A great book by Malcolm Gladwell

Your Questions Answered…

After you sent in your questions earlier in the week, I've made a start on answering them. I did actually record some video, but there was a problem rendering the slides for that pack. Never mind, it was only five and a half hours yesterday... Aaaargh.

I've split the questions into three groups - Racing, Betting, and Gold - and the first two groups are below. Racing even has a video that works! (I think the Betting one - with 325 slides - was too big for the software to handle...

OK, let's go...

Your Racing Questions Answered

“Hi do you think anything can be done to stop these low fields? Just look at Goodwood today also handicap races so many taken out and you can’t get the 4th place”

  • Patrick

MB – Hi Patrick, yes, this is a really serious issue affecting racing. There are plenty of reasons why it happens, such as:

  • A declining horse population
  • Reduction in the average number of runs per horse per year (perhaps in part down to breeding/training evolution)
  • A growing number of races/meetings
  • 48 hour declarations on the flat and going changes

Much can be done, but the question is whether it will be. Racing’s many stakeholders all bleat like lambs at the slaughter at the very mention of the word ‘change’, and they all consider that their particular issues are the most important. Indeed, in my opinion, racing’s inability to sing a common tune is its biggest threat.

I am personally in favour of 48 hour declarations, because they give me more time to study – and write about – the form. A necessary evil of that is growth in non-runner numbers.

However, other issues such as an – in my opinion – unsustainable volume of races/meetings for the current horse population, and the decline in popularity of National Hunt ownership require direct intervention.

In fairness to the BHA, they recognise this, and in the last couple of months I’ve contributed to a consultation on National Hunt racing, and as of this week I have sight of a race planning consultation document.

The Horseracing Betting Forum, on which I sit, also may make recommendations in relation to the above, though I can tell you the subject hasn’t made it on to a very packed agenda for the first meeting, on Friday 4th September.

It is to be hoped that some solutions can be found, though this clearly won’t happen overnight; or else getting a fourth place in handicaps will become a luxury, and getting a third place less of a common occurrence.

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Hello Matt

I trust you won’t mind my superfluous question, it is something from the back of my mind, Has Mikael Barzalona suffered a `fall from grace`? He seems to have gone from a retained rider for Godolphin to a bit-part rider for Freddie Head. Do you know of any reason for this?

Robert Jolly

 

MB – Hi Bob, Yes and no, I think. Firstly, as with so many sportsmen and women, M. B was a precocious talent from an early age. But his flamboyance – remember that ballsy salute from the saddle as Pour Moi only just prevailed in the Derby? – is not to everyone’s tastes, and maybe betrays a lightness of character not best suited to the work ethic expected in the big yards.

 

Look at the  most successful jockeys – Richard Hughes, Ryan Moore, Frankie Dettori – and you’ll see a group who are workaholics first and showmen second. Even Frankie, after a Barzalona-esque beginning to his career back in the day, knuckled down to the work rate required to succeed.

 

MB is still getting some great rides and, perhaps, the example of Dettori is the most pertinent. He’s had more than one ‘second chance’, and is blossoming in his relative dotage this season. I think we’ll see an encore from Mikael in the next couple of years.

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Hi Matt,   What does it mean when a trainer says he would like a bit of black type for his horse?  Regards. Ken. MB – Hi Ken, Black type is usually used in relation to fillies and mares, and refers to a first four finish in a ‘Pattern race’ (Listed or Group race). It appears on a horse’s ‘page’ in the sales catalogues, literally in bold type, and is a most attractive attribute for a buyer looking to breed from the filly/mare in question.

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Breeding. Why isn’t semen collected from outstanding stallions and used for artificial insemination with further generation mares? Frank

MB – Hi Frank, It is against the rules, quite simply. The business of breeding is huge – much bigger than that of racing – and anything that prolongs the fertility lifetime of a stallion (such as freezing his semen for artificial insemination) is a threat to subsequent crops of stallions and, thus, the business which underpins it.

