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Five simple rules for beating the bookies

As we saddle up for a busy week of racing, Today FM bookie-botherer John Duggan takes us through his guide to turning a profit with the turf accountants.

WE’RE GETTING VERY excited around here ahead of the start of the Cheltenham Festival tomorrow.

TheScore has plenty in store for our first gallop around Prestbury Park as we bid to keep you in the know throughout the four days of action.

From tomorrow, start your day’s racing with our information-packed Mark Your Card morning preview column by Mark Hobbs, run the rule over comprehensive individual race previews, send us your tips, pictures, tweets and join us on the daily liveblog.

First however, we asked Today FM’s top tipster John Duggan to give us his advice on how to turn a profit at Cheltenham – or anytime.

Here’s his five laws you should follow to beat the bookies.

Five simple rules for beating the bookies
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  • Rule One: Monitor Your Behaviour

    A lack of discipline is the downfall of many an astute judge of sport. You may know your stuff, and play God well by predicting the outcomes of future sporting events, but you could be a hopeless punter. Record your bets to see how you are doing and for future reference, keep an eye on the money you put down, specialise in your chosen sport(s) to gain an edge on the bookie, avoid accumulators if you can, and don't mix betting and booze! Obviously, never bet more than you can afford, and if you have complusive tendencies that are getting you into trouble, pack it in and focus on success in other areas of life.
  • Rule Two: Profit is King

    Forget about life-changing wins and get to work. Don't think of betting in terms of winning and losing; rather think about it from a perspective of profit and loss. That may sound boring, but if you want to make money, you need to wean yourself off the euphoria of winning or the despair of losing. Try to separate your love of sport from betting, where being dispassionate and sober beats decision making led by emotion every time. It's a longterm game, and you need to treat it like a business, examining your bets to see where the profit is coming from and which areas you should target to increase your margins.
  • Rule Three: At Cheltenham You Need to Know...

    That patience is your friend; 27 races and the hugely enjoyable spectacle of the Olympics of National Hunt horse racing can send even a shrewd punter off the rails. Doing well at Cheltenham makes you feel good as a gambler, but the Festival will soon be over and there is plenty of sport ahead, so don't blow your betting bank. Course form and recent form must be taken into account. Remember that most races this winter and early spring have been held on soft ground, so check good ground form of the entries if it remains dry. Lowly weighted horses tend to do well in handicaps and it's no surprise that classier horses come to the fore in level weights affairs. Try and pick a select number of nags for the week and go for it.Source: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
  • Rule Four: Know How Exchanges Work

    Laying, or taking bets on an outcome not to occur on a betting exchange, is just as important as backing. I do all my betting on exchanges, because, in the pursuit of profit, if I can lay a horse that I don't fancy in a race and win, it may be much easier than trying to find the winner of the same race. Laying is a fantastic option in soccer betting, as you have the draw on your side. I explain laying in detail in the book. As long as you don't get greedy, which can lead to big losses if you recklessly lay winners, it can be lucrative.
  • Rule Five: Take Up Golf (Betting)

    I am convinced, from many years of punting, that golf betting is where the money is. Due to the size of the fields, very large odds are on offer from the bookmakers, and a handful of winners and each-way returns can make for a profitable year. Three things reoccur time and time again during tournaments. Firstly, course form is crucial, as players that are suited to a particular track generally perform well. In my study of the US PGA Tour for the book, I was amazed at the amount of players that won the same tournament more than once at big odds. The second thing to note is recent form, as hot players who are happy with their games can keep repeating the same shots and contend. Finally, look for the mentality of your selection. Golf is in the mind as much as in the swing, so keep proven winners on your side when the pressure is on, especially in major championships.
  • Beat the bookies

    John Duggan's new book is published by Poolbeg Press and is available in bookshops €12.99. Duggan has been sports editor of 100-102 Today FM since 2005.

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