Horse racing tips from Equine Investments horse racing tipsters, recommended by the secret betting club

How I Make Money Betting: Laurence lambourn

The 'Godfather' of racing tipsters shares his experience

Welcome to the second in a series of interviews with punters, tipsters and some of the many experts we work with here at SBC on just how they make money betting.

There are many ways to make betting a success and just how each individual does this is often unique to them. Therefore these special interviews are designed to get under the skin of just how some punters make it  pay - the secrets behind their success and their advice for others trying to emulate them.

To continue this new series we interviewed Laurence Lambourn, who operates one of the longest-running and top tipster services out there - Equine Investments. Widely considered to be the 'Godfather' of racing tipsters, due to his consistently profitable record, we were delighted to grill him on behalf of SBC members.

SBC: Hi Laurence, everyone knows you as a mightily successful tipster these days, but can you tell us how you first got into betting in the first place?

Laurence: Sure, well I caught the betting bug off my mum's partner when I was around 16 as Albert used to bet most days in his local betting shop. Although I didn't know what a mug punter was then, I now realize that Albert was a typical example and his bad habits were wearing off on me. As a family we enjoyed attending race meetings together and it wasn't long after that I started frequenting betting shops myself.

How did that then develop into you becoming a genuine profitable punter? Was there a moment or time when you realised you could make it pay?

In the late Nineties when I worked at a bank, I found a racing tipster on the internet (after plenty of research) that looked pretty good. You have to be very careful when there is no evidence of proofed past results but I had a hunch he was genuine after some emails were exchanged.

Back then there weren't any reputable proofing companies that I could recall but there is no excuse nowadays with likes of Racing Proofing and SBC. I gave this guy a go, it was £200 for 6 months if I recall correctly. He would send the bets through by text in the mornings mostly and I was fortunate enough to work in a part of the bank where I could phone bookmakers easily. 

The good consistent results continued, most of his advices were supported and went off much shorter than the price I got to give added confidence. I was interested to learn as much as I could about his methodology and selection criteria, luckily, he didn't mind sharing his knowledge and expertise as I was keen to learn the ropes. It was probably after being with him for a couple of years I knew the game could be cracked so I guess this moment was key for me.

What mistakes (if any) did you make when first betting? Were there any lessons you quickly had to learn?

I started betting for a living with a £9,000 bankroll, a 6 month old baby and a good sized mortgage so there was plenty of pressure from day one. After six months the betting bank was down to £4,000 and the pressure was really on then to say the least! After evaluating the first six months I realised it was my own personal mistakes that were costing me. I knew if I couldn't turn it around anytime soon I was off to the job centre.

I was motivated by recalling all the comments received from those telling me what a stupid move it was to leave a steady bank job to gamble for a living - I simply had to prove them wrong. I kept stakes strong on the tipsters bets I subscribed to and became more disciplined with my own betting.

At the time I was also using the now defunct RSB ratings which moved the market so I started arbing a few of those for some virtually risk free cash. This approach was fruitful and at the end of that first year my bank was £13,000. Some valuable lessons were certainly learnt in year one.

How was betting different for you back when you first started compared to today?
Well for starters, back in those days your bookmakers accounts lasted much longer, which is the main difference. Nowadays it seems like most bookies price up the night before on the internet (where they can control stakes/liabilities much easier) so it's a very cheap heads up for them. This allows them to often iron out any potential expensive ricks in the morning. They certainly aren't doing this for the punter's benefit!

Moving onto your modern day punting, what do you bet upon in the main - is it racing only or other sports? Do you have a preference and if so why?

I bet almost exclusively on racing as that's what I know most about. There appears to be a bigger edge to be had with horse racing if you know what you are doing.

How often do you bet yourself and do you follow any other tipsters?

I bet all of the account bets that I supply via Equine Investments plus more, so I am actively betting most racing days. I don't follow any other tipsters as such but I discuss racing on a daily basis with some of the team and I'm happy to bet some of their fancies and them on mine I suspect.

How about some of the other tipsters out there - are there any you recommend?
I don't really have a view on whether any other tipsters are worth following as they operate in so many different ways and you need to find one to suit your modus operandi. My key advice for any punter looking for a tipster is to insist on seeing plenty of proofed results before you take the plunge. There are numerous proofing sites so there is no excuse for a service to not have their results independently verified.

Many SBC members these days who see success are affected by account restrictions and closures, especially as regards  horse racing, I presume that's something that has impacted you?

