Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Premier League winners market 2013/14

As I write the title I am a little shock to see I am writing '13/14', where does time go?! I still think back to the seasons of 00/01/02 as being yesteryear but it really isn't anymore. Anyway, enough inane tittle and on to the most important topic of the season: who will win the Premier League?

The summer seems to have been a manager's summer, and unusually each team has a new boss going into the new season. This creates something of a problem for bettors as it means we are entering something of an unknown. That being said however, I do think that a more than necessary emphasis has been placed upon the three incoming managers and it is going to be more down to the players on this occasion. Of course there is also the added difficulty of the season beginning before the transfer window slams shut and there are still some big names to decide on their futures. Regardless, here is what I think at this moment in time:

Manchester City have gone about their summer dealings uncharacteristically quietly and sensibly. It appears to be a Pellegrini-effect as he has chosen to keep below radar in his first months in charge. Problem characters such as Tevez and Balotelli have been discarded and the squad has silently and carefully rebuilt following their disappointment last season. This does not mean they haven't spent a great deal of money however - adding the likes of Navas, Negredo, Fernandinho and others for hefty fees. I imagine it will be a completely different looking City and one which operates a lot more functionally and organised. Last season they had the best defence in the league and barring the injury to Nastasic there is no reason they cannot continue that into this year. Odds on City to record the most clean sheets are not amazingly appealing at evens with Paddypower, but possibly worth a consideration when you look at the frailties in United and Chelsea's defences. The focus over the summer has been bolstering the attack and in Alvaro Negredo they have a proven goalscorer. Whether he will start ahead of Aguero often enough is difficult to call, but 28/1 with Sportingbet for Negredo to be top scorer is certainly tempting, especially considering he bagged 31 in 42 last year with Sevilla. Going into the opening match City are favourites for the title at 3.2 on Betfair, and overall that looks like a sensible price-up. They have the experience of winning a title in recent years and will be a lot more disciplined and focused this season.

The Special One is back at Chelsea and is making a particular noise with the Wayne Rooney saga. It strikes me that Chelsea have been very clever in their dealings with Rooney and have royally stitched United up. Undoubtedly Mourinho wants the player and if he gets him it will be an almighty blow to both Moyes and United, and Chelsea's title hopes would likely increase somewhat, but even if he does not succeed Rooney has created a situation where the United fans are now against him and he is 'stuck' in a team he does not want to play in. The irony of it all that he asked for greater players to be signed at the club, only to fall behind Van Persie in the pecking order and get the hump. Moving on from Rooney however, as we cannot really factor in things we do not know the outcome of yet, and Chelsea appear to be slightly overpriced in my view due to the Mourinho effect. They have signed decent players in Schurrle and Van Ginkel, and will certainly benefit from the return of Lukaku, but apart from that they appear to have a similar squad to last year but with some of the spine of the team a year older. They finished 14 points off United last season and that number probably would have been larger had United not had the title done weeks before the end (therefore playing with less interest vs Chelsea at Old Trafford in the 0-1 defeat), leading me to believe there is not a great deal of value in their odds of 3.35 at the moment. Of slightly more interest is the 24/1 available on Lukaku to be top scorer with various bookies, along with Mata to record top assists at 11/1 with Boylesports.

Manchester United are certainly an enigma this season following the retirement of their leader over the last double decade and more. They trounced the league last year but it will certainly not be quite so easy this year, and they begin the season perhaps somewhat unfairly as third favourites at 3.9. They have the same team as last year, with the possible exception of Rooney if he does leave the club, but presumably the assumption is that the lack of imported talent has meant that the other two have caught up somewhat and even overtaken the champions. While I agree that United should have already strengthened their squad as there are particular obvious areas of weakness, I cannot see that Chelsea have made enough of a step up to overtake United as second favourites. Should Rooney leave for Chelsea however, then that would change matters completely, and perhaps the market is as it is because it has already anticipated this move. I think it is unlikely Moyes will end the transfer season without adding a name to his squad, though it might not be the big-name player he so craves, meaning the purchase is likely to be Everton-sourced. The lack of a new playmaker and the possible departure of Rooney could mean an increased role for the talented Kagawa, who showed great promise last season despite spending most of his time on the bench. As an outside shot, he can be got at 21/1 to record the most assists this season with Paddypower. I think United are going to be very prone to market over-reactions this year given the departure of Ferguson and the unknown which surrounds Moyes. A bad run could see them drift out massively so I would advise waiting to see how they get on before backing them, therefore possibly grabbing much longer odds. The 'top 3' market should also be closely observed as United are already at 1.47 and could push out even further making for a tasty trade. It is unlikely that an unchanged Arsenal side (currently 4th favs for top 3) is going to outperform an unchanged United team in my opinion, but who knows.

One thing I am sure of; regardless of where Luis Suarez or Gareth Bale ends up these three teams will be the only ones seriously challenging for the Premier League title. Spurs and Arsenal have good squads but miles away from the title winning squads they need. As for which of the three will take the title, I do not know! Last season I made the mistake of laying United when they were out in front and I took one of my biggest losses of the season on them when they triumphed with ease. In truth, I hated laying United as a United fan, as I found myself caught in two minds and wasn't able to just bask in the glory I should have been enjoying, so maybe this year I will consider if it is really worth it.

