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I've been an OLBG member since August 2005 and I can't be sure, but it's very possible I have visited every day since I joined

I am a Portsmouth fan and live in Gozo near Malta in the Med - My bett 

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Aug 25


The Best Horse Racing Betting System Ever. Can It Work?



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One of the most frequently asked questions about Horse Racing Betting - "Systems, do they work?"

There are three types of punters regarding systems and during this piece I will refer to each in passing.
  1. Those that use systems, lose with systems and think they work.

  2. Those that have used systems, didn't win and don't accept that they can work.

  3. Those that have a system, win, won't tell, and are not believed to be credible!

In the most disparaging of fashion, I can testify that those punters that fall into categories 1 & 2  don't know what they are doing, and those in No3 do, but can't prove it.

I can not even begin to estimate the time and effort I have put in over the years in trying to find a "Golden Egg" system to beat the odds in Horse Racing. Even as I type this piece, I have a pice of software running in the background on this very laptop, collating thousands of bits (or is it Bytes?), of information from every Nursery run in the month of September for the past 11 years. It is assessing every runner, in every race distance. At the same time, it is also looking at every 3yo only handicap at every distance between 5f and 12f, and the same again for every 3yo+ handicap over the same distances. Once complete, and this will take a very powerful computer,something in the region of 8 hours to complete, I will have  a data set of literally millions of cells of information, which I will filter and play around with for many many hours before deciding on what the strategy will be for the coming month.

I do this every month, and I do it every year. For what may end up taking me something between 12-24 hours to complete, I may find one or two worthwhile bets to be struck, I may find twenty. It's a lot of work for little action. That's the biggest problem with systems. THEY ARE BORING!

Because they are boring, many people you ask, "Systems, do they work?", will answer No2. The reason they do not believe they work is because they have looked at a system but don't understand the system. Don't understand probability and don't have the patience to see a system through.

I wonder how many people have started a system, whether it be a simple one such horses considered best drawn over 6f that are also Racing Post predicted favourite, or more complicated in using the second favourite in the Daily Mirror if the main Tipster has gone for it and it has previous course winning form. Regardless of how ridiculous an idea for a system is, they all have credence if followed for a certain amount of time. I have no idea if either of the aforementioned ideas would work, I haven't checked. (if you want to try them, feel free, just mail me 10% if they turn out to be gooduns!) The main reason punter number two exists is because he wants a system that will provide instant results, instant profits and big ones at that! Well don't we all? But it doesnt work that way. Sure, systems are born from a single idea, but they are very plant like in that they need time investment (as well as cash), time to nurture, develop and "create" your winning system. They also have a lifespan and die. But more of that later.

The single most frequent reason for system failure is lack of patience. You've come up with a great idea. You've researched it and back tested it against previous results. You've come across the perfect system that can't fail to provide big profits, it's proven. So you go to work and back the very next qualifier; LOSE! And the next, LOSE! And the next and the next and you get the picture. You're average punter does not have the patience to back four losers, hell he may not have the bank after thinking he has stumbled upon the pot at the end of the rainbow, so the system is destined for the trash and the next qualifier isn't bet. You know what happens, BANG! WINNER 10/1! So he bets the next, LOSER! And the system is forgotten. The maths ignored. (this example at single point level stakes has provided 6 clear points and over 100% return on investment), but these numbers are lost on our punter. He is out of pocket and scanning the paper for a DEAD CERT favourite to recoup the losses. You know what I'm talking about, and if you have been a punter for any length of time you know how it feels. If you don't, you're in denial!

You've checked the system over hundred of previous qualifiers, races and bets and it worked. You've experimented with it in real life for only a handful of bets. Did you even realise that within your back tested results, there are losing runs of four, five even six runners. Do you know what the strike rate of your system is, do you know what level of return on investment to expect? Do you know the average price of not only the qualifiers, but the ones that actually win? You have to give your system time, and you have to understand it's idiosyncrasies. Every single little aspect of your system. You also have to know, you're not going to be running around in a Ferrari with a beach-fronted house in the background any time soon off the back of your system, like the guys in the adverts selling them are. They are not really, and you never will be. Sorry.

Systems are a fun and interesting way of betting for number crunching gambling geeks. (like me!). They are boring, almost hobby like. Systems can be winners too. But profits will be slow and steady at best.  That brings me on to number 3 answer.

If you find a system that is a winner, DONT TELL ANYONE. The absolute essence of a system is that it has a strike rate at odds that beat the probability set out and given by the bookmaker. It will be  small edge, but an edge all the same. And here comes your biggest enemy in systematic betting.


That's right. It is the foremost reason why systems are perceived to not work and often don't or eventually fail. Your selection process is set out at Point A, and never changes, but markets and odds change to account for such things. The easiest way to influence a market is to throw money at it. Throw too much at it, and the odds change, your small edge has now disappeared for ever and you wont get it back. The more people you share your winning system with, the quicker their money will turn it into a losing system by affecting the odds you can get.

