Professional Gamblers: The Best Ever Article About Sidney Harris

Professional Gamblers: The Best Ever Article About Sidney Harris
If you are a man of a certain age you may well remember professional gambler Sidney Harris.

This stockbroker turned professional gambler proves you can teach an old dog new tricks.

However, far from a misspent youth, Harris was always astute in understanding probability - it was his blood.

He defied the odds and the misconception that it's a young man's game.

His story, like many, is quite remarkable. 

Firstly, he didn't get into horse racing until his mid-40s.  

It's never too late.

However, he made most of his vast fortune trading in options on the stock market. 

We start the story back in 1987 when Black Tuesday brought dreaded news to investors across the globe. Shares went into free-fall and many investors lost their life saving in one day. An insightful Harris took a view the markets would continue to tumble and he wasn't afraid to put his money where his mouth was. 

He speculated £38,000 that the markets would plunge into massive losses.

Within 24-hours he had made a clear profit of £90,000. 

After retiring from the stock market game, he had the time, money and passion to invest in his new love of horse racing. 

In fact, it led to the publication of his book: Horse Racing: The Essential Guide to Backing Winners, published in 2000, by As-if publishing with a forward written by horse trainer Mark J. Polglase. 

Polish Peter said: '' At first this looks like the kind of slim pamphlet you expect from the usual snake oil tipster. But contained within is a total to racing from the ground. I have it by my bedside and each time I read a page I discover something new. A Bible for horse fans.''

When Harris put pen to paper, he had been gambling professionally for just over seven years. 

He said: ''No two years have been the same!''

Continuing, Harris said: ''Looking back at these seven years, I realise that I have been on both a roller-coaster ride and an acute learning curve," he says. "The objective of this book is to clarify, beyond doubt, that the best way to find winners is through constant and consistent study, and that only by taking a methodical approach is it possible to make sense of the chaos that is unleashed the moment the starting stalls open for a horse race."

He stated that most punters simply rely on luck to win. 

"Each punter's journey is quite different, travelling an uncertain route without the benefit of a signpost," says Harris. "Entrenched misguided ideas lead punters to repeat mistakes that eventually become debilitating and regularly indulged habits.''

Harris wished to instill in the everyday punter that without a strategy it is impossible to spot mistakes. 

One angle used by this consummate professional was to review races and look for horses treated leniently by their jockey and backing them when primed to win. 

He said: ''If you watch a race two or three times you will be surprised by how little you pick up.''

This was probably the reason he would watch a race up to a dozen times.

As seen with many professional gamblers, he has a set of rules that he never breaks:

1) Never back a horse on unproven ground 

2) Never a back a horse from a stable that's out of form

3) Never Never back a horse unsuited to the track 

4) Never back a horse ridden by a jockey who has a poor record at the course

5) The same applies to a trainer with a poor track record

In fact, one of his golden rules is to identify trainers and jockeys who have good records at given tracks. 

This is often something overlooked by punters. 

Of bookmakers he gives insight to help punters to be one step ahead of what he calls barrow-boy psychology to entice punters with what seem to be the illusion of fleeting value. 

Harris says: ''Most of the bookies prices are tantamount to a mirage.''

''Personally, I don't like to bet below 3/1. An exception may be a 11/4 shot.''    

Looking at the percentages, he states: 

"As we know, the difference between 2/1 ON and evens is approximately 16 per cent. The difference between a 9/1 chance and a 33 /1 chance is approximately 7 per cent. In this area, we have to play the bookmaker at his own game. "We have to, wherever possible, look for favourites to oppose. By the sheer fact that favourites are the worst value, they create value at the other end of the scale. The shorter the price of the favourite, the more value it creates in other horses."

Basically, anything priced below 3/1 is potentially lacking in value and the shorter the price it becomes more acute.

Harris is correct in stating that the majority of bets are struck at 3/1 and less and reason why there is value at looking for bigger price horses. 

He acknowledges that backing bigger priced horses can lead to longer losing runs. However, he states the best approach to coping with losing runs is to bet well within your means so you feel no emotion at losing. 

If you are struggling with emotions: ''You are staking too high.''

Harris sticks with a level stake approach. He details the bad habit of gamblers betting each-way and how it can be difficult to get out of this routine. 

