Tipping services: to pay, or not to pay?
To Pay Or Not To Pay – That Is The Question? Doug Campbell on the merits, or otherwise, of paying for tipping services
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune can often be won and lost in the world of gambling. So who fares best in the ongoing battle with the bookmaker, those that pay a subscription for tips/information – or the punter than chooses his own selections?
I suppose that’s a bit of a ‘’ How long is a piece of string sort of question ‘’. A lot would depend on who the punter is and who is providing the tipping service.
Much has changed over the years in tipping services since the days of the 1920’s when Prince Monolulu (pictured) would stand at Epsom Downs on Derby Day shouting out ‘’I Gotta Horse‘’ and customers would pay a shilling or so for an envelope with his selection for the big race written inside.
Fast forward to the 1970’s and there would be occasional small adverts in The Sporting Life or Sporting Chronicle from people claiming to be ‘’In The Know‘’ and would share their secret at a cost.
The 1980’s continued in similar fashion, and also saw an increase in ‘’junk mail tipsters‘’ who would somehow obtain postal address lists – and then bombard potential customers claiming to know future winners at the cost of say Odds to £25.
thus a sixth of their clients would back a winner
It was long suspected that this type of service would identify a smallish field of say six runners, then tip each of the six runners to a select number of paying customers – thus a sixth of their clients would back the winner, and then they would await the winning to be sent in, hoping then that they would pay for the next one.
The 1980’s also saw the introduction of telephone tipsters, basically on premium telephone lines – with customers seeking tips paying around £1.50 per minute. A new tipping line seemed to pop up every others week, with chancers galore trying to make a quick buck. A three minutes call would cost £4.50.
Say 200 ring the line on any given day, that’s an easy £900 made. The best and most successful that I recall from that era was ‘’The Professional‘’, which was the brainchild of Patrick Veitch while at University. Veitch later went on to be a highly successful pro punter, respected by many but feared by the bookmaking fraternity.
There were also established tipping services such as Timeform and Marten Julian that would tip via a phone service, although they would charge a set fee for each tip.
Also around at the time and in to the 1990’s (and may still be these days) was a chap called Bob Rothman, who appeared to get genuine inside information from stable contacts and owners within the industry. He wasn’t cheap, and I recall one good spell he had when bookmakers went into serious panic mode.
Those using his service would pay an agreed fee for the tip, which was usually released on a recorded message once the first show had come through from the racecourse – around ten minutes before the off time, as early morning prices at that time were restricted mainly to live TV races.
Rothman wasn’t an everyday chancer of a tipster, and may just have two or three selections per month. Anyway, Rothman had I think it was three winners on the run (all well backed) in the space of a couple of weeks. His next bet was marked up for a Saturday evening contest at Doncaster during the Summer of 1993.
I remember it well, as at the time I worked in the head office of a bookmaker. The horse went by the name of Alllegsnobrain, a once raced two-year-old trained by David Evans who had been well beaten on soft ground in a Nottingham maiden just two weeks earlier. This time he had been dropped into selling company with the going forecast to be Good to Firm – quite a difference from that debut.
Bookmakers and punters alike must have been on high alert all day, with paying clients advised to ring shortly before the due off time of 6.15. From what I recall Alllegsnobrain opened up at around 7/1, a few points shorter than the expected price from the industry tissue.
Not that it mattered a great deal, because as soon at the show was passed – cash for the horse would come in from all directions, each time it shortened the next price would be taken and by the off punters were falling over themselves to take the 3/1 that he eventually returned.
Rothman and his army of punters had no worries whatsoever
During the race Rothman and his army of punters had no worries whatsoever, with Alllegsnobrain pinging out of the stalls and making all under a good ride by Darryll Holland, with a yawning seven lengths gap back to his nearest pursuer at the post.
If the bookmakers had been panicking over that particular selection then his next ‘’Job‘’ just a couple of weeks later had sent their nerves into overdrive. Ima Red Neck – a nine race Maiden trained by Stan Moore had the layers running for cover once the show came through from the track.
Forecast to start at a nice double figure price the American bred gelding opened as low as 9/4, but punters still piled in at whatever price they could get on at only to see him go off a very heavily supported 4/6 chance. Sadly, for the backers there was no happy ending this time and Ima Red Neck finished a close fourth of the sixteen runners.
These two examples clearly highlight the lengths that the bookmakers will go to minimize their liabilities, and also how punters – having paid for tips – will be sucked in to taking under the true odds of a horse.
The case of Ima Red Neck also clearly indicated that the bookmakers had likely been informed earlier in the day of the pending gamble, or that money had been spread around by punters more closely connected to Rothman wanting to take ‘first show ‘ which some firms accepted back then.
The after effects prompted Bob to take stock and realise that his information was reaching too many people, and some within his paying clientele were employees of the major bookmakers who were receiving the information at the same time as those that were trying to beat them. It all resulted in Rothman slimming down this service and drifting somewhat into the background.
Similar things still happen all these years later, with bookmakers subscribing to all the high profile and successful tipping services (although it is unlikely that they would admit to it). Can you blame them? – probably not is the likely answer.
the layers would be swift to slash the odds
If a firm has a couple of thousand shops and a substantial online presence then it would be prudent of them to do so. However, it would then prove more difficult for the backers to obtain the recommended price by the said tipping services, as the layers would be swift to slash the odds knowing that punters having paid for the tips would still likely accept the lesser price.
The rapid shortening of the price of a selection chosen by tipsters with a huge following is clearly evident with the Racing Post’s Pricewise column, and this is not even a subscription service, as too with attheraces main tipster Hugh Taylor – again a non-subscription but successful tipster.
All this needs taking into account if you are ever considering paying for a service. One would hope that someone selling tips or so-called information would have listed their past records of chosen bets – as a guide to any potential future customers, although as you know the future holds no guarantees.
Returns on investment can vary greatly to what they may advertise, with firms only too quick to slash the odds – if you are taking 7/1 for a 10/1 recommendation and say 11/4 for a 7/2 tip then over the course of time your profits will be much less than the tipping service claims… this is all before also taking into account the subscription costs.
A lot of these paying services are not cheap either, with some charging a four-figure sum for a twelve-month membership, one is even run by a convicted criminal – though the offences were nothing to do with some of the rubbish that he puts out.
Social media has also seen an increase in people fancying themselves as some sort of tipster (myself being guilty at times) , some proving better than others, and a couple in recent times even joining the ‘paid ranks’.
So going back to my original question ‘’ To Pay Or Not To Pay? ‘’ what should the inexperienced or unsuccessful bettor do if they are tempted to join such paid services? My advice would be not to be drawn into the promises of untold riches. If something sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
headline profits can be difficult to achieve
Whilst a lot of these subscription services maybe genuine in their approach, their headline profits and ROI can prove difficult to achieve. If you still feel that you need the help or lack the time yourself to do the required studying then there are one or two services out there that offers their clients to pick and choose what they take.
Offering their services on a token ‘pay per tip’, rather than a large subscription fee up front. Punters can buy tokens at a much smaller cost to use whenever they so wish, with tips usually costing one or two tokens.
One particular service that I know of offers well informed judgment on a variety of different sports including football, rugby, snooker, cricket, NFL and of course horseracing, enabling clients to buy the tips on their preferred options without the need to take tips on sports that they don’t usually bet on.
My only other advice is to enjoy your betting and never chase your losses
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