There are really strict rules around breeding which ensure that no foal can be registered without it emerging from a ‘formal’ mating, all of which is tracked regimentally.

With bulls, breeding is important; but the fact that they don’t compete directly (generally speaking) I presume means the rules can be less stringent.

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What’s the reasoning behind naming horses by running several words into one, e.g. Diamondsandrubies? Aodhan OCarroll
buckieboy   - Names are limited to 18 characters, inclusive of spaces, so your example with spaces it would total 19.
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Matt, what do the following expressions mean that are commonly used by TV pundits…….well furnished…..recalcitrant and precocious? Dave
MB – Hi Dave, “Well furnished” means the horse has a good physique; “recalcitrant” means it is not the most co-operative (!); and, “precocious” means it has a lot of ability / is very mature early in its life/career.

 

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Your Betting Questions Answered

Here’s a question for you, Matt. Any idea how to knock a losing run on the head? Things have been shocking lately (and all proofed on the Geegeez forum)! Good job I've been following Chris to make up the shortfall. The ups and downs of a life of a punter, eh? Should have got a job in Poundland. Less stress! 🙂

Paul

MB – Hi Paul, Losing runs… great question, and one also asked by Keith – thanks to you, too.

There are (at least) two ways to answer this, related, so here goes:

The first is the emotional one. In the teeth of a losing run, we get defensive: defensive about our methods, about backing bigger priced horses we see as value, about the gods conspiring against us, about… well, pretty much everything. When we do this, our ‘arm tightens’: we start looking to back shorter priced horses seeking comfort from the market, we start questioning our approach.

Average losing runs in 1000 bets

Average losing runs in 1000 bets

It is very hard to take. As I speak and write this, I’m in the teeth of a horror run on Double Dutch. Honestly, just randomly picking the top two in a pair of races would have performed better than my considered approach this week and the tail end of last week.

But this is the same approach that put most of 120 points on the board in the first place, and I’m not about to abandon it even in the teeth of a howling gale of poor fortune and, yes, occasionally poor judgement. That leads me on to point two…

The second is the data-driven. If you know your average odds, your strike rate, and other key metrics; if you’re clear about your modus operandi, and if you’ve enjoyed a good spell of success with an approach, it is more likely than not that you’re suffering the necessary losing yang to your historical winning yin.

How to knock it on the head? There’s only one way: stop betting. Period.

Obviously, that extreme measure is not what most of us want to do, nor is it what we should do. So, more practically, we can either reduce stakes – meaning lower losses but also lower profits when the wheel turns again; or we can continue as we have, mindful of the numbers which support such a course of action.

Of course, if you don’t have the numbers to back up a decision to continue, then I strongly advise pausing until you can gather that information. You may find that you’re destined to lose when you look at the bigger picture. Hopefully that’s not the case, but none of us who take betting seriously – even as a hobby – should be ‘hoping’ it’s not the case. We should know unequivocally that it is, or it isn’t.

Good luck – with a solid methodology, things will turn in due course. ‘Due course’ is best described by this ‘worst case scenario’ chart based on average odds.

As you can see, even betting at average odds of even money, you could realistically expect to hit a losing run of ten in a sample of 1000 wagers. At just 4/1, that rises to 31 straight losers; and at 10/1 a whopping 72. So make sure your bank can withstand the worst ravages of a downturn.

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Since it worked for me as a boy at Ayr yonks ago I have been a sucker for horses running on consecutive days. It is a bit of a nuisance when there are more than one in the same race though. Do you have any stats? samcarsonps

MB – Hi Sam,

Horses running the day after they previously ran have performed pretty well, though not well enough to win at SP. Saying that, the 1,561 to have run on flat turf since 2003 returned a small (+42) profit at Betfair SP.

Horses running in flat turf handicaps the day after finishing in the top five, and priced at 20/1 or shorter, have done very well.

Specifically, they’ve won 116 of 686 races (17%) for an SP return of 54.45 (8% ROI, better than the banks!), and around 132 points profit at Betfair odds. That’s close to 20% ROI on the exchange.

