Archive for April, 2011

Gone to the dogs?

April 27, 2011 1 comment

Greyhound racing is a sport that never seems to take a day off which is why for years I have craved a reliable greyhound betting system. With so much racing taking place – there are usually a couple of lunchtime meetings, a couple more meetings in the afternoon and then a bunch in the evening on a typical day – a greyhound system will generate so much churn, have such a high volume of bets that one can build up a statistically significant sample much quicker than with most other sports. A system with even a low ROI can soon generate tasty profits simply because there are so many betting opportunities. So it is with great interest that I have started trialling a new lay system for greyhounds.

I have been a big fan of lay betting for years and often it feels like I am ploughing a lone furrow as many other gamblers I speak to are only interested in betting the traditional way, i.e. backing. Were I to find a reliable lay system for the dogs that would be truly something. A high volume of racing combined with a steady ROI would generate fantastic profits. I have seen several attempts to crack this nut over the years – I’ve had a few goes myself too – but they have all failed.

The system I am trialling now is a new one on me. Like all good systems it uses a fairly sensible, well thought out approach to the selections so on the face of it there should be no reason why it wouldn’t work. However, it does suffer from one disadvantage that blights so many attempts to conquer dog racing – poor liquidity.

I have been testing the system on BAGS races because were I to adopt this system it would be the afternoon races I concentrated on as I’m rarely around for much of the evenings. I tend to spend the evenings with the missus and confine the betting stuff to ‘normal’ working hours. From what I have seen you’d be lucky to see £15,000 matched on the average BAGS race, and that’s on Betfair. If you check Betdaq you’ll rarely see more than £3,000 matched on the same race. Poor liquidity makes more an uncompetitive market so as a layer you are forced to offer greater odds to get your bet on. My figures estimate the overlay as approximately 50% – which is huge, quite frankly.

To put that overlay into context, suppose the SP of a particular dog was 4/1. A 50% overlay means offering odds of 6/1 (7.0) to other punters. When betting to fixed stake the overlay only really matters on the winners, no more than 15% of bets. If the dog loses the race then you win the backer’s stake and the odds they were on at are pretty much irrelevant, except for ROI calculations. If the dog wins then the larger the overlay the more you lose on that bet. With fixed liability betting the reverse is true: the greater the overlay the less you win when the dog loses but you lose a fixed amount when the dog wins. Either way a huge overlay (and in  lay betting terms 50% is massive) is a real handicap. A system has to be very special to overcome such a disadvantage.

According to my figures, this lay system is currently showing a profit but whether it continues to do so in the long run remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure though, the inherent low liquidity in the markets and the resulting overlay isn’t helping matters.

I have deliberately avoided mentioning the name of this system as I don’t think it’s fair to do so. If I thought the system was a scam then I would name it as a warning to others. If I thought the system was worth recommending then obviously I would name it. But unfortunately it lies somewhere in between for me. Without further testing I couldn’t say if the system really works so can’t recommend it. I don’t think it’s a scam by any means but it does dabble in low liquidity markets which means it is always going to struggle. One day it may end up as part of my portfolio, and if it does then I will reveal its name, but till I can satisfy myself that it can make a long-term profit it stays on the paper-trading/testing list.

Categories: General


April 24, 2011 Leave a comment

In the end I had a lazy day on Friday. I spent most of the afternoon and evening laid on the sofa watching DVDs. The BHA offered me an opportunity to be so productive and this is how I took advantage of the lack of racing. To be fair though, I’m less than 100% health-wise at the mo and I just couldn’t face a day sat at the PC slogging away. And that’s still the case a few days later, truth be told.

I feel pathetic moaning about my health on here. For a start it’s supposed to be a gambling blog and I do try to keep it on topic as much as possible. Aspects of my personal life are bound to creep in now and then though. Another reason for feeling pathetic is that my health issues are trivial compared to many people. I suffer from mild discomfort rather than excruciating pain. My condition doesn’t really stop me doing too many day-to-day activities. In fact these days it’s probably the drugs I am on that cause me more grief as I seem to suffer from all the possible side-effects. But I don’t want to capitulate and let this all get the better of me. As I said, many people live with worse health problems than mine so I don’t feel I have any right to moan. I just have to get on with things, dealing with the limitations my health imposes as best I can. Unfortunately that means that sometimes, like this weekend, I don’t feel up to ‘working’ even though I have the perfect opportunity to get so much done.

