When nothing seems to go your way…and how to cope with it

Losing runs are a fact of betting life that you will have to come to terms with if you ever hope to turn a profit.

We’ve all been there – you’ve just placed your 15th consecutive losing bet, doubts are creeping in, you have a barely suppressed sense of panic and the devil on your shoulder is telling you to go in heavy on a short priced “certainty” to get yourself back out of trouble.

You will go mad or, even worse, go broke unless you develop some strategies for coping with those emotions.

When I first started taking my betting seriously – way back in the dark ages it seems now – I was regularly shaken off a profitable system or strategy simply because I was unable to cope emotionally with a losing run. Half a dozen losing bets would see me tearing my hair out, questioning the method and looking for any reason to chase my losses or charge through the door marked exit.

On a few occasions I would exacerbate my losses by pursuing overly aggressive staking strategies that would bust my bank and leave me watching on from the sidelines as the system/tipster recovered and moved on to new heights of profitability.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone  in suffering through that particular circle of hell.

People who knew me back in those days tell me I was not a lot of fun to be around when things weren’t going my way. I allowed the feeling those losses gave me to permeate every aspect of my life and acted out accordingly.

Thankfully time, mounting experience and a steadfast refusal to be beaten made me persist and emerge from those days with a more relaxed, accepting attitude to the (inevitable) losing runs we encounter.

On the way though, I made some  simple errors – and they made the journey much longer and harder.

Below are the steps I could have taken to ensure the losing runs were manageable and didn’t put me out of the game.

Do your Due Diligence Beforehand

–  Ensure that the edge of any strategy you are using has been demonstrated over a statistically significant number of bets BEFORE you risk any money on the selections.

– Make sure that the bank you are using is large enough to more than weather the longest losing run you are likely to encounter. This is easy to calculate from the long term win strike rate of the strategy.

– Never Never Never Ever bet with money you cannot afford to lose. A losing run will have a far more devastating impact upon your psyche if you are relying on that money to pay the rent or feed the baby. JUST DON’T DO IT. Sit aside until you do have the money to spare and use the  time getting there to do more research and improve your methods.

– Keep your betting money entirely separate from your every day money. Use a separate bank account so you’ll never be tempted to dip into “your own money”.

– Lean towards strategies that suit your psychology. If you know you are the type of person who is likely to kick the cat and smash the television after half a dozen losers, concentrate your efforts on high strike rate strategies that are less likely to test you to your limits every week!

When the Losing Run Hits

– Expect it and know how bad it is likely to get! I’ve trained myself to expect losing runs by taking the attitude that every time I place a bet I’m embarking on a losing run. Intellectually I know that not to be the case but, somewhere deep in my psyche, I’m prepared for that eventuality. Say to yourself each time, ” This bet can lose, in fact it’s likely to lose and a long succession of bets thereafter are likely to lose – and yet I still have confidence that this is a profitable strategy in the long term”

That way, when the losing run comes, you are expecting it and it will have less of a damaging impact.

– Keep detailed records of EVERY single bet you place. When the losing run hits you can go back over them, see the previous losing runs and take comfort that you are following a winning strategy.  (Start to worry however, if you start to significantly exceed your longest likely losing run for that strike rate!). There are a number of excellent reasons for keeping accurate records but this is one of the most important of them.

– Find an outlet for the inevitable frustration and worry that will arrive with a long losing run (You’re not an automaton. Even if you take all steps to mitigate against the impact of a losing run – it will still have some impact!) Find a betting partner that you can discuss your frustrations with and vice versa. Become active on forums – other people’s bad beat stories are boring, I know, but the very act of typing out what has happened can help you gain perspective.

– Learn what helps you to remain calm and focussed. For me it’s taking a step back, reminding myself not to panic, breathing deeply and taking no action until the first flash of anger/frustration/despair has subsided. Then, as long I remain confident in my methods, I just do the same things over again. In my head I repeat a mantra of ” The method works, it’s been proven to work over a long period and a large number of bets and, all things being equal, it will turn in my favour eventually and continue to work into the future. ” If you can’t say that, and believe it, you need to stop and look again at your methods.

