One of the most frequently asked questions about Horse Racing Betting – “Systems, do they work?”
There are three types of punters regarding systems and during this piece, I will refer to each in passing.
1. Those that use systems, lose with systems and think they work.
2. Those that have used systems, didn’t win and don’t accept that they can work.
3. Those that have a system, win, don’t tell, and are not believed to be credible!
In the most disparaging of fashion, I can testify that those punters that fall into categories 1 & 2 don’t know what they are doing, and those in No3 do, but can’t prove it.
For those readers who want to research more on this subject please visit the dedicated betting systems article.
How to Find a System
I can not even begin to estimate the time and effort I have put in over the years in trying to find a “Golden Egg” system to beat the odds in Horse Racing.
Even as I type this piece, I have a piece of software running in the background on this very laptop, collating thousands of bits (or is it Bytes?), of information from every Nursery run in the month of September for the past 11 years.
It is assessing every runner, in every race distance. At the same time, it is also looking at every 3yo only handicap at every distance between 5f and 12f, and the same again for every 3yo+ handicap over the same distances. Once complete, and this will take a very powerful computer, something in the region of 8 hours to complete, I will have a data set of literally millions of cells of information, which I will filter and play around with for many many hours before deciding on what the strategy will be for the coming month.
Building Systems Can be Boring
…..but stick with it, they can pay!
I do this every month, and I do it every year. For what may end up taking me something between 12-24 hours to complete, I may find one or two worthwhile bets to be struck, I may find twenty. It’s a lot of work for a little action. That’s the biggest problem with systems. THEY ARE BORING!
Because they are boring, many people you ask, “Systems, do they work?”, will answer No2. The reason they do not believe they work is that they have looked at a system but don’t understand the system. Don’t understand probability and don’t have the patience to see a system through.
I wonder how many people have started a system, whether it be a simple one such horses considered best drawn over 6f that are also Racing Post predicted favourite, or more complicated in using the second favourite in the Daily Mirror if the main Tipster has gone for it and it has previous course winning form.
Regardless of how ridiculous an idea for a system is, they all have credence if followed for a certain amount of time.
I have no idea if either of the aforementioned ideas would work, I haven’t checked. (if you want to try them, feel free, just mail me 10% if they turn out to be gooduns!)
The main reason punter number two exists is because he wants a system that will provide instant results, instant profits and big ones at that! Well, don’t we all? But it doesn’t work that way. Sure, systems are born from a single idea, but they are very plant-like in that they need time investment (as well as cash), time to nurture, develop and “create” your winning system. They also have a lifespan and die. But more of that later.
How Long Before a Horse racing System Works?
Patience is Key with Systems
Many systems fail because creators do not give them enough time. With patience, they may not be failures at all!
The single most frequent reason for system failure is lack of patience. You’ve come up with a great idea.
You’ve researched it and backtested it against previous results.
You’ve come across the perfect system that can’t fail to provide big profits, it’s proven.
So you go to work and back the very next qualifier; LOSE! And the next, LOSE! And the next and the next and you get the picture.
Your average punter does not have the patience to back four losers, hell he may not have the bank after thinking he has stumbled upon the pot at the end of the rainbow, so the system is destined for the trash and the next qualifier isn’t bet. You know what happens, BANG! WINNER 10/1! So he bets the next, LOSER! And the system is forgotten.
The maths ignored. (this example at single point level stakes has provided 6 clear points and over 100% return on investment), but these numbers are lost on our punter. He is out of pocket and scanning the paper for a DEAD CERT favourite to recoup the losses. You know what I’m talking about, and if you have been a punter for any length of time you know how it feels. If you don’t, you’re in denial!
Your System Will Have Losers
Make sure you aware of the losing run expectation. It will happen, so be prepared
You’ve checked the system over hundred of previous qualifiers, races and bets and it worked. You’ve experimented with it in real life for only a handful of bets. Did you even realise that within your backtested results, there are losing runs of four, five even six runners?
Do you know what the strike rate of your system is, do you know what level of return on investment to expect? Do you know the average price of not only the qualifiers but the ones that actually win? You have to give your system time, and you have to understand its idiosyncrasies.
Every single little aspect of your system. You also have to know, you’re not going to be running around in a Ferrari with a beach-fronted house in the background any time soon off the back of your system, like the guys in the adverts selling them are. They are not really, and you never will be. Sorry.
Systems are a fun and interesting way of betting for number crunching gambling geeks. (like me!). They are boring, almost hobby like. Systems can be winners too. But profits will be slow and steady at best. That brings me on to number 3 answer.
Found a Winning System? Keep it to Yourself!
The more you share your system, the quicker it will fail!
If you find a system that is a winner, DONT TELL ANYONE. The absolute essence of a system is that it has a strike rate at odds that beat the probability set out and given by the bookmaker. It will be small edge, but an edge all the same. And here comes your biggest enemy in systematic betting.