Over the last two seasons a successful market has been the straight forecast, although this year the odds are a lot more appealing, though of course a lot more difficult to predict! For the best value I would currently look to Man City 1st/ United 2nd at 8.4 as it will probably trade lower throughout the season, especially if United beat Chelsea early on at Old Trafford.

This season will chop and change, there will be plenty of trading opportunities in this market, it will just be all about picking the right moments. I can't wait.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Back in business

Well hello bloggers, it's been a long while. I have had a long sabbatical from blogging and betting but I am back now and raring to go for the new season. As regular followers will know, I graduated from university this summer so the last few months have been a desperate attempt to land myself a job and not end up another unemployed statistic. I have managed to get a paid 6-month internship full time in London in PR and marketing, but it will require a lot of commuting from where I live meaning blog posts will decrease somewhat as I have less time, but please bear with me, I'm not ready to quit blogging just yet!

At the moment I haven't had a chance to review the season and teams in detail yet, but I will do that soon. At the moment the thing which jumps out at me is the unpredictable nature of the Premier League winners market this year, I really can't call it and everyone is saying different things. From a betting perspective this is great; last year I was caught out as United ran away with the title and didn't look back, but you can say for sure that the same thing will not happen this year and there will be loads of opportunities to back and lay. In addition to this, we have three closely matched teams all in the 3s, providing a great dutching opportunity. Last year I pointed out you could get a 14% return on 10-month investment if you dutched the top three to win the league, and this year you can get between 15-17% on the same three teams which is extremely attractive. Of course there is risk involved, but I really cannot see Arsenal or anyone else creating a season-long challenge to the top 3 as they simply do not have the calibre. The one thing about the Premier League title is you can be sure that the best team will win it, there are rarely shocks as it takes so long to complete, meaning this investment looks extremely appealing to me. Give it a ponder. 

This was just a short post to let you know I haven't quit/died, and I will be back again next week to review the markets properly. I welcome anyone else's analysis by the way, so feel free to let me know your thoughts. Have a good weekend.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

End of a very long era

The big news this week has obviously been Sir Alex's retirement and tributes have been flooding in from all around the globe as English football's most successful manager of all time is hanging up his hairdryer at the age of 71. I don't know if we will ever see a manager quite like him and it will be very sad to see him go, particularly as I have not been alive long enough to have ever seen anyone else manage Manchester United. I'm sure he doesn't need me to tell how good he is though so we will have a look at what this has done to the markets instead, along with the news that David Moyes will have the horrendously difficult task of succeeding the Great Man.

The United share price was reported to have dropped 5% after Ferguson's news hit the stock exchange, before recovering by the end of the week to finish around what it started the week as. Although the Betfair markets have been more ruthless and unforgiving to United's title hopes next season, we did see the price shorten a small amount after Moyes' appointment. I can't help but think that the praise and support he is being given by the majority of the media is having some impact upon this, as people are beginning to realise that possibly losing Ferguson is not the worst thing in the world. It is difficult to see what impact the 'Rooney out' stories are having on this price but I don't believe it would make too much of a difference unless he was sold to a Premier League club. As I write, City and United both sit on 3.1 for the title next season in a market which was only opened a few weeks ago by Betfair. United have been matched as low as 2 and as high as 3.25, with the latter during this tumultuous week. City, who started the week around 3.45 were backed into 2.7 before drifting back out to their current price.

It is Chelsea though who have been the biggest movers due to the Mourinho chat/Ferguson's departure/Moyes installment (ie not Mourinho)/Almost definitely securing their top 3 place. They are in from a high of 5.8 to 3.85 now, having been matched as low as 3.55 during this week. Needless to say the market already has this down as a three-horse race.

It would be interesting to see what the loss of Moyes has done to Everton's perceived hopes next season but there isn't really any data to show this so far. Sky Bet go 2/1 that they will finish top 6 next season but I have nothing to compare this to as I do not know the price before this week. One thing which has been affected for Everton is the potential loss of their top players and those of you who follow me on Twitter would have seen I tweeted Coral had Baines to go to United before September at a huge 16/1, before quickly altering this to 2/1. Luckily I was able to have a small dabble of £10 at the 16/1 price, although I normally don't get involved in markets like this I knew the price was not an accurate reflection of the situation and jumped on it accordingly.

Overall it is clear that the prices I am quoting now will not be the same by the season opener as there is still so much to be resolved. Chelsea and City look to be changing their managers and I imagine they and United will be spending big this summer too. The Rooney situation is unresolved and should he go to City or Chelsea it would really shake things up.

