Dean Evans of Winning Edge Investments joins Jake Williams of Business of Betting podcasts to talk about sports betting as an investment and how to be successful long-term. Dean Evans is widely regarded as historically Australia's #1 professional horse racing tips provider, with 2 services (Trial Spy & Dean's Tips) amassing over $120,000 in profits over 8 years for members using an average bet size of just $60.
Read the transcription here:
Jake Williams: Greetings and hello to everyone. This is the Business of Betting Podcast, and I'm your host, Jake Williams. Today is episode 39 and we have Dean Evans joining the show. Dean, AKA the Trial Spy, has been an enormously successful horse racing analyst and service provider based on his innovative and revolutionary approach to form assessment. We chat about investing principles, money management, bank preservation, how to watch to trials, the tipping industry, and the guiding principles for Winning Edge Investments.
This podcast is proudly sponsored by Betfair. Betfair operates a betting exchange and is licensed in the Northern Territory of Australia. Residents of Australia can join Betfair by visiting betfair.com.au, and support this podcast by using promo code BOBPOD. Please gamble responsibly.
As always, you can find us at businessofbetting.com, or @BettingPod on Twitter. Please fire in any questions or feedback on potential guests you would like to hear from. So thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy my chat with Dean Evans.
Today I'm joined by Dean Evans from Winning Edge Investments. Dean, thank you very much for joining me.
Dean Evans: No worries, Jake. Thank you very much for having me on.
Jake Williams: So let's get straight into it, Dean. What's your background and history in horse racing and betting?
Dean Evans: Well, I think my love of racing came from my father. He bred a number of horses in New Zealand and Australia. Had some black type success and a few reasonably handy horses and I used to love heading out to the track, both in New Zealand where I'm originally from, and in Australia, and just going and watching them. I guess from there, I've always had a mathematical background and been good in that area, so it developed I suppose from enjoying betting. And I think enjoying the racing firstly, but I think getting to a point where when you're watching something you enjoy so often, betting is a fairly integral part of the racing game. And so, I used to do that, and I can recall doing it probably from about age 10 on my dad's betting account, trying to pretend with the deep voice calling up the TAB and trying to get things on.
I can recall when I was about 13 or 14 watching a particular race. It was on a bog heavy track and doing the form and seeing that there were only three horses that could handle the heavy and everything else just couldn't, boxing those three up and getting a trifecta. It only cost me six dollars and won about eight grand. And I think about then was when it piqued my interest. For a kid that was a truckload of money and I suppose it tweaked in my head that, oh, hang on, if you do a bit of research and you know what you're doing, you can do something out of this.
But having said that, I still went through my early years finding a lot of winners and certainly backing a lot of big-priced winners and that sort of thing and knowing that I could beat the market, but still not winning overall. And so, it was really I suppose a situation where I knew this was a passion, I knew that I loved racing, and I knew I suppose that I'd always want to bet on racing, but being the type of person that I am, I decided ... I was losing. I'm also the sort of person that doesn't want to lose money, so I decided rather than quitting, I wanted to educate myself on how to become a profitable and successful punter. And so, that meant reading a lot of books, doing a lot of investigation on the web, and I even started following certain services. And I guess turned myself from a losing punter to one that was winning very handsomely.
Went through the same process I suppose as a lot, with winning comes getting banned. I got to a position where I was banned from most bookies in Australia. And that came from developing an edge a few years ago around trials. I was watching a lot of trials and all I was really doing was chucking them in a black book, any horse that I'd seen trial well. And particularly, I liked to focus on maidens and young horses and that still happens today. Maidens and young horses were trialling up against open class horses, or horses that had won a few races and jog trotting next to them while they're under hard riding.
And back then, a few years ago, that was just an absolute goldmine. It was quite unbelievable that no one was watching the trials, you have horses going out at big odds who you just knew had panels on the field. And from that, I built an association with Champion and released a service called Trial Spy that was incredibly successful and still is. We've been doing that for about five years and generated around 600 units profit, around 10% profit on turnover, and it's just been an incredibly successful service. We're only able to do one intake for a few days a year and then we close it up, because it's been so popular and I suppose we haven't had many drop offs. So it's shown that that edge was enormous.
It's certainly different now, there's a lot more watching it. I know, I'm talking to some friends and acquaintances who work for bookies and that sort of thing, they cottoned on after I started doing webinars to large groups, on the trial game. It's very different now. If there's a horse that trials well, regardless of its form, the bookies keep it tighter than they used to, where they used to ignore or not place as much impetus on the trial form. So I kicked that off and at the same time was doing non-trial related form assessment as well, so that resulted in running another service, and both those services still run today.
Jake Williams: I want to run through a hypothetical scenario with you. Before you were with Champion and you were winning based off your trial form, as well typical handicapping, how much do you think a corporate bookmaker should have paid you for that information? Where I'm coming from is instead of banning you, there's obviously a value in you winning long term and them having access to that information. What do you think it was worth to an individual corporate bookmaker to essentially accept a certain level of your bets to have access to that information?
Dean Evans: Some of them did do that, and some of them still do that. There's still some bookies that'll let me bet, and obviously with that, the minimum bet laws come in. Most of them have let me bet, some still don't abide, but I give up after a while trying to force them. But some of them still did. From my perspective that was okay to get a little bit on, but it was nothing much, because as soon as I'd place a bet, it would smash those odds in for that bookie. Because I'm running services, I try to avoid that as well and got to a point where I was having to get most of my bets on late, just so that I'd allow members the opportunity to get in there early.
