* Prices may differ from that shown
Trivia question. Who is still the only woman to win The National?
Isn't it funny how the demonstrations of sporting prowess and achievement that decorate the front window displays of bookies certainly don't reflect the punters inside, a recent survey revealing that 67% of patrons who use betting shops in the daytime being unemployed. If you want to know where your taxes are going then pop your head around the door in Ladbrokes on a Wednesday afternoon! The other 33% are usually Eastern Europeans playing the roulette machines, a couple of old West Indian guys hiding under porkpie hats and a gaggle of Chinese guys from the local restaurant, furiously puffing on their high tar cigarettes as their dog trails in last.
But today it's all change, the set rules of the British class system thrown out of the window, the whole country descending on the bookies to back a horse or two -or three-in The Grand National. The male member of the family is usually dispatched by the women to place the bets and then we all sit around the TV as the horses huddle at the start for this extraordinarily and exciting race. Your mum usually backs half the field and then lords it when one places, proclaiming her ober betting skills to anyone who cares, but woe betide the hubby if he is caught gambling on any other day! Its like people hating heavy metal all year but loving Bon Jovi's 'Living on a Prayer at the wedding, the one time a year you are allowed to get down to rock music.
Just as there are many types of socially undesirables in the bookies there are different types of gamblers. First there's the guy who queues up at the door at 9am and leaves at 9pm, unable to live without the buzz of racing, knowing the form of every horse or dog that runs yet unable to win any money over the year and two divorces to back that fact up. And if they are not backing the four legged beast they are picking lotto balls, hitting the roulette machines or even the virtual racing, a relatively new thing where you can back computer generated horse races that you have to look twice to see they are in fact just pixels. It baffles me why guy back these games as the results are surely designed to relieve them of yet more from their dole check or the wives housekeeping.
I put personally myself in the 'skill better' category, the mug who thinks he has the edge over the bookies because he only bets when he thinks he has acquired knowledge or his superior analytical skills on the footy or golf is better than the bookies, which its not, of course, why they are rich and the punters are always poor. Apart from the National, the only other horse races I will bet will be the ones that have free bets for in the tabloids, like Cheltenham and the Derby meet at Epsom. In Fact I did really well at Cheltenham last month and accrued an impressive £68,50p from those free bets from a total newspaper spend of less than £4.00. I won another £6 on Master Minded yesterday at Aintree with a free bet from the Mirror and that will stake me today. I don't know much about national hunt racing (the ones that jump) and for Cheltenham just used all our grannies pin prick method where if the horses name sounds good and it has the right amount of syllables and it's just off the favourites then that's the one for me! My only other tactic was to back the third or fourth favourite because the most backed horses seemed to have been priced on softer ground than it was and the same for The National. Winning all three of the big races at the meet seemed all rather easy for this mug punter. Backstage has my pinprick in its ass guys.
I do like to bet on the big sporting events only, the major golf tournaments like the Masters and Grand Prix's in motor racing because you can not only make an intellectual decision on who to back but you can watch the event on TV, why I tend not to bet on football matches. The only time I do bet on footy is anti-post stuff in August to have little bets to follow through the season, like who will win the divisions and top scorer golden boot etc, my Rooney/Man United double teetering on whether Sir Alex keeps dropping Berbatov on the run in, 8 goals ahead of him. Please don't mention Rooney's patronising and outrageous ban for swearing just like the crowd, the ex Manchester City chairman David Bernstein that now heads the FA more than keen for Rooney to miss the Manchester semi-final next week.
The footy bet that is great value is the accumulator during international week, plenty of walk-over games offering decent combined odds if you can pick the nine or ten most likeliest thrashings, nine walkovers usually offering at least 7-1 odds in a combination bet. The clue to winning pretty much every time is to do three lines on the coupon in case there is a freak/rigged result in the Balkans or Eastern Europe. I have won seven out of ten times on international mid-weeks weekends with three lines on £1 bets. Not for much but it feels good to have that edge. If you are a bigger stake gambler then Ladbrokes offer the Safety Net bet on accumulators where you can get one result wrong and still win if you bet 8 matches or less.
Another tempting bet in Ladbrokes is the Goal Rush, the punter having to predict matches where both teams will score. Obviously they select the games you can bet on with controlled pre-printed coupons but they do offer great odds. If you can get three games right you get 4-1 odds, fours games it's up to 16-1.
This weekend is a big for me as I will be the betting pack mule to put the families Grand National bets on and I will also be backing the US Masters. I do feel it's a Europeans year in Augusta and we have a very strong field, the anti-post market reflecting that with Westwood (12-1), Casey (28/1), Donald (25/1), Mcilroy (22/1) and Poulter (33/1)all in the top ten prices and capable of getting the Green Jacket. With Kaymer (18/1)and the Italians in there too it's a continuation of the Ryder Cup Glory for me. But defending champion Phil Mickleson (13/2) winning last week means you can discount the new favourite, Tiger Woods no longer the lapidary favourite, world number one or the man. In fact anyone of the worlds top seven can claims the worlds number one spot with a win on Sunday, such is the vacuum Woods demise has created.
