Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Professional Gamblers: Uri Geller Spoonbender of an Equine Nature

I'm sure most readers of a certain age know of Uri Geller. 

If you don't, then you should take a look at his page on Wikipedia

Whether you believe his spoon-bending antics were due to mind over matter or him being good at bending a spoon without you realising it, I really don't know, but, without question, he is a fascinating man. 

Certain critics have said that Geller was simply passing off magic tricks as paranormal displays. 

The Israeli-born star is a man of many talents: illusionist, magician, television personality, and self-proclaimed psychic. 

In fact he even worked with the CIA as one of a number of secret 'Mind Readers' to Spy on the Soviets in the 1970s

He is known around the world and even received attention from the scientific community who were interested in examining his reported psychic abilities. 

He was also known for his powers of psychokinesis, dowsing and telepathy. 

In fact, I was witness to his talents when he appeared on TV and said at a certain time clocks or watches in houses across the country would start or stop. 

Believe it or not, the clock on the mantelpiece stopped at that exact moment. 

This post is about something that very few readers will be aware; that Uri Geller had an interest in horse racing and actually part owned a horse with food critic and bon viveur, Sir Clement Freud.

As it happened, Uri Geller came to open a fete in Freud's constituency (he was a Liberal MP for the Isle of Ely from 1973 - 1987). 

Uri said he wouldn't buy a raffle ticket as he always won and people didn't like it. However, he was bullied into buying a ticket - one out of 2,500 - and you've guessed it: he won!

Clement thinking he had the man with the Midas touch standing before him, showed Geller a sales catalogue and he chose a horse they named Spoonbender, which they owned in partnership. 

However, lady luck or pure magic wasn't to shine on the filly and Freud said: ''Uri came up with some quite impressive reasons why she always run so badly.''

Monday, 19 October 2020

Professional Gamblers: Stable Life by John Berry

It's a strange but beautiful happening that you can read someone's words and appreciate the man, women or child behind them. 

Well, that's my perception. 

To do John proud I feel like I should follow those sentences with a quote from an eminent philosopher. 

Perhaps Aristotle, as John reminds me of an egalitarian man.  

Most readers will know John Berry as an established horse trainer who resides at Beverley House Stables, Exeter Road, Newmarket. 

He's a great addition to horse racing channel At The Races. A role he must have been doing for many years among his journalist work which is vast and wide, and great aficionado of American thoroughbred horse racing, too. I can't help but see John as a cross between a wise (not so old) owl and a (not so nutty) professor. He has a way with words and far from the cliches so many pundit devour for lack of an original thought.

John Berry is a man of many talents: Racehorse trainer; breeder; columnist Winning Post (Aus), TDN (USA) & Al Adiyat (UEA), Sky Sports Racing presenter; former Mayor of Newmarket & Town Councillor.      

I have been an avid reader of his blog called Stable Life, where he details racing news, trials and tribulations, winners and losers in well-written prose. 

I like the fact he uses the Blogger platform which I use for this website as I do for many including Horse Trainer Directory, which promotes trainers large and small for free. 

John is one man who gives a lot back to racing and I look forward to the chance of meeting him some day. As I live in the Fens, it's pretty much my neck of the woods.

Today's post on Stable Life details a runner at Windsor, Das Kapital (4:30) in the Sky Sports Racing Sky 415 Amateur Jockeys' Handicap (Class 6) (3yo+ 0 - 65). Ross Birkett takes the ride. 

As John says: ''It's an amateurs race so Ross Birkett will be on him again, the pair aiming to run about half an inch better than at Haydock.''

Reference to a short-head defeat, when headed on the post, clear of the third. Priced 2/1f that day, this looks a slightly stiffer competition and bookmakers are offering 8/1. 

I will be watching and cheering on Das Kapital for the team and wish them well for the National Hunt season, which this five-year-old son of Cityscape has recently undertaken when competing at Fontwell Park. 

If you fancy a good read, Stable Life is always truthful and gritty.

Twitter: John Berry

Read this popular post: Professional Gamblers - Levels of Hypochondria 

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Professional Gamblers: Freud on Course

Just about everyone who lived in the Fens knew Sir Clement Freud

He was very much liked. 

MP for the Isle of Ely, becoming and standing a Liberal Member of Parliament from 1973 - 1987. Upon his departure, he was given his knighthood. 

