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Back To The Start

Making New Year’s resolutions is not something I’ve ever really engaged in, however I desperately need to make one and stick to it – keep this blog up to date. Blogging has become unfashionable and it’s a chore to do, but without it the garden grows wild. If I rewind the clock 42 months, the reason I started this website/diary was to sharpen up my discipline. You see, I’m a chaser at heart. Those Kermit the frog memes really strike a chord with me. On the outside it’s “calculate the over-round, price up the tissue, get the BOG” etc. On the inside, it’s “€3000 is a nice round number”. Of course I eradicated all (well most) of my degenerate ways quite quickly once I started writing about my punting. I spent the first two and a half years obsessing with profit and margin (which is actually the optimum strategy). In the first 18 months I won almost €4,000. In 2015 I won €3,000. During those first 30 months I had a set staking policy that never varied –  it worked. I wanted more though. To be making 5% margin in a year just seemed like it wasn’t worth my while.

This time last year I decided my minimum stake was to be doubled to €300 (or €150 EW). The maximum would slightly increase to €900 (from €750) and the middle unit was to be €600 (€300 EW). This was a risky strategy as I’d only about €4,500 in my betting bank. But I’d studied all the data in depth – and I mean depth. I’d worked out that at these alternative stakes I would enjoy far more profit. While all this was going on, I was constantly refining what markets I played in – what sport, what events, what class of race etc. I had refined what I bet on and how I bet on it to a very strict policy. Also, up to that point (since the beginning of the blog) I had only ever withdrawn money from the account for personal use (rewards) on the 31st December each year.

Anyone that knows me, probably knows my biggest punting strength is in antepost markets. People say antepost is dead, it always makes me laugh – it’s not dead, its changed – and there are always low hanging fruits, particularly in the 10 weeks prior to Cheltenham. This 10 week period also allows me to focus on the races I play in at the festival – the Grade 1’s. In 2016 I had it right off, I won c. €7000 at the festival. Ironically it’s the worst thing to happen to me as a punter. All the hunger for profit and margin was replaced with this air of invincibility. I lost €3,000 playing high stakes poker over a 4 month period (considering how much I was winning at one point playing cards, that is extra fucking shameful). I put €5,000 into holidays – Dubai, Euro 2016, London for the darts final and lording it around Ireland. With all this money going out, my eye was way off the ball. “Sure my punting skills will fix that”. I lost €2,000 in early August – including a dreadful €900 at 4/11 on the men’s 1500m final at the Olympics (seriously, what the fuck do I know about athletics!).

All of a sudden funds were low, so I wrote a blog about it. How I was running low on cash-flow and how I had to change my stakes and rebuild. A solid plan, betting in €100 stakes until I won a certain amount, then graduate to a higher stake. That started on the 27thAugust and finished on the 15th October. The reason it finished was Found’s participation in the Champion Stakes. At 11/4 with ¼ odds it was a sin to only have €50 each way when she was nailed on to be in the first three. I had €200 EW. As we all know she finished second, so I lost €62.50. No bad for a shot at winning almost €700 net. Still, I had broken the rules, broken discipline and what unfolded next was toxic.

I got a tip for a horse (I get 20 a day, so do you, we all do). “Stable info”. Everything I ignore usually was suddenly becoming attractive as that inner chaser wanted it all back. Mic Milano in a handicap at Roscommon. New readers will be surprised to learn I don’t generally bet in handicaps unless I’ve one in the tracker (plot spotting). I’d €200 at 7/2 and he finished a bad 4th. Now I was furious – how could I slip to this level? Betting a tip blind – for fuck sake. Money was getting low, I’d about €3,000 left. At this point I made the worst decision I’ve made in the last 4 years – “Let’s just fucking punt our way out of this yeah”. Keep in mind I’d only €1,500 less at the start of the year, but mentally it was €10,000 less due to the profits of Cheltenham and the proceeding festivals. Cue Card in the Charlie Hall, Capri in the Criterium, Bondi Beach in the Melbourne Cup and some wild 5/1 shot at Wexford saw me lose €1,500 in one weekend. The following weekend was worse.

I jumped in the car and drove to Down Royal (my first visit) with two good friends. The plan was to back Sub Lieutenant and Valseur Lido, I joked a €500 win double at overnight prices would cop €11,000 and put me back on par. Sub Lieutenant was 5/1 the night before and VL was 11/4. By the time I arrived at the track they were both 2/1. I was too stubborn to take the shorter prices and watched both win without a cent on either horse. I came home raging and turned on the Breeders Cup. I smashed into Alice Springs to be placed and was suddenly down to my last €1,000. I had that on California Chrome. Game over.

I rang a few people over the following week – Noel Hayes is a good man in these situations. We are not close enough for him to care if he hurts my feelings but we are good enough friends that he would be happy to take the time to advise me. Say what you like about Noel, he knows the road and he’s a winner. People offered to stake me but I’ve no interest in that. I have a good job, a good wage, I eat. I’m not actually flat broke or anything like that. I had €51 in Betfair and from the 26th November I built that €51 up to €1650. Unfortunately I lost the plot again on Sunday and after Doctor Harper (€130 win @ 15.5) was touched off – I was so tilted I laid Whisper for the full tank at 4.1ish. Shades of California Chrome again but worse.

So what now? The dream of spinning €50 into a tank isn’t good for the inner gambler – you are ALL-IN too often – too much adrenaline. I just have to start again, like I did in 2013. Let’s not forget this game has paid for holidays to the tune of almost €10,000 in the last few years. I started out with €1,500 in 2013 and it turned out to be enough. The hardest part is going back down through the gears, being okay with knowing I won’t be having €600 EW on a horse this year (Coney Island, novice hurdle, Punchestown) – but that’s just ego shite.

In the end, this game is more than just a hobby to me. It’s a big part of my life, my social calendar revolves around it. I don’t want to turn around in years to come and say “remember those 3 years I made it pay” – hopefully this is just the start.

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  1. Alan Paige says:

    Can really relate to your story.
    2016 saw my bank shrink from £2500 to £500 mainly through losing discipline.
    It has helped me put my poor year in perspective and be positive and focused on future strategy.
    Thanks

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