Thursday, 4 October 2012

Tipsters vs Personal Edge

What seems like a lifetime ago, Shane posted the following comment:

This little digest of words is an extension of the transformation of personal punter to portfolio investor to your good self! As you may recall I emailed you a couple of weeks back about general start up question, who to subscribe and the general trial and error process one has to gone through.
Thanks to reading your comments I have joined up with "The Summer of Football service which fits well with my betting activities.

This kind of leads me into the main subject matter "Does betting solely on tipster services help remove the emotional personal side of betting that can deflate so many when it doesn't go well? Yes, there will be losing runs whether you use them or not, but if you know you are buying an edge long term following them, does this automatically make us more likely to follow a better disciplined approach? It is with regret that I hold my hand up and say that I have been in a "betting black hole" of 4 months losses, perhaps my personal selections aren't good enough long term and you should just pay for the best and stake accordingly?

Surely it can't be a simple A+B+C approach, hire the A-team and off you go? Could you possibly write a topic of "Tipsters v Personal Edge" who wins out long term.

OK, well, the first thing I must say before I even begin to try to answer Shane's questions is that I have never established any kind of edge on the bookmakers myself. I used to back my own fancies, back in the days of being a student hoping to raise enough for a decent night in the Student's Union bar. That I didn't drink as much during the three years of my degree course as did some of my contemporaries probably tells you all you need to know of my form-reading abilities.

So with that disclaimer in mind, let's see if we can find some answers.

The first thing I'd say is that I don't think starting a portfolio of tipping services and making money from it is as simple as putiing A,B, and C together and watching them go. Christ, I wish it was! But fundamentally of course, that is what we are doing.

Does following paid-for tipsters lighten the psychological load associated with serious gambling? To my mind, I think it is likely to, yes. But only if you do it properly. I think you can have a portfolio consisting only of services with a proven long-term edge, services that are proven to be the very best in the market, and still find running it incredibly taxing if you don't have sufficient funds in the betting bank. Even with such a turbo-powered, high-performing portfolio as the one described, losing runs will still be experienced, and if a betting bank is becoming severely eaten into simply because it isn't big enough, the mental devils will play havoc and disaster will be just a short step away.

Let's assume however, that we are sufficiently funded and have a good portfolio in place. In these circumstances, then I think that I, speaking purely from a personal point of view, would find following a portfolio less mentally challenging than if I were finding my own selections to back (or lay). For a start, I know that a well constructed portfolio would provide quite naturally, the levels of diversification that I think are necessary if gambling is to represent anything more than a simple hobby. If it is to be a means of investment, which certainly it is for me, then diversification is essential. Were I finding my own picks, I really doubt I would be able to cover a breadth of sport wide enough to provide the levels of diversity that I see as being an integral part of making good money from betting. The lack of diversity would cause me to worry, even when things were going well. It's significant, I think, that a number of tipsters I follow, follow other services in turn. I may well be wrong, but I would think that these tipsters are seeking diversity in areas other than those in which they themselves specialise. I don't think it unreasonable to hazard a guess that this is at least a part of their decision-making process to follow other services in addition to expoliting their own talent. Perhaps I'm wrong, but it's a theory that makes sense.

Apart from running away from confrontation and generally being a cowardly, self-centred git who can't recommend self-preservation anywhere near enough, I think I'd have made a darned good soldier. You see, I can follow orders. So when a tipster tells to me to back XYZ, I back XYZ. I never vary from the stake recommended. I simply do what I am told, when I am told. And by doing so, putting bets on almost becomes an automated process. Whether I'm in the midst of a winning streak or losing run, I simply continue to follow my orders. This is one of the reasons I so admire the tipsters I follow. It is the ability to ignore the losers and to apply a consistent method to finding good value and winners that, to my mind at least, makes for a good tipster. I imagine Rudyard Kipling had gambling and portfolio investment in mind when he wrote, 'If'. The ability to keep focused, to remain unaffected by winners or losers, to keep one's mind concentrated on the task in hand have simply got to be the qualities possessed by a professional tipster - or of course, by someone relying on their own selections to turn a profit. In fact, thinking about it, the first two lines of 'If' are particularly relevant...