Yesterday was a really hectic day with seven UK race meetings. OK, they were split such that there were five in the afternoon and two in the evening but it still made for quite a busy day. I couldn’t face an afternoon sat at the PC so as the various tipsters I follow issued their advice I was putting the bets on so I could take a break in the afternoon. This took up a good chunk of the morning though and I was glad of the chance to slump on the sofa in front of a film that afternoon. Today there are only four meetings so things should be a little easier to cope with. I hope I am feeling even a tad better by tomorrow though as the BHA are really taking the biscuit with eight (!) meetings. And they all take place in the afternoon, no evening meetings. I get the feeling tomorrow morning will be hard work.

Listen to me, putting a few bets on will be hard work – pathetic! But this game is starting to feel like a bit of a drag at times, almost exclusively when I am feeling less than 100% admittedly, but a drag all the same. Clichéd as it may be I probably need to recharge my batteries. Hopefully this weekend will see me build up enough energy and enthusiasm to get me through another couple of weeks, until I go on holiday for a couple of weeks. And unlike my last holiday I will be leaving the laptop at home and taking a complete break from it all. Who knows, maybe I’ll even finish some more of that football betting system research before then too, but I won’t hold my breath.

Oh, and I haven’t forgotten that I owe you posts on the dog system I am trialling and leveraging. I have been drafting both posts and they are getting there but other things keep cropping up. I’ll publish them soon though, promise.

Categories: Daily Chatter

Will it be a Good Friday?

April 22, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s Good Friday today, one of the few days in the calendar when there is no scheduled UK horse racing. Much of my betting portfolio is centred around horse racing so what am I to do today? Yes, there is plenty of football but my portfolio has thrown up very few bets in today’s matches so that won’t keep me busy. And as I keep saying, I need to be busy else I am prone to making costly mistakes.

The missus has gone away for the weekend so I have the freedom to do whatever I want. It’s a nice sunny day round here so maybe I should take the day off that the racing authorities clearly want me to have, go out and enjoy the weather. Then again the football betting system research I have been working on for the past few months is really stagnating (this time due to the time and effort involved in trialling a new greyhound racing system, more of which soon) so with no racing to distract me today perhaps I should bash on with that. Alternatively a day without racing could provide the perfect opportunity to get stuck into some poker analysis. I finished off the remaining SnGs the other day to take me to 500 Full Tilt tourneys, and unusually I made a nice profit from those last few too. Today would be ideal for really getting my head into the numbers, crunching the data and trying to identify the leaks that once plugged will see me build a decent bankroll and rise up the staking levels.

At the minute I don’t really know which, if any, of those I fancy. I know what I should be doing – that football research has months left in it and unless I maintain some sort of momentum it will join the pile of other unfinished projects that litter my desk and hard drive. I keep finding excuse after excuse to postpone working on it, which doesn’t bode well for the future. I think some of the fun has gone out of it so I need to either knuckle down and get on with it or find some way of restoring the fun element. Whether I end up doing any work on this, time will tell. In the meantime, I wonder what’s on telly…

Categories: Daily Chatter, General

Diversity – not just a street dance troupe

April 20, 2011 2 comments

There has been a lot of talk of late on the Secret Betting Club forum about losing runs, portfolios and whether gambling can truly be made to pay in the long run. There is a lot of negativity in these discussions interspersed with some pretty decent advice as it happens. I have added a few thoughts of my own to the forum discussions but I feel that’s not necessarily the right medium for some of what I have to say. It seems very big-headed to tell a forum of gambling enthusiasts how I go about things and how I feel that helps me handle losing runs etc. It’s a bit preachy isn’t it? Anyway, what works for me won’t necessarily work for others. But this is my blog, all about me and my gambling, so this is surely the ideal place to let loose with my thoughts on how to manage a portfolio, how to cope with losing runs and things like that.