– Don’t be afraid to stop. This may sound contradictory to some of the things I’ve said earlier but if you’re not feeling confident that you are applying your methods consistently, just stop and take a break. There is always the nagging fear that you will miss the winner that turns it all around (and that’s pretty bloody horrible, I know) but there will always be winners down the line – in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter if you miss the odd one now. Ask yourself:

Are you doing something differently?

Is the pressure of the losing run affecting your decision making process?

In your desperation to find a winner, are you going for what you perceive to be a safer option? Or are you looking at longer priced more speculative selections in an attempt to turn the run around in one fell swoop?

You should only resume when you are confident that you are betting consistently and following the methods that have previously served you so well.

– Use a variety of methods, in a portfolio approach, that will in theory at least, spread your risk around and ensure that when one method is on a down swing, one of the other methods will pick up the slack.

– Realise that it is human nature to take recent events and extrapolate them into the future. If you’re on a winning streak, you are likely to start calculating future profits based on an abnormal run of results and vice versa. Always caution yourself to step back, check over your results and look at the bigger picture. Just because you are on a winning streak, you’re not suddenly Patrick Veitch and conversely, just because you are on a losing streak doesn’t mean that you are suddenly useless at the game and should give it up. Always look at the bigger picture.

I’ve been using those strategies so long, that I no longer have to consciously think about what it is that I do to get through a losing run. It’s taken a real effort to drill down and work out exactly what those strategies are so I hope they will be of some use!

That being said, everybody reacts differently to the pressure of a losing run and while the strategies above should be useful, it’s worth taking the time to develop strategies that work for you.


In my email earlier this week I highlighted Narrowing The Field, one of my favourite horse racing services on the market. Ben Aitken (the main man over there) is one of the most knowledgeable analysts I’ve ever met and a very successful gambler in his own right.

As part of his ongoing launch for the National Hunt 2012/2013 service Ben is throwing out goodies like a toddler in a strop.

In return for signing up to his free newsletter on Tuesday Ben  treated readers to no less than 9 free reports.

Sign up for the free newsletter here to get those reports

But wait for it…

Today, he’s giving away his dosage preview for the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup and it’s a seriously thought provoking read.

What I found most interesting is that, in the report, Ben highlights one of my favourite horses of recent years as a standout contender for the Blue Riband event. There’s nothing like a bit of confirmation of your own conclusuions – particularly if it’s been arrived at by a different method entirely!

Download your free 2013 Gold Cup preview here

I’m a big fan of Ben’s methods and, while I don’t fully understand the concept of dosage myself, he undoubtedly uses it to spectacular effect!

That’s all from me for today

Be lucky and have a great weekend


PS Why not leave a comment and give other readers the benefit of the strategies you use for coping with losing runs!





  1. Hi Kieran,

    good stuff!

    I think the psychological side of betting s much neglected and you have gone a long way in helping people to understand that today.

    A lot of this is about expectation. True confidence comes from experience. But to gain that experience it is necessary to experience the whole gamut of emotions from the “I can’t go wrong” to the “i am never going to have a winner again” exeriences.

    Good for you for telling it like it is. One of the reasons punters give up is because they have been led to believe that X or Y has THE answer and it is painless.

    Unfortunately, your analysis is far more accurate, (and likely) than is theirs.


    1. Hi John

      Thanks for your comment.

      I agree that getting your psychology right is one of the most important parts of gambling successfully – perhaps the most important part considering there are myriad ways of finding an edge.

      All the best


  2. If you have a system that has proved itself over time thats great but even with the best systems human nature steps in and the negative attitude kicks itself into your psyche when the losing run appears, so sometimes its best to quit for the day and regroup. I quote an old song , “when you’re worried and you cant sleep just count your blessings instead of sheep ” in this song there is a verse that explains what you can do about a losing run, ” when you’re bank roll is growing small just think of when you had none at all” what I mean is look at your original bank, and now look at your current bank, is there a difference or are you breaking even? if you are ahead then you are not losing and you might consider writing off the loss, urrrrrh I hear you say. But if you do this regularly enough and at certain times in the overall sequence of events you are assurred of profit in the long term. visit my site for more info, all free. Fred Ives

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