Betting for a living
For most of us, the thought of being able to earn a living from betting is just a dream. You may have had the occasional “good run” and wondered what it would be like to give up the day job and head full-time into the world of professional gambling. In this article we go into detail about how to become a professional gambler to help you to discover whether you have what it takes.
Assessing the risks involved
First and foremost, you must be aware of the risks involved. You won’t last long with a cavalier approach. To make your living from betting requires discipline, dedication and enormous faith in your own judgement.
Before even contemplating setting out on this path, you will have to consider how it will affect your day-to-day life, your finances and how that affects those closest to you. Many professional gamblers have made a gradual move towards going full-time and this is a very sensible approach. Perhaps you have a part-time income that you currently supplement with your gambling. Maybe you have savings that you can afford to bankroll your foray into professional gambling. These options put you in a strong position to take the first step towards becoming a professional gambler.
You certainly should not be thinking of going full-time as some sort of “get rich quick” scheme. We’re often told of the big money bets from professional gamblers but they are the result of years of dedication. They do not just get out of bed one day and put £10,000 down on a horse. You will need to learn how to manage your bankroll, betting only a percentage of your bank and gradually building up an income.
Attending Royal Ascot or Cheltenham and winning thousands of pounds may seem like a glamorous lifestyle but not every day is going to be like that. If you have ever been self-employed, you will know that it is 24/7. Professional gambling is no different. You will almost certainly put in a lot more hours than you would normally do in your “day job”. The rewards can be enormous but, unlike your regular job, you can put in many hours of work and lose money! If that doesn’t put you off and you think you have the discipline to cope with the losing runs, then read on!
The idea of keeping records may seem a bit mundane but the importance of doing so cannot be underestimated. You would not do any other job without detailed accounts of your profit and loss and being a professional gambler is no different.
Most punters could not tell you with any degree of accuracy how much they win or lose on gambling each year. It may be just a way to spend surplus cash, have a good time and enjoy the occasional big win. That’s all fine but it is not good enough for a professional. One big win can give you a false impression of your success in gambling. Only by keeping accurate records can you build up the complete picture of your profits and losses over a set period. You do not need to be a mathematical genius but you simply cannot afford to neglect the finances.
There is a bonus to the paperwork in that it will greatly assist you in determining your strengths and weaknesses as a punter. You may be able to discover what types of races you win and lose on and manage your stakes accordingly. Some punters avoid handicaps like the plague while others like to unearth the “handicap good thing”. A check back through your records may show that you are very adept at picking winners in stakes races but fritter away your profits in handicaps. A typical race day may have thirty of forty races so anything you can do to narrow it down will improve your chances.
Managing your betting bank
Once you have decided that you are ready to take your gambling to the next level, you should set aside a betting bank. This should be only what you safely afford to lose. The goal is to increase it, ideally quite rapidly but initially the aim should be a steady profit. If you only set aside enough for ten bets, then your foray into professional gambling is not likely to last very long.
There are numerous books and published articles available on staking plans and bankroll management. These vary according to the average odds of your selections. For example, a punter who usually backs short-priced favourites will expect shorter losing sequences than a punter who backs outsiders.
Our recommendation is for a level stakes re-investment plan, assessing your profit/loss after a set sequence of bets and re-investing any profits into the bank. These methods are advocated in Nick Mordin’s excellent book, Betting for a Living, published in 1992. For example, you may set a bank of £5,000 and you bet £50 each horse. After ten bets your bank has reached £6,000. Increase the stake on each horse to £60 for the next ten bets. If the bank goes down, then so too should your stake.
This does not make you a professional gambler but it will put you in complete control of your betting finances and reduce your risks considerably. When the dreaded losing run arrives, as it inevitably will, you have a built-in system to cope with it.
Gone are the days when a professional punter had to burn the midnight oil thumbing through old form books. The morning newspaper is no longer essential reading and they don’t have to be up with the lark to phone the bookies for the best prices. Everything is now available online, twenty-four hours a day.
There is free access to form and video replays of most races in UK and Ireland. Likewise, once you have set up your bookmaker accounts it is just a matter of comparing the best prices. Of course there are always distractions but it shouldn’t be that difficult to work out a daily routine for your research and placing your bets. Unless you intend to go racing regularly, this cuts down your overheads to a bare minimum. The old style professional gambler attending the races each day still exists but they are a dying breed. Unless you have a system that is entirely dependant on attending the races, you can theoretically earn a good living from the comfort of your home office.
