On the surface, having a punt in a pub should not pose too many difficulties.
There’s not much to it. Make your selection, fill out a ticket, place you bet, assume the position and get ready to buy the beers.
I should declare here, that I do have some experience in this field. Over many years. If there was a University of Pub Punting, I would at least be a Professor.
There’s nothing better than relaxing with friends in a place that gets it right. And there’s nothing worse than getting stuck in an establishment where the TAB operator doubles as the footpath sweeper.
You’ve all been there. And it’s a proven fact that it’s all but impossible to win in such joints.
One of my pet hates is when there’s no volume on the monitors. The joyful sound of the racecaller is muted. We must rely on the memory of the colours our good thing is wearing. And hope that our ageing eyes will stay in focus.
Some pubs only have one tote machine. Inevitably, it will be manned by a lovely lady, who was around when Phar Lap was a two year old. She will take her time. Especially when you have four blokes standing in front of you with seconds to spare.
I have been in establishments where the genius in charge decides it’s a good idea to have poker machines on the edge of the TAB area. It’s all gambling, after all. Nothing like those reels spinning while you’re trying to hear Greg Miles. If the sound is turned up.
I place bets on my you-beaut phone these days, but there are still times when I want to fill out a ticket. Maybe a sneaky trifecta or a little saver.
So often, I cannot find a sharp pencil. There will be exactly 1000 identical writing sticks, with not a hint of lead. Ink in the pens ran out the day Kingston Town went back to back.
Why is this? Is it a private joke, that publicans talk about at their annual conference?
One final annoyance. And it’s not usually the fault of the pub. Those places where the resident loudmouth takes centre stage.
He has two modes of operation. The first is to talk extremely loudly, while you’re watching a race. The second is to scream as if stabbed, in support of something he’s had one dollar each way on.
If someone would let me run a pub, he would be the first bloke I’d ban. Jack The Ripper could be at work behind the pool table, and he’d be allowed to stay ahead of this goose.
For all my complaining, there are plenty of places that get it right. The little pub down the road from me has a great feel every Saturday arvo. Plenty of room. Plenty of volume. Plenty of pencils.
My favourite surf club on the Gold Coast has the biggest screen you’ll ever see. You can be parking the car and you’ll still see who missed the start. Somehow, a losing afternoon is made a little more bearable with a view of the ocean. Only just, mind you.
Feel free to let your own publican know what you want, and what you don’t like. We suffer enough as punters. Fom my experience, they take such advice in the best possible way. Just don’t expect to hear a race for the next twelve months. And start bringing your own pencil.