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

Yeah, if a tipster is going through a bad patch and they're receiving all manner of dog's abuse from disgruntled (and probably underfunded) subscribers, and they listen and can act upon the instructions held within those two lines above to arrest the decline and pull things around, then they'll...

be a Tipster, my son!

Now I reckon not many could. I couldn't. If I was making selections, and they were losing, I know for a fact I could not remain unaffected. I'd be the Marouane Chamakh of the tipster world, ie. shit. Seriously, I'd lose confidence in what I was doing, start to question my methods, and basically find myself being drawn into a never-ending vicious vortex of incompetence. And there's never a happy ending to such circumstances, I can tell you. Oh no.

I am able to see though, that if you are one of the few who can not only create an edge over the bookmakers for yourself, but who can then exploit it efficiently (and that in itself is a real talent, I believe), there are many advantages over following other services. The ability to get the best odds for a start, and the importance of that should never be underplayed. Oh, what I'd be prepared to give to avoid the scramble to secure the best possible odds! - the scramble involved in getting onto a popular tipster's selections can make the crowds bursting into Harrods on the opening day of the New Year sales look like a bunch of, "After You, Claudes".

I would also suggest that finding and exploiting your own edge must be tremendously satisfying. If I could do it, I'd be walking around with a permanently smug grin across my chops. The thing is though, I'd be pretty smug were I knocking in goals every week for the Arsenal, but sadly, I don't have the talent to do so. Alas it's the same thing with the betting for me, more the pity.

Look, at the end of it all, I can see that there are unique psychological demands involved with both following a portfolio of tipsters and in creating and utilising your own edge to beat the bookmaker. This might be Alan Shearer-esque sitting on the fence here, but I can't help thinking that different individuals are more suited to one or the other, simply because their own personal make-up and personality dictates. Not for me, trying to find and use my own edge. Not for others, following a portfolio of tipsters.

Perhaps the fundamental secret to success in gambling is to know yourself very well. Know what you are good at, and perhaps even more importantly, know what you're not. Then follow the most appropriate path.

Tuesday/Wednesday's betting

A couple of loss-making days and October has not got off to what you might call a flying start.

Last September was a bit of a nightmare for The Football Analyst but as we saw earlier this week, September 2012 was much better. That solid form has continued into the earliest parts of October as with three bets, two returned stakes and the other was a nice winner.

Form Lab Lite hit one winner from one yesterday to help compensate for two losers on Tuesday, and elsewhere, profit has notable for the fact there hasn't been any.

No luck/success over the two days for Northern Monkey (0/1), Winning Racing Systems (Favs) (0/1), Service X (1/3), or Sportyy (0/2).

Northern Monkey: Staked 1pt, -1pt.
Winning Racing Systems (Favs): Staked 1pt, -1pt.

Form Lab Lite: Staked 3pts, -1.067pts.
The Football Analyst (7/22): Staked 1.5pts, +0.56pts.
Service X: Staked 8pts, -2.57pts.
Sportyy: Staked 2.5pts, -2.5pts.

So there we have it. Roll on Friday and the weekend.


  1. hi Rowan,interesting topics as usually.Its not easy managing a portfolio,one as said in the topic you have a race in getting the price of the following tipster,secondly and the more carefull thing is placing bets with bookies (not to be restricted) and one other thing is the money bank for each tipsters.then there is your time , placing bets and waiting your tipster sending e mails or mobile message.its not so easy

    1. Yep, it's certainly not easy, Fabian, as you know. Still, for the most part, it's quite enjoyable. More enjoyable when we're winning of course. :)

  2. When I get guys laughing at the idea of using tipsters I just tell them it's the same as employing a professional to do the diy jobs you make an arse of every time you try.

    1. Heh! Like it! And believe me, if a DIY job needs doing, I get someone in. Making an "arse" out of the job wouldn't even begin to cover the damage I'd do. Frank Spencer in 'Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em' comes to mind!

  3. Hi Rowan

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