-The Anti-post Odds-
Phil Mickelson 13/2
Tiger Woods 10
Lee Westwood 12
Nick Watney 16
Martin Kaymer 18
Rory Mcilroy 22
Luke Donald 25
Dustin Johnson 25
Hunter Mahan 25
Matt Kuchar 28
My bets will be staggered over the four days, one bad round from the top ten and their odds crumbling. I snapped up Kaymer at 18-1 and my first pick, the form players Watney and Kuchar the best American picks.
After two rounds...
Rory Mcilroy lead the European charge with seven birdies and a 65 so his price collapsing, the youngest ever first round leader. Kaymer shot an eight over par and sat last. Oops! Mcilroy(-10) held the lead after 36 holes, this kid the new Tiger. Fellow Brits Lee Westwood (-5), Donald (-4) and Fisher (-4) are still in it, Mickelson (-4) lurking for moving day. Tiger(-5)shooting 66 sent chills through the field.
The National wise I'm backing 'Backstage' at 12-1, this years race fairly easy to predict as the ground is very fast and so one of the favourites nailed on to win, the race no longer the horsemeat mincer it was. My other picks for today are Arbour Supreme(20-1)and Niche Market(20-1)for my outsider. Sir Alex Ferguson's part owned one What A Friend has also a great chance at 12-1, no doubt given an extra few minutes to finish.
My betting tips to narrow down your National selections would be:
Avoid all grey horses, the last one to win in 1961.
Avoid mud larks at all costs. Horses that like mud are withdrawn when it's dry because they need the mud and rain to slow down the other horses, rather than better in the mud.
Avoid all French horses, who never do anything at Aintree
Avoid female jockeys, Elizabeth Taylor still the only one to win The National
Avoid betting the top weight horse (last years winner Don't Push It) on the nose, any extra ponds of led in your saddle not what you want around this course for four miles and a bit. Previous winners often place the nest year though.
Avoid betting outside of 16-1 today. The course is much easier now and so good horses are entered and bad horses are not. I guarantee that if you back the first five to win tomorrow you will win.
Avoid Scottish trained horses, no winner for decades, Silver By Nature hexed by that.
No mare has once since 1951
I have just finished working for Ladbrokes after 5 years in the job, the last 3 as a manager. Before that I worked in another large bookmakers for 5 years as an assistant manager.
Ladbrokes has some good points and some bad points. It is very good for students due to flexible working hour and flexible contracts. You can be contracted to a variety of hours as a cashier ranging from 5 to 35 hours per week and your hourly rate is competitive for the industry. The shop opening hours vary between shops but are typically 10.15 - 9.30 Mon to Fri, 10.00 - 9.30 Sat and 11.00 - 6.00 Sun. Nearly all cashiers work weekends. Managers and deputy managers are paid due to there grade, so salary is dependant on your own skills and experience plus how well your shop has performed against its targets the previous year. There is also a yearly bonus based on shop performance that everyone is entitled to that is payed every March.
All training for ladbrokes staff is on the job and now a days mainly on the computer.
As a cashier at Ladbrokes you would have to take bets and pay out bets and input the bet information, do board displays, give out sports information ( that is easily accessible on the ladbrokes text system), do small shop tidies, serve refreshments (some shops only), and be in control of your till and doing till checks.
A managers role is quite like that of the cashier but has a few more duties including opening and closing the shop, doing staffing rotas, ordering supplys and keeping the shop running smoothly, sorting out any customer complaints or any errors or problems in the day to day running of the shop.
As a ladbrokes employee you have a base shop, this is the shop you will work in the majority of the time, some times due to sickness or holidays you may be required to work in a local shop. When this is the case you will have all travel expenses paid. Also if you are a student it is normally possible to transfer shops during the holidays so you continue to work near your home then transfer back to your own shop when uni starts again.
Now the bad points, over the past 10 years the betting industry has changed quite dramatically. When I started there was less than 20 Sundays a year and it was double pay, plus double pay for bank holidays, this is no longer the case and all new employees are now on single pay for both, also it is now all year round night racing, when I started it was only night racing in summer now ladbrokes close at 9.30 all year round and in my opinion this can only lead to more robberies and a bigger security risk. Plus due to the introduction of computers training has gone down hill,more and more managers have no idea what there doing if there computer doesn't tell them and this is leading to more customer complaints.
Plus theres the security issue. Not all shops are fully up dated with cameras and I myself got robbed at knife point 3 years ago and it has happened in the same shop since. Some shops are run down and need refurbishment, some of the staff areas are horrible and lots of them are to small to sit in to eat your dinner. Ladbrokes seem to spend money on big town center shops and leave the little shops alone.
The biggest plus point is the nice regular customers, after years of seeing the same people every day you get to know them,you get to know whats going on in there lives and they are almost like friends. They are the only thing I will truly miss.
