… words my good friend, fellow RAF Armourer, and former boss Ian Jones used to say when he knew I was attempting to dig myself out of a hole I’d made. 25 years have passed by since then but I haven’t changed much…I’m still digging holes.
I’m not really sure what I’m going to write about, apart from the obvious, but hopefully it’ll be entertaining. I kinda need to do this, not because I want to see my name in lights, but because I think it’s going to help me climb out of my hole.
The shit hit the fan back in August of 2005, almost a month to the day after I landed at Pearson international airport in Toronto and told the customs guy I was over to visit my girlfriend. Truth is I never had a return ticket as it was never my intention to go back but to stay here in Canada and start a life in what has to be said is a very beautiful part of the world.
I’ve always been a punter ever since a greyhound called Scoff The Lot pissed up at 9/1 out of trap 6 at some gaff track circa 1979. I was in the RAF at the time, 19 years old, and newly posted to RAF Brawdy in Pembrokeshire. Me and a mate had the afternoon off so we went into town (Haverfordwest) on the lash. While he was getting his hair cut I wandered into the local bookies and put a fiver to win on the dog. Reason for the pick was simple – I liked his name.
For the next 15 years or so I won a bit and lost a bit but the bets were always regarded as just part of what you do on a Saturday afternoon (or any afternoon that involved a few mates and a few beers).
After I left the RAF I started looking into the merits of subscribing to a tipping service and while many have been tried only one ever really was worth it at the time. I got involved with a number of people who I never met but would place bets for on an ‘odds to’ basis. One guy stands out head and shoulders above the rest but all of a sudden his calls dried up and I never heard from him again. Shame, as I really liked being given 12/1 winners, 8/1 winners, rarely anything we bet on was below 3/1.
I punted my way through an honours degree while studying in Dundee. A mate and I would skip the classes we couldn’t understand or didn’t like and nip down to the Laddies in the centre of town. I used to get fed info in those days when horses trained by Mary Reveley were expected to win. They usually did but at oppressive prices so lumping on was the order of the day to actually make any money. Obviously they didn’t all win and I suffered a couple of crushing losses as odds on shots got turned over. I later disassociated myself from the crew that provided the info and moved on.
I’ve never been a big gambler and it took until 1999 and a move to Ipswich before I collected my first ever 4 figure sum from a win single on a horse. I was quite chuffed I have to say as I’d posted the selection on an internal message board at the place that I worked. Our company was housed in a building with 3 floors in it and I was working in a team based on the middle floor. There was a huge cheer went up from the top floor when the result of the race was known. Made me smile.
I joined Betfair in March of 2002 and had no clue why. I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about – I placed a bet, it lost, so what ? I could nip down the street to Corals in Amersham (yet another move) and lose money there so how was I benefitting ? It took a mistake one day to realise what all the fuss was about as I trousered a grand by hitting the lay button instead of the back button on a short priced fav. That said, I really didn’t use Betfair much at all as I was still bemused with all these blue boxes and pink boxes and buttons for this and buttons for that.
In 2002 my contract in Amersham came to an end and I began punting for a living. I’d be lying if I said I was brilliant at it – I was OK at it but that’s about all. Still, I carried on regardless. In that same year I met my girlfriend who is Canadian and spent a lot of the next 3 years in Canada. By now I was using Betfair exclusively and was, in the main, laying favs to make my money after joining a laying syndicate and this paid for my lifestyle at the time. Fly back and forth across the pond, new Impreza in the driveway back in England, several credit cards, a mortgage, etc etc.
So, the decision to up sticks and move to Canada and live there wasn’t hard to make so I stumped up a downpayment and we bought a house in 2004. I made arrangements to clear up my affairs in the UK and hopped on a flight on the 9th of July 2005 Manchester to Toronto non stop. In the space of the next month I would go through 40 grand, pretty much all I had, and the nightmare would begin.
So, it’s August 2005 and I’m in Canada with no job and no way of earning money. I can’t go back to England as I have nowhere to go to. It will take me 2 years before I am granted Landed Immigrant status and given a social insurance number that allows me to apply for jobs. In the meantime I fund my Betfair account on and off with money I get from my forces pension. I win some but inevitably my bank runs dry every time. I finally find work but it pays nothing like the wages I am used to. I had to pack that job in after 14 months as I needed surgery on a buggered shoulder so it was back to scraping what I could from Betfair. Endlesslessy robbing Peter to pay Paul seemed to be my new lifestyle…hardly something to brag about. We were in a hole big time. We wanted to remortgage our house to release equity so that we could pay off a bunch of ridiculously high interest loans that we’d taken out but things weren’t that simple. I had no credit history in Canada and no job to speak of so any refinancing had to be in my girlfriend’s name only. Numerous bad marks in her credit file saw to it that until her credit file was repaired we were going nowhere.
Then, a bit of light at the end of the tunnel appeared. We started a dialogue with a mortgage broker and over the course of two whole years and with her help (which included lending us nigh on 10 grand of her own money) we fixed the credit file and got the remortgage. We paid the mortgage broker her money back and paid off a bunch of high interest debt that was crucifying us and got our heads above water.
The refinance was almost a year ago and so far so good. We’re still not where we’d like to be but that’s work in progress. Recent events though have given me hope and that is the reason in part for this blog.
The last two or three times I’ve funded my Betfair account with really small sums, I’m talking 40 or 50 quid here, and grown them up to 2 grand on one occasion, and a grand plus on another in a relatively short period. The crappy part is that I’ve had to part with my winnings to pay for things like Christmas and bills and the like. In other words there’s always been some reason to have to sweep money out and pay for stuff instead of allowing the bank to grow.
But that is all about to change. I have started working for a guy I met back in 2006 so there’s an income stream from that. In the next couple of days I’m going to fund Betfair yet again and after that this blog is going to really kick off. I’ve pretty much ditched horses in favour of Footy and feel much more confident in those markets…you never know if horses are trying these days until after the race. I’m hoping that by posting my days action on here, sometimes ahead of the event and sometimes in play, it’s going to help with my discipline more than anything else because that ultimately is the area I feel I need to work on the most. The idea being that if my daily betting is posted up and open to scrutiny then I’m more likely to try harder to put a cap on the impulse bets and the boredom bets which my spreadsheet shows are not doing me any favours.
I’m not going for a fixed target every day initially as I will be bank building. The smaller my bank the more aggressively I will bet so don’t be surprised to see a larger percentage of my overall bank being committed on occasion. As the bank grows I tend to be more protective of the money that’s in there because I don’t like to see money I’ve worked all week or all month for disappear in the course of an afternoon or weekend. If I’m still posting in a month’s time then who knows where it could lead ?
If you’ve taken the trouble to read this far then I thank you for that and I look forward to any thoughts or comments people may have, good or bad.