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Sports Betting Diaries: David Nicholson

TAGs: British Poker Awards, David Nicholson, Lee Davy, Lil Dave's Life, professional poker player, sports betting, The Sports Betting Diaries

When it comes to poker news you don’t often see David Nicholson’s name in the limelight, and whilst I am sure he would prefer one or two rays to shine on his mischievous mug, he wouldn’t change a thing.

Sports Betting Diaries: David NicholsonWithin the poker community he is known simply as Lil Dave. He’s the type of person who has to take identification with him when he wants to buy chocolate liqueurs; does most of his shopping in Mothercare and wears size six trainers.

Underneath that cherubic looking skin, lies memories that will make your toes curl. If there is a poker party then Lil Dave has a story to tell about it, and he’s not shy when it comes to spewing his lowdown. So much so that his blog Lil Dave’s Life has been nominated for an award at the British Poker Awards. An accolade that I am sure he is very proud of.

I noticed on your blog that you have a Podcast called the Reddie Steady Bet Podcast…tell me more?

The Reddie Steady Bet Podcast has been a lot of fun. I can’t take too much credit, as it was the brainchild of Richard Trigg and Dave Shallow. They are both very experienced and enthusiastic punters, and they thought there was a market for a betting product that was “for the people.” Instead, the information on the Internet is generally very bland technical advice on where and what to bet; and by the time anyone gets to hear it the prices have changed.

They wanted to do a show with plenty of banter, jokes, funny stories and some information that would be relevant for people who want to enjoy betting on sports. They asked me if I’d host it; keeping them on track, adding a bit of direction etc. I love chilling and chatting gambling with those two guys so getting involved was a no-brainer.

Does the Podcast specialize in a particular sport?

The podcast isn’t about specializing in one particular field. Trigg has a lot of good contacts in horse racing, so he gets some very good stuff on the horses (as well as a few donkeys). Dave’s very shrewd on cricket and women’s sports! And between the two of them they actually have a very good network of people with very good records betting different sports. Like I said it’s not about giving people the hottest info we can, it’s about giving people who want to enjoy betting on sports, something that’s relevant and in a manner that is fun to listen to. It’s been well received so far, which is really good.

Do you have any set systems for sports betting or are you just a punter?

I have no specialties or systems. I think the majority of poker players are deluded when it comes to betting sports. As they’re job is to make “+EV” decisions they struggle to accept they aren’t making super shrewd bets all of the time.

I like gambling. When I watch darts, football or the golf, I like to have a bet. I’ve been around gambling for long enough to know what makes a good or a bad bet, and I also know how much work and time goes into finding “good bets.” So when I sit down to watch the football and decide to back the overs on 3.5 goals because I think there will be a glut of goals, I’m not kidding myself that I’m doing anything but punting, and probably taking the worst of it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a bit of gambling.

I have had some very “+EV” bets, and usually when I find myself in this spot I like to bet pretty big, because after all, my job is advantage gambling. This is always a result of information someone else has given me as opposed to any amazing coup I’ve dug out myself!

My sister just gave me a dead cert in the 14:10 at Uttoxeter. It came third…what have been your best dead certs?

Dead certs! I’ve had more “dead certs” than I can count! The problem with dead certs is that it’s impossible to really know if it was a dead cert or you just got lucky. I’ve had some very good tips in the past. A respected snooker player gave me a tip that Ronnie O’Sullivan would win the World Championships this year. He was 9-1 and I pretty much backed him single-handedly to 11/2 on Betfair. Michael Van Gerwen to win the World Championships at between 33-1 and 100-1 was a great one as well. Coups like that don’t come along very often.

The best one though I think came from my old boss, who is involved in show jumping. He gave me some info he had about the British and German teams in the Olympic Showjumping event, which meant the online prices, were way off. This wasn’t a “dead cert” but it was without doubt the most profitable bet I’ve ever placed. It was very difficult getting my money on, as the markets are very non-liquid for stuff that is so niche, but the two bets I placed won comfortably which was cool!

So many dead certs have bombed! I remember a horse from about two years ago which, “couldn’t lose” and I got a big bets on at 12-1, 10-1 and 8-1, and stood to win £38k if he came home. It finally crossed the finishing line about a week ago a think?

I also had a greyhound that was leading by miles before it randomly stopped running as it hit the last bend. I’d had a tip from my trainer that they had been feeding it real rabbits (which makes them feistier so I’m told) and it was on this bend she always got her live rabbit so stopped in her tracks expecting to be fed!

I remember before the snooker World Championships two years ago I was ready to back a 147 break in the first round at 16-1. I like betting on big stuff to happen. Then I was in a poker game and got a tip from a very well respected former world #1 snooker player. He’d spoken to Stephen Hendry, who had landed in China the day before his opening match with Stuart Bingham. He had been playing pool and hadn’t played a frame of snooker in four weeks. To add to his woes his cue was broken in cargo – the same one he’d used his whole career. Bingham was 11/10 and I was told he was 1/3 at the very worst! He also told me that the clothes weren’t quite right just yet for big breaks, so back against there being a 147. So I put a big bet on Bingham, and backed against my 147 fancy at odds-on…

Stephen Hendry won 10-1 and made a 147 in the process…

Tell me a funny gambling story?