They certainly did, but we did some really basic maths on...back in the early days of Trial Spy, everybody had a Bet365 account, they weren't actually banning people, they were betting you the best tote guarantee. And we would have pulled millions from them as a group, even on your most conservative estimates. So it's no surprise. There was a couple of periods where they just went bang and pretty much restricted virtually everyone receiving the service, because they could see the pattern I suppose.
And so, you've got to adapt with that in terms of services, obviously. We now send everything out after 9:00AM, so that everybody can at least get on with the minimum bet laws. But also, there's more of an opportunity I think now to ... some can bet early, some can bet late. There's some good corporate products, whether you've got Betfair SP and you can still set a minimum price. Best tote SP, The Global Tote with Top Betta also that throws up some huge prices sometimes.
There's alternatives for people and there's more of a mix I think now of clientele, which is good that you've got some who like to bet early, some who like to bet late and monitor themselves, some who like to just use one of those products that I've just spoken about. So you get a mix and there's a lot more balance now, so we don't see the crazy odd movements that used to occur.
Jake Williams: Let's talk price. Unlike bookies and totes, the Betfair exchange is a low margin, buy, sell, fixed odds marketplace, where the value stays with the punter, not the house. Ready for the game within the game? Join betfair.com.au. Gamble responsibly. So take us through your mindset when you decided to release your Trial Spy selections, because from my perspective it sounds like you could have put a group together and potentially made a lot of money out of it, doing it without providing access to the public to those selections. What was the rationale to be able to provide that to other punters out there?
Dean Evans: In hindsight, we probably could have done a lot better doing that, but at the time, I was learning from some of those involved there and it was sort of a kick off for some additional income considering that I was in a position where I wasn't able to get anywhere near as much on as I wanted to. From there though, what I found was I actually just really, really enjoy the interaction side of things. I think most people know that betting can be a lonely game when you're sitting there in your dungeon and betting away on your own.
So I really enjoy the interaction and I enjoy the questions from members and helping them. And it got to the point where with both my services now, there's a 100 page member information pack. And it's basically a culmination of all of the questions that have come from members and punters wanting to learn how to get the best odds, how to avoid getting banned by the bookmakers, and how to just maximize their profits with their betting activities. A lot of it is around the mindset side of things as well.
And I enjoy that. I enjoy the education side of it. I enjoy helping people win. And that's probably the reason why I've continued to do it. There's a lot of pleasure from getting emails from people telling me how much they've won over a period, or what they've done with those winnings, and that's enjoyable.
Jake Williams: It's incredibly fair, makes perfect sense. So on this topic, you mentioned it sounds like a manifesto, what are some of Winning Edge Investment's philosophies and I guess general thoughts on the horse racing and I guess sports betting, tipping industry as a whole?
Dean Evans: Well, I suppose what I tried to do over the time is just listen to what people wanted when it came to tipping services. I think that there's a lot good analysts out there and a lot of good pro punters, but it doesn't always translate to necessarily having a service that people enjoy or are able to win from. I think the industry as a whole has a lot of question marks around it. I think when you look at the fact that a lot of tipping services can promote corporate bookmaker links and that sort of thing, I've got to say it's somewhat antithetical to the aim of having punters win when you're on the flip side, actually incentivised for them to lose by virtue of promoting corporate bookmakers and getting a payment based on losses. I think that's one of the reasons why people have a lot of question marks about a lot of tipping services and their motives.
And even some of the major horse racing websites, they're packed full of very useful information and certainly get people to bet more, which is a big positive. And the information they put out in a lot of cases is good, but at the end of the day, they are still ultimately incentivised to get people to bet, and unfortunately incentivised to get people to lose, because that is the structure of how the corporate affiliates work.
In terms of complaints from people that I've heard about other sites and generally around the industry, I think results not being posted on the website regularly, meaning that they're not verified. Some don't put them on the website at all. Some only send them if they're asked, which again, I think questions the transparency and you've really got to question the accuracy of those.
I think too, you've really got to focus long term with your betting, and yet, most seem to trump on the results over a day or a week or a month, which again, is somewhat meaningless for anyone who's looking at betting long term and making a genuine profit over a long period. You see testimonials that are from members who've had a great day or a week or a great start. There's no clear odds recording policy, so it's unclear how they've come up with these results and whether they're achievable.
No explanation of the betting bank, I always find that interesting. There's a lot of talk about units, people using units. But people use units simply to reflect that if you say one unit on a horse, for one person that might mean 100 dollars, for another person that might mean 200, for another person that might mean 500. But what I find interesting is how many have converted across to this units concept, and yet, don't actually have any clear explanation of how many units you're supposed to have for the service. So their whole unit concept is somewhat meaningless. And the results actually not being from when the service started, but created out of thin air somewhat. And people not having any other sort of profile, whether it be on social media or anywhere and being somewhat hidden and unknown.
So we took a lot of the experience I guess that I've accumulated from doing this for five years across two different services. With Winning Edge, it was just all about trying to do the right things based on what people wanted from a legitimate service, making sure the results are transparent.
We have seven services at the moment across different horse racing genres and sport. We make sure those results are up on the website every day. We've got clear summaries on the units of profit, units invested, profit on turnover, return on investment. A full detailed spreadsheet with every single bet and more detail than I believe any other services have. And we also post the daily and overall results on Twitter and Facebook every single day. So we're accountable in a way that no other services are.
There's a very transparent and clear odds recording policy. So with any service that starts with us is firstly a very, very long and involved and detailed process of verifying the results and going through a trial period to ensure that they are genuine. We record at the third best fixed price only from a small, select group of bookies who actually take a bet, along with mid tote.
