because they too love it. As we do here on this blog.
    Have a lovely Christmas, Matt and the family.

  9. Roddo
    Roddo says:

    Merry Christmas Matt,
    A lot of good common sense on betting.
    As you know i am hard to please and as usual i am going to take issue with your Winning Trainers (aka dirty two dozen) and the latest flavour of the month Partners In Profit.Like nearly all systems/methods it relies on history repeating itself (no problem there).What i do have a problem with is that situations change and the rigid rules cant cope.All credit to you Matt you updated your two dozen by throwing out losers like,D.Loughane,D.Rees,S.Higgins,B Haslam and R+S Alner.You then introduced some new trainers.To have as many consecutive losers will have meant you have lost some subscribers(understandable if they joined recently).I think TTS,Partners in Profit and Winning Trainers will lose in the long run.I will sight one example from Partners in Profit.It sights backing a stable when a certain rider is on board,in level 3,4and 5 races.The problem here is last year when these stats happened he was second string jockey,hes now number one.Last but not least the emerging jockeys(5 and 7LB claimers)are not taken into account.B.Powell jnr being the obvious example.
    i hope you prove me wrong but i do believe this sort of method is over and should just be a part of the vast selection method that is required.

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Roddo

      I expect nothing less of you! 😉

      To answer your question regarding Winning Trainers (I like the other products, but they are not mine and their publishers are better placed to expound upon them than me), the product has been produced with simplicity in mind.

      It operates in the ‘sweet spot’ in the market and it focuses on unfashionable and/or emerging trainers.

      As a point of order, Messrs. Higgins (nee Liddiard, or vice versa), and Alner were removed because they no longer train. Mr Loughnane was removed because he has very few runners (he trains in Ireland and sends a few over, like the decent priced winner he had the other day), and Mr Haslam inherited his dad’s stable but alas not his dad’s acumen/training panache. Mr Rees was disappointing, and has a small string which are now badly handicapped.

      Such products necessarily have to churn as the ebb and flow of trainers, jockeys and owners dictates. That’s why TTS is renewed every year (and has shown profit in all previous years), why Winning Trainers is a tracked service and will iterate going forwards (and is miles in front), and why – I presume – Partners in Profit will follow suit (also very comfortably ahead of parity).

      Nothing is more reliable in racing than the habits of trainers. Spotting those with a profitable habit before the crowd is something I very much enjoy. The nature of betting such trainers, with their decent priced horses, must lead to losing runs and, of course, these aren’t for everybody.

      But for some, they’re the backbone of a portfolio.

      Anyway, that was the case for the defence. 😉

      Merry Christmas to you too, and a Happy New Year.


    • Phil
      Phil says:

      Hi Matt.
      I have answered Ian’s (Roddo) points personally.
      For the benefit of others reading here I would like to repeat part of the answer.

      Roddo’s points are based on one or two mistaken presumptions. Specifically in relation to Sam Twiston Davies. STD was included giving due consideration to his new status as stable No1. and the previous history of Paddy Brennan who chose to leave. The fact remains that the trainers profitabillity in higher grade races is not favourable. Much the same as Matt has pointed out in his excellent article that winners don’t necessarily mean profit.

      Again as Matt rightly points out the system is based on logic and whilst it is accepted that past performance is no guarantee of future results, the case would be the same if selections were made on basis of current form. Partners in Profit will be updated as and when it is obvious to do so, but not because a trainer or a number of trainers have simply had a recent poor run.

      Matt has addressed these issues far more eloquently than I could ever hope to in points 4 & 5 of his above post.
      If anyone requires clarification on any aspects of Partners in Profit specifically, please feel free to contact me at


  10. Mondo Ray
    Mondo Ray says:

    Matt – what can I say? Er, BIG man-hugs (if that’s alright), for a beautifully conceived and executed mini-rule book for any and all bettors. This should be required reading for any newbie to the game and cetainly for the rest of us at regular intervals.

    With your permission, I’ll copy this to SpawnOfHYS for not only the regular posters, but also the few dozen who occasionally dip in.

    I’m afraid “pedantic me” had a bit of a chuckle at your “altar ego” in the same section as your “sermonising”. More tea, Vicar? I know you meant “alter ego”, literally “other self”, but my OCD wouldn’t let me not mention it!

