Saturday, 19 March 2011

In the beginning...

A few days ago, Mark left a comment saying that he was considering starting betting on a portfolio basis, and asked if I could provide an "idiot's" guide to starting out. It is difficult to write a fully comprehensive post on this as there are so many things to take into consideration, but I have put together the fundamentals I think. Obviously if Mark, or anyone else for that matter, would like to dig into certain areas a little more, then don't hesitate to ask.

I must also add that I can only write things from my own perspective. I am not saying that the way I describe how to do things is the only way. It is simply a description of how I do things and what I have learnt from my experiences. I'm sure others have their own way of running a portfolio, and I'm not going to knock those other methods at all.

If you're reading this and are a bit too experienced for what is to follow, jump straight down to the 'Today's Action' bit, which is usually all you get from me at the weekend anyway!

So, without further ado...


Right, I'll start with something that you have no doubt heard a thousand times before in a thousand different places, but it is important. Get your betting bank, and stick it somewhere away from your day to day current or savings accounts. The reasons are obvious. Just do it.

In terms of what you put aside, yes of course it is dependant on how much you want or can afford to risk, but you also need to work out how much you will need for each service that you follow. The standard way to do this is to look at a service's results history, work out the biggest drawdown, and then double it. That is how large your bank needs to be.

Example: Service A you want to stake at £10/point. From looking at the service's results, you see that the worst drawdown is 47 points. You need a bank of 100 points (94 if you really want to be pedantic; personally I would just round it up) for this service, ie. £1,000. Don't confuse 'drawdown' with losing run. The worst losing run may be say, 25 points, but if the next bet won back a point, before embarking on another losing run of 19 points, then your drawdown is 43 points. What you're trying to do is set yourself up to be able to handle a worst case scenario, and the drawdown figure will give you some indication of what this might be. The worst losing run won't.

Naturally, you do this for each service you wish to follow.

Now there is 'leverage' that you can apply to your combined banks which will make your money go that bit further. This is a more advanced concept though and really requires a post on it's own.

Choosing your services

I believe that this is an area where it is so easy to fall down at the beginning. I know I chose some completely inappropriate tipsters to follow and continued to do so for months after I started.

I'm not talking about results here. I assume you're only going to follow services with a proven track record of success! I'm thinking more about choosing services that fit your personality better. If you don't think that you can hack long losing runs for example, don't follow a service that tips horses at an average price of 10/1. The danger here is that you set out all positively, the service has an inevitable losing run, you lose faith and either reduce stakes or perhaps stop following altogether. That of course is when the service returns to finding winners that you miss out on. After a week or two you start backing again by which time you have missed out on a load of returns and sod's law will dictate that the tips start losing again. I have been there. It is not a nice place to be.

The services you follow must also fit into your lifestyle. If you don't want to be putting bets on early on a Saturday morning, don't follow a service that issues bets early on a Saturday morning.

This takes a little introspection and you must be honest with yourself. Don't pretend to be something you're not. What I would say though, is that as you become more experienced, your aptitude to deal with losing runs improves and you may then find that you are better able to handle the services that play at the longer end of the odds range. At the start though, you want to be making life as easy for yourself as possible.

One last thing, and again a trap I have not so much fallen into in the past as hurled myself in nose first...a lot of services spring up, produce fantastic returns, and then over time fade away. I am (now) a strong believer in trying to follow experienced tipsters. If the 'Young Gun' really does have an edge, it will last. Don't be afraid of missing the boat and get sucked into a service that looks great at the moment, but may not last the pace.


Personally, I prefer betting on football to racing. Generally speaking, you are open to fewer long losing runs and I often find that securing the best prices is more straightforward. However, many has been the time when my football bets have been heading south, but my racing bets have been strong, and vice versa. Diversity is key. There are all sort of principles of correlation that better writers than me have explained in a way more succinct and easy to understand than I could ever do, but believe me, these principles are important.

I think it was Tony Blair who once said, "Diversity, diversity, diversity!", and in those days, he did little wrong, you know.