It ensures clarity for members and non-members alike to critically assess and compare each service's performance, and it's stated up front. A lot of services say the same ... "If you'd done this or you'd bet this way, you would have achieved a certain result." But the advice is useless if it's not provided before the tips are sent. We're all about the fairness and achievabilty of the results recording. The services are genuinely profitable and people can see that daily, and are verified by all of the members who are following.
We're real people, we're not hiding behind names or just behind a computer screen. They're all people with real profiles and available publicly, not just behind a computer. We provide a profit guarantee with every service. So if our service doesn't show a profit, then we refund the next payment and that just means that, again, the analysts are very much aligned with the customers, and that if the service isn't making a profit, then the analysts aren't getting paid. And again, unlike virtually every other tipping service, we have no corporate bookmaker affiliate deals, which means that if the services are losing we are not getting any income.
And we don't just tip, we educate, try to act as a full advisory service, provide very clear information when the bets are sent on whether to bet immediately, whether to bet later, the exact units to have on the horse, the current price and all of the detail. And like I said, new members get a 100 page member's information pack with plenty of education to help them with testimonials from long term members. They're from people who have been with us for years and years, not for a week or two.
For me it was really just about the concept of really trying to make sure that everything that I've learned over five years of what people want and how to do things in an honest and open and transparent way about the realities of how to succeed with your betting. That's what's important to me, is that people treat it like an investment and that's when we recently merged horse racing professionals and sport betting professionals into one name. I wanted to call it Winning Edge Investments, because if you look at the definitions of betting and gambling compared to investing, they are very, very different definitions. But I treat it very much as investing, treat it like a business and expect that anyone who's a member is doing the same.
Jake Williams: Yeah, that's fair. That makes perfect sense. On the investing side I was curious to listen to some of your public thoughts from while ago now, but talking about investing, and it seems like that was part of the impetus for Winning Edge Investments and people like Warren Buffet from Berkshire and Ray Dalio from Bridgewater. What are some of those guiding principles you've gathered along the way, and you've touched on some of them, but from the investing side more so, that you've been able to translate to sports and horse racing?
Dean Evans: Yeah, I love reading about successful investors and particularly around, not only the methodologies that they use, but also the mindset, because that's so critical to success in any type of investing. And I think you've only got to look at what's happening in certain markets. I was reading about Amazon, everybody knows the Amazon business. Their share price at one point was $113. It went down to $5.97 and it's now $1362 I think on last look, the current share price.
A successful investor who's backing themself knows when to hold and when to just continue to back their judgment I suppose, whereas the vast majority of people they simply sell and panic during a down period. There was a very interesting analysis that had been done multiple times on hedge funds and funds that invest on behalf of what you'd call mum and dad investors. And what they found is that the actual results that people, your mum and dad investors achieve compared to the results that are actually achieved by these hedge funds is significantly reduced and that's because of the emotion side of it. The mum and dad investors panic and sell when things are going down and buy once they've gone up again.
Another great example is Bitcoin. It's probably out of the scope of this discussion around the future and the virtues of crypto currencies, but what I find interesting around Bitcoin is again, it shot up to $50 dollars and then dropped to $15, it shot up to $250 and dropped to $50. Once it got to $1100, it dropped to $185. As we know now, it's $15000, or by the time we're finished talking, it might have dropped to $13000 and bounced up to $17000
Jake Williams: Could be anything.
Dean Evans: ... time. But what's interesting now is when I look at cryptos is that a lot of people in the racing industry have gone into that space. And what's interesting is they've almost changed their mindset. The smart ones at least know that crypto, and it's almost become people are accustomed to it, that it's going to bounce up and down, and up and down, and up and down. If you have this belief, and a lot of them have a very firm belief that it is going to keep going up and up at least for a fair while to come, then they're not bothered by those massive swings.
And I suppose the reason for me going on about this is that I have the same perspective when it comes to betting. I know that I'm going to win long term, and I'm not bothered by any sort of any short term variance. But what you come to learn in running these sorts of tipping services is that people have a tendency to drop off during a down period and a tendency to hop on after a big winning run and then wonder why they're not achieving those results.
And I guess what I have tried to do and will continue to try to do with Winning Edge Investments is say to people, "It's about time in the market, rather than trying to time the market." If you subscribe to our services, you know these are highly successful, expert analysts or full time professional punters, who you can trust and rely on our services. We do everything right in terms of trying to ensure the results are achievable and everything's open and transparent. And if the service isn't performing and we don't have the faith long term that it will, then we terminate, because there's absolutely no benefit in our business in having a losing service. Not only does it not come in because of the profit guarantees, but it also drags down the portfolios of everyone. So we're very quick to act if a service isn't adding any value to what I would call the overall portfolio.
But if you look at Warren Buffet, $58 billion net worth, one of the richest men in the world, he actually started as a horse racing handicapper. From learning how to price a horse, he then moved to pricing companies and stocks. And Warren made a fortune being contrarian, backing his own opinion, and it's the same in the racing game. You need to back your own opinion. Respect the market, but don't let it over influence you, because you need to be contrarian and you need to back your opinion. If you don't, then you're not going to win simply following the market.
There's a few other quotes of his that I just find interesting that you can relay back to racing or betting in general. He's made the comments before that derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, CFDs and options, that sort of thing. I suppose a punting equivalent of derivatives are exotics. Quinellas, trifectas, and quadies, which you can absolutely make a profit from, but if you're not making good profit on your win and place betting, you're unlikely to do so with those.
