Professional Poker Player Transition to Sports Betting – Where’s the +EV in Horse Racing Systems?

EV or Expected Value is a widely used term in poker terminology to determine if the outcome of a play is +, 0 or – in terms of profitability. This article is aimed for Poker Players who also like to punt on UK and Irish horse racing. It never ceases to amaze me how many good poker players are terrible at betting on horse racing. If they can spend so much time on their poker game then why not also put in the effort when placing a bet to ensure that you have the most +EV decision that you can possibly make with all the information at hand. The title of the post is actually a small bit misleading as I personally believe that all horse racing systems are doomed and the way to consistently profit at betting on horse racing is to have a horse racing method not a system.

The following article will lay the ground work for anyone who wants to start taking their punting to the next level. There is no better satisfaction then spending an hour or two analysing a race and 1 horse just stands head and shoulders above the rest when you compare all the different factors that I will explain below. Of course the toughest part is having the discipline to only wait for when these such occasions occur when placing a bet, and some times, this may mean you do not bet for up to a month. (This may help explain why I moved into playing poker from sports betting as the results of your actions are known instantaneously, and you can play a game anytime of any day). I also think you can compare a MTT player to a professional sports bettor – you can go long periods without a win and then score a few big results and then rinse and repeat and hopefully over the course of the year you will have been profitable.

1. You must specialise. All the most profitable professional sports bettors pick not only 1 sport but only a small niche in that sport. Patrick Veitch, who has won over 10 million punting on horse racing in the UK only bets on UK flat racing. He even has a massive team of researchers who do a lot of the work for him, but he as he also works 18 hours days during the flat season he is naturally burnt out by the end of the season.

For the beginner though, what I mean by specialise is concentrate on an area of horse racing where you can get the most information. Information is power so unless you own a shed load of 2 year old horses or are the nephew of Aidan O Brein, there is no point in specialising in 2 year old horse races as you just wont have enough information to go on. Therefore it makes more sense to specialise on handicap races, where each horse in the race must of least have run 3 times to qualify but mainly are run by the same horses year in, year out until they are retired.

The best races then to specialise in are 4 year old plus handicaps in flat and national hunt racing as you have the most information available and you can start to see patterns in horses and therefore pick out some very +EV selections when you have spotted this pattern and the majority of the racing public haven’t. This is the bread and butter of successful punting, going against the crowd.

Personally I used to specialise in 4 year old plus UK flat handicaps in the summer, and UK and Irish National Hunt handicap chases and hurdles in the Winter.

2. In your specialised area, when you select a race to analyse, you must go through every horse in the race to develop a shortlist. Below are my 5 essential criteria that every horse must have when you are placing a bet.

a) Going – The horse must be proven on going conditions.

b) Distance – The horse must be proven on the trip

c) Course Type – The horse must be proven on similar type of course

d) Fitness – The horse must have shown that it can operate at optimal levels since its last number of days off the track.

e) Class – The horse must have either won at the class he is currently competing in before or else gave a very good showing in a previous race at the similar or higher class level.

Going and Distance

With regard to going and distance and to a lesser extent course type, I will not fully discount a horse who has never raced on the going if he has extremely good sire stats (15% + strike rate) however I would always give precedence to another horse in a race who has won on for example soft going compared to a horse who has never raced on soft but has sire stats of 18% strike rate for soft going conditions.

With distance, I would also use sire stats if a horse is moving up or down in trip by 1 furlong on the flat, and 2 furlongs in national hunt. With experience, you can tell by looking at a race if a horses needs the extra trip or not and the sire stats can be a great way to back up that visual piece of information.

Course Type

This often overlooked by the general racing public. The best thing about UK and Irish racing is the different types of race courses you will encounter. Cheltenham (left-handed, galloping, undulating and testing track with stiff fences) is totally different to Stratford (left Handed, flat & Sharp) as it is to Sandown (right-handed, galloping, testing track)

A horse who has won twice in Cheltenham will probably never win a race at Stratford and vice versa. Bigger sized horses are more suited to galloping tracks as they can take the turns easier and can maintain a strong galloping pace for longer whereas a smaller sized horse is better suited to sharp tracks (i.e less than 10 furlongs) as most of the running will be going around bends and therefore the bigger horses will not be able to maintain their top galloping speed for long on the stretches.