Another very simple point here. Open as many accounts as you can, and for football purposes, don't forget the Asians.

The more you can spread your bets around, the longer your accounts will be viable. Simples.

Record Keeping

How you keep records of your bets is very much the choice of the individual. If spreadsheets are your thing, fill yer boots. Obviously these will allow in depth analysis to the extent you'll be able to work out over time that if you dropped all bets on horses ridden by Barry Geraghty on a Tuesday when it is raining, you'll be much better off. Personally, I don't really go in for this. There is so much analysis done by others (eg. SBC, people on forums, etc.) that I can pick up all the most important trends/facts. I'm not knocking those that do this - it just isn't for me, that's all. But, what is very important is that you keep a full record of your bets and service performance. The bottom line is everything, and you need to know what it is.

Can you use pen and paper? Yep, if that's what works for you.

And there we have it. There is definitely room to explore some of the above points further of course, and if anyone wants to ask about any other aspect of running a portfolio, all they need do is ask. this idiot-proof enough?

Today's Action

A shocking day on the horses today with not one solitary winner from 15 bets! The only service to perform with any credit was Winning Racing Tips which got three placed from three selections (Uncle Dermot - Lingfield - 7/2, Andreo Bambaleo - Newcastle - 8/1, and Enriching - Lingfield - 9/1). Good tipping, better than reflected in the returns, I would suggest.

Elsewhere was just a nightmare, with the only other placed selection being one of On The Nose's two (Basford Bob - Uttoxeter - 8/1). Blanks for 4PA, PJA NH, Northern Monkey Punter and Chasemaster.

4PA: Staked 2pts, -2pts.
On The Nose: Staked 2.5pts, -1.2pts.
PJA NH: Staked 3.5pts, -3.5pts.
Northern Monkey: Staked 1pt, -1pt.
Chasemaster: Staked 0.5pts, -0.5pts.
Winning Racing Tips: Staked 2.1pts, +0.5pts.
Total financial loss on the racing of £214.

In credit on the football today was Skeeve, whose fabulous month continues. 3/3 for his main service although the 'Late BSS' service only found one from three to bring the profits down (wakey, wakey, old boy). Still a very solid overall performance though. Football Investor got seven from fifteen which normally you might expect to bring a points profit in double figures. This week however, many selections happened to be the home teams and the average odds was therefore a little shorter than usual. Nice returns nonetheless.

Just in debit was Strike Zone which picked three winners from six. Football Elite got one from three and Shaolin Betting only had the one selection which lost. Unusual on a Saturday but nothing today from The Sportsman or from The Football Analyst (I follow System 8-22).

Football Investor: Staked 15pts, +4.6pts.
Strike Zone: Staked 6pts, -0.417pts.
Skeeve: Staked 22pts, +5.664pts.
Football Elite: Staked 3pts, -0.745pts.
Shaolin Betting: Staked 1pt, -1pt.
Financial profit on the football of £65.27.

Saturday 19th March: Staked £1,821, -£148.73.
Week to date: Staked £4,187, +£13.07.
Month to date: Staked £11,154, +£586.29, roi 5.25%.

And finally, what news of Graeme Dand - The Football Analyst - who was tantalisingly close to the jackpot in the 'Racing Post's' Cheltenham Festival competition? Well, the lad done good, as they say. Just not quite good enough! (but darned good all the same). He finished second, just five points off the winner. Gutted for him to be honest but he wins a decent sum for his efforts. If you're reading this Graeme, hard luck, mate - now get back to work with those footie systems and whatever it is you've won, dare you to stick it all on the next System 8-22 selection. You know it makes sense.


  1. Yeah, I can’t complain too much about finishing 2nd mate but in any other year, I would have hosed up in the competition. To hit 8 winners, a 2nd, a 3rd, a 4th and one unplaced selection from 12 runners and get pipped on the line on the final day is a nightmare! I’d have taken the second prize on day one though. ;)

    Today was a decent enough day on the footie and the systems seem to have recovered from the February blip. February was the first losing month of the season and the first losing month for many of the systems for a very long time as you know, so maybe it was a correction of some sort to the returns the systems were achieving.

