The Power of the Negative (2)

The Punting Confessional: Finalising the Tissue

Finalising the Tissue

Finalising the Tissue

Last week, Tony Keenan started to show us how he would theoretically set about compiling a tissue for a given race and he continues along that line today, as he explains more specifically how to go about this task in...

...The Punting Confessional – Wednesday, January 23rd 2013

I did my best to duck the question about how to actually compile tissue prices last week – probably because it’s like an experienced cyclist trying to show a maiden rider how to ride a bike (answer: ‘you just do it!’) – but I better address it in full now. Firstly, there’s nothing mystical about putting a tissue together, this isn’t alchemy. Like most things in life, you get better and more comfortable with it the more times you do it.

At this point in time, I have reached a stage where I would find it hard to have a bet without tissue prices; I suppose one could use target prices as a guide (i.e. a price below which you are unwilling to back a horse) but it’s best to have a full sense of the race by giving every runner a price.

When compiling a tissue you need to work in a vacuum so ignore all other prices, tissue or otherwise, that are available in the public domain. This isn’t an easy thing to do – it’s a bit like trying to avoid picking a scab – but is necessary.

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The last thing you want is for your attention to be drawn by a price that seems out of line and have your whole interpretation of the race skewed before you start; it’s always best to start from an objective rather than subjective position.

There is a chance here that you will miss a price every now and then taking this approach for races that are priced up early but in the long-term it will pay for itself.

It’s next to impossible to do a tissue without having done form study beforehand so go through the race as you normally would now, using the usual angles. For me, this basically means what I outlined in last week’s piece. From here, I’ll be getting a feel for what horses should be fancied and unfancied, overpriced and underpriced, the latter pair more important than the former.

My tissues will be based totally on feel, there’s nothing numerical or figures based, that’s not how I work. Feel, instinct, intuition, call it what you will, is built up over time. The argument can be made that a numbers-based approach where you assign different variables a value and work the prices from there could be used but that’s not what I do.

From here, I get down to the maths of the project. I have my list of betting percentages which can be easily accessed by typing same into an internet search engine though at this stage I know them almost by rote, a 6/4 shot is 40%, an 8/1 horse 11% and so on. It’s easy to pick this up when you’re doing it regularly. I go through the race in racecard order, not looking at the favourite or outsiders first, and assign each a price.

For instance, in an 8-runner race, you could have prices that come out like this: 33/1, 10/3, 14/1, 9/2, 4/1, 4/1, 50/1, 14/1 which add up to 100% probability. I like my prices to come out as close to 100% first time as possible, not way over or under, and I tend not to spend a huge amount of time tinkering with them; at this point, I trust my workings and shy away from second-guessing.

Pricing to a 100% book is the only way to as you’re getting at the true probability of the race outcome. Taking this approach, you’re going to have to put some of the outsiders in at big prices but that’s what they deserve to be and often bigger.

Would I lay the prices I put them in at? No, but that’s because I’m simply not a layer and if I think a horse is underpriced I want to get it beat by backing against it rather than laying it, it’s a matter of approach.

When compiling the tissues, one should have a sense of the horses that are likely to be overpriced beforehand. I’ve written about this before and there are many angles that could lead to an overpriced horse such as pace, video analysis or something as simple as a low-profile trainer.

Be aware though that horses can, every now and then, be inexplicably overpriced, particularly should a drift occur close to the off; the exchanges are the place to go to back such drifters as the Betfair market can resemble the course market on speed in this regard.

All tissue prices have limitations and you should be aware of yours; are you better at one type of race than another? In my case, handicaps are where I do best. No one’s prices are totally accurate and allow for broad error; I don’t see how anyone can differentiate between a 4/1 shot and 9/2 shot.

I don’t have a rule as to how much I want a horse to be overpriced before I make a play though obviously you want to play stronger the more they are overpriced; for instance, I would back a 7/2 shot that I think should be 2/1 stronger than a 7/2 shot I think should be 11/4.

When your tissues are in, it’s largely a case of comparing them against the available odds and making your plays. There’s a case for backing more than one horse in a race – I often do so and more – but bear in mind there are times when none of the runners will be overpriced when compared to the bookmakers’ prices as they’re betting to an overround.

This is less likely when playing into the Betfair market near the off as it will be closer to 105% (100% plus commission) and there should be a few overpriced runners at that point.

Making tissues is something that can be developed over time; it could take you a while when you start to do them but it will become old hat over time and is certainly a useful edge.

5 replies
  1. M.Bowen
    M.Bowen says:

    good and I like your comment about not being able to bet without first having done your tissue. Thanks, Martn

  2. Gavin
    Gavin says:

    Great follow up piece, thanks. One question: when you assign your first guess at the price for a horse, do you consider the opposition at all or do you just make a general call about the horse’s chance in that ‘type’ of race – class, conditions etc?

  3. Francis
    Francis says:

    Another way is to award points to each runner according to the chance they have. Total the points,then deduct runners points from total this is odds. Example, total points awarded on a race
    50, a runner with 10 points(50-10 =40),so odds are 40/10 or 4/1.
    Back in the 60’s Roger Maskell punter/writer had a formula for any set of ratings to turn into prices,Recently I saw a piece on turning ratings on excel spreadsheets into odds.
    All this is very interesting and each punter needs to adopt a method that fits in with his betting “Style”. Value is the key to success,never be afraid to bet more than one horse in a race to obtain value. Save on shorter priced,go for the win on longer odds…that way you maximise your potential winnings.

  4. Mal Boyle
    Mal Boyle says:

    Well played Tony—-the easiest way of people finding a percentage for a price is the ‘add a point’ method. If a horse is 3/1 (example), simply use the round number (100) and divide it by four (=25).

    To prove the point taking Tony’s 6/4 example…divide 100 by 2.5 (1.5 for 6/4 and then add a point) which results in the correct quote of 40.

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