“That’s a scarily bad bet”

Reporting from Bet Chat HQ, north London…


It’s obviously Halloween today and, much as I’ve never particularly liked Halloween…

(I once dressed up as Christmas in protest)…

(Me, Andrea and Designer Dan – who designed the Bet Chat logo – all in shot)

…I did think it a good opportunity to get into the spirit of things, while also dishing out some top notch betting advice.

So, without further ado, here are 13 scarily bad betting mistakes that punters up and down the land make on a near daily basis:

1. They take bet ‘boosts’ which are nothing of the sort

I wrote about this in detail here but, suffice to say, don’t just take a bookie’s word for it that boosted odds have actually been boosted… CHECK for yourself.

2. They sign up to a betting service but don’t make use of the money back guarantee period


3. They jump from betting service to betting service, leaving at the first sign of trouble

Look, I get it… there are a lot of bad betting services out there (and some outright scams) but it’s important, nay, crucial, to understand that even the very best services have losing days, weeks and even months…

Bar matched betting, arbitrage and that sort of thing, losers are an inevitability and so, if you can’t accept that, you’re better off not signing up to betting services at all, as it becomes a waste of everybody’s time, not least your own.

If you sign up to a service with, say, a 30 day money back guarantee period, rather than jump in feet first, get spooked after a couple of bad days and leave, why not bet with small stakes (or even just paper trade) for the full 30 days and get a much better feel for the ebb and flow of results…

Crucially, in doing that you’ll also get to see if the service track record is updated accurately. If it is, then, even if the service does make a loss during that period, you’ll be more confident that the long-term track record is honest and accurate.

4. They don’t use a betting bank and/or they bet with larger stakes than they are comfortable losing

If you are not comfortable losing £10, £20, £50 or whatever it may be on a bet then DO NOT STAKE THAT AMOUNT. Again, even the very best bettors have plenty of losers and so, if you’re going to follow them, you MUST give yourself the best possible chance of success by ensuring that you are comfortable with your stake size.

5. They believe in and blindly follow betting myths

“Never back an odds on shot”

Well, actually, odds on shots have the smallest bookie margin, so in many ways they’re the easiest bets to profit from (and certainly the easiest to avoid big losses on).

“Drifters never win”

It always amazes me how much import some horseracing bettors put on steamers and drifters. Yes, horses that shorten in price win more often than those that lengthen HOWEVER, if betting these horses to SP/BSP, you’ll actually make more profit/a smaller loss by backing the drifters (check out this excellent article for the data). 

Steamers are great IF you get on them before the price starts shortening significantly, NOT if you’re only getting on them after the horse has bolted, so to speak.

6. They think better odds equals better ‘value’

In line with the odds on myth explanation, the bigger the odds, the bigger the in-built bookie margin. You absolutely can make good money betting on big odds if you bet ante-post or if you’re good at finding genuine value (for example, regularly backing horses at 10/1 that go off at 5/1 or 6/1). However, the bigger the odds, and the closer you bet to the start of the event, the harder it is to make a long-term profit.

7. They are stubborn and refuse to adapt

Being stubborn is rarely a good thing in any field and, in betting, it can mean profits turning into losses. A strategy that works today might not work next year – edges erode and that’s something that you need to be constantly alert to.

On a related note, I was going to go with 13 tips today what with it being Halloween and all, but I now realise that it will result in an offensively long email that you probably won’t get to the end of and so, we’re going to adapt, especially as my last betting mistake is arguably the worst of them all and I want you to pay attention to it…

13. They take the cash-out option with a bookmaker

There is one scenario and one scenario only where this is acceptable. That is as follows:

If you have only just placed the bet, realised you’ve made a mistake, and you can cash out for the exact same amount as you bet.

If that isn’t the scenario… DO. NOT. CASH-OUT. WITH. BOOKMAKERS.

The reason for this is two-fold…

First up, 99% of the time, the person who cashes out has no good reason for cashing out other than fear of losing. You should view cashing out as a bet in and of itself. Therefore, you should only even consider it if you think that your selection is now bad value to win…

If you thought your football team was going to win before the match and they are now 1-0 up and dominating, do you really think that they are now not going to win? Probably not.

Secondly and most importantly, bookie cash-out offers are ALWAYS terrible value.

(Please note: I’m talking about traditional bookies here like Ladbrokes or bet365, not betting exchanges like Betfair. If you do have a genuine reason to cash-out then please, do yourself a favour, and head to Betfair or Smarkets and lay the selection instead).

To illustrate this, here’s a simple example:

At the start of the season, Adam Cheng, the Inside Man, tipped Sheffield Wednesday to get relegated from the Championship at odds of 7/2. They promptly lost their first game and were cut to 3/1. The cash-out offer…

So, that’s a loss of nearly 20% when the odds are now SHORTER than they were before! And don’t think this was a one-off error… this is exactly the sort of insane margin that bookmakers add on to their cash-out offers.

Even now, with Wednesday 8 points adrift of safety and priced at just 2/5 to go down, the cash-out offer is equivalent to a winner shorter than 2/1 (remember, the original odds were 7/2):

Now, if that betting monstrosity doesn’t terrify you today, then nothing will.

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