For now though, we should just savour the end of a brilliant career as Sir Alex bows out in style.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Ronnie Rolls On

Well I admitted that I wasn't sure if Ronnie O'Sullivan would be able to recreate his magic from the past and to be quite honest I was spot on. He wasn't his old self throughout the tournament: He was a million times more incredible. Even his biggest fans surely could not have expected such a ridiculously imperious return to the game as he swept aside everyone and made light work of the world's biggest snooker tournament. Okay, he didn't have the toughest run to the title and a glamour tie with Judd Trump was as close as he came to leaving the tournament, and we all know how much of a pain in the ass he can be at times; for someone who claims he doesn't like attention he sure is good at kicking up a storm, but ultimately it was a phenomenal performance from a player who hasn't been in the game for a whole year. While I am really hoping he stops moping around and plays on the circuit next year, I am still unsure as to whether the snooker world needs him or not. While it is brilliant to see him back and he certainly brings in the crowds, it is a bit like Man United bringing Paul Scholes back in the middle of the season last year. It is great to see an old genius back playing and he has shown he is more than capable of competing at the highest standard, but the problem is it doesn't really allow for new stars to come through. This season has seen the trio of Trump, Selby and Roberston rise to the top of the rankings in much the same way the 'big four' have in tennis. The three have been interchanging in the rankings throughout the whole year and each of them has their own style of snooker flair, providing great entertainment throughout in my opinion. If I was Barry Hearn, I would have marketed the rivalry between these three as much as I possibly could as they look to be the best talents for the future and could go on to dominate between them. Domination is definitely something the game needs but I am still undecided as to whether Ronnie being the dominator at this late and unpredictable stage in his career is good for the sport. Maybe that debate is for another day though.

Now the snooker is over it is back to football for me, though that is nearly over too and I will soon find myself lost for a whole summer (though perhaps this is good as it will be a summer of mad job hunting). The form of the three teams going for the champions league has been exceptional over the last few weeks and I must admit I thought at least one of them would falter. Chelsea in particular have impressed me the way they have balanced their European efforts and their league position simultaneously, though in fairness I couldn't think of many better managers to do this, I wonder how many Chelsea fans will be annoyed at Rafa's appointment by the end of the season. I am beginning to wonder about the threat Chelsea will pose next season in the title race as they have a big squad with some fantastic young players, while they have the appropriate mix of experienced players too, but I will wait until after the transfer/manager window before making any decisions. If you are looking at this though, they are currently 4.4 to win the league next season on Betfair, which is considerably shorter than the 6.4 they started at this season. They still have a massive match tomorrow against Spurs and anyone willing to stick their neck out on a Spurs win could take a big profit as a huge flip in the markets would be probably should Spurs win. As it is though, the markets have Chelsea firmly in the top 4 spot at 1.09 and their top 3 price is now at 1.28 following their victory at Old Trafford. Spurs remain outsiders for the top 4 at 2.86 while Arsenal are at 1.36. 

Enjoy the football this week. Savour it. It won't last for much longer!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Snooker and Football

I'm not sure if you are going to be able to guess what this post will be about under the cryptic title I have chosen, but I'm sure you can have a little guess. The snooker World Championship has been running for a week now and it has not disappointed so far with huge amounts of quality and excitement on the baize. With round 2 currently in progress, the biggest shock so far is Neil Robertson's first round exit to Robert Milkins, after one particular blogger astutely tipped Robertson as a good back-to-lay option... Moving on and there were other first round casualties for what I like to call the 'mid-runners' (ie not those in the group of favourites in the betting, but not big outsiders either) Higgins, Allen and Maguire (who I did actually say was unreliable, so maybe that is 1-1). Their defeat along with Robertson's has altered the market somewhat, with Ding Junhui in to 7.4 from 14s and Shaun Murphy in to 15s from 22 (although Shaun is through to the quarter finals already). The favourites still remain close with Trump at 4.5, O'Sullivan (who dispelled any doubters with his first round victory over Marcus Campbell) in to 4.8, and Selby is at 5.6

In addition to the front-runners there have been a few surprise performances not least from 21-year old Michael White, who has already knocked out Mark Williams and Dechawat Poomjaeng and will go on to face Milkins or Ricky Walden in the quarters. He is currently at 22 to win the tournament and although I don't advise backing the in-form man, especially one so inexperienced, if he can carry his momentum into his next match there is no reason to suggest he could not make the semis. Poomjaeng, who was unfortunately knocked out yesterday, has been the source of much entertainment in his brief spell at The Crucible and I'm sure many will be sad to see him out. I think Maguire's quote that he doesn't think Poomjaeng 'is the full shilling' pretty much sums up his antics. 

Over in football land United sowed up the title in brilliant fashion and we have entered the stage of the season where the outright markets begin to settle or partly settle their bets. I'll be honest and admit this does confuse me slightly as it skews the profit and loss margins on each market as each team gets knocked out of the running. But anyway, the biggest market still left in contention definitely seems to be the race for the top 4, or even top 3, while the final relegation spot also seems unsettled. I feel each weekend between now and the end will be crucial for both of these battles and it is difficult to see who has the easiest run in for the top 4 race. Arsenal face United at home this weekend and although Ferguson has rightly vowed to honour the top 4 race, I don't see any reason why Arsenal cannot take at least a point from the champions-elect. If they can avoid defeat on this occasion they would certainly appear to hold a small advantage over the other two, who still need to play each other on May 8th. I am sticking with my belief that Chelsea will be the ones to miss out, while Arsenal will take 3rd place. This is not the market belief however, as Chelsea are favourites for the top four at 1.33 and top 3 at 2.04. We shall see. 

