I know only too well how much hard work goes into being a tipster. You can recognise a tipster by his or her baggy eyes, pale pallor and the appearance of someone who has been held hostage for years in a windowless room.
I have never met Tom Segal. But listening to him it is clear we have much in common. Especially when it comes to our attitude and dedication to trying to find winners.
Tom Segal is Pricewise in the Racing Post.
One of the best in the business and a man who, despite spending too many hours in a closet watching past races and studying form, talks much sense. I find myself agreeing with much of what he says.
Tom Segal and I clearly have a very similar thought pattern when it comes to tipping.
We often differ when it comes to which horses we select. But, like all punters and tipsters, we have our great days, our good days and days when we, to quote ‘The Monkees’, really should have stayed in bed with a pillow wrapped around our head.
But he doesn’t get wrapped up in his own statistics. He doesn’t keep records himself of his own winners and losers. That will raise eyebrows among those who seem obsessed with acronyms like ROI and P&L.
Tom says: “No one seems to believe me, but I’m not a big punter, never have been. I will back most of my selections if I have the time in the morning, but certainly don’t lose any sleep over betting at all. It should be fun. When it isn’t perhaps it is time to think about doing something else.
“I don’t keep profit and loss accounts. I am only interested in the next race, not the last one. I’m a tipster not a punter, there is a massive difference.”
Pricewise Tom Segal doesn’t like to over complicate the job of being a tipster.
Like me, Tom isn’t obsessed about operating a points system. We both believe in keeping it simple.
He says: “Pricewise is a very popular betting medium these days and everyone knows it is difficult to get on. Therefore, I prefer to keep things as realistic as possible by only staking 1pt every time because there is no way anyone can get on more than their normal stake. If I say have 54pts on a 20-1 shot, what’s the point? It’s totally unrealistic. Ideally I would not use points at all.”
Tom is often asked if he enjoys better results on the flat than over the jumps. But his employers keep the records and, quite rightly, he doesn’t believe in looking back.
Pricewise says: “I thought I had my best jumps season ever last season, but I wouldn’t have a clue because I don’t keep records. If I am worse on the jumps it will be because of the obstacles. One mistake and a horse can lose all chance and you can’t factor that into calculations.”
I am constantly telling members of my selections service that it is possible for all tipsters and punters, myself included, to study form too long. And Pricewise agrees.
Tom says: “You can study form too much, turn yourself inside out and find reasons not to back the one you first picked. I am a great believer in intuition. You can over complicate things. As for losing runs, like any tipster, I’ve had them but I’ve been doing my job for a long time now so I’ve got used to them. You just have to keep doing what suits you temperamentally. If you start changing your methods it gets to you mentally in the end.
“I think that having the races I look at dictated to me by the bookmakers, (it’s a common misconception that I choose the races I look at), can be a help. I’m forced into those races rather than having to hunt around for a selection. I don’t get worried about ground and stuff like that because very often I have no clue what it is going to be like. As for not having a fancy at all one any given day, that happens all the time.”
Punters may expect to find Tom Segal at the racecourse every week.
I think it is a common misconception that tipsters cannot be good at their job unless they are actually at a racecourse every day of the week. I would say the exact opposite is true. I love going to the races but if you are serious about being a profitable punter you will spend most of your time indoors, studying the past form of horses, looking at the race cards (minimum one hour per meeting for me) and watching back recordings of previous races involving horses you are interested in.
Daylight can be a stranger to a punter and tipster. And in this day and age you can see much more racing at home than you can at a course. Going to the races is to have a nice day out and, hopefully, come away with more money than you had in your pocket before the first race. But, with a handful of notable exceptions, I have had much better returns when betting online than at a racecourse.
When I go to the races it is to sample the atmosphere. Catch up with contacts in the industry and, of course, to have a pint of Guinness. But not more than two. I despair when I see punters who are the worse for drink handing over money to on course bookies.
You’re more likely to see an empty bar at a racecourse than bump into Tom Segal!
He says: “I find myself actually going to the races about two or three times per year in the UK and the same in Ireland.”
So what does he base his selections on?
Tom told Channel 4 Racing: “I think jockeys are the last human factor that can alter the outcome of a race and I think we underestimate their importance. For example I am a massive fan of the jockey Wayne Hutchinson. I think he is by far the most underrated jockey in the weighing room by quite some way. He should get much better rides than he does.
“I look for jockeys who don’t have a record of making a balls up of a ride. I look for improving horses and I don’t allow myself to get too wound up about the ground or trip requirements.”
Now I know only too well that all tipsters can be on the receiving end of criticism. People (many of whom have yet to have sex or enjoy their first pint) are quick to tell tipsters they are rubbish, or only tip short priced favourites etc etc. I was once told the latter on a day when i tipped a 33-1 winner.
Many punters have unrealistic expectations. They think people like Pricewise and myself should only tip winners. I have been asked “how did you know that horse would win?”
Well, shock horror, I didn’t know. Not even the horse knew it would win. Too many punters judge tipsters by the results on one day. As I often say, judge tipsters by what they do over 365 days.
I have to titter when I see twits on Twitter slagging off Tom Segal.
There is only one answer to his critics. Go on then, you do it.
Quit your secure office job and spend every hour of every day (bar three or four every year) studying form, offering tips and punting. But first make sure you have a thick skin.
Tom Segal does not blow his own trumpet. He never has. He simply does not brag about his winners. Other people do that.
His employer the Racing Post will do so. And, in the days when John McCririck was allowed on Channel 4, he would all too often call Tom “the world’s best tipster” and say things like “don’t bother with any other tipster, just follow Pricewise.”
Well that is silly. The best punters – many of them members of my selections service – take the right approach. They shop around. They pic ´n´mix where they get their tips from. They road test certain tipsters and stick with the ones they like. You shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket and you shouldn’t do all your shopping at one supermarket. So why use only one tipster?
As for the accusation that his success is the subject of hype, Tom Segal has the correct response to his detractors.
He says: “The Racing Post tell me that last year was my best ever so as for the Racing Post hyping me up, that is up to them. I don’t take any notice. I don’t read forums, don’t have a twitter account and don’t watch too much racing with the sound up. I’m just a tipster trying to find the winner of every race I look at. I simply can’t do more than that.”
Well said that man.