He talks about understanding risk, draw down, it's about using a mathematically sound bank protection strategies. He's made the quote, our favorite holding period is forever. That's again what I'm speaking about. The longer term perspective you take, the more successful you'll be. And he's also said I have no idea on timing, it's easy to tell what will happen rather than when it will happen. The largest global betting syndicates in the world, they don't know when their winning or losing periods will be, they just know they'll win overall.
And I guess that's the message that we try to continually convey to our members and to anyone who's interested is that you can make outstanding money from betting on horses, and you can do it in a way that because of the power of compound, you can grow your betting bank significantly quicker than you can with alternative forms of investment. If you've got a $10,000 betting bank, if you chuck it in a bank, you're lucky to maybe make 3%. Warren Buffet himself, he makes 20% per year on stocks. So unless you back yourself to be better than Warren Buffet, you're going to struggle to do 20%.
But the difference with betting on horse racing or sport is that you're constantly turning over, you're constantly turning that bank over. So rather than just investing a static $10,000 at the beginning of the year, you're turning that $10,000 over. So although you only need $10,000, you might be turning that over to $100,000 or a million over a year.
And at the end of the day, if you're constantly turning that over at say, that $10,000, you're turning over $100,000 in a year and you're only making 10%, well, you've actually made a $10,000 profit. And that's a 100% return on your bank, rather than 20%. And it's that simple concept is where the great potential in betting on racing or sport is. So if you do have an edge and you take a long term perspective, then that is what can be achieved.
Jake Williams: So have you thought about doing things to help your investors save them from themselves for want of a better term, in terms of perhaps minimum subscriptions, which obviously, probably from a PR perspective, may not come across great, but things like that where you can not only tell them, but try and save them from themselves? Or, have you just said, "Look, we're going to provide you with all the tools, all the content," and then ultimately if you want to treat it like a mum and dad might treat their investment portfolio and opt in and out at the wrong times, based on panic, that's for them to decide?
Dean Evans: Yeah, look, the first thing that we've tried to do is educate, and educate, and educate, and educate, and try to have people hold the answer in their hands. One thing we did do when we merged is we removed weekly memberships. And I find it interesting that a lot of others in the game have in fact done the opposite and only offer weekly memberships, which to me is, again, antithetical to the concept of trying to succeed with your betting long term. So at the moment we only offer monthly, quarterly, or yearly subscriptions.
I have given a lot of consideration to removing the monthly subscription. And there's other business models that we've considered and will continue to consider, whether we lump all services together into one and have a one group of services that people follow under the one price and really treat it as one big investment, like that.
Jake Williams: To diversify?
Dean Evans: Yeah. Ensuring that diversification and then just ensuring that all the services that are in that group are highly profitable and pulling their weight. That's one way. There's other methods around potentially charging based on the actual profit achieved and not charging if a profit's not achieved. At the moment, the difficulty with that is just the mechanics of it and the admin I suppose required catching people. I'd like to do something like that, but it's just an administration nightmare I think.
So at the moment for us, it's about doing the right things, educating people and just ensuring that we remain the trusted provider of these services and that people know that our best interests are at heart and they have to be, because our entire business model is based on success. And if we don't succeed, we don't get anything. So at the moment that's the focus, and for me, my passion is really just about educating people.
It can be hard to stay the course. It can be hard to hold on when things are going down. I think the difficulty that people have, if you buy a crypto and you just leave it there and you don't look at it, it's easy to ignore it when it's going up and down to a degree. I think what people struggle with is when you're betting, you're there every day, you're placing the bets, so there's a bit more of an early effort required. I don't really call it effort because I enjoy it, both the challenge of getting the best price, but also, there's a lot more enjoyment of sitting there and watching the races and cheering the horses, enjoying the process more than just sitting and watching a number go up and down on a screen.
But I think Ray Dalio another one of his quotes was do the hard things, the reward is bigger. And that's a fundamental law of nature. You have to do difficult things to gain strength and power, it's called perturbation. It's how rock or carbon becomes diamond. It's like pushing yourself hard at the gym. If doing something difficult brings benefits from doing it, you look forward to doing it. And that might mean putting twice as much effort into reviewing half the number of races or spending time getting the best possible prices or whatever it is, but life tends to reward those who stay the course and back themselves.
And at the end of the day, it's that simple concept of value, if you're getting odds greater than a horse's true chance of winning, then you can't possibly lose in the long term and that's really what I try to focus on personally, and that's what I try to educate people to do whether they're following services or whether they're betting for themselves. That's just the critical element.
Jake Williams: So you mentioned before a little bit about the power of compound and what your bank roll can do with turning over money a number of times and repetition of bets and things like that. What is some of the guiding principles for your money management, and what things have you put in place to ensure solid money management?
Dean Evans: You've got to start with betting bank that's the first point, in the same way that you'll say I'm going to put X amount in the bank, or I'm going to put X amount into shares, or crypto or property or whatever it is that you're wanting to invest. You need to have a set amount and say this is how much I want to bet. We convert the betting bank into units and utilize a 100 unit betting bank, so if you know if have $10,000 then you're betting 100 dollars per unit.
And what you've got to do, some people have ... I wouldn't ever recommend anything less than a 100 unit betting bank. Some people are more conservative and have a 200 unit betting bank. That has some merit as well. And some people like to bet 5% of their bank, 4%, those sorts of numbers are generally around what's advised, similar to hedge funds investing, somewhere between 2% to 4% of their total investment portfolio in any one trade or investment.
