The Psychology of Gambling - Horses

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The Psychology of Gambling - Horses

Postby Sprintbet » Sun May 12, 2013 11:53 am

For those of us that take backing horses seriously, I'm sure we all try to devise some sort of plan, some sort of structure, some sort of system. Without this, I would suggest we are not serious about backing horses...

For me, backing horses is about the 'big picture' over the year, the final P & L. I would think the majority of us keep tabs and records on our P @ L daily/weekly, some in more detail than others down to the finest detail.

When it comes to backing horses I think there are three types of punter :-

1 - The Loser
2 - The Break Even
3 - The Winner

I have no idea of the real percentage split we all fall into, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to suggest the biggest portion of gamblers fall into Type 1. It takes a massive amount of time, knowledge and experience to become a Type 2 Break Even punter. The challenge most of us face is to tread water in that Break Even position - by applying all that we have learnt over years of experience - and then strive for those tweaks to what we do to become the winner.

I'm sure when we all look at our structures, the plan, the system and the ideas in the cold light of day it looks positive, it can work. We are away from the heat of the battle, the betting ring, the odds movement, the paddock negatives - when we are home and here, we have clarity.

My betting focus is in any type of race up to 1 mile. Handicaps or Maidens. With handicaps, so much homework looking at their mark, going etc - the usual stuff we all consider. With maidens, homework yet the added importance of paddock watching - moreso I find than with handicaps.

However, a penny is beginning to drop with me of late that the most important part of making money for me personally, as a regular racegoer, is that 5 minute period after the horses have gone to start and before the off.

This is where everything comes together - how they look, how they went down, how the price has come in/gone out from the morning price/first show, combining the shortlist you had from home and how you can make money on the race, the application and the money management at the current odds. The decision we make in this 5 minute period can shape our day. 'What makes a bet a bet'...

For a gambler to become a winner I suggest we all have to initially learn how to lose. Sounds odd. I can back an horse and if it loses feel comfortable that I have applied everything I know to come to the correct decision and strike the correct bet. Even if it loses there is a sense of strange comfort that the bet was a bet, it just lost, end of. Likewise, we get most satisfaction from when the horse wins - we did everything correctly, we wagered the correct amount and backed at the correct price. This is the feeling we all strive for with every bet we place.

Then there's the psychology of doing things wrong. This can run at various tangents throughout the process and can apply to backing both winners and losers.

- We can see 3 horses with a chance of winning, we back two (discipline - because we are looking at our outlay !), then watch the race knowing the 'other' will win. It invariably does.
- You set off to the course with a 2pt bet, something makes you uneasy in the paddock, price etc, you change to a 1pt bet - the horse wins. Happy or unhappy ?

These are just two that spring to mind, I'm sure we can all think of dozens more and then we bemoan our 'luck'. What I'm suggesting is and something I need to apply on course (easier said than done when sat here typing away !) that the most important part of striking bets is that 5 minute period before the off. Clarity of thought and focus is what is needed because if any one of the stages fail we will live with it for the rest of the day. I suggest that our day is shaped when we strike our first bet, because our mind will live with that first decision - either positively or negatively.

The best can take the emotion out of it. I am open to suggestions and peoples ideas of how we/you do that...

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Postby nors » Sun May 12, 2013 3:28 pm

I will move this excellent post to the horse racing thread where you may get more responses.

I am a firm believer in the mind set of everything we do including betting. If your focus is correct, your planning is correct, and your state of mind is positive imo you have much better chance of winning.

To many times we strike hopeful bigger bets on the hope of reversing our losses or smashing the bookmaker
I suggest that our day is shaped when we strike our first bet, because our mind will live with that first decision - either positively or negatively.
If the 1st bet loses we all start to question ourselves and because of this loss we are often already in the "wrong" mind set. But as you say losing teaches us valuable lessons for future racedays. We learn not to make these mistakes again.

