A Q and A with Steve Davidson of Winningmore.com

Hi Steve, and many thanks for joining us this month, first off would you start by telling our readers a little about yourself and your background?

I was born in New Zealand, a country where horse racing was the only form of gambling when I hit the age that betting presented itself a few years into my working career.

I clearly remember my first trifecta collect, split between two fellow workers, it was a $75.00 pay out, so my share was $25, it got me a new wet suit (surfing and motor cross were my two other passions in the mid 1970’s).

We only had TAB betting in NZ no bookies only the totalisator (no fixed prices), the lure of bookies, saw me make the trek across the Tasman sea to Australia, Sydney to be specific.

At the time I had three horses in syndicates, all 2 years olds, and I sold out of them to pay for my move to Sydney. All before they raced.

My biggest “winning loss” on the TAB that sealed the move was backing a horse called Black Tom, first start, and it won easy; however it paid .55cent on a $1.00 bet, so I won the race but lost $45.00 on my $100 bet, that was the straw that broke the camel (my) back.

It was the start of my short professional punting career in Australia, doing the main Sydney racetracks daily including the harness racing and greyhounds.

It was a hard way to earn money, and very stressful, long before computers, the most solid thing I had was a Casio calculator that took simple programs.

The days were long and involved a lot of public transport, leaving home in Manly at 8.00 in the morning, and getting home after 10.30pm several days a week.

So, with reluctances I changed tack, and got a job, building bicycles 5 days a week, and racing was restricted to Saturday meetings.

It was that move that let me enjoy the thrill of racing, and not stress from week to week, professional punting is very stressful.

It was 30 years before I came back to the gambling world full-time, but this time not as a punter, but an educator, designing and supplying software and manuals for racing and football.

Would you say that you have a “typical” working day, and how would you describe it?

Many people say they would love to work from home, and I do enjoy the 15 yard commute from the lounge to the office.

With most of my clients in the UK, and me being in Australia (west side the best side), I am 7 to 9 hours ahead of the UK, so when the morning starts, the emails always get the first attention.

Then onto any projects that need attention, with luck servers are not offline, surprisingly how much can go wrong overnight.

Catch up with my business partner Michael; see if the projects with the programmers are on track. Check the results and research, to see things are tracking ok.

Then, the rest of the day is website maintenance, and answering the Australian client’s emails and sales.

This is a 7 day a week work week. With technology today you can be mobile and still run an online gambling business.

Even on a cruise, although the internet bill is higher than the bar bill.

What do you think of the world of sports tipping in general and what do you think people are in search of when it comes to their hunt for a successful tipster?

I can only really speak on the tipsters I know here in Australia.

One guy I was with, in 2003 to 2007, is very good, he still runs a great service, and does a lot of work on the selections.

He always makes sure his bets are on before he lets his clients have the selections.

They are never big odds, but his strike rate is very good, and he makes more on the betting than the service. But guys like him in Australian tipster services are rare.

The feedback I’ve had is that even successful services, have a problem keeping clients. The public have a habit of jumping from one to another service. All tipsters will have losing runs and winning runs (if they are any good). Stickability (is that a word), is what is needed by people signing up for tipsters, and also to recognise poor value and good value on selections given.

Do you regularly bet yourself? What style of approach do you take to your betting? What do you think of staking plans, loss retrieval systems etc.?

My betting now is small and restricted to testing bots and methods that we are building, selling and researching.

On staking plans, I am a strong advocate of them.

Why?

Because level staking is not in my opinion good use of the betting bank. It is not getting the best out of the good runs, and bad runs are treated the same as good runs.

Loss retrieval, if done with hand brakes (stop losses) in place does have their place in betting.

Compound betting is also a strong way, if you have a high strike rate and low prices.

Also I strongly believe if you are having a bad run, is to take a complete break for your betting (give yourself a red card) and look at the results and re think your selections, staking and why you have racked up the losing run.

What attracted you to the world of horse racing and what do you enjoy most about the sport?

The horses are a most beautiful animal, and that there is always a great horse every few years that come along and captures the general public imagination.

Here in Australia we have just recently seen Winx, and wonderful mare that 33 wins in a row, 25 of them Group 1s and 26 million Aussie dollars (£12 million).

And before her we had Black Caviar, that did race in the UK (not at her best but still won).

The characters, whether they are jockeys, trainers, bookies (the individuals, not corporates) and fellow punters.

I live about 15 kilometres from a great country track here in West Australia and a day out there is a great way to pass an afternoon, big shady trees, even shadier fellow punters.

Ice cold beer, and great food, plus real live bookies, only 6 or 7, but still nice to see them.

The feeling is most are betting online at the track, rather than the TAB (government owned betting totalisator, which is currently being sold off.)

And the air of expectancy, that racing always throws up.

What led you into the world of racing tipsters and what do you feel you can offer racing enthusiasts and punters that other tipsters can’t?

I don’t see myself as a tipster. I am more interested in providing tools that will help the punter. 

