Above all else, there are three things that are required to be a successful gambler: DISCIPLINE, DISCIPLINE and DISCIPLINE.

Although I have decided to leave this topic until now, it is the most important one of all.

As a gambler, the odds are heavily stacked against you winning - mainly because of the bookies overround and the commission payable on all winning bets to the betting exchanges.

These two subjects were discussed in the first couple of articles. As such, there is little latitude for error. You must remain disciplined at all times.

I personally know people who have lost a great deal of money, not as a result of a poor selection system or as a result of a poor staking plan, but because of a lack of discipline.

The best advice and guidance that I can offer is:

• Never EVER bet more than you can afford to lose. 

In fact, never, expose more than approximately 5% of a betting bank on any single bet. It’s all very well if a large bet wins, but, losing a large bet will make it very difficult, if not impossible, to recover losses in the normal course of events.

• Do not place bets for the sake of it. 

If a selection system fails to identify any horses on a given day, under no circumstances should bets be placed on randomly selected horses purely for the sake of ‘having a bet’. If there are no selections on a given day, take a day off and have a little R and R.

• Never ever chase losses. 

All systems go through losing phases from time to time. If a system has performed well in the past, it will probably perform well in the future. If a system enters a losing phase, do not, under any circumstances, substantially increase stakes in order to recover past losses. Allow the system to recover its losses in its own good time. If it is worth its salt, it will. If it doesn’t, consider abandoning it.

• Accept losses. 

No system is perfect and losing bets are an inevitable fact of life. Accept the fact that, from time to time, losses are going to occur.

I once knew a young lady who lost faith in her current system each time that she lost a bet. Whenever this happened, which it frequently did, she tried another system that was supposedly ‘red hot’ - just in time for it to go completely cold on her.

She went from one system to another.

In the end, she lost the whole of her betting bank and, as a result, all faith and trust in any and all selection systems.

The sad fact was that, had she remained with her original system, she would have won a considerable amount of money.

• Create a betting bank. 

A betting bank should be created used for the sole purpose of supporting your betting activities and for no other purpose. It should contain no more than you can afford to lose. When the betting (and emergency) banks have been exhausted, take my advice and cease betting for good. It is likely that you are unsuited or just plain unlucky.

• Use a separate bank account. 

All monies used for betting purposes should be channelled through a bank account whose sole purpose it is to hold monies for betting purposes and for no other purposes. This may require the setting up of a new bank account with a bank that you have had no previous connection with. This will assist you should you be investigated by the tax authorities.

• Always use a proven selection system. 

Never select horses at random. It is impossible to analyse past results and correct the system, using filters, for past losses. Always use a selection system that has been thoroughly tested over time.

• Always use a proven staking plan. 

Never place random amounts of money on selections. Always place stakes according to a recognised staking plan that has been thoroughly tested over time.

• Analysis of past results. 

The creation of filters can help to reduce future losses. Keep a record of your betting activities and analyse them. This will help you to identify filters for your selection system and help to prevent future losses by eliminating future losing bets.

• Technology. 

Never completely rely on technology. It has a bad habit of letting you down just when you need it most. Always have a back-up plan – just in case the technology fails.

• Plan. 

Create a plan for the day and stick to it. It saves having to make time-critical decisions.

• Odds movements. 

The odds of 60.5% of winning horses shorten in the last few minutes of pre-race betting. Therefore, never lay horses whose odds shorten before the off and never back horses to win whose odds increase just before the off. Be aware that there are exceptions to this rule. The exceptions are Steamers and Drifters. This is more fully discussed in the steamers and drifters article.

• Multiple selection systems. 

Some people use multiple selection systems to select the horses that they bet on. If you are one such person, then I advise that each system is allocated a separate betting bank, that records are maintained independently for each system and that each of is analysed independently. In this way, it is relatively easy to determine, through analysis, which systems are profitable and which are not and which system is the most profitable. This makes it possible to concentrate on the system which produces the most profit. If all the systems are treated as one and the same, the analysis of the past performance of each individual system may not be possible.