However, he suggests punters use the 80 over 20 rule which seems punters place 80% o their stake on the win and just 20% on the place. 

He works from a 100-point betting bank. If starting with £1,000 you should be betting £10 a time. For example, if you are betting £50 your betting bank should be £5,000.

Using this method you are working from within your comfort zone and betting has a feel-good factor. Even a string of losers will not unbalance you and, more importantly, you won't be betting with your emotions. 

Harris wisely advises: ''If you are tempted to increase your stake to recoup previous losses don't consider doing this betting on a horse under 5/1. It will go straight into the bookmaker's satchel.'' 

One of his biggest wins at the races saw him collect over £400,000. 

If you want to take your betting seriously, then you need to understand these key pointers about assessing form.

''Form contains all the clues to finding winners.''

''The form book is like your map. And the basis to our understanding is what we consider to be irrefutable form. That means truly run races, and horses that make a sustained effort.''

Harris says: ''The future of any race is unknown but we can discern what happened in the past. We need to concentrate on horses which have shown their best. For example, if we have a ten-horse race and only three have made a race of it, we ignore the other seven.''

Sidney Harris' book doesn't answer every question but is does offer valuable advice. 

In conclusion he states: ''You're not going to get rich overnight. I've read many books and they often detail little bits of information which benefit my own game.''

And that is the truth of this book. 

Professional Gamblers: The Shadow

Professional Gamblers: The Shadow
Anonymous said: 

''I've known many great gamblers over the years. Some pro gamblers I've known casually while others have been personal friends.''

The biggest gambler I have met is J P McManus. I know him on nodding terms. I've seen him scaring the pants off bookmakers and he walks around the betting ring. 

One of my favourites was Alec Bird who loved place bets. Supposedly, his favourite bet was £200,000 place only on a red-hot favourite. He's be quite happy to bet 1/10, to get a nice return on his investment. 

Without question, one of the shrewdest gamblers I ever met was Phil Bull. You may remember him as the founder of Timeform. Using his time rating system, he would be quite happy to bet on every race on the card while smoking a cigar, sipping a glass of champagne and have time for a chat. To Bull, it was simply about solving a puzzle. In fact, the money he won seemed to be of little interest to him. 

Barney Curley often gets a bad press but he is one of the nicest people I have ever met. These days, he is showing his age but he is approachable and friendly. Over the years he has landed some major betting coupes including Yellow Sam in 1975. 

Definitely the maddest gambler I ever met is my friend and once East End gangster ''H''. These days he is flat broke living in a housing association, passing the time looking after the gardens as he waits for a liver transplant. 

However, he has lost millions over the years betting on the dogs and horse racing. 

Professional Gamblers: Who Is Jack Ramsden?

Professional Gamblers: Who Is Jack Ramsden?
Professional gamblers come from varied backgrounds - including horse trainers. Considering this line of work, it would seem to be a very good way to make money. 

However, let's get back to the start of the story. Jack Ramsden was a stockbroker until 1980, then decided to turn his hand to being a professional gambler. He had thirteen consecutive winning years (probably many more). 

He said of stock brokering: ''I was working in the city, but the city wasn't working for me. I was a pretty useless stockbroker.'' 

Very much in the mold of Phil Bull, he based his success on speed figures. 

In fact he stated: ''I cannot stress too strongly the importance of the race times. They bind the whole approach together. A good horse can do a bad time, but a bad horse cannot do a good time.''

Ramsden detailed the good times on the national hunt are few and far between but everyone seems to know about them and the prices are too short to back. 

He said: ''Even cutting out the endless research of form, it takes me two  to three hours a day to work out my bets.''

Giving us an insight to his approach he continues: ''I'm constantly on the look out for the 3/1 chance that starts at 8/1. There are 30 - 40 such bets a year (there to be seen by all).''  

Clearly looking for value he says: ''At those odds, you don't need to be right all the time!''

What was even more intriguing with Ramsden is that he collaborated with ''his own bookmaker'' Colin Webster (pictured). In fact, the bookmaker (this must be a first) paid Ramsden £5,000 a year for his information. In addition, he had to place Ramsden's bets with other bookmakers. 