So yes, there’s definitely something in that…

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Hi Matt

My question refers to a recurring difficulty of trying to get funds out of bookie accounts before the winnings grow too big for their liking. I am intending to use back and lay techniques to effectively lose with the bookies but actually transfer the money to Betfair or SMarkets

My question is which sports would you consider best to use? Low odds eg odds on tennis players keep winning and putting money from Betfair into my bookie account and long odds eg golf outrights require thousands of pounds in Betfair to cover that side of the liability

I am trying to get over £2k out of Bet 365 and Skybet and fear for each account

Clive

MB - Hi Clive, This is an interesting question, which rather assumes there bookmakers will restrict you based on withdrawn winnings rather than actually winning the bet in the first place.

Now, I’m not party to bookie algorithms, so I can’t say whether that’s a flawed assumption or not – my gut feeling is that it might be.

I don’t really have a strong view because of my uncertainty about your starting premise, but it does seem odd to be risking a percentage of your money to ‘arb’ against yourself. I would just withdraw the cash, and live with the consequences.

Even if the account does get restricted, that in my view is better than giving money away as you suggest. There are ways to open new accounts – though it’s not the sort of thing I can suggest in a Q&A such as this. Suffice it to say that if you wanted to, you’d find a way to.

If you absolutely must trade against yourself like this, your job is to use skill to find false favourites – in any sport. Seems an odd way to go…

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Hi Matt, how are you? Do you think it can make a difference in a horse’s performance having previously put up a good performance going either left handed or right handed or does it make minimal difference? I try and look at a race from all angles.   Geegeez gold is the best thing I have ever joined. All the best, Andy

MB – Hi Andy, firstly thanks a lot for the comment about Gold. That’s great to hear! Now, to the ‘handedness’ question.

First of all, the obvious bit. Horses running on a straight track will be excluded from such a consideration. In flat racing, that’s a majority of races.

Now, to the meat of your question. I’d be confident that, yes, for some horses running at some tracks, the handedness of a course makes a difference.

The challenge is in identifying which horses and, a point which is generally ignored, which tracks. Some tracks, Chester and Pontefract for instance, have very tight turns which make up a significant amount of the circumference of the course. Others, Cheltenham and Chepstow, for example, have much more straight ground giving horses a chance to re-balance even if ideally they’d prefer to race the other way.

Then there is the horse itself. I don’t have enough data to say whether smaller, nippier types might be less bothered by the handedness of a course – and, by inference, bigger nags may have more trouble lugging one way or t’other – but I suspect that to be a reasonable generalization.

Pulling your generous Gold compliment into the argument, this is certainly a piece of information we’d like to incorporate into our reporting at some point, though it’s not top of the agenda at this stage.

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Hi Matt, 

Throughout the 80's and early 90's I had a system based on favourites. I figured that if I applied other parameters to the favourites I could increase the win rate from the normal 36% or so to a profitable level. It worked extremely well. I had a consistent strike rate of 83%. It didn't concern me what the price was nor the type of race or the code. I averaged 2.43 bets per week, (yes I did keep meticulous records). My longest winning run was 22 and my longest losing run was 5. I adhered absolutely strictly to the rules, 1lb out in the weight or half a furlong out in distance for example made it a no bet. There was no question of decisions from the heart! 

Gradually from the late 90's my system began to fail until the point when it was no longer profitable. 

I have tried to tweak it without success but all the original rules were perfectly logical and should still be today. 

Your first 30 days for just £1

What has happened since then to make my system fail? You can't say I was lucky because luck doesn't last for 10 years, or does it? Surely not! 

Your thoughts? 

Dave 

MB – Hi Dave, another great question, and again a two part answer. The first part of the answer is “look at the data”. If you find that the win strike rate of your system picks remains largely constant with when the method was profitable, then it is simply that the market takes far better account of the combination of factors which comprise your system.

Every method has a shelf life in this regard, because the market is an iterative, evolving organism which subsumes all knowledge lobbed at it in the form of wagering pounds.