The importance of a balanced portfolio
If you’re a regular visitor to this blog then you no doubt know I favour a portfolio approach to my gambling and that details of my portfolio can be found here. I operate a fairly large portfolio compared to many others I read about who prefer to follow a small band of tipsters. I recently posted about the need for me to maintain a big portfolio else I get bored, take my eye of the ball and damage my bottom line. But I can see that others may be different and would rather go for quality over quantity.

The reason I prefer the portfolio approach is to avoid having all my eggs in one basket. I want to make money from gambling – who doesn’t? What’s more I want to make money on a consistent basis. For me diversification is key to having a successful portfolio. That way you minimise the impact of a downturn in any particular sport. If horse racing was the only sport I bet on I would be stuffed if there was no racing for some reason. But there’s racing virtually every day of the year so what are the chances of their being no racing? Remember the weather at the end of last year? The snow caused plenty of race meetings to be cancelled. OK, it passed soon enough but think back to the foot and mouth outbreak back in 2001 and the impact that had on racing. A similar incident could easily cause UK horse racing to be suspended for a period and then what would I do? Other sports can be affected in various ways too. For example, there are currently doubts as to whether or not there will even be a 2011/12 NFL season as the players and league cannot agree on how to split the revenue the sport generates.

Diversification means different things to different people. When I talk about a diverse portfolio I mean one that includes a mixture of tipsters and systems, one that includes backs and lays as well as one that has coverage of several sports such as horse racing, football, US sports etc.

I think systems are important for balance. With a system you pay a one-off charge to obtain the system rules (unless you develop the system yourself) and then they are yours to do with as you please. The system may or may not come with past results but you can usually run the rules through a system builder to check past performance. Conventional wisdom says that systems lose their edge over time but you can sharpen them up again by tweaking the rules if you like. The system rules give you an insight into the angle the system author is trying to exploit so you have a good starting point for researching how you may want to update the rules.

With a tipster you only have two choices: follow their advice or not. You don’t know how they came up with their tips and they are unlikely to tell you. You either trust them to find the winners or you don’t. And with a tipster you may end up paying for a lot of advice you don’t use. Suppose you have taken out a long membership option such as a year’s subscription. Now suppose that after a decent start things have turned sour and eight months in you drop that tipster. You still have a third of your membership to go. You effectively have four months of costs with no chance of a profit to offset them.

You need to balance the one-off payments for systems and the ongoing costs of tipsters. The longer you use a system the cheaper it works out. The same is not true of a tipster.

The advantage of having a mixtures of backs and lays is their contrasting strike rates. A good backing system may have a strike rate around 40% whereas a good laying system should come in around 85%. Lays will (should) bring in small, regular profits interspersed by large losses whereas backing horses will result in steady, small losses interspersed with decent profits. That’s a slight generalisation but it’s true enough. A portfolio with the right balance of lays and backs will have short losing runs and should provide steadier returns than a portfolio that is entirely backs. The mental side of this should not be underestimated. It’s easy to panic when a small portfolio of backing systems all hit losing runs around the same time. A larger portfolio that includes several lay systems is far less likely to all go wrong at once giving you a break from the losses that some systems may be experiencing.

Portfolio Maintenance
Unfortunately you can’t simply set up a balanced portfolio and wait for the profits to roll in. You need to monitor the performance of your portfolio as a whole but also the individual elements. As with a traditional investment portfolio of stocks and shares you have to be able to spot when you have ridden some trends as far as they go and jump off before they turn unprofitable. In gambling terms you need to spot when a tipster has lost their edge.

How do I determine when tipster/systems in my portfolio have lost their edge? After many years of gambling it comes down partly to feel or instinct and partly down to statistical analysis. I have various tabs in my spreadsheet showing me the latest stats for each component of my portfolio. I have overall stats plus quick breakdowns by year and by month and at the press of a button can have any individual system or service analysed in fine detail with numerous statistical angles explored and useful graphs churned out. These all help me decide when to ditch a tipster or system.

