Wednesday 31 October 2018

Getting on, and all that jazz

Thankfully - mercifully - I haven't written anything worth being 'trolled' on Twitter since my days on the boxing desk at my previous job, and that was due, in large part, to my having a Sky Sports moniker.

However, having foolishly got involved recently in some discussion on the gambling firms' restrictions, some punk came on to tell me that I was wrong in saying that there is value to be found if you bet on the 'show'.

In the olden times (snooze) the 'show' was when the on-course books would price up the next race, odds which would then be relayed back to SIS (yes, I worked there too) and thence to the shops.

Since the introduction of the betting exchange there is no opening show as such, of course, nonetheless once the previous race on the card is over liquidity tends to increase and the market starts to represent what we might call the smart money.

In the States, and if anyone has ever been greyhound racing in the UK, it is the very late money that is the shrewdest of all and often - not always - it is only in the last 30 seconds before flagfall when the market truly reflects each horse's correct chance.

This is the point at which ALL the information is at punter's disposal, and I'll give some recent examples of this shortly. You might ask at this point how can a big drifter in the market ever win? Well, of course the betting market is never 100% efficient, and we are dealing with equines after all.

Returning to the point of value on the show, there seems to have been a far greater number of 'drifters' winning of late, or maybe I'm just more alert to them these days.

If you place a bet in the morning, considering your horse's odds to be of value, human nature dictates that you then want to see those odds shrink throughout the day, validating the bet and making you feel like you've already backed a winner.

By contrast, if that horse's odds then drifts out you immediately think you've 'done your money', the animal isn't fancied or, even worse, darker forces must be at work.

We all see those blue lines on Oddschecker as a positive signal, the pink ones negative. Back. Lay. HOWEVER, increasingly these morning 'gambles' seem to be red herrings, either the majority are getting things wrong or false information is going out. Or, more likely, 'big' moves are being made on tiny volumes.

Either way, the scramble to get on at morning (or the even more dastardly evening) prices is making folks irate. 'WE CAN'T GET ON', they cry. Nobody is willing to lay a bet; the prices are there so that the firms, the majority of whose market makers don't have a clue, get their cards marked by those who do have a clue.

Until you understand this concept, you will continue to stress about 'getting on'.

A few seasons ago when I had more than 20 accounts open, I'd do my form study, figure out what bets I wanted, and then spend an hour trying to get £100-£200 bets on spread over all the accounts.

It didn't take me long to realise I was essentially wasting time that could have been spent going through more races, watching more video, and generally working smarter.

What I often found that was by the time I'd driven to, say, Newcastle, the odds had fluctuated to such an extent that the time trying to get meagre bets on was pointless anyway.

It seems to me that punters are more affronted by not being able to get on than they are at backing a loser. Using my own experience as a guide, I've become a far more relaxed punter backing 3/1 winners despite the fact 9/2 might have been previously available, because those bigger odds were largely mythical anyway.

As long as I have priced the race correctly, at the point that I place the bet 'on the show', with all possible information available to me, then that 3/1 bet represents great value to me. What's more, I can get on as much as I could possibly want, either on the exchange, in a shop, at the track, and, yes, on some if not all accounts.

I'll labour the point by using one recent example of how betting late on the show provided great 'value'.

The race was the opener at Southwell last Thursday. I was all over a horse called Chozen, who I considered to be one of the best handicapped horses in training IF it was able to show its true running.

A very headstrong animal, it had been ridden with exaggerated waiting tactics in all previous starts, tactics that may not have suited on his first race over fences on a tight track over a trip that may prove sharp enough.

On this occasion I had availed myself of early prices because, even if I had got the wrong day, I felt the horse would at some stage make a mockery of its current mark, and losses would only be lent.

There was no move in the betting during the day, that is until the show when it began to shorten. The horse was as nice as I had remembered. Tick. He looked very fit. Tick. He was relaxed to post. Tick. Then, the bombshell. The jockey was lining him up AT THE FRONT of the field.

At this point it was obvious that he was 'trying' and that connections wanted him to have a clear sight of the fences, and if he jumped round he would probably win. Despite having around 8.6 on Betfair all day, the board price of 11/2 was outstanding value.

Within a fence of the start the horse's odds went from 7 on the machine to 4. Until the flag went up, I simply couldn't have full confidence about my selection. VALUE.

Let's now touch upon drifters. There are horses from some stables that, when they take a walk in the market, they don't win. Ever. Hardly ever. You know the ones. I used to be wary of ALL drifters. Now, not so much.

A drift in the market can simply mean that the majority of punters disagree with you and want to back something else in the race. Fine. I might be wrong. In fact, I'll be wrong more than I'm right. However, if I price a horse at 6/1 and it drifts from 5s out to 8s, from not wanting to bet I now have to make that bet, despite being in the tiny minority. I have to make that bet.

Example. Bags Groove, Ffos Las, a couple of Saturdays ago. I like Bags Groove, I get the impression they quietly think a lot of him, yet he's gone under the radar somewhat.

All the money was for Vision Des Flos. Very much NOT under the radar. Bang in the middle of the radar. I like the horse, but he's not straight forward. Anyway, all the money is for the jolly, Bags Groove goes from 5/1 - all day - out to 8s, 10 on Betfair. There doesn't appear to be any reason for this other than the Bots have kicked in and there are no takers.

What happens; the FAV un-ships the jock, Bags Groove does what he does, and we get paid at almost twice the odds we should have been. Don't tell me there's no value on the show.

Another example; yesterday, Chepstow, Potter's Approach opens at 11/2 the night before, is 7/1 early morning, drifts out to an SP of 16 and was available to decent money at 20s and more on Betfair.

Now I can't logically explain why that happened; the horse went into the notebook at Uttoxeter last time, had cheekpieces on for the first time, had won over the longer trip and was in an open race with a vulnerable looking favourite. Did I back it? Of course not! But it just shows you that the computer Bots running these prices out are providing great value to those willing to stand their ground.

There are some fine people currently fighting for punters' rights, forcing firms to back down and lay bets to lose decent amounts in most, if not all races. This I applaud; the firms have been having things their own way for, let's face it, most of the Millenium.

However, if you want to take the anger and stress out of your betting, stop fretting about chasing the early price. Most probably it's like a beautiful woman orbiting your social circle...a mirage.

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