I don't pretend to know what it is like to be addicted to something. Fortunately, I don't believe I have what is known as an 'addictive personality'. However, I have seen at first hand how destructive an addiction can be. In that case it was a dependance on alcohol, but whether it be to drink, drugs, gambling, whatever, I think we can all agree that the potential devastation that can result from any type of addiction has no limits.
If my staking plans are realised this year, I will have gambled somewhere between £170,000 and £200,000 between January 1st and December 31st, 2011. I am by no means a big hitter. But I would challenge anyone who is staking to these levels, or twice as much, or half as much, to deny that at some point or other, they have wondered if they are becoming addicted. It may be only a passing thought and instantly dismissed, but it must cross the mind at least? If you're doing something day in and day out, with results that can and do affect your mood, you must be vulnerable, no?
But it is not necessarily solely an addiction to the act of gambling itself where danger lies. Surely just as dangerous is the development of an obsession linked to gambling. And I can say, in all honesty, my capacity to be drawn into what I have bet on, to follow every race and every football match in which I have a financial involvement, scares me.
If I watch the first race of the day, and my selection loses, I find there is a temptation to watch the next in the hope of seeing a positive result which means that I can't have a total blow out of a day. Therein lies the danger you see. I think that the constant (illogical) fear of the portfolio gambler is that one day there will be a complete and utter wreck where a lot of money is staked, and none returned. Of course having proper and adequate betting banks should mean that if this does happen, then in the context of the bigger picture, it doesn't matter. But psychologically, for me anyway, it doesn't work like that. I have had some exceptionally bad days (I think the worst I have had is a loss of £800) but you know what, I'd rather avoid them if at all possible. And if I know I have avoided such a scenario early on in the day's action, then I can relax a little. Of course if I don't win early, and then the next tip loses, and the next and the next...well suddenly I find myself tumbling into a vicious circle where the next race must be watched, and the next if necessary until a favourable result occurs.
Thankfully it is really only at weekends and holidays where I can fall into this trap completely. But the act of checking results as soon as possible can represent a real invasion into normal life. In the past I have found my concentration wavering when I'm with my children or wife, and if by checking results on my Racing Post app or football scores on 'Livescore' to find that results are going against me, then perhaps I become a little less patient with the people around me, and I can become withdrawn (or put another way - narky!). Naturally this is not fair and if it were to be a scenario that continued for any length of time, then I can see how damage to a gambler's life and those around him can result. I think this is a very real danger.
Being aware of this is everything, I think. If you are aware of something, you can take the requisite steps to prevent problems arising. I enjoy my Saturday afternoons around my mate's watching the racing, but I wouldn't want to do it again on the Sunday. Occasionally, as on Tuesday, the bug bites, but fortunately I can recognise the early symptoms.
90% of the time now, I place my bets and then wait until the last piece of relevant sporting action has happened, before checking the results. I find that this makes me more clinical, objective, and better able to handle the frequent losing runs. I have heard it suggested that it may even be better to go a few days before checking results, but this is not for me. I have tried doing this, but I feel completely out of control and that can be as damaging to my mood as following every race. A nightly check I find, is just about right. And really, losing runs affect me much less now than they used to before I realised I had to take a step back. Sure, they're not nice, and when they happen I do still worry, but I think I can channel that worry now. It can sharpen me up; I make sure I don't make any careless mistakes when placing bets, ensure I'm getting the best odds available, etc. A good example of turning a negative into a positive, eh?
I hope this hasn't been too deep for you. It's not meant to be. But I do think that getting to grips with these issues is manifestly important, not only to generally living life, but also to the ability to make a long-term go of this game. Successful punting - it's all a state of mind you know!
Not a day to dwell on as the poor form of the racing half of the portfolio continued. 10 bets today, and not one single winner. The closest we got today was Northern Monkey Punter's two placed horses from two selections that produced a quarter point profit, and Winning Racing Tips which selected Kim Tain Road each way (25/1) at Taunton, the horse finishing third. Trouble is WRT also gave a losing each way double, a bet that was scuppered by the second horse coming nowhere - a sad state of affairs compounded by the fact that that bet was also a selection on its own. Double trouble, you might say. Blank days for PJA NH (again - this time -1.5pts), On The Nose (-0.5pts) and Chasemaster (0.5pts). Deary me!
Thursday 20th January: Staked £153, -£103.50.
Week to date: Staked £1,115.50, -£106.15.
Month to date: Staked £9,818, +£529.93, roi 5.39%.
No service view again tonight - I didn't think we're in any particular rush with these and to be honest I thought I would give ongoing appraisals anyway, not just a one off introduction to a service.
Tomorrow there will be no proper post. I will try to post up the 'Today's Action' bit and the figures, but that is all (probably a blessed relief to you after tonight's ramble!). The reason for this is that I am journeying down to my in-laws tomorrow night after work, all so that me and my lad can go and watch the Arsenal on Saturday. A four hundred mile round trip, exorbitant ticket prices, and staying at the mother-in-law's - devotion to the cause or brainless stupidity? I'll let you decide!