Getting yourself in the right frame of mind is as important as just about everything else when you are punting. If you think like a loser, that's what you'll be.

Psychologists say that the majority of punters - all over the world and not only in Australia - are defeatist in their attitude towards their betting. They hope to win but they do not expect to. Dr. James Grindlay, a Texas psychologist who has probed gambling attitudes for 10 years, says punters become 'infected' by the pessimistic outlook of other punters, and they quickly lose confidence once they have experienced a few losses.

"A punter new to betting will probably strike a lot of winners in his early days," says Dr. Grindlay. "This is because he has an open, fresh approach and has not been psychologically unbalanced by the views and experiences of others. Hardened punters refer to these novices as having beginner's luck, but in most instances the new punter is merely selecting logical bets. It is only later, with his confidence and rationale zapped, that he will begin to make all the usual mistakes."

Dr. Grindlay interviewed 100 punters over a period of two years to determine their mental stability and attitude of mind when punting. He found that in 80% of the cases, the punters never really expected to win; they were simply grateful when they did!

"They expected to lose and this influenced their approach to betting so markedly that they did lose," he explains.

"With some of the people I analysed, there was even a built-in mechanism that made them want to lose, as if they wanted to punish themselves by losing their own money, to atone for past wrongs or to confirm their long-held belief of their own inferiority."

The message from all this is very simple for all punters - be positive and aggressive in your approach to betting.

Think like a winner and you will find you will act like a winner, and reap the rewards.

One idea is to set up a bank that is well within your financial capabilities. Let's say you have a bank of $100 (most people have a lazy $100 hanging around). You must then ask yourself what is a fair return on such an investment over, say, 12 months. What would you receive if you placed it on a 12month Term Deposit with your local bank? You would get an interest rate of around, say, 14%, meaning that your return on that $100 would be $14 in a year-$114.

Now, wouldn't it be sensible to aim for that 14% as a fair return on your $100 banking bank? You could even, say, add on another 6% and say that in a year you would want to improve your bank by at least 20%. In betting, though, you have the chance to work that $100 over many times. Profits will increase your bank and you will be able to bet more, so that by year's end your actual turnover of money could well be in the thousands of dollars! If you could make 20% on your actual turnover you would be doing very well indeed. If your turnover in bets amounted to, say, $2,500 your profit on your original $100 would be $500!

Of course, to achieve this exalted state (and very few punters manage to attain it) you cannot go into the business thinking like a loser. It's no good saying, "Oh well, I'll throw this hundred bucks into the ring - I can afford to lose it. I may win something but if I lose - well, that's racing." An attitude like this - run through with defeatism - is the exact opposite of what you should be saying.

Your mental approach should be like this: 'Now that's my $100 and I'm not going to let them have it. I'm going to defend it with all the skill at my disposal, and I'm absolutely determined to make it win a profit for me. I will not lose my $100.”

A punter going into battle in such a strong, aggressive frame of mind is much more likely to emerge a winner than the punter with the timid, pessimistic approach. The positive punter will be searching for solid, positive bets; the other punter will thrash around and skip from possibility to possibility and invariably end up making the wrong choice.

You must set your goal, and then work and think towards attaining it. Think always in terms of winning. If necessary, set yourself intermediate goals. Week 1 you will aim to win $10, Week 2 you will aim to win $15 and so on.

A small goal achieved will boost your confidence for moving into the second goal. As each goal is achieved, you become even more assertive and positive and proud of what you have done. Racing, like cards and roulette, is a house game. In any game like this, the house (or the Bank) will wind up with all the money from the punters. In a house poker game, if all the players sit there playing hour after hour, with the house taking a cut of each pot, all of the players eventually will go broke. So it is, too, with racing. Punters who go to the track each and every week and bet on every race on the card will eventually be financially murdered.

However – the poker player who sits in on a game for a couple of hours and then quits when he is winning, will win consistently because he does not hang around long enough for the house to clean him out. The same rationale applies to the TAB punter who confines himself to one or two solid bets a day. The TAB take is not going to bother him or prevent him winning. He knows when to take his money and run.

Finally, then, a few vital rules to bear in mind before you next hand over hard-earned money to a bookmaker or to the TAB agent.

  1. Always think of yourself as a winner and never allow yourself to fall into a losing frame of mind.
  2. Never listen to the losers and the knockers who say you cannot win by betting - if you talk like them you will only end up joining them.
  3. Always exercise plain, old-fashioned commonsense coupled with your positive attitude.
  4. Set yourself a yearly goal - and intermediate goals (like weekly or monthly targets) and go all out to meet them.
  5. Keep a diary of your betting action - and jot down your thoughts-on-the-day about what you are doing in your punting action.
  6. Always be totally honest with yourself – and refuse to give in when temptation lures you into making silly bets     that are not based on a sound, rational approach.

By Martin Dowling