In this article, UK professional Guy Ward continues his essay on the personal elements needed to become a successful punter. Ward’s website is at

Most punters are LAZY! They have religiously followed a doctrine of poor planning and lack of research. They refuse to study and spend hours looking at how they can win at betting.

They refuse to invest in the game and invest in their own learning. You can’t refuse to spend money, just look at the racing for 30 minutes and expect to win long term. You simply can’t get away with that in the hardest trade of all.

If it was that easy, then millions would do it. You must either invest in your betting, or pay someone to do just that.

Natural human tendency is to try and get away with the least amount of effort. Lazy punters are cannon fodder for the bookmakers. They make little or no effort in their selection process nor make an effort to extract maximum returns from their bets. Those who put the most work in are the more likely to succeed.

My philosophy is simple. I believe that if a bookmaker, journalist or odds compiler spends three hours on a race then I’ll spend six hours on that race to gain the edge.

The famous golfer Gary Player once said “The Harder I Work the Luckier I Get”. That is true about both golf and betting.

Amazingly, most punters fail to learn from their mistakes. They continue for years making the same basic errors time and time again. Pure stupidity.

Strive to improve your betting performance by continually learning from the mistakes and weaknesses is your game.

Your bookmaker may have been laughing at you for years. You have it in your power, however, to improve your betting and wipe that smile from his face for good.

There is only one way to win money long term betting on horses. You simply have to bet in a way that allows you to bet horses that have a far bigger chance of winning than the odds available would imply.

You may have read the old cliche about a flip of the coin. This basically suggests that a random flip of any coin will see a 50 per cent strike rate for heads and a 50 per cent strike rate for tails over a long series of flips.

If you are able to achieve odds greater than the true chance then over time the laws of mathematics and probability dictate that you will make a long term profit.

With racing it isn’t actually as simple as that because racing changes in complex ways over a long period of time.

Emotion comes into betting, human error occurs, losing runs happen, horses and trainers improve and deteriorate rapidly, money management problems occur, personal finances dictate stakes at times and successful methods of betting can always be undermined by the evolution of the sport. Markets, weather conditions and so many other
factors come into play in the evaluation of “true” chance.

Fortunately horse racing is unlike any form of casino type betting where no mathematical edge can be gained over the house. The fact that human input is involved in both the initial formation of the odds and the fact that popular market sentiment can distort the available odds, throws up opportunities for the astute punter to cherry pick long-term value bets.

If an odds compiler spends three hours on a race, a bookmaker spends two hours, a journalist spends one hour on a race and a trainer spends 30 minutes on a race, then I’ll spend four hours on that race and make sure I get it as right as I can.

There are no short cuts. The harder you work and the more study you give to any contest, test, race or bet then the more edge you will have.

There is no secret. Anyone can do it with sufficient experience, time and hard work but some choose not to have to do so and are prepared to pay others for a quality job. The only method I know that works for me is Blood, Sweat, Tears and Hard Work.

My father worked at the racecourse for the Press Association (UK) and that led me into the horse racing game from an early age.

I remember playing truant from school to watch Shergar win the 1981 Derby, but my first trip to the racecourse was for the Ebor in 1984. I had managed to bet the favourite for that year’s Greyhound Derby, Smokey Pete at 50/1 antepost. On finals night he started at odds on, then got beaten. I have never bet greyhounds since.

I bet Western Dancer in the Ebor at 20/1 to a £1 stake which as an 18 year old student was a big touch! After that I was hooked. I then started betting properly in 1985 at the Cheltenham festival and See You Then became the horse that won me my first real money from the game.

I drifted into Betting Office work which I did for years. I was fortunute to befriend a fellow manager of an office who won at betting regularly. He carved a real profit from the game and went on to become a professional gambler. He still does that now and is a known “face” on Midlands and Yorkshire tracks.

He taught me all the bad habits to avoid, he saved me thousands of
pounds, hundreds of losers and fast tracked me to how to win at the game.

The lessons were invaluable. The myths and cliches were exposed through a few years of racing with him on track, and through further time spent working on the racecourse clerking for an on course bookmaker.

With the knowledge I picked up I managed to stay ahead of the game and stay afloat. At that time I was also working part time in betting offices and then went to work for a prominent tipster as a researcher.

My knowledge base grew through study, reading betting books, learning through my own and other people’s mistakes. I became a regular winner.

As a committed player I moved on to more advanced topics like formulating my own speed figures, statistics, and betting style that allowed me to leave work fully to concentrate on betting professionally.

The Internet has developed in recent years into a tremendous resource for betting. I used that to gain an even greater edge.

I seriously believe that with the advent of the internet in conjunction with tax free betting and betting exchanges such as Betfair, it has never been easier to make money as a punter.

Many punters ask me: Can you win money through stable information? Is this the best route to winning money at betting ? I have long held views that there are two types of information. These being what I term Primary Information and Secondary Information.

This is information VERY FEW people get to hear about. It is NOT in the public domain and is information that cannot be bought easily, can’t be guessed, can’t be found without great effort and expense and can’t be bettered.
Certain horses from top UK stables this year were perfect examples of primary information. These are horses that don’t always gallop with other horses and certainly not with “work watchers” peering through binoculars.

They are never mentioned in despatches or gallop reports, they are animals that have a certain amount of ability that have been hidden from everyone, including stable staff, the “pay for information” merchants and the loose talking work watchers. The only people in the know are the trainers and the owner when appropriate.

This is the sort of information that comes from a variety of sources, that is already in the “public domain”. Many people “pay“ contacts for direct horse racing information. This comes from people like stable lads, head lads, bookmakers, credit offices and is often not much good.

It’s “secondary” in the fact that the information is easily accessible to a significant number of people. Far too many people know about it, bookmakers get it as well, and the danger here is that all you are getting are snippets and part of the ”rumour mill merry-go-round” that far too many others have access to.

Every day, horse racing is littered with horses that can be described as being “secondary information” horses.

There is a place for information but I am not a slave to it and you won’t win long term if you rely on it to the detriment of other types of analysis. Like many in the industry for years, I have a team of informants and confidants that pass on all their best news to me but experience over many years has taught me to sieve it, examine it in light of many other factors and treat it professionally and assess it for what it is.

Click here to read Part 1.

By Guy Ward