This week’s special guest Greg Lethe is one of them, having been a professional greyhound racing punter since 1980.
He has some excellent points to share with you on this week’s edition of the Betting 360 podcast. The full transcript is below.
Punting Insights You’ll Find
- A typical working week for a full-time gambler
- What he learned being on track with 100 bookies in a thriving marketplace.
- How on-course and off-course betting has evolved and how he finds value
- The most important aspects of form study
- The types of races in which he achieves his best returns
- Why he focuses exclusively on betting at Wentworth Park
Greg Lethe is a professional punter who provides his full ratings set for our Greyhound Guru package.
Get the Transcript:
David Duffield: Hello. This is David Duffield. I’d like to welcome Greg Lethe to the show.
How are you, Greg?
Greg Lethe: Good day Dave. How’s things?
David Duffield: Really good, thanks, and look forward to having a chat. I’m not a greyhound expert by any means, so we’ve had plenty of discussions over the past few months, but I look forward to sharing some of that with the guys. Just tell the people a bit about your background and where you’re interest in betting came from.
Greg Lethe: Probably about twenty-five years ago, roughly, I was a hobby trainer of greyhounds and I only had a couple of dogs, no more than 2 or 3 at a time. Over a period of time training them, I realised … we won a few races but nothing sensational. Was never going to be our profession. It really worked out. I was making fair money out of other races other than my own dogs, so things just evolved. It was never a day when I said I want to punt for a living, but things just evolved to the point where I was making reasonable return on betting, and specialising just on the dogs, and was very fortunate to … probably the training, I engaged with a lot of people at the track who I learned a lot off. Twenty-five years, I’ve seen a lot of changes in that time and still going strong.
David Duffield: For how many years have you lived basically off the punt?
Greg Lethe: You’d say twenty-five years. Looking back, probably I was training in my early twenties, so that’s been almost thirty years now, so I’d say twenty-five years, surviving quite nicely just having a bet. I’d say twenty-five is a good enough guess.
David Duffield: That makes you a pretty rare commodity. Have you had to change your approach much over the years?
Greg Lethe: Absolutely.
That’s one of the most important ingredients to winning is … When I first started Sky Channel wasn’t around, there was bookmakers, 100 bookmakers in the city and there was even strong non-tab meetings that you could get enough money on, you wouldn’t even have to bet at the TAB meetings.
I’d go to four meetings. Five meetings a week, at least. Attend those meetings, buy the videos at the track. As time goes on, the whole wagering environment has changed and Sky Channel and technology’s … They’re now putting fantastic form in people’s laps.
But, at the same time, the edge that you look for has changed as well. It’s huge differences in the way I’ve changed, even betting, but that’s all about the environment you’re playing. You’ve got to be open to change, because otherwise, your advantage will just disappear very quickly.
David Duffield: We’ll talk a little later on about some of the specifics about how you rate a race, but in those days, being on the track and it was a fairly thriving industry, what did you learn from other punters, both good and bad?
Greg Lethe: That’s a big difference now too is I don’t go to the track at all and very few people do. When we did, we’d engage with a lot of trainers, punters, bookmakers, who are winners and you’d see things that they’d do and you’d see the way they’d handle races, or you’d engage with them and talk and learn a lot. How they analyse videos, even reading the personalities in the betting ring. Reading the moves. Knowing who was who. Things like that. Even trial information.
It’s a totally different beast. At the time, there was reasonable crowds event at and we could always learn from people. As you said there was also people there that you’d learn what not to do. You’d see what they’d do and you’d see the way they’d manage their money poorly or over bet on races. You pick up a lot. There’s not one particular thing. It’s a slow process of absorbing information and methods and then making it your own, in the sense of … You can learn a little bit off a lot of people but then make it your own method. What you do.
David Duffield: What do you consider to be the key characteristics of a successful gambler? A lot of guys would like to have that as their vocation, but very few achieve it and even fewer for such a length of time. What do you consider as just essential to be a successful gambler?
Greg Lethe: Probably finding edges. When I say the edge I mean it’s finding a position in the marketplace that is probably against the consensus, or against what the general market says is going to happen. That’s difficult to find, especially now because the availability of form and all the video evolved online. It’s educated a lot more people. You’ve got to have an edge. You can’t just bet with the consensus.
The old story of knowing what value is. You’ve better know what value is. You can’t create it, but recognising it. I think the only way you can do that is by having market prices for every runner, accurate market prices, and working from there.
They are the two big points. I suggest that people … There’s a myriad of other things like that. Money management and understanding your own risk positions. There’s a whole raft of qualities that you need because it’s not always a smooth path. You need to be able to cope with the ups and downs and just the day-to-day monotony of even the exercise that you’re trying to do. The races are running wall-to-wall each day and seven days a week. Qualities like that are essential to be successful in the long term.
David Duffield: Specifically about greyhound racing. What is it that you love about the dogs and also what makes it a good betting opportunity?