With the increased accessibility of database technology, the group called ‘favourites’ have never been under closer scrutiny – mainly because backing this group, or subsets therein, gives the highest strike rate. Consequently, any pockets of value have been squeezed, certainly in terms of starting price favourites.

On the other hand, if the strike rate diminished, either instead of or as well as the average odds, then it could be that something material has happened outside of the market. For example, have training methods reduced the effectiveness of your system? Or has the race programme changed in races you were betting? Have the courses you bet altered their drainage, or otherwise amended the track configuration?

There are myriad reasons for change, some more obvious than others. The only constant is that change WILL happen, and if something has worked previously for a period of time, it is very likely it will either reduce or disappear altogether in terms of effectiveness. That’s the price of progress!

Thanks for that great question 🙂 

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Dear Matt

Love reading your articles and lots of other stuff from various sources.   As someone with a full-on job, it is difficult to follow regular systems and tips, simply because I may miss BOG prices or just not have the time to get bets on or not have internet access.   That has meant in the past missing good winning days!  (Holidays also get in the way of betting too!) 

Any thoughts on this?   Is trading the markets just before the off an idea you have considered or used?  I am trying out BetTrader software at the moment and can dip in and out whenever I am free. 

I have gone down the road of using free bets, arbitrage and the like to the tune of £3,700 profit in 14 months. 

Have got limited by Ladbrokes, Coral, 888 sport and Stan James but I suspect the front three are getting their house in order with the mergers afoot! 

Cheers and thanks for all your in-depth study.   Hope the Forum goes well on Friday. 

Doug.

MB – Hi Doug, I’ve put this question under the ‘betting’ heading though, in truth, you don’t seem that interested in betting.

Your approach appears purely market driven, and profiteering in intent. That’s not meant as a criticism as such. Rather, it’s not an area that holds a deep amount of fascination to me.

Can you make money arbing? Yes, absolutely. Do bookies hate arb’ers and close them down? Yes, of course.

But that’s of little consequence to the huge number of people who are making thousands of pounds in risk-free profits. Arb’ers will get closed by all bookies in the end but as most tend not to want to actually bet on the outcome of a race – rather, they merely want to trade the early prices – it is not too much of an issue.

In answer to your question, no, trading the pre-race markets is not my thing. I like form. And horses. And races. And betting!

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Hi Matt, thanks for inviting questions from your readers. My problem is that you hear so much about systems that promise the world and fail to live up to expectations. Maybe I am asking too much but I am looking for a system that is not that expensive (no ongoing fees, been stung before) that does not require a large betting bank or complicated staking plans, win bets only which isn't too complicated and doesn't take long to find selections, and is the closest system I can find to ensuring regular decent profits! Then I would be interested. I enjoy betting on horse racing and football. Bet you wish you hadn't invited responses now! Kind regards Gary.

MB – Ah, a good old fashioned ‘golden goose’ question! 😉 No offence intended of course, Gary, so let me put some meat on the goose-y bones. I want to say two things here: One. Ask yourself whether your aspirations, in terms of the risk you’re prepared to take on, and the expense from acquiring the knowledge, are realistic.

If someone has a system that has a once off cost, and doesn’t require a large bank, isn’t very complicated, and doesn’t take long to find selections, and provides regular decent profits… …would they really offer it for a one off inexpensive price? The answer, clearly, is ‘no’. So, if you find a product that suggests it might be this, and it costs £19.99, what should you do?

The short answer is “run a mile”.

The more qualified answer is “run a mile to the nearest trusted review site and check for an unbiased road test of the system”.

And then, if you can, get a second opinion.

Here at geegeez.co.uk we still perform system reviews – as many of you will know – and the reviews are carried out by geegeez readers whose sole compensation is a copy of the system/service they’re reviewing. They have no axe to grind – either positively or negatively – with the vendor, so your first port of call is right here.

The second thing I want to say – and I would like to commend you on this, Gary – is that it is important to understand what kind of system/service will work for you. Although your requirements might be, as you’ve suggested yourself, too much to ask for, you do at least have a good handle on what you’re after. Most people looking at betting systems don’t.

