The Summer an IT Contractor Took the Bookies to the Cleaners


Bookies to Cleaners

It’s possible to beat the bookies.

I once took a summer off from IT contracting to spend the time backing horses according to a system.

It was in the days when bookies used to take Tote bets. It was a great summer too, and an excellent one to take off from contracting.

I used to simply hang around bookies, nipping out for breaks between races, waiting for major gambles on horses. Any time there was a major gamble on a horse, bringing it down say from 10/1 to 3/1, then I used to back it on the Tote.

Tote Them Up

On the racecourse, gamblers who are in the know don’t back on the Tote. That’s becasue they are backing against themselves. This is due to the fact that it is a pool. The final odds are worked out by how much money is put in the pool for each horse..

At the course, when other people get wind of a betting coup they back with the bookies. There is always a queue at the Tote windows, and you may miss getting on. Also, the people in the Tote queue normally don’t know what is going on in the ring.

Therefore, if you backed the horse on the Tote, you are likely to get closer to 10/1 for a horse who finishes at 3/1.

I would vary how much I put on depending on by how much the odds of the horse tumbled. I didn’t win every race of course. However, I was in on every racecourse gamble, getting close to the original price for each one.

That means that you are getting pretty much the same price as everyone in the know is getting. And you’re getting it for every horse for which there is a gamble. I would have thought that this is the most efficient way of betting.

Cash A-Plenty

I used to make quite a bit of money on it – better than my contract rates. The bookies stopped taking Tote bets at the end of that season. I like to think that I partly caused them to do it.

They have started taking Tote bets again, but that is because technology has enabled them to send Tote bets through to the course. This means, of course, that you are betting against yourself.

I still do it from time to time for a bit of fun. However, the discrepancies in the price are not as much as they used to be.

If a horse is backed down from 10/1 to 3/1, you might get from 7/2 to 5/1 as a payout from the Tote.

Salad Days

Gone are the days when, if you put 50 quid on a horse at 3/1 you might find yourself with a payout of around 500 quid.

Shame – I really enjoyed that summer, when I worked for only about 2-3 hours in the afternoon and earned more than I did contracting.

I used to share a house with a guy who was a permanent programmer and three girls who were teachers.

It used to annoy the girls who were teachers, who seemed to think that there was something immoral in my spending my afternoon at the bookmakers making a multiple of what they made doing good work teaching children.

They never did manage to convince me though.