Yes that's correct, all my own personal betting accounts were closed many years ago.

Does being relatively well-known as a shrewd gambler see you blacklisted by bookies - perhaps quicker than other punters?

Yes, I opened an account only a few weeks ago with a bookmaker I have not had an account with previously and it was closed before I had even placed a bet.

How (if at all) have you coped with getting your bets on given this?

Well, because my main income is from the tipping business I don't need to bet but I feel obliged to back up my opinions with my own money. I don't really want to go into too much detail but I have access to a few people in shops who can get a few quid on for me under the radar without any price movements and within a minute or two of asking.

What advice would you have for any punter looking to emulate your betting success and also struggling to get their bets on?

My path to where I am now was rather risky as I didn't really know myself if I was going to be any good at actually selecting my own bets with any real success. I was relying on just one successful tipster at the time.  There was a redundancy pot on offer at the time so I had to take it then or maybe not at all. A lot of things have changed now and it is very difficult to win money from bookmakers consistently without getting restricted or closed down so I would urge anyone who is considering betting for a living to be able to make a profit using the betting exchanges.

Moving onto your actual betting performance, could you shed some light on how much you bet yourself?

As I have alluded to earlier I bet the account bets but also some of my shortlisted horses if they drift to a fair price on the betting exchanges, so maybe 5 bets a day on average.  The stakes I use would be much larger if I wasn't tipping them.

Do you work to any specific staking plans?

For the service the official staking range is between £80 and £150 per bet, with most stakes between £80 and  £100 on average. I would like to operate a Kelly style staking for the service which varies your stake according to your perceived edge and takes into account your betting bank. The negative for this is when I find a horse at 10/1 that I feel should be 2/1 in a class 6 on the all weather on a Monday morning. In that scenario, my clients won't be too pleased trying to get a maximum stake on.

What kind of records do you keep for your betting performance?

I only keep records for all of the account bets on the service, I don't bother with other bit and pieces that I place via the exchange.

Moving onto your service - Equine Investments, You recently changed your subscription model from a fixed fee to one based on hitting certain profit targets. Presumably the issue of members getting on was behind this? Can you explain more on this decision and how it all works?

Due to the increasingly weak betting markets it was no longer a viable business practice for the majority of equine members to secure near the advised odds so I had to make changes for the better.  Customers make the business work so I understand that they need to be happy in order to keep up our excellent reputation.

I decided to run two groups of 30 people maximum on a very fair performance related basis to people who can bet with bookmakers. Basically it's a fee up front until a profit target has been met to advised stakes of less than £100 average. Prices are recorded at generally available prices and NOT standouts.

So far it has been a great success with 6 cycles completed already and a 95%+ renewal rate after each cycle. More details are available on my website.    

Can you tell me a bit more about the team you work with at Equine?  Do you find it helpful to bounce and share ideas with others on the type of bets to place...or do you work best alone?

Initially it was just me for the first few years of the service, but I was in daily contact with the guy I used to get tips off when I worked at the bank. He stopped tipping a few years back but we still share betting thoughts most days however and he is an invaluable part of the team.

This team now is the strongest I have worked with, each bringing different qualities to the table. We identify value bets using visual skills, traditional/unconventional form study and statistical edges. EI has a tremendous 10 year track record and with the team now in situ we will grow from strength to strength.

How about the psychology of what makes you a successful punter - How do you handle the ups and downs of  betting such as long losing runs? Any tips for readers you can share?

From experience and past records, I know that profits can come in fits and starts so the path to success is not always a smooth one. A fact proven by the best year results wise at Equine Investments, in which we also suffered 26 losers in a row! (a losing run that has repeated itself three times now).

We can probably deal with these losing runs easier than most people starting out because we have past experience and records to look at. It can be tough though and having a strong mindset to deal with losing runs is much underestimated in my opinion. You just have to keep doing the same process that you have always done in the past and keep believing and not deviate from this. The tide will turn.

Do you find it difficult to watch a race where you have a bet? Many punters recommend not watching an event live as they become too entangled in its outcome.

A lot of my edge is from spotting horses that have performed better than the general public would have perceived them to have run and therefore possibly underbet in the near future, so to answer that, no, I love to watch them whether I have an involvement or not.

Finally, with so much involvement with racing and betting on a daily basis, do you find it easy to switch off from it all at the end of the day?