Greg Lethe: I love my job. I’ve always had some knowledge in the greyhounds. Probably the big difference between (and I’ve got no real knowledge of the harness and the gallops) but from from what I can see, the thing with the dogs is that they don’t run in lanes. So there’s a degree of interference that would not be accepted in the other codes. That’s one big difference.
I feel like being able read into the first five seconds of the race is also critical because the first bend comes up after about five or six seconds of each race. Knowing what’s going to happen early spells out the future of the race. If you can get the start right, you can generally determine what’s going to happen in the rest of the race.
The value aspect of the dogs probably … The total volume of the betting should be under what the gallops do. But, at the same time, the consensus market is a lot weaker than say, the Sydney or Melbourne gallop Saturday markets unless big players are involved. The markets that are put out there from the consensus is not as strong because there’s not as many professional players engaging and producing those markets.
Those that do play are not really influencing what’s going up because a lot of times, the corporates have closed those people down.
I think there’s value there. Albeit, you can’t over bet into those pools because otherwise you crush the value back out of it.
From the dog perspective versus the other two codes. That would be what I’d say are the advantages.
David Duffield: From back in the day, when you’re at the track, if was there a hundred bookies and a fair bit of liquidity in the market you tend to have more efficient prices, whereas nowadays, you’ve got a couple of price assessors working for the TAB or whoever and most of the corporates clone those to varying degrees. You say that presents opportunities as a punter?
Greg Lethe: Yeah. No one gets it right all the time and that’s across all three codes.
But, you’re exactly right. When there were 100 bookmakers at the city meeting there were a lot of people and relatively smart people developing that market. It goes up. Not even the opening market prices, but after five minutes of betting, that market’s going to be influenced by a multitude of people; punters and bookmakers. Whereas now, as you’ve correctly said, you’ve got a couple of price assessors that basically dictate the early markets. Because of the restriction on a lot of people actually changing those markets to any large degree as they can’t engage with those people putting them up those markets are basically up there and taken in as a guide when really, you need a bigger pool to develop those markets.
There’s always opportunity there to challenge those markets. As I’ve said, no one gets it right every time. But the beauty is you don’t have to, you just have to make some return on enough occasions across a period of time.
I think that’s versus the other situation where you’ve got so many people at the track that were numerous bookmakers. They did have a lot more solid position in the market.
David Duffield: People listened to this and listening the fact that you did it full time, they might be thinking that you’re betting four, five, six nights a week. But, they’ll be interested to learn you focus solely on Wentworth Park on Friday and Saturday nights.
Greg Lethe: Yeah. Other than those Friday and Saturday’s at Wentworth Park I would have a handful of bets for the rest of the year. At other tracks, I did a handful. I don’t see any need to bet more than the two nights. That can return me a nice income. It’s still quite a bit of work. The way I prepare, there’s still enough work in two nights a week.
I think you have to specialise. You have to have a fairly strong understanding of the dogs that you’re engaging. To do that, it’s going to take time. I could bet far more days a week, but I don’t particularly have the time to prepare to those meetings. And once you start running yourself a bit thin, then errors start coming into play. I’m very happy just to take two nights a week.
It also balances, I mean I’ve got a family and that time is very important to me as well. It gives me that perfect balance at the moment. Saying all that, starting out previously we used to go four or five days a week. When you’re starting out, it’s a totally different kettle of fish than when you’re at my stage now, where two nights a week is quite good to be a specialist in the Sydney market.
David Duffield: Give us an overview of how you do prepare for a meeting. Whether it’s the ratings you do for your databases at the time, videos, directional speed maps. Just and overview of the work that goes into it before you come up with your rated prices.
Greg Lethe: The biggest thing is … Finding markets, it starts way before the drawing’s even done in the sense of … I use video analysis of every dog that races at Wentworth Park. That builds up a database. That’s the starting point in the sense of without that, you can’t even take step one. Once you’ve established a reasonable database … When I say that you’re establishing early speed, directions the dog runs, what they rate across their career and their last few starts. So all that information is in my database. I download all that. Also get some trial information, which is sourced from various people around the tracks. Understand how the box draw, how the dogs are running, what their capabilities are.
Then I do directional speed maps. Speed maps occur in a number of different ways butnless you’ve got the way the dogs are going to run included in the speed maps, they, to a large degree, are not as valuable. I prepare those and rate each dog purely based on their predicted position in the race. I give it a rating number. I look at the trainer and I give a rating number to the trainer.
After all that sort of information has been sourced, I prepare through running a formula to come up with a rating for these particular races as a new events. Every race is a new event. The data comes in from previous information. Once I’ve got all that data for this new event, I create my market based on percentage. I add all the runners of the race up and divide, look at their percentage, and multiply that out to a price to around 100%. Never greater than 100%. But, usually would run in the 97-98%, to 100%. I produce a market around there. It gives a little bit bigger edge on top of the 100% market, but not a great deal.
David Duffield: Is it fair to say you’re more than happy to take on a favourite and that you enjoy what some people might call a tough race?
