The Ups and Downs of Tipping Services

Tipping Services. We all know of them. Many of us follow one or more, and many of you will follow Stat of the Day, geegeez.co.uk's own "anti-tipping" service which is currently enduring a difficult run. Let's call it a correction.

In this post, I want to talk about tipping services generally. Not about how to tell a good one from a bad one, or what measures you should put in place to protect yourself from unscrupulous charlatans. You can find that (useful) info elsewhere if you need it; or you can be assured that the services we trial and review here are almost always legit (after several hundred reviews there is the occasional bad apple in the barrel, sadly, but we do a lot of legwork to save you the time and effort).

No, I want to talk about the psychology of following a tipping service.

When we sign up to a tipster, we are essentially deciding to trust someone else's opinion. There should be good reasons for that, reasons way beyond the bold claims of an email or a sales page. Reasons even beyond solid proofed results over a notable period of time. We need to be clear about things like losing runs, how selections are arrived at, when they're delivered, whether quoted prices are attainable, and so on.

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The Trouble with Hugh Taylor...

As an example, Hugh Taylor of Attheraces is a superb tipster, perhaps the best public picker in the game. But... he makes his picks on the morning of the racing, which for many people is a no go due to work or other commitments; and the prices, often only available in one place, evaporate in seconds; and even if you're able to get those prices, your betting accounts very quickly get marked and then restricted.

In other words, following Hugh Taylor simply isn't something which is feasible beyond a few short weeks. That's not his fault, but we need to be clear that those superb - and legitimate, to a degree - results are published for academic purposes only, as nobody can achieve them or anything much like them for very long.

Ditto to a lesser degree Pricewise, although the Racing Post no longer publishes an advised price because the nature of a price being printed in the newspaper the next day while markets continue to operate overnight is anachronistic.

So we need more than just good results to have success following a tipster.

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The answer vs the working out

When we were back in school, maths exams would award marks for getting the correct answer. But there would generally be at least as many marks available for showing your "working out". That is, the rationale you followed and the means by which you arrived at the number you ultimately scribbled on the paper.

Tipping is the same. Some guys send the name of a horse and invite you to get on with it. No reasons, just a name. That's all well and good when they're winning - actually, it's not, but the malaise of this method is masked under such a scenario - but as soon as the losing run comes, what is there to fall back on?

Even if the deliverer of those names is really good, how can you know that?

It's my opinion that the best tipsters explain how they arrived at their selection. In that explanation may be more nutritional value than the pick itself, often much more.

For example, last week while sitting in for Chris on Stat of the Day, I flagged a horse called Secret Return at 8/1. He was sent off 3/1 favourite but finished nowhere. Now 8/1 is normally a good bit bigger than we post on Stat of the Day, but I wanted to share the name of someone I felt would be worthy of note in coming weeks. Here's what I wrote:

I wanted to highlight a new trainer who is definitely one to keep onside regardless of how today's (longer odds than usual) selection runs. His name is Paul George, and he's the son of Karen George. Since taking on the license he's hit the mark with some big priced winners, including 33/1 and 50/1, from just 18 starters so far.

Four of those 18 have won, and it would have been five but for Essgee Nics unseating - in a National Hunt Flat race - when leading inside the final furlong. Obviously with those big priced winners, George's figures are positive: he's +83.5 so far.

Like I say, Secret Return was well enough beaten on Saturday (though remains one to keep onside), but since then Paul George has run two horses, one of which won at 8/1 (the other was beaten at 28/1).

George has started really well and those who took the hint will have recouped their losing stakes from Saturday and then some. That's what I mean by the value in the working out.

It's the same every day with Stat of the Day where Chris crunches a plethora of data and produces noteworthy takeaways on an almost daily basis. Even when the picks are not winning - more on that in a minute - there are things to note for followers' own wagering. And, to be fair, it's the same with Hugh Taylor's tips. And with anyone else worth their salt.

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Why follow a tipster?

So, why follow a tipster? As with most things in life, there are many paths that lead to such a decision. Some people are too busy to spend time in the form book, others don't trust themselves, and still others are simply not interested in the racing and see betting merely as a means to getting a few easy quids.

That last-named group are usually the first to cry foul, because they're not invested in the game and consequently derive no joy from the passage of a race: the result is all for them. No thrill, just bottom line. They take no accountability for their actions but, rather, want to outsource the getting of money whilst also abdicating the responsibility for the investment. Each to their own and all that, but there's little for such types here at geegeez.co.uk.