The grandson of the eminent Sigmund Freud, Clement often popped into the local bookmakers shops at March, a small town in Cambridgeshire, just part of doing the rounds of his constituency. 

I remember my Dad saying he has seen him on a number of occasions and if 'Clement fancied a horse to go well' he'd tell the regulars in the bookies. For the Fenlanders, this was as good a tip as we'd get from a man who knew his horses and had better connections than most. 

They often won. 

He was a very talented, educated and witty man. 

By all accounts he started gambling as a child, playing roulette at his boarding school with his stipend of sixpence.

An author of many book, Freud on Course, was published by the Racing Post in 2009. 

It detailed a number of articles from his column in the Racing Post. 

This story dates back to 1949. 

Freud was 25 managing a North Devon seaside hotel, and spent most of his days off at a bookmakers in Barnstable, enjoying ample dishes of seafood and rum and lime and ice and soda. 

The only problem was that he 'stuck a bet'. 

This decision made him appreciate a bookmaker's life isn't always an easy one. 

It was made in reference to a backstreet bookmaker named Mr Rogers who used to take Clement's bets as an underage gambler.  

One of the customers at the hotel, someone with a touch class and refinement, and probably a little bit of inside information, asked Clement if he could place a bet with his bookmaker. 

Benny Lynch, in the 1949 Ascot Gold Cup, pacemaker for 'one of the greatest stayers in history'. 

Surely one of two pacemakers for Alycidon had no chance of winning at odds of 100/1. 

Clement decided he would pocket the £100 bet and shoulder the £10,000 liability if the nag should win.

In 1949, £100 was the equivalent of eight weeks' pay. 

He told himself it was reward for being knowledgeable about racing. 

However, when he listened to the race commentary on BBC Radio, news that Benny Lynch was ten-lengths clear and 'doesn't look like getting caught' put a slightly different perspective on things. 

£10,000 was the equivalent to 15 years' salary. 

In fact, you could buy a 200-acre farm in Suffolk for this princely sum. 

By the time Alycidon had got to the front, Freud had lost his bottle and said: ''I never spent 'winnings' with less enjoyment. 

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Professional Gamblers: Gamble, but Don't F*** with Time

Time waits for no man. 

That's the saying, hey?

Think about those words for a fleeting few seconds, but not too long. 

Also, I didn't mean to be sexist with my quote, it must hark back to some Victorian time. 

When it comes to analysis of data, you can look at it so many ways and none are wrong. The other day, I had a conversation with Eric Winner talking about data, betting and its perception. You kind of see what you want to see but you could well be missing the good stuff because you just didn't really appreciate it was worthy of your time. 

Going back twenty years or so, horse racing information was pretty thin on the ground. 

If you purchased the Racing Post on a daily basis you were semi-pro. 

In many ways, I loved the old days of reading the form, the rarity of watching a race on TV. 

It sounds crazy but I'm pretty sure I was a better gambler then than I am now. Not because of the data - just the enthusiasm that comes with youth. 

My Dad used to say: ''I don't know why you don't bet.'' 

It was a fact, in those days, we (that's my brother and I) didn't really like betting. I still don't like it because gambling, in my opinion, shouldn't be something you do for fun, entertainment or the buzz. 

If you find losing money exciting then you may have to start questioning your sanity. 

But it's true that we rarely bet in those days. 

Why?

Well, it was more of a game to understand and learn. We viewed it similar to going to school and taking a test. You don't take the exam before you have put in hundreds of hours of revision. 

Else, it's arse about face. And no one (generally) wants an arse in their face.

But Dad was correct in questioning why we didn't bet. I often think back and consider why we didn't. My father was a very hardworking man who for the sake of working for himself he never earned a great deal of money. 

However, for all the hardship he was a rich man in the sense he did his own thing. Although he was always at the mercy of work and the restrictions it placed on his life and ours as a family. 

In truth, he was a very rich man in the property he owned but it was worthless until the day he would decide to stop, cash in the chips and enjoy his retirement. 

Sadly, that day never come. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour and at the age of 62 he passed away. 

There is no fairness in life. 

So often the good, kind decent people, so deserving sadly miss out on the life they really have worked so hard for. 

If only we had all been brave enough in those teenage years if we had said to our Dad lets have a real good gamble and see if we can transform our lives. As two young men it wasn't a gamble for us and for our Dad it would have been a chance to escape the problems of a struggling business and the endless waiting one does in hope of a brighter day. 