Also some horses can only run to their best at left handed courses and vice versa. You would actually wonder why trainers persist to run horses which clearly will not win on a certain turning race track, but then you realise by doing this, they will get their Official rating down as horse will appear to be trying but will be hanging left or right the whole way through. You have to be aware that trainers will be trying to manipulate the handicapper a lot of the times in the lower grade races by running horses on unsuitable ground, at the wrong distance, on the wrong course type, or running the horse with a different style during the race all to try and reduce their rating so that they can set up a better chance for themselves to win in the future at a decent price.

I love Cheltenham race meet in March for the simple fact, the course is a stiff testing course which straight away rules out a lot of other horses in the race as they just cant handle it, the grade of racing and pirze money on offer means that everyone is trying to win, and you can nearly always guarantee what the going will be. Therefore if you just use the criteria above and select horses who are proven on the 5 factors (and this applies to the non handicap graded races too, you will see huge profits)

Fitness

To determine a horses fitness, you must look at its previous patterns of how it performed when it returns after a certain number of days off the track. The beauty of handicap races is you have loads of past information to go on and you can see if a horse is 0-5 when returning after an 80 day lay off, whereas he is 3-2-5 when he returns between 15 and 30 days.

Class

A horses class is often overlooked by the racing public. Statistically horses who are moving up in grade/class do not have a good strike rate, however the public will back it blindly if it sees it has won by 5 lengths in its previous race in a lower grade. Analyse past races to see if a horse has won or come close in the grade of race it is racing in today. You can discount a horse if it has failed 2 times at the grade when having all other conditions to suit except for when it is running for a new stable which has a good record at rejuvenating horses.

Also keep in mind that a horse who has placed in a black type race (i.e grade, 1,2,3) will have a more class than a horse who has a good winning record in Class 2 (B) handicaps, so if it is racing in a Class 2 handicap for the first time, do not discount just because it has never won a race.

3. Once you have created your shortlist based on the above criteria, you can now get down to the real dirty work of finding the eventual winner. Sometimes you might only be left with 1 horse, sometimes with 8, you must then start applying other filters to see if you can narrow down the list more. Sometimes the odds will allow to dutch 3 horses left if you can not narrow it down anymore. Then go for it as it is a plus EV move.

However be aware that every time you discount you must have a very valid reason backed up by a decent sample size. Here’s a list of filters to reduce the shortlist.

Weight

Some horses as stated earlier have a bigger frame then others, therefore having top weight doesn’t make much difference to them, whereas the smaller horse will struggle. Again by studying previous races you will spot a pattern

OR

This is the official rating that the horse racing board’s in house handicapper assigns to a horse to determine what weight it should carry in its next horse race. The OR is updated weekly, therefore you sometimes see trainers turn out a horse 3 times in a week to try and take advantage of this before the handicapper reassigns it a higher rating. For an excellent explanation of official hores racing handicapping see this article written by good friend Malcolm Smith over at www.UKhorseracing.co.uk.

After a while, horses will reach their peak and start to hover around a certain OR mark. Therefore it will be unlikely that it will win if its OR mark is higher than its highest winning mark unless the horse is an improving progressive sort. But for older horses, this OR mark becomes more important and can be more relied upon.

Field Size

Some horses will not race unless they are covered in the pack, other horses need room otherwise they get into trouble during the race. The trick is to identify these type of horses. You will start to spot where some horses only win in races with less than 8 runners, but never figure in races with more than 12. You can safely assume that he needs the perfect ride in a big runner race but more than likely will not get that (This is when you can factor in the Jockeys ability to see if its OK to rule out this horse or not) The field size matters more in National Hunt, as some horses prefer seeing the jumps early/later and as they are pack animals prefer chasing a leader than actually leading

Seasonal

A lot of horses prefer to run in certain times of the year. This could be down to how a trainer prepares the horse over the course of the season and aims it to be at full fitness come March time for example, but other times horses just perform better in certain months. Again by looking at past patterns you will begin to spot these trends.