Good things to know about yourself before parting with hard earned include:

-          Do I want to back or lay?

-          Can I set aside a bank? How big a bank?

-          Do I have the time to find selections

- Will I do this every day/most days?

-          Can I handle losing runs?

- How long do I give a system/service before turning it in?

-          Am I prepared to paper trade or bet to small stakes while I get comfortable?

The answers to those questions will tell you, in part at least, whether the problem with (some of) the system(s) you’ve bought lies with the seller… or with the buyer.  There are some truly awful systems and services out there; there are a lot of mediocre ones; and there are a few really good ones. But only in the right hands.

Everyone who puts their faith in someone else – as opposed to trusting their own judgment – must be accountable enough to know that the problem might be with them, especially if they piled in from day one without really knowing much about the service/system background. With so much information – much of it from trusted sources – available these days, there really is no excuse for blatant gullibility.

That was a very long answer, because it was such a great question. Thanks for asking it, Gary!

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Hi Matt,

Great idea, have lots of questions, but my main one and the one I have trouble with is staking, I read a lot about having a betting bank and staking a percentage per point/bet either 1% or 2% then others suggest a flat rate like £10 a selection and so on.

In your opinion what is the best way and more profitable way to stake, I’m also asking this as when I watched your video you said you bet £10 on average per bet and up to £50 on fancied ones - Bubbles180

MB – Hi Bubbles, thanks for a question on staking. There were others as well, which I’ll try to answer in this space.

The most important thing to say is that staking really is a personal thing, and it should be based on good data and your own appetite to risk.

On the good data side of things, knowing average winning odds and longest losing runs, over a meaningful set of results, is key.

For instance, Stat of the Day has been running since November 2011. As at the end of August 2015, almost four years, it has registered a profit of 333.24 points (excluding a 12 point exacta, and the fact we’re in front in September already!)

That profit comes from 353 winners out of 1201 bets, a strike rate of 29.39%. Our returns are therefore 1534.24 (1201 staked, plus 333.24 profit on stakes).

That means out average win odds have been 3.34/1, or almost exactly 10/3. Using the table referenced above, we could reasonably expect a run of about 26 or 27 straight losers from 1000 bets. As it happens, the longest losing run has been 19.

But, from a staking perspective, a SotD follower should be working on at least a 30 point bank. And here’s a key thing that you ought to know – and you probably do know, but maybe overlook sometimes:

Your bet stake is governed by the size of your bank divided by the number of points, NOT by an amount you’re happy to bet each day! 😉

So, in the example for SotD, if you have £300 to set aside for SotD, then £10 stakes are the order of the day. If you have only £100 you can ringfence, then £3.33 territory is yours. And so on.

Using a percentage of bank is my preferred staking approach. The percentage depends on the parameters I’ve outlined above – average win odds, mainly, but also your own appetite for risk (where you might add, say, another 50% to the recommended number of points in the bank).

As for my own betting, well stakes in absolute terms have probably moved on a bit since I wrote that. But not a lot, in truth. It’s still about the thrill of the chase – getting it right – than making a living from betting. The mantra of geegeez will always be that fun and profit should be sought in equal measure from betting on horses. They’re most definitely not mutually exclusive!

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Why don’t tipsters set up a trade association so that punters know that any service that is a member has a degree of respectability? Any that are not should be avoided by the punter. I not saying that profitability can be guaranteed but least the punter would know he is not dealing with rogues. mackenzie

MB – I’ve often wondered about this myself, Mackenzie, to the point where a few years ago I thought about taking it on myself. The biggest problem is around the rules of entry, and ongoing administration. In short, it would be an absolute nightmare to police.

However, there are a decent number of reputable review sites who will look independently at services over a period of time. It’s perfectly possible for the same service – especially value services that tip at bigger prices – to have a negative review on one site and a positive one on another, based on having a bad run and a good run.