I tend to get a feeling about how a service is doing simply from recording the bets and results. A little voice in my head pipes up now and then saying something like  “hmm, that system hasn’t thrown up many winners of late.” Then I have to satisfy my curiosity and check whether or not the little voice is correct. I tend to start with the month-by-month profit figures to see how said system has done in the last few months. Has it made a profit? If so then I probably don’t need to worry about this one too much but will still give it some cursory analysis. On the other hand, if the figures are all red then I will look deeper at other stats on this system such as overall strike rate, strike rate this year (or at least over last three to six months), longest losing runs etc. I want to know if recent poor runs are entirely in line with what is statistically likely for this system given the overall SR. I may then look at further breakdowns by month of the year (looking for seasonal variations), day of the week and so on before studying profit, ROI and SR charts. I want to fully understand what is normal for this system and how the recent performance compares with that baseline. If I don’t like what I see then the system will probably be placed on one of my Watch Lists signifying its days as part of my portfolio are numbered unless profits pick up significantly.

What about adding systems to my portfolio, how’s that work? I am always looking to maintain a balanced portfolio so I will review my portfolio as a whole in order to identify potential weaknesses and look to strengthen them. That may mean filling gaps left after dropping a certain tipster or it may mean expanding my portfolio in a different direction such as the inclusion of a specialised rugby tipster, for instance. Once I have identified the area I wish to address then it’s time to start looking around to see what is on the market.

I use a mixture of personal recommendations, SBC reviews and gut feelings when picking new tipsters. I also rely quite heavily on my first impressions of the tipster’s website. If they haven’t gone to the trouble of putting together a decent website then I’m usually not interested. I don’t need anything flashy but a clean, simple website that tells the first-time visitor everything they need to know isn’t too much to ask is it? I honestly feel that if the tipster can’t even manage that then they aren’t taking a very professional view and I’m not sure I want to do business with them.

I’ll be honest and also admit that price plays a significant part in my decision to adopt a new tipster. I’ll do plenty of research where possible, looking at past results, performance figures and personal experiences but at the end of the day price can force my hand. I rarely look at tipsters charging more than a couple of hundred a year for tips. Having read a few years of SBC reviews I haven’t seen any real correlation between ROI and subscription fees. A 10% return on investment for a £50-per-point punter is going to net him £5 per bet (on average) whether he pays £25 a month or £100 a month for the advice. So why pay more than you have to? Reducing costs is just as good as increasing profits – it all looks the same on the bottom line.

Staking matters
Whenever I start following a new tipster I operate to small stakes. Even if the tipster has received glowing (independent) reviews and has a stunning set of stats going back years I won’t dive in. They are still new to me and I need to make sure I can get on with their methods so the stakes are low while I build up a feel for the service along with some early stats of my own. It’s important I see how the tipster does when it’s me placing the bets and recording the prices. I need to know that I can obtain the kind of performance they claim to deliver. Only when I am satisfied that their reputation is justified will I increase stakes. This may mean I don’t cover subscription costs for a while (sometimes quite a long while) but I’d rather this than dive in with larger stakes and lose more that way.

Ideally the small starting banks I use would grow and with them the stakes I use but in reality I wouldn’t cover subscription costs for several years in some cases if I stuck to that idea. Fortunately there is leveraging which allows me to play with larger stakes and turn a tidy profit. More on leveraging another day as my approach to that is a blog post in itself. In short though, leveraging allows me to start with small stakes while I prove a tipster then increase them to maximise my profit. This is a much lower risk approach than starting with ‘normal’ stakes from day one.

Getting your staking right is vitally important. Having a balanced portfolio is one thing but if your staking is wrong then that portfolio just won’t work and could end up costing you dearly. You have to have balanced staking also. Different systems and services will have different return rates as well as different SRs and potentially vastly different volumes of bets. Your staking needs to account for all of these factors. It’s all about balance.

