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Archive for October, 2011

Time for a change

October 16, 2011 2 comments

As of Monday there will be a significant change to the way I gamble – I’ll no longer be punting full-time as I have decided to go back to work!

I had been giving more and more thought to returning to work and had decided that it was something I was probably going to have to do in the not too distant future but I hadn’t really been looking for a job as such, this one more or less found me. It’s software testing again working for a company that develops software solutions for the oil and gas industry so it’s a domain I have experience of. I’ll also be working with a number of people I have worked with in a previous role which means I’ll be back among familiar faces. Add to that the fact that this is a part-time role and I’m starting on a temporary (three-month) contract and it’s about as gentle an introduction back into the world of work as I could have hoped for really. My health issues should all be behind me now but after more than two years away from the nine-to-five world I’m glad I’m not plunging back into the deep end with a full-time role working alongside people I don’t know.

Not that this really signals that much of a change for me, at least not in gambling terms. Despite what I may have  claimed in the past punting isn’t really a full-time occupation for me. It doesn’t take that long to get the bets on each day and enter them into my spreadsheet and it only takes a few minutes to enter the results and settle the bets. In fact I have taken several steps over the last few months to keep a lid on things somewhat such that if I needed to I could once more fit my gambling into a lunch hour, and that’s where I am now.

When I first set out along this path of the professional gambler I figured the time I wasn’t actively gambling would be spent doing research and so on. I’d be looking for ways in which I could make more money, either by analysing my own data or taking a detailed look at a number of commercial offerings but that’s not how it really worked out. In the early days I gave poker a serious bash, trying to play as much as possible, but that didn’t turn out to be quite as profitable as I’d hoped. I had the wrong mindset a lot of the time and that was holding me back. I knew the theory behind the game really well following years of reading numerous books and magazines on the subject but I wasn’t able to translate that into suitable profits at the tables so that went by the wayside. I did do some software development, knocking up a few VBA-based projects based around various ideas I’d had along the way as well as working on some data analysis and system/tipster reviews for other people, all of which obviously occupied some of my time but that wasn’t a long-term thing by any means. Thinking back now I can’t really see how I spent my time each day, which tends to suggest much of it was rather wasted. Sure, I was ill and so didn’t feel like putting in eight hours a day most of the time but even so I don’t have a lot to show for my time when I was allegedly a full-time gambler. However, now my non-work time is limited I hope to make much better use of it.

Some of this summer was spent on yet another attempt at working up an idea I had several years back but have never been able to see it through to fruition. It has changed forms several times over the years but earlier this year I finally worked out what I wanted from it (a database-driven gambling-related website) and set about teaching myself the necessary skills to get there. I bought a couple of books on web development and started to teach myself proper HTML (as opposed to the odds bits I had picked up along the way which had resulted in some pretty sloppy code) plus PHP and MySQL. I haven’t really touched it since I went into hospital a couple of months back but now I know I only have a few days a week on which to work on my own stuff I want to focus properly and spend that time learning the rest of the skills I need before cracking on with getting something online. The plan (as it stands) is to have a rough first draft website up by the end of the year. I don’t expect there to be much data or functionality in place at this stage but I want the basic site online so I can then develop the rest of it iteratively as time allows. Daft as it may sound, I’m not sure I would get as much done if I have five days a week rather than just the couple I will have now I have taken on this part-time job. I’d have too much time available without this job, and that means little or no pressure to deliver which in turn means I am unlikely to make a great deal of progress. That’s just how I operate it seems.

Even though this job offer came out the blue and I hadn’t really been looking for work I am confident that accepting it and going back to work is the right decision, for a variety of reasons that I don’t want to dwell on too much here. Punting for a living was putting too much pressure on me to deliver results and ultimately things just weren’t quite happening for me. I’m glad I had a go though and I hope to return to gambling for a living again in the future but I think I started down this route before I was really ready. Then again, circumstances suggested it was worth a go given I couldn’t hold down a proper job at that stage. So no regrets about the decision I made back then and none about my decision to return to work. It’s all about what feels right at the time, and this feels like the right move now.

Incidentally, the blog name won’t change despite the change in circumstances as I will still maintain a professional approach to things even if I am no longer full-time.

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Categories: General

Back with a whimper

October 15, 2011 Leave a comment

That holiday was just what I needed. I was able to completely forget about gambling, horse racing and so on and came back utterly refreshed and ready to face the game once more, only this time with a renewed energy. I had reworked my staking before the break and now felt I was in a much better position to make some confident strides forward and show reasonable returns for my efforts. Unfortunately this new enthusiasm didn’t last too long as I soon started taking hits with heavy losses recorded on Monday and Wednesday this week. Sure, part of the reasons behind the large losses were the greater stakes applied to some of the services in my portfolio but that’s not the whole story as one of my lay systems in particular had a stinking few days. And this is certainly not the first time the Lay’em lays have really screwed up my monthly figures. I trimmed the stakes back during September in an attempt to keep a lid on the losses but they are still coming.

Now would probably be a good time to review the system and work out how it could be improved or whether it should be dropped altogether. I have the system rules but it is hard to work out how to change them, if at all, because I don’t have a complete database of racing results on which to test the changes. I have records of the qualifying bets I have placed but that’s not enough as they represent only a subset of possible bets were I to change the rules. I need a system builder to really strip the system down and rebuild it so maybe it’s about time I signed up to HorseRaceBase for a short membership. If I recall correctly they have a short free trial available so I could maybe use that to revamp the system. I just need to find the time to do that and also to analyse the data I have in my spreadsheet to see if there are any quick changes I can make to improve matters until such time as I am able to fully deconstruct the system. I will, of course, post up detailed findings here in due course.

In some ways the recent poor performance of the Lay’em system has been a good thing. It has roused me from my slumber somewhat and made me seriously reconsider what data I record in my betting records spreadsheet and how I present statistics based on that data. For example, the system is a flat laying system but are there any significant differences between the performance on turf and AW? Err, I don’t know because I don’t record whether a race is flat or NH let alone whether it’s turf or AW. But that’s all about to change as I have written some VBA to go back over all my horse racing bets and note the racing code, surface and whether or not the race was a handicap. I’m still not 100% sure how I will use all this information but it’s about time I had a better breakdown of performance for these systems, as well as the various tipsters I follow. It’s about time I knew whether certain tipsters were better on the turf than the AW so that I can also consider varying my stakes depending on the racing code or surface.

And it doesn’t stop there either. When recording sports bets I obviously record which sport the bet relates to but when I display my statistics that information is lost. For example, Sports Bet USA covers the four main sports in the US (American football,  ice hockey, baseball and basketball) but my Stats page only displays the overall performance figures for the service as a whole. I need this information broken down by sport. If the ice hockey (for example) tips are dragging down the overall figures I need to know that so I can think about betting to lower stakes when the service releases ice hockey tips.

This is all fairly noddy stuff and it’s amazing that I haven’t thought to do all of this ages back but I guess when things are working there is a tendency not to tinker. And it’s only recently that it has become clear to me how broken some aspects of my portfolio seem. Of course, further analysis may just show that all I am experiencing is natural variance but at least then I know luck isn’t with me at this stage rather than having to make significant changes to any of my portfolio. It’s better to know where I stand, for sure.

There are also going to be other significant changes to the way I run my gambling but I will come to that shortly in another post as it’s a whole separate discussion to this one.

Categories: General, Horse Racing, Sports