In this third article, I want to address the issue of what punters expect from their betting. Do we want too much, not enough? Are we reasonable or unreasonable in our expectations?

Now some of you will say you expect nothing, because you bet as a hobby and a way to have some fun. Any profit that comes your way is a bonus.

Fair enough. But there are many punters who keenly want to make money from the game. They set about it with a ferocious intent and in a myriad number of ways. Some may make small gains over a year, fewer will make significant profits.

Most will lose, unable to bear the “take” by the TABs and the bookies. Even Betfair punters do it tough. There is no easy way.

Yet the punter who seeks a big profit and gets only a little one, or loses, is a disappointed man.

Why, he asks, did my expectations fail? Well, let’s get a couple of things straight. It’s all very well to set goals but don’t make them dreamer’s goals.  And, secondly, look at yourself if things go pear-shaped because to win you have to select winners, and you have to back them correctly.

The punter who sets about betting in $1 units, and sprays bets all over the place, and hopes to make a thousand dollars in a day, or a week, or a year, is kidding himself. Short of landing a mammoth windfall dividend, his dream is never going to be fulfilled.

In his book Horse Racing Logic, writer Glendon Jones sums it all up this way: “The consistent winner has learned over time that, when doing a proper job, the hours are long, the work is intensive, the bets are few, the percentage returns are usually modest, losing days not uncommon, and the winning streaks rare.

“Consider profit expectations, for example. A reasonable profit expectation can range from 20 to 50 per cent on monies wagered for a method that yields two or three plays a day.

“Experience, however, suggests otherwise. The primary reason to foster MODEST expectations relates to achieving psychological perspective. Having proper perspective implies an ability to remain relatively unaffected by short-term hardships and losses on the one hand, and by good luck and excessively high gains on the other.

“High expectations force a player to be more extreme, to take excessive risks by wagering on exotics bets and seemingly large but non-existent overlays. The resulting disappointment can be psychologically defeating, to the extent that it leads to further unreasonable behaviour, setting up a vicious circle that terminates in collapse.

“To make it as a consistent winner, the player must eventually learn to cope with these inevitable cycles and break out of them before falling apart.”

Jones says the key is to practise self-suggestion, with constant quiet reminders to slow down, keep calm and be objective, and to patiently strive for moderation and a smoothly functioning, business-like operation.

He advises: “Thinking in terms of months, race meetings, and years rather than races, days and weeks is also important in keeping proper perspective.”

I think Jones makes a lot of sense with his advice about much value a punter should place on any series of bets.

He says: “Expectations about one bet or any series of bets of less than 50 or so are unreasonable, because there is simply no way of knowing which bets are going to produce winners, and which are going to produce losers.

“A player may win 35 per cent of all bets but the sequence of winners and losers is unpredictable. During the course of a year, it is entirely possible that, say, 20 out of the first 100 bets will all be winners, while 50 or more of the last 100 might win, thereby keeping the winning average over the first and last 100 bets at 35 per cent.

“Such variation can reasonably be expected during the course of a long season. A player with REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS should be able to cope with this kind of wide but normal variability of results.”

Like Jones, I firmly believe that all punters need to keep under control the twin demons of fear and greed. This can only be done if you bet on horse racing in a reasonable way with reasonable expectations.

Horse Racing Logic by Glendon Jones is available from bookshops on the Internet. Try

By Rick Roberts