Guy Ward is a well-known professional punter in Britain. You can read more about him at his website at:

Making long term profits from betting on horse racing is possible. The nature of the betting markets dictates that there will be many influences on available odds over and above the true chance the horse has of winning.

The key to success in betting is the ability to identify value bet situations where the odds available are greater than the true chance of winning, and then to have the discipline to methodically bet only when these situations arise.

Do this and then all the laws of mathematics and probability dictate that in the long term, you will make a profit.

In my experience the only way to identify value is through painstaking study of each individual race. Each race must be examined and analysed as a unique event. To effectively do this requires great experience and a thorough knowledge of the many factors that influence both the prediction of the likely winner of the race and the betting market for the race.

I use many tools to aid my prediction including speed figures, long term horse racing statistics, knowledge of individual horse and trainer preferences, track knowledge with additional information feeds from various contacts.
There is then the X factor which may be put down as gut instinct or more appropriately the benefit of years of experience.

I believe the key to my success as a punter has been the ability to go the extra mile in researching a race. In reality this boils down to a daily routine of blood, sweat and tears and endless hours forming my prediction of the outcome.

The first step to formulating a solution, is to define the problem.

The following points are areas of betting where many punters often get it wrong. My views arise from long personal experience and years of communication with successful and unsuccessful punters alike.

Read the following thoughts and you may be able to side step many of the pot holes others have fallen into in the past.


    Most gamblers fail to understand that the best method of achieving a healthy and sustained long term profit from racing is to set aside a sum of money away from your main finances, solely for the betting of horses.

    Whatever method or system you are using, whoever you are following or subscribing to or however your own bets are calculated, you are better off with a “Betting Bank” that has built-in advantages that can help you.

    It needs to be independent from your own personal finances and needs to be protected from factors that can threaten it. This can take a lot of emotion out of the decision making process. Emotion is a factor that threatens all punters.

    The size of your betting bank will be dependent upon your individual circumstances and free capital available. An analogy to the world of shares perhaps may be that no financial adviser worth his salt would advise you throw all your capital into the stock market alone.

    The vast majority of punters fail to use any form of set aside bank. They bet randomly with whatever money they have in their pocket at the end of the week or go in too deep with stakes far in excess of their personal safety levels.

    A punter with a professional attitude will set aside what he can comfortably afford to invest and then determine the best use he can make of that fixed sum of capital.

    With a fixed sum of capital available you now move on to the next reason for failure.

    It is vital you consider your betting bank as capped in amount. You do not have an endless pool of resources to dip into. Betting by its nature carries inherent risks.

    These risks include periods of low strike rates and long losing runs. Your betting bank and staking should be adapted for the method you use.

    You must, in advance, prepare yourself for the possibility of a worse than average sequence of losers through adoption of a sufficient number of units in your betting bank.

    Correct methodical staking, in addition to the mathematical advantage, can also help overcome the risk of emotional reaction to a sequence of unusually positive or negative results.

    Manage your accounts in a way that protects them as far as possible from the element of risk that the game presents you.

    Chasing losses at first sight may appear to be an easy way to guarantee an eventual profit but the true story is it is a game for fools and statistically will not work unless you generate an overall level stakes profit.

    Chasing losses is a game for the ill-informed who do not want to make the effort to seek value in their bets.

    Bookmakers have to price up every race. Punters don’t have to play in every race; they can pick the races they want to bet in, and that is the main edge that people fail to understand.

    If you have had a losing day, by attempting to chase your losses you give up that advantage because you will be betting in races that you should not be betting in. You are, therefore, betting the way bookmakers want you to and not in the way to win.

    Many punters will alter their stakes in the last race either to “chase” losses or “play up” winnings. There will be more racing the next day and the day after that. The secret is waiting for opportunities and only betting when you know you have circumstances which favour you and not the bookmakers.

    You must never change your approach, or deviate from sensible staking as there is no such thing as “The Last Race”.

    There is value to be had in every race. The key to it is understanding where that value is. Many times a punter will screw up a losing betting slip and say “At least I had some value”. There is absolutely NO relationship between value and prices.

    A 33/1 chance may be diabolical value yet a very short priced favorite may be supreme value. It does not follow that the bigger the price you take the better “value” you have. The value is sometimes clear but more often well hidden and it takes a trained eye to see that.

    Everyone has this “foresight” on occasions, it is a game about opinions after all and nobody is always right or wrong. Value can be the most expensive word in racing if you can’t bet winners. The old cliche is that value is about betting a horse whose true chance is better than its price reflects.

    That’s only a small part of it. You also have to make sure that you bet in the right way and in the right races as that is the only way you can keep strike rates high and protect a betting bank.

    You should continually strive to increase value in your bets. Once you have a selection you feel is value, do not just take the first acceptable price that comes along.

    Seek to improve it by shopping around the various bookmakers or try and top the best bookmaker’s price by looking to the betting exchanges.

    Marginal improvements on odds on each bet you make can have a dramatic effect on long term profits.

    Many punters seek the thrill of a life-changing bet that will produce huge gains of instant wealth for a small outlay.

    Professionals rarely bet in multiples. Most professionals bet singles and steer away from the multiple bets.