What struck me as being unusual with Ramsden was his liking for multibets (trebles, yankees, lucky 15). He liked to bet on big priced horses and if seemed to be a very lucrative addition because on four occasions he reported winning over £200,000 at time on multiple bets.  

However, he advised punters to forget about each-way bets This insight came from researching his bets that he would have made much more doubling his win bet rather opting for the ''safer'' method. 

He said: ''I think all punters would benefit from cutting out all each-way bets and sticking to singles.''

Jack met his wife, Lynda, when she works at the horse racing stables of John Sutcliffe Snr, where Jack, one of Barry Hills' first owners, had horses. The couple married in 1977. Originally, training horses in the Isle Of Man, they moved to North Yorkshire, England, where they trained for many years.

Professional Gamblers: Who is John Aspinall?

Professional Gamblers: Who is John Aspinall?
Professional gamblers are often extroverts. 

Welcome to the world of John Victor Aspinall.

Born 1926 in British Raj, India, he came from a wealthy middle class family.

Aspinall was very much an enigma. In fact, his whole life was dangerous if not controversial. He was a character of high society back in the 1960s and the press speculated he had helped aid the disappearance of Lord Lucan who was the 7th Earl of Lucan, who was not only a degenerate gambler but suspected murderer. 

Aspinall was well known for his escapades as the owner of a zoo. He was forward thinking and said animals shouldn't be treat as beasts to be exhibited but friends to be pampered. They should be given adequate space and similar group dynamics as in the wild and natural diet. 

Among the animals in the zoo included gorillas. Which, among being given berries, were given treats such as Sunday roast and chocolate. 

In fact, he used to have a hands-on relationship with tigers and gorillas. 

In 1976, he wrote a book: The Best of Friends, where he insisted the individuality of animals.

Aspinall was quoted as saying: 

"Animals should have as much right to happiness as we do and to coexist on this planet, which is far more important than we are."

Among his successes, he bred captive gorillas for the first time since 1956, and hundreds of tigers, including the first Siberian born in Britain. 

However, such liberal approach may have had repercussions with 5 zoo keepers being killed.

Getting on to Aspinall's talent for gambling. 

After a very privileged upbringing, he went to Jesus College, Oxford. Loving a gamble, he risked his terms grant of £70 on a horse called Palestine in the 2,000 Guineas. It won at very short odds. 

Oxford proved a great place to meet influential people who would later play an important part in his life, including Jimmy & Teddy Goldsmith, and fellow gambler Ian Maxwell-Scott. Aspinall set out his stall by going to the Ascot Gold Cup rather than his final exams.

He swiftly moved on to host gambling clubs which were illegal at the time attracting influential players such as the Duke of Devonshire and the Earl of Derby, enjoying the most lavish settings. With Aspinall taking a percentage of the stakes, he was becoming a very rich man. 

In 1957, the police raided a gambling party he had organised, the charges were dismissed and shortly after (1960) the Gaming Act was introduced opening the doors to casinos across the country. 

Not to miss out on new legislation, Aspinall opened his own club - The Claremont Club at 44 Berkeley Square. However, lack of finances saw his raise £200,000 in loan stock and the basement was turned into Annabel's Nightclub, run by Mark Birley. 

Membership to Aspinall's venture was limited to 600, very much figures of high society including five dukes, five marquesses and 20 earls. 

The success of the Clarmont Club and advice given by Jimmy Goldsmith to finance Howletts, a wildlife park, much to the annoyance of neighbours. 

However the stock market crash in 1973 left him more or less bust.

In 1987, financial struggles forced Aspinall to return to gambling. 

He set up a casino in Han's Place, and in four short years making 8 million per annum. Such was its success he moved to larger premises at Curzon Street, selling 20% on the stock market worth an estimated £20 million. 

Almost 80% of the business was owned by Aspinall and Goldsmith. A large amount of the money was kept for the upkeep of the zoos. 

Clearly, the worth of the casino declined over the years but still sold in 1987 for £23 million. 

However, in 1992 financial struggles after losing large sums of money when Goldsmith failed in his takeover of Rank Hovis McDougall. In response, he opened another casino in Curzon Steet in 1992. It was soon making good money. 

In his later years, Aspinall suffered from cancer and fought it bravely but passed away on the 29th June 2000 at Westminster, London aged 74.

