In the final article in our series on international professional punters, we bring you more of American expert Andy Beyer's illuminating views on betting, plus the opinions of professionals from the United Kingdom and the U.S.A.

They explain how they bet, and where they think the average punters can improve their strike rates for selections and their profits by staking.

Last issue, Andy Beyer talked realistically about various aspects of punting, and said that punters who wanted to be over-cautious should not be betting. They should, he said, get a job instead! That would provide the security they obviously desired.

Adding to this theme, Beyer says the idea that you're supposed to go to the track with the temperament of a Tibetan monk does not look square to him with the actual realities of the betting game.

"There are people who do play races best in this fashion," says Beyer. "I know people who hate to lose a bet and so any loss kind of throws them off. These people are better off waiting for one big race a week.

"My temperament happens to be different in that I LIKE to bet, I could not sit there all day and not bet, that's totally unthinkable to me. I like to PLAY. I think it's important for everyone to fashion a betting strategy that acknowledges our own personality, our psychological reality, our bankroll, our expectations, our confidence - rather than put ourselves in a straightjacket that someone else knitted for us."

According to Beyer, betting itself is the toughest part of the racing game. He explains it this way: "You can, sit in an ivory tower and work out computer programs, then make your speed figures and learn about handicapping aspects of the game, walk into a racetrack fairly cold and still expect to do fairly well.

 "But betting is something that really requires experience, maturity and self-understanding and the first major step toward doing it right is to accept its importance. It's important to make a commitment to be a better gambler.

"Because that's what we're doing, we're gambling, taking risks - this is not a convention of social scientists!"

While talking about his own 'risk' approach to betting, Beyer does warn other punters that such an approach might not be for them. He says as "undisciplined" as his approach sounded, he had spent a lot of years "thinking about it, formulating it, planning a betting method that suits me and works for me".

On the question of betting on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, Beyer says he tends to approach 'race meetings' which in America means long-running meetings (say 60 to 65 days) all at the same track, a somewhat different situation to what we have here in Australia.

He stresses that it's wrong to be concerned about any one day's betting action. He warns against escalating your bets to try and' get out' on the final race (though he confesses he has fallen prey, and still occasionally does, to the last-race desperation bet).

He says: " You don't want to go off the deep end because of the results of one day.

"Your philosophy should be if you don't win today, there's always tomorrow. But, at the same time, I hate to have any given day get too bad. But we must remember that no bettor is, or can be, an automaton; no-one can function the same on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis.

"It's so important for the horse bettor to be honest with himself and to recognise when he's sharp, when he's doing well. Not just because he's had a hot roll of the dice, but because he's winning because he's on top of the game, and he should know when he's losing because he's just not in command. When you have those wonderful situations, when you feel you've really got the key, then go for it!"

Beyer always tries to pin down the 'track bias' for the day and once he knows the bias is giving him an advantage he will "sometimes bet nine races a day like there's no tomorrow, because I know I've got the edge. It's during those times that I really want to milk them."

Another U.S. expert with some pertinent views on betting is Eddie Hall, whose advice was first handed out many years ago, when he produced a series of betting handbooks in California. Hall is no longer with us, but his comments about punting remain as valid today as they were when he first published them back in the mid1930s.

Hall says: "To become a successful speculator on the turf, self-confidence is a necessary factor, for without this ability to rely on your own judgement, profitable results cannot be obtained. It's a fact that men who are successful in other forms of speculation, the moment they enter a racetrack and begin speculating, they will cease to use judgement, or use the same caution that have characterised their successful ventures outside the turf!

The reason is this: On a racetrack, conditions are so different and they fail to realise the difference between turf speculation and gambling. They adopt no fixed policy and simply become nothing but a haphazard player. When you just gamble, the result can end in but one issue – a loss."

Hall urges the punter to realise the "legitimate earning power of money' not only in business but on the racetrack, explaining his views this way: "What they would consider a reasonable return for their invested capital outside of the racetrack, would be scoffed at in the betting ring.

"It's this very principle connected with horse-racing that makes turf speculation a failure with 90 per cent of those who tackle the game."

Most U.S. pro punters chase the exacta payoffs (the exacta is picking the first 2 horses in the correct order). Lee Rousso is considered one of America's current greatest professional punters. He regularly bets exactas, trebles and the Pick 6 (a popular bet in America, but one which has always failed to fire in Australia).

Rousso, like many American professionals, makes big money from exacta hits. In James Quinn's excellent book, The New Expert Handicappers, he sums up his approach this way: "First of all, it's critical to think clearly about what you are doing. People at the races seem to check their brains at the door. Remember, you are attempting to win . . . you must try to win, not just have some entertainment.

"Staying cool is important. Don't chase, don't 'panic. Experience shows that losing bets return to good handicappers eventually. Trust that experience. They always do. The money comes back."

 Rousso follows three main points: (1) No short prices. Not enough of them win to return profits. (2) Do not bet every race. No opinion, no bet. (3) No side bets. No throw-ins of exotics.

He advises punters never to put hot favourites in exotic bets. Toss them out, he says. And for those punters who want to become professionals? Rousso has some sage words of advice: "Too many guys who want to do this for a living view the handicapping life as an alternative to hard work. But it isn't and it can be grim when losing, It helps to be smart, but that's not necessary. The work ethic counts the most."

Rousso says the earnings from pro betting, can swing dramatically. Although a punter aims to make $50,000 a year, it's more likely to be $10,000 one year, $20,000 another year and maybe $100,000 another year. Pro punters have to be able to handle that sort of swinging income, he says.

U.K. professional Paul de Malmanche says no punter should ever bet more than two per cent of his/he*r bank. Otherwise, he says, they can too easily reach choking point.

"My strong opinion is that a pro punter has a starting bank of $10,000, so a $200 bet will be two per cent of the bank. This is a most comfortable level at which to bet, and it can work out fine for any level-headed punter.

"I have always believed in the percentage-of-bankroll approach; that is, you are betting more as your bank rises, and less as it falls. You cannot really lose your bank betting in this manner, and I certainly have never lost mine."

De Malmanche likes to bet around $200 to $400 on what he call's his 'super' selections, but without fail he takes $20 and $30 insurance bets on other horses. These act to cover his main bet should it lose, or at least cover part of the potential loss on the main bet.

"Playing a bit safe enables you to cover your losses and maintain momentum," he explains. "Years ago, I was a bit less fearful and didn't take insurance bets, but I’m older and more sensible and security-conscious now, so I'm happy to go into a race with my hopes on one big bet, plus a couple of savers. It has helped me no end."

Our final advice comes from American Mark Cramer, author of Fast Track To Thoroughbred Profits. He insists that any serious 'punter must keep accurate betting records

Says Cramer: "Most handicappers (punters) don't. By not doing so, a whole area of the learning process, problem solving, goes to waste. People learn foreign languages by problem solving; they make a mistake, are corrected and the next time they say it correctly.

"Not to keep records is to be willing to bump into the same door twice, call the wrong number several times, trip again on the same crack in the sidewalk – continue to lose money on the same faulty wagers. If the, racing enthusiast were to keep a record of each and every bet, even the $2 ones, writing down the reasons for each bet, then after some 50 wagers, patterns of information would develop, categories of bets which are successful and those that are not.

"In the long run, the horseplayer would have his own hierarchy of factors which could be listed in order of effectiveness. Some factors would show a positive yield while others would fall on their proverbial faces.

"Also produced by this goldmine of records would be a number of corrective measures in the area of money management, uniquely applicable to the individual handicapping, style."

Cramer suggests the following headings for record keeping:


In other words, says Cramer, learn from your past performances!

Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 1.

By Jon Hudson