But yeah, the concept's essentially the 100 unit betting bank and then betting generally is somewhere between 0.5% to 3% on any one bet, or any one horse. And it's really about minimizing your risk and minimizing the risk of depleting your bank to nothing, whilst trying to maximize your return as well. There's always that balance in any type of investment between minimizing risk and maximizing reward. If you bet too little, you don't get enough value out of it, but if you bet too much, then you risk blowing your entire bank.
And so, our philosophy with all of our services is exactly the same, it's always the 100 unit betting bank, it's always that you're able to record in exactly the same manner. They're easily comparable, but also, people really understand exactly how to use it. I suppose it's a version of the Kelly criterion, and it's definitely the concept that we use, something like a quarter Kelly equivalent, but not exactly. It's really trying to balance the fact, and the respect that we have that we're responsible for the banks, the betting banks and the investing of a large number of clientele. So balancing that risk and reward is what's critically important and that's why we have these measures in place.
Jake Williams: And what about recalculating your bank? How often would you do that? So if you've got a 100 units and they're a dollar each and then you get to 1,000 dollars let's say, when do you recalculate? Is it daily, weekly, monthly? How do you think about that sort of approach?
Dean Evans: Yeah, it's a very good question. There's a lot of material on this and there's a lot of opposing opinions. I know a lot of successful punters who do it daily and others who do it yearly. My advice to members is to do it probably no more often than every six months or so. I think for one thing in terms of simplicity, particularly when you're following services, you don't want to be trying to do bizarre calculations on how much to invest if you've got a 10,000 betting bank and someones telling you to bet a unit and you know that's a 100 dollar bet, that's nice and simple. But if you're constantly having to recalculate that and the bet's 1.25 units and your bank's 12,100 and you're trying to do this maths all the time before you put a bet on, it's not all that productive.
I think the other problem with daily is we all know the volatility in betting. There's swings and round about all of the time and the challenge is often that you go through a losing run and your bank gets depleted, and then suddenly when you have the inevitable winning run you're having less on the horses because you're using ... Let's say your banks gone from 10,000 to 5,000 dollars, suddenly you're only betting half, so it takes double the effort to get your bank back.
So I advise members to look at it every six months, even a year. For me personally, I actually do it each year. I reset and go, "Okay, what am I going to attack with this year?" And I don't reset through the year. I stick with that through the year. It's easier to follow and it's easier to plan for all potential outcomes and requirements through the year that way. So there's a lot of theories on that, I don't believe in necessarily a right way or a wrong way, a lot of it depends on people's personal situation and what they're comfortable with. But I would look at adjusting probably every six months or so, rather than trying to do it daily, unless you're comfortable with doing those calculations consistently.
Jake Williams: And what about recalculating your bank? How often would you do that? So if you've got a 100 units and they're a dollar each and then you get to 1,000 dollars let's say, when do you recalculate? Is it daily, weekly, monthly? How do you think about that sort of approach?
Dean Evans: I've done a lot of ... in the member's information pack, there's a lot of detail around my thoughts on whether you should have one bank for multiple services, or separate banks. And I'm certainly of the belief that for each service that you're following you should have a separate bank for that. The issue that you have when you've got one bank for multiple services, firstly, if you've got a $10,000 bank, but you're betting on three services, but you're betting 100 dollars a unit, you're automatically, actually, have cut your betting bank in three, which means if one of the services fails and has a significant losing run, you can lose the entire betting bank despite the other's performing well.
The other issue is just around diversification. If you have one betting bank for multiple services, you're actually not diversifying despite the fact that you think you might be, because you only need one very, very poorly performing service to drag your entire bank down, whereas if you're following five services and you've got five separate betting banks ... And if you've only got $10,000, you might have a $2,000 betting bank for each service. But at least if you do that, if you have one terrible, terrible service that you're following that doesn't deliver, at least it doesn't bring your whole bank down, it only brings a portion of your bank down. So in terms of diversification, I'm certainly a big proponent of having separate banks for every service, rather than trying to merge everything into one.
Jake Williams: That's interesting. I haven't really found any good content online, or maybe I'm looking in the wrong places. It's fascinating that you've covered that deeply in your package you provide to the members. That's very interesting.
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You're a trial watching expert, so I want to delve into that. We touched on it earlier and I guess take us through when you had the most edge earlier on when you were watching trials. Take us through what you would watch, what you were looking for, what notes you would make, things like that, and how that's evolved to now, and what that edge is like now.
Dean Evans: Yeah, in terms of what you look for in trials, I think the first thing is the time. The times were important. I've gone from using the times that were available just on the Racing New South Wales or Racing Victoria, the various websites. Come to the realization that they weren't always accurate, so doing my own timing. Coming to the realization that that was very time consuming, so I moved to Vince Accardi's stuff for a while.
And then, at the moment, I now use the Ratings2Win access database. And what I like about that and the reason that I prefer it to all others is it compares the trial times to a par, rather than seeing a raw time. So I got to a point where raw time isn't that important to me. I've not really got any interest in that, and it's really just how quick or slow was it compared to the average or par time that's usually run in those trials.
And the raw time against par is one element of it, but what's also very important is simply comparing those times on the same day, because you tend to find whether it's wet or dry track conditions, or the way the wind's blowing, or how far the rail is out, and all these sorts of things can have a big impact on the times. And comparing times of trials across trials run on different days is actually quite problematic and difficult. It can be done with the par times to a degree, but the first thing's just comparing ... You usually have on those big trials, certainly the ones at Rosehill and Cranbourne and all these trial tracks usually have 10 or 12 trials over the same distance. So you can do a lot of comparison firstly on times.
