How I Developed My Own Approach To Responsible Gambling

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Over the last few months, we have taken a look at several aspects of Responsible Gambling. From building a sense of financial stability, to practical advice on how to deal with the mental aspects of gambling.

But one aspect of gambling responsibly that we have not really looked at in depth, is the actual process of gambling responsibly.

Yes, everyone knows that we should gamble responsibly. Most people probably thinks that they make their bets in a sensible and controlled manner.

But are they?

So perhaps the best way to answer that question is by giving you a clear example of what responsible gambling means to me.

Maybe you can then judge whether my attitudes and behaviours reflect responsible gambling, or whether I too could be unknowingly at risk.

To do that, let’s learn a little about me and my gambling history!

And all the stories happened a long time before I got my first online betting account with bet365 Sport!

A Bit About Me…

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Strange as it may seem, throughout my childhood, gambling was not a major part of my life. My parents’ idea of a gamble was a game of bingo at the local pub on a Wednesday night.

I can remember my first ever bet, simply because it was a winner. I was 18 and finishing off my A-levels exams and, as usual, money was tight. My friends wanted to go out for a drink on Friday night to celebrate the end of our final exams.

In those days, £5 – £10 would be more than enough for a good night out and some chips or a kebab on the way home. It was a hugely glamorous life I know! So I knew I needed at least £5, ideally £10 to be able to join them.

Unfortunately, I only had £2.30 pence to my name. So, I was resigned to staying in while my friends went out.

A Solution Presents Itself

I had one final exam to finish that afternoon and as I walked back to college, I passed a betting shop and thought to myself that rather than waste the money I had on the bus home a drink and a chocolate snack, I’d see if I could turn it into enough money to be able to go out on the Friday night.

I went into the betting shop and literally had no idea what I was doing. So, I surreptitiously watched a man fill out a bet slip. I then decided to copy what he’d done on my bet slip, only with my own selection.

The question now was – What to back with my huge £2 stake? I thought to myself with a £2 stake, I’d need at least odds of 5/1 to get enough money to go out for the night comfortably. I actually thought I’d win £10 in total as I didn’t realise that when you won, you got the stake money back too.

Yes, I was that naïve.

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Picking The Runner to Back

I may not have known about the intricacies of betting, and I did not have a clue about the form of any of the myriad of horses running that day. So, I decided upon a non-scientific method of bet selection.

I looked for a horse that had a name I liked, or which resonated with me, and that was around odds of 5/1 to win the race, enough to give me the £10 I needed to go out.   

At that time, I was a scruffy urchin that hadn’t shaved for several days. So when I come across the horse “Shavian” ridden by Steve Cauthen in the St James’ Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on the 19th June, it immediately stood out.

I needed a shave; my name was Ian. Shave-ian. Shavian. It seemed that fate had spoken.

I checked the odds in the Racing Post and they were quoted at, I think I remember correctly, 13/2. Better odds than 5/1 or 6/1 for that matter.

So, I placed the bet, but as it was my first time ever making a bet, I simply put £2 on Shavian to win the race, and I paid the tax of £0.20p as that is what the man I watched had done on his slip.

I thought you had to pay the tax for the bet to be accepted. I didn’t know it was optional.

I also didn’t know that in the time since the Racing Post was published, Shavian had drifted in the market, out to 11/1 at one point. It was only after I’d placed the bet and realised that the race was the next one to be run, that my selection was not much fancied amongst the betting fraternity.

I couldn’t stay to watch the race as I had an exam starting in the next 20 minutes or so, so I headed off. Absolutely convinced I’d just wasted £2.20 and would now face a drinkless and snackless walk home and a frustrating Friday night in front of the TV.

Serendipity Takes Pity On Me

After completing my exam (yes, I did pass), I decided that I’d go into the bookmakers to confirm my inevitable waste of money. My friend at the time, Alan, came with me.

I walked through the door and in those days, the results of the races used to scroll through on TV screens dotted around the room. I searched for Royal Ascot results, for the St. James’ Palace Stakes and I found it.

And there it was.

1st. Shavian (S.Cauthen) – 11/1.

“I’ve won!” I said totally baffled as to how that had happened. Alan was his usually supportive self. I think the phrase he used was something like “You lucky bar steward…” or something like that.

So, I went back to the cashier and handed in my slip, and she handed over to me a fresh £20 note, plus £4 in pound coins.