I find it hard to give solid staking advice along the lines of “do this, don’t do this” as I use so much gut feel for my staking. I have increase/reduction triggers in place so that I can raise/lower stakes as the bank hits certain high or low points but I often tweak individual system stakes based on statistical analysis which may show, for example, that I reduce the betting bank from 40pts to 30pts without significantly increasing the risk of going bust. That allows me to increase the stakes per point for that system to maximise my returns.

Will it work for you?
I’ll be honest and say I don’t think anyone else could take what I do lock, stock and barrel and make a living from it. Obviously the way I am set up is designed to suit me and the way I work but my personal circumstances also influence my approach. I am fortunate enough to be in the position that while able to gamble full-time I don’t need to earn a proper living from it. I have realistic expectations when it comes to the profits I can expect based on the stakes I am using but the low pressure environment around me means I can take the time to ensure my portfolio is balanced before upping the stakes. I tend to think of it like an apprenticeship – I am serving my time on low wages while I learn the skills and make sure I am properly equipped to make a living from this game.

I know very few other people will enjoy the luxury of the freedom that I enjoy. I know there are plenty of full-time gamblers out there under pressure to deliver on a consistent basis and good luck to you all. I know I am doing the right thing by building up slowly and in time I will enjoy profits commensurate with the effort I have put in over the years. But till then I am content to keep learning and take things slowly.

I hope that some of you reading this blog are learning a few things along the way also. I don’t expect to teach many people much but if I can challenge the way you think about certain aspects of gambling I will be happy.

Categories: General, Philosophy

Poker woes

April 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Things really aren’t going my way at the poker tables right now. I know I said the other day that my results had improved following the reading of a couple of poker books but I think I might have spoken too early. Sure, I had a good day the first day back after reading the books and made a nice profit but since then things have been much tougher. I am always wary of commenting on poker sessions as they tend to involve fairly small samples making it hard to drawn any meaningful conclusions so there is a tendency to view things in a results-oriented way as a few hands can make or break the session. This is especially true for tournament play where a villain outdrawing you can bust you out of the event so it’s even more important to separate good decision-making from results. But that’s not always that easy.

At the heart of my problems is a focus/concentration issue that has dogged me for many years, perhaps even most of my online poker career. I rarely bring my ‘A’ game to the table and it seems there is little I can do about that. If I could identify the cause of the problems I could take meaningful steps to counter the problem but I haven’t been able to as yet. It’s a uniquely online problem as when I am playing I can’t concentrate on the game in hand and have to do several other things at the same time. I’m not focusing on the table(s) I am playing and will be off filling in spreadsheets, answering email, reading forums etc. and only popping back to the tables when they beep to indicate it’s my turn to act. How can I expect to make a profit from this game if my head’s not in it?

In fact my head’s not even close to being in the game really. Over the years I have read a lot of poker books and strategy articles on websites and in magazines. I know how to play this game, and what’s more I reckon I know how to play it pretty well. I most definitely know how to play it better than I do at present. Switch off all the distractions and put all my brain power into the game and I will do much better. So why can’t I do that? Why can’t I play to the best of my ability? OK, I accept that playing my absolute best all of the time may be tiring but I am playing low stakes SnGs so the games shouldn’t be that hard to beat should they? Therefore playing somewhere close to my best most of the time ought to be enough to ensure a profit.

In order to address this problem I need to identify why I get distracted when I play. If I can do that then I can put countermeasures in place and things should improve. So in no particular order, a brain storm of reasons behind my lack of focus at the tables threw up things like:

  • distractions are readily available – I usually have my email and a web browser open whenever my PC is on. Who doesn’t in this day and age? I could close the applications down but what is to stop me firing them up again?
  • I have time to ‘play’ with the things that distract me – I have time to check my email if not fire off a quick reply between hands. I can run a few Google searches between hands, or read a couple of new forum posts. In short I am not involved in the game enough to keep me from getting distracted.
  • the stakes are too low to really interest me – if I lost twenty tournaments in a row would it really matter in the grand scheme of things? Not, not really. I risk more than that on horses every day.
  • poker is just a game, entertainment – maybe I’m not viewing poker as a money-making exercise but as pure entertainment. Maybe that’s partly due to the low stakes I am playing at, who knows. It’s almost impossible to step outside my brain and look back at how I view the game of poker though.