Down at the bottom it is really difficult to call and I won't be getting involved there. On the surface it seems that Wigan have the tougher run in but I get the impression people are reluctant to oppose them due to their heroics in recent seasons. I can't help but feel though that this may be one season too far for the club, especially as they have the FA Cup final to think about as well, although I do hope I am wrong. Enjoy your weekends.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Betfair Snooker World Championship 2013

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am impartial to a bit of snooker from time to time and over the last year or two it has become a kind of second sport for me. Unfortunately this tends to be strictly from an enjoyment perspective and not so much from a betting perspective, partly because snooker doesn't have the liquidity required to trade properly and partly because the sport is so unpredictable. The World Championship starts on Saturday though and it is sponsored by Betfair after all, so it should show an improvement liquidity-wise.

The draw for the competition was made yesterday and it made for a slight rearrangement on the outright winner market, as each of the favourites' route to the final was determined. As far as the betting goes the outright market is the most interesting as usual but it is typically difficult to pick yourself a winner, with the favourite starting at a huge 7.2. The big news so far has been the return of defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan having played his last competitive match of snooker in the final of last year's World Championship. He heads the betting at 7.2 but I really cannot see myself backing him, especially as favourite. Everyone knows what Ronnie is like and how he plays, no one can predict anything he will do though and he could be sensational or awful. I wouldn't want to back anyone who had not played the game for a year, let alone someone who is renowned for being a bit of a basket-case. Don't get me wrong, I fully hope we see the old Ronnie back to his glory days to give a strong defence of his title, but I won't be backing him to do so.

Neil Robertson, Judd Trump and Mark Selby make up the rest of what Betfair is calling 'The Big Four', and you can currently get 1.89 on any of them to lift the trophy. Throughout history the winner has tended to be one of the big players in the game at the time, as indeed should be the case, and it isn't since 2005 when a young Shaun Murphy won the title that an underdog has come through to win. You could argue that last year was a shock with O'Sullivan winning despite his poor ranking and age (oldest winner since Ray Reardon in 1978), but Ronnie has been somewhat of an anomaly all throughout his career so it can possibly be excused (and he was actually still one of the favourites). Of the other three of the 'Big 4', the most appealing to me is Robertson at 7.4 who is the only former World Champion of the three. He certainly looks good for a back-to-lay as he has been the most consistent throughout this season (despite actually going all the way only once) with 1 win, 3 finals, 3 semi-finals and quarter. He is just coming off the back of his impressive China Open win and I think he could be ready to take it to the next level. Alternatively, Mark Selby at 7.8 has been world number one for intermittent parts of the season and, although he has been less consistent with only one final, he also won the UK Championship and the Masters and is looking to complete the Triple Crown. Judd Trump at 8.4 is my least favourite of the four by far and tends to have his price shortened somewhat due to his playing style. This season he won the International Championship and finished runner-up at the Shanghai Masters, but let's himself down far too often and has failed to get past the second round of ranking events on 5 occasions this season. Two years ago he announced himself to the world by finishing runner-up in this tournament, but I think it may still be a tad too soon for him to go one step further.

As for 'The Field', Higgins and Ding (14s), Allen (16s), Maguire (19.5) and Murphy (22) make up the rest of the main pack with a fair chance of doing well this time round. Higgins and Murphy are the only ones with World titles to their name, and it is the latter who I feel has once again been severely underrated by the markets. He remains number 4 in the world (ranked 5 in this tournament because O'Sullivan is first seed) and has been pretty consistent all the way through the season, with one final, four semi finals and two quarters. It may just be past him to win the tournament, but I will be backing him to make the quarter finals at least. Mark Allen is another who has performed well this season and is up to 6 in the rankings, though he is another who frequently struggles to make it past the second round (on 6 occasions). He also has a very difficult draw with the way it is structured, so I would not really advise backing him. Stephen Maguire is at 19.5 and this must be for his world ranking (5) alone because he has not really performed well this season. He won the Welsh Open and made the semis in China, but on eight occasions did not progress past the 2nd round. His draw is not the harshest however and he could progress until he meets Robertson in the quarters, but I wouldn't back him to get that far based on his recent form.

Overall the tournament is extremely difficult to call either way, much like any other world sporting tournament, as the prestige of the Crucible mixed with the length of the matches (1st round is best of 19 frames, progressing to the final which is best of 35) means anything can happen. I'm not sure I will be having any big punts on it, but maybe a couple of small interest bets. From a in-play trading perspective, I would be looking to back Mark Selby if he went behind early on in a match and lay Judd Trump/Neil Robertson if they took a big early lead. Robertson and Trump's playing style relies upon their long potting being perfect which is difficult to maintain for a whole 19+ frames and they are known to frequently take the foot off the gas when they're ahead.