I started working for this company, while i was still a student, and i must say it is the perfect job.
As a student i had certain days i could work, and this was easily slotted in. Best of all, unlike many others i knew, it didnt eat up into night-time too much as the latest they ever close is 9:30 , so stearing away from the dreaded bar/club jobs a lot of students fall into.
Pay Rates -
Currently the pay rates to go into are
Trainee cashier - £5.35
Cashier - £5.45
Managers etc generally are promoted from within, as its the only real way to learn everything involved in the job. These rates vary on scale.
Every shop has things a little different, but cashiers will generally be contracted to a maximum of 30-35 hours.
Hours over this are at Time-and-a-half.
Sundays are taken at Double time.
Bank Holidays, Boxing Day, 1st + 2nd Jan, are paid extra at Double Time. (Only English Bank Holidays apply)
Some are Paid days off, (not taken out of Vacation allotment), for example May Day and Xmas.
Holidays are given as 4 Weeks per year.
Sick pay isnt given in the first year, only after 12 Months with the company.
Compared to other bookmakers this is quite good, as some may give a slight increase on Ladbrokes hourly rate (5-15p), but wont give double time at all, only 1 1/2 pay at most.
Winter Hours - 10.15 - 6.30
Summer Hours - 10.15 - 9.30 (April - Start Sept)
Saturdays open 10.00 - Above
Sundays remain - 11.00 - 6.00
These may change as Summer night racing may be extended to Winter as well, in the coming year or two.
Not thats the bulk of the information out the way.
What is it like to work for Ladbrokes?
It's actually really quite a good job.
It generally requires sitting behind the betting shop counter, taking bets, giving betting information and generally chatting away to customers.
Ladbrokes like to have the best customer service in the sector.
What this basically means they employ the friendliest people they can, as they will get on with the customers and the regulars in their shop. And if the customers are happy they keep coming back.
It's essentially like the whole service industry except for one thing.
Most service jobs, the employee deals with the customer and will most likely never see them again.
In Ladbrokes, you get the regualars back practically every single day, rain, hail or snow.
I know as ive worked in a few different shops, and whoever i work alongside, knows the names of most the customers.
This obviously is going to work well for the company.
It also works extremely well for the employee.
It turns the shop into a bookies version of "Cheers".
Everyone knows everyone, so therefore there is hardly ever any trouble.
The actual job isnt too difficult.
Taking bets is the main part obviously, and this is computerised as much as possible.
You feed the bets in a computer, input the instructions on the betting slip into the computer from a menu and thats it.
The computer does most of the work for you, it calculates the winners, losers and payouts.
The majority of the time you are either inputting bets or chatting away to customers.
It's like getting paid to sit behind a counter and just talk away to people .
If you are a people-person, this is the perfect job.
A lot of the regualar customers are older or middle age.
While those in their 18+ to Twenties, will pop in to put on their football coupons. Maybe play the Roulette machines.
Think this cuts down a lot on the hassle, as its not full of younger guys in being noisy or abnoxious. (im not old either, i'm 21)
The atmosphere is great. ESPECIALLY after the smoking ban here in Scotland.
No smoke just seems to make the place a lot brighter and cheerier.
All the posters and TV's make it bright and pleasant so its not like the old stereotype of dingy old bookies.
We even attract in a lot of women, mainly to put on the Irish Lottery, where before they were put off by the image of the smoky, dirty places there was before.
All the old dirty shops have been moved or re-fitted long ago, as the various bookmakers realised they got a lot more customers in the shops when they actually looked nice.
You get to know your workmates well, and will definitely be going out at some point with them. Theres staff nights, charity nights etc. And of course, just going next door to the pub after your shift. Theres ALWAYS a pub next door to a bookies. That or 5 minutes from one. Honest go and see, its true. People sit in the pub a while, then its to the bookies, then back to the pub and so on lol.
You will make friends, and if you live in a town, you wont walk down the main street without a wave.
Hours work around what you can do.
These are worked out weekly, as there is no fixed shifts.
For a student it means any Festival Weekends are easily worked around, days off are easy to plan for anything you need.
They are worked out weekly but if you can only do certain days, then you will just be put in for these days every week, so its easy to fit in.
For any amount of hours you can work, it is a good job, especially for students.
Students can work on their day off, or at the weekend, and if they do Sundays will get £10.90 an hour.
It doesnt cut into socialising time so its suited to those studying in my opinion, as lets be honest, you cant survive at College/Universtiy without a job.
All in all, i enjoy my time at Ladbrokes. Even the long days of 10.15 - 9.30 are good as it condenses my hours into a few days so i get more days off. Thats just a preference for me, others dont like them and prefer doing more normal hours.
I might be going back to studying next year, and i know i will be able to work no problems, keeping a decent income without doing too many hours or exhausting work, which would inevitable hurt my studying. While also keeping my nights free for the usual student fun ;)