A couple of weekends back, at the Spring Trials meeting at Newbury, I met up with Mike Bailey who’s the guy behind the web site Slipperytoad. This is the latest in a series of articles featuring smart bettors.
I arrived at Newbury nice and early around 11 o’clock. There’s a sort of calm-before-the-storm atmosphere when you’re one of only a smattering of punters, and most of those on course are staff and the bookies pitching up. Mike was arriving by train from Bath shortly before noon. If you’re ever thinking of a day at Newbury, the station is situated just yards from the main entrance.
Overhead was an azure blue sky and it seemed like Spring had actually arrived at last!
To the bar…
Mike arrived, and our first port of call was the Crafty Filly bar situated just inside the main gates. Over a couple of beers I got a potted resume. I learned that Mike is involved with data storage solutions with a major player in the global IT industry. We’re talking tape-drives – I didn’t know anyone still used that technology, but apparently so.
Nonetheless in Mike Bailey we have someone with computer programming, engineering, and mathematical modelling in his blood. One extremely smart fellow.
And a semi professional basketball player (in his younger years) to boot.
To the betting ring…
Sufficiently well-oiled, we made our way to the stands to watch the racing. The first question I was itching to ask was where the name of the website Slipperytoad came from. Mike said it was his business partner at the time who told him this catchy domain name was available, and it seemed like something easy-to-remember.
So they snapped it up. Now, this is pretty much the exact same thought-process I went through to choose the SkyBlueKangaroo brand. So I was pleased to realise we already had something in common.
At Slipperytoad.co.uk you’ll find Mike’s ratings for all-weather racing in the UK. Although currently the Toad is hibernating until the new all-weather season opens again in November.
I asked Mike why he set up the website, and his response was surprising. It wasn’t with a view to selling his handicapping secrets, which have proven to be profitable over the years. Rather, he put his selections up on a public forum, for free, to test himself.
“It’s all very well keeping your own records”, he told me, “but the ultimate test of how successful your methods are going to be, is to put them up for everyone to see. You’ll attract some fans, but also many critics, and your ability to deal with these pressures will teach you a vital lesson – and that’s before you even start risking your own cash!”
The first race
The first race, a 16-runner handicap over 1m2f was looming large so we both dug into our notes in an effort to find the winner. Whilst Mike was keen on Take Two and Cactus Valley, my studies the evening before had highlighted Clive Cox’s horse He’s No Angel, but which had been withdrawn during the course of the morning. A non-runner for me then.
Result: Take Two won at a price of 12/1.
So Mike had already demonstrated with some aplomb his talent for finding value winners.
I recouped a little credibility by backing Quiz Mistress each way in the next race, the Group 3 John Porter stakes. My trends analysis had highlighted the horse as a contender, and he was available at 33′s earlier in the day. He finished 2nd by a head.
One of Mike’s preferred betting strategies is to use pace mapping. This involves first creating a visual representation of how a horse likes to run, for example from the front, from just off the pace, coming with a late run, and so on.
Then this preference for a particular running style is compared to the course in question.
Some courses lend themselves to a certain style of running, and pace mapping can highlight when a horse with the right running-style, also has the talent to win.
Mike suggested it was important to specialise. If you can become an expert on your local track, or a few tracks close to you, then instead of following horses and trainers around the country, an angle may be to wait until the right horse comes to race at your track. A bit like the spider waiting for the fly to get caught in his web.
Mike creates his own tissue prices based on his own personal ratings, and when he identifies a horse as a contender, and its available to back at a price well above what he considers to be value, then he’s found a good potential bet.
For more information on pace mapping you might like to read these articles on the Slipperytoad blog:
- Understanding pace: a cup of gas
- Understanding pace: the need-to-lead
- Understanding pace: track pace bias
You’ll find many, many more useful articles on Mike’s blog, so its well worth a visit.
Proform Racing computer formbook
I recently took delivery of an iPad Mini and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with it. So I asked Mike if there was a particular piece of technology he felt he couldn’t live without. He said it would have to be the ProForm racing database.
For my purposes it suits me very well, as the data comes in a format I can manipulate how I want. I also know the guy who owns the site (Simon Walton) personally, and he’s very switched on.
Proform is a computer formbook and delivers powerful racing statistics and dynamic horse ratings. Visit the Proform Racing website here.
Mike had been busy betting with the rails bookmakers, whilst I said I’d posted all my bets for the day on Betfair before leaving that morning. Mike then informed me that similarly, he had already struck a bet with the sports spread betting firm Sporting Index concerning the aggregate value of the winning SPs at Newbury that afternoon.