And then the second thing is I actually do the form for trials in the same way that most people do the form for races. So I'm actually looking at the horses, the class of the horses, who's involved, the trainer, the stage of their preparation, and almost have ... in my mind, I'm going through and working out what I think the finishing order should be. And then it's having a look at the outcomes.
And when you're looking at the trials and you've got some open class horses, some horses who've won a few country races, and you might have some maidens in there, two and three year olds, it's about how should they be competing. And obviously you get very excited when you see a maiden or a young horse who's jog trotting along a far more experienced and successful horse. And that horse might be under hard riding. And certainly when they've run time, then you know you've got a horse that's got a lot of potential coming up.
For me, you've got to look very closely at what the jockeys are doing. You can see the jockeys that are hard riding, their forearms are under pressure, or they've got the horse under the stick, they're really trying to get the best out of the horse. Then you've got some situation where the jockeys aren't really pushing the horse out, but aren't restraining it either, they're just letting the horse jog trot under its own steam.
And then you've got the situations where you can see the rider almost like he's trying to pull up a weight, his hands are locked tight, and he's trying to pull the horse up. Obviously, in those situations when you can see the horse is still making ground on the leaders or jog trotting up next to others that are hard ridden, that's where you know you've got a horse that certainly has a lot more to give. So those sorts of things that you're looking at as well. There's the action of the horse, does the horse move freely in its action, does it look like it's gliding across without any issues, did it jump well, all that sort of thing, so it can put itself in a position in a race.
You find there's a lot of horses that are quite unruly or erratic and then what you want to do is take notes on those and see if they improve their manners over time. And sometimes the ones that improve their manners are the ones that have their race performances and improve sharply. A good example recently with my Trial Spy service about in mid-December, I advised members to take $34 about Sunlight for the Magic Millions and that was on the back of watching it run a Gold Coast trial where it not only ran a time that was 10 lengths above par, but what was interesting was that it was basically jog trotting on the inside of a horse that was ridden out called Outback Barbie that then came out and won a listed race on debut.
And it was straight after it won that listed race on debut that I sent the information to members and said, "$34 about Sunlight for the Magic Millions is outrageous. This horse was absolutely jog trotting next to a listed winner. It looks like it's come back incredibly strong and it just needs to win a race to qualify and that's it." And as most will recall, Sunlight ended up bolting in the Magic Millions. Started $3.80 favorite, and that was a fantastic result. But it's that sort of thing that you can see early.
Zoustar's another one that I remember before the Golden Rose that I advised members to bet in futures about a month before at $15 because again, it was a young horse, it was running in trials, hard held alongside black type performers. So it's those sort of trials that excite me and that's what you're looking for is those horses with a lot of potential, particularly when they're going into the weaker races, maidens and that sort of thing to start off with. And you know that they're going to blow them away, but you can also follow them successfully through their careers because they've got that potential.
Jake Williams: Dean, you're going to get a lot of people banned if you keep providing $34 about Sunlight. So just keep that in mind, please.
Dean Evans: I'm aware.
Jake Williams: You hear about horses like Pierro I believe who apparently wasn't very good in trialing if my memory recalls me correctly. Do you find those sort of horses as well? If it is a really good horse who just trials poorly or looks terrible, how long does it take to form an alternate opinion about something that is doing those type of characteristic trials?
Dean Evans: Yeah, it can be tricky and there's certain trainers whose horses I suppose run up to their trials. There's other trainers whose horses trial like absolute superstars. I guess trial like Tarzan, run like Jane sort of thing. And then there's some that their horses just don't appear to trial well at all, they're always under hard riding.
What I've learnt over time is that some of those trainers, they put the heavy boots or shoes on the horses, even the jockeys have got a lot of weight on. Sometimes it might be because they're wanting to put a bet on the horse later, but I don't think it's always as nefarious as that. Sometimes it's just that the trainers like that sort of methodology of the horse carrying a big weight and having those heavy shoes on, and then going to the race and feeling a little light and ready to go. I know Peter Moody was sort of like that, the Snowdens are a bit like that. And I'm finding more recently Brad Widdup is one whose horses, at least on face value, don't trial anywhere as well as they race.
Now those trainers are fantastic to follow if you can pick up on that, because their horses tend to be at far greater odds than the ones who've trialled to the naked eyed more impressively. And so that's where the art of it comes in and there's the science of the data and the times and that sort of thing, but there's also a real art around understanding how the different trainers trial their horses and how they look.
The Gai Waterhouse don't always as look as impressive, because she rides them out hard, and most people in trials are trying to look for the ones that are hard held, jogging, but all of hers are given a very steady workout. But again in the case of Gai and Peter Snowden and these sorts of trainers, the horses really come on from the trials and tend to continue to improve substantially heading into the races, whereas, I think there's other trainers whose horses are already full wound up for the trial, and then they look very impressive, but they get to race time and they've already done their dash. Or they're simply just massive unders because they've trialling well, but there's others that have a lot more improvement.
So it's an art, it's a very difficult thing to sit here and explain simply. But it's like anything, if you find your niche and you focus on it and you do it over a long period, the Malcolm Gladwell theory of 10,000 hours, then you just build a bit of gut instinct on these things and end up working with that and trusting that through the process.
Jake Williams: So take us through your Saturday or a race day. Once you've done all your form, you've looked at the trials, you've done your additional form on top of that, what does it look like for you? Are you just sticking to what your form says and betting accordingly? Are you accounting for the bias of the track? Take us through what you do on a race to race basis on a Saturday afternoon, for example.
