It's hard for me to
believe that it is already six years since I went to England to work for
Racing World television. Seems like just yesterday. And of course,
one of the first things I learned about there was a betting exchange called
And as someone whose
first career was spent as a trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and at
the Chicago Board of Trade, I was instantly fascinated by this new way of
playing the horses as well as other sports.
Having had a
background in trading, plus a pretty big advantage over there on knowledge of
American racing... it didn't take very long for me to get stuck in.
Because of those circumstances,
along with getting otherwise unfathomable prices on certain horses,
it didn't take long for my discipline to crack. And with the benefit of
20-20 hindsight, there were two mistakes which I consistently made in my first
few months across the pond.
Here they are: First of all, bankroll management.
Having belief in your knowledge in general terms is a must to be successful in
this game but when mixed in with a bit of stubbornness, trouble can be
lurking. Simply put, in my early days on Betfair, I would think I knew
more than the market did and as an example, if I liked a horse who figured to
be 2-1 at closing in the tote and I was able to get 4-1, my natural
instinct would to be load up, figuring I could sell back some of my position
when the market came back to what I perceived as reality. Or, in a worst-case
scenario, I was getting a massive overlay on a pretty large investment.
And on too many
occasions, I would find myself just having too much of my 'bank' at risk in
relation to how I played most of the other races. Given my perceived edge
on a race-to-race basis, there really was no need to take such risks.
Secondly, I was getting
involved with too many races at too many tracks. Because of the overlays
one can get on the exchange, it is normal to think that if I were to get
involved with more races, I would naturally just make more money.
This concept didn't
work for a number of reasons. While I certainly had a real edge in
circuits which I followed on a regular basis such as the NYRA tracks, when
I would play a track which I didn't follow regularly such as Penn National or
Turf Paradise, sadly, I didn't know more than the competition and in some cases
For me, this was
driven home when I met one of my work colleagues on Racing World, the legendary
Mr. Q., Paul Quigley. Mr. Q. specializes in some of the smaller American
tracks and currently knows more about New Mexico racing than 99.9% of American
horseplayers ever will. I was naive to think I could just play any
American track and have an edge.
On top of the lack of
knowledge, there is just so much one can handle time-wise/work-wise before
leaks occur. Getting out of my comfort zone, playing more tracks, more
races was a recipe for disaster.
When betting exchanges
finally get a foothold in the USA, there will be serious temptation on a
regular basis. But as in any other form of punting on horse races,
staying within your bankroll and not getting carried away with too many
tracks/races is a must for success.
Remember, when playing
on the exchange, it is all about price.