The Aspinall Foundation 

Most Reckless, Mad, Wildest Professional Gambler 'H'

Professional gamblers come in all shapes and sizes.

That could be with regard to their stature, physical and mental, bets small or large or even reputation. 

In the melting pot of gamblers - from all walks of life - you hear some amazing stories. I love the extremes you see in people. Some bet big money and as disciplined as they come while others are mad, reckless, wild and destined to lose every last penny.

I guess it's simply part of their character. 

It's a certain type of personality, character trait, that captures the attention of the everyday punter.

Harry Findlay always reminded me of a gambler who was pretty much on the edge. 

I think he loved the thrill to push his skill and luck to the limit. 

Anyway, there are other gamblers who exemplify this thought.

You may have heard about an East End gangster called 'H'. 

He had a reputation as a hard man and reckless gambler. If you've been around London long enough you will know who I am talking about, said his friend. 

''H is a couple of years older than me. He's flat broke living on benefits in Loughton, waiting for a liver transplant. He looks after the gardens of the flat he lives.''

It's a sobering thought to think he lost millions on the horses and dogs.

One bet stuck in the mind. ''I placed £50,000 in one and two-thousand a time, the last few grand placed at a shop in Canning Town. I watched the race to see Admiral's Cup beaten by a short head.''

''He never turned a hair.''

''Another memorable story about H came when he and his wife and me and my wife went to Ladies Day at Royal Ascot. I looked posh in my mourning suit and top hat and the ladies looked gorgeous. However, H looking similarly formal wore his lucky black bootlace tie with its solid gold steer head fastener.'' 

One of the stewards on the Royal Enclosure spotted him and wouldn't let him in so he went berserk and stormed off to the Tattersall's betting ring.

He tried to wipe out every bookie in the enclosure with massive ''stupid'' bets. 

He must have been half a million pounds down by the last race. He managed to persuade one of the major bookmakers to take a bet of £250,000 on a horse called Kris, priced even money. 

This time, his horse won by a short head, after a 5-minute wait as they magnified the photo finish. 

Once again, he didn't turn a hair. There was no sign of emotion. 

Now he cuts the grass and prunes the rose bushes for the old ladies for a cup of tea and biscuit. 

Note: I have no evidence this story is true. 

Professional Gamblers: They're All The Same!

When you think about professional gamblers, what comes to mind? 

In truth, it could be anything: insightful, sinister, corrupt... The adjectives could go as long as you want. In truth people who make a living from gambling are, in general, one of two things: knowledgeable within their chosen niche or corrupt. 

I guess the latter does a disservice to the professional status of the true gamblers as the corrupt aren't really anything but criminals. 

From my point of view, I have read about many professional gamblers - the vast majority being interested and dedicated to horse racing. In this modern world of betting exchanges and laying horses and trading we have a new breed of gambler. 

However, my observation is more about the retro gamblers of past: Alec Bird, Phil Bull, Dave Nevison, Harry Findlay et al. 

I know some of you will be reading that list and think, 'He wasn't much of a gambler'. Or you have umpteen gamblers you would add to the list. Admittedly it is a short list. I often irritate people by adding Terry Ramsden to my list of professional gamblers just to get a response. Although he lost a lot of money betting on horses he did, don't forget, make millions as a stock broker which is still a professional gambler as far as I can see. 

Anyway, I don't want to get into all that. 

The one thing I noticed when reading about each of these aforementioned names is that they had very little in common. 

True, they bet on horses! 

I often ask people what does a tiger and a table have in common? 

Four legs.

For example, Phil Bull was all about the fastest horses with regard to the clock. 

All these professional gamblers had their own niche, a skill honed by years of trial and error to one day beat the odds. Not one, as far as I am aware, waved a magical horn from a defunct, hapless unicorn or recited a spell stolen from some old dear who lived round the corner from Rumpelstiltskin. 

It's funny to read how a given gambler would say never bet in this race type or price and there is one of their counterparts detailing how they make regular money doing exactly that. 

Any half wise gambler can appreciate that every winner is the answer to the question in that if you can understand what made it a winner could well be used to find more winners. Also, every loser is quietly whispering to you why you should have listened. 

