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Exchanges demand a tactical rethink; Matt Williams passes on his own experiences of how to make an in-running profit.

Byline: Matt Williams

IT IS fair to say my time spent on Betfair over the last eight years or so has been something of a rollercoaster ride. Initially, I used to regularly describe my daily punting life as getting up each morning, picking fifties off the money tree that was Betfair, and it continued to be like that for four or five years.

That last line best explains my brash outlook at the time and I cringe when I think back at how I took everything for granted, especially the money. When in-running betting first started, I was good at it and the rewards were great, but as people became more aware and technology improved, the in-running game became harder and that money tree became ensconced in a permanent autumn state.

Compared to how in-running used to be, the landscape has definitely changed. Mug money is not a kind term - I don't like it - but it is what it is and after feeding on it for a time, I became the hunted. Being able to access the fast pictures is a must, while super-fast internet connections are just as important. In fact, one is no good without the other.

In the early days, I had two of my biggest results, in price terms, sat at home watching ATR. That would be almost impossible now. There is a food chain, with people at the tracks getting the fastest pictures, then you have punters in exchange shops and finally those at home.

If anyone is making a good living at in-running sat at home without having invested serious money in various bits of kit, then you are a freak. The odds are stacked against the vast majority of stay-at-home, in-running bettors and the overwhelming percentage call is that they are going to lose money in the long run.

I wasted at least three years of what would have been lucrative times by not going into an exchange shop, simply because I had an issue with them, stupidly, and the only reason I changed my mind is that I was frustrated with losing money at something that used to provide me with such a good income.

Surely, with better technology and the use of betting aids, like Gruss software, I could once again make it pay and finally put an end to the barren spell. I thought by visiting an exchange shop, they would see me come through the door, judge me, and be straight on the Betfair forum, slagging me off for this and for that. Insecure, you see, battered down by a spell in the doldrums.

I chose the Cardiff shop run by James Lovell with his younger brother, David, sons of the respected Welsh bookmaker, John Lovell, who died in tragic circumstances last year.

It was either there or the Canary Wharf shop, with me moving on to the other if I wasn't happy with the vibe in Cardiff. Within five minutes of walking through the door - a nervous time for me - I felt here was a bunch of lads not interested in what I do on Trading Post, and their main focus was on the racing and making a few quid in-running.

I lost two grand on that first visit, but after using Gruss for the last three races of the day, the mist cleared and I knew that the good times were about to roll again. These shops are the future and I am surprised there aren't more of them, with people lining up to pay for a seat.

The beauty of betting in-running nowadays is you don't need to have an in-depth knowledge of racing to make it pay, and the lads who frequent the Cardiff shop were taught, almost to a man, by Dave Lovell.

THIS guy is only in his early twenties, yet has about ten horses in training and is indirectly responsible for providing some of his best friends with a fabulous income. Just imagine that, going to work every day with your pals around you, making hay - it's the stuff of dreams.

Let's talk about commission.

Chatting to the boys in Cardiff, those who pay it are disappointed with the Betfair premium rate. Most of them are well educated and while they wouldn't be able to earn more doing a mainstream job, I was interested to hear one of them say he would like to get away from the stress of in-running betting and instead put his money into something that would make him a steady earner without the nerves.

The time has surely come to stop hitting these punters with penalties like the premium rate.

Paul Roy voiced his concerns about exchange punters not paying into the levy, but doesn't he realise they make a huge contribution to Betfair's profits and they are part of the reason why Betfair can make a voluntary contribution every year? I said years ago that Betfair have a huge part to play in the wellbeing of our sport. After the initial scaremongering by Peter Savill and others I don't care to mention, have the sport's rulers not yet seen the light? Just a quick example of what I am talking about. I never used to bother with Tote pool bets, but now you can access them through the Betfair platform I regularly get involved.

The Tote should, by rights, be the number one source of money for horseracing and it has taken Betfair's influence to get myself and numerous other punters to make a contribution. If steered in the right direction, the Tote has enormous potential to solve our problems. I wonder if Betfair will increase their influence.

jjIF ANYONE fancies having a go at in-running, then get yourself to an exchange shop and give it a whirl. It won't take you long to find out whether you have a knack for it and nobody should continue to throw good money after bad if things don't work out. There are no golden rules for in-running, except to say you need to be playing on a level footing with the other in-running bettors.

Now I am back doing in-running regularly, the action has been less spectacular than I used to find it, with five- or ten-grand wins on a race few and far between, unlike when I first started. It's more of a steady grind, but I am probably going to make more money next year than in my best year when I thought I had the game sussed - consistency is the key.

I am touching all available wood writing that, because my priorities have changed massively, with two children to bring up and a missus who needs pampering after three years of tremendous hardship.

BETTING REPORT jjSecretive justifies support ODDS-ON punters waded into the Mark Johnston-trained newcomer Secretive in the opener at Southwell, sending him off a well-backed 8-11 favourite.

He was off the pace and niggled along at halfway, trading at an in-running high of 20, before running on well up the home straight for a three-length success.

The Alan McCabe-trained Exearti travelled smoothly into the straight but he was soon in trouble, shortly after hitting a low of 1.4 and finished third, but punters should keep an eye out for him dropping back to 6f next time, possibly on Polytrack.

jjKirby's impatience is costly FULL TOSS (matched at a high of 18) looked to be fighting a losing battle with last-time-out winner Profit's Reality in the 1m3f handicap, but the latter was sent on early and was there to be shot at in the closing stages, which must have helped David Evans's three-year-old.

It was a strange move from Adam Kirby, riding the eventual runner-up, which suggested he thought Profit's Reality was idling in front last time.

If that was the case, he should have ridden a more patient race. It is fair to say that his excitable ride cost his backers a winner - harsh but true.

CAPTION(S):

John Lovell, who died last year, in the betting exchange shop in Cardiff that is now run by his sons
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Dec 23, 2009
Words:1346
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