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Postby turfline » Sun May 12, 2013 3:58 pm

You have to treat Trading/Punting as a Business, and you have to be a very good planner, and good at math's.

Have an Edge at your chosen Sport.

Build a Risk management structure around your Trading/Betting Banks.

Always remember that protecting your Trading/Betting Bank is the No1 on your list.
Never treat money as fun/bets.

Keep Records of all your Trades/Punts.

If you are doing the above a-mentioned so far, you are heading in the right direction.

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Postby man o bong » Sun May 12, 2013 4:05 pm

Keep Records of all your Trades/Punts.
Single-most important aspect!

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Postby Sprintbet » Sun May 12, 2013 4:33 pm

I do all of the above turfline.

Betting bank, staking plan, record of all bets, the forecast number of winning days I will have this season, the forecast number of losing days, the target point profit which I aim to make over the year, average winning SP...

I have made 4 individual mistakes this flat season which have cost me money and one stroke of 'luck' which has won me money...I even have a record of those in an aim to learn by them and not quantify as good or bad luck. Looking back at my records all of these mistakes and lack of clarity, decisions, execution, happened in that 5 minute period just before the off.

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Postby deswalker » Sun May 12, 2013 4:45 pm

This is a great thread, and one that I will contribute just one small thing for now, and it isn't something that is often said, but its true.

There really is not a lot of difference between the losing majority and profitable punters. There, I've said it.

Everyone is looking at the same stats and form figures and I don't really think I know more about how to read form then I did 4 years ago when I was a consistent loser. The difference is knowing how important various factors are and being able to weight them up against each other.

There is an important mental edge as well; being able to divorce oneself from temporary ups and downs and see the big picture. That takes rock solid confidence.

As you say;
I can back an horse and if it loses feel comfortable that I have applied everything I know to come to the correct decision and strike the correct bet. Even if it loses there is a sense of strange comfort that the bet was a bet, it just lost, end of.
I know a few Windsor regulars, who have been gambling for decades longer then me, to whom this statement would be incomprehensible...
"The problem with the future is that there are more things that could happen than will happen" - Plato (liberally paraphrased)

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Postby DAVIDADAN » Sun May 12, 2013 5:19 pm

Great post from a relative newcomer.Welcome Sprintbet,I shall be following with interest!
This should hopefully be an informative,thread i have recently blogged similar and i hope it remains educational as opposed to criticism.So many i see on the daily thread betting on impulse to "LATE" posts,could with some effort improve profits hugely. :hope:

Quote from Turfline;You have to treat Trading/Punting as a Business, and you have to be a very good planner, and good at math's. However there are many good Dutch calculators out there to assist those who might have mathematical issues.

To quote M.O.B i do post selections,only when i am comfortable and have personally backed them and can apply reasoning.I posted a comment earlier after Nors this morning highlighted Peter Bowens long travellers,only 1 winner but at 4/1 a small loss on the day.
What i implied was that so many tips on the daily thread "seem" without in depth analysis and often followed blindly,and can inspire a lack of discipline.Not an argumentative reply,hopefully constructive to some members,who might momentarily lose discipline :?
Last edited by DAVIDADAN on Sun May 12, 2013 6:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby man o bong » Sun May 12, 2013 5:51 pm

So many i see on the daily thread betting on impulse to posts
And to that end, it would be great t see some of your selections on the daily selections thread

Welcome

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Postby prosneverlose » Sun May 12, 2013 6:43 pm

Everythings determined by prices,so I would never be looking to bet 5 mins before a race 90% of my bets are the night before most of the value is gone by the following morning so an understanding of prices is the most important thing.I spend most of my time trying to get on within mins of prices put up by books,if I don't get the prices I don't bet.Quite easy to see who knows anything about prices etc as most punters are backing at the wrong prices. :win:

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Postby merlin » Sun May 12, 2013 7:18 pm

Hi, well for me obviously being less emotive is going to help my betting psychology.

