Monday, 24 August 2020

Loss Was Almost Impossible

Another look back into the past, and here are a couple of systems for all you horse racing enthusiasts.

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that either of the two was actually profitable, and the first was one that I thought I had invented myself when I was ten years old as I wrote when setting up this blog many years ago. 

From the "About Me" section:

The first system I came up with was a simple one - back the favourite and double up after a loss until a winner. Simple enough in theory, and I told my Dad about it. Not being a betting man himself, he ran it by some of his colleagues, and came home to tell me that it wouldn’t work because a long losing run would mean that the bank would be empty. Then there was always the possibility that the winner would be returned at odds-on, meaning that the total returns would not match the outlay. Not what a ten year old wants to hear!
Far from inventing it, the idea (Martingale) had been around since 18th century France and probably prior to that. Here is an article from the Lowestoft Journal of Saturday 19th October 1907:
At Lynn County Court. on Thursday week, Henry Cozens, bill distributor, of Lynn, sued C. Wood, 148, Old-St., London, EC for the return of £1.
It appeared that plaintiff received a circular in July, entitled "Speculation on the Turf," in which he was invited to take a share of £1 in a capital of £75, in order to work a system of backing the favourites in the various races, by which system £1 per week on each £5 invested, and 4s. on each £1 was produced.
Loss was almost impossible. and profits were paid weekly. The system, one of backing all the favourites, and doubling the stakes after the loss., in order to win back losses, was explained, and plaintiff forwarded a sovereign. The average winnings were given as about £35, deductions leaving about £17 to £20 for division amongst the shareholders.
In one circular Wood set forth the winnings as amounting to 206 per cent., but as his expenses in attending a race meeting were heavy, he was able only to pay 1s on each £1 invested. His expenses were generally the heaviest item in the weekly account. He regretted that the winnings of 206 per cent were not up to the average. and hoped for better results in the following week's operations.
Then the system began to show evidences of breaking down, owing to the unfortunate circumstance that the favourites for the most part failed to win, while those which did win were at such short odds that the profits were small, and were more than swallowed up by the expenses. Wood expressed his sorrow at this, and in one communication he said he should start for Goodwood Races on the morrow, and trust to luck. Several letters passed from Wood to Cozens and ultimately be wrote that he had tried and failed.
Before that Cozens, in accordance with the terms stated in the circular. had given a week's notice for the return of £1.
His Honour gave judgment for plaintiff, with costs, but added: "Whether that judgment will bring you anything or not is another matter." (Laughter.)
More merriment in court occurred in Manchester in November 1928, as the Western News reported on another "system":
A get-rich-quick betting scheme that proved a failure was described at the Manchester Assizes yesterday, when Mr Justice Humphreys sent James Knox (31), of Liverpool, to nine months' imprisonment for three cases of fraudulent conversion.

Mr Clothier, who prosecuted, said that sums fraudulently converted were one of £25 and two of £30. Knox was a married man with five children, and claimed that he had a racing system by which sums of money could be made very quickly, and it was by that way he induced a man named McLelland to become a partner, together with two other men. When Knox explained his system to McLelland he said his secret system should bring £1 a day profit!

The secret of the system, counsel explained, was that one must either back an odds chance at five to four or an evens chance, unless one had information. (Laughter.) McLelland handed over £25 guaranteeing that he would not divulge the secret. The £25 was not be touched, and was to be refunded on dissolution of the partnership, while the profits were to be shared on an equal basis.

Mr Clothier said the system did not pay, and when McLelland asked for his money back he did not get it.

The other counts were of a similar nature.

Mr Wingate Saul Jr. (for Knox), said the man had been more fool than knave. He made nothing and paid £60 in wages, and sold part of his furniture to pay wages. The Judge described the system as a sham.
Back in 1872, the Batley Reporter and Guardian opined on gambling, writing:
Gambling is a vice of a serious character. The winner gives nothing in return for his unlawful gains, and the man who hopes by betting speculations to reap the reward which properly belongs to honest industry, commits a mistake fatal alike to his happiness and character. The perpetual feverishness, unrest, and thirst for gain possessing the gambler. must inevitably tend to destroy all that is pure and noble in his nature.

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