The term tipster refers to someone who on a regular basis provides information (tips) on likely winners in sporting events. In the past tips were bartered for and traded but in modern times, thanks largely to the Internet and premium rate telephone lines, it's increasingly likely that a tip will be sold.
A tip in gambling terms is a bet suggested by a third party who is perceived to be more knowledgeable about that subject than the bookmaker who sets the prices. An individual following such tips would be "beating the bookie" by winning a greater number of times than the odds for each bet would suggest was likely, however, many tipping services are scam operations that play on the addictive nature of betting.
Tipsters are often insiders of a particular sport able to provide bettors with information not publicly available. There are other tipsters who provide equally respectable results through analysis of commonly accessible information.
Tipster is also a UK slang term for a person who gives information regarding potential news stories, particularly those involving celebrities, to journalists.
Good tipsters use statistical based estimations and extensive research [1] about the outcome of a game, and compare this estimation with the bookmaker odds. If there is a gap between the estimate odds and the bookmakers odds, the tipster is said to identify "value." When value is found, the tipster is recommending the bettor to place a bet on this match.[2]
Tipping in the betting arena is mostly associated with horse racing but can apply to any sport that has odds offered on it. The relaxed cultural attitude towards gambling in the UK[3] is increasingly resulting in a gambling element being promoted alongside sport coverage in the media.
Stocks and shares
While the term gambling is often considered to be confined to sports betting or at least the services offered by a bookmaker, the classification can also be applied to investing in stocks where the gamble relates to a share or commodity price moving in a certain direction. Stock tips, as publicised in the financial sections of the media, are largely directed at the casual investor but their interrelation and interest to the business sector has proven to be controversial.[4]
Most National newspapers in the UK employ a tipster or columnist who provides horse racing tips. Rather than pick a tip for each race that occurs on a given day the normal protocol is to provide a Nap and nb selection.
Nap (derived from the card game Napoleon[5]) indicates this is the tipster's most confident selection of the day.
nb = "Next best" and indicates another selection that the tipster rates highly.
Both types of selections would be counted in calculating the tipsters running profit/loss figure which states how far in profit or loss an individual would be if they had backed every tip with a level stake (£1).
The popular Channel 4 television program The Morning Line previews weekend horse racing on a Saturday morning culminating in the panel of experts and guests providing their selections for the day. Sky Sports News runs a similar preview segment including expert analysis of the teams and betting odds relating to Premiership football fixtures on a Saturday.
Forums are increasingly being used as a means to share ideas and information within web communities and many such forums exist in the gambling arena as a means of discussing views on events or simply offering advice and tips. While many in the gambling community view this as a way in which they can earn respect from their peers in an otherwise isolated profession, tipping services also use these areas to attract users to their premium schemes.
Tipping Competitions
Australia has led the way in the emergence of tipping competitions where the object is to win prizes for registering virtual bets. The focus of the majority of these competitions has been Australian rules football but the commonly referred to term for the activity of Footy tipping now also covers Soccer, Rugby League and Rugby Union. In the UK there are a growing number of such competitions but most relate to the Horse Racing industry.
In theory, tipping for prizes in a free competition provides a viable alternative to gambling for real. However, many will take the opposite view that it makes gambling more accessible to a wider audience by creating what is perceived to be a safe route in. There is also a lot of scope for gamblers looking to identify good tips using such competitions as an information resource given some competitions publish current tips entered and historical records for the tipsters involved.
Tipping scams exposed
Premium tipping services charge a fee for accessing a tip or tips by phone/internet or post. The more reputable companies will keep an accurate record of their tipping activities enabling a prospective client to assess their past form and so anticipate potential future performance. There is a lot of scope for less reputable operations to massage these figures or even to fabricate figures in order to attract new customers. The scale of the issue is considerable given recent estimates from the OFT state the figure lost to tipster scams each year is between £1 million and £4 million in the UK alone.[6]
Derren Brown's The System Channel 4 program exposed one such method by which tipping services operate. In effect by giving out different tips to different people in a race of a set number of horses one person is guaranteed to win. The bettor who won could then assume that they received real insight into the race outcome from the tipster and may then return and pay for subsequent tips.

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