One of my favorite gambling days was in Vegas. James ‘Flushy’ Dempsey and I were staying at the Encore and he came into my room for breakfast one morning. He mentioned he fancied laying this guy in the golf – laying favorites in golf on the final day is always fun as you get a sweat on every shot  – anyway we couldn’t get on Betfair, and no-one would lay it so we flipped for who got which side. I won the flip, laid the favorite for $500 to Flushy who duly blew up a three shot lead. Flushy was raging that he’d come in wanting to lay a guy and ended up backing him and doing $500 in the process!

JP Kelly and I have had some fun coups on the Darts. I remember one time during the World Championships, some guy came on and JP said: “Looks a bit bowl this guy.” A few seconds later we found out he was called John Bowls, so seemed like a sign from God that we should back him. He was playing Ian White – I think – and was a 7/2 shot, yet despite shaking like a leaf the whole way through he won!!

Another “nearly” good story was earlier this year when I was on steaming tilt and about to go to the Leeds v Brighton game with JP, Tommy and Flushy. I wanted to place a bet that would win big if it came in so I decided to bet £500 on 2-2 at 17-1. JP came along as well so we stood to win £17k on 2-2! 1-0 Brighton after 66mins looked dead in the water, then after a dubious penalty and three sending offs it was 2-1 with 12 mins to go. We were in the Brighton end and cheering for a Leeds goal. JP and I were wondering if we were going to be able to control ourselves if Leeds were to equalize!!

What are your favorite types of bets?

I like “positive morale” bets, basically, betting on stuff that will happen, rather than betting that it won’t. So I like the overs on goals in football games, 180’s in darts matches, centuries in snooker etc. I hate betting on unders on things as I think it’s very bad for morale. I also hate betting on cricket. That’s a very dull sport, and if betting on it can’t make it interesting you know it’s boring!

What are the biggest bets you have ever won?

Biggest bet I ever won was on the Ronnie bet this year. I had £4,600 at risk and after a bit of laying/backing etc. I made £26k profit, which was very nice. I went with Trigg to watch the last two sessions of the final and that was an amazing day out! Then I went to Monte Carlo for a week, wishing I’d bet £9,200!

I laid Stephen Maguire in the World Championships two years back to lose £21.5k if he won. I took an insanely good price there though, so that was a 100% great bet. He made the semi’s looking very good though, so was a very tense sweat! Luckily he got beat in the semis by Ali Carter (who I’d backed pre comp at 36-1!) to play Ronnie in the final (who I’d also backed pre-comp!) so that worked out very nicely

What are your biggest losses?

I’ve had the chance to lose big numbers on the golf before (a mixture of good info and my natural desire to punt huge on the golf leading me to bigger than average recreational bets on this sport!), but recently in the Open I laid Mickelson to win (at a bad price as well – was silly punting) and lost £16k on that bet. Combined with staking, poker and sports betting that was my biggest ever-personal losing day in gambling. I went to bed at 10.30pm that day for the first time in a long time!

What’s the stupidest bet you have ever made?

In play betting, I had one silly time once during the darts World Cup. I was playing in a private poker game at the time and we had the darts on the box. I said I was going to lay Adrian Lewis in every game, and back Taylor in every game; and this was working out nicely. In the final Lewis game I was sure he’d lose, as he was playing awful, so I laid him and his price shortened, so I laid him again and his price shortened still. I kept going and going till I was exposed for £7k (on a “friendly bet”), he lost easily but I was starting to worry that everyone knew something I didn’t!

Do you have any sports betting superstitions?

My superstition in betting is “positive morale,” so I never cheer for people to miss, or to not do stuff. I focus my energy positively onto my guy to do better. Cheering for bunkers in golf, or for players to hit the five in darts etc. is very bok, in my opinion.

Finally, what’s sort of advice would you give people who want to venture into sports betting?

I think the most important thing about betting sports is to remain realistic. People love the idea that they are super sharp, and ahead of the curve, but in most cases you just aren’t. Sure you’ll get some good information from time to time, and you’ll spot what looks like a rick from the bookies every so often as there is plenty of lazy odds compiling about. But unless you’re a Tony Bloom or a Channing and spend so much time looking into this stuff, most of the time you’re punting with the rest of us. That why it’s important to keep it to fun “recreational” betting where you can take slightly the worst of it and still enjoy the gamble. If you’ve got a good coup and you want to go heavy then go heavy, but you have got to remember you’re not just taking the variance of the bet on (even the greatest bets in the world can lose!), but you’re also taking the variance that the information you’re using is duff as well!

So just don’t get carried away, which is easier said than done

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