Bet City School
Interview With The Professionals Part 1. Lee Keys
Here is the first in a series of interviews with people who make their living from Betting.
Hopefully we can learn a little of what it takes to make it as a pro.
Interview with the professionals part 1. Lee Keys.
Lee Keys has been a professional gambler and racehorse owner for years. He has worked on the winning line and recently ran his own successful tipping service. Lee is also a very successful racehorse owner and has had an amazing 20 winners in the last 3 years.
Here in the first in a series of interviews with pro punters, Lee answers a few questions to give us an insight into the lives of people who live the dream of betting for a living.

1.How did you first get involved in Racing and betting?

I was fortunate enough to be brought up in a racing family, where my Father owned several betting shops in the Doncaster area. It would be fair to say that I had learnt my trade at a very young age and understood what was required to make it pay both as a bookmaker and punter.

2. How would you describe your early betting career?

In the years before Betfair it was pretty torrid and difficult. In the days of 10% betting tax and bookmakers betting to up to 30% over round it was obviously difficult to get your head in front. I was fortunate enough to have a friend and betting mentor in the shape of a wily old character named ‘Big John’.

He led a simple life, a sports bag full of sporting life’s and cans of beer, yet he was barred from most bookmakers in Sheffield due to his shrewd antics. In the days before live video where we could study what was off/not off etc, John would make sure he was watching all the racing in the betting shops and he would be noting down future winners.

John was tricky though, playing in each way doubles where the favourites were long odds on in maiden races and novice hurdles. A typical ‘Big John’ bet was permed each way doubles a couple of 33’s pokes in those types of races, where he’s getting too much value in the place. It didn’t take long for most bookmakers to black ball him. In the process though it also taught me some valuable lessons at a young age where I was able to recognise ricks and obtain value.

3.Was there a pivotal moment that changed the way you bet?

There’s never a pivotal moment really. You just have to keep improving yourself like in any professional sport. The day you stand still and say ‘I’ve cracked it’ is the day you start going down hill. I am forever uncovering new angles and edges that ‘joe public’ won’t consider when assessing their bets.

4.What would be a typical day in the life of a pro gambler/racehorse owner?

The glamour is certainly not there like some dreamboats and tv programmes might imply. Days at the races for me are few and far between, only when I have runners with a serious chance of winning can I be bothered to turn up racing.

Research is where it’s at, I wake at 9am and go to sleep at 3am on average and the idea is to know more about the game than the guy that is on the other end of Betfair matching your bet. If I work harder than the next man/woman then the likelihood is I will make more money.

Any scenario of a glamorous lifestyle will be grossly misrepresented by those that want to paint it that way. It has it’s benefits if you do well like any higher profile job. But it won’t come without a lot of hard work.

5.What advice would you offer to the above average punter that might be breaking even without being able to make a decent profit?

If you aren’t doing it full time then treat it as recreation and a bit of fun. Those that can make money as well as doing a full time job are doing well but you can’t beat the likes of me that puts more hours in, it’s the way of the world.

I love the stigma that tipsters carry with some punters like they are in ‘league with the devil’. Some tipsters are extremely good at what they do and will make you money, whilst others will offer you nothing other than just taking your money off you for nothing more than sticking a pin in a paper. All solicitors aren’t bad, neither are dentists or doctors but like in all professions there are good and bad. You just have to look hard enough and you will find the right people/tipsters that can help make your betting pay. It is most ignorant to believe that betting professionals won’t share their knowlegde. How do we evolve as human beings if no one shares knowledge and keeps it all for themselves I ask you?

6. Do you think that it is possible to make some decent money following tipsters or systems?

Well it follows on from what I’ve just said, there are some real charlatans out there and there are people that know what they are doing. I always say that the good tipsters and systems don’t fail it’s the people that follow them that do.

As human beings we have a low tolerance level to failure so when most people follow a tipster that throws up a common run of say 6 to 8 losers on the bounce we then label that tipster as useless. That is because as simple human beings we are paying and expecting instant success and returns. When you consider that over 10,000 spins of a roulette wheel a losing run of 28 can be expected when betting red or black, you have to be philosophical when things aren’t going right.

Before you subscribe to a tipster make sure he/she has past results displayed in full to advised prices and STARTING PRICE so you can see exactly how good they are. You need to see a track record just like when you want fish and chips you find a chippy that consistently produces a mouthwatering experience. It’s exactly the same in the tipster/systems betting industry.

7. How do you cope with the inevitable losing runs?

You don’t really. The best professional punters I know are all ‘dead inside’. You can’t tell how much they are winning on the day. No emotion is displayed after a massive win or a massive loss is the best way to be. After an unlucky defeat, move on quickly, you won’t get your money back so by letting it fester you are only making your chances of making a good call on the next race you play even less. Good luck and bad luck is part and parcel of the game, treat it as an equal and that is your best mechanism of defence from a bad run.

8. You have done incredibly well to have had 20 winners in under 3 years from not many horses. What is your secret and does this help with your betting?

I am fortunate to have a found a thoroughly honest man and a great trainer in Brian Ellison. He knows how to get inside a horses head and sweetens horses up that maybe have had enough from other yards.

My skill is identifying such horses that might be well handicapped from other yards and then placing them in the right races to win. Being honest here I would say I have not made enough money to cover expenses by backing my horses to win. I have often had no bet when they’ve won and had too much on when they’re beat. You have to treat them like any other bet. It it’s value then have a decent bet if it isn’t value don’t let sentiment get in the way.

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