    I’ll also have to take you to task about not backing outsiders, and the retro-fit method employed by some spiv tipsters. I’ll need a longer post and more time to go into detail, but for the moment suffice to say that linear back-fitting, viz the algebraic Gaust-Seidel Method is incorrectly viewed as an iterative or “notwithstanding” theory displacing anomalies. Unfortunately, the G-S method incorporates or smoothes over such perceived incongruities, discounting the value of their existence.

    Anyhoo, enough for now. I’ll come back to you with more on that.

    Again, thanks for the blog, and a Happy Hannukah, Super Saturnalia, Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Haha, excellent stuff Ray.

      I actually changed alter to altar without checking, obviously. Doh. I’ll amend now to avoid further embarrassment!

      Re Gaust-Seidel and co, I take your point (I think!) but this is still the method used by forecasters of weather, insurance premiums, and the like, no? Presumably on the basis that it is the most accurate means of using the data available (i.e. in the absence of a crystal ball). That I think is different from what is commonly referred to as back- or retro-fitted in the racing sphere, terminology which is applied to any rules-based system predicated on historical patterns.

      Do feel free to re-post, and thanks for the man-hugs. 😉


  11. Ian
    Ian says:

    Excellent stuff…..

    We should all pin it to the wall and make it our 2012 betting resolution to follow the excellent advice….

    Compliments of the season to all at geegeez and all geegeez readers…

  12. Will Freeman
    Will Freeman says:

    Enjoy all your posts Matt,have not bet to much over the last few months other things to pay but i have been gathering info during this time and intend to get stuck in from boxing day not big stakes but enough to get me into the grove picking up titbits like from your monthly newsletter etc..
    Hope you and your family have a great christmas and 2012.

    Cheers Will

  13. Kathy Williams
    Kathy Williams says:

    Great post Matt. Hope you have a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

  14. Duncan
    Duncan says:


    Your post is, as ever, a very well constructed and completely valid piece extolling the virtues of time and effort.

    So often we forget even as humble recreational bettors
    Time and Effort in = Enjoyment and Profit out.

    Thanks Matt and Merry Christmas

  15. DaveW
    DaveW says:

    thankyou matt for taking time to write a useful article with some obvious but others more subtle observations you have made over the years.

    merry Christmas and a happy 2012 to you, your family and your readers.

    all the best everyone! 🙂

  16. Joanne Jones
    Joanne Jones says:

    Thank you Matt. Merry Christmas and keep the wise words coming in the New Year. You always bring me down to earth just when I think I have found a great tipster or system.

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      They do exist Joanne. But, as they say, even the queen’s waste smells… (or words to that effect).

      Good runs, bad runs. And no, that’s not a further reference to Her Maj’s toilet habits.


      p.s. there goes my knighthood! 😉

  17. Peter Hodges
    Peter Hodges says:

    Useful post Matt. As you and I both know, there is no fast track to winning at betting on horses. It’s just pure hard work assisted by a large slice of luck. Keep up the good work, and a Merry Xmas to you and yours, and also to all readers of Geegeez.
    PS. The winner of the King George would be useful.

  18. Gary
    Gary says:

    Many thanks for all your posts this year Matt, this one is the tops, the system I am following at the moment is backing certain trainers on heavy going, Its early days yet but already showing a profit in the first month. I think the secret with systems is you must stick to it through thick and thin, and not giving up after a few losers. I rarely back ante post but I am tempted to have a large wager on Dabirsim for the 2,000 guineas. When Frankie Dettori says its the best 2 year old that he has sat on, then one must take notice, what do you think Matt?. I wish you and your family a happy and prosperous new year. Best regards, Gary.

  19. David
    David says:

    Sorry Matt, but if gambling was based on logic then every bookmaker would be skint! Have a good Christmas and let’s hope Kauto brings a tear to everyone’s eye on Monday.

  20. peter new
    peter new says:

    Great post Matt, as usual very thorough and most interesting. All I need to
    do now is find the will power to put those rules into action. I’ll let you know!
    A very Happy Xmas to you and your family and all your many readers, let’s
    hope it’s a good one financially,
    Many thanks,

  21. Robert
    Robert says:

    Hi Matt

    Regarding the going I agree with you that omitting G/S because it shows a loss while Good and Soft shows a profit is no reason to omit it.But I would omit Firm or Heavy in the same instance without any hesitation.