The very truth of winning and losing is there before you - waiting like hieroglyphics to be understood. 

The problem is most gamblers never stop to think. It's all about the next race if not simply the buzz. 

Have you as a gambler ever stopped to question why your horse won or lost? You may be thinking that sounds a boring endevour. However, if you don't understand the reason you are missing the best part of the race. 

My niche is two-year-old horse racing. I don't pretend I understand any other age group. I enjoy saying I know nothing about the National Hunt or even three-year-old colts, geldings and fillies. 

I don't need to know about them. 

What makes you a winner or a loser when it comes to gambling is what makes you different from the crowd. 

If you are a favourite backer - the eternal favourite backer - you may as well give up. 

It's the same if you spread yourself too thin. 

''I follow all types of horse racing.''

I hope if that is your answer you have some very clever way of working because my day has just 24 hours. 

Ever wondered why those contestants have a specilised subject? Because if they didn't they'd be pretty much like you or me. 

Painfully average. 

If you want to be a successful gambler you need to know your subject better than your average bloke down the bookies. 

If you are not - give up. 

It will be a long road and painful experience to realise, if you ever do, that you literally backed the wrong horse. 

Professional Gamblers: Freddie Williams vs. J.P. McManus

Professional Gamblers: Freddie Williams vs. J.P. McManus
The late 'Fearless' Freddie Williams, who died in June, 2008, at the age of 65, after suffering a major heart attack at his home in Skares, near Cumnock, Ayrshire, was once described as the 'immovable object' versus the 'irresistible force' of legendary punter John Partick 'J.P.' McManus. Indeed, at the time of his death, McManus said of his 'nemesis', 'We had some jousts over the years at the Cheltenham Festival. Racing has lost a colourful and loving character. The betting ring will be a much quieter place without him.' 

Although from humble beginnings, Williams became a millionaire when he sold his shares in his local soft drinks factory, Curries of Auchinleck, in 1991. However, fundamental changes to the allocation of bookmakers' pitches, introduced in October, 1998, allowed him to fulfil a lifelong ambition of obtaining a pitch at Cheltenham, although he did have to pay £90,000 at auction for the privilege. 

Having bought into the 'big time' as a bookmaker, Williams first met J.P. McManus on Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham in January, 1999. After a brief introduction, McManus promptly asked for £90,000 to £40,000 about favourite Buckside in the opening novices' handicap hurdle. Buckside led most of the way, giving Williams just cause to question his judgement, but was headed on the run-in, eventually going down by 2½ lengths. Later that same afternoon, Williams laid McManus £150,000 to £50,000 about Commanche Court in the Cleeve Hurdle and £175,000 to £50,000 about Even Flow in the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase; both horses lost, leaving Williams £140,000 ahead on the day. 

The following March, Williams laid McManus £700,000 to £100,000 each-way about his own horse, Shannon Gale, in the Stakis Casinos Final. The seven-year-old gelding held every chance at the final flight, but could only stay on at one pace in the closing stages to finish fourth, beaten 7¼ lengths; McManus nevertheless collected £175,000 for the place portion of his bet. 

Shannon Gale marked the start of prolonged series of skirmishes between Williams and McManus at the Cheltenham Festival, which would, at various times, leave both men bloodied, but unbowed. Williams once said of the McManus, who, nowadays, has a net worth of $2.2 million, 'I have a feeling John wants to be the first punter ever to have a million pounds on a horse at the festival. I love the guy to bits, don't get me wrong, but he's given me a lot of sore heads.' 

Thursday, March 16, 2006 – so-called 'St. Patrick's Thursday' at the Cheltenham Festival – proved a case in point for the bold, old-fashioned layer. In the opening Jewson Novices' Handicap Chase, Williams laid McManus £600,000 to £100,000 about Reveillez, who ran out a ready, 1¼-length winner under Sir Anthony McCoy. The closing Pertemps Network Final featured four McManus-owned runners, including the well-fancied, but ultimately ill-fated, Olaso, who was fatally injured during the race. McManus, though, backed the outsider of his quartet, Kadoun, to the tune of £250,000 to £5,000 each-way with Williams; the 50/1 chance stayed on well to win by 1½ lengths, netting his owner a further £325,000 at Williams' expense.

