My first ever bet on the advice of a tipster was on a horse called Rustle in the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham. It won. My friend (who I still go to visit on many Saturday afternoons to watch the racing) and I sat in his garden afterwards counting our winnings, about thirty quid each if I remember rightly. Had Rustle not been victorious, I wonder if I would be gambling as I am now. I had drunk from a goblet holding a heady brew - a concoction made up from winning money using "inside information". I had to send part of my winnings off to the guy who had supplied the tip. It was an odds-to service, whereby I would put money on for the tipster and send by return the profit from that part of the bet. Today I would like to think that I might be a little more circumspect but hey, back then I was young and foolish.
That year we were going to make a habit of counting winnings in the garden including when Nashwan won the Derby and we were on antepost at 8s. That's a story for another day though.
Anyway, this service, with it's entirely credible claims of having access to superb inside stable info (ahem!) gave another ten bets, none of which were at odds of greater than 2/1, and none of which won. Perhaps it was natural variance. Perhaps not! But the idea of having exclusive info appealed to this callow teenager who was possibly lacking a little worldy nouse. It was a lesson learned the hard way.
Right, what the hell am I babbling on about?
At the end of January, I subscribed to a football tipping service called Shaolin Betting. They had been the subject of a positive report written by the SBC, had consistently solid if unspectacular results, and boasted a high strike rate. At a time when I was proactively looking for a service to replace the disappointing Sports Investor, they ticked a lot of the right boxes. I paid my 150 euro for 60 picks.
I got off to an ok start. Tips were accompanied by a good write-up and came through punctually. Emails were sent if there was no bet or informing members when they should next expect a tip to arrive. After that initial period, performance wasn't quite so good, but certainly nothing disastrous. Nothing to cause concern at all. But then news reached me that a chap known as Petar (who it is alleged also operates under a number of pseudonyms) had joined Shaolin, albeit in a purely administrative capacity. Yeah, right! If performance wasn't a worry, this was. You see I had come across this Petar chap before, at AH Betting, another once promising service seemingly adversley effected by Petar's machinations.
So, not being quite as foolish as I had been at the time of backing Rustle and then ten losers, I thought it wise to stop following with money, at least temporarily. I would reassess in the summer. Simples.
Or not. There hasn't been an email from Shaolin, heaven forbid an actual tip, for quite some weeks. An email that I sent to them has not been replied to either. I may be more Inspector Clouseau than Sherlock Holmes, but this is striking me as being a little fishy. Things aren't looking good, are they?
What struck me with this episode though, is how difficult it is to find good, reliable and honest services. Even with various proofing bodies now doing their best to deshark the shark invested pool in which we poor punters swim, it is still very easy to be sucked into places we rather wouldn't be. Shaolin, as previously mentioned, had been reported favourably by the SBC and my reading of the report was that here was a potential Hall of Fame member. The other thing I have read recently which in the context of this story makes even more sense is on Kodagira's blog. Kodagira pointed out that for the existence of an edge claimed by a particular service to be particularly trustworthy, more than one year's results were necessary before hard conclusions in which we could have real confidence could be drawn. A fair point in itself, but one that increases in validation if adding to the equation the ethics and honesty of a service.
So what lessons can be learnt?
First, that when choosing a service to follow, there is so much more to the decision making process than headline performance levels. Second lesson to learn is that reputation means a lot, and proof of ethical principles guiding the running of the service is paramount. And thirdly, 'once bitten twice shy' is a useful aphorism to remember. If someone has done the dirty once, don't give them a chance to repeat the trick. To be ripped off by one service may be regarded as a misfortune, but to be ripped off by the same person twice looks like carelessness. Looks like I was careless. Don't you be the same.
One of the better days. 4PA sprung into action, advising win bets on three short favourites in the three big races (Await The Dawn - Chester - Evens, Quevega - Punchestown - 5/6, and Captain Chris - Punchestown - Evens). Not their usual style but all three winning was nice, especially as 4PA also advised members to back the win treble in addition to the single bets.
I have mentioned that there have been recent signs of a return to form for PJA NH and today that impression was supported by the fact that two winners were found (Kylenoe Fairy - Newton Abbott - 14/1 and Life Of A Luso - Newton Abbott - 15/2).
Chasemaster's consistent form continued with another winner (Cullahill - Wincanton - 11/8) but that is really only half the story. They also advised Oranger at Newton Abbott, a horse that I backed at 28/1 but which went off at 15/2. It didn't place but that sort of market move suggests that Chasemaster picked up on something very early, but not only that, they also advised a successful lay in the race. This essentially provided a 'free' bet on the gambled on Oranger, at a fantastic price. That is a clever strategy, and having mentioned this the other day, following the lays has to be a positive move now. Time to bit the bullet, me thinks.
On The Nose also provided a little profit by picking one winner from three (Lexi's Hero - Chester - 4/1).
ProBandit managed a winner (an NQ bet) which more than covered the losses from the two system bets in the same race (Mymumsaysimthebest - Goodwood - 11/2) but a small loss overall on the day as Captain Bertie disappointed in the opener at Chester.
No luck for Northern Monkey's one selection today.
4PA: Staked 5pts, +9.106pts.
PJA NH: Staked 2.75pts, +7pts.
Chasemaster: Staked 0.75pts, +0.437pts.
On The Nose: Staked 2pts, +0.5pts.
ProBandit: Staked 2pts, -0.375pts.
Northern Monkey: Staked 1.5pts, -1.5pts.
Total profit on the racing of £595.32.
Just one very small bet on a big outsider in today's tennis from Sportyy which proved unsuccessful.
Sportyy: Staked £8, -£8.
Total loss on sports of £8.
Thursday 5th May: Staked £523, +£587.32.
Week to date: Staked £1,341, +£563.12.
Month to date: Staked £1,701, +£611.25, roi 35.93%.
Finally, you have heard me mentioning laying a couple of times recently. Well, tune in tomorrow for some news in this regard. It also represents a development of the blog - a first small step towards growing and developing this place in a way that hopefully will benefit everyone. See you then.