There are no doubt other contributory factors but the issue of involvement in the game is probably the key one. If I am always involved in some action at the poker tables then I don’t have time for other distractions. If something at the poker tables always demands my attention then I don’t have time for email, forums or spreadsheets. It makes sense doesn’t it? But what is that ‘something’ that needs my attention? The obvious answer is playing a hand, of course. If I have to decide whether to fold, call or raise then I need to think about which action makes most sense and is the best option given past actions and what is likely to happen. My brain can usually crank out an answer in double quick time though and perhaps therein lies another problem. Am I rushing certain poker decisions?

Many hands are an easy fold but in late position and as the blinds rise some marginal hands become playable. Am I passing up too many such opportunities? Am I not spotting the easy blind steals/re-steals because I am not paying much attention to how the rest of the table play? I have recently switched my Poker Tracker HUD back on, having played without it for ages as I felt it was a distraction at the stakes I play at, but I am not really using it. The idea was that I would think about player types more but it’s not working so far. I am OK thinking along the lines of “Ah, that raise came from early position so the raiser probably has a decent hand” as that sort of thinking is built into my instincts now. What I don’t have in my gut reactions is reasoning such as “The BB doesn’t defend very often so a raise could win this pre-flop. Ah, but hang on, the button is short-stacked and is probably looking to get his stack in soon so I need a better hand to steal than I would otherwise.” All that information is available to me via the HUD or just as part of the poker client software so I have no excuse really for not using it. I need to play slightly less instinctively and take the time to think through potentially marginal situations and ensure I am making the right decision more often than not.

Another way to be more involved in the game is to have more decisions to make. I’ve already covered putting more thought into each decision so if I can do that and have more decisions to make then I surely can’t have the time to get distracted. How do I make sure I have more decisions though? One way would be to play more tables. I already play four at once and find that anything less is detrimental to my game. When I am winding a session down and am finishing off the last couple of tournaments I tend to find I stray from the tables far more than I do when I have four tables on the go. Unfortunately, even though I have a dual screen setup I don’t like to have more than four Full Tilt tables up at once. I like the table  size when I tile four tables and find them too small when I go higher than that. So if I can’t really play more tables at once how do I up the hand, and thus decision, count? Turbo SnGs!

I had a thought a little while ago that I should maybe give turbo SnGs a go as my standard SnG results were pretty rubbish. I decided I would continue to play normal speed SnGs until I had logged 500 such Full Tilt tournaments in Poker Tracker. I’m currently on 487, out of interest. I would then spend a little while analysing the data from that to see how my game could be improved and what leaks and issues I could identify. I’d then play turbo SnGs on Full Tilt until such time as my database had the results for 500 of those too. It currently has 50 tourneys in there from a brief experiment into playing turbos a good while back so another 450 to go.

Some of the analysis I want to do is rather tricky to do with Poker Tracker, it doesn’t really lend itself to some of the angles I want to investigate. For example, I wonder if I am panicking and pushing all-in too early in the tournament. Is my stack too big to play pushbot with? I tend to start this phase of the tournament when my stack is around 10xBB but recently I have become aware that I may still be pushing the wrong hands in the wrong situations around this point. I tend to think “Argh, just 10xBB so I’d better make a move” so shove QJo and inevitably run into an Ace or King that holds up. In reality though I can probably safely fold many of those hands, unless I have a prime steal opportunity, until my stack gets down to 5-6xBB. Actually, having taken another look Poker Tracker does have pre-flop stack size filters so I can check how I do when my stack is 10xBB or less. I didn’t think I could do that. Hmm, that’s handy then.