Professional Gamblers: Who Is Eddie 'The Shoe' Fremantle

Professional Gamblers: Who Is Eddie 'The Shoe' Fremantle

Eddie 'The Shoe' Fremantle is a freelance journalist, horse racing analyst and professional punter, probably best known, nowadays, for his punditry on the 'Racing TV' television channel. Fremantle developed an interest in horse racing at an early age and, in an interview with Star Sports in 2018, recalled backing Balliol in the King's Stand Stakes and Lassalle in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in 1973 although, by his own admission, he could not 'really remember much about it'. 

Nevertheless, his interest in the 'Sport of Kings' developed throughout his teenage years. He was offered his first job in journalism largely as the result of a chance meeting with Ian Davies, who was, at the time, deputy editor of the 'Racing & Football Outlook', whom he met on a train journey to Ludlow. Some months later, Davies, who was by now editor of the aforementioned publication, contacted Fremantle and offered him a position as a sports tipster. Fremantle subsequently spent four years as a youthful 'Man on the Spot' in the now-defunct 'Sporting Life' newspaper, before devoting his time solely to backing horses for a living. However, after eight years he did return to journalism, as racing correspondent to 'The Observer', a position that allowed him access to the press facilities at racecourses.

Fremantle remains one of a dying breed of professional punters, insofar as he still goes racing four or five days a week. He is a modest punter, by professional standards, but he believes that, by keeping his turnover high – or, in other words, by betting as often as possible – but keeping his stakes relatively low, he eliminates long losing runs, at least in terms of time. As he put it, 'If you only bet rarely, but have a big bet when you do, you really have to get it right.'He also has an interesting take on chasing losses; of course, he does not advocate poor decision-making based on desperation, frustration or any other negative emotion but, by the same token, he does not view losing money as a reason to give up betting altogether. After all, he says, if you never chase your losses you'll never get them back.

Fremantle takes a entirely pragmatic approach to horse racing and subscribes to the unfashionable philosophy that there is no substitute for hard work. In the absence of any 'golden goose', he relies on studying form, on video and in print, as much as possible. As a matter of personal preference, he specialises in Flat racing, including all-weather racing during the winter months, but his best advice to anyone looking to make horse racing pay is to do something 'different'. Of course, horse racing form is in the public domain but, by examining the performance of every horse in every race, keen-eyed punters may spot something that has been overlooked by the rank and file of the betting public.

Instead of looking for the winner of each race, Fremantle recommends preparing your own betting forecast, or 'tissue', for each race and comparing your estimated odds with those commercially available to identify which horses, if any, are under- or over-priced. His own tissue prices factor in elements such as luck in running, or lack of it, which is a common cause of over-reaction by bookmakers.

Professional Gamblers: Telly Savalas Poker Player

Born in Garden City, New York in 1924, Aristoteles 'Telly' Savalas will always be best remembered – at least, by readers of a certain age – for his portrayal of the bald, lollipop sucking title character in the television series 'Kojak', which aired on CBS during the Seventies. However, it is somehow fitting that 'Kojak' is used, nowadays, to describe a starting hand of king-jack in Texas Hold'em poker because Savalas was, in his time, a highly accomplished exponent of the game. 

By his own admission, Savalas 'gambled from day one on the streets of New York.' In 1969, while filming 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' – in which he played villain Ernst Blofeld – he incurred the wrath of producer Harry Saltzman when he fleeced Bond star George Lazenby of his daily living expenses during a late-night poker game that he had organised for the cast and crew. Saltzman gatecrashed the game, won back the money and warned Savalas against any further exploitation of the Australian actor. 

Savalas made his first appearance in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in 1985, at the age of 61, purportedly to research an upcoming film role as professional gambler Nick 'The Greek' Dandolos. Whatever his motivation, Savalas enjoyed early success, finishing third of 149 entrants in a $1,000 Limit Seven-Card Stud Hi/Lo event at Binion's, Las Vegas and cashing for $14,900. Suitably inspired, he stumped up the ante for the $10,000 No Limit Texas Hold'em World Championship at the same venue two weeks later. He did not last long, though; after just an hour or two of the four-day-long tournament, Savalas bet the last $3,500 of his dwindling stack all-in on a jack-high straight and lost to a queen-high straight.

