Do we bring bad luck on ourselves? Do some of us subconsciously attract all the 'negatives' in this world? When we bet, are we just 'hard luck Harrys'?

I guess that, like me, you've heard friends complaining about their bad luck. The old 'why does it always happen to me' syndrome? Sure you have.

Dreams do go under the hammer when Lady Luck runs out on you. But is it just lack of luck, or doesn't luck come into it? Why, then, do some punters seem to be much better at the game than others?

Skill levels come into the equation, obviously. The more you know about what you're doing the better it will be for your betting future. Yet even punters with a lot of knowledge fail to make a profit from their betting. Why is this so?

Perhaps it's a matter of attitude. A positive attitude, without being a reckless one, is more useful to a punter than an attitude of negativity that cramps betting flair and results in ultra-conservative betting approaches, and 'fear' of risk.

George Kaywood, author of the best-selling book Handicapping In Cyberspace: The Horse Player's Complete Guide to the Internet, has firm views about the value of a positive attitude.

Kaywood says: "You're probably familiar with Dr Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking, or books with titles such as Think And Grow Rich. The central idea of these books and others like them is you can achieve any goal you want (as long as it's physically possible, of course), primarily by simply visualising that goal and reinforcing the vision over and over.

"According to the theory, the process of visualising and reinforcing programmes your subconscious to seek the goal, with your subconscious 'steering' you, reshaping your thinking and actions to work outwardly to reach the goal.

"I'm here to tell you that it works. I think it's very unfortunate that the concept has not been given the serious endorsement it deserves.

"A couple of decades of pop psychology, psychobabble, and the labelling of a lot of worthless feel-good ideas as self-help or success-building business practices, have discredited a legitimate idea that works.

"Some common examples come to mind right away: clinical hypnosis, and the behavioural change (usually group meetings once or more weekly) reinforcement sessions used by everyone from AA to franchised weight-loss clinics.

"So, how does this apply to handicapping? The things that you can do to 'reprogramme' yourself may appear to be idiotically simple steps to many: set aside a place and time to sit and simply visualise yourself handicapping, making a bet, then cashing tickets; writing down a positive affirmation and repeating it several times a day aloud, reading it before bed-time, and so on.

"But they work. How do I know? Because I've done it. And in more ways than one.

"This is stuff you're not taught in school, college, or in most areas of life or business. It does border on the edge of what many classify as the intuitive, psychic, or just plain mumbo-jumbo.

"Interestingly enough, several books that have come out over the last few years in which business leaders who achieved great success in their fields were interviewed. Asked how they arrived at their greatest decisions, the response was not 'by planning and research' as much as by gut feeling, an almost intuitive decision that came immediately and without question.

"Could it be that the gut feeling, the intuitive flash, comes from your conscious mind being able to bring together all that your subconscious has been accumulating, directing, and driving you toward, in one so called quantum leap?

"Based on my own life experience, especially in racing and handicapping, I know it's possible. You have probably had at least one or two days in which you knew that certain races would be run a certain way as if you wrote the script for the race, and didn't do what you'd call any serious handicapping at all.

"A fluke day, or a coming together of all the handicapping factors on a different level of thinking that is not considered as an option by most? The power of positive handicapping is the same as the power of positive thinking but specifically directed to handicapping.

"A couple of real-life recent examples illustrate the power of thinking in a positive way. Before I tell you the story, let me preface it by saying that I do not mean this to be a bragging session and that this type of situation definitely does not happen every day!

"At Fair Grounds (USA), I had doped out several quite legitimate longshots in one turf race each day. In the first race, one of the longshots won and paid $30, with the other two finishing third and fourth. Although I bet on the winner and cashed, I was very annoyed.

"The mystery horse that ran second went off above 20/1, as did the horse who ran third. The exacta paid $732 and the trifecta paid over $10,000.  The next day, an unexpected horse ran first, with my next three horses finishing 2-3-4.

"Sandwiched around these races were two other turfers in which I hit low, but cold exactas."

Kaywood explains that he was complaining about his' losses' to a friend who verbally slapped turn in the face.

Says Kaywood: "He  said something like 'Are you NUTS?

You've just won two races and your plays that lost damn near won, and you were one of the few people to spot the horses' ability. All you need is one score like this and your season will be made!'.

"Of course, he was absolutely right. My point of view was focusing on the negative, when I had in fact done, by my own standards, a really good job of handicapping those races, a very positive thing! Those cold exactas looked mighty 'warm' after he brought me back to my senses."

George Kaywood recommends several books that he believes can help punters to boost their mental approach in betting and in life, generally.

The books are:

THE MAGIC OF BELIEVING by Claude M. Bristol. Old (1948) but not dated and a clear, easy-to-understand approach to the concept.

THE INTUITIVE EDGE by Philip Goldberg. Well-rounded look at the entire process we use in making decisions.

THE LUCK FACTOR by Max Gunther. Every gambler should read this book. Examines all the different theories of luck and how to improve yours, as implausible as that sounds!

THE RIGHT-BRAIN EXPERIENCE by Marilee Zdenek. A little more avant-garde but has some excellent stories of how  people in different professions learned to think more creatively of solutions to challenges in their work.

Kaywood's thoughts are highly relevant to punters anywhere in the world. If you're one of those who often believe you are 'jinxed', then it will more than pay to examine his remarks, and to delve into books that offer ideas on reshaping your mindset.

After all, it's no fun going through your betting life full of regrets and remorse, and with tales to tell of missed winners, lost protests, missed opportunities, and so on.

It's boring for yourself, and for your friends, if you come across as a 'mug'. Your tales of lost riches may well get you a laugh from your mates in the pub, or at work, but betting is about much more than missing out or attracting a few ironic laughs.

Change your psychological approach and you may well change your fortunes in the game. The money in your pocket will stay there and be boosted rather than disappear.

Check out George Kaywood's publications and further thoughts at the following website:

By Denton Jardine