Why do so many punters lose at betting? What is it they do wrong, apart from picking too many losers?

It's my firm belief we can point the accusing finger at bad habits-punters committing the same mistakes time and again, no matter how much the mistakes, of which they are aware, cost them in dollars and cents.

In a way, it's like a child who bums his fingers on a hot stove and yet continues to place his hand on it. So often, when it comes to betting, punters do not stop to think. The same errors of judgement are committed.

It's always wise to keep a close check on your outlays on betting. If you do not keep a detailed record of wins and losses, you are only fooling yourself. You'll be surprised at how much money is involved over a 12 months' period, and how much you might lose.

If I could give just one piece of advice to any punter it would be to invest in a $2 notebook and keep a strict record of every bet you have. Throw in, too, all your incidental expenses associated with your punting, like form guides, newspapers, racetrack admission, programmes and food and-drink consumed while at the track.

The amount of money it costs just to keep up with all these 'miscellaneous' expenses will also give you something of a shock.

I've drawn up a list of common bad habits and what you should do is scan them and ask yourself, very seriously, how many apply to your betting. Then, make a conscious effort to discipline yourself not to fall into the habits again.

These are just some of the bad habits that may afflict you as you go about the business of betting. Don't feel too mortified if you are prone to one or more of the failings because the majority of punters are in the same boat.

Punting is like that. It breeds bad habits. It breeds indecision, stress, worry, fear and, often, desperation. It is these things you will always have to cope with and find ways of beating.

A run of losses can dent the confidence of e en a super optimist. A run of wins can send even the most sensible punter on a rampage which, inevitably, will lead to his demise.

If you can discipline yourself to treat your punting as a serious business then you are a long way down the track to overcoming many of the bad habits I have mentioned. The answer lies within yourself.

Bad habits will bring you down. Eradicating them will help you end up financially ahead. Think about it.

  1. HAPHAZARD BETTING. Popping into your TAB agency and scanning the fields just for the sake of having a bet.
  2. SCATTERGUN SELECTION. Betting on horses whose names you had never heard of before seeing them pinned up on the TAB sheets in your local agency.
  3. WINNING, THEN LOSING. Don't finish up a loser after having been a winner. If you get ahead at the track, or during the day betting on the TAB, always slip at least 50 per cent in your pocket as a dividend and bet the rest.
  4. BETTING ON EVERY RACE. Most of the consistent losers bet like this. Race by race punters have very little chance of success. Patience is a virtue.
  5. BETTING WITH FRIGHTENED MONEY. Never bet the money you cannot afford to lose.
  6. CHASING LOSSES. We've all seen the desperate punters chasing their losses on the last race at the track. Their judgement is warped and they forget that there's always another race day.
  7. PUNTING WITHOUT CAREFUL STUDY. Picking winners is one of the hardest assignments. Closely investigate every horse you fancy.
  8. BACKING HUNCHES AND GUESSES. Okay, once or twice you'll stumble on a winner. Most times you won't. Make it a rule never to have a bet unless you have a strong logical reason for backing the horse (or dog).
  9. POOR MONEY MANAGEMENT. You might be the wisest and best tipster around but you still need to know how to invest your money. Study as many staking plans as you can and choose the ones that suit your betting style.
  10. SEEKING THE IMPOSSIBLE. It's folly to go to the races to be on longshots. With eight races, 12 horses in each race, there are only 8 favourites but there are likely to be at least 40 horses qualifying as longshots. Which ones will you be on-and will they be the ones to bob up?
  11. RUSHING IN TO TAKE ODDS-ON. Small punters too often rush in blindly to back odds-on favourites. Only when you can detect the true favourite from the false favourite should you consider laying odds-on.
  12. BACKING ONE HORSE A RACE. Why not play a safer game and back two horses per race? You reduce the chance of striking long losing runs and all your eggs are not in the one basket.

By Martin Dowling