Monday, 20 July 2015

Losing Runs...

When I was young...once...a handicapper in the US talked to me about losing runs. He told me that the problem with any betting is that once you start you cannot stop. He wasn't talking about 'addiction' or 'problem gambling', he was telling me that you shouldn't stop because you never truly know if you are in a bad run, a good run, a run that is just starting, or a run that is just ending. You just have to keep going. He was right. The quickest way to eat up your bank is to stop because you think your efforts might not be working - then maybe switching to something else and possibly suffering the same fate.

Imagine this. Stored in the building are 10,000 balls. There are 6000 white balls and 4000 black balls. The white balls represent the winners, the black balls represent the losers. Both coloured balls have equal value. One day the building explodes and balls are strewn everywhere and your task is to pick them up. It's conceivable that you might come across 5, 10, even 15 black balls first. Yet out there in the carnage are 6000 white balls waiting to be picked up - you just haven't found them yet.

If you started betting and 'picked up' 5, 10, even 15 losers, you might be inclined to throw in the towel there and then. Yet out there in 'betting land' the winners are just waiting to be found.

Pick up all 10,000 balls or bets and you are ahead of the game.

Losing runs are nothing unusual - you just have to know what to expect and that is where many punters fail. In the past, I have suffered 11 losses in a row at around even money. That shouldn't be a surprise - odds of just over 2000/1 of that occurring. If you are betting enough volume, every so often you will hit batches of consecutive losses, just as you will have blocks of winners. Of course 'in a row', 'consecutive losses' or 'losing run' terms can be misleading. The damage can be far worse than your likely worst 'consecutive loss'. In the above example I think I went 11 losses (consecutively) 2 winners, then another 5 consecutive losses, before recovery. So it's the overall 'streak' that's important. Losing 11 in a row at 1/1 or 2.0 (50%) is just about statistically bang on - in terms of likely consecutive losses at those odds and you could hit them during the first week that you start betting.

The same handicapper told me that there had been a colleague of his, another pro, who bet the handicap in basketball. You are generally betting at odds of 1.91 just as you do in the NFL - we have the market in the UK too. Anyway, he allegedly hit around 30 losers in a row! 30 losers at odds on! I'm not going to work out the odds - my calculator probably won't have enough space - but it will be tens or even hundreds of millions to one. I think the guy was asked to go on national radio in the US to tell his story!

With the volume I bet, I have been very lucky not to hit higher numbers in my losing streaks (partly because I occasionally dutch a few in some systems) but 'the big one' will probably come one day - you just have to treat it as a symptom of your betting. Prepare for it and ride it out.

So if you are confident that you are finding value on a consistent basis, then don't let the bad runs put you off your stride. One thing I have learned, however, is that a losing run usually goes on longer than you think - so keep your discipline.

Good luck!

Saturday, 11 July 2015


Sorry people - been a while. Just getting on with summer, kids, Ashes and juggling the betting in between. England were widely written off for this Ashes series but most pundits thought that they would at least win one Test match...they will probably win the first unless Australia can bat it out from 145/6. Maybe England can take something from the first Test and compete in the series..