One of the hardest things for the punter today is choice so many races and distractions.

It is possible now to bet 24 hours a day at Betfair on horses, starting in Australia, moving to Singapore, South Africa, Europe, UK, Ireland, and USA, then Australia starts again.

So focus, and try and become an expert in a niche of racing.             

What traits do you think a good racing tipster should possess and what do you think the average punter is looking for from a tipping service?

A good tipster should outline why they have selected a horse, their thinking on why you should have a bet on that horse.

Summarise the results of the previous day and why things went the way it did.

Basically, be accountable and explain why.

New and old punters alike can struggle to make a success of their betting. If you could give them just one piece of advice to improve their profitability what would it be?

Don’t get emotional; Pumpkin Head disease is the most costly thing there is in racing.

Remember there are more races tomorrow; don’t make stupid bets after losses!

Betting now is seldom done with cash, and this is a trap to many, to pass over a £50 note for a bet has more emotional feelings of the risk than hitting 50 on a keyboard or phone touch pad.

Try having a stack of cash on your desk, and every time you make a bet online, shift the same amount of money from the hard cold cash to an out tray and leave it there, if you win take the winnings back, if you lose leave the money there. This way you will get that feeling of really losing and really winning.

It will stop you making silly stupid bets.

What would you consider to be a highlight of your racing experience to date? Do you have any personal racing / betting experiences which when reflecting back brings a smile, or for that matter any which bring a grimace; you can share with our readers?

It was in 1979, I had a horse (harness), and it was just a foal. It was my second year in Perth, West Australia.

This Friday night, there was a half-brother to my horse racing at Gloucester Park (premier harness racing track in the west). He was in race 4 and although around 10/1 in the morning paper, I thought it had a great chance.

And in race 5 was an exciting 2 year old, called San Simeon, that was going for 11 wins in a row, unbeaten at all starts to date. Went on to win 29 races in a row.

I jumped on my push bike (wanted to have a few beers), and off I went, cycling 5 kilometres to the track.

My bank was a big $40.00, Race one I had, $10 on a 5/1 winner,  I now had $80.00 in the kick, next race, $40.00 on a 6/4 shot, $60 win, my $40 was now $140.00.

Then the race I had come for, we had concession betting back then, the odds were lower, but if the horse runs 2nd or 3rd you got your money back.

I decide to put my $40.00 in my back pocket and bet the horse $100 on concession, why?

I though 10/1 was a good price, and it came up on the track bookies at 20/1, so I thought 14/1 at concession was a great bet.

And it was, 100 at 14/1, won by 4 lengths, so 1,400.00 win and my 40 still in my back pocket.

The punters biggest dilemma….

San Simeon’s race they put him up at 1-4.

Do I back him with a 1,000 to make 400? (I was earning $200.00 a week at the time).

I kept my head out of the pumpkin, and just watched him brain the field; I smiled, even though I didn’t have a cent on him.

Those days the largest bank note was 20.00, so there I am, riding my bike home, slightly under the weather, with 72, $20 notes stuffed inside my parka.

Seven days later I was in Bali (Indonesia) with my newfound wealth drinking Bintang (beer).

Gotta love those days that is why racing has the power to make great things happen.

What about the gambling industry, is there anything you would like to see changed there? Many website forums are full of criticisms of the bookmakers and their treatment of their customers? Is this something you have an opinion on?

Australia has lost almost all of its local owned bookies.

And unfortunately it has been the UK bookies that led the invasion; William Hill came and went, lost $400 million in 4 years on their foray into Australia.

Paddy Power has made a solid impact, paying half a billion dollars (£250 million) for Sportsbet.  And Ladbrokes are here also.

The problem was they all brought the UK bookies behaviour of banning or limiting accounts of anyone who is not a loser.

So, we are hit with bookie ads day and night on TV, if they did not block the punters and actually did what they were supposed to do and accept bets and the occasional loss, they would not have such a big spend on advertising for new losers.

There has been talk for a long time on minimum bets bookies have to except, but talk that has yet to bear fruit.

Betting exchanges, of which we have Betfair only in Australia, have been well supported, because of the fairness that punters deserve.

Personally I would like to see more peer to peer betting, similar to Betfair, but where the punters can earn units into the business, and get paid dividends as the company grew.

I guess like the old fashion Co Operative that the farmers set up when I was a kid.

We have here a lot of TAB (Parimutuel/Tote) that feed a lot of money back into the racing that can only be healthy for the sport.

With $14 million stakes race one week and in the same week a $5 million race, Australian horse racing is attracting a lot of world interest.

I think UK racing could look at racing here to improve racing in the UK.

IMHO.

What do you do to relax and unwind? What interests have you outside the world of horse racing?

These days reading is right up there, along with travel, I have been to 3 out of the last 4 Singapore F1’s which I really enjoy.

If you like motor racing and music (oh and drinking and warm weather), then this September head to Singapore.

They have great cruises also, so it is a great week or two weeks.

You can find out more about Steve Davidson and his products here https://www.winningmore.com/

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