I would hate to think that my Dad didn't have a good life but compared with the limitless possibilities he was hindered, in ways, as we all were, by our lack of trying. 

For that reason, I would like to say that each and everyone of us has one life to live. As my old rugby player friend used to say: ''It isn't a dress rehearsal.''

But for so many, even myself, tomorrow isn't a given, and our failings to accept that time is finite can be crushing. 

One day someone asks about you and someone replies: ''Sadly, he passed away last week.''

I was watching a TV program where a relatively young man was given the news he had terminal cancer. 

He sat and considered the doctor's words before replying : ''There are so many things I want to do.''

If you have hopes and dreams, be careful not to wait too long because young or old tomorrow isn't a given. 

The most precious thing in life is time.

Friday, 16 October 2020

Professional Gamblers: What Does a Beggar & Pro Gambler Have in Common?

What does a beggar on the street and professional gambler have in common?  

It sounds like a joke uttered by Les Dawson back in the day. However, the punchline isn't very amusing and very few of you are likely to even understand.

This matter can be detailed in three little word.   

I will give you a heads-up - it's not, I Love You.

I'm sure you must be thinking the only thing a beggar and professional gambler have in common is that they may be down on their luck. 

A distinct lack of coinage.  

We've all had our days, hey. 

However, you couldn't be further from the truth. 

In fact, without realising it, you have fallen into the same trap as 99.9% of the population. You've uttered those three little words. It's sad but true. 

It's like a magic trick gone wrong - where you just tarred and feathered this innocent man.

You may be wondering what on Earth I am talking about. 

However, take a look at the photo above and consider what you see. I would love to hear your thoughts. I won't lambaste you for your response. In as far as your/our perceptions go we are simply innocents. 

Except we are innocently cutting.

Let me explain.

It's true, the man pictured above, could be viewed as a tramp. But he is also the most caring, wonderful, humane and generous person you are ever likely to meet. 

It's only when you understand someone's story that you see the truth. And how true are those words for so many aspects of life whether you are a professional gambler or, for lack of a  better word, professional tramp. 

What interests me more about this story isn't so much the professional gambler. 

A few readers who understand psychology will have an idea of the three little words I have in mind (I love you!). It's called Fundamental Attribution Error. 

This is a definition: In social psychology, fundamental attribution error, also known as correspondence bias or attribution effect, is the tendency for people to under-emphasize situational explanations for an individual's observed behaviour while while over-emphasizing dispositional personality-based explanations for their behaviour. 

See ''the tramp'' in question has been observed being given money. What do you think he's using the money for: Drink? Drugs? Food?

''Look at that beastly man.'' 

Let's give the tramp a name and learn a little about his story.

Dobri Dobrev lives in Bulgaria and he is 98 years old. 

He travels 25 kilometres each day to the streets of Sofia. He is almost completely deaf after losing his hearing in WWII. By all accounts, Dobri is a fixture on the streets of Sofia and many people know him by his name. 

The interesting part of the story - in fact the crux of perception or attribution - is that he isn't collecting the money for himself. 

In fact, he has donated every penny (over 40,000 euros) towards the restoration of decaying Bulgarian monasteries and churches and the utility bills of orphanages while living entirely off his pension of 80 euros a month. 

Dobri never begs for money, people just put money in his little wooden box and he shows them respect. 

So often in life it is all too easy to judge. 

If you want to know the answer to a question, take the time to understand the person because their story might surprise you. 

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Professional Gamblers: Levels of Hypochondria

If there has ever been an occupation where hypochondria and melancholy reside it's professional gambling. 

Unless you have the constitution of an ox, the thickened skull of Neanderthal man and psychiatrist on speed dial you may be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

If you are a heavy hitter (big bettor) I'm pretty sure you have woken up in a muck sweat in those eerie hours of the night muttering like you've lost one of your marbles as the depressive darkness infiltrates your mind as you recall the time when a,b or c went desperately wrong. 

It shouldn't be a lifestyle of choice unless you have climbed a mountain or two.

If you look in the bathroom cabinet of any professional gambler you will find a selection of jars, containers, vials and sachets, remedies for bunions to having the shits. 

In the darkness you hear a low buzzing sound coming from the cabinet, neon lights of pinks and purples and a thin trail of smoke with an acrid chemical smell makes you wonder if you have awoken from a futuristic dream. 