Now spread betting is an area I’ve not delved into much, so I made a mental note to devote a post to the basics on here soon.
Basically Sporting Index were suggesting the total of all winning SPs would be between two figures (the spread) and from memory it was something like 40-45. So they were suggesting that over each of the 7 races the average SP of the winner was going to be in the region of 6-1
With spread betting you have the option to wager the figure will be lower, and you ‘sell’. Or if you think the figure will be higher you can ‘buy’ the spread. Mike was selling, and so he was hoping for short priced winners throughout the afternoon.
So his 12/1 punt landed in the first race was a bitter-sweet win! Mike did trade out after race five, with a small profit.
Three things Kung Fu Panda can teach you about betting
As the afternoon and the racing progressed, we were discussing the pros and cons of serious betting, and we both agreed it can be a lonely furrow that we plough. We talked about the idea of mastermind groups and mentors. I asked him, if he were interviewing for an apprentice with a view to mentoring him or her, what would he be looking for?
Mike said that the most important thing is that an aspiring punter shouldn’t expect someone else to be able to simply teach them how to be successful. Mike explained that the ability to be successful is either already within you, or it isn’t.
A mentor facilitates success by acting as a sounding board, and gently prodding his protégé in the right direction from time to time.
Mike asked me if I had watched the movie Kung Fu Panda? I said “no” but I was pretty sure the boys (my three sons) had the DVD at home. Mike told me to watch the movie, and then I’d realise what was necessary to be successful at betting.
It’s the story about a lazy, irreverent slacker panda, called Po, who’s the biggest fan of Kung Fu around… which doesn’t exactly come in handy while working every day in his family’s noodle shop.
Unexpectedly he’s chosen to fulfil the ancient Dragon Warrior prophecy, and Po’s dreams become reality when he joins the world of Kung Fu and studies alongside his idols, the legendary Furious Five — Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey — under the leadership of their guru, Master Shifu.
But before they know it, the vengeful and treacherous snow leopard Tai Lung escapes from prison and is headed their way, and it’s up to Po to defend the village from the oncoming threat. Can he turn his dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master into reality? Po puts his heart – and substantial bulk – into the task, and the unlikely hero ultimately finds that his greatest weaknesses turn out to be his greatest strengths.
Although he desperately wants to be the Dragon Warrior, and knows the theory of Kung Fu back to front and inside out, he doesn’t think he could ever fulfil the prophecy. Despite having the knowledge, he lacked belief in his abilities. He wants Master Shifu to train him, so he can learn the secret of the Dragon Scroll. The legend is that whoever reads the secret of the scroll will have unlimited powers.
1. There is no secret ingredient
When he finally opens the scroll, he finds it to be blank. There is no secret ingredient. Then Po realised, if he wanted to succeed, it was up to him. He had to believe in himself.
And this applies to betting. Despite what we read almost every day in the emails promoting the latest winning betting systems, there is no secret formula, no Betfair loophole, no long-lost manual recently found in grandad’s attic.
Successfully betting for profit takes work, effort, and a willingness to apply yourself.
2. Seek out a mentor
Po eventually became the Dragon Warrior because he had a mentor (Master Shifu), and the support of a mastermind group (the Furious Five). You should also find a mentor — someone you can meet with regularly, or chat by phone or online.
A good place to look for fellow racing and betting enthusiasts is on Twitter. My Twitter handle is @PaulWhelanTweet so if you’re a member of the Twitterati look me up and see who I’m following.
A persistent belief in your self is vitally important. It’s unavoidable, you will suffer losing days, long losing runs. Betting systems you’ve developed, having started out with promising results, will inexplicably dive into recession. It can be a lonely game, so it’s important to have self-belief. Click on the link below and you’ll find some links to more articles on betting psychology here at SkyBlueKangaroo.
Before learning about betting systems, form reading, betting banks …getting the right mindset is vital. So I think a few minutes spent reading one of those articles will be a few minutes well spent.
Time to go home
I spent a most enlightening day in Mike’s company, and my eyes were certainly opened to new angles and avenues to explore. Pace mapping and spread betting for starters. The day could have easily ended badly, as I was almost knocked over by the Queen’s Range Rover as she left – but she missed me, and all ended well.
I hope to record an interview with Mike in the next few weeks, and if you have any specific questions you’d like me to ask, perhaps around pace mapping or spread betting, then leave your question in the comments box below.
One key lesson from Slipperytoad — If you really want to test your methods, post your selections online for the world to see.
Have you considered starting a website or blog to showcase your tips? If you have a website, let me know, and I’ll link to it so you can share your site with a larger audience.