In this article, I want to point out the importance of persistence. What does this factor really mean? Well, the dictionary says that persistence is to continue firmly in an action in spite of obstacles.
Ring any bells? Sounds like the punting life to me! The pathway we tread in betting on our chosen code is always peppered with obstacles and these can prove frustrating, disappointing and depressing for us because we have money involved, and time and effort to boot.
Glendon Jones puts it even more succinctly. He writes: “…Long boring periods of poor opportunities, periods of emotional and financial hardship during losing streaks, loneliness, hard work, fear and greed cycles, self-doubts, the physical demands of track life, and self-recrimination for mistakes.”
Phew! Luckily, as Jones is quoted to add, there are balancing plusses, the major ones being the sense of freedom, the challenge, the potential for large income.
Yes, all these are attractions, and yet the battle is always won or lost with the individual. And to be in a position to prove a winner, he or she has to show that persistence in large amounts.
The moral of this? Stick at it, and even in the face of a tidal wave of disappointment, persist and be positive and work hard and things stand a good chance of turning in your favour.
Patience runs alongside persistence. One can’t come into play without the other.
Glendon Jones says: “Successful horseplaying entails a lot of waiting for favourable situations. While there may be as many as four or five good bets on some days, on other days there may be none.
“If the sporadic pattern of bet occurrence is not recognised and accepted, impatience can destroy in a few hours the profits accumulated over weeks.”
What Jones is saying is that you should not fall into the trap of betting when you shouldn’t bet, just because the good opportunities haven’t presented themselves, or because you simply haven’t got the patience required to wait and wait.
“During long dry spells I would often make large bets to relieve the boredom,” admits Jones. “Boredom? Yes. Playing the horses in a serious way can be rather tedious at times. On some days there are simply no profitable betting opportunities, on other days perhaps only one.” Of course, patience may not come into play for many serious punters. I know many who bet race after race with apparent wild abandon and yet emerge winners over the years.
Some months back I met up with a pal from my university days, and we went out to Rosehill races together. He told me he’d been betting full-time for some years, and I was impressed and expected to watch him make one or two big bets at the track.
I was more or less struck dumb when I saw him go into action from the first race with a series of bets on four or five runners! He won something like $200 after outlaying $700. He was quite happy with that.
He couldn’t lose, he said.
He’d backed the only strong chances in the race and had a guaranteed profit no matter which of them won. He did the same thing in the second and in the third, and so on.
When he totted up things at the end of the day (he noted all his bets in a small diary) he’d bet a total of just over $5,000 and had won close to $1,000.
“Now is that a good day’s work or is it not?” he said to me with a smile. I had to agree it wasn’t bad at all. A 20 per cent return on turnover. No businessman would scoff at that.
What is the philosophy behind this chap’s approach? It’s certainly not one to do with patience, but it is to do with persistence.
He picks the eyes out of the form, zeroes in on four or five runners, and then he bets them to guarantee himself a profit or a break even situation. It’s a combination of form skill and arrogance PLUS betting courage.
This man has an OPINION and he’s quite prepared to lay it on the line in race after race, and he maintains that any sensible punter can do the same.
“Why not?,” he asked me. “Anyone can sit down with a formguide and pick four or five horses in a race and get the winner. All you do is back them as best you can, making sure you are going to get some sort of a profit, even if it’s only a few per cent.
“What’s so difficult?”
I explained to my pal that it may be easy for him, but for many it wasn’t, for various reasons to do with psychological makeup, financial stress and an inability to assess form correctly.
This chap’s approach is in stark contrast to another man I know who makes a lot of money from racing but adopts the patient approach. He will sit out days and sometimes weeks at a time before striking, and when he bets it’s usually around the $5,000 mark.
He’ll go for something like Grand Armee at 7/4 at Flemington on October 30. He rang me the morning of the race and declared it. Could not be beaten, he said. In hindsight, how right he was.
In one bet he picked up something like $9,000. No wonder he has patience.
These examples highlight the points I’ve been trying to make. In one punter it’s a persistence to believe in himself and his strategy, in the second man it’s a combination of both patience and persistence. Each wins. Each follows different paths.
Glendon Jones talks a lot in his book about the need to recognise failure. In horse racing betting we are going to experience much failure over the years and Jones maintains that learning begins only after failure is recognised and understood.
“It is an easy and even natural tendency to blame failure on factors outside the horseplayer’s realm, for example, blaming an unprofitable year on the presumed skullduggery of trainers and jockeys, or on racetrack stewards who supposedly did not do their jobs in enforcing racing rules,” says Jones in his book Horse Racing Logic.
“Rationalisation of results in this way hinders the advancement of knowledge and ability and has no place in a serious horseplayer’s set of principles.
“Failure patterns and habits are very difficult to change. This is not to suggest in any way that there is not hope for a horseplayer who continues to fall back into comfortable but incorrect methods, but to suggest instead that the road to rational and correct behaviour is long and distinguished by many blind alleys.”
Lesson from all this? Don’t kid yourself too much that it wasn’t you responsible for a losing bet! Many times it will be your lack of judgement that led you to back a favourite that flopped. Sometimes you will be the victim of a bad ride or simply a horse’s off day.
The thing to do is to look at all your losers and search for the REAL reasons for the defeat. Go right back to your own form study.
Decisiveness – Just Do It
Do you have trouble making last-minute decisions? How much do you bet, which horse to bet, which horse to jump off and which to jump on?
If you do then decisiveness is not your strong point. You need to brush up on that aspect of your betting game, especially when it comes to deciding whether the odds are right for a bet.
Glendon Jones says in his book Horse Racing Logic: “Effective decision making at the track has its roots in thorough preparation before going to the track (or betting off course). When fully prepared and familiar with the competitive relationships among horses, the horseplayer should not find it overly difficult to spot an odds line that is significantly out of proportion.”
He’s saying that you should not put yourself into a panic situation by being unprepared when you bet. Know as much as you can about everything and then bet DECISIVELY.
Don’t get last minute jitters. If you do, then you probably haven’t kept yourself right up to the mark with your form study. Professional sports players don’t go into major tournaments underdone and in betting neither should you.
Think of yourself as a super sportsman, a golfer at the Masters, a tennis player at Wimbledon. Think like a pro, play like a pro.
Click here to read Part 1.
By Rick Roberts
PRACTICAL PUNTING - DECEMBER 2004