A good day’s punting
No, dear reader, this isn’t a post about mucking around on a boat. This, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear, is a post all about my underwhelming gambling career. This week is probably the best in the calendar for the Sport of Kings as the Cheltenham Festival rolls around again. I’ve been burnt many times by betting on the horse racing, yet I find it hard to resist the great festivals.
From a purely betting perspective, there’s (potentially, hopefully!) a much better chance of picking a winner, as the form of the best horses stands up better than the form of those nags in class six races who wouldn’t look out-of-place working Blackpool beach.
But there is far more to it than that. While I’ve sadly never been, the atmosphere seems incredible. Also, over four days, the best of the best congregate – a fantastic and memorable performance is only ever a matter of minutes away. Racing history is tangible, and is being made. This week Kauto Star and Denman will face off for a third time for the Gold Cup, in one of sport’s truly greatest duels. You don’t need to have a bet on to appreciate that contest.
I also think something is added by the festival taking place during the week. If you go, or even if you watch at home, there must be that lovely feeling of ‘playing hooky’. Things always seem more enjoyable if you really should be at work. It certainly gives it a different feel to sporting events that take place on evenings or weekends. And by progressing over four days there is a distinct narrative and flow to the week, whether you can get the time off or not (not in my case).
This flow for the week allows for a nice routine, whatever it may be. But an essential element has to be starting the day with the Racing Post. Each morning you’ll find me leafing through it, eager to find that elusive winner.
Yesterday I got lucky, and had a couple of nice wins. I then got a series of text messages from a mate as he racked up over £600 worth of winnings over the course of the afternoon. No such riches for me, far from it, as I’m far too cautious with my betting stakes. Still, that will play to my advantage today as each and every selection elects to stop for a pee half way round, run backwards, grind to a halt, etc etc…
I was interested by the news item yesterday which informed me that huge sums of money have been bet so far this year. Folks like yourself who have a cautious flutter here and there can’t account for the large sums so I wonder if the others are an extension of the people who are using online gambling sites as a way of trying to move themselves out of the recession. Wonder if it works for those folk or whether it just increases their debts and makes them wish they’d never placed the first bet?
Horses on punts, though, that sounds like a Sky 3 show just waiting to be made.
I seem to remember reading an article a couple of years ago, as the recession loomed, suggesting that bookmakers do particularly well in a harsh economic climate. The reasoning was, if you have £10 to spend on leisure, do you go to the cinema (so be entertained, but lose your £10) or have a bet or two (where, with a little luck, you’ll get entertainment and a return on your cash)? People will often choose the latter.
I can’t say if it works as a means of escaping the recession though, although I guess it is also important to differentiate between those who gamble for fun (could easily inlcude those playing the lottery here) and those who gamble for profit.
As for Horse On Punts, it surely is only a matter of time. I’m sure Joe Swash has been signed up already.
I’d never be able to gamble for profit. My childhood was peppered with days hanging around in stinking, smoke-filled bookies while my father and grandfather spewed away their wages and pension respectively. In the case of my granddad, I reckon he;d earned the right to spend his pension how he liked. But my father had other priorities, such as putting food on the table for my mum, brother and me. Apart from a flutter on The Grand National most years, I can’t bet for fear of turning into the old man. If only Joe Swash had been my dad…
The best advice I’ve ever had on gambling is to set yourself a ‘pot’ to gamble from, and immediately consider that money spent and lost. Then, if you win, it’s a bonus, and it helps encourage only spending what you can afford to lose (and hopefully sets a limit on your losses). Easier said than done though…
My father’s pot must have been everything he had plus anything he could sell.
I’m sorry to hear that. As I have discovered (again) today, the bookies always win.