At geegeez, we ask our reviewers to consider more than just profitability. We want to share customer service experiences, ease of getting bets on/finding selections, availability of quoted odds, profit after fees are paid, and so on.

We also try to show the average number of bets, and approximate odds of bets, so that readers can look at even the most profitable service and decide whether it suits their personal betting style.

In summary, a trade association is a great idea… but the practicalities of administering and policing it would be onerous.
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Matt, Betting on Racing: What is the difference between an Exacta and a Forecast, why do they pay differing returns?

Cheers, David.

MB – Hi David, these two bets are offered by different operators.

Exacta is a tote bet, and is calculated by divided the total amount bet (less 25% deduction) by the total number of correct prediction units.

Simple example: £100 bet, three correct winning units = £100 minus £25 deduction, £75 divided by three winning units = £25 per winning unit

Forecast, full name Computer Straight Forecast (or CSF for short), is a bookie bet paid based on a complex formula that accounts primarily for the starting prices of the horses, but also takes into consideration such as consecutive racecard numbers and stall positions.

Thus, they are likely to pay different amounts. Exacta is a pretty good value bet generally, especially if you fancy at least one outsider. However, returns are more volatile than with the CSF, where the dividend is fixed, regardless of the number of punters nominating the winning outcome.

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Hi Matt…I’m a frequent user of Horseracebase and came across BF Chi score as one of the columns in the system builder. I’m aware the Chi score is an indication of how ‘reliable’ the results/data is (ie not down to chance). I’m not too sure what a larger or smaller Chi score actually means? Is a large Chi score of 10+ good?

Best, Martin

MB -  Hi Martin, Yes, horseracebase.com is a great tool for system building. With regards to Chi squared, I’m not an expert but, as I understand it, there is no absolute scale. However, generally speaking higher is better and, again generally speaking, 10+ would be a quite solid level of confidence that results were not a coincidence.

[For those unfamiliar, Chi squared test is a means of allocating a degree of confidence to a set of results in terms of the actual returns against the expected returns; and how likely this was down to chance.]

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Hi Matt
Why is there not a uniform R4. One I backed romped in at double figure price and 
Bet365 had a 30% R4 which was fair enough as a strong favourite had been taken out. I also backed it with PaddyPower and their R4 was 45%. Surely it should be the same R4 for all firms,
Regards
David

MB – Interesting question, David. The immediate answer is that different bookmakers offer different early prices, so for example if Fred was 8/1 and Joe was 10/1 on the withdrawn horse, they’d invoke different deductions (in this case, Fred would deduct 10p in the £, and Joe would take 5p in the £).

There are a few things around Rule 4, and its potential manipulation, which have attracted the attention of the Horseracing Betting Forum, a new body designed to try to achieve a fairer deal for punters; and this will be up for discussion at one of the early meetings of this group.

3/10 or shorter = 75p in the £
2/5 to 1/3 = 70p in the £
8/15 to 4/9 = 65p in the £
4/5 to 4/6 = 55p in the £
20/21 to 5/6 = 50p in the £
Evens to 6/5 = 45p in the £
5/4 to 6/4 = 40p in the £
13/8 to 7/4 = 35p in the £
15/8 to 9/4 = 30p in the £
5/2 to 3/1 = 25p in the £
10/3 to 4/1 = 20p in the £
9/2 to 11/2 = 15p in the £
6/1 to 9/1 = 10p in the £
10/1 to 14/1 = 5p in the £
Over 14/1 = No Deductions

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I’m a bit concerned at the supposed Paddy Power/Betfair merger. Any thoughts yourself on the subject?

Mondo

MB – Hi Mondo, I found this one a bit of a head scratcher myself, as I couldn’t work out what the synergies were. Normally, mergers and acquisitions are undertaken on the basis of ‘harmonising’ back office processes and, therefore, saving money; as well as being able to offer new products to a larger customer base.

However, with Paddee and Betfear operating in different spaces – bookmaker versus exchange – the synergy opportunities are less obvious. The best article I’ve seen on this is here:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/bfpp-vuvuzela-moment-eoin-ryan?trk=prof-post

The author is head of sportsbook at Victor, so knows his onions, and he suggests that it may be Betfair’s in-house technology platform, and its extensibility, which is the major appeal.

