Successful wagering on horse races requires more than ability to pick winners. It also entails being able to avoid costly errors that can derail an otherwise brilliant betting strategy. Following are some of the top betting mistakes to avoid en route to piling up winning at the racecourse.
Failure to Keep Records – It is impossible to understand what works well and what doesn’t without accurate records of each and every wager made. At minimum, record-keeping should include the date of the bet, the venue and distance, what horse was bet on, the name of the jockey, what kind of bet was made, how much was bet, the odds received, and the final result. Additional information such as track condition, weight carried, etc. can be useful in the future, too. Add any notes that might help identify opportunities or risks in the future. Then, be sure to study the information that’s been tracked until its value is truly understood.
Failure to Establish a Bankroll – A bankroll or “betting bank” is a fund set aside—separate from household finances and savings—just for the purpose of wagering over a specific period of time. The size of this bankroll will depend upon individual circumstances and disposable cash available, but in no case should it be more than what one can comfortably afford to lose. Never put retirement or educational funds at risk, and don’t draw on credit cards, personal loans or home equity to finance it. Once the amount has been determined for a day, a month, a season or whatever time frame is selected, be sure to keep track of it as part of record keeping and don’t be tempted to add to it when losses occur.
Failure to Have Objectives – Those who place bets just to “have a flutter” needn’t be too concerned with goals; each success is its own ultimate reward. However, anyone with a serious mind to winning at the track must set some financial objectives; otherwise there is no way to measure progress. Toward this end, goals must be reasonable, quantifiable and have specific deadlines. A good long-term goal might be “double the bankroll by the end of the season.” Short-term ones are quite similar, like “win £100 this week” or “pick correctly in two of Saturday’s events.” Such goals allow success to be measured and tracked. They can also be used to indicate how much to wager and when to stop.
Mismanagement of Funds – Everyone knows it is unwise to “bet the bank” on a single tip, but there is much more to wise management of funds than avoiding wild wagers. The amount staked on each occasion should be a function of how much remains in the bankroll and how many more wagers will be placed before the deadline for the current objective is reached. There are many ways to wager £100. Give some serious thought to whether 2 x £50 is more likely to succeed than 10 x £10 or 50 x £2. Most punters who are successful over the long-term are methodical; they gain their profits gradually. Don’t be tempted risk upsetting everything by staking big. Smooth and steady typically wins the financial race.
Chasing after Losses – Odds indicate not only the amount to be won, but also the likelihood of success. Mathematically, out of every five horses chosen at 4/1, only one should actually be expected to win, resulting in a breakeven result. That means four losers is not “unlucky”—it’s normal. The bettor who starts treating cash lost as money to be recouped will necessarily begin betting more. This can lead to a dangerous downward spiral, from which no recovery is possible. Instead, simply accept the losses as part of the nature of betting. Winnings will eventually make up for them if calm intellect prevails.
Failure to Correct Bad Habits – As records are kept and studied, patterns will begin to emerge that can be used to revise betting strategy. A certain tracks, riders or distances may be paying off better than others. Conversely, those others may be siphoning off funds. The most successful bettors learn from their mistakes and build on their triumphs. Don’t get emotional. Don’t be greedy. Stay disciplined and bet smart. Use logic to identify any bad habits and correct them before they turn into real problems.