Trainer Statistics

8 years ago it was a very profitable trend to follow certain trainers at certain race tracks for certain race types. This edge has slowly eroded since the markets have caught on, however it still needs to be factored in when trying to finalise your short list.

Trainer – Jockey combinations

If you try and follow this blindly by backing winning Trainer-Jockey Combos, you will most likely end up with a loss. However it is a good tool to have when you are trying to reduce the shortlist as some stats are just too good to ignore.

Jockey Booking

This is actually a powerful indicator. However this again doesn’t mean much if the horse doesn’t first qualify for the 5 essential criteria above. Also if you only ever back horses with the top jockeys on board you are forgoing on EV as, the odds will drop on a horse with the likes of Ruby Walsh or Tony McCoy on board, but odds will still remain good on a horse if for example the jockey booking was Graham Lee, who is a very underrated performer. Look back over past races and see how the horse has performed under their guidance before. You will start to see profitable trends and indicators.

Gambling Stables

There are a few ways to do this. One is manually record stables where horses have been heavily backed and won. Another way is to look at a horses previous wins and see what the average odds were. The lower the winning odds, the bigger chance that the stable money only goes down when the horse has a good chance of winning (Kevin Ryan is an example of a gambling stable). The higher the odds, means the horse has won races that they weren’t fully expecting to win and therefore less likely a gambling stable (Veneita Williams comes to mind here for being an honest stable).

Post Race Comments

This is often overlooked. If you see what trainers, jockeys and owners have said to the press after a horse has won (See the racing post website for all the comments), you can pick up some useful information which can help you lean one way or the other on a selection.

Pace of the race.

To understand the pace of the race you first need to figure out what is each horse’s preferred running style. They can be broken down into front runners, prominent runners, Hold up horses. Here’s is a fantastic article which details the breakdown of winning % of different horses running styles compared to the actual number of race entries of horses with different running styles.

It shows that you should really be concentrating on front running and prominent horses as it accounts for 65% of winners compared to being only 50% of entries in races. Front runners in particular account for 20% of winners even though they only supply 11% of runners in a race.

You can use this to your advantage once you get to know all of the different course types. By backing a front running horse that satisfies the 5 essential criteria on a race course which has a sharp track with a short run in, you have added a few % EV points to your selection.

Another factor here is analysing the previous 3 races the horse has ran in and check out the in running comments. Especially look at the horses who came placed or came outside the top 4 but were close near the end. Keep and eye out for comments like “finished strongly”, “kept on well”, “stayed on well”, “kept on final furlong”and for other tidbits like “hampered” but then “finished strongly”. These can point towards a horse who is on the upward curve and given the perfect conditions in the next race will have a very good chance of winning.

Another thing to factor in is if a race does not have any natural front runners, then the race will not be run at a true pace, therefore could throw up some very unusual results. It may mean that the horse who has the best speed on a flat track will win when it drives all out in the last furlong.

When the pace of the race is guaranteed, the classier horse which satisfies the essential criteria will more often than not win the race.

4. Resources

For 6 years, before getting lured into the world of Online Poker, I punted successfully on horse racing and I used the following resources

Ratings from ukhorseracing.co.uk.

The ratings are based upon advanced pure mathematics but are presented in a an easy to read pdf. The main feature in my view that sets this service apart from a lot of pretenders is the ‘Class’ filter they derive using their mathematical approach. Fantastically accurate for Non Handicap graded races in both National Hunt and Flat racing in the both UK and Irish racing. They also have a great forum where you can exchange ideas with the other members and have recently introduced a Racing Bot where you plug in all your profitable racing systems and sit back and watch.

Stats and ratings from ukracestats.com

I only found this website 4 years into my sports betting career, and it was free for nearly 2 years after that. It is without doubt the biggest time saving tool when it comes to analysing a race using all the criteria and filters I have mentioned above in the article. The only negative is that they only cover UK horse racing.

Racing Post Website- Last year they introduced a subscription service and I suppose it was about time considering all the information that it provides. It is essential for anyone serious about racing. I used it to confirm my findings from the ratings and stats mentioned above.

At The Races Website – Good for watching previous races and offers different race analysis from the Racing Post. As far as I know this is still free.