So, Paddy’s incredible PR machine, and Betfair’s industry-leading technology platform: that could make for a very big ripple in bookie waters, and other firms may be browning their shareholders’ slacks as a consequence.

It’s very early days, and these things have to be ratified by Government too. But if, as seems likely, this deal goes through, BF/PP will probably become the pre-eminent online firm within a year or so.

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Hi Matt,
what are the advantages of using Skrill or similar over paypal or debit card?
Hugh

MB – Hi Hugh, The main advantage is that you’d have a consolidated wallet. In essence, a bank account outside of your bank account. Most bookies take skrill and skrill are happy to be used for betting transactions.

Others may have further reasons, but that’s really the only one I can think of.
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Dear Matt,
It is known you are a successful punter so how do you get your bets on? My second question is how do you pick your horses? By this I mean that I have often read your pieces on placepots and jackpots and perms and the value of the Irish pool, etc. Obviously you are extremely mathematical and is that how you make your choices? Is there any room for instinct or ‘gut feeling’, or is that the road to the poor house? Do you ever have that feeling?

I know this is several questions but i think they are linked.

Philip

MB – Hi Philip, thanks for the questions, which I’ll do my best to answer.

First, how do I get my bets on? Like many readers/listeners, especially Gold subscribers, I’ve been restricted by some bookmakers. But I still retain most of my accounts. I don’t back tips – not even Stat of the Day – instead preferring my own judgement; so I don’t throw up a footprint as such.

My betting patterns do not conform to a specific type, and I spread my bets around. The two things which will be conspicuous to any firm taking my bets are 1) I always take top price available, and 2) I’m a few quid in front with most of them.

I’m not privy to why they still take my bets, and speculating on it adds little value. I do recognise that it is unlikely to last, and that’s just the way of it (currently). There are always ways and means of getting a bet on: it is simply how much tail wagging the dog an individual can stomach before setting the hound loose.

Regarding how do I pick my horses, that’s a question which would take a book to accommodate an even relatively comprehensive answer (one day, I’ll find the time for that – it remains a (horribly narcissistic) ambition).

Some pointers though: I’m interested in information most of the market overlooks, or factors in close to off time. Things such as trainer performance with handicap debutants, juvenile first time starts, trainer switches; horses returning to optimal conditions after a series of runs in races they couldn’t win; form profiling more generally; and, more recently, I’ve taken a much closer look at recent trainer form in conjunction with the other factors.

A great book by Malcolm Gladwell

A great book by Malcolm Gladwell

There’s no magic to it, and I back plenty of clunkers. I also hit the skids from time to time, as followers of Double Dutch can attest just now. (Honestly, if there was a shop selling winners, and I had many times the sale price, they’d have sold out just before I got there!)

I do like to bet in tote pools, especially where I think I have an edge. That edge will be when there’s either a carry over (i.e. other people’s money already in the pot) or I have a strong opinion on a couple of races where I think the top of the market is vulnerable.

None of this is especially mathematical, except inasmuch as I look at strike rates, profit and loss, and sample sizes to take a view.

But all of it is mildly contrarian, and tends to either look away from the top of the market for something to back, or looks for reasons to oppose the top of the market (two sides to the same coin in many regards).

With regards to gut feeling and instinct, my suspicion is that people who deploy such things successfully are actually operating against an unconscious methodology which has been finely honed over thousands of races. Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink, expounds on this and is as readable a text as you’ll clap hands and eyes on.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blink-The-Power-Thinking-Without/dp/0141014598

 

Geegeez Gold is, in many ways, the product of my own ‘reverse engineering’ of my unconscious thought processes (insofar as I can unpick them!) and, for now at least, it is proving a solid route to the payout window.

More on your Geegeez Gold questions in the second part of this Q&A.

