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With so much focus on data, statistics, spreadsheets and analysis in the quest to master value betting and earn a profit from horse racing, it is easy to forget that there are always newcomers to the horse racing betting scene.

For anyone new to the field, the complexities of betting and the range of markets available are greater than ever before, and it can be quite daunting to dip your toe into the water if your only previous experience has been betting on the Grand National at Aintree or the odd football match.

That’s why it is always good to go back to the basics every now and then and remember some of the basic disciplines that are required to becoming a successful horse racing punter. And one of the first things that any budding bettor needs to learn is what NOT to do when betting on the horses (or any other sport for that matter).

Making a profit is not easy, so novice bettors need to take things one step at a time. They need dedication, discipline and be willing to learn. And they need to understand that they will never stop learning along the way. With that in mind, let’s take a look a few common mistakes that should be avoided from Day One of any betting journey.

Never bet for the sake of it

Smart punters never start the day thinking: “I am going to place a bet today.” Instead, they think: “I am going to see if I can find any good value bets worth placing today.” Betting just for the sake of it is not good practice. If you haven’t even looked at the markets, the prices and the basic data, you should not even be thinking about placing a bet. Every bet you place should be based on reasoned conclusions reached by examining whatever information is available to you. For novice punters, this might mean reading tips and form guides from well-known sources such as Oddschecker. More experienced bettors will often have access to their own extensive data sets or spreadsheets of information compiled through betting clubs and forums.

You need to set minimum criteria for a bet to meet before you consider placing it. If there are no bets that fit the bill, just don’t gamble. You are better off not betting and not losing than risking your money by betting blind.

Avoid emotional decisions

Sport can bring out emotions in all of us, but when you have your betting hat on, you need to push any emotion to one side. You might get lucky betting on a gut feeling or placing bets in the heat of the moment, but in the long term, betting with your heart, not your head, is a flawed strategy.

Betting this way puts you solely at the mercy of luck and top gamblers will always strive to remove as much luck as possible from the equation. Many new gamblers avoid betting on their own teams until they can be sure they are being totally objective in their decision-making. Every wager needs to be carefully calculated after a thorough analysis of all the available information.

Learn from your mistakes

Losing is part of gambling and rather than licking your wounds and bemoaning your bad luck, you should perform an honest assessment of why you lost. Sometimes, you will find there was nothing more you could have done, the bet just did not come in. At other times, you will realise that you actually made a bad call or you didn’t give enough weight to certain factors that are now clear. Identifying where you went wrong is all part of developing your own strategy and will help you to avoid future losses. The best way to do this is by keeping a log or record of all your bets. This will almost certainly help you to iron out any future errors in your approach.

Ignore insider tips and peer pressure

Everyone at some point in time has been given an insider tip; whether it is from a work colleague, a stable boy or a friend of a friend whose cousin knows someone in the industry. Getting a tip in this way should never be reason enough to place a bet. Every bet you place must satisfy your own strict criteria, so run the numbers and see how they stack up and make your own judgement call. And if you ignore an insider tip that comes good, don’t use that as a signal to follow their advice in the future. Sometimes even the man in the bar just gets lucky.  

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