I must confess to falling prey to a lot of these superstitions myself, hopefully in this blog I can exorcise some.
Although perhaps speaking of nullification is a little bit of a superstition in itself?
Some I won’t be able to shake – I certainly wouldn’t want to go into the window breaking business, as seven years bad luck is too high a risk!
The late William Hill reputedly used to forbid people from wearing green in his trading room. If you haven’t heard of William Hill he was a bookmaker who set up a few shops in the 1960′s, some of which survive to this day. This is one that I follow; when punting I don’t wear green, and try to avoid the colour if possible, the only caveat I have added is that if there is an Irish connection it doesn’t count. Marrying my wife who is a quarter Irish hopefully added to my lucky qualities. Just realised from reading back this paragraph I am coming across as a bit of a slave to these things, oh well! Years ago when I worked at Befair my boss used to take the piss (quite rightly) and say “Chris, you don’t want to offend the Gods”!
Someone once wrote that losers are as contagious as cholera, and should be avoided. The logic being that if you are spending hours chatting to mugs who punt every dog race, every horse race and the 49′s in between then ultimately you can get dragged down to their level. I have to say that there is something in this. On a funny aside, a few years back whilst working on Haymarket St we used to pop into a bookies in Soho to watch races. There was this Chinese man who thought we were unlucky, and if you touched him he would let out a shouting shriek saying “money gone, money gone”. In our cruelty my friend used to make a point of patting him on the back.
3) Breaking Mirrors.
This one has seven years bad luck. If you do break a mirror be sure to bury some of it. Not worth the risk.
4) Asking a result.
Sir Peter O’Sullivan wrote about the unlucky qualities of asking a result. Try it yourself: next time you can’t see a race ask a friend which horse won it and I guarantee it won’t be yours. In Sir Peter O’Sullivan’s book he devised a system to get around this – he would ask what the tote dividends were, and try to divine the outcome from those. In today’s modern age there are fewer challenges here; in particular I am a big fan of the iPhone Racing Post App, try it out, it’s superb.
5) Chasing losses!
Bit of a given this one. Even if you can chase back successfully you never feel good about it as you know it’s wrong. This is the sort of strategy that can destroy your punting equilibrium and make you take bad calls again the following day. I always try to remember: “there’s never a last race”! In particular this is really dangerous if you are a favourite backer in sports betting, as in certain events players are aware of other results. You often see seeds topple like skittles in sports such as darts, snooker (in particular first ranking major of season) and tennis.
6) Spilling Salt.
This can be countered by flinging a small quantity over your left shoulder. However be aware that chucking salt into someone’s face is also deemed unlucky…
7) Walking under a ladder.
Don’t take the chance! As much as anything a tin of paint on your coconut doesn’t do you any favours. I need to reign this one in slightly as it’s evolved to the point that I don’t like to walk under scaffolding either!
7, 13, 666 (and so on). Thankfully I’m not superstitious about numbers at all, even Friday the 13th. I can see how this develops in punters, as I do have a mind that tends to notice figures.
I know a few punters who don’t like backing greys. They argue it’s on the basis that they have a bad level stakes return on investment. Of course I doubt chestnut and bays have much different results. Not one I really worry about to be honest. In fact some of my favourite horses have been greys, in particular Daylami. Pictured is an easily recognisable chaser below who’s owner, interestingly, used to buy greys as he had poor eyesight and wanted to be able to clearly identify them during a race!
10) Lucky Charms.
Not one I pay much heed too, certainly not lucky for the poor rabbit!
It’s interesting the whole superstition thing. I do feel perhaps it’s not altogether bad, as hopefully following a few of them can at least clear the mind. The best punting I do is when I have no concerns or worries, and I would say a feeling of “bad luck” even if the bad luck doesn’t tangibly exist can make me take the wrong percentage call. That said it’s best if you can avoid superstition altogether, and I hope you haven’t picked up a few of mine!