Most Gold subscribers who follow Stat of the Day also make their own selections from the data content we provide. One supplements the other, with the weighting varying from user to user. And, even in a losing run, those subscribers are informed along the way, the old grey matter inevitably absorbing snippets from day to day.

But, as I've hinted, following a tipster is not an abdication of responsibility. On the contrary. If you work for someone else, or someone else works for you, both of you are accountable for achieving - or not achieving - your goals.

The tipster follower's obligations include trialing a service before diving in (to check the volume of bets is acceptable, that the staking and time of delivery suits, that the odds range and associated losing runs are tolerable, etc etc); having a bankroll in line with expected downturns (and actually committing to using it); and making a strong determination to trust the service provider.

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Negative reinforcement

That last point is important. Most people who follow tipsters have lost money in a similar scenario before. Many will have repeated this cycle a number of times. As such, there is an expectation of failure very soon after joining a tipster who has suffered a handful of losers. Those previously burned - whether it was their fault or not (and, sorry, but generally fault lies at least in part with the tipster follower) - decide to bail early in the process to avoid what they perceive as an inevitable crushing loss.

And then they move to the next service.

And guess what?

Rinse. Repeat.

This is just stupid, right? If that's you, please stop. Just step out of the tipster arena and try and pick your own winners. Or do something else entirely. Because your fear of failure is preventing you from any chance of success.

Again, if that's you, please don't be upset by the message. Think about it. Think about how you engage with tipsters and what you can do differently to give yourself a better chance, either in the tipster sphere or on your own.

Because here's the thing: most people join tipping services when the service is trumpeting a significant winner or winning run. Sadly, we've already missed that nirvana moment, and typically they are few and far between.

"After a good run, expect a bad run; after a bad run, expect a good run"

That adage was told to me aeons ago and I've always kept it in mind. Nobody and no endeavour is immune to variance, to "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune".

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Roger Variance

Variance is a statistical measure of how far data is spread out. There are more complex (and more accurate) definitions, but that will do for us here. In the case of racing results, it helps understand winning and losing runs and is relatable to average odds of winners and average win strike rate.

Let's take the classic coin toss example.

Heads has a 50% chance of winning, as does tails. But over the course of three spins, one or other could easily 'win' all three spins. However, over the course of 10,000 spins we'd expect something extremely close to a 50/50 split of heads/tails winners (assuming the coin is legit, etc). It is possible from that data, via standard deviation and other stuff I don't really understand, to calculate expected losing runs.

Using a set of verified results from a tipster service - or from one's own betting performance - we can perform a similar exercise.

The point here is more general, up a level. It is this: in any given sequence of bets there will be winning and losing runs which are out of line - often far out of line - with the overall average performance.

Five consecutive spins landing on heads is double what we'd expect, and thus tails has had no wins. But we wouldn't go changing the odds on tails coming in next, would we?

It's the same with long term proven tipping services. They will have winning runs, and they will have losing runs. Over a meaningful period of time, those will largely even out.

It might even be argued that the very best time to join a proven service is when it is in the teeth of a losing run.

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What of Stat of the Day?

So Stat of the Day has had a rubbish August, part of a moderate summer overall. That's hard to swallow, especially for newcomers to it: they've not had the golden spring or winter which preceded the current downturn to sustain them.

Have a look at this chart.

 

In the context of just over 2000 bets spanning nearly seven years, we can see that the current downturn is only the third worst overall. The worst was between October 2015 and May 2016. But note how by the end of 2016 the losses were eradicated, and by May 2017 that downturn was a distant memory.

Likewise in late 2012 and into early 2013, there was a slide. By the end of 2013, that was reversed and a largely unabated winning run sustained itself until mid-2015.

The trend (dotted) line is really clear in this graph, meaning there is a very strong overall correlation between time (and, given the metronomic one-a-day nature of SotD, number of bets) and profit.

Assuming nothing has changed in the selection methodology - and NOTHING HAS CHANGED IN THE SELECTION METHODOLOGY - the reversion to the norm will come.