Otherwise though, sit back and enjoy the tournament! Much like golf or test cricket, it is a sport which is relaxing to watch as well and can be left on in the background (particularly when you have revision to do...), but can also be exciting at times and unmissable! I only wish I didn't have exams soon so I could go to Sheffield and watch it. Good luck.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Revolution or Evolution?

After Ladbrokes bought the floundering Betdaq last year many were hoping for a long awaited serious challenger to the monopoly created over at Betfair. Earlier this year the 'Betdaq manifestso' was released and waxed lyrical about promising 'more liquidity', 'lower rates' and 'no premium charge', and while this sounded promising most people were waiting before they passed judgement on whether the takeover had been successful or not. A few months on then, how are Betdaq doing?

I was impressed to see Aintree splashed from top to bottom in purple the other day as the Daq marketing team had obviously chosen to go all out for the National. Huge white tanks were driven up the roads outside the venue as those on board cried 'Don't settle for Betfair' and covered the crowds in Betdaq flyers. Flyers, tanks and billboards are all lovely but they aren't much use if there is still no money in the markets. In a bid to gain more liquidity quickly, they offered commission free winnings on the National and this did certainly seem to have a positive short term effect (see below). Where the struggle lies however, is getting people to keep their winnings on the site and not, as I did, withdraw them immediately to return to Betfair.

Picture of total matched on the National (taken from Twitter account of @TrevDaq)

The biggest competition this week is The Masters and I was surprised to discover that Betdaq currently has almost double the amount matched in the outright winners market than Betfair, with £13.6m and £7.1m matched respectively. This would definitely appear to suggest that the tide may be turning and as long as Daq can keep hold of a few customers from each tournament, then it may well begin to compete. It will be interesting to see how the two progress as the tournament goes in play.



Unfortunately however things are not looking as good in Betdaq's other markets and if we delve into one of the (subjectively) biggest football matches of the day, the Daq's liquidity begins to fall down once again compared to Betfair.

A poor show from BetDaq

Better from Betfair

This is much the same across the board for most of the sports today, so it would be fair to assume that many of the National punters have just moved their winnings along to the Masters in search of another 66/1 winner.

So what can we learn from this? Is Betfair a machine which just cannot be caught? Or are BetDaq in it for real this time? Personally it looks to me like the Daq are still finding their feet and are progressing slowly but surely with the strong backing of Ladbrokes. This type of thing does not happen overnight, people do not just wake up and decide to take all of their pennies out of Betfair, it will need to be a very slow and gradual movement from one to the other. Offering the odd commission free market at the big events seems to be working so far, though I'm not sure what it does for their profit margins, but it is still going to take a lot more than that to work permanently, though based on the show so far their backers are willing to invest a lot in marketing and branding to boost their reputation, which is a positive sign. I'm not sure if it is possible or not but I would have thought that offering a commission free period on, say, football for a month would gain the site a lot of attention and attract a lot more customers. While I reckon this would be too much for the profit margins to handle however, it would probably achieve gains in the long run, even if there were short term losses. 

Whatever the case, BetDaq appears to be slowly evolving into a genuine competitor to Betfair and it will be interesting to see if they can begin to match everyone's expectations soon. 

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


Forgive me dear bloggers for the unsightly blemish on my page to the right of your screens. I did tell myself that I would never advertise or try to sell you things, but I have been tempted into betraying my word. Technically I am not committing the worst of sins as this is not my own product, just one which I am a big fan of and I am sure the majority of you have it in your portfolio already. The reason it has now appeared on my page is because I can claim a commission if you sign up through the link and I believe, as I have said many many times before (see older posts), that everyone should be a member. For those who don't know: It is risk free matched betting, whereby the system guides you through cashing out all of the bookmakers' free bet offers for a guaranteed profit. I completed the initial service well over a year ago but have continued to make profits (around £400 this year, and I am currently doing a special new bonus offer of up to £150) and the service continues to improve with videos and written guides to make it easy as possible. Free bets occur all the way through the year, especially when there are big sporting events on, and Mike (the creator) sifts through them all to present you the best and safest ones on offer. There is also a friend referral scheme of £20 each time you recommend someone, so it is just money all round really. If you want further proof of how good the product is, I challenge you to find a bad review of it online, I haven't seen one yet! So, to cut a long story short, do me (a poor, skint student) a favour and sign up through my link. You will make money I promise. Here ends my sales pitch!

The weekend saw a feast of action once again and the big result was at Loftus Road where Wigan obliterated the Hoops' hopes after Remy's stunning goal. Betfair now has QPR at 1.05 to go down, while Wigan's point leaves them 3.0 for the drop and Villa's crucial win at Stoke pushes them out to 5.4. Sunderland are now the favourites for 18th place at just 2.86 for the drop! I still think a lot might change before the end though. Remarkably Stoke, who were once as high as 700/1 for the drop are now just 8.2. Up at the top Arsenal continued impressively with a win away at West Brom, while Chelsea crept past Sunderland and Spurs struggled to draw to Everton. Top 3 prices are now : Chelsea 2.08, Arsenal 2.46, Spurs 6.2. City's win at Old Trafford had the grand effect of pushing United (previously at 1.01) out to 1.02 for the title. Nothing to see here, according to the markets at least.

