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Losing Your Edge.......and Other Things!

Losing your betting edge can have devastating consequences for your betting bank which can be amplified if you didn’t know what it was in the first place or indeed that you never realised it had actually gone and why.

Years ago I enjoyed a very profitable couple of years betting on World Cup Downhill Skiing – it was pretty basic – all you had to do was follow the two practice runs the two days before the race and bet those who were going well with the bookmakers who left prices up. It was a very basic edge but a very profitable one and I was amazed it took certain bookmakers a year or two to twig what was going on. Of course it was doomed to end quite quickly but the nice thing back then was internet betting was in its infancy, they didn’t have a clue what was going on, betting on sports they knew nothing about and actually laying bets in a situation they thought was just a money grab if you got a market share.

When I gave up normal work back in 1999/2000 betting on the internet was really like shelling peas. A little known fact - I helped write the first ever manual/book on arbitrage betting (look up Geoff Matthews book – pseudonym) and ran the first arbitrage betting service. It really was easy which leads me neatly onto golf betting – my mainstay for many years until fairly recently. This is where I have to admit I made a huge error, I didn’t fully understand what my edge was or indeed what factors led to its gradual erosion.

Looking back with a great deal of hindsight it was pretty obvious where the edge was in the early days, firstly there were many different golf odds compilers and there were no real sites like Oddschecker – hence prices varied enormously. It was commonplace to have odds variations from 33/1 to 100/1 on the same golfer, picking out which ones were wrong was simply down to a knowledge of the sport. It has been a gradual change but now there are very few odds compilers left and they are very accurate, the rest are just copy and paste merchants. I take my hat off to anyone who can still make it pay.

Secondly the advent of things like Twitter and other social media has brought about my downfall though I will never criticize new technology/social media platforms but everyone wants to be a Twitter tipster, there are thousands of them who every week play into the hands of bookmakers – it really doesn’t take much. Moving on from the days of bookmakers creating different models and how they work, it was still quite easy to find stuff out that wasn’t in the public domain, now it’s all simply public knowledge because people are desperate to share for a few clicks. It is the way of the world, it used to frustrate the hell out of me, but you have to move with the times and accept it. Things can still be found – my last big golf winner was Jaco Prinsloo in the Players Championship in South Africa (cost me two accounts – another story!) only because they hadn’t factored his course form of two team championship wins into the price. Still - getting what I thought was a 20/1 shot over the line @ 66/1 took some doing. Do I want to wait for those sort of bets that are rare as hens teeth these days – no not really. Again it’s not a criticism of those that do, it’s one of admiration, just these days it’s not for me.

The final nail in the coffin for me on the golf betting front has been the advent of so many extra places at 1/5 the odds instead of ¼ the odds. It may seem insignificant but all the books have done is compressed the win odds and offered less return on the places. It will be a debate that will rage on, with views from either side but I have always been of the opinion that if bookmakers offer you terms that may appear good, it will always be in their favour, they wouldn’t do it otherwise. So win odds that are reduced and only offering 1/5 odds the place will only reduce your profit long term, the winners will make your annual profit, the places keep you ticking over. If both are eroded you won’t make a profit long term.

What is the future going forward for betting in general and me in particular? To be honest I have no idea, betting into weak markets the night before on UK/Irish racing is pointless – bookmakers aren’t stupid, and neither are owners/trainers who need to balance the books with the odd gamble, the ones that are successful are last minute and kept quiet until the liquidity is there. I would never bet the night before on French racing, there is no point. Unlike the past I won’t sit here and wait until the next edge comes along, I have no idea how long the French service will last but I am already looking for something new, unlike before I can’t afford to sit on my hands and be complacent.

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