An expert punter’s 5 tips for dealing with a drawdown

Prior to the public launch of Alpha Racing, expert analyst Alfie had a long winning record on his bets. Then came every analyst’s worst nightmare: a sustained drawdown just as he went public.

Alfie bounced back in May with 46 units profit at an incredible 74% profit-on-turnover.

Talk about an up-and-down ride! We spoke to him about how he dealt with it, and got six pointers for punters going through the same thing.

You went through a big drawdown prior to May. How did you deal with it mentally?

I have been through drawdowns before but this one was different knowing that it affected other people, and of course happening at the start of the public service. So mentally I found it tougher than usual in that respect.

But it’s the toughest part of punting that’s for sure. The first 50 bets of April were +10.47 units up, doing exactly the same thing as the last 56 bets of the month where we had the biggest drawdown.

Seeing horses in the stewards report race after race because of something completely out of your control is frustrating.

After the big draw down in April, we are now +24.61 units up across April and May at 11.68% PoT, and in that period we had a run where we went 5/40 and lost about 30 units. So it’s always amazing when you go back and look at it that way.

Is there anything you’ll do differently next time you have a drawdown?

I don’t think so, because unfortunately you can’t escape it. It is statistically normal to have these types of drawdowns. At my current results and amount of overall bets it is statistically possible to have a losing sequence of 24 bets.

Statistics and maths don’t care about your feelings. They also don’t care if you are “due” for a winner or not. Statistics don’t care what happened in the last race.

Are you able to shut out short term results and keep doing the same thing when on a drawdown, or does it affect what you do?

Again this time was a little different as I had just started the service, so the short term results were really smacking me in the face, as I was always communicating to members about it, and that affected me more than usual.

It was just more constant reminders to myself that it was all normal, I always go back to statistical analysis to find out where my short term statistics fit in terms of being “normal”.

I also analyse the bets I was having, looking at the SP versus my predicted prices… seeing if they firmed… were my predictions on pattern and map correct? If all those things are correct and the horses firm and are competitive in the races and just missing then I put it down to variance. If the market hated the horses and they were constantly drifting and finishing well back consistently, then I would be worried about my form analysis.

Long-term I also look at how my rated prices are performing vs the market. The more confident you are in your long term pricing the more confident you can be with your bets.

Did you change anything that led to the upswing, or was it just a case of sticking to your guns and waiting for variance to turn?

I think it was a bit of all of the above. I went back over my last few thousand bets to see where there was “leakage”, and these were bets that I was having that were not a positive outcome or very low return. I find it easier to stop poor bets than pick “more winners”. Results are out of your control.

I found both short-term and long-term that my bets in WA and SA were well below other states, so I cut 95% of bets in those areas.

I also made a slight tweak to my pricing at the top end of the market – again, this was after analysing long-term results. The drawdown just encourages me to really go back and dig really deep to find the changes I could make.

My processes in analysing the race and pricing races etc didn’t change. I am very process driven and have the same work-flow day in day out. The more consistent you are, the more you understand variance. If you are chopping and changing all the time you don’t know if it is your process or variance that has produced the results.

Our bet number was lower this month due to the cancelled meetings and wet tracks, plus cutting WA and SA, but I think this number of bets will be more of the norm.

Any advice for those going through a drawdown with their punting?
  1. Know that it will happen eventually. Lower your stakes in line with your reduced bank, but then remember to increase it again when you hit a positive streak. It is all about protecting your bank.
  2. Analyse long term results, not short term results. A negative short term may be a bit of a trigger to look deeper at long term results, if you are going to change anything, make sure it is based on long-term not short term data.
  3. Understand the maths and statistics of your betting profile to have an understanding of what could happen. Most things fall into the “normal” range, even during the best and worst times.
  4. Process, process, process – Have a clear process to analyse a race and what your workflow looks like. Control what you can control – you can’t control a horse pulling up 2/5 lame, a jockey making a wrong decision, or a horse getting bumped at the start etc. There are so many variables that affect the outcome of a race once it starts. You need a consistent process to fall back on when you’re doubting things.
  5. Remember you are predicting into an environment with a lot of unknowns. You will get it wrong on occasions.

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