Bet City School
Systemites Need Logic and Discipline!



An excellent piece from Matt Bisogno from GeeGeez


Few things polarize thinking in betting circles as much as the use of betting systems. Here, I’m not talking about staking plans but rather mechanical rules-based selection techniques.

For instance, ‘bet grey horses on a Wednesday when there’s an ‘E’ in the month’. (I have deliberately used the most preposterous example I could think of).

When systems fail to be profitable, it is generally to do with one or both of the two main components involved in their operation: the system, and the user!

Let’s look at that in more detail.

Firstly, the system. If you’ve been around racing for any length of time, you will probably have a pretty good ‘bullshit detector’, both when it comes to sales materials and system rules.

I’ve left the ‘how to spot a scam artist’ element for another day, because this is about you and me and how we can bet better.

So, the system. Use this as a rough framework through which to run a possible system, either devised by you, or bought by you.

1. Does the system have a vast number of rules?

Most of the best systems I’ve used are based on simplicity and strong (but often contrarian) logic. Every rule a system employs takes it a step further away from the most logical premise of all: a horse, in a race.

I’m extremely loathe to put a precise number for the rules threshold as that will be arbitrary, and in some cases fewer would be better, while other will demand deeper drilling and more rules.

Generally speaking though, more than five or six rules is probably whittling down to a statistically unrepresentative sample size. (However, to further complicate matters, experienced judges can still create micro-systems in very small pools of data, when they use a portfolio approach).

2. Are the system rules based on logic?

I saw a system recently that said, ‘bet in all months except December’. When I asked why not December, I was told matter-of-factly that the system wasn’t profitable in December.

In case you didn’t know this already, the fact that a part of a variable (e.g. a month in a year, a going type, a race course) is not profitable is no reason in or of itself to exclude it. Equally, the fact that a part of a variable is profitable is no reason to include it.

It is the logic that underpins the rule that determines whether or not it should be included. Let’s use a couple of examples to illustrate what I mean:

– Firstly, suppose I’m looking at a turf flat system which relies on the fitness of horses as its rationale. In this case, I might well be justified in excluding the month of April (the first full month of the flat turf season). Further, I might be justified in excluding a horse’s first run of the season. Both of these exclusions would generally support the underlying rationale of my system, which is to bet fit horses, defined as those who were not having their first run of the season and in any case were running later than April.

– Secondly, let’s say I was looking at the performance of highly weighted handicap chasers, based on the going conditions. Suppose I had a nice correlation of profit to loss based on going, from firm through to heavy. But suppose within that, the ‘good to firm’ category showed a loss whilst the ‘firm’ and ‘good’ categories (the neighbouring descriptions) were profitable.

There could be no conceivable logical reason to exclude races on ‘good to firm’ from my calculations. And, if the profile was sound enough, I’d proceed despite what looks to me like an anomaly. In other words, I can’t explain why I’d exclude it, so I’ll assume that in the future races run on that going description will conform to the general trend of races run of quicker surfaces.

These examples aren’t brilliant in truth, but I hope you catch the general drift of what to look out for, and how to stop yourself from ‘convenience fitting’ (which I much prefer to the much misused ‘back-fitting’, a valid technique used by the likes of weather forecasters, insurance underwriters, and, gulp, system developers. Here’s a Wiki definition of back-fitting).

Now let’s look at the system operator, i.e. you or me!

Ask yourself some questions here. When a system says, ‘I advise a bank of x points’, do you start with a bank of x points? When a system advocates paper trading (as I always do) through all or part of the refund period, do you do that? If you are creating a system, and it suffers a losing run, are you likely to go back and ‘tinker’ with the rules?

If you don’t use the recommended bank, or paper trade, or stick to your rules, fair enough. But you need to know that it may not be the system that is at fault… especially if it is grounded on the principles of sound logic espoused in the first part of this point.

As a user of one or more systems, we have a responsibility to be clinical in our trialing and / or betting approach. Like stable whispers, systems can be a bit too sterile for some tastes, and it can be argued that they take the magic out of the selection process.

However, for others, the narrowing of the selection process to a (hopefully) proven set of parameters is a joy, and the identification of those picks a happy moment in the daily routine.

Either way, a system user must either ‘buy into’ the logic of the system, or not. These days, when I see a system I can generally tell if it has merit or not by cursory inspection. After that, if I’m not sure, I’ll use a database to interrogate certain rules to see if they make some sort of sense.

If I decide to incorporate a system into my portfolio, then I stick by it for a reasonable period. A reasonable period is three months at least (although it varies, depending on the number and price of selections).

Too many people lurch from one system to the next after a few losers, whining that the product doesn’t work. If you’re one of these, then forgive me, but how do you know if it works or not?!

In point of fact, there are stacks of betting system review sites out there these days, many of them reputable. Of course, we still do some reviewing here on geegeez. But most of the betting system reviews are now carried out on or, both of which are within the geegeez portfolio.

These are reliable sites, where products are trialed for sixty days, and a view offered not just on their profitability but also their ease of use, volatility and various other factors that influence the usability of a system.

So, no excuses, the evidence is there, and one needs to take personal responsibility for how and when systems are used.


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