Undeterred, Savalas continued to play in WSOP tournaments from time to time. In 1987, he finished fifth in a $1,000 Seven-Card Stud Split event, again at Binion's, and cashed for $11,650. In 1992, he enjoyed a much better run at the $10,000 No Limit Hold'em World Championship, finishing 21st of 201 entrants and cashing for $8,080. With total live earnings of $40,630, Savalas hardly set the poker world on fire, but once confessed, 'My excitement is seeing the characters around this poker game.You wouldn't believe who they are.'

Savalas' fondness for gambling was not lost on the admen from Player's Club International, who had him reprise his 'Kojak' catchphrase 'Who loves ya, baby?' after a fashion, by pitching the phrase 'It's bonus time, baby' in a series of late-night television advertisements during the Eighties. Savalas also witnessed the Las Vegas debut of a youthful Phil Hellmuth Jr. – who, in 1989, became the youngest ever winner of the WSOP Main Event – when the 'Poker Brat' took a seat next to him at a $30/$60 Seven-Card Stud 8 table in the Dunes poker room for the first time.

Professional Gamblers: Who is Dave ''Devilfish'' Ulliott?

The late Dave 'Devilfish' Ulliott, who died from bowel and liver cancer, at the age of 61, in 2015, was one of the most distinctive and influential British poker players in history. Born in Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire in 1954, Ulliott left school at 15 and drifted into a life of petty crime. Indeed, he was twice detained at Her Majesty's pleasure in his twenties, before turning to poker as a more 'legitimate' means of making a living. That said, he spent the formative years of his new career travelling around seedy, often illegal, back rooms in the Midlands and the North of England, where he cultivated the aggressive, egotistical image that would become his trademark. 

His path inevitably led to London and, later, to Las Vegas where, in April 1997, he became just the third Englishman to win a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet – not to mention $180,310 in prize money – in the $2,000 Hold'em Pot Limit event at Binion's. Other notable paydays in his professional career, which spanned four decades, included $589,175 for winning the World Poker Tour (WPT) $10,000 + 100 No-Limit Hold'em Championship at Horseshoe Casino & Hotel in Tunica, Mississippi in January 2003 and $674,500 for a third-place finish in the WPT $15,000 + 400 Doyle Brunson Classic – No-Limit Hold'em at Bellagio, Las Vegas in December 2007. Indeed, Ulliott accrued $6,235,521 in total live earnings, at a time when poker prize money was a fraction of what it is today and was, for many years, the highest-earning British poker player ever. 

Ulliott was originally christened 'Devilfish' by fellow poker player Stephen Au-Yeung, who likened him to the potentially deadly Japanese delicacy, otherwise known as 'blowfish' or 'pufferfish', during a private game at his home. However, the moniker was resurrected during a rowdy, heads-up contest against Men 'The Master' Nguyen at Four Queens Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas in January 1997; Ulliott won and the following day the local newspaper celebrated his first major tournament win under the headline 'Devilfish Devours The Master!'

Domestically, Ulliott participated in and won, the inaugural series of 'Late Night Poker' – the pioneering television programme that introduced the hole card camera – on Channel 4 in 1999. Aside from his extraordinary skill as a poker player, his slicked-back hair, sharp, pin-striped suit and tie, orange-tinted glasses and two enormous gold rings, bearing the legends 'Devil' and 'Fish', respectively, made Ulliott the star of the show and a household name in Britain. Many years later, reflecting on his career, he said, 'I’ve realised that no matter what happens, nobody can break me inside. A good player can’t have nerves. I lost mine a long time ago.' 

Ulliott last cashed in a live poker tournament in the WSOP $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em – Monster Stack event at Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas in June 2014, less than a year before his death. On that occasion, he collected $6,368 for finishing 265th of 7,862 entries. However, during the WSOP Main Event, at the same venue, in July 2017, it was announced that Ulliott had been posthumously inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame for 'his role in growing the game in England'.

