The racing enthusiast headed for the British Isles in search of action had bloody well better do some homework first. Take it from me, mate, they have a way of playing horses that is as different from the American system as is the money you lay down. I learned the hard way, losing a few quid here and there by giving in to the gambler’s impulse to have some action in sports bet. But I became bent on assimilating their “modus operandi” to ensure my selections. And once I did, I collected with assurance instead of relief. It really isn’t that difficult if you take the time to observe, and it certainly is more profitable.
Flat Betting Lines
First, concentrate only on flat racing. Forget about the greyhounds—the flats are far more consistent and reliable. The factors you can use in sports handicapping to handicap horses there will serve your pounds far better than those factors available for thoroughbred dogs. And the action on tap for flat betting is plentiful. Three tracks can be holding meets concurrently and will all be playable via betting parlors. Off-track bookmakers are abundant throughout the country.
Clean and comfortable organizations like William Hill provide the public with all the data needed to make an educated wager. In fact, there is more info clinging to the walls of these parlors than you will ever find at an English track. This brings us to the second, and a most important, tip: Don’t go to a racetrack to bet. What I mean is if you are into making a few pounds, the bookmakers at the parlors are far more easy to deal with than the characters on the scene. At the racetrack itself there is a distracting chaos going on with the bookies.
You see, very few people are playing what the British call the Tote, which is the closest thing to pari-mutuel wagering they have. It stands to reason, too. Placing a sports betting with the Tote means relying on morning odds. The track does not have a tote board, so there is no visible record as to how odds change with the betting. The pool is simply divided after the race into however many people have wagered on that entry.
The bookies, on the other hand, change their odds constantly up to post time and in some cases you can catch a horse who winds up at 5-2 by holding a bookie ticket giving you 6-1 on that same horse. This is because a bookie pays whatever odds you bet at, regardless of later changes. if you bet a horse at 10-1 and he wins, you will be paid 10-1 even if that particular bookie dropped the odds to 6-5 before post. It sure sounds great, eh? But it takes insurmountable concentration to keep up with these blokes. You see, there are a lot of them around, shouting like carnival hawks while scores of gamblers dart from one to another in search of bargains. it is a certified circus of confusion unless you have spent years getting into the flow.
Tic- Tac Man Sports Bet
When I was at Ripon Racecourse one evening, I was pushed and shoved relentlessly by patrons trying to reach a bookie who was giving 6-1 on a horse that another had just dropped to 3-1. One has to be quick, you understand, for each bookie has patrolling the grounds what is known as a Tic- Tac Man. Working along with his respective bookie, the Tic-Tac Man spies on the other bookies and signals over to his partner with flamboyant gesticulations, indicating to him that odds have dropped on a particular horse.
The bookie, seeing the sign from the Tic-Tacker, quickly goes to the sponge and erases the odds on his little blackboard, reducing them to whatever the Tic-Tacker has signaled. It is not unusual to see a gambler cover the higher chalked odds, if his hand is quick enough, before the bookie sponges them, ensuring the bet at the pre-Tic-Tacked price. These are gamblers who have a million eyes, no doubt from training themselves to catch the Tic-Tacker as the hand signals are thrown. Only a seasoned patron would be able to cash in on this action. As for myself, I wound up getting a 4-5 ticket design that a veteran would be paid 7-1 on. Remember, you’re on their turf, so you cannot expect to be as sharp as they are.