That said, it still seems that Poker Tracker is best for scenario-based analysis. The user has to think how their game may be suffering and then run it through Poker Tracker for a yes/no answer – more or less. To a certain degree you can start to break the full set of data down and highlight areas of interest. For example, it’s simple to filter by position or by hole cards to see which hands are profitable from which position. But this is simple analysis that probably won’t identify too many leaks. You need to add more layers of analysis such as blind levels, effective stack sizes, number of players at the table and so on. And once you do this you’re better off devising specific scenarios and looking at those. How do I perform when there are four players left, i.e. on the bubble? Am I stealing enough from the button? Am I defending my blinds too lightly? How does my stack size effect this? And so on. I tend to think the best approach is to identify an area of the game where improvement will have the most drastic results – which is usually short-stacked play or play around the bubble – and look at that from a number of angles. That way any leaks I can identify and plug ought to have tangible results and I can fine-tune other areas later, once I have started to show some real return on these changes to my game.

And that needs to happen soon because I feel like I am rapidly approaching the day where I am forced to admit that I can’t make money from online poker!

Categories: Poker

It’s not all fun and games

April 12, 2011 1 comment

I recently experienced a eureka moment, a real moment of clarity. It came to me completely out the blue as though my subconscious had been working on a problem for a while and suddenly worked out the answer and passed it up to the conscious part of my brain to have a look it. It seems the problem was boredom.

Since Adrian Massey retired getting on for a month ago now things have been a bit different for me. My portfolio is smaller, as is well documented throughout this blog, but my overall daily workload has been reduced even more. Largely this is because I was forced to close Unity Racing, my tipster service. That means that each morning I am no longer running the systems to identify any Unity Racing qualifiers, I’m not updating the spreadsheets of results for the three systems that made up the service and of course I’m not sending out the emails or updating the website with the latest information. These tasks didn’t take me that long each morning but they kept me busy for a short while and were an established part of my routine.

I have also made a few other changes to the way I operate. A little while back I used to maintain a webpage of system qualifiers for Win2Win. I had done so for years as it used some bespoke software I wrote. However, the effort involved in running this operation recently become a bit of a burden so I gracefully backed out of this service. Again, the actual workload wasn’t massive by any means but it was something else to do of a morning. I don’t regret stepping away from that as the bespoke software it required was getting trickier to maintain on a regular basis and the rewards just weren’t worth it. I could without the feeling of dependence and the need to deliver quality that comes with supplying a service. I wanted to go my own way. Incidentally I still use the software but these days it is held together with sticky tape and dirty hacks but as it’s only me that relies on that’s not so bad.

Another change I have made to my day-to-day activities is how and when I place some of my bets. For a long time I have been taking measures to protect my Best Odds Guaranteed (BOG) accounts. I’m not going to detail those methods here as this is a competitive industry and any edge I have worked out I want to keep. But I will say that I have made a few changes recently in an attempt to hit the BOG firms a little harder. I figure they are all going to shut me down in time so why not try to sting them for the maximum while I still have the opportunity. I haven’t ramped up the aggression too much, just a little, but the main change has been to the time at which I place my bets. I am betting earlier than I used to which means that when the racing is on I have less to do since many of my bets are already on.

As I touched on earlier, my portfolio was cut when Massey retired but I have been working to build it back up again. However, all the services I have taken on involve backing selection; I haven’t found any worthy lay tipsters or systems yet. And because of the changes to the way I back horses these new services haven’t really increased my workload very much. In fact I am pondering expanding my portfolio even further although at present the increase in subscriptions and membership fees that would involve is putting me off somewhat.

You see I have come to realise that I need to be kept busy. I need something to do all the time. And it needs to be something that really grips me and keeps me interested. I love to gamble so having a large portfolio suits me. And it’s not just that I love the action that goes with gambling, I love tracking the performance of all the various systems and services so I can see how they are all doing, what’s working and what’s not. Active portfolio management if you like. But the changes I have made to the way I back horses has reduced my gambling workload and consequently I am getting bored. That boredom is causing me to lose focus so I am not taking the time to make sure that all my lay bets are on at the very best possible prices and so on. I am not battling for every edge I can, I have become lazy. And that’s bad!

I have spoken a couple of times now about finding a spark, something to kick-start things back into action. I think I first mentioned it in relation to my football system development that had stalled. It’s still stalled because I have yet to find that spark. I made a small amount of progress the other night, adding more structure to one of the reports I was writing which will help it develop in a more orderly manner and helps me arrange my thoughts better. But that’s still not enough. That said, having identified the problem – boredom – I think I can work round it. I just need to keep my brain working on something fun.