I'd find it a whole lot easier if I wasn't running a tipping service which operates virtually all year round, so from a business perspective it's tough! On a personal level I can easily switch off when I have to, especially when I can rely on one of the team to take over during a holiday for example.

The SBC Interview 2

Q and A with Laurence Lambourn of Equine Investments

Service Name: Equine Investments

Sports Covered: Racing

Contact: Laurence Lambourn

Bet Frequency: Daily

Telephone: N/A

Pricing: £1295 for a full year of main service.

SBC Discount: N/A

The pre-eminent status of Laurence Lambourn's Equine Investments is extremely well known inside top gambling circles. Indeed, the mystique surrounding his service has only really been rivalled by Kevin Booth's Isiris in its 1990s prime.

But really that's where the comparisons between the two vastly different services begin and end. Like Booth, Laurence Lambourn is rightly feared by the bookmakers for the weight of shrewd money he brings to the party, but his low key, modest approach to life is as refreshing as it is rare in an industry where success so often goes to tipsters' heads...and almost inevitably precludes a fall from grace.

As such the Equine Investments front-man wisely treats those 'twin impostors' triumph and disaster with the same equanimity. It is an even-minded approach that he encourages as a sensible blueprint for anyone looking to bet 'professionally'.

Last season proved to be a disappointing one by the standards of a service that have swept all before them for seven years (they have maintained a remarkable 30%+ ROI in that time), but any doubts that they might have suddenly lost their way have been put to bed since.

EI's service resumed in December when important changes were implemented with a trademark lack of fanfare. Laurence's enigmatic former associate 'Tim' returned to the fold to share the burden of a service offer that is split into two. The split created a main service and a so-called larger volume Turnover Service, both of which are closed to new members. The split, Laurence claims, was a mechanism for decreasing membership numbers to aid price stability in the main service. It was also a customer service response to members' requirements in terms of specific message times and lower daily bet volumes. The obvious solution was a split to two distinct services.

The chart below shows that ROI has generally kept within a range of between 30% ROI and 50% ROI in the 144 bets since recommencing after their break in Autumn 2010, keeping pace with the returns generated throughout this incredible track record.

Looking at that record as a whole, in 2,529 bets since April 2004, every 100 put on the line has returned an average of 132.57, a feat no other racing tipsters, in our experience, have managed to consistently emulate - never mind sustain. Keeping up this level of returns over seven years is unrivalled amongst tipping services in both our network and our anecdotal knowledge.

Laurence's Turnover Service, which he discusses below (in his answer to Question Eight) was launched in May 2010 and, we are glad to report, has maintained the same high standards with returns of 55.51pts profit from 239pts staked at an ROI of 23% (between Nov 2010 and April 2011).

Here in an exclusive interview, Equine Investments' main man gives us a rundown on his new service, suggests seeking out under-bet trainers as a potential angle for members and also offers SBC readers a series of hints to aid their own betting.

1. At the time of writing, you'd probably be considered to be the best racing service out there in terms of quality, consistency and returns but clearly, your process in getting there has seen a few bumps and scrapes. What would you consider the most important lessons that a punter has to learn along the way?
Discipline and good record keeping (as much detail as possible) - will help you to identify your most profitable/unprofitable areas. Consistency in staking is very important too. You should have defined staking rules written down and stick to them.

2. Would it be right to talk about your style of betting as a mix of form work, race reading and pace analysis? How do those three components work together and how would someone follow your example if they wanted to work in a similar vein?
Yes, I record all racing and watch the previous day's races the next afternoon after I'm done sending out any advices. I'm looking for horses that have run well despite any bias whether it be pace, track or draw. I make notes about each horse using the Racing Post online and ascribe each one to three stars depending on how well I thought the noted horses ran against the bias. Along with traditional form study, I use three sets of commercial ratings, two sets of speed figures and a pace program written for me that predicts the shape of how the race might pan out.

3. Can you give us a breakdown of how you price up a racecard and create and sift your shortlist of potential selections?
It can vary slightly, but in the main I'll be mostly concentrating on races where I have noted runners. Using normal form study I will quickly go through the race and get a general 'feel' for it and weigh up what sort of performance might be required to win it. Using my printed sheets with all the runners, ratings and pace on them, I will start with my noted runner and see if he might have conditions to suit (eg pace make up, draw, trip etc). If everything looks acceptable (remember there will be differing degrees of acceptance) I will note down on my sheet that he has a one star chance. It takes a bit of practice, experience and some gut feeling but I have a note in my head of how much I like him in today's conditions. I will go through each runner making small notes - 1/2 chance 1/4 chance etc. I know it sounds complicated but this is how I get a price for my horse. In an eight runner race for example, my noted runner will have one chance there might be another four runners with half a chance each and the remaining three runners might have 1/4 chance each. So there are 3.75 chances which is 11/4 true odds for one chance, so I now know my horse is a true 11/4 shot. After building in a margin for error and profit I'll likely want 100/30 or bigger, the bigger margin above my true odds the bigger the stake. It's not always about one horse, one of the 1/2 chance horses for example might be well overpriced and I'll be on that one as well.

