To keep in control of your betting activity and assess whether your initial betting goals are on track, you should keep a record of the bets you have placed. It is highly likely that all professional bettors do this. Such bettors do approach betting as a business (they are up against betting businesses i.e. bookmakers after all), it therefore makes sense for them to use records to see whether their business plan is on course.
Assuming the professionals couldn’t immediately answer the following questions, their betting records would tell them their:
- Average, minimum and maximum stake size.
- Average, minimum and maximum win and loss.
- Average number of bets placed over a given time period.
- Overall profit and loss over a given time period.
- Most profitable sport, market type, bookmaker and exchange.
- Current balance with each bookmaker and exchange.
Unless you have a phenomenally good memory with which to store and recall such information, you should keep betting records. Initially, you should record as much information as possible, you can always discard superfluous information in future versions of your records. Some suggested things that you record are:
- Date and time of bet.
- Bookmaker or betting exchange where bet was placed.
- Stake size.
- Market type.
- Sport, competition and venue.
- Sport-specific information. For example, for horse racing details such as the horse name, trainer, jockey, number of runners, finishing position, what was the winning or losing distance.
- Profit and loss.
- Return on investment.
Because of the built-in formulas that can do some of the work, and the possibility of reusing existing experience, many people use Excel for keeping records of their bets. You may prefer to start from scratch or adapt an existing spreadsheet. There are a number of example spreadsheets available to download on the web. Here’s one with an accompanying video tutorial:
The best approach is to spend a few minutes every day updating your records, rather than letting it build up to such an extent that it becomes a burden to do. The motivation for keeping records should increase when it provides you an insight into what you’re doing well and what you’re doing poorly.
When analysing your losing bets, do you see any patterns developing? Is it a certain market type or sport that you are consistently losing on? If this is the case, your records can help you decide whether to eliminate this strand of your betting activity, or to persevere with it, albeit proceeding with caution. Try turning the data for a particular betting strategy into a chart to give you a visual depiction of what’s going on. The chart will zig-zag, as losses are inevitable, however is the overall trend over time upward or downward?
Similarly, by analysing you winning bets do you see a type of betting activity that you are consistently winning from and should be devoting more funds to. Be dispassionate, were bets winning ones because you implemented your edge or were they lucky, and should be discarded as “noise”.
Decide how many bets you will place before analysing your records. For example you might pick 100 bets as your initial and subsequent bet review increment. You need to have placed sufficient bets to give patterns time to develop, however, the longer you wait, the more damage a poor strategy can do.
If it ultimately increases your profit by highlighting your most successful strategies, record keeping will turn from a chore to a way to maintain your edge, just as, for example, form study is.