How to pick a winner!

Sadly, I’ve never been able to pick out a winner on the horses.  Not with any level of consistency anyway.  Actually, that’s not quite right – I’m able to not pick winners with mind-numbing consistency!  I just have no talent at all in interpreting the form book.  I used to spend hours when I was a teenager, sitting in my bedroom with my best mate, poring over the pull-out results sections of the weekly ‘Raceform’ newspaper.  We’d try and formulate systems that would give us the edge over Eamonn in the local betting shop, who allowed us both to have a bet despite knowing full well we were underage.  He probably thought the risk was worth it – we very rarely backed a winner!

Anyway, the point is, I’m useless at picking horses.  Even now, when people I play cricket with and other mates ask me what I do, and I tell them I make money from gambling, they ask me for tips.  Seriously, they’re better off sticking a pin in the racecard.  They can’t seem to get their heads around the fact I make money from betting, but I claim to not being able to pick a winner to save my life.

What I have become fairly good at though, is recognising those that can pick winners, and identify value, and run a successful tipping service.  And what a great skill it is to develop!

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve made loads of mistakes in the past in terms of who to pay subscription fees to and follow; mistakes that were especially commonplace and expensive when I first set out on my punting journey.  Even after I had joined the SBC, and started to read their reviews of services and how good and bad they were, I still made poor choices.  I did at least stop paying up to join dodgy tipsters who were essentially nothing other than con artists, but I did still join tipsters that just weren’t right for me as an individual.  They perhaps didn’t suit my risk profile, or release bets at times when I could get the money down at the right odds.  Some services fitted like a glove, others fitted like a wool sweater that’s shrunk in the wash.

Still, over time, I became more and more adept at picking the right services for me.  I will go into the intricacies of the process in future blog posts, but for now I’ll concentrate on two major issues when it comes to selecting which tipsters to follow.

The first, and the most important box that I need to see ticked before I will even begin to consider parting with my cash, is that the service must have proofed and continue to be proofing their bets to a dependable and reliable source.  If they’re not, I don’t care how good they sound, I walk away.  There really is no need whatsoever in this day and age, for a reputable tipster to not be proofing their tips anywhere.

It is important to see who and where the tipster is proofing to.  Many “proofing” services are far from independent, taking affiliate fees as a reward for people signing up to a service on the back of their recommendation.  This practice completely undermines the principle of independent verification.  Personally, as I know and trust the SBC 100%, I simply limit myself to those services that proof to them.  I haven’t always imposed this rule on my own betting portfolio, and have often (although not always) suffered as a result.  You live and learn, I suppose.

There are some other reliable proofing sites out there.  Joseph Buchdahl used to run one, but sadly decided to close it down a little while ago.

The second all-important rule, is that the proofed record needs to be of a certain size.  I have seen so many flash-in-the-pan tipsters blaze an early trail, and then fizzle out disappointingly (and expensively).  The fact is, that there aren’t many that can stand the test of time.  Those that do, are worth following.

The sample of proofed bets needs to be sizeable in terms of both the time the tipster has been tipping for (at least 12 months, ideally over three years), and number of bets. The reliability of the sample size is dependent to an extent on average odds.  The aforementioned Joseph Buchdahl talks about this in his book, How To Find A Black Cat In A Coal Cellar (which is well worth a read for any aspiring serious or semi-serious bettor).  It is surprising just how large a sample of betting results needs to be to be statistically significant, ie. performance shows a real level of skill and is unlikely to be simply the consequence of luck.

So there we have it, the first two lessons to learn if you want to build a good, profitable portfolio of tipping services.  We’ll continue with this theme next time.


In the meantime, how has my portfolio been faring?

Well, it’s not been a bad week at all so far, although today’s losses have put a bit of a dampener on things.  I’m well aware we’re not yet up to speed with results as yet, but as I’ll be penning an end of month review of October’s figures in a few days time, I’ll save it for then to save repetition.  After that I’ll be updating the results on a weekly basis for you.

So, until next week…


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