In fact, you will find everything and anything except a strawberry scented condom. 

A few winners, the bathroom cabinet is locked up but a run of losers and the doors are off their hinges. 

If things go sadly awry, and the anxiety level reach the point where you see witches and goblins out of the corner of your eye, you take the novel action of mixing a few ''substances'' together to clean out the pipes (so to speak). 

Anyway, I think I've painted a picture of the forlorn gambler who is down on his/her luck and the mattress isn't quite so plump as it was a month or two back.

I remember reading a passage from Dave Nevison's Bloody Good Winner about a professional gambler who used to bet big odds on. 

If anything is going to make you anxious it's betting big odds on, especially on the National Hunt. 

Anyway, this character was known for betting at the end of his rope (in the style of Harry Findlay) the shorter the price the better. If this bloke saw a horse at 1/5f, he'd take 1/6 because he thought it increased his chances of winning. 

The big odds on gambler had a permanent ashen face, bordering on albino. 

He'd placed a bet of £10,000 to win £1,000. 

I mean, you can do a lot with a grand. 

The race had started in earnest... 

Like these new toothpastes, his face, rather than his teeth, turned ten shades whiter. If he'd been standing in front of a white-washed wall he'd have been the invisible man. You would see ragged clothes hanging on a stick-like frame, a betting ticket in the hand and a trail of diarrhea.

The state of anxiety rose with every jump, stumble, yard, even breath of horse, jockey and punter with hopes and ambitions of taking money from the bookies' satchel. 

This gambler couldn't even watch the race. If he didn't like what he was hearing, he'd stick his fingers in his ears and hope beyond hope that when the commentator uttered his next words it was good news. 

When the race was over and it revealed a lovely winner, the blood rushed back to his cheeks and the pins and needles in his fingers and toes subsided enough to walk to the bookie and enjoy the sensation of folding on his palm.

If it was a loser, he literally looked like the grim reaper had entered the room and there wasn't an exit or a bathroom cabinet to find a much-needed fix. 

God help us all.

Monday, 12 October 2020

Does Every Professional Gambler Have Their Own Niche?

Have you ever met a professional gambler? 

To be fair, unless you are in those gambling, betting, horse racing, poker circles you may have not. 

It's not the sort of thing your average person talks about. In fact, if you did bump into someone who says they play poker for a living or their occupation is betting on the horses you may just think they are some loser who had a misspent youth. 

I'm sure that's the primordial soup of the evolution of any gambler worth his/her salt (or the majority). 

I've written umpteen articles about professional gamblers; from the great and the good to people you haven't even heard about but ply their trade to make an honest buck. 

You better believe that most gamblers work harder than your average nine-to-fiver. In fact, they are generally the hardest working people you will find. 

You need to be relentless to be better than the competition. 

If they threw a javelin rather than placed a bet, they'd sling that spear further than you, me or that big bloke from the local athletics club. 

What I have noticed about lots of horse racing gamblers is that they all have their own way of doing things. They've gone past the point of reading books, to an author who has his own voice. He isn't a budding Roald Dahl anymore. He can make his own BFG. And it's probably a swear word. 

All successful gamblers have their own uniquely individual ways. 

Even if it looks pretty similar to most, I can guarantee they have a twist or two which means they do their own thing.

That's a strength. 

In fact, it's interesting how many retro professional gambler contradict each other. 

Some focus on maidens while other specialise in nursery races. Some using time while other look at the betting. For many it's all about the single win bet, while others love an each-way flutter or even a multi bet, which is probably the last thing you'd expect to hear. 

This tells you something. 

Every niche of racing has the potential to make money. 

It's like the classic punter who shies away from betting on two-year-old horses because they don't understand it. 

Here's the point. Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean someone else doesn't!

That's why the most successful people in life have their own niche. You don't hear a gifted cobbler (someone who makes shoes) nipping off every Sunday to do a little bit of bricklaying on the side. 

If you do, they must be struggling or have something strange going on like a fetish for big bricks. 

When it comes to gambling - as it does with all aspects of making money in life - if you aren't working hard to be the best you can then someone else will get to the treasure first.

You don't even need to be the best - just better than most. 

But remember this, no one is good at everything - there simply isn't enough time.

Stick to what you love doing, work hard and then a little bit harder. 

You are on the verge of success.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Professional Gamblers Who Earn Just 1%

For many gamblers, the dream is to turn pro.  