For now, though, thanks a million for your questions – I hope these answers have added some colour for some of you, and been at least mildly interesting for any of you with enough stamina to get this far!

--

That's it for this Q&A - I'll be back next week with the Geegeez Gold questions. Thanks a lot for your input and, if you like this format, we'll do it again in the future! 🙂

Matt

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9 replies
  1. IanS
    IanS says:

    On Hugh’s question about the advantages of using Skrill. I believe that the bookies incur a charge on deposits and withdrawals from ordinary bank accounts (not passed on to us, and so invisible to us) which do not arise with Skrill. Some argue that operating through a Skrill account might postpone a bookie placing restrictions/closing a successful account because it costs less for them to service.

    • neilmck says:

      The big benefit of using Skrill is that you get your money much more quickly – usually 12-18 hours after your withdrawal, often much quickier than that.

      The downside (as I discovered this week) is that some bookies (Betway for example) don’t offer BOG if you deposit using Skrill

  2. dolphin68 says:

    First many thanks for answering my question on Chi scores. I trawled the net to find anything about Chi scores and there is a lot of stuff out there but you do need a bit of a ‘Maths head’ to try and understand it. You’ve put it in nice and simple terms….bigger the better!

    I’m already getting ‘distracted’ by your other answers and interested to see you reference ‘Blink by Malcolm Gadwell’. Another book that I would flag up would be Nate Silver’s ‘The Signal and the Noise’ – The Art and Science of Prediction. Definitely worth a read!

    I’m looking forward to spending some time digging through various questions….sure to be a few hidden gems of betting wisdom in there!

    Best

    Martin

  3. Shaun says:

    What a brilliant read….well done Matt; it was very interesting and so refreshing to read such a honest article.
    Keep up your brilliant work.

    Shaun

  4. guy weaver says:

    Some really interesting stuff in here Matt, thanks for taking the time to reply so comprehensively.
    As a Gold subscriber I am blown away by the quality of the racecards and of course SOTD. the bookies are also cottoning on as the prices on SOTD selections go so quickly!
    The biggest frustration for me, like many others, is getting on, with so many bookies restricting stakes to ludicrously low levels. I fear the mooted mergers will only make things worse…

  5. Ivor Ackerley says:

    Hi Matt.. I really enjoyed reading this Q/A session.. The in depth answers and research you and your team do is gratefully appreciated

    Ivor

  6. alpha2 says:

    Following Martin’s note about Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise; I would also recommend Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow. I think these two books have helped me more than any other to become a better bettor and deal with those losing runs.

    Finding out how your mind works and understanding the impulses to chase losses and ‘change horses’ is a real boon and helps with the essential calm approach – before a race – no point being calm when a selection is hosing up.

    One other thing I do with all the conclusions to my 2yo maiden analysis is write it out in longhand rather than relying on my brain to hold all the myriad pros and cons information. This helps foil the ‘Fast’ thinking part of the brain feeding you the lazy/easy conclusion and gives the slow side time to function properly.
    Hugh

    • dolphin68 says:

      Hi alpha2…have read a bit of Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow and its on the list of books that I need to go back and finish. They are both books which at first glance don’t seem to have a lot of relevance to betting…that’s until you start reading them. As you say both of these books can only help you become a better bettor.

      Another book that I would throw into the mix – which I haven’t quite finished yet – is ‘How not to be wrong – The hidden Maths of everyday life’ by Jordan Ellenberg. Its bias towards probablility certainly making it a worthwhile read.

      Best

      Martin

  7. Nigel Howard
    Nigel Howard says:

    Hi,

    Regarding the Mikael Barzalona post… He is actually still retained by Godolphin in France. He rides all Godolphin horses from the Andre Fabre stable and those trained by Henri-Alex Pentall. He rode Territories to win the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly and finished second on the same horse in the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville recently.

    He wasn’t necessarily that well received in the UK, probably for the reasons Matt highlights However, since his move back to France, he picks up a lot of rides and is doing well. I think he’ll be around for a long time to come.

    Best,

    Nigel (Geegeez French racing correspondent)

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