I hope that after reading the above that you will now not just throw money blindly at the favourite when you have a punt on the horses. Put a bit of time and effort into the selection process and give yourself a +EV chance of winning.

Sports Betting Systems and the Psychology of a Winning Sports Bettor

If I had a nickel for every forum title I read that started out something like “Can you really make money betting sports?” I would be the richest man on the planet. Fact: If every bettor lost all the time there would be no sports betting market. It is that simple. I am a winning bettor. I don’t have to pick the paper up anymore and study statistics all day. It took some hard work to achieve this status. If you are tired of losing money and want to start making profits, keep reading.

Let me provide you with some basic statistics for the sake of the discussion. There are over 6 billion people in the world. Lets say only 3 billion are adults. Of those adults, only 10 percent bet on sports. That is 3 million people that bet sports. Of those 3 million people, only 2 percent actually make a living betting sports. The other 98 percent lose money. That leaves 60,000 people in the world who profit from betting sports for a living! These numbers are extremely conservative; it is estimated that over 200 million people ALONE will bet on the Superbowl in a given year. Not only is it possible to make a living betting sports, it happens every minute of everyday to real people just like you.

I have identified three crucial issues that keep amateur sports bettors from turning professional and turning profits in their sports betting careers.

1. The single biggest problem with those who lose money betting sports is a lack of discipline.

2. The second biggest problem is non-application of any substantial sports betting systems to keep you consistent and on target.

3. The third issue is thinking like the typical square bettor and not like the bookmaker.

I will address all of these fundamental betting flaws and give you a glimpse on how a winning sports bettor thinks and acts.

One of the best ways to lose your shirt over the long run is bet chasing. Scenario: You thought you had the lock of the century last evening with the first game. You lost that bet on some unbelievable nonsense, maybe a back door cover in a game that was long over for both teams. You got angry, saw the next game of the night coming up and impulsively doubled your bet for game two to cover your losses from game one. Then, since you had no real system in place to keep you in check, that game ends up a loser as well and you are now down big. Everyone has done this, and I am no exception. This is the lack of discipline I am talking about. You will lose some nights, just like your 401k will lose value some days. It comes with the territory. Bet just that one game and if it loses, cut your losses there and tomorrow is a new day.

There are tons of sports betting systems that exist, but some are very good if you have the discipline to follow them verbatim. Most sports bettors do not have the time, patience, or inclination to hypothesize, test, analyze, retest, and apply sports betting systems. This is why most sports bettors lose over the long haul. There are professionals who do have systems in place and are happy to share those systems with anyone who thinks they have what it takes to follow the system. You MUST have a system in place that keeps you on the winning path. Betting random games night in and night out without proper research is no formula for success. It is fun, but it is a money loser and that is not why you are here. You are here to become a winner. Remember, you will lose some nights. You will lose and losing is not fun. With a sports betting system in place that has been proven to win, over the course of your investment you will make money. How much you make and how often is entirely up to you applying discipline and consistency to your sports betting systems.

Think like the bookmaker. It has been said that books are only concerned with having an equal amount of bets placed on both sides of the same game. That way, with the vigorous factored into the game, the bookmakers earn a small profit regardless of who wins the game. This is a half truth. Yes, this is one way books make money. If you think that books won’t bait you into thinking a line is too good to be true, knowing that you, the general betting public, will pounce on that bet (a sucker bet or a trap bet) I have a bridge in San Francisco to sell you CHEAP. The real money for the bookmakers is in those games that are bet heavily on one side (and subsequently lost) by the general public. If a line is too good to be true it probably is. The bookmakers know the public loves the favorite. They also know more about tonight’s games than you could possibly research. They know you don’t have the discipline to stop while you are ahead (or down for that matter). They know you have no clue what sports betting systems give you an advantage. They also know that you think like an amateur bettor. This is precisely why you are not making money.

In my betting career one of the affirmations I would continuously rehearse was to never, ever think like the general betting public. Zig when others zag. It became so much more than just that but it was a start. The next thing is to trust the individuals who have paved the path before you. Put a system in place and follow it with precision and accuracy. Those sports betting systems exist and are being used every day. Over time, you will win. Winning translates into profits. Start winning and you will be able to do things in your life you couldn’t have dreamed of before. People every day are winning consistently betting sports. This should be you.