    Say you select any random 5/1 selection. If you bet this as a single the bookmaker may have a theoretical edge in his favour of 15 per cent. Taking two such selections, however, and betting them in a win double, the bookmaker profit margin rises to about 30 per cent!

    Yes, your win double can produce a much bigger win from the same stake but over the long term the bookmaker is eating away at your capital at a much faster rate.

    It’s a waste of time debating which type of multiple bet is “best”. Unless your prediction skills are supernatural or you are incredibly lucky, then betting in singles is more often the best option.

    You may say that many “Pros” do bet in multiples in bets like The Scoop 6 or the Jackpot (in Britain), but that’s only because they know there is plenty of “dead” money in any given pool and they are betting against people who don’t understand the dynamics of those types of bet. There are times you should bet in multiples but in truth they are few and far between.

    You can’t approach this as a Get Rich Quick scheme. It is a long, slow process of serious and sustained profit and not a game for Get Rich Quick schemers.

    Lack of discipline is the big hurdle for punters trying to turn a losing hobby into a winning one. Bookmakers know that. That’s why in every betting office in the UK you can bet on numbers, lotteries, ball games, racing from all over the globe with horses nobody has heard of before and even now computer animated, or as they call it, virtual racing.

    Bookmakers just believe that it’s a case of punters sitting all day betting on whatever is put in front of them and sadly they are right in many cases. They are simply thrillseeking and don’t care what they bet on, as long as they can bet.

    There is no methodology at all and many punters are simply a bunch of headless chickens prepared to pay long term for the warming buzz of the occasional win. Even more experienced regular gamblers who are savvy enough to turn down bets that they know are stupid always let themselves down by continually bleeding their profits with a fun $10 here and a fun $10 there.

    It takes great discipline to NOT bet at times. It takes discipline to walk away from a horse when the price isn’t right. It takes discipline to say no to that small fun bet. It takes discipline to keep your money in your pocket and deny yourself the emotional buzz of watching your runner.

    Punters come in all shapes and sizes. Even the shrewder punters who could win at the game, fall into the trap of lack of discipline of study. After a winning period they forget that what made them winners in the first place, was the effort they put in.

    They fall victim to over confidence, laziness and ill-discipline.

    Being a long term successful punter is like swimming against the tide. It takes an effort to stay still, even greater effort to move ahead and as soon as you relax or slack off you start to go backwards.

    Betting is a lonely game. It’s also a highly skilled game. Emotion undermines success in many ways.

    There is comfort in knowing that as a sheep when you are wrong it is not your fault as you were simply doing what everyone else was doing. With betting, the laws of market supply and demand dictate that long-term, the sheep will get fleeced.

    Emotion neutralises discipline and long proven successful practices. The result of any isolated race has little or no relation to races just before that or just after that. Races should be viewed in isolation from each other.

    We are all emotional in betting but the players at the top of the tree have this down to a fine art and can control those emotions. Other punters have long since been conditioned by bookmakers to EXPECT to lose rather than win.

    They have an in-built psychological factor that makes them feel like losers and they have been conditioned to losing by years of doing so.

    Over 95 per cent of punters are flawed emotionally. Examples of emotive gambling include punters blindly following a horse trainer or a jockey. The hype horses are cannon fodder for emotional punters. They may also follow tipsters blind as they hate the thought of missing out on a winner.

    They pay no attention to the changing conditions of a race. They misunderstand confidence and can’t cope with a lack of confidence. Emotion also prevents people from advanced betting subjects such laying, hedging and arbitrages.

    Emotion forces some punters to bet horses with certain names that remind them of loved ones. Names such as Long Tall Sally and Susan’s Pride attract many to them just for a name that’s relevant to them.

    Most punters have a grudge against their own money and winning and being successful is alien to them.

    Emotional punters lose their heads in barren times and fail to capitalise on winning runs. The more emotion you can rule out of your betting the more successful you will become. You have to view everyone in the game as your enemy and as people trying to take your hard earned money away from you in the same way as you would a pickpocket.

    Once you can master your emotions you have made the first big step to betting profitably.

    The grass is rarely greener on the other side. The truth is that the grass that isn’t working for you has not been grown, cultivated or looked after properly. Many punters change approaches and methods so quickly that they don’t give any method a true test.

    If they find a system that works they don’t continue after a few bad results. It’s the same as gamblers who write down every bet they have. Once they have a few losers they often lose the heart to do this and stop doing so and move on to another area.

    They are like children with new toys at Christmas. They never stay with any method long enough to prosper. They always feel the grass is greener, when in truth the grass they are using has been abused and left to deteriorate.

    They have no long term consistency in their betting and are constantly tinkering with what wasn’t broke or moving on in search of the holy grail before a full evaluation of what they are currently examining has been completed.

    A competition to win best garden will be won by the person who can spend most time in the garden and master its challenges, the gardener who is prepared to care about his garden and invest in the tools that will help his garden grow and keep the weeds at bay.

    It’s the same with betting. You will do far better long term if you can make a concentrated effort of learning and research in one key area rather than flitting from this to that.

NEXT MONTH: Guy Ward continues his fascinating, no holds barred look at betting and how you can become master of the business of making money on horse racing.

Click here to read Part 2.

By Guy Ward