Sunday, 10 October 2010

Purging History

I had to empty my bookcase the other day - Mrs Cassini wanted some new windows installed - and so my books and other publications are currently on the dining room table awaiting, what Mrs C likes to call "purging".

I'm not very good at "purging".

Among the treasures I found were a free booklet from Ladbrokes circa 1975, and following on from my post about the relatively recent rise of sports betting, it was interesting that of the 36 pages, all but half of a page are dedicated to horse racing or greyhound racing. Clues to its age are references to the Home International Championship and the John Player Sunday League. The introduction begins:

In a survey that Ladbrokes carried out recently among the sporting public, we asked a straight question. What would you most like from your bookmaker that you are not now getting? And the answer came back loud and clear: MORE INFORMATION.

Despite the fact that Ladbrokes' customers are generally agreed to be the best-informed in the business, we decided to lead the way in meeting this demand. Our reply to your request is in your hands now...everything you want to know about racing and betting, all in one easy-to-understand booklet.
And then there is a booklet which cost me all of £1, (actually, that was quite a lot at the time), called "A Fortune For Little Money" by Robert Edwards. I remember reading this and having trouble getting to sleep because it all just seemed so easy. A fortune was just a few weeks away, but I guess the system that had 45 selections and just 18 losers with a longest losing sequence of 3, that turned £40 into £33,417.03 after 8.5% tax really was a little too good to be true.

I also came across a 1987 book called "The Punter's Revenge - Computers In The World Of Gambling" by Tony Drapkin and Richard Forsyth. It was the 'dawning of the age of microcomputers' and contains BASIC code for those interested in writing their own programs to run on their "Amstrad CPC 6128". This book actually gave me the basic idea for the Elo ratings I keep, and is mentioned on several web sites concerned with rating teams.

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