I was at Aintree on Saturday and had a great day as usual and I even managed to get a bit sun burnt! Betting wise it was a nightmare as the bookies absolutely swept up all throughout the day, particularly in the National itself with 66/1 Auroras Encore winning. I was pleased to see that all 40 horses returned safe and sound however, and I hope the future of the National is now a little safer than it was (not that I really think it was ever at serious risk). Enjoy your week.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Final Stretch and the National

Into April we roll and there are only 7 or 8 Premier League matches for us to enjoy before we have to succumb to other sports over the summer months. The weekend had a small impact on the league, with Chelsea dropping points, Southampton claiming a huge win and Wigan shaping up to form another great escape. QPR now look resigned to the Championship after their 3-2 loss at Fulham made them 1.11 for the drop, only behind Reading who now sit 1.06 after their defeat at the Emirates. The top four race continues to enthrall and Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal now sit within 4 points of each other, while Arsenal and Chelsea have a crucial game in hand. Chelsea and Spurs still need to play each other but due to the former's triumph in the FA cup that game will now be pushed back, meaning Spurs will have a potentially crucial free week allowing for a much needed rest for their squad. Spurs were the big winners over the weekend as they moved up to third and the market readjusted to make them 1.76 for a top four finish.

Looking at the fixtures over April you would have to look at opposing Chelsea in every way. They potentially face 8 fixtures throughout April, possibly more if they progress in the Europa League, and Benitez looks to be prioritising the cup competitions over the league, as was the case with Di Matteo last season. I backed Arsenal for the top 3 last week at 4.4 (now 3.3), but you can lay Chelsea for the top 3 at 2.34 or even the top 4 at 1.49 if you wish. Incidentally, Arsenal could also benefit from United winning the title quickly, as it might take United's edge off their fixture at the Emirates at the end of April. At this stage of the season it is tempting to force bets, in an attempt to make more money before the season finishes, particularly as I am not on track to reach my profit target. It is clear however that doing this could jeapardise the profits I already have and a large amount of discipline is necessary here to resist rising greed.

Elsewhere we have the Grand National this Saturday which I will be attending as usual, I just hope the weather picks up before then! Unfortunately this is not an occasion which bookmakers offer free bets as they do not feel as if they need to, while some even withdraw or reduce their sign up bonus, meaning I will have to be digging into my pocket to pay for my punts. I know little about horses as it is and the National is renowned for being a lottery, so I won't bother trying to 'analyse' the race and give you all my 'tips'. If you are interested however, I'm going for Colbert Station at around 15/1. He's a dead cert ; )

Enjoy the race and I hope some of you get lucky. Fingers crossed for no more snow.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A bookmaker review

I was reading The Portfolio Investor's blog the other day and he was talking about a few smaller bookmakers and the necessity to treat them with caution. Over the last year or so due to personal research and a lot of matched betting I have come to use and experience a number of bookmakers, both mainstream and non-mainstream, so I thought I would do a small review based on my experiences for people perhaps looking to open new accounts. I accept this is a subjective post and people may disagree with some of the things I say, but I reiterate this is just a review based on my personal experiences.

Firstly there is what I consider to be the mainstream bookies. These are the ones who I see as the market leaders in the UK, through both their street and/or online presence. Some might disagree but personally I see these as being: William Hill, Ladbrokes, Bet365, Coral, PaddyPower and Betfred. Bet365 has no high street betting shops to my knowledge, while PaddyPower has a few scattered mainly in the North of England and in Ireland, but the majority of their work is based around online betting. The other four neatly juggle online and street bookmaking to provide a good all-round service. I have had quite a lot of experience with each of these bookmakers, mainly online, and they typically offer the same sound service across the board. My personal favourite is Bet365 as they have exceptional customer service and frequently offer the biggest offers and free bets. They also have an extremely attractive £200 sign up bonus, as well as a £50 mobile bonus. The others all have little features which make them individual and worth having an account with, for example PaddyPower and Coral have a number of novelty bets and enhanced odds offers, while William Hill has the 'Priority Prices' which is their version of enhanced odds. Overall I have very little bad things to say about these bookmakers, although others may have issues with their staking restrictions. I do not really stake big enough bets with bookmakers for this to affect me however.

