After two short and generally uneventful stints of betting today, I was left with a paltry overall £6 profit, and the scowl of a 5 year old made to share his toys with his little sister. The cause of this upset - a loss. Not significant (£47), but frustrating because :-
i. Why the hell was I placing a bet on Rugby Union?
ii. If the odds look too good to be true, they probably are.
iii. I hadn't set myself for the session - no concentration, no escape route etc.
iv. Once again, my tennis profits were simply being used to subsidise losses elsewhere.
What interested me was that my overwhelming sense was hurt from 'the loss'. Whilst I should have been chastising myself over the reasons for the loss, and then falling quickly back into a sensible pattern of betting, for the whole mid-morning session I was aware of how my mentality had moved into that dangerous 'increased risk' zone. Fortunately, work commitments meant I had to shut down the laptop. An easier evening session recovered my day's position, and the 6 hour gap had moved my psychological state back into calmer waters.
From reading numerous blogs, it is clear that most of us struggle with loss situations. The very successful and/or very experienced deal better with the situation, unsurprisingly.
My own problem may stem from the fact that most of my trades are odds-on. I expect to win. If your style is to back horses from say 5/1 and upwards, you will lose on a daily basis, and hope that the winners that you find come regularly enough to offset these losses. So presumably, you will only feel the pain of losing after a long winless stint. My own losses are less frequent, but each one hurts. This may not be a bad thing.
Harry Findlay, our highest-profile pro gamber, has made a name from huge odds-on bets. And an excerpt from one of Harry's press interviews caught my eye -
"There are three things people have to understand ( about short prices) : a) you can get on; b) you get value; c) you get confidence. And no matter what you do in life, confidence is the number one. Say one fellow bets 20-1 shots. After 20 losers, he backs a winner, and he's level. Another fellow's betting evens. After 10 winners and 10 losers, he's level. They've both got the same money, but he's been right 10 times. Who's going to have more confidence? But nobody talks about confidence, the mental instabilities involved in gambling. And that's what it's all about. It's all about how you perform under pressure, how you perform when it all goes wrong."
On reflection, the confidence I gain from winning regularly works for me. Yes, I'll struggle with the losses, but as long as I maintain an element of discipline, I have strategies and skills that will keep me moving forward. It's not for everyone, but finding a trading style that suits your personality is key.