Winners and losers on the punt

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Bookies at Sligo races. By JohnPicken [CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
GEOFF POULTER has spent a little time on assignment assessing the form of the punters in your local TAB:

PREPARE for a variety of different dudes you will come across at your local TAB during the Spring racing carnival. I call them The Top 10 Typical TAB Types.

THE FIRST we’ll call the early Crow-er. He’s backed every winner but there is little evidence. He certainly doesn’t waste his winnings on clothes. And he’s there every day. Strangely no holidays.

He’s clever in a sense that he identifies the likely winner from the live TV halfway down the straight and yells: "Get home, you good thing. Go Rinny. Keep going!” With that kind of edge his strike rate has to be ok.

SECOND is the born loser/conspiracy theorist. He can’t take a trick. They’re not trying, it’s all crooked mate. So and so has got the juice, someone else is hooking them up. No doubt about it. He claims even the stewards are in on it, too. It’s all one big rort.

THIRD is the late starter, the rusher – leaves it to the very last second to rush to the window to bet and rarely gets on. He feigns disappointment but was he really trying – or just big-noting?

FOUR is the smoker. He’s actually standing outside the door but is dragging inside – so you are engulfed in clouds as you walk through. Red card alert for passive smokers.

FIVE is the swearer – not one for the ears of the fair lasses or the uninitiated lads. Can sometimes muster up to four expletives in the one sentence. He’s ill-mannered and uncouth. And the rest of his vocabulary is limited.

SIX is not always the same bloke but the eater/on-the-nose merchant. Has his meals in there, often accompanied by a powerful strain of BO and/or garlic and dog’s breath. Add a waft a blue cheese with the pong from a few of his similarly-affected mates and the smell becomes overwhelming.

SEVEN is the taxi driver. Double-parks out the front, sometimes with lights on and engine running. Dashes in to plonk on his certainty and he’s away. Ask the bloke behind the jump whether his info was on the money. Often is.

EIGHT is the syndicate bloke on his mobile, taking instructions from Mr Big. Shares his thoughts with the entire TAB or huddles in a corner to whisper the mail. Perhaps he’s on the way to the track.

NINE is the guy who wants to tell you what he backed. Often, he’s a complete stranger. He shows you his ticket(s).

Explains how he came to back that horse. Background, history, the whole box and dice. After talking about his skill and luck for an eternity he finally gets around to asking you how you are travelling. “Going any good, yourself?”

TEN, but not the least significant, is the bloke who is trying to impress his girlfriend. Shows her the ropes, explains the pitfalls of the punt. Chivalrous to a tee. Puts her bets on, too. Seems like they’re out for a good time.

So, there you have it. Which category do you fall into? Hopefully none of the above.

No, we’re not like that are we? We are just ordinary, quiet, inoffensive, unobtrusive types. Minding our own business. Of course, we are. Not half. Until we get the scent of a big win. Doesn’t happen often. But then we go berserk.

That orderly demeanour goes out the window and we become just as emotional and eccentric as the next bloke. Perhaps all 10 of the aforementioned.

Betting on horses does that to you.


Author: Geoff Poulter

GEOFF POULTER, 69, has spent 51 years in sports media. He was the last Melbourne Herald chief football writer. CV: Sports oracle, author, historian, impersonator, raconteur, poet, quiz whiz, philosopher, song-writer, intellectual scholar – and still employable!



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