Greg Lethe: Yeah. I actually love the races where at the meetings, there’s numerous chances in the race. I rarely back favourites. I don’t set out to oppose favourites. Just the way my market’s turned out, I’ve found most of the time I’m rarely on a favourite because, although I’ve marked them as my favourite and all other cases, not always but a lot of cases, I probably mark them a little bit longer than consensus markets follows them. My major results are happening when the favourites are usually getting beat and I’m probably finding that dogs, where the second, or third, or fourth favourite are winning races. That’s just the way my market’s turned out. It’s not something I set out to do. It’s just the way that … I’ve found over time that’s the way falls into place.
There are definitely dogs I would oppose. I don’t go through Betfair to lay them because it’s not really the liquidity for me. At the same time, there’s definitely dogs there that the market finds well under what I find them at. In that case, I don’t oppose them on bets but I oppose them through my own staking away from that.
David Duffield: Yeah, you’re betting around them.
Tell us about the post-race reviews that you do. We’ve often encouraged people to not let a race go by and they think that’s the end of it. There’s some good learnings that can be heard from analysing those again after the event. Tell us about the work you do because you probably take it to a new level.
Greg Lethe: I actually agree with what you just said. It’s basically vitally important that … I do it for a number of reasons. I look at every single bet. I wouldn’t say every single exotic bet, but every single bet that I’ve had on a dog. After the meeting, I go through every single race and try and analyse where I got it right or where I got it wrong. I try and look at why I did it, because that’s when you learn. You’re making a repetitive error. Even if you’re making a repetitive good decision, you need to reinforce that in your mind.
The other reason I do it, is that I think in punting you need to have a fairly fresh mental approach to things so I, in a sense, put the meeting to bed by doing that. Win, lose, or draw, you don’t want to be dwelling on it, because the next meeting is coming up next week. You need to be ready for that. Even if you have a fantastic night, you don’t want to go around high-fiving yourself all week. You want to put it to rest, move on, and get back to work to look to the next meeting and vice versa. If it’s a poor meeting, you don’t want to be down in the dumps all week because you need to be ready for the next Friday. I find the post race analysis that I do, the post mortem, is basically looking at every single race and every single bet and asking the questions, “Why? What did I do? Why did I do it?” It really helps on a number of levels. It’s a learning curve but also a mental cleansing, in a way, of putting things to rest.
David Duffield: Give me some really good insights into how you operate and your background. It’s exciting news we’ve got you on board as our greyhound guy and we’ve never had a greyhound service before in our communications issues.
It’s been pretty clear of the success you’ve had. I think you enjoyed what you’ve seen in what we’re trying to achieve. Even from our much recent product launch was Ben Krahe and the harness service. I think we can replicate that and he’s been incredibly successful over the last three months. I think we can replicate that here with your set.
Just a run-through of what people will get, it will be the Friday and Saturday night meeting, which has been Wentworth Park for a long time but I believe will include the occasionail Dapto meeting over the next year.
It will be the full ratings for every runner, a comment. We’ll run a live page in the lead-up to the night. On the night itself, Greg is busy punting so he needs to switch that off. Probably, say around 5:00pm to 7:00pm, we’ll have the live page that people can ask any questions on early odds to take and the best way to attack certain races. That’s really exciting news for people who want to get on board to do that. But it’s not going to suit every single punter so I want to ask you Greg, which type of punter do you think would get the most out of that service such as this?
Greg Lethe: I think the person who’s got a long-term vision is the ideal person of probably any service. The person who’s looking for high value because the value will be there.
I’ll try and guide people as much as I can.
It will be Friday and Saturday night, the person who’s best suited is someone who understand the ups and downs and has a long-term vision of making a reasonable return on their money.
I’ll obviously try and help as much as I can to answer the questions, because it’s all about education. That’s one of the things I’ve loved about your service in general. There’s a lot of educational information that you offer without driving it down someone’s throat. It’s for people looking for long-term value and success – I think we can provide that for them. Even in the new marketplace, with the harness release, you’ve had great success there. It gives a new direction, new opportunity for people just to expand things and they can increase their earnings without increasing their bet unit substantially.
David Duffield: Yeah, really looking forward to it.
We’ll kick it off very very soon. Probably tomorrow night, by the time that people are listening to this.
We do need to cap the membership limit once again though. It’s a metro market, but it’s not a massive one. If we’ve got a whole bunch of guys backing the same dog at the same time it can influence the market and we prefer to have a small winning clientele than have a massive amount of people that are basically fighting amongst themselves for a price. We are going to put a strict cap on that as we’ve done for a couple of our other services.
Is there anything else you think people should know before we wrap it up, Greg?
Greg Lethe: No. That sounds like a good overview of what we’re attempting to do.
I think you’re right about the restricting it to some degree, because it’s all about value and it becomes a bit too widespread in the smaller marketplaces you’re just going to be cannibalising each other and the value goes away very quickly. We’ve all got to ensure value as the end mission. That’s great.
I’m glad to have a chat and glad to be on board. We’ll be absolutely out there doing our best to produce some results.
David Duffield: Sounds great. Appreciate your time today. Look forward to working together and getting a bunch of winners from you for the next months and years.
Greg Lethe: Thanks Dave.
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