Secondly we have what I consider to be the second tier bookmakers. These are generally the ones we hear a decent amount about through their marketing campaigns or advertising at sporting events, but do not rank as highly as those above, for various reasons. I consider these to be: Sporting Bet, Bet Victor, Stan James, Blue Square, Boylesports, Sky Bet. These bookies I would not regularly place bets with as they offer nothing too dissimilar from those above, but it is still worth having an account with each of them as they will frequently offer free bets for big sporting events. Sky Bet offer a unique sign up bonus which offers the user a weekly free bet if they stake a certain amount each week, while Bet Victor is notable for its range of bets offered, particularly the popular Man of the Match markets. Unfortunately I have had bad experiences with Sporting Bet and I know I am not alone with this. They appear to have a reputation for finding ways to not pay out free bets and offers, and I have also known them to withdraw offers mid-flow (as they are entitled to do, of course, but it does not do much for their PR). I have also been on the receiving end of poor customer service (accused of 'abusing' their system after placing a few bets) and as a result I tend not to bet with them as much as I can. I do not have any bad things to say about the others listed, only that I know some people have complained that Stan James are very quick to shut down people who win large amounts, so they are not very good from an arbing perspective.

Lastly is the 'best of the rest', which basically means all of the other bookmakers I have accounts with which don't qualify for the above categories. There are loads more in the world with differing quality but I cannot comment on these as I haven't had any dealings with them. I will give a brief summary of those I have used before:

Bwin: A decent online service which I have encountered no problems with. Not exceptionally attractive odds however.

118Bet: One of my favourites from this category. A large £50 sign up offer and a very simple interface.

888Sport: Main feature appears to be poker and casino but still offers a decent sportsbook.

SetantaBet: Rather poor odds and only £10 sign up offer.

TitanBet: Fairly easy to use, good customer support.

Bet770: One of my least favourites. A good £70 sign-up offer but poor odds and you need to send copies of drivers licence and bank cards before withdrawing. Also have a tendency to ring your house even if you don't disclose your home number.

UniBet: Another of my favourites. Everything is plain and simple, excellent customer service and decent odds.

ApolloBet: Same company as Setanta I believe, so they use the same poor odds. Smooth customer service however.

SeanieMac: Used to be same company as Apollo/Setanta but have recently been taken over by Boylesports I believe. Currently have an inactive sportsbook and I have £40 irretrievable in the account, though apparently they will be up and running soon.

10Bet: Huge sign up offer of up to £200, but equally huge rollover requirements come with it. Apart from that though it is a decent sportsbook.

Bet-At-Home: Diabolical odds and poor interface.

BetInternet: Fairly sound website, simple to use.

32Red: Not primarily a sportsbook and it shows. Confusing 'Wallet' system in your account and site is centred around the casino.

That is just about it from my own records. There are a couple of extras from the exchanges: Betfair and Betdaq but I don't really see the point in them. They seem easy to use but it seems slightly stupid to me that they, particularly Betfair, have a separate sportsbook when they are primarily an exchange. To their target market, the people who know Betfair as a 'confusing exchange', becoming a sportsbook AS WELL is not going to solve matters massively I do not think, rather it will confuse the masses. Lastly, Pinnacle is an online bookmaker which I think many of you will argue should be in the top bracket, particularly arbers, due to its highly competitive odds. I have not had a great deal of experience with it but it does strike me as being for the more serious bettor, rather than for punters, so I will leave it up to you as to where you place this one.

No doubt everyone has had varied experiences with each bookie and I would be interested to know these, so please let me know in the comments. I'd just like to mention a new company which I have also  recently been looking into: 'Bet Butler'. This seems like quite a good idea overall and useful to the casual punter. For serious bettors I can't see any reason why you would pay 3% on your winnings bets if you have multiple betting accounts anyway, that is just lazy! But for the casual punter, it will probably win you more than you lose in the long run.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Market Madness

So Harry couldn't forge a great escape this week and now finds his team 7 points off safety with just 8 games to go. Defeat to Villa saw QPR's pre-match relegation price of 1.54 plummet to 1.23, while Villa flew back out to 3.05 in this everlasting merry-go-round. The optimists will say there is still time for QPR, and indeed Reading (1.09 for the drop), to escape the bank-busting relegation and many still find themselves in disbelief that a club who has spent so much money are in such a bad position. They are now in serious trouble however and games are running out, the lay at 1.22 is now far less appealing than it was a few months ago and I believe people would be best keeping clear. Slightly further up and there are some very interesting prices with Southampton and Sunderland both sitting 4 points clear of the drop, though it will be only 1 point if Wigan win their game in hand. At present the Southampton price to go down is 8.8 while Sunderland, on the same points and with a better goal difference, are at 4.4. It could be argued that Sunderland have a more difficult run-in, with games against Man United, Chelsea, Spurs and Everton to come, but with quality players such as Steven Fletcher and Seb Larsson at their disposal I find it hard to see why there is such a big gap between the two prices.

Further up the table and Fulham were the obvious winners in the race for the top 10 with their victory away at Spurs, while Newcastle have a right to feel aggrieved after their loss to Wigan. Fulham are now the front runners for the 10th placed spot at odds of 2.3, with Stoke coming up the rear at 3.7.

