Tony Keenan’s first piece of the New Year is an honest, warts & all appraisal of his own performance over the last 12 months, as he reviews the events of 2012 from his own personal perspective in…
…The Punting Confessional – January 2nd, 2013
Last time I wrote I discussed how one would review a punting year in general terms.
This time, let’s look at my own 2012 in more specifically.
It’s always interesting to see at what stage of the season I made my profit. This past 12 months, the bulk of my profits came in three short spurts. I had a huge day at the Curragh on the May Bank Holiday when an each-way double on Ondeafears and Wrekin Rock came off, a hot period around the time of Royal Ascot and June in general and a monster evening in Dundalk on November 23rd when I backed six of eight winners.
I lost heavily in July and August (more of that anon) but in reality I’m more interested in what type of races I made money in rather than the time of year as the latter tends to be quite random; some years you will make profit at one stage of the season, whereas another year you will do your brains.
Strengths: As I’ve said, I’m most interested in where I make money rather than when and for me this is handicaps; in 2011 I did a survey of all my bets by race type and discovered that 95% of my profit came from handicaps and while I haven’t done that analysis yet for this season, I instinctively know it has been the case again.
My entire methods are based around handicaps and I intend to focus on this again in 2013, looking for horses that may be ahead of their mark and trying always to find a decent priced winner. I love middle-of-the-road racing, which is largely composed of handicaps, as that is where there is an edge to be had as it is not well-analysed. This is what I mean by punting to your personality.
One area where I also tend to do well in is market reading. I have written about this in the past – in diary entries on September 5th and 12th of last year – and it remains a very important part of the game. Getting on at the top of the market is difficult and no one can get it right all the time but one does pick up instincts over time for what horses will back and what will drift and at what times of the day; knowing when to get on is in itself a skill and should be developed.
In terms of psychology, I think stubbornness and thickness are two of my strengths; I am willing to work through the grind of six or seven meetings a week and maintain a good even standard of form study despite obstacles of boredom and losing. Determination is a vital trait in a punter and is probably more important than enthusiasm. In any gambling year, I believe there a key days that can make or break a year.
They tend to appear randomly; what you may feel is a potentially great punting day may turn out to be nothing of the sort but you need to rinse and repeat, respect the process and stick to the grind. Not missing a day can be important but one should be aware that the cost can be most than the payoff and I’m not really talking about financially here.
Another thing I felt I did well this year was having the sense when to fold ‘em. I had a rotten July, indeed the worst losing period of my gambling life, and while still losing in August I pulled my horns in a bit and limited the losses before slowing building momentum back up in September and October to ultimately get within 90% of my profit targets for the year.
Weaknesses: The biggest weakness for me this past year was the Irish weather though I acknowledge that’s a bit like an Eskimo complaining of the cold. But certainly it didn’t help during the summer of 2012 as much of the flat racing calendar was run on a quagmire and made punting very difficult. Things were simply out of kilter for a number of reasons – notably a higher than usual proportion of slowly-run races, good ground horses simply not getting a look-in and soft ground at one track not equating to soft ground at another – and I hope it won’t be the same this year.
I compile my own tissue prices to a 100% book for most of the races that I play and tend to be interested in the horses that are overpriced as per my calculations. But I can become very inflexible in this regard and that my prices – which are only an opinion – as gospel which is a weakness. One should try to remain flexible at all times when gambling and try to re-evaluate one’s prices when new information comes to light.
In terms of form study, while I am stubborn in doing it, there are times when I lack attention to detail, at least when I compare myself to another punter that I work closely with. This does need to be leavened with the reality that time is of a premium each day and one needs to spend it getting on and watching markets as well as merely studying form and of course there are other important things in life but no, there are times when I am not the most attentive form student.
Psychologically, there are times when I make unreasonable demands of myself as a punter. I sometimes want what I can’t have whether it be to find the winner of every race (even though I know handicaps are my strong point and much more likely to turn a profit) or make a consistent profit each month (even though I know profit tends to come in spurts rather than drips). This sort of perfectionist thinking needs to be curbed when it kicks in.
Euro 2012 and the Olympics were the two big sporting events this past 12 months and I have to say they cost me money, despite me not even having a bet on the latter. During the soccer tournament I was inclined to have a bet most days and while I didn’t lose any substantial money on it, it was the principle as I was essentially playing on markets I knew nothing about. As for the Olympics, it had a major time cost as I watched many events rather than study form, athletics events that come around once every four years proving infinitely more interesting than 47-65 handicaps at Ballinrobe.
I’ll be back with some opportunities and threats next week.
Happy New Year,