Today CEO of Championpicks Horse Racing Tips site chats with Chris Stebbing who runs several strategies based on computerised ratings programs. Chris’ experiences over the last 12 months provide valuable lessons to many punters.
DD: So Chris, how was 2009 for you? CS: It was clearly my hardest year on the punt since I began this journey back in 2002. Both my sports and horse racing punting has been off for most of the year, and although I have ended up the year in profit, my profit on turnover has been reduced and my swings have been pronounced.On the horse racing scene, I have had a marginally successful year. My POT for the entire year has managed a mere 2.96%.
DD: I know you keep meticulous records and like to chart your results, so please talk us through how the year panned out. CS: For the first time in many years, I started the year off with a losing streak. This streak was recovered in quick order by mid to late February, only to have subsequent losses see me in negative territory after the first few months of betting. In fact, it was to be the 24th of June before my bank left negative territory never to return for the year.
DD: Was this a first? To be basically be half-way through the year and be in the red? CS: Yes. I have NEVER before bet for 6 months to be in a loss. I’ve bet three and four month periods for a loss, but NEVER for 6 months and still to be losing. At the end of the day on the 24th of June I was exactly $603.37 in profit. Hardly much considering the time and effort I’d expended.The strange thing was that all my strategies were still in profit and I was comfortable with them all. I remember talking to a mate of mine and suggesting that perhaps this is how the problem gamblers feel – confident in their strategies until the repossessions begin! However we both agreed that our strategies were sound and perhaps that ugly V word (variance) was at work.
DD: Can you put into layman’s terms how variance affects punting results? CS: We all know that if we take a coin and toss it 10 times we should expect, on average, 5 heads and 5 tails. Very few of us would expect to see a sequence such as HTHTHTHTHT though. Instinctively we expect every second toss to turn up heads, but in reality we know there will be runs of heads and tails. This is variance. In past years my monthly performances have been somewhat closer to that theoretical win-loss-win-loss-win-loss scenario.Variance effects punting results in a number of ways, but most importantly it effects our confidence. When winning, many punters feel invincible and become restless, throwing money about in the belief they are unbeatable and “on a roll”. When losing, many punters will chuck in the towel because they believe they’ve lost their punting ability. Experienced punters learn over time that they need to remain disciplined during both the good runs and the bads so that they can stay in the game long enough to let the winners and losers return to their true balance.
DD: So did you make any changes at that time? CS: As per usual, a re-assessment of my strategies occurred near the end of June and things started to improve. I managed a sequence of winning months and by the end of November, one of my best months for the year, I was in a reasonable position. Still not very happy with the POT figure but finally the P part of the equation was beginning to look respectable for the time and effort expended.
DD: And then how did the year finish off for you? CS: Well after the euphoria of November I was not prepared for the savagery of December. In the first 24 days of December I lost 60% of my year’s profit to date. It was as swift as it was savage and I can recount only a very few winning days. It was like nothing I’d been through before. I was simply smashed from pillar to post and nothing I backed, regardless of the source of the selection, was capable of winning. There were a fair few placings in there, but unlike previous bad runs there were lots of days where my selections were simply unable to gallop like a horse.On Christmas Eve I was lamenting my luck with a punting buddy and we were both simply at a loss to explain what was happening. Of course, being punters we were actually asking “what’s gone wrong?”, and “why is this happening?”. I commented that with my projected outlay for the Saturday and Sunday it was entirely possible that I could end up the year in a loss. There was a stark realization that perhaps my other mate was correct and a 12 month losing streak was acceptable? I’m not sure that I could accept that, and while I would not have simply given up the punt in one foul swoop, serious and prolonged soul searching was on the cards if that had eventuated.Well luckily for me (and the contents of my bar) the punting Santa bought me a present, and the three punting days that followed Christmas were exceptional. Not only did I recoup my monthly losses, but with two punting days to go I am currently sitting at +4% for the month. In those three days I managed to win 75% of my monthly losses, 42% of the monthly losses, and 16% of the monthly losses. Boxing Day was one of my best winning days on record, and I have to go back to September 2007 to find a larger winning day (and that past tally would have included sports).
DD: So what do you think most punters can learn from your experience last year? CS: The moral of this story is that myself and two others that I know who are serious punters were all in situations throughout this year where we wondered if it was worthwhile continuing with the punt. The punt wasn’t going well for us, we were losing, and we were wondering if the returns were worth the time and effort expended. These doubts generally occur at the worst of times, and at these times it’s almost impossible to remember the euphoria which follows a really good winning run.However, perseverance and a well constructed punting bank allowed us to bet through the tough times and reap the rewards that followed on the upswing. It’s not easy to bet through these tough times, and there are some I know who have pulled the pin during such times. One in particular I remember to this day, one who pulled the pin with their bank still half intact that simply couldn’t weather the storm, only to hear the storm ended only a few days after they pulled the pin. That is, without a doubt, the worst thing that can happen to a punter.To those who are in the middle of the storm at the moment, might I suggest that you double-check and triple-check that your bank can withstand the storm. Think of how bad you think your drawdown can get, then double it. If the bank is still operable after that, and you’re confident in your strategies, then keep on plugging away. If you believe you have an edge then more than likely that edge will eventually assert itself.
DD: Thanks once again for your time. CS: No problem. Good luck to all in 2010 and may the photos all go your way.
Chris has his own website that offers jockey and trainer stats as well as some handy bet tracking programs.