So, anyone reading this is probably asking themselves, what makes you different from others who have tried and failed at gambling? Well…..
Unlike most other gamblers, I started my gambling education when I was only 4 years old! My Grandfather was a very keen gambler who seemed to make it his role in life to teach me everything about gambling before he sadly passed away. I was sent to Nursery School with examples of Yankee bets which had produced 4 winners and I was asked to calculate the amount that would have been returned. Obviously, this was before the days of me being able to work calculators or Excel, so I had to manually calculate the returns and show all my workings (great help for later in life when I was passing my Higher Maths exams with an A* (achieved 98% in my Prelim – Highest in Scotland that year!).
As well being able to count up winning bets from the age of 4, my Grandfather also taught me how to read the form book. My Grandfather was a great fan of the Racing Post and I was always fascinated by the amount of data that was produced in the paper on a daily basis. We would sometimes spend a whole day during my summer holidays analysing the form of a particular race before trying to come up with our idea of a winner. Obviously, by the time our analysis was finished, the race was over and the winner was ‘home and hosed’ but it taught me valuable lessons in form reading.
From about the age of 5-10, I was given an allowance of £1 a day to gamble on the horseracing. I would come home for lunch, study the form for 30 minutes, and then walk my Grandfather to Ladbrokes while he dropped me off at school. My Grandfather always said that this gambling was never about winning, it was all about learning. Looking back, he taught me more about horseracing form than most people would ever know in their lifetime. I was only 10 at the time!
From about the age of 10, I got really interested in bookmaking and how they made their profits. My Grandfather would play a game where he would get me to price up football games on a Saturday. After a bit of practice, this became too easy and I could basically compile odds similar to bookmakers. I would vary the over-round depending on my view of certain games and it worked fairly well.
We then moved on to making up our own books for horseracing. I remember thinking at first how complicated this was and I had some long afternoons trying to price up 20 runner handicaps on the flat. Remember, I was doing all the odds calculations and percentages on paper, so it was fairly tricky. With Excel nowadays, I can price up a book for a race in 60 seconds.
At about the age of 12, my parents split up and I got involved in a bit of a custody battle between my Mum and Dad. Consequently, I was banned from gambling on horseracing (didn’t look good for my father in court when they heard I had a great ante post wager on Flakey Dove in the 1994 Champion Hurdle!).
Once things had settled down and I was staying with my Dad on a permanent basis, my Grandfather soon got me back in the swing of things. I could have opened a bookmaker aged 14! Soon after, my Grandfather died and my gambling tuition suddenly came to a grinding halt. I spent each summer holiday from age 15-18 in a local William Hill and I was off school nearly every two weeks in the afternoon as I was sick (watching racing on TV).
Stopped Gambling (Aged 18)
Fortunately, I made the decision when I reached 18 that I would stop gambling. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend high-school when I wanted (when there was no racing on TV) and still achieve very good grades. I have always excelled at numerical subjects throughout my school life mainly due to my early education in counting up winning bets.
I got with my current girlfriend (Denise) in my final year at school and we both went on to university to study financial economics. The decision to give up gambling was made on the basis that I had other more important things to get done in my life and I always knew I could return to it at a later stage.
In 2006, I logged on to Betfair out of curiosity and was amazed by what I could see. Like anyone who understands betting, the thought of being able to bet on markets with an over-round of only 101% seemed like a dream. I quickly purchased a training manual and decided that I would teach myself Betfair for 12 months. Unfortunately, due to Finances being tight and moving to a large house, I knew that I couldn’t gamble with real money. Therefore, apart from very small stakes betting (my overall account with Betfair at the moment shows a £150 loss over 18 months), most of the betting I undertook was hypothetical in Excel. I would decide which bets I wanted and recorded them in Excel.
Over the last 12 months or so, I have started reading the form again and I’m glad to say that I remember most of the things that I was taught in my youth! Again, due to lack of time, I have resisted the temptation to get involved in gambling in a major way. Until now that is…..