Subscribing to a horse racing tipster can be a very shrewd move. Utilising the expertise of individuals who spend hours studying form, have connections within inner racing circles, and who have a history of producing profit, is appealing to many novice and experienced punters alike. There are plenty of tipsters who offer their expertise for free (such as ourselves) and we’re as good, if not better than the vast majority of sites looking for your money.
In the last decade or so, the internet has provided a platform for, and exponentially increased, the number of horse racing tipsters on the market. Prior to the World Wide Web, tipsters would operate predominantly by telephone tipping services, but nowadays anyone can set up a website and start selling their services. The vast number of operators makes sorting the wheat from the chaff and choosing a suitable and legitimate tipster more difficult. This article takes a look at the factors that should be considered by bettors before they part with their hard earned money.
The cost of subscription is obviously a pivotal factor when deciding on which racing tipster to choose. Unfortunately when it comes to the world of betting on horse racing, cost does not necessarily dictate quality. Some services are highly priced to give a perception of exclusivity, whilst other operators prefer to price their advice very competitively, aiming to help the punters ‘get one over’ the bookmakers for just a small fee. A golden rule is to choose a tipster who offers a monthly payment, perhaps in addition to longer subscription options. Those who only provide 3/6/12 month plus fees should be avoided as if these services go out of business or the tipster disappears, it is extremely difficult to recoup any money outlaid. When choosing a tipster, it is also important for punters to factor in their stakes in relation to the subscription fee. If a bettor averages £2 stakes and is paying £30 per month for a tipster, then unless they are exceptional, it is not worth it. Likewise, if a punter averages £100 per bet and a service is £200 a month, it may be worth their while to subscribe if the tips are profitable.
Some tipsters can be very astute in the way in which they advertise their profits. There are several creative ways to dress up the figures and make them appear more attractive than they are. Some will make claims such as:
‘£12,000 profit to £10 per point stakes’
This seems very appealing. However, the small print may state that the service operates on a 1-10 point scale, and therefore some bets will be returned to 10 point stakes i.e. £100 bets, some to £80 stakes etc.
A good service should really make a level stakes profit (LSP). That is, if you bet the same stake on every selection, it will turn a profit. However, using an advised stakes service is fine so long as their range is relatively tight, i.e. 1-3 or 1-5 points.
The yield is what professional gamblers look for and is the indication of what advantage the tipster has over the bookmakers. The yield divides the total profit by the total stake outlaid to give a percentage figure. In the ultra-competitive gambling world nowadays, 10% is considered good and 20% is superb. In essence, a lot depends upon the number of bets advised, which will now be discussed.
The number of advised bets should play a major role in deciding whether a tipster is right for an individual. This is both from a personal preference and profit perspective and is related to the cost of subscription.
Take for instance Tipster A, who is very selective in his picks and has a really strong yield. 10 bets per month may result in a 12 point return, a 2 point profit and a 20% yield. Tipster B may send out 100 tips a month, return 109 points and have a 9% yield. Although Tipster A has a better yield, Tipster B actually produces more profit to the same stakes.
If a service costs £50 per month, and produces on average between 4-5 points profit off 20 bets a month, the yield hovers between 20-25% (4-5/20). If a bettor is staking just £15 per selection, then his profit is barely covering subscription (£60-£75). Conversely, if a £40 service has 60 bets per month and produces an average of 10 points profit, then even at £10 stakes, the service may well be worth it, as the monthly net gain is around £60. There is no point choosing a tipster who has a very high yield, but is so sparse in their bets that very high stakes are needed to generate a profit once the subscription cost has been accounted for. Likewise, an overly high volume tipster may be prone to bigger variances in performances due to not being as selective in their approach. It is about finding a happy medium.
The snowballing of odds is often elicited by tipping services bestowing the virtues of a horse. Some advisory services are unscrupulous and advertise their results based upon odds that were in reality very difficult to achieve. However, the psychology of an ‘average Joe’ punter is to back a fancied horse at all costs. Unfortunately that often results in the ignorant (meant in the purest sense of the word) act of accepting the best odds on offer at the time. Pressing home the fundamental impact that obtaining value has upon profitability, we use the following hypothetical example:
“The Winning Punter” Tipping Line is a successful advisory service, with a subscription of 300 customers a month. They are relatively adept at spotting minor inaccuracies in odds compilation by the bookmakers and their modus operandi is to select horses at reasonable odds who represent value, and generate a long term profit. The issue is that their advertised profits and relatively large customer base causes the odds of their runners to shorten in price quickly once the selections are available to bettors.
On a particular day, ‘The Winning Punter’ advise Horse X at +1100 (8.33%) in a 17:20 6f handicap at Wolverhampton, releasing the tip at 11am. The true value of Horse X winning the contest is +900 (10%). The service has a 1.7% value edge. However, on release of the selections, by 11:09, the horse has shortened with all the major bookmakers to +800 (11.1%). The bettor is now at a value deficit of 1.1%. The difference appears negligible, but as the following calculations show, consistently betting at poor value can accumulate into heavy losses:
Assuming we have 100 bets with equal value discrepancies, The Tipping Line is profitable, generating a £200 LSP to £10 stakes (20% yield which is very good by any advisory standards). However, the odds achieved by the customer are an average of +800 . Betting at these prices generates a £-100 loss to £10 stakes and the service is no longer profitable.
Naturally, The Winning Punter would promote their excellent 20% yield, but the bettor who was regularly late to the party and missed the advertised odds, would be nursing a 10% loss on turnover. Ascertaining the point at which a horse no longer becomes value is crucial to becoming profitable.
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Tipsters can make the most outlandish claims, but unless they have any evidence, it is advisable to stay well clear. There are several tipster proofing websites which enable services to post their bets prior to releasing them to the public, to prove that their claims are legitimate. The main established tipster proofing platform is Racing Index, but there are plenty of other including Bet Ref and Racing Proofing.
Before subscribing to a tipster service, take the following factors into consideration: