South Africa

Punters don’t want boring and predictable, they want to feel the thrill

Horseracing betting punters

Let’s be honest, as punters we all want excitement. Whether we’re wagering on horses or humans we enjoy a bit of a thrill.

Let me set up two contrasting scenarios.

Scenario 1.

You’ve backed the favourite in a horse race to win X rand. It’s an amount you would consider to be a handsome profit. The favourite jumps well from stall gate 1 and goes into an immediate lead. Turning into the straight your horse quickens off the front and under an armchair ride from the jockey the horse wins going away by six lengths.

Scenario 2.

You’ve backed a 20-1 outsider in a horse race to win the same amount of money that we had in the first scenario. Your horse jumps slowly from an outside stall gate and the jockey has to sit at the back of the field. Turning into the straight your horse is last and has a wall of horses in front of him. At the 400m mark a gap miraculously opens up like the Red Sea and your horse quickens past the field to hit the front. With only 100 metres left the favourite begins to rally and they cross the line together.

The commentator cannot separate the two horses in a bob-of-the-noses photo finish. After an agonising wait the winning number is posted and your horse is declared the winner.

In each scenario you win the same cash and yet I challenge the majority of punters to tell me that, given the choice, they wouldn’t opt for the thrill of scenario 2.

ALSO READ: Durban July is open for business at Hollywoodbets

If I asked Walter Abrams, Al Pacino’s fictional character from the 2005 movie Two For The Money, to justify (without the profanity) why it is I would chose scenario 2 he would surely look me square in the eye and spell it out as such:

“Neil, it’s because you’re a lemon. There is something inherently defective in you, in all of us. We’re all lemons. We look like everyone else but what makes us different is our defect. When we go to gamble, we go to lose because we constantly need to remind ourselves we’re alive. It’s the need to feel something, to convince yourself you exist.”

Oddly enough it wasn’t the weekend horseracing but rather the English Premier League (EPL) action that got me thinking about all of this two-bit sports-betting psychology.

After Monday night’s football match, in which defending champions Manchester City were stung early by the Brentford Bees but ultimately prevailed in a 3-1 away win, I had to reach for my son’s calculator.

An astonishing total of 45 goals were scored in the 10 Premier League fixtures played this weekend.
It’s a new record and demonstrates that, if anything, the league is delivering more unpredictable entertainment than ever before.

Whether you support an EPL team, play Fantasy Football, punt on the matches or even just try and predict the scores for free on SuperPicks, it’s not a game for the faint-hearted.

ALSO READ: How to deal with punting the wrong horse at the Cape Met

Who in their right mind could have predicted the eight-goal thriller between Newcastle and Luton Town?
That kind of scoreline makes me think I’d be better off investing in a crystal ball rather than spending hours sifting through statistics.

If ever they publish an EPL dictionary, the words “boring” and “predictable” will prove redundant.
As thrill rides go, most Premier League games give off those Walter Abrams “feel something” vibes.

To be fair so has this year’s AFCON tournament; and while the knockout phase has understandably seen less goals the drama has escalated.

I am hoping that Wednesday night’s semi-final between Nigeria and South Africa also proves to be a tight affair and that by hook or by crook Bafana Bafana can progress to the final. My heart hopes, but my little grey cells offer a reality check.

The two nations have met on 12 occasions and the Super Eagles have beaten us seven times. The four draws offer some statistical support for suggesting Bafana might frustrate the red hot favourites, particularly as Ronwen Williams has been sensational in goal, but the fact remains we have only ever beaten the West Africans once in those dozen attempts.

I will try and marry heart and mind and have a few rand on the low on total goals market.

What’s the worst that can happen?

An injury time goal that cuts my ticket. And even then, according to Walter, I’m going to know I’m alive.

ALSO READ: ‘No longer punting horses with bad odds’: New Year’s resolutions from horseracing journalists