But to be honest, I think you can have very different betting philosophies and strategies - and be successful/unsuccessful. I know I have clashed with MOB lately, but I think ultimately neither of us are being aggressive to one another and you can probably learn different things, from each of us and our approaches. So I think we all need to be open-minded; so comments like "you won't win like that", or "I know a few old pro's who would turn in their graves with that concept" - I'm not sure we should judge it.... just assimilate it and think. The market and track market is just another tool that can work - but as we're already seeing, some people like it and some don't; but no one is right or wrong.

As an example, consider someone like Steve Jobs - he was a complete maverick, he made Apple the 'rebel against the establishment'..... he went to work bare foot, he used to give people jobs if they said they had experimented with LSD (because he valued individuality, a lack of fear and an open-mind); he was ultra-successful but his methods were anything but conventional. Many people said he would fail, but he didn't. Some people loved him - some hated him; but it is hard to argue with his achievements. Different political/social systems operate all over the world, and completely different approaches can 'succeed' (a little like Eastern/Western philosophies).

Now for me, I am a little jobs-inclined (minus the LSD). Although some of my banks are level stakes/very strict, I also use auto-regulation with my betting; that means I sense when to bet and how much to bet, which strategy to apply, which type of bet, on a daily basis and race by race basis. I know that some people will despise this approach - but it works for me and has become intuitive to me. I try and become the races - I can't explain precisely how it works, because it's now ingrained in me. On the account I use this approach with, I have a daily stop-loss limit, which stops the potential of abuse with this approach - obviously I try and never hit the limit, but it does happen but it's set at a measured level which I know is relatively easy to recover. However, to reiterate, this approach is something I feel has been forged via experience, and of course, losing, learning and applying. Essentially this applies the theory of 'autoregulation' which can be applied to many areas of life - as an example, by athletes who adapt their training loads by 'feel' - so they train optimally, pushing harder when the time is right, and backing off when their system is stressed. Similarly, if you like to stay in control when drinking, you may auto-regulate how much your drink/what you drink, depending on your tolerance on a given day. Can you analyse a race in 5 minutes? In some cases I think you can - Lenny Bee last night a classic example of finding a horse in a race which should have been 10-1 or less, and was 25-1; very nearly won and got the E/W money (could I have done this a couple of years ago? I doubt it). Again, some people's toes will be curling, I'm sure. I personally believe you can train your brain to fulfill a particular task and run on auto, and this can surely be so with horse racing.

It is a maverick approach and I also use systematic/conventional approaches too.

This forum is a melting pot of ideas..... it pays to take them all in and not judge too harshly.
Ying and Yang.... both very different, both valid, both complimentary...neither 'right or wrong'....

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Postby Sprintbet » Sun May 12, 2013 7:43 pm

A couple of good replies thank you.

Prosneverlose - I understand your point about prices, when I analyse a sprint handicap I have a view of what a price should be, price them up, see the books out of line and know what the shortlist of selections are based on the books being out of line and what I identify as value. I use the word shortlist as it's rare I analyse a sprint handicap and can nail my colours to one mast. I often back two to three in a sprint to make a profit...I may have a shortlist of 5 ! I would rarely dream of backing all 5, the raceday, the paddock, the way they travel to post etc determine in some cases how I narrow down the list. This is not a one size fits all standard method and I often back in the morning when I have the one or the two definite bets. The mistakes I refer to tend be in maidens, where in my opinion the paddock is invaluable and only when I see them in the flesh can I determine the most likely winners.

Merlin - I often scan through a sprint handicap in the North and within 5 minutes I know the value, the ones with chances and my potential shortlist. This comes with a memory of following the form, knowing ideal conditions, jockey arrangements etc - I do often wonder if instinct would beat in depth form study !

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Postby DAVIDADAN » Sun May 12, 2013 7:56 pm

I do often wonder if instinct would beat in depth form study
It really does happen,i,ve gone with Alan Berrys and been successful this last week,albeit after form study,instead of dutching.Also works,with Ante post bets,totally a different kettle of fish though!

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