Online Sports Betting Forums Available

Betting on team sports has become an important service industry in many countries including the USA, the UK and Australia just to name a few. For example, millions of Britons play the football pools every week. By definition sports betting is the process of predicting sports results by making wagers on the outcome of the game. Forums online that allow you the ability to bet on your favorite team have revolutionized sports betting. Forums more often than not offer a lively “give and take” where the bettors will talk about their predictions and help one each other decide on profitable bets.

If you are interested in forums or websites such as these, there are a few million places you can visit but some of my favorite ones are listed below. Note I take no responsibility for these sites nor am I an affiliate or an owner, they are just ones that I like personally! It’s your responsibility as a bettor to check out all sites beforehand!

Docs Sports

Robert Ferrigno

The RX Forum

Betting Talk

Ultimate Capper

Predict Em

Major Wager

Further more, if you are interested in doing sport bets online or you would like some extra tips and hints, I found a really cool site with lots of information about these topics in mind. Here are a few tips that were listed on the website:

Money Management –

Be sure not to bet more than you can afford to lose. Also, know when it’s time to stop. If you set aside $500 be sure not to go over $500!

Never Gamble Under The Influence –

It might seem obvious to some people, but just because gambling casinos give out free drinks while you are gambling, doesn’t mean you should take advantage of it! Alcohol can cloud your judgement. When you are gambling you need a clear mind.

Do Your Homework –

Follow a niche carefully and learn everything about it that you possibly can.

Bet At The Right Time –

Gambling isn’t just about winning or just about money, it’s also about being sharp, knowing when to bet and when to not bet. If your one of those people that get “gut feelings” and most of the time you’re right, it’s a good idea to follow what you feel!

Here are a few gambling, casino and sports betting sites you can check out:

Absolute Poker

Full Tilt Poker (awesome site!)

Doyle’s Room

The Greek

Bingo Knights

Cool Cat Casino

Cirrus Casino

International Slots League

I wish you great luck with finding the right site online for all your gambling needs and I hope you win a whole lot of money in the process!

NCAA and NBA Bet On Sports Strategy

Sports betting is becoming more and more popular nowadays – even more so with the emergence of online betting. Now, it’s quicker to place your bets and is even more convenient to study the betting odds online and get valuable information. For beginners or for those who have already spent quite some time in sports betting and wants to get more out of it still, here are some strategies that you can use when you bet on sports.

One good strategy that you can use when you bet on sports is being organized when it comes to placing your bets. Get a schedule of the games. The NBA has a website that you can visit where you can take a look at the schedule of the games. If you are a member of sports betting forum or you have access to a sports betting portal, you can also take a look at the game schedule from there. Make your selection clear by using the 3-digit number for the team you are betting on. Also, be up to date for any date and time changes. It has been cited that bettors who consistently lose are those who are disorganized when it comes to placing and monitoring their wagers.

Another strategy when you bet on sports is to educate yourself on betting essentials such as reading the odds. Reading the odds allows you to tell how much the risks are in placing your bets on a particular team and how much risk the casino is also putting in. Many sportsbooks or sports betting portals have sections where you can see the odds on the NBA and the NCAA and study them. You can see the spreads and the totals for the NBA games and you can even get a free analysis of what could happen during the games, which can help you a lot when you bet on sports.

If you also take a look at sports betting portals, you will find many other types or ways to place your bets such as parlays and teasers. However, when you bet on sports, it is recommended that you only place a straight bet as the others, also known as exotic bets, can decrease your chances of winning.

If you also want to look for other tips on winning strategies when betting on sports, then you can look into sports betting forums. You can meet many people there, some who are already seasoned and experts at sports betting. Sports betting forums are a great avenue for sharing betting tips and analysis that you can make use of. Many of them are involved in betting on the NBA and the NCAA and will gladly share what they know with you.

The best strategy when you bet on sports, whether it is the NCAA or the NBA, is to research and maybe improves on excellent betting strategies that you can use long-term. This will ensure, or at least help, you to establish a good position for yourself when you bet on sports.