Stumbled on a tweet the other day asking

“What is your best advice to a first-time bettor?”

There was a lot of good responses such as manage your bankroll, bet on your most strongest opinions, do not chase losses and so on some were far more esoteric. Nothing wrong with these suggestions but I wondered, are they really the lessons that will get you to first base?. As for back your strongest opinions well if you think a novice punter can figure that out then please explain in the comment section below.

My response was that the first fundamental mind shift that a punter has to make in order to get them to first base. Something that will at least mean they are are on firm ground when looking to get to second base and one paradigm shift that hopefully with some examples and suggestions can be made by everyone, is to understand that its all about the price.

What do I mean by this?, well its the basic idea that unless you are backing selections that are over priced ie bigger than their true chance of winning then you are not going to make money in the long run. Its as simple as that, really. Just about everybody will agree with that but the vast majority have trouble implementing this approach. To bet on something that you think is too big when you do not think its the most likely winner is a difficult thing get your head around and action. In fact its worse than that as the vast majority do not even think in terms of chance they stick to the simple idea of what is going to win and then they decide to bet on it if the payoff would titillate them or not. At even money it hardly seems worth it but at 3/1 I could buy a new suit.

Value the word I have avoided using, a word that even some pundits on TV will fail to understand. How does one evaluate value, how do you arrive at value bets. There are two main approaches.

The first approach is the more nuanced and requires a certain skill set. It involves calculating the chance of say each horse in a race and then comparing that chance to the chance the exchanges are offering and bet or no bet depending on whether you think the selection has a better chance than the odds indicate. Calculating these chances or probabilities can be done via a couple of methods. The first is seat of the pants experience based on form reading and knowledge of individual horses. This takes time and experience and puts a lot of emphasis on your own strength of mindset after all when things are going poorly you somehow have to operate in the same consistent manner. This is very difficult do but there are people who can simply spot over price selections. The disadvantage to this method is that you probably generate fewer bets which can be a problem for reasons outside the scope of this blog post.

The second method within this first method is to create statistical models based on input data in say horse racing if that is your field of betting. This model can then generate probabilities for each horse in a race. The benefit of this approach is that it can be automated and can produce more turnover in bets.

The second method which can produce value is to not attempt to calculate individual odds on horses but to try and find categories of horses that are overpriced. For example you may find that Richard Fahey’s horse when ridden by a claimer are over priced and long term return a profit. You do not know which ones are over priced you just know they are as a collective. Of course this can change as can the relative weights or merit of input values to a model. Also with a model you do not know which horses probabilities were correct and which were wrong you just know they work as a collective. The key difference thought is that with the Fahey runners you are backing them regardless of price whereas with a model you will skip some horses because of the price.

Now I am not suggesting that the last few paragraphs should be thrown at a novice bettor but its abolutely fundamental to betting that a new punter gets their head around the value concept. Pretty much all else is lost if they do not grasp this and base their betting upon it

If you found any value in this blog post let me know via the rating below and comment section