For the purposes of this article, it is generally assumed that you have your own method of picking winners. However, there are plenty of creditable Tipping services, many of which are reviewed on this site. Our reviews also carry advice on how to select a horse racing tipster to suit your betting needs. Many of them have special trial periods or can be accessed on a monthly or quarterly basis. This gives you plenty of opportunity to switch between them if things are not working out. Even when reliant on information from others, you should remain vigilant. The tipsters must meet deadlines to publish their tips but a late change in the going could damage their horse’s prospects.
Do your research
Not so long ago, the only races that you could see without attending the meetings or going to the bookies were those covered by television. The free access to video libraries means that you are no longer relying on the race analysis alone. If a horse has won “easily” or “comfortably” by two lengths and has gone up 10lbs as a result, is it a good bet? By watching re-runs you will soon get to know the riding styles of jockeys and form an opinion of how much the horse had in hand.
There are also frequent hard luck stories reported in the media. You can go back and watch these races and judge for yourself. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and form your own opinions. Once these “unlucky” horses are picked up in the media, they can start at false prices. Eliminating horses that cannot win or are over-rated is just as important as picking out future winners.
The press reviews still have an important role to play, particularly in reading the comments of trainers and jockeys. Be aware that they are notoriously pessimistic about their own horses. It is partly out of respect to their peers but you will rarely hear them go beyond cautious optimism. You can still pick up useful information on future running plans or going preferences.
Whether you intend to be a professional horse racing gambler or branch out into other sports, the approach must remain focussed with keen attention to detail. Not every pro gambler restricts themselves to one sport. With the world of online gambling expanding on a global scale, it would be foolish not to keep an eye open for new opportunities.
Even the most avid horse racing fan will probably admit to having the odd flutter on a big football match or golf tournament. Perhaps your local team has been playing better than their results indicate and you cannot see them losing. Maybe you have been following an in-form golfer or rising star of the tennis world and see an opportunity to win. Whenever you feel that the odds are significantly in your favour, you should be flexible enough to take advantage.
Placing your bets
If you are going to give it a go as a pro-gambler, you will certainly need multiple betting accounts. You may have stuck with one or two of the leading bookmakers for years but there is nothing to lose by adding a few more to your armoury. In fact, it provides you with an ideal opportunity to take advantage of the special offers and put a little credit in each account to get you started. If your methods rely on betting tips or information from elsewhere, the need for urgency is even greater. You won’t be the only one to receive the latest “hot tip” and the price could tumble rapidly.
Most bookmakers now pledge to pay-out on whichever price is greater between their advertised price and the Starting Price. When placing your bets, you simply must take a price and even the fractions can make a significant difference. In simple terms, the difference between a 4-1 and 5-1 winner will provide you with the stake for your next bet. A successful pro gambler will face other obstacles in placing their bets but the objective is always to obtain the best possible price.
As we mentioned earlier, times have changed dramatically in the bookmaking industry in relatively recent times. That is not to say that we cannot learn from famous professional gamblers and we would certainly recommend reading anything that relates to becoming a pro-punter.
Barney Curley is something of a punting legend and a colourful character by anybody’s standards. He made the headlines as recently as January 2014 when four horses were successfully linked, allegedly costing the bookmakers £2million. He was previously a racehorse trainer and the bookies certainly had to take evasive action when one of his horses attracted money.
No punter covers the ups and downs of gambling more than Harry Findlay. The joint-owner of 2009 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman became a familiar face on our TV screens with his big money wins and losses. He would bet on a wide range of sports but was prepared to go to almost any lengths to fund his betting habits. He finally toppled over the edge into bankruptcy in 2012 but still has plenty to say about the subject of betting.
Patrick Veitch is arguably the most successful gambler from the UK. He has won an estimated £10million over the past eight years and is banned by every bookmaker in the UK. If you think that a long losing run won’t happen to you, even Veitch admits to a losing run of £400,000. He can now only bet through his team of agents employed in the style of an undercover military operation. His methods are a well kept secret but discipline and hard work certainly feature high on the list.
Tony Bloom rivals Veitch for the top spot, nicknamed “The Lizard” for his completely unflappable skills at the poker table. His background is in mathematics and he has built an empire that now includes Brighton Football Club and his betting syndicate Starlizard.
You could hardly find four more diverse characters, suggesting that there are no hard and fast rules to becoming a successful gambler. What we can guarantee is that each of them knows their subject like the back of their hand. They have each adapted their personal skills to try to find an edge in the battle against the bookmaker. It is more than just a change a career move, it is a change of lifestyle.