Surviving a Slump

Terry Leighton is Betfair’s resident WA Racing analyst who provides tips and analysis for Belmont and Ascot races.

Formerly a tipster for Turf Talk, Terry has years of Perth betting experience and is one of the sharpest punters that bet consistently in WA Racing.

In an educational article for the Betfair Hub, Terry discusses the unspoken side of professional punting; when it’s not going so well. Read his Pro Punter Advice and how to deal with a form slump.

Public perception

“I can’t believe you punt full time. You’re so lucky to do what you do.”

The quote I’ve heard countless times when first sharing my profession with new friends (more so male, females tend think I’m some type of degenerate… probably accurately).

“You should do something you love.”

That old saying is pretty fitting in my case. I never for a moment take for granted how lucky I am to be in my position, but one thing that isn’t advertised publicly or included in the JD is the long hours and, at times, self-doubts which are all too frequent in this industry.

The Grass is always greener

There is a common misconception that the average week of a professional punter is full of long lunches and hours spent working on your tan (one look at me and my see-through skin dispels that myth quick smart). Unfortunately, this couldn’t be any further from the truth in this very pale human’s case.

My average week consists of 60 to 70 hours sitting in the home office, creating markets and content and reviewing and previewing race meets. While I love these tasks (apart from reviewing the meets I’ve done my ass), the lack of official structure to the week is something I’m still getting used to.

The grass is always greener, right?

The struggles of going solo

I’m a firm believer in being unable to objectively view a race once you’ve seen the prices, meaning I need to have all analysis completed for each meeting at least two, sometimes three days beforehand. This means that the majority of my work is completed early in the week.

I’ll often get to Thursday and the only person I’ve seen for the week is the young lady who sells me my morning flat white (the worst part is, I’ve just found out she’s married… thought I was around the $4 mark for a date at some point). Such a secluded and individual lifestyle is something I’ll never get used to.

For the first time in a few years, I’ve found myself going through a challenging period and the mental struggles that have ensued from that have surprised me. Difficult periods and runs are part and parcel of this game, but I’d never had any real doubts in my own abilities or structures I have in place (now I’m talking like an AFL coach at a post-game presser, after his team’s seventh consecutive defeat).

There is no manual to tell you how to correct your ways or what you’ve been doing wrong and for someone who has always been confident (bordering on cocky), it’s been confronting to question my own mortality in the industry.

Trusting the process

While I’ve got all the right structures in place to sustain the tougher runs and my own personal results don’t really affect me too much, what I have found and what has surprised me is how much a decline in public tipping results can affect your mental attitude towards your analysis.

My strengths and model have always been about identifying value and investing and tipping accordingly. I will always personally back and suggest an investment on a runner who is not necessarily my ‘gun to head’ on top selection.

“As we say, it’s a marathon not a sprint.”

Recently, I found myself purely concerned with selecting winners, regardless of whether it was over my rated price. I lost my point of difference and thing which made me, me.  It got to a point where I recently decided to have a few weeks away from public tipping.

Anyone that knows me would know how hard this decision was, as I love nothing more than writing about Perth Racing. It’s always nice to back a winner yourself, but to have a bunch of your mates and readers be a part of that win, there is nothing better.

The impact of social media

My recent spell has made me contemplate social media and the psychological role it plays in our industry.

Social media is an absolute godsend for those looking to promote their products and services and is also a great medium to establish connections and network with other racing minds. It’s also filled with endless self-promotion and the very publicly flaunted successes, which can promote feelings of inadequacy.

It’s no different to people putting their lives on Instagram and or Facebook. We are constantly comparing ourselves – in life and as punters against a fake reality. The ability to understand the nature of these platforms and how they can affect you, almost subconsciously, is of paramount importance in this industry. We are all just basically teenage girls, comparing ourselves to our favourite supermodel.

Loving the game

So much of the punting related content we see in the mainstream media is to do with success stories and the lifestyles attached to punting.  I felt this piece was an opportunity for me to stand up and say: this is not always easy.

“This lifestyle is hard.  The mental aspect of this can be brutal.  But I love it.”

I love predicting market fluctuations and moves.  I love unearthing that next hidden gem.  Hell, I even love doing the form for six maidens at Northam on a cold and wet Thursday afternoon. Very simply, I love the Great Game. One thing I have learnt recently is that to do this, you have to more than just love it.  You need to be immersed in it, while not losing your identity outside of racing. There is more to life.

I’m hoping this resonates and even comforts others in the industry (punter and analysts alike) and educates those who are looking to become further involved on the mental aspects of our game. It’s never easy. But just remember, you are never alone.

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