This year (2023), it will be 20 years since I started betting and boy how things have changed.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, I now make money at it. I am in the relatively small percentage of people who bet every day that are profitable each year. That is closely followed by how much my mindset has improved. It still has some way to go (as is witnessed by the members of my service) but believe me, it is massively better than it was at various points during the last two decades.
Another hugely significant thing is how much I enjoy it these days.
For most of the period in question, I was in a full time job, I was bringing up a family, my life was very busy and at times extremely stressful. Betting was a hobby but also a means to an end. I wanted to retire early and that in itself put more pressure on me to be successful at it.
Now, I am nearly 2 years retired (early but not as early as I had hoped!), but most days, I am still in my office by 7:30am and spend the first 2 or 3 hours processing data and running my systems to get bets out to my members, placing my own bets and also writing the various blogs and forum posts with the free selections that I might be trialling at that time.
Normally, that side of things is finished by 10:30 and then I get on with the rest of my life.
However, if a new idea has popped into my head, usually prompted by something I have heard or read, I will spend time (sometimes hours, sometimes days and sometimes even weeks) researching it and seeing if it is something that might be fruitful and if I can turn it into a system and write some software to automate it.
It is a perfect way to keep the brain active and I have to say, creating something that works is just a huge buzz. The money is important, but the sense of achievement is perhaps an even bigger thrill.
Obviously, it goes without saying, if I am enduring a losing spell, it losses a bit of the shine, but as a large part of what I do these days is aimed at keeping drawdowns to a minimum, those are not too frequent and when they do happen, I try and keep myself busy with a new idea or two, so that I focus on positive things.
To get where I am today though, there have been some very big lessons.
I was thinking of some of the ‘disasters' that I have brought upon myself through lack of discipline, especially in the early days.
There was a day when by mid afternoon, I was €1,100 up from laying favourites and then I had to go out for several hours to a function. The whole time I was out, I was just desperate to get back and carry on where I had left off. I was euphoric.
I got home and attempted to do something similar for the Dundalk and Wolverhampton evening meetings. I lost €1,500. A loss on the day of €400, but obviously to me, it was €1,500.
Imagine my mindset after that!
I broke every rule in my book several times over that day and just as many during the winning run as the losing one. Madness.
Also, the number of times that I have decided to not back a system bet, or reduce my stake, because the system was performing badly at that time or because I read something in the Racing Post that put me off or someone in a forum persuaded me to back another horse instead.
And the system selection wins at a very big price.
Doubling or even trebling my normal stake because a selection is a short price, and the perceived wisdom says it cannot lose.
And so many other daft decisions that really hurt financially but provided a real lesson that made me a much better gambler.
When betting for myself, I have stopped doing really daft things, but starting the Winning Systems service in late August 2022 has definitely seen me resurrect some of my bad habits.
My mindset was altered by the fact that I was potentially losing other people’s money and my desire to ensure every month is a winning month. I have made some very poor decisions during the last four months, mostly when I had a drawdown of 26 points in mid to late October.
I over analysed every selection, selections that have rules, rules that have been made to take the emotion out of my betting. October was a losing month (only -4 points though) but if I had posted all of the selections generated, it would have been a comfortable winning month. Another hard lesson.
I am working very hard on my head (and adding some minor automated controls) to stop intervening and to allow the proven successful systems to generate a decent annual return, perhaps with an occasional losing month or two!
So, all in all, I love what I do these days, but blimey it has been a big learning curve and I only hope that I can implement all that I have learnt, to make my paying customers very happy members of Winning Systems.