We have lots of very long-term subscribers who love Stat of the Day. The reasons are in its consistency - relatively, of course, see above - and in the general availability of prices, and in the explanation behind every pick, and in the accessibility of the service (published tea time the night before racing), and in the reliability of the tipsters and the plaform, geegeez.co.uk, on which they are published.

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Summary

Tipping services are an up and down game. There are some good ones out there. I don't mean the over-exposed ones where you can't get on; but rather services like Racing Consultants and Cleeve Racing and, yes, Stat of the Day.

All of those services have losing runs. Losing runs do not invalidate the prior and future success of the services; they just twist your melon, man, as The Happy Mondays might conclude.

So, if you want to follow a tipster, do your due diligence (or allow us to do it for you) and know that it can be bad before it's good.

Good luck!

Matt

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14 replies
  1. Blokeshead says:

    Anybody who knows someone who’s about to start betting on horses (or more or less anything else one can back to win or lose, thinking about it) should force them to read that article before said rookie is allowed to part with a single penny.

    I certainly wish I’d come across it 10-15 years ago and, indeed, something like it 30 years ago. T’would have saved me a fortune …. if I’d taken it on board at the time. That is, sadly, a big “if”, because I thought I knew everything, even though in reality I knew almost nothing.

    Thanks Matt. May your profundity never diminish and/or go unappreciated!

    Reply
  2. Everyone calls me Paul says:

    Yep and don’t reduce stakes, assuming you trust the process, because then you miss the upturn. There is a perfectly sound argument for backing a good run of form, and vice versa, but personally (and I suspect for most of us) keeping a consistent long-term approach takes the emotion out of the decision.
    Good piece, Matt.
    Paul

    Reply
  3. daisyworld99 says:

    Excellent article, but as regards staking a very old plan is to bet a percentage of your bank.Effective when your enduring a longish downturn.In your defence a critical factor in betting is keeping abreast of the going,especially as your research is done some time in advance and weather conditions can change goings in a short period of time.Thanks for doing all the hard work anyway

    Reply
  4. RFC85 says:

    Agree. Good article. As someone who is relatively new to the site (Feb 18), I have taken plenty of angles and notes for my tracker from the information that comes with the stat of the day. I have also been able to scale up my bet for information that I place a higher weighting on.

    Reply
    • Chris Worrall says:

      That’s an excellent approach.
      The stats used to back up an SotD selection suggest that horses like the selection are likely to win such races and even if qualifier A doesn’t win today, when B, C & D win in subsequent weeks, then I’ve done my job.

      Reply
  5. malcolm pendrey says:

    hi matt talking of hugh taylor, paddy power have been cunning of late, what happens is, i am quick to put his bets on, as have his twitter open as well, so know about to put tip up. few days ago gave each way on a 25 to 1, put on with paddy power , accepted it no problem @ 25, did not mention any lower price , but when checked on open bets odds got only !8 ! it was placed, this has been happening a few times, not putting any more hugh taylors on with paddy power.

    Reply
  6. Brian says:

    I would never pay for a tipping service unless I can see their past results for at least 250 selections. Even then they can be deceptive because the price that they quote is not available by the time you receive their selections. If a tipster can show a profit to industry and/or Betfair SP over a sustained period then you should be confident that, if you stick with them, you too will profit but be wary if their published results are based on “advised prices”. For example, I saw 1 selection today that was advised at 8/1 but the best price I could get 2 hours before race time was 4/1 which turned out to be the SP as well. No value by then so no bet.

    Reply
  7. secretariat says:

    In my opinion value is all important.I avoid handicaps as a general rule.I only bet on Betfair. In Ireland I confine my bets to A.P O’Brien,Joseph O’Brien,Jessica Harrington,W P Mullins and Gordon Elliot.I find the outsiders of these
    trainers when they have more than one runner, particularly interesting.

    Last Saturday I had a small bet on one of A.P.O’Briens which I hacked up at 55/1 (Betfair odds).The horse was returned at 20/1 SP.

    I managed to miss Catan yesterday R.Charlton at 33/1. Top trainers who run their horses honestly regardless of price are central to my game plan.Western Australia won at 14/1 (A.P. O’Brien) yesterday is another example of the type of winner I look for. Daddy’s Poppit Archie Watson won today at 14/1 (top trainer with a long priced runner in a poor race.Thank you Matt,delighted to have found your website-most impressed .I found three outstanding sources of winners in my time.