Dean Evans: Yeah, well, Saturday's often mayhem. I've got the two services, Trial Spy and Dean’s Tips, so the Trial Spy's entirely on the trial form and the trial analysis and then Dean’s Tips is based on my assessment of the Ratings2Win database access and speed ratings and compiling ratings on horses and identifying the big value there. So yeah, the first thing I'm doing I suppose, bang on 9:00 AM, the first thing I'm doing is sending the information out to members and then I'm looking myself at the markets and getting any early bets on, where there's significant value.
Through the day, I have a tendency, I bet more on ... do all of my analysis and then focus on the key horses that I want to back. And sometimes in a race there might be a strategy, we're backing two or three horses, and so I might back one early and then look late for the others. But I tend these days to very much stick with my opinion. I do an enormous amount of hard work every day in order to form the opinions that I have.
And I think it goes back to the quotes from Warren Buffet and the like where you've got to be contrarian, have your own opinion. And I've seen some winners drift to crazy prices. We had one for the Dean’s Tips service, it was 100/1 when I gave it out, and it ended up drifting out to as much as $560 on Betfair and won, a horse called Emmadee. Now if you let the market convince you that the horse can't win when it gets out to 560/1 then you've missed out on an enormous opportunity.
So I've found especially these days, the market enormously over reacts. We see it in cricket, it's an example where a big bash you're watching and those prices fluctuate up and down based on a wicket or that sort of thing. I find in racing the markets are massively over betting by the end of it, particularly favorites. I mean, there's some short priced favourites that just get down to crazy odds and the rest of them drift. And they're not drifting because there's something wrong with them, they're just drifting because of the market forces of the money on the favourite or one or two horses.
And these days, that market is controlled by a fairly small set of very substantial punters and betting syndicates who more or less a lot of them have the same opinion anyway. What I have become quite good at is assessing what I think the market will do compared to what I think the market should be in terms of trying to determine what those big syndicates are likely to bet on, the robots as some call them, where they're most likely to focus, and then determining whether the drift is simply because of the market backing the horses as expected or not.
Certainly track bias is something that comes into it in a big way. It's probably my biggest frustration is the track bias prevalent at the moment. I know there's a lot of different opinions on this, but I actually come from the roots I suppose of the fact that I love horse racing. And one thing that I loved about horse racing is watching horses come from the back and charge home. And you see it in a lot of countries, in New Zealand it certainly happens, Hong Kong has a big straight where it happens a lot, in the UK. Horses can win from anywhere.
What seems to be happening in Australia is ... and it's not necessarily the fault of track managers, but the tracks are just so rock hard and they're so tightly turning in a lot of these smaller tracks that horses just can't win from the back. I find that racing ... I just find it boring. I know a lot of people in betting are saying, "Well, it's easy, you just back horses that are on pace and that sort of thing." And certainly that's a huge edge, is simply focusing on horses on pace.
But I still love to go down to Flemington every year and enjoy watching the Melbourne Cup Carnival. I think it's the best racing in the world, I just absolutely love it. But when you've got huge fields of 16, all you want is for the horses to have the ability to come from out wide and swoop. And I've found in recent years that that's becoming less and less prevalent even a big track like Flemington. So I'm finding the enjoyment of watching those huge races a lot less when it's actually more about the map and who can get into the decent spot, rather than who's the best horse, and every horse having a reasonable, even an opportunity to win. And we're finding a lot of races these days, horses just don't have the opportunity to win.
Now, from a betting perspective, I understand you can take advantage of that by doing your maps well, but as a racing lover, it's probably my key bugbear at the moment is just that the tracks aren't being prepared to give the horses, and therefore the owners and the punters, every chance on actually backing the best horse. And I hope it's something that the industry looks into, because I certainly know that your rank and file punters who fund the industry, they do like to see swoopers, they like to see horses having their chance, and they don't just want to see a procession of leaders on the rails winning all the time.
So that's something I guess getting back to the point of your question, yes, if there's a significant track bias and I'm on something that might need a bit of a backmarker, then I will look at adjusting my bet, whether that's smaller or eliminating it entirely. You can't ignore that, but you've got to be careful not to overcompensate as well, because it's quite interesting how often there can be a prevalent track bias for the first six or seven races on the day and the last one or two it actually goes the complete opposite way, because all the jockeys go silly up hard and front, set a suicidal pace, and then they win from the back at the end.
It's all part of it, but to summarize, I put in so much work at the beginning that I generally tend to stick with that and there's the ups and downs that go with track bias and things changing through the day, but I generally stick with my process and find long term, again, that there's swings and round abouts, but long term it's fine.
Jake Williams: Poor old Chautauqua. It could have been anything with favorable tracks in Australia.
Dean Evans: Well, I think he's done a pretty amazing job with his style, but I guess when you look, most of his success has been at Randwick, which for the most part is a pretty fair track, and down the straight at Flemington, those sorts of things. But yeah, he's an absolute superstar. I think people really love that style of racing, they really do. And you want those horses to at least have a reasonable chance. We all understand that on pacers win most races and there can be reasonably slow tempos in Australia, so they're going to be favoured.
But yeah, what frustrates me is when a horse hooks out wide and that's essentially quicksand and the horse just can't possibly win, or there's a rails bias. It's that sort of thing that just needs to be stamped out, because it's not racing anymore, it's just nonsense.
Jake Williams: Even Winx had an element in the beginning. Certainly I remember the Sunshine Coast race, which most people probably remember, which started off the winning streak I believe, or it was one of the earlier races where she just went crazy down the outside and you don't see too many of those, not consistently anyway. So it's an interesting thought.