So. If you find a winning system that you want to keep, keep it to yourself. Herein lies the next problem, (if you consider systematic winning selections a problem!). When you tell people you have a winning system, THEY WON'T BELIEVE YOU unless you prove it to them. You prove it and kill your system. You don't prove it and continue winning and they think you're a liar. Hey Ho. It is ironic to say you can't win. So don't mention it at all, and you win all round.

The one thing you will have to do though is not only keep it a secret, but make your system your best friend too. Know everything about it. Know how it performs at different times of year, or going conditions, or whether certain trainers are better or worse for your system. Look at your results every day. Be aware of the slightest change. Even without sharing your system, eventually the odds will change against you. They always do. There are computerised algorithms being run continually over results, looking for trends. That 's what your system is. A trend. It may remain undiscovered for a time; a month, a year, three years but eventually things will change, and you will have to know your system well enough and understand the past results deeply enough to be able to accept that change and indeed change with it. You can only stay ahead of the game for so long. It will catch up. It always does. You just have to remain aware and one step ahead. Time investment will allow you that privilege

You can speculate yourselves as to whether you think the time I have spent looking for my system has born results or not. I'm not going to say. If I say I have, to retain any credibility I might have I will then have to give you details of a system and potentially kill it. If I say I have not yet found one, you'll laugh and tell me I've wasted my time.

What I will do however, is share with you my research for September across the various race types, age groups and distances I am researching. I will look for some angles from the past results, that qualify my expectation in sample size, the frequency of runners to ensure they come regularly enough to stave off that boredom and strike rate that is sufficiently high enough to provide a return on investment of at least my minimum expectation with average winners price big enough to complete the prior two tasks. I shan't be looking for odds on winners with an 80% strike rate. Whilst still profitable, Kudos is hard to come by when suggesting people back odds on favourites. My favourite systems will have average starting prices of winners at over 7/2, and preferably toward 7/1. The only problem with the latter is that one can expect lengthy losing runs, but one winner in 7 runners is sufficient return. At 7/1 average winner starting price, I would expect to have a losing run of anything up to 2o at a time during the course of the system. It takes a very patient punter to sit through 20 consecutive losers and continue to throw money at the system. But it's that punter who then hits the three consecutive 7/1 winners to redress the balance long after the other, less patient one, has dumped it, accepted the loss and moved on to repeat the process on the next system, answering the original question with the number 2 answer!

I will give some pointers on past profitable angles for September betting for you to take away and do with what you want. I would suggest playing with it them, perhaps adding them in to coincide with your favourite, newspaper or internet tipster and back only when they correspond, or come up with some other extra variable, just to give it some differentiation. I shan't track them through the month and provide P&L, but I will pick on or two of the basis ones and give an update at the end of the month as to their success or failure whicever may be the case. There comes no guarantees with this information, and I hold no responsibility for what you do with it. Past results are just that, they do not predict with accuracy what WILL happen in the future, only what MIGHT! Try the ideas on paper first and only gamble what you can afford to lose.

If you are interested in Systematic betting on horseracing and have not tried it previously, or were not sure where to start, have a go. Let me know your thoughts, and without giving the details out, tell me if they work or not. Quite often the most successful systems are the most simple. One or two variables, and there are thousands of combinations to be thought up, work best and keep the interest.

If you have any ideas on systems you might like me to check back results for, as long as the variables coincide with what my software is capable of, I will run them back if I think there might be something in them. If someone asks me to check all 2nd favourites in handicaps, I will refuse and confidently tell you that it is a system that doesn't work. But give me a go. You might uncover your very own gem.

What are your thoughts on Systematic betting? Not only for Horseracing but for other sports too.

Are certain sports better for System betting than others?

Are there sports that should be avoided for Systems, and why?

Have you ever bought a System? Did it work or did it fail?

Leave me a comment and let me know


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by on 25 August 2012 07:49

Nice work MOB Im hoping to do a similar piece soon

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by on 26 August 2012 20:06

Enjoyable read MOB. I must say I agree systems require such a lot of patient and are so boring when theyre not winning. Nothing worse than spending hourse sorting out a days systems selections for them all to run like pigs. I know this first hand!

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by on 26 August 2012 20:06

I really should have checked over what I typed then! Apologies for typos

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by on 28 August 2012 15:00

Excellent post MOB.

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by man o bong on 31 August 2012 00:28

Gazcaddy, I think that trying to improve them comes under the "lack of patience" I referred to. What sort of systems have you used in the past? Would you revisit some old selection criteria now, to see if in their raw form they could work again?