    Whatever happens, it’s been a decent enough first season and in a way, I look forward to getting this season over with and then I can begin the analysis of looking back at this season and hopefully finding ways to improve the returns for next season.

    Great post tonight on running a portfolio and I’m sure it will be useful to many reading your blog who are thinking of running a portfolio or are new to the game.

    Good luck for the week ahead.


  2. Hi Graeme,

    It was certainly one heck of an achievement and great tipping. When I saw Sir Des Champs come from as far back as Worcestershire to get up near the line it was quite something. Thought you had it nailed then, to be honest.

    You (and I think most of the people that read the blog) know what I think of the football systems. My problem has been trying to settle on which system to follow - not an easy choice when they have been doing so great! February will just be one of those things I guess. You show me a service/tipster that claims to never have a bad month, and I will show you a liar.

    Cheers, mate.


  3. Hi Rowan
    All I can say is Wow this is exactly what I have been after, what I like about it is that you have put your cyber pen to cyber paper and made a commitment to follow up by answering any questions (including my dumb ones!!) on an ongoing basis. I will hold you to that ;-)

    Seriously though, I have recently asked you two questions that have been really important to me, this one about running a portfolio and a previous question regarding the Secret Betting Club. On both occasions you have over delivered and I for one really do appreciate it. To me this is what good blogging is all about, so you do have my heartfelt thanks.

    Right where do I start?

    I have lots of questions, to many for one comment and I am sure that there are lots more that I will think of over the coming weeks, months, years ;-) LOL

    Because of the number of questions I have and the fact that I am conscious of the fact that I do not want to monopolise your time, I have decided that I will ask one question at a time and when you have answered that question I will move on to the next. I hope that will be OK with you. (Does Pandora’s Box spring to mind)?

    I believe my first question to be a difficult but very important one regarding time management. I find that just my own each way selections take quite a while to manage with the finding of the bets, putting the bets on and recording of the bets.

    I know that following tipsters means that we don’t have to use up time finding our own bets but I would imagine that just the act of managing a portfolio would take a lot of time and that is without the time we would need to do our research to look for new tipsters that may help to boost the portfolio’s performance. Could you advise me on how you approach the subject of time management please?

    That’s it for now I will await your answer to my first question before asking any more.

    Finally, I know that I have written it already in this comment, but I really am impressed by your commitment to help ‘portfolio’ novices like myself, especially when I consider that it must act as a distraction to you from your main activities on the blog, so once again a big: THANK YOU.

    PS Looking at the work that The football analyst does on his blog and the fact he still found the time to enter and do so well in the racing post competition, maybe we should ask him for advise on time management??? LOL


  4. Hi Mark,

    Not a problem at all - as I said last week, it's always good to go back over the basics myself.

    You certainly know how to start with a tricky question! Time management is, as you suggest, exceptionally important and definitely one of the hardest things to get right. It is very easy to become consumed in what you are trying to do, and that takes a mental toll aswell as place demands on your physical time.

    This subject is great subject matter for a proper post. Let's see what we can do over the next couple of days or so...

    Exciting times for you, getting a portfolio up and running. Best of British and all that.

    No problems at all about answering questions. A. It's what I want this blog to be about, and B. hopefully it will get some good ideas to-ing and fro-ing as other people contribute too.



    PS. I think Graeme works to a 27 hour clock - he has no time management issues! (lol).

  5. Hi Rowan

    I have made this post my blogpost of the week.

    I hope you approve.


  6. Hey Mark,

    Do I get a cash prize? (LOL).

    Seriously though, I'm pleased you found it useful. I've actually already been over to your blog and posted a comment.

    I'll get that post on time management done this week, too (I just need to find five minutes!!).

    Anything else though, you know where I am.