Dean Evans: It certainly made people wake up and think this horse might be something special. Winx, I think it's one of the things that people enjoy about the Trial Spy service, we actually backed Winx at its first two starts and by no means identified that it would become the champion it was. But you could see from its early trials that there was definitely something there in terms of an engine and they gave her a couple of quiet trials. But the little bit that they tested her out, she showed something.
And horses like Winx and Chautauqua and Redzel and a lot of these high quality horses, who star in most Golden Slipper winners, horses that from the Trial Spy service we've identified early on in their careers. And I think that's something that I get a lot of enjoyment from too, was identifying them early and then following them through their careers. But certainly that's where the trial stuff gives you a different sort of edge and perspective and opportunity.
Jake Williams: So before we finish up, I want to go back to Winning Edge Investments for a minute. Who do you suggest, based on what you've said, I think I know what the answer is, but who do you suggest signs up to your service and services? Are you only looking for those with a long term sort investment strategy and people who are using those types of words, who want to be in it for a long haul, and eke out 10%, 12%, 14%, 16% or whatever it is, and align their investment goals with that? Is that your target?
Dean Evans: Yeah, absolutely. You need to be prepared to be disciplined, you need to be prepared to have a betting bank. One thing about I guess the tipping industry and the services is we need to balance the membership numbers, and we do that by ensuring that we're priced in a way that we're not flooding ourselves with a ridiculous number of members. There's certainly a lot of services that have far more members than us, but we deliberately keep it to a restricted level and will close services and have done plenty of times if we're going over membership numbers, or we're seeing any issues with prices.
So we're not out there desperate for the maximum number of members. In fact, we're quite the opposite because the success of our existing members, amount of members in the future is imperative, because we're in it for the long haul. And what's also very important of course is that our analysts are doing it for a living and betting themselves, so they can't afford to have prices disappearing or crucified.
So we are looking for people with a long term perspective. We're looking for people that are interested in treating it like an investment, and understand the ups and downs and want to be educated. I go back to myself in that I knew that I was good at finding winners and finding good value, but I was still losing a lot on the punt until I learned about the mindset side of things and setting a bank and being disciplined and using the various money management strategies that we advocate. So for me, it's anyone who's interested in this long term and I guess has the mindset of hey, I love racing, or I love sport, I'm going to bet on it. You've either got the option of trying to not bet at all, or you may as well make some money from it and enjoy it.
And I guess that's what we focus on, is people with that sort of mindset, but that understand that that's not going to come from one big win, and it's not going to come from winning every single day or every single week or even every single month, but that you're going to have the ups and downs in the same way that a lot of the biggest companies in the world, Apple, Amazon, Google, even Bitcoin. It's gone up from 5 cents to $15,000. They all have big ups and downs, we have our swings up and down too. But if you look at the results graphs overall of our services, they're going up, and if they don't, they're removed.
So that's the mindset, is that investment mindset. And if you have that or you want to learn how to get that, then you're probably suitable. And if you're not and you're just wanting to have 20 or 50 bucks on a Saturday, there might be other services that are more suitable.
Jake Williams: So how do listeners get in contact with you? Or what's the website for them and the Twitter handle, so if they are interested they can certainly reach out?
Dean Evans: The website is www.winningedgeinvestments.com. My Twitter handle is @DeanTrialSpy. The Twitter handle of us is @winningedgebets. And you're welcome to take a look at the website. There's plenty of information there. We've got all of the membership options, the results, a lot of educational material on there. And we've also got a free newsletter, so you're welcome to simply sign up there, or contact us with any questions about how we operate.
And certainly this year, I've already spoken to all of the analysts and this year is going to be where we really focus on providing a lot more educational content about how we do things, how each of the services go about things. We've got quite a diverse range of services, one that focuses on New South Wales, one that focuses entirely on video watching and black booking horses, one who's entirely around pedigree and actual pedigree analysis to identify winners.
And one who's built his own propriety database and then actually had a PhD data quant person come in and analyze it and build a model to provide very select bets only when the market price is substantially above his rated price. And that's running at 24% profit on turnover at the moment and 170 units in about four months. Been quite incredible. A golf service that's tipped a 1000/1 winner and a few 500/1 winners, and a cricket service that's been very highly successful as well.
So there's a wide range but each have their own niche and their own edge. And I guess it's about what service suits you and that can depend on what you like to bet on, but also the bookies you have available, or whether you want to just bet and forget or whether you can monitor prices, that sort of thing. But if you get in touch with us, we can help to advise you of the service or services that are best suited to each person.
Jake Williams: If you liked the content, approach and strategy of Dean, please feel free to head over to winningedgeinvestments.com. Check out their site, products, and of course, subscribe to their newsletter. And feel free to utilize code BOBPOD.
Awesome Dean. It's been incredibly fun. I really appreciate your time. I'll certainly be keeping a close eye on, and I wish you and the team all the very best and I look forward to doing this again another time.
Dean Evans: Yeah, thank you, Jake. I appreciate your time and what you're doing with this podcast. It's absolutely fantastic. I've really loved listening to all of the professionals and experts in the different spheres. You've got what I believe is the foremost, primary podcast now on this topic, that was something that wasn't available anywhere. But you've got some fantastic guests on there and I encourage everybody to ... Because for me, educating people on betting and the potential success is critical because I love racing, but it's reliant on betting. And racing certainly is under pressure from sports betting and other forms of investment. So we need to keep educating people and keep them interested to keep this game going. So please keep it up, you're doing a fantastic job.
Jake Williams: Much appreciated. And definitely, let's do this again soon.
Dean Evans: Absolutely. Thank you very much, Jake.