Life is all about dreaming, battling for what you want, and achieving goals. It is one gamble everyone should go for. Why? Because it isn't a dress rehearsal and you don't want to wake up one day and regret not giving that passion a ballsy go. 

Some people have literally dragged themselves out of the gutter and achieved everything and more. 

A dream could be anything: climbing a mountain may be those hard-fought steps after you suffer a stroke. Someone finding the courage to learn to read and write as an adult or, perhaps, a small child called Neil Armstrong saying: ''One day, I'm going to walk on the moon.''

Think what you love and give it your best. Trust me, you won't regret it.

I love someone talking about their passion. 

It could be someone growing their first lettuce in a windowbox. 

If their is a sparkle in the eye (Nelson), excitement in the voice and adrenaline in the bloodstream - you're onto a winner. 

So you want to be a professional gambler?

In this day and age, you're probably going to be a poker player than a horse racing gambler but all are there for the taking. 

However, the basic starting point, I would suggest, for most gamblers is to start small. 

That's small stakes. 

It is a time to learn and build those small profits into sums that make you're eyes water. 

Those big names such as Phil Bull, Alec Bird et al all started in the same position as you. 

They were born on planet Earth and had a dream and the determination to follow that dream. 

There is a lot to think about. One thing is that many professional gamblers earn just 1% from their stake. I don't know about you but 1% isn't a great deal. It isn't a great deal of a return on your cash when you think back to the good old days of the Post Office giving 10% on your investment (oh, to be back in those days). 

If your profit margin is one percent of your staking then you need to be betting a lot of money. £1000 staked to make £10. It's a scary thought, hey. Betting £10,000 to win £100. This sounds like hard work. 

Perhaps you have a £100,000 in your betting bank and you just go for ''broke'' every day. You can win £1,000 (a week, day, or hour). Who knows, you tell me. 

But, how many punters have a cool £100,000 sitting in the bank to do just that? 

Not only do you need lots of knowledge but lots of bunce. 

Good luck.  

Saturday, 10 October 2020

The Public Identity of the Elusive Professional Gamblers

Let's face it, most people are in the public eye for one reason.

Money.

That is probably the case for the majority of professional gamblers you have heard about especially relating to horse racing. Perhaps poker, being a game followed by its own promotional machine you could find yourself in the limelight (when you would rather be anonymous) although the majority of poker players are not going to say no to the easy money which comes with publicity and all its trappings. 

But what about professional gamblers who have or are making their money from betting  on horse racing? 

The chances are they are selling something - usually a book, detailing how they made some cash but all the pay dirt has gone and they just talk about sacks of the gold with a touch of nostalgia. Not to say it isn't a good read or you cannot learn something from their prose. 

We can, literally, learn from everyone - often their mistakes are the valuable part. 

As mentioned in previous posts, many of the names you have heard have put pen to paper. 

Phil Bull 

Alec Bird

Dave Nevison 

Harry Findlay

Patrick Veitch

To name a few...

Have written worthy tomes.

All great reads. 

I would recommend any budding pro gambler to get stuck into a few publications because it is likely to make you realise one thing - the best way you are likely to win cash gambling is finding your own niche. As Alan Potts said: Betting ''Against The Crowd.'' The opinion of the masses is popular but inevitably wrong. Why? Because for some to win, the majority must lose. And that is the secret to success and something very few professional gambler are likely, to put into words or, perhaps, be able to detail in a way you can understand. 

Basically, why would anyone making good money tell you how it works?

You are very unlikely to have heard the names of the best professional gamblers until, one day, they are looking to cash-in via a different method. 

Good luck to all. 

Friday, 9 October 2020

Former Professional Gambler - Racing TV

The life story of any gambler is never going to follow an idyllic path through acres of ox-eye daisies blowing in a gentle breeze. 

Well, I guess we've all had a week or two where it has felt that way then the ground falls away from under my feet and I'm hanging by my fingernails to a precipice. 

Remember - never cut your nails too short - that's hands and feet. You may need to sharpen your teeth...

To be fair, I have always been a relatively careful gambler, although looking back a few hefty bets laying horses does bring me out in a cold sweat. Reviewing the result - that horse which came fourth or fifth was running on like a train and could have been a nightmare. 