Gambling Responsibly

I won’t lie. It felt fantastic. I not only had enough for me to go out, I had enough to drag Alan along with me as he was also short of cash and faced a Friday night of solitude. I was so generous, I even paid the 30p bus fare for each of us to be transported home rather than walk.

I did go out on Friday and had a very enjoyable night. It felt even better that the bookmakers opposite my college were paying for it for me.

However, I didn’t immediately think that this was a simple way to bankroll cheap nights out when I wanted. I knew that I’d got lucky. Incredibly lucky and if anything, that win put me off betting again for a good while. I knew that luck would run out.

How That Event Shaped My Betting Approach

That single event is still vivid in my memory but I know I barely bet again for a good while. I didn’t have the money to as a student, especially when I was about to head off to university and with summer jobs scarce, I could not justify spending anything on a bet.

I can’t remember my next bet, or whether it won or lost, but I can remember the following incidents: –

  • Winning a local radio competition a few months after that first win that saw me get two free tickets to Newton Cup Day at Haydock Park in the VIP enclosure with Ladbrokes. My parents knew nothing about racing, so I took a family friend, Jimmy, with me who did. We had a three-course meal, a race preview by Lord John Oaksey, waitress service if we wanted to place bets (which we didn’t use as it felt really weird). My family scraped together £30 for me to bet on the six races. Jimmy also had £30 (bear in mind, I had bet once, Jimmy bet around £1 each weekend and never any more) so these were huge sums of money for us. We did ok though, coming back with around £45 each due to a couple of wins and pooling our resources. It could have been a lot more. I changed my mind on a 25/1 shot called Tusky I was going to back in one of the races right as I placed the bet (no need to fill in a bet slip here, you simply told the bookmaker how much you wanted to bet and on which runner). I backed a different shorter-priced horse instead at odds of 13/2. I learned the lesson there not to change your mind at the last minute!
The one that got away… Tusky the 25/1 winner I missed out on at Haydock.
  • Turning up too early for a job interview due to odd train connections and deciding to while away the time in the bookmakers that was opposite the school. The interview was a good way away from my house, so I didn’t really want to win when I put my £1 win double bet on. After the interview, I got the two trains home, walked home and checked on teletext to see both horses had won and that I was now £30+ richer. I had to go back the next day to pick up the winnings. And no, I didn’t get the job.
  • Backing a horse with a young jockey on that I’d never heard of before but whom I liked the name of. The horse won (again at odds of around 6/1). The Jockey’s name was Lanfranco.Dettori. Frankie Dettori. Whatever happened to him I wonder?
  • Going to a Stag Do for a family friend at Haydock Park once again many years after my first visit. This time with £30 of my own spending money in my pocket for the 6 races. £5 per race. I then landed a winner in the first race at odds of around 4/1 (Pongee it was called) and then landed another winner in the second, on a horse called Parnassian (and yes, I picked it because of the -ian suffix once again) which sprinted home at odds I’d snagged at a course bookie of 11/1. I had two more winners that day, including a 33/1 each way bet that came in third in the third race called Grampian (yes, the -ian suffix again) and spent a fair bit in the bars, restaurants and pubs we went to. I still went home with three times more money than I came out with.

Of course, it hasn’t always gone that well. I went to the 2,000 Guineas Meeting at Newmarket one year with friends and could not back a winner. The same was true for a charity meeting at Wolverhampton Races where I didn’t win a sausage but my wife and her mother picked three winners using the “that name sounds nice” method.

What is the point to these stories? Well, I believe that this somewhat laissez-faire attitude to betting has stood me in. good stead. I’ve never felt any need to bet. I still follow markets, I still compile research, I still make bets and predictions. But I can go weeks, months or even years without making a bet and when I do, it is usually for very small stakes.

I’ve never bet with money I can’t afford to lose. I’ve lost far more bets than I have won I know, but I remember the wins more than the losses! That’s why I’ve put them here for you. I also only ever bet when I’m going to enjoy it, usually in a social situation with other like minded people.

So for me, responsible gambling is: –

  • Controlling your betting, never let your betting control you.
  • Make sensible, educated bets, or alternatively, just get very, very lucky!
  • Betting only when you can and want to bet.
  • Only betting with what you can afford to lose.
  • Placing a bet knowing that in all likelihood, the money has gone. But if the fates are on your side, you could end up making a profit.
  • Withdrawing your winnings and enjoying them, rather than spending them on more bets.

And perhaps crucially that even with the best judges, most researched bets, all that work is still very much at the whim of fate.

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