    Regarding point 5 and your 20/1 shots did you research how many of these won when running in 16+ runner races with a 7/1+ fav ?Something I will look into later.

    And TTS , correct me if I’m wrong , ONLY makes a profit every year to betfair SP.As a previous purchaser of this system and a loser of my bank while using it(dealt with at the time , as you refunded my money).

    I no longer use betfair the £2 minimum stake and a plethora of winners at the evens – 2/1 bracket paying less than SP being the main reasons.
    Annoying when you’re struggling for winners.

    Also its difficult creating systems when you find lots of anomalies like the one you alluded to with good to soft going.
    I have seen it with horses in the 13/8 to 9/4 price range and runners whose last race was between 25 and 35 days ago yet either side of these is profitable.

    I am rambling somewhat , so may your winter be a warm one.


  22. Ed
    Ed says:

    Hi Matt,

    Once again a Great Post, and wishing you a merry Christmas and a better new year for all 2012.


  23. Kenneth Minter
    Kenneth Minter says:

    Hi Matt,
    Had to grin about the loss chasing comments, it took me years to shed that habit but every so often i can feel it rearing its ugly head. Have managed to all but stop that by only taking the cash i need for the required researched race and leaving wallet and cards at home, just incase the weakness returns, thankfully has meant a far more structured approach to my betting, only taken me 30 years to get there but better late than never!

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Great stuff Ken – that is definitely the answer. Also, in my own experience, NEVER drink in a pub that has a bookmaker next door… 😉


  24. Joe Quirke
    Joe Quirke says:

    Brilliant article Matt and as you said yourself, probably your best ever! A great read and if I only take in half of the advice I will be on the right track in 2012. Happy Christmas to you and everybody at Geegeez.

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Thanks Joe. All the best, and if I don’t see you on 30th, hope to catch up with you in the New Year.


  25. Mondo Ray
    Mondo Ray says:

    Happy New Year, Matt!

    Further to my post of 22/12, these are my annual stats, as proofed to SpawnOfHYS –

    Month + bets – wins – Strike Rate – SP – EP – Betfair price

    Jan 161 bets..3 wins…..1.8%….. -114……-110…. -85

    Feb 145 bets.10 wins….7%SR….-19.5..,,+17…. +54.5

    Mar 194 bets..14 wins…..7.2%……+4.5….+41…+129.5

    Apr 187 bets..13 wins…..7%………-35…..-15…….+29

    May 179 bets…8 wins…..4.47%……-29…..-18……+66

    Jun 119 bets…7 wins……6%………-6……-2…….+58

    Jul 122 bets….4wins……3.33%…….-55….-39…..+22.5

    Aug 92 bets…..1 win……1.3%……..-83….-79……-76.5

    Sep 77 bets…..5 wins……6.5%……..-2……+9……+65

    Oct 117 bets….4 wins……2.9%…….-33…..-38……+33

    Nov 143 bet….10 wins……7%………+11.5…+39….+123.5

    Dec 196 bets….8 wins……4%………-72…..-57……-7.5

    1,722 bets……87 wins……5%……..-432….-252….+412

    As you see, it was a poor year for mud monkeys in my jumps handicaps sytem,due to the warmer than average temperatures. 2009 and 2010 were very profitable at Early Price bets, and moderately so with SP. 2011 gave me a nice £4,120 profit from Betfair, but the previous years were much more profitable at Early/Best prices than even Betfair this year.

    As well as my standard £10 per point, I’ve been doing £5 place bets but without keeping a record of them, however my account suggests a profit of around £800 on those.

    I’m always tweaking the system, and this coming year I’m going to do a separate breakdown of Chase and Hurdle handicaps. Any further pointers, from yourself or other Geegeezerz, would be much appreciated!

    Hope I haven’t bored you too much!

    Ray T (Mondo)

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      That’s very interesting reading Ray. I’m guessing your winners are fairly big prices, especially on Betfair. This sounds like a perfect example of finding your own furrow and ploughing it. Well done on the record keeping and the profit fronts!


      p.s. feel free to email me the details… 😉

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