One such horse was Clive Brittain's Rizeena who never did much bar winning after her debut. I imagine she was a 100/1 shot but looking back at the result via the Racing Post, this daughter of Iffraaj was 16/1 (backed from 40/1). I imagine I laid that one early or it was a very late gamble. Anyway, it lost and I won £20 which carried a potential liability of perhaps £600.

It probably sounds like a hard way to make money but in actual fact I made several thousand with that approach of picking on certain horses to lose for a certain (I can't say) reason. 

It's interesting how many successful professional gamblers have - perhaps - taken the easier route of earning money by being employed by Racing TV. 

Namely Dave Nevison and Eddie ''The Shoe'' Freemantle. 

(I don't think Eddie is a former pro gambler). 

I admire both men so there isn't any negativity with 99.9% of my posts. Who am I to judge? Because, as the baker says: ''The things I have to do to put bread on the table!'' It does make me wonder the journey named professional gamblers take to opt for the role of a journalist rather than bet to make a crust. 

Perhaps they do both. 

Working on a regular 9-5 has a lot going for it, especially when you can chat about your chosen subject getting to the course or from the studio. 

Betting, even for the best of the best, can be a stressful existence. Just think for a moment if you have a 50% win rate (you must be betting odds-ons). Take a look at the last twenty spins of a roulette wheel. 

You often see a mighty run of black or red. It's lovely if you are on the winning streak but not so ''cushty'' if you are on the polar opposite. 

It's a truly frightening thought because who has a 50% win rate? I'd probably fear more for you if you say you have achieved this lofty standing. 

Betting cannot - in truth - be the most healthy occupation even at the best of times. They say stress is a killer 

So to all those people who wish to be professional gamblers, sometimes, you may need to be careful what you wish for. 

I remember my old aunt lived next door to King Midas. All was going beautifully until he went for a slash.

Thursday, 8 October 2020

What Happened to Nick Mordin?

I received an email a long time ago asking this very question. 

Sadly, my reply was: ''I have no idea.''

The reason why I was contacted is because my twin brother, Tony, run a study regarding the significance of pattern-race entries within two-year-old horse racing. 

In fact, the data was pieced together into a story by Mordin for his popular Systems, detailed in the Weekender publication. 

The article was titled: In a Class of their Own: How to Spot & Back Potential Top-Notch Two-year-olds. I can't remember the date of the publication, but it must have been a long time ago. [I found a link to the article on High Class Equine dated 14th, May 1994].  

This research was groundbreaking and it was the first study of its kind in the world. 

In fact, I have had many people remark about its publication years later and still holds a lot of interest and clout to this day. 

My brother and I still use this information and we detail some aspects for free via our Group Horse Subscription + Easy Professional Gambler Mailing Series. (100% Free).

Nick Mordin is a man who was much respected in the racing world finding angles and writing a number of publications to help readers get ahead of the game. 

Betting for a Living (1992)

The Winning Look (1994)

Mordin on Time (1996) 

Winning Without Thinking (2002)

All were very well received and I have a couple in my personal collection. 

I notice a few threads on Betfair Community musing about his work. 

I do believe Mordin went to live in the United States although I couldn't confirm this as fact or fiction.  

Many punters will remember he was criticised by Harry Findlay about the chances of Denman winning the Gold Cup. At least, I think that's what it was about as the old grey matter isn't quite what it used to be. 

Anyway, wherever you are, Nick, I hope life is treating you well and my brother often mentions the phone conversation he had with you back in the day. 

All good stuff.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Comedy Moments from Devilfish, Dave Ulliott, British Poker Legend

Love him or not, poker wouldn't have been poker without Dave Ulliott, also known as The Devilfish. 

I can't say I have ever played poker of any type and for that reason I wasn't really aware of Dave until he had sadly passed on at the age of just 61. 

I do remember watching Late Night Poker in 1999, without realising who he was or what the program was about beyond the first real televised poker game, and I could see he was a character. 

A tough upbringing in Kingston Upon Hull made a man who wasn't afraid to stand his ground and live on the edge. However, his love of gambling led him to a life of relative respectability and fortune.

From having little understanding of playing poker (I still haven't) I read his autobiography: Devilfish: The Life & Times of a Poker Legend (published 2011). 

Some people may think his humour is a little too much because there isn't a page goes past where he isn't making a quip but it is just my type of comedy. If you haven't read the book, it is a superb, insightful read. 

I will be writing plenty more articles about Devilfish because he is worth his weight in gold. 

He stayed at some rundown hotel room which he turned into a comedy moment. 

