Horse racing betting psychology - keeping your head right

Successful betting can be as much about mental strength as it is about horse selection, and racing analyst Andrew of Fiosrach takes a closer look at the discipline required to make long-term profits.

One of the most important aspects of betting on horses (or indeed any sport) is the psychology involved. 

Backing winners is great, of course, and obviously important from the perspective of delivering a profit, but it is how we handle losing runs that is most important.

Recognising what constitutes a good day (or week) at the races is a fundamental part of a successful long-term betting strategy.

Who is the winner here?

Let's look at an example:

John backs five horses to win at one point each, and the results are as follows:

Won 2/1, Won Evens, Won Evens, Lost, Won 2/1, resulting in five points profit and an 80% strike rate

A great strike rate and a decent profit and John feels on top of the world.

Dave does the same and backs five horses to win at one point each and his results are as follows:

Lost, Lost, Won 10/1, Lost, Lost, resulting in six points profit and a 20% strike rate.

Despite making a point greater profit, the chances are that Dave feels worse than John, due to only having one winner from five bets.

The importance of having the correct mindset is to be happier with Dave's position than John's, and that takes time and discipline.

A case in point

From my own betting, I can give you an example from as recently as New Year's Day at Cheltenham, where my analysis had pinpointed Marie's Rock in the Relkeel Hurdle.

As I set value prices based on threats in the field and one for the unexpected, I wanted to get a price of 7/2 for Marie's Rock.

Having finished my analysis, the listed price for Marie's Rock was only 11/4, so I went for my second choice, which was Botox Has at 16/1.

Marie's Rock subsequently drifted on course to 6/1 and promptly won the race at a starting price of 11/2, causing me to miss eleven points of profit, as my stake would have been two points to win.

Short-term loss for long-term gain

However, by keeping the discipline of not backing horses below my value limit, I know through decades of experience that I will make a long-term profit.

The mental discipline of rejecting a bet which is below the value threshold is vital and the most difficult part of the psychological process, especially when you have conducted a lot of work on your analysis.

I will follow this article up next week with a look at coping with losing runs from a mental and betting bank perspective.

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