A slightly smaller portfolio than previously combined with a reduced workload should leave me more time for activities such as football system development and playing poker. Both of those had gone off the boil of late but I think I can bring them both back up again. As I said above I have updated one of my football reports and now I have something that can act more or less as a template for future work allowing me to crank through some of that and hopefully turn out some useful conclusions. And I have been reading a couple of SnG books to get my poker back on track. I have identified several areas where I was going wrong and my results have started to improve although it’s early days there still. I’m hopeful that the improvements will continue to pay dividends though.

All of which means I have profitable ways in which to fill all this additional free time I have created, and that can only be good news. I have identified boredom as a real problem and know the warning signs now. I must be vigilant and take measures to make sure it doesn’t adversely affect my gambling. If I let my brain get lazy it will cost me money.

Categories: General, Philosophy


April 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Sorry, things have been a bit quiet on the gambling front and that has translated into a quiet blog also.I added a few new pages recently, including a review of my activities in March plus a new Discontinued Services page listing those systems and services that are no longer part of my portfolio for whatever reason. I also updated my Portfolio Breakdown and Watch List at the same time so that everything is representative of my current portfolio. But these are page changes so probably don’t show up on RSS feeds and subscriptions. So there’s me thinking I have added some new material recently while you lot are thinking it has been very quiet for the past week or so. Sorry about that.

It’s partly the time of year. It’s easy to blame the changeover from NH to flat for many things. I know a lot of tipsters are cautious as the flat horses don’t have a lot of relevant form in the book so they are more reliant on whispers and early glimpses of a stable’s form to see how various fancies are likely to perform. Often stakes are reduced with just a few minimum stakes bets to play with. And with the jumps racing winding down a little there are fewer NH meetings so the systems are picking out fewer bets there. All in all it makes for a quiet life on the racing front, and when it’s quiet I often find other ways to amuse myself.

My football research hasn’t moved on much since I wrote that it had stalled and that was a couple of weeks back at least, wasn’t it? I don’t really know why though. The area I am working on at present isn’t the most interesting I suppose but it is essential data processing that ought to lead to useful, meaningful conclusions. But it’s a bit of a slog at the mo and any output is merely an input to another process or provides steerage to other aspects of the research. I couldn’t complete this particular area of research and make money from it, not directly, and that’s perhaps what is dragging me back. Maybe I need a change of tack for now, get on with some alternative research and hope that provides the spark I need to kick it all into action and make real progress. Right now I am lacking enthusiasm somewhat and that’s a bad place to be given the size of the project as a whole.

Then there’s poker, of course. When I started playing again at the start of March I was full of beans, full of ideas and full of promise. I have only played around 150 low-stakes SnGs since then and already I am feeling a little burned out. Actually more stuck in a rut than burned out. I am playing as part of a routine but the way I play has become routine too. I need to inject some spark there too. I need to focus on the game of poker more, not my email, the internet etc. I play four tables at once and I am wondering of I need to throw a couple more into the mix to give my mind something else to work on. No time to get distracted, that’s the basic idea. Always a hand on the go somewhere. I did think about stepping up the stakes a little (and only a little) to try and force my mind to focus. Make the stakes mean something, even if only a little bit still. But I think that way madness lies. If I can’t get my game right to beat the fish at the lowest levels how can I even think about going up a level? Right now I am playing poker as though it were a game; it’s entertainment rather than a potential source of profit and I need to smash that mindset – somehow!

It’s surely no coincidence that the lack of focus for poker and the football research comes at a time when my health is less than 100%. Not that I am desperately ill, nor am I dying – no more than anyone else is anyway. But the adrenal tumour I have does cause problems now and then, and the drugs I am on to counteract the effects of the tumour don’t help any. I have good spells and not so good spells and I guess I’m verging on the not so good at the minute. But I’ll get over it. A bit more of a spark on the gambling front might help kick-start things. What I really need is some good early flat season profits and an exciting Grand National on Saturday. That’d see me just right I reckon.