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Golden Rules 2

KEEP A RECORD OF YOUR BETS

I have to admit that there was a time when I used to feel great discomfort upon hearing a punter preaching about the importance of keeping records. It was something I never did, through a fusion of innate laziness and a fear that if I had my recent betting history thrust before me in all its gory detail it would reveal that I was an even less successful punter than I suspected.

Finally, though, after a particularly bleak spell, I took on board one of the most basic rules a sensible punter imposes on himself and began chronicling all my bets.

I now wonder what I was playing at when I was not writing everything down. Examination of betting records may sound like a boring, and sometimes painful, task but it is nothing of the sort. To be able to pinpoint where you are prospering and where you are bleeding money is crucial to your future success. You can use your records to analyse precisely which type of bets are coming off and which are costing you money. Being a good punter is mainly about knowing which potential avenues of profit are turning into financial dead ends. You can only truly work out this information by keeping strict records and studying them at regular intervals.

If you really can't be bothered to keep your own records because you consider punting as your hobby and would get an extra job with an insurance company if you wanted to do a bit of pen-pushing, fine. All I can say is that I have found it to be a vitally important exercise, if only to keep tabs on exactly what my overall profit/loss figure is.

ASK WHETHER ALL YOUR GOLDEN RULES ARE NECESSARY

A common trait among punters is to ban themselves from betting at certain prices. Most commonly, the self-imposed restriction is on odds-on shots, although others will not take less than 2-1.

A few years ago it was considered wise never to back Premiership teams at odds-on when playing away from home, despite a glaring lack of evidence that such a blanket ban was remotely wise. If you are genuinely uncomfortable about taking short prices on the fundamental basis that if the odds-on shot loses it will blow your bank, fair enough. But nobody can say for sure that there is no such thing as a good-value odds-on shot, be they playing home, away or at a neutral venue.

One inexplicable golden rule some punters have concerns whether to take a profit at the earliest possible opportunity. "You will never go skint taking a profit," they say.

This is an absurd viewpoint in my opinion. Religiously letting a bet run when it is going well and religiously taking the money and running when you get the opportunity are equally idiotic rules.

If you buy a cricketer's runs at 50 and the quote rises to 55-60 after a few overs, you may be happy to take the five-point profit. But to suggest you will never go skint by taking such a defensive course of action is only true if you never have another bet.

What if the next two cricketers you buy are out for a duck? Taking the three trades as a whole you are most certainly well on your way to being skint. Moreover, by jumping out of a bet early on you are playing the spread twice and are thus a loser in the value stakes.

Surely, the only golden rule concerning trading in-running you can possibly have is this: judge each trade on its merits. If you have bought a cricketer's runs at 50 and believe the new price is too high - perhaps your man has played and missed outside off-stump a few times or the ball is swinging more than you anticipated - sell. But if he has got his eye in and is looking comfortable, what is the point of closing the bet, a bet you made initially because you thought the player would get runs? The beauty of betting in-running is that you have a choice. It is crazy to deny yourself that privilege thanks to an unnecessary golden rule.