If you want to learn more about Dave Devilfish Ulliott I have read and would recommend his publication: Devilfish: The Life & Times of a Poker Legend (2010)

Being from Hull and an avid poker player/fan this book was a must. It has always been on my list of books to buy, but after learning of Mr Ulliots untimely death it jumped straight to the front of the queue. It's well known that people from Hull are a little rough around the edges (not William Wilberforce, I'm talking about Dean Windass & John Prescott). The devilfish was raised on a run-down council estate with little chance of success, somehow amassing a fortune of £30 million, and all through playing cards. One of pokers greatest ever characters and a true talent. His story is full of jaw-dropping anecdotes that will leave you amazed. R.I.P Mr.Devilfish, you bloody legend!

Rober Hemingway.

The Devilfish | Poker Documentary | Full Length

The Trials & Tribulations of Owning a Racehorse

I'm reading Freud On Course: The Racing Lives of Clement Freud. Originally published in 2009, shortly after he passed away.

I've stormed through the first three or four chapters. It's a decent read full of wit and wisdom from the multi-talented grandson of the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. 

It's interesting to read how Clement considered having a horse in training would give him an advantage to privileged information meaning he would win a few quid gambling. Over the years, he had a number of horses in training, often in partnership with friends and acquaintances. In fact, he even owned a horse with Uri Geller, called Spoonbender. Unfortunately, that didn't result in a winner.

In fact, Freud seemed to often struggle with horse trainers, swiftly moving them to pastures new if the handler didn't quite live up to expectation. One reason given was that when you are paying considerable fees that you want to be able to phone the trainer at any time. It's interesting that when a horse was moved from a stable the trainer was rarely mentioned by name.

Anyway, it seems along the way that Clement had a number of horses in training starting with one he bought after winning a selling race. 

That didn't turn out to be the best move as it seemed to be permanently lame. 

Writing his column in the Racing Post, he gave a warts-and-all narrative of his hopes for his horse(s) and their chance of winning. 

Many times they won unexpectedly or when fancied failed to shine. From reading his prose, it seems that the likelihood of making a return on just about any equine investment is a very unlikely happening. 

However, he did have one or two bets that put a smile on his face. 

In 2006, he purchased a son of Cadeaux Genereaux, at a cost,  by the time it got to the trainer in North Yorkshire, of £40,000. 

The horse was in training with Mark Johnston and finished second on debut at Haydock over 6f on heavy going when an 8/1 shot. 

The respected owner said: ''He had two more runs, one at Ayr, the other at York and was placed at short prices each time, the short prices not wholly unconnected with my investments.''  

''After the third non-win, which nearly wiped me out, I moved him to a trainer in East Anglia who charged less than half the last man's training fees.  

Michael Chapman, the new trainer, sealed a win at Wolverhampton with an easy six-length victory. The horse was pretty consistent racing six times with Chapman, however, Freud fell out with the trainer and moved Eau Good to Brendan Powell, in the West Country.   

Eau Good proved a memorable day when winning at Windsor at odds of 28/1. Freud went in for the kill with a hefty £300 each-way (the win part of the bet alone worth £8,400). 

Now three years old, he ran twice over hurdles at Kempton and Folkestone.

''Nothing, or to put it another way, pulled up in one contest and tailed off in the other.''  

Eau Good was swiftly moved back to Michael Chapman's stable because of a 'lack of success as well as a failure in communication'. 

Freud said: ''For the £20,000 a year you pay to train, shoe, vet, enter and transport a racehorse, I want to be able to contact his minder when I feel like it.'' 

However, all didn't go well when Darryll Holland was booked to ride Eau Good at Windsor. The horse went to the start in a crab-like fashion. 

The experienced jockey told the vet he wasn't happy with the mobility of the horse and they 'withdrew him not under starter's orders'. 

Freud wasn't best happy to hear that the jockey had been told whatever it felt and looked like, once out of the stalls, the horse would run like a stag. 

The jockey denied being told this and allegedly said: ''It felt as if the horse had broken its back.'' 

Hearing this news Freud sent the horse to a good friend to give him an opinion. 

There was a catalogue of problems:

Sore back. 

Deeply unhappy. 

Bit anyone who came near him. 

''A wind-sucking, weaving brute.''

Clement made up his own mind to sell Eau Good. 

He went to Ascot sales (Lot 41) and sold for just 950 guineas and went to a good home in the Midlands.

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.''

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 

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. 

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. 


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.

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. 

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.

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.