It is not very difficult to summarise my approach to betting. I do not bet on events where the competitors are not top quality.
In horse racing the least quality races I will touch with large stakes are Class 2 handicaps. My main plays on the flat will be in Class 2 handicaps, Listed and Group races. Over the jumps my main bets will be on the same scale.
In football my attitudes change. I review the recent form of a team and judge how lucky or unlucky any recent result for a team may have been. I compare my thoughts with the odds available and the form of the opposition and bet accordingly. In football I believe that you need to have a feeling about the match before setting up a betting plan for it.
Finding value is what I like about sport. This does not mean that I do not back favourites occasionally. For example, in August 2009 I bet on a filly called Goldikova for a Group 1 race in Deauville. It was the favourite and went off at 5-4 odds. Its main opposition was Elusive Wave who was a decent enough Group 1 runner but in my view nowhere near a match for one of the best fillies of her generation. I adjudged Goldikova should at least be a 1-2F so the 5-4SP was of particular good value. I placed a very large bet and the selection won "eased down". I was betting on a selection I felt had a 1-2 (66.7%) chance of winning and was getting odds of 5-4 (44.4%). It was a no brainer! I may have been slightly cautious in hindsight considering it won eased down and the fact it went onto win the Breeders Cup Turf Mile later in the year!
When betting on longer priced horses I will look for races where I think a favourite has been overhyped or has weaknesses. If I think a favourite should be 6-1 (14.3%) and is only trading at 7-2 (22.2%) then this has the attributes for a race I can possibly bet in. However I still have to find a one or two selections in the race that I think are of great value to me.
An example during the 2009/10 jumps season occurred for me when the predicted SP's were released for the Fighting Fifth Hurdle (Grade 1) at Newcastle in November. Binocular was the 4-5F (55.6%) and was no value in my book as it was making its re-appearance after a 8 month absence. I felt considering the high quality opposition then there was significant argument for it to be no less than a 9-4 (30.8%) chance. I challenged myself to study this race and came to the conclusion that a race fit and former Supreme Novice Hurdle winner Go Native was phenominal value at 25-1 (3.8%). I priced up every horse for the race based on my own judgements and came to the conclusion Go Native should be no bigger than 10-1 (9.1%). The horse ended up powering through the field after they had crawled for the best part of it only to win going away.
Following a certain selection for sentimental reasons because it has "won at a big price" for me in the past is something I was once guilty of. However I have out-grown this loss-making trait and will only back a former winner of mine if I think it meets the value criteria for its forthcoming fixture. An example of this was when I did not back Go Native next time out as I did not see it as any value in the Antepost market for the Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1) at Kempton. I decided that Starluck at an Antepost 8-1 (11.1%) represented particularly good value as it was due to compete on a track that it had shown its best form on previously. The flat track I considered would be too sharp for a horse like Go Native. In the end Go Native won by a Short Head but would have lost the race with one more stride to my selection. My selection ended up with an SP of 100-30 (23.1%) so I got great value for my large betting stake, despite not winning.
The enjoyment, win or lose, from finding an overpriced selection in a market and watching it compete is where the thrill originates. You have to maintain discipline though when on a losing run as they will happen. Chasing your losses because the last 8 selections have failed to win is the down-side for many punters who use this approach. There has to be some realisation of the odds and percentages that you are dealing with and that you are not entitled to win frequently.
Only a disciplined approach can make you profit long term!