Ever experienced a feeling of complete frustration at the races? That moment when all your bad luck seems to have arrived at the one time to knock you for six in the pocket? That moment when you rip a ticket in pieces and toss the scraps to the winds?

I've had to battle that sort of thing. I well recall one night, at the dogs, when I became so angry at losing that I began to stab, with eyes closed, at the formguide for my next bet, muttering to myself that I couldn't possibly do any worse!

Control of your mind when betting is something we have talked about from time to time in PPM. This series of articles is aimed to help you to beat the rage.

What can you do when a losing run starts to take its toll? Maurice Robinson, a professional operating out of Chicago in the '50s, once wrote: "Go home ... go home ... when you hit the bad one. Whatever you do, don't go on betting when you're upset. It's a recipe for a bigger fall."

Robinson's views are echoed by another US expert from the '50s, Louis Holloway.

He wrote: "If you bet for a win and you keep on losing, and you're angry with yourself, just start to bet for a place or show. That will enable you to start getting some returns. There's nothing like a trip to the payout window to boost your confidence."

Paul Cooper, a UK professional, says: "I was hooked on betting from a very early age. But even then I understood that you had to be in control of it, or otherwise it would gain control of you."

Cooper's concentration on 'control' is important. Think about it. Are you always in control? Can you control anger and disappointment? If you feel those emotions, does it affect your judgement and only worsen an already worrying financial problem?

If you are honest, you will probably reluctantly admit to losing control at various times of your betting life. That's normal.

What you need to do is understand that 'control' can be a problem. This means not only when you are in trouble but also when you are travelling well!

The opposite of bet rage is bet bragging. Being overbold, overconfident, feeling as if you can pick the winner of every race on the card. Recently, a friend boasted to me that he'd picked seven winners in a row. I told him to beware and not to 'mocker' himself by announcing his success to all and sundry.

Sure enough, soon afterwards he struck an unnerving losing run. He had fallen into the age-old problem of over-confidence. Perhaps there are Gods of betting listening for punters who crow about success? Pride comes before a fall.

Many professionals will warn you that bet rage is often the result of drinking alcohol when betting. Just as the grog affects your driving, it can also affect your betting.

UK professional Barney Curley says: "My first big win was about 80,000 pounds, and within six weeks it had vanished. I was drinking.

"I soon discovered drinking and gambling don't go together, so from that day I've never touched a drop."

The following set of rules will help you to avoid bet rage or to control it when it arrives:

  • Don't overbet. Never put yourself in the position of having bet too much for your pocket.
  • Stop betting if a losing run unsettles you.
  • Don't kid yourself that your next bet will be a winner.
  • Reassess your entire selection process if you keep on hitting losing streaks.
  • Never drink and gamble, even if it is fun.
  • Never lie to your wife/husband about betting losses!

NEXT MONTH: More on the psychological aspects of betting.

Click here to read Part 5.
Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.

By Richard Hartley Jnr