    Reply
  8. Rotund legend says:

    As a full time punter I follow a significant number of tipsters, almost all through reduced offer subscriptions or free services in regard to horse racing. I do make good figures from doing this but it has taken me a number of years to get there. What my system does is track tipsters and systems and micros and record performance in excel and convert if to a graph, which then informs me which tipster to follow. Unfortunately Stat Of The Day is below form at present and so I am not currently backing the selections. However it has made me significant sums for a period up to April 2018 and I do have faith that it will bet back to top performance in the future.
    Backing Hugh Taylor selections had paid well in 2018 so far despite the advertised odds not being achievable. I suggest accessing them before 10 AM and getting on. He does tend to have a number of days off now and when this happens do not back the selections of his stand in, just wait for him to return.
    Good luck.

    Reply
  9. workington says:

    Great article been using 3 tipsters all rubbish,just taken a subscription out with geegeez gold,sure I will do better with geegeez.thanks Matt for the best racing site by far.

    Reply
  10. secretariat says:

    I did not mention Henry De Bromhead in my previous post. I added Paul George to my list some weeks ago.Backed the late Alex Scott’s first runner/winner at 50/1.M.Botti’s runners are always interesting.

    I also find National Hunt Trainers having runners in flat races worth a look. A.King is a good example.I draw a line through 90% of handicaps,only exceptions are when the top trainers have runners.

    Reply
  11. marcus sims says:

    There is a place for professional tipsters in my betting and I use 3. It took me long time to stop getting frustrated with tipster performance after a month and subsequently switching services and, like Matt said, getting the same disappointing result. I have now stuck with the 3 and my results are picking up. I would like to offer an opinion on why people tend to skip from tipster to tipster like I did: Tipster platforms, like Betting Gods, do a great job of promoting their tipsters so they naturally crow when a particular service is having a great run of weeks or months.If you join a service when they are crowing about it you are probably in for a disappointing period. Law of averages and all that.They also provide great information on the tipsters’ past performance so now, instead of taking a cursory look and joining on the basis of last 2 or 3 months result, I do a proper analysis of the data to make sure I’m comfortable with everything and know exactly what losing runs etc I’m letting myself in for. Matt is quite right, we need to take responsibility for following a tipster and doing our homework. Also, I would never follow a tipster who doesn’t publish their cumulative results on a platform like Betting Gods.

    Reply
  12. Francis Shepherd says:

    Tipsters and Systems? Don’t waste your time or money on them! Adopt a methodical approach to your Betting, Study Form and look for Horses that have a good chance to Win and Bet only if you can get Good value odds. All this requires patience, a sufficient Bank and Good Management of your bets. Grade your bets, e.g
    A. Very Strongly fancied. B. Fancied. C. Good Chance. D. Win and Place prospects.
    Try to Win a higher % of your Bank on A than you would on B, e.g 20% and say 18% and so on.
    I first became familiar with Tipsters and Systems from the Handicap Book in the early 60’s, thankfully I never sent for tips, systems and I would strongly advise against doing so. Before I knew better, I would study the results of various systems and try and figure out how it worked. One of these was Handicap “Blot” system, One Horse each week only never a loser!. After long hours of checking, the Horse selected(Handicaps only)was the Horse set to carry highest weight that was placed 1,2,3 or 4 last time out(current season). I could never figure out how the race was selected. The Jumps version was Principal meeting and Handicap chases. I concluded that it was deliberately set up, so punters would come see the selection method and think it was genuine and buy it! Later I was told by a Pro Punter that systems were all blx and you would get a “Minus Expectation” by following them. His advice Study Form 4 hours a day and box clever. He was always looking for vulnerable favourites and any angle to go for one particular Horse. Statistics can be an aid to Winner Finding, e.g last Thursday 13th at Doncaster .David Simcock & Andrea Atzeni when they link up at Donny have a 50% strike rate. Another Eclipse in the 4.40 which duly Won. Problem is, every reader of The Racing Post could have been aware of this stat. A lot of pro’s would have their own Edges or Angles, but once generally known the value is lost. Al Windemere an American Punter noticed 2YO’s on straight course were often beaten by Horses that had put up slower times, he figured out it was the Wind and purchased a device to measure it. He then factored in to his Calculations Windspeed & direction. For a time this proved successful until others became aware and the “Edge” was gone.

    Reply

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