4. How do you rate the key components of a race, (such as the going, form, likely pace, track type etc) in terms of likely importance in influencing the result?
If I insisted we wait for the from horse to have his going with the pace to suit at the right course etc he'll likely be favourite and his chance will be known by the market on most occasions. With that scenario there will be little edge if any and there will be too few bets for me using those strict criteria. I think these factors are all important to differing degrees, If my noted runner hasn't run on the soft ground for example but I still think the market has missed him to some degree I will still strike the bet specially so, if I feel he might have other factors in his favour or I'm sure he's ready to run his race. I prefer to get a balance of factors and still take my chance at the right price even if everything might not be in the horses favour. Of course, if it's completely obvious my horse doesn't act on soft, for example, then I won't bet him.

5. Are there any shortcuts that the part-time punter can make use of or is there simply no way to bet successfully without making it a full-time job?
There is too much racing for the part time punter to cover so he has to specialise, that's up to the individual, it might be sprint handicaps for older horses or two year old maidens for example.

6. It seems to me that the betting shop punter consistently comes unstuck chasing horses over a series of losing runs on the basis of a perceived 'soft run' or 'hidden potential' at the start of their sequence. You clearly keep notes on horses you have noted in running but how do you factor in those horse's chances into a whole new race, with a whole new set of variables?
You can lose a lot of money on these animals and there are no hard and fast rules. If you think one has been run down the handicap under the wrong conditions then bet them once or twice when you think they have conditions to suit at a fair price, don't follow them off a cliff.

7. By your excellent standards you had a poor year last year. How do you cope when things are going wrong and what advice can you give us?
I just keep plugging away using the same methods as I always have, losing runs are part and parcel of punting and dealing with them is key to making long term profits.

8. You have made a number of changes this year, not least splitting your service into two (a main service and a service with a higher turnover of bets). How did you know what changes were required and what are the issues that we should focus in on if we find our own betting isn't working out? For instance, how long should we continue with our usual course and where are the areas where things tend to go wrong for punters?
My mentions were showing a good profit so I decided I wanted them on account and I created a turnover service so I could subsidise the reduction in clients from the main service due to prices coming under too much pressure too quickly. This wasn't the only reason, there were too many updates on the main account and I understand it's tough for people who have jobs to follow the service effectively. The turnover service (bets sent out anytime between 9.30 am and 12.30pm) enabled people to choose which service might suit them most and there is less pressure on me to stick to update times. When things are going wrong you need to have the courage of your convictions. If you have got a proven method then stick to it. I believe that starting price is a massive factor in the horses chance of winning so if a punter finds things going wrong for a lengthy spell then I'd advise them to check what price they got against SP. Chances are if you are still beating SP on average then you just need to ride out the tricky period, however if you find that SP is bigger on average then you need to have a look at your methods. Remember price is everything and you must always seek out the best price on offer for you selections.

9. Unlike most other services you seem to intrinsically understand the link between bet turnover and ROI. Can you explain that for us here?
I know my long term edge is about 30% and I can find around 250 main account bets a year so if I'm wanting to make say 20k a year I know that 20,000/30% (ROI) = 66666.66/250 = 266.66 (this is the stake I need per bet). Basically, for every 100 invested it will make me a 30 profit on average in the long run. If a service/punter has a 10% long term return on investment then they need 750 bets to get the same return using the same stakes for each.

10. Lastly, you tell me that our members can make a bit of headway by concentrating on underbet trainers. Who are they and how do we make use of them as a strategy.
Well, there are many trainers who are underbet, you'll have to do your own research but a quick example is Richard Guest. Backing all his handicap runners over the last five years has produced a profit of over 80 points from over 800 horses with a strike rate of 10%. I'm not suggesting you go in blindly and bet all his handicap horses but do your research and find two or three similarly underbet trainers and delve into how they operate and where their winners come from. That can be a great source of profits.