Saying: ''The room was so small they painted the furniture on the walls, that the talking alarm clock told him to ''fuck off'' and that removing the bulb in the room actually made the light brighter.''

If you took all the jokes, comedy moments and gags, you would have an act that would put the likes of these so-called-modern-day-comedians in their place.

I would have loved and hated to imagine what he would have said about Michael McIntyre!

Ulliott was a hard man because in his line of work he needed to be. He went from a small-time poker playing mopping up cash from across the UK before dipping his toe into Las Vegas and literally going for gold - but dancing with the devil and often going for broke in his attempt to make it big. 

Ultimately, he made it big and won millions in his time. 

It's interesting that even though a very successful poker player we never felt he had much luck. Perhaps that is a feeling of so many gambler in life. 

He often quote that he would rather be lucky in life and health than with playing cards because he realised that was the true key to success. 

Sadly, he didn't have much luck on the health front and was diagnosed with colon cancer in February in 2015 and passed away on 6th April that year, he was aged just 61. 

If you want a good read, then this is one autobiography you will enjoy. His humour may not be to everyone's taste but it was a jewel in the crown of a great read. 

I'd have loved to bumped into the man himself in his day. 

God knows what he would have said to me, but if it had a touch of his humour I'd have smiled and said, good luck, winner.

That's exactly what this man from Hull achieved in the gritty world of poker at the highest level. 

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Professional Gamblers: Harry Findlay - A Complete ****ing Liberty

Harry Findlay is an outspoken professional gambler, probably best known as the joint-owner of Denman, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2008, not to mention the RSA Insurance Novices' Chase in 2007 and the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup twice, in 2007 and 2009. In fact, in the staying novices' championship, in which Denman stormed home by ten lengths, Findlay reportedly backed his horse at all rates from 10/1 down to 6/5 favourite, including £50,000 at 5/1, and profited to the tune of £1 million. 

Born in Paisley, Renfrewshire in 1962, but raised in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, Findlay began his love affair with greyhound racing at an early age. Indeed, he has been known since his youth by the not-altogether-flattering nickname 'Harry The Dog'. A regular visitor to now-defunct greyhound racing venues in London, including Hackney, Harringay and White City, as a teenager, he later recalled,'I was surviving, without thieving, up until I was 20.' However, at that stage, heavily indebted, he was convicted of credit card fraud and sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment, of which he served nine, in Her Majesty's Prison Brixton. 

Down the years, Findlay has made it his policy to back short-priced favourites – the shorter the better – with colossal sums of money. Consequently, he has won, and lost, fortunes on a regular basis. In September, 2007, for example, he backed New Zealand to win the Rugby World Cup and, although he managed to lay off £600,000 of his original £2.5 million stake during their 20-18 quarter-final defeat by France at the Millenium Stadium, Cardiff, still lost £1.9 million. On the other hand, Findlay has been a multiple winner of the Tote Scoop6, which he once described as the 'best bet on the planet', regularly entering massive permutations worth tens of thousands of pounds at a time. 

In 2010, eighteen months after his Cheltenham Gold Cup triumph, was 'warned off' for six months by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) – although his punishment was later reduced to a fine of £4,500 on appeal – for a technical infraction involving laying one of his own horses, Gullible Gordon. Investigating betting patterns surrounding a novices' chase at Chepstow in October 2009, which Gullible Gordon won, the authorities also investigated a novices' hurdle at Exeter a year earlier, brought to their attention by Findlay himself, in which Gullible Gordon finished only sixth, despite starting long odds-on. On that occasion, Findlay bet £80,000 on his horse to win but, following a disagreement with trainer Paul Nicholls regarding tactics, also laid £18,000 on Gullible Gordon to lose. So, while there was never any suggestion of foul play, Findlay had technically, broken the rules. He was, however, dismissive of the decision, later saying, 'being warned off was the biggest load of bollocks of all time and a complete ****ing liberty.' 

In 2013, Findlay suffered further disappointment when he tried, but ultimately failed, to establish Coventry Stadium as a centre for British greyhound racing. He invested £1.7 million in the venture, by which stage he had, in his own words, 'run out of money'; in the absence of an official Bookmakers' Afternoon Greyhound Service (BAGS) contract or, in his opinion, support from the Greyhound Racing Association (GRA), Findlay found it impossible to turn a profit and closed the venue the following year.