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by man o bong on 20 September 2012 16:51

Seriously Data? A Virtual System! Your partly right about not being interested in as much as investing in it but my curiosity does wonder how the system came about, and indeed how you get on with it. Please divulge

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by man o bong on 30 September 2012 17:24

Bingboy: regarding sample size, i feel it is relevant to prices gained. As a base point i would say, with my systems, generally finding winning sp's averaging around the 5/1 mark, a sample size of 100 bets would be ideal. In fact 100 would be my minimum regardless of price below 5/1. Should the winning sp prices be higher, then i would raise the sample size accordingly to account for the longer losing runs and lower strike rate. eg, 10/1, perhaps 200 bets. I'm glad you have found the article of use thus far, if you have further input i would be interested to hear it, indeed, if anyone else has. We never stop learning in this game. As far as betting bank is concerned, again, relative to the possibility of losing run, it should be sufficient to cover one or to of these, and as far as staking? Well i almost exclusively play single point level stakes

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by on 4 October 2012 01:29

Thought i would come back and have a read 60 points losing run are you kidding me Bing thats not a system thats lighting up a cigar with bank notes.You are right MOB no one in their right mind would let anyone know if they found a superb system would they ? and as for level stakes punting wake up and smell the coffee when it comes to Trading to all punters remember it is knowing your maths that makes profit maths rules every part of your life.

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by DAVIDADAN on 7 July 2013 01:58

Regardless of how ridiculous an idea for a system is they all have credence if followed for a certain amount of timeI think you have summed it up in that one sentence.So many systems do actually have a limited period of success.Dont just look at the system you useie tunnel visionbut look at what is happening around in racesanalyse why the results are not forthcoming and adapt if required.

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by DAVIDADAN on 7 July 2013 02:09

I will add that M.O.B talks a lot of sense particularly as regards systems.I have been known to seek his adviceand he appears to have a great deal of knowledge and resources to hand with honest opinions.Good informative blogthanks Marc!

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by man o bong on 2 August 2013 21:17

Thanks for your feedback Tez, I'm not sure about your stats, they will differ from Flat, AW and National Hunt, but it is a reasonable suggestion so long as the strike rate and the average price of winners are sufficient. that's the beauty of systematic betting. It is always marginal, but half the fun is finding them!

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by Ridger on 26 August 2013 16:20

Ive been thinking about a system but I like most punters gamble at leisure. For me to consistently use a system it would need to be nearly completely automated or quick and simple. Time is money and to use a system in affordable amounts is generally underwhelming or not worth the investment and risk. Im convinced that systems can be hugely profitable and there are plenty of options or niches the less popular the better in many situations. But many require a lot of analysis have tight margins and always have variability which provides significant risk regardless of the system. The vast majority are like surfing a shark enjoy it while it lasts. There are certainly many low risk systems trading on market movement or disparity but require a decent size wallet patience and effort. Most punters didnt get into gambling to make 1 or 2 for a decent amount of effort those people work at insurance companies. Id like access to more statistics and the ability to check certain trends more deeply than I currently can but I have yet to find a way of accessing the information I would like in a way I am happy to spend interpreting.Personally Id look at lesser known elements of the market and by their nature they are hard to pin down as they are the bits often overlooked by others as well. But if you could see a specific trend with regards to increased development of horses between certain ages or trends of when certain horses/trainers turn losing form into winning I think there could be a bit more to be made from the pre-emptive attack on the market. Many systems and tipsters want trends and a decent amount of form for it to be statistically significant identifying improvement is a harder area to predict. But for that reason potentially more rewarding with significant analysis of the limited data while appreciating a reasonably high amount of volatility and risk comes with the territory.The majority of profitable people in the betting industry make money from being ahead of the market following it is saturated and with small rewards where identified.

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by man o bong on 5 February 2014 17:02

Hi Matt, welcome to OLBG, The forum is a great place to ask question but refrain from trying to advertise any services as you find an instant ban meted out - In terms of starting a tipping service, I ran one for three years. From my experience, I can tell you that it is not the bed of roses it may look at this stage. it takes an enormous amount of work, hard work, that will take up every single spare moment of your time for very little reward. When i say reward i mean emotionally. Despite having three consecutive years of profit, one singlebad month can decimate a membership list, and regardless of results expect hate mail by the sack load, ridicule from envious people,and even death threats - And this was from giving out profitable information, dont even get started on losing people money. You never know who you are dealing withm, whilst you have to be as open and honest as the day. Why did i give up my service? Because i came to hate the sport i loved with the pressure of having to provide information and knowing that peoples money was riding on my advice. I had members that were backing to such low stakes that they couldn't cover the subscription charge even in winning months, and other members that decidde not backing anything over 10/1 on my advice was a good idea, thuis cutting down their profits and in somemonth producing a loss when the months advice was in fact profitable - Far better to get yourself over to the forum,share you tips for free enjoy the adulation of the community who will praise on a winner and never ridicule on a loser - Goos luck and we hope to see you on the forum

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by man o bong on 6 May 2014 11:43

Price based systems in fluid markets are very difficult to manage - I long ago gave up this way of researching systems

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by man o bong on 8 July 2014 11:04

I like you approach of minimal stake increase after a losing day - It is certainly not the first approach that comes to mind but of course,when expecting the next winners after losers, it does make some sense - I have always considered the % of bank staking as possibly flawed in making the most of the bank, and whilst it does indeed give some protection for losing runs, they come to an end just as winning ones do - I might take a look over some recent betting activity and see how it would have panned out over my valuebank selections for last seasons football

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by man o bong on 24 March 2015 19:49

You liability is your stake aoife You cant have a stake of 3pts AND a liability of 6pts - If your total liability is 6pts, that is the maximum you will lose.

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