Higher up is where it is really beginning to get interesting though and the last 10 days have seen huge fluctuations in the top 6 and top 4 markets. In my previous post I noted Spurs were 1.43 for the top 4 finish, while 9 days ago I highlighted how the markets had Liverpool at 1.49 for the top 6. After defeat at Southampton and Everton's win against Man City, Everton now find themselves 1.85 favourites on Merseyside, while Liverpool have drifted out to 2.02. Similarly, after losing back-to-back games including a poor home defeat against Fulham, Spurs have drifted right out to 2.08 for the top 4 and are still drifting! Arsenal are now 1.82 to rob their North London friends of the Champions League place despite being four points behind with a game in hand. 

There is certainly some serious money to be made at this time of year as prices can change a lot more than they would during the middle of the season, for obvious reasons. Needless to say however, that with greater opportunity comes greater risk. I was lucky enough to have layed Spurs for the top 4 last week, but then I unfortunately had layed  QPR to go down, so swings and roundabouts. It's just about finding the right ones. 

I'll leave you with a stat which I have only just noticed (sorry if this is old news to you) - QPR have not been higher than 18th at ANY STAGE this season. Absolutely abysmal.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Drab TV

Good morning sports fans, I hope you've all recovered after another brilliant Cheltenham festival. It really got me in the mood for racing and I can't wait to go to the National in a few weeks now! From a profit perspective I did well, mainly through the help of Bonus Bagging, and made around £150 matched betting the various offers and enhancements going around. I only had a couple of real bets and they both lost, therefore showing the reason I don't tend to bet on horses! The fun doesn't end here for sports lovers though as we have a big couple of months coming up with the return of F1, the Six Nations, the conclusion of the football season, the snooker world championship, the Masters, Aintree and more. Unfortunately from a football perspective, ESPN and SkySports have picked a poor schedule this weekend when I personally feel there are much more exciting games on. United-Reading, while I am sure it might attract a big audience, is not a very appealing game and the same fixture was on TV a few weeks ago in the FA Cup. I'm sure neutrals would much rather watch Swansea-Arsenal or Villa-QPR to be honest. Tomorrow Sky have Sunderland-Norwich on for some completely bizarre reason, having already shown the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

The aforementioned Villa-QPR match is the obvious big one this weekend and could have a massive impact on the relegation markets. Villa (currently 2.3 for the drop) will climb to 30 points with a win, 6 points off the drop with Wigan having 2 in hand, and you would have to feel that this would leave QPR (currently 1.54 for the drop) in a very poor position. A win for the Hoops would of course mean a complete reverse and would leave them a point behind Villa, but surely Harry can't pull off three victories in a row, surely? Keep an eye on Southampton though, a loss today and wins for Villa and Wigan (at home to Newcastle tomorrow) would put them one point clear of relegation, and they have some tough matches to come. The price of 3.95 on them to go down could soon evaporate. Elsewhere, Arsenal can apply the pressure on what must be a fatigued Spurs for the fourth place spot (though it is currently occupied by Chelsea), by winning away at Swansea. You can currently lay Spurs at 1.43 if you think they will falter between now and the end of the season, and this is a price I have taken. I think they still will finish in the top 4 and I hope they do too, but I think it will be close as Arsenal have a much favourable run-in and nothing else to worry about.

Up at the top City need to win today at Everton to have any chance of the title. Although Everton have been faltering recently it is still a tough place to go and big teams often struggle there. I do feel however that United's season is in a vulnerable position at the moment, despite their big lead at the top. They are out of one cup and threw away a good lead in another, and I think they desperately need a win today before the international break. Anything other than a win and those little demons might just creep into their minds. They are available to lay at 1.06 if you think this is likely.

Enjoy your weekend.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Cheltenham Bonus Bagging

The weekend was a big one for the relegation scrap, and it is so tight down there that it looks as though it will be like this for the remaining 9 game weeks. Wins for Villa and QPR saw a shift in relegation odds, while the markets now appear to have written Reading off completely, despite their burst of form at the start of 2013. Reading are now 1.13 to go down, while Villa have climbed to 2.3. QPR's win did little in terms of jumping out of the relegation zone, as Villa's win ensured they are still four points adrift, and this was perhaps noticed by the markets which readjusted to make QPR 1.57 for the drop, despite initially jumping to 1.7+ immediately after their victory. Their victory over Sunderland was of course crucial however, and if they can carry this form into the upcoming relegation 6-pointers then they should stand a good chance. Elsewhere in the table, Spurs lost at Anfield and drifted to 1.44 for a top 4 spot, despite the four teams around them not playing. Liverpool, every markets friend, are now 1.49 to finish in the top 6, despite being level on points with Everton, who have a game in hand.

The big news this week will no doubt come from Cheltenham, and the bookies are doing their best to come out on top with the best offers. This is a good time to remind everyone about the extremely successful and profitable matched betting service 'Bonus Bagging', available for just £27. I should note I don't tend to do sales pitches, and I am not in anyway involved with this service other than on a consumer level, but it is the only service which has consistently earned me money and everyone really should be a member. My email account has been going crazy this week as Mike, 'Mr BonusBagging', has been carefully sorting through all the free bets and offers available to ensure Cheltenham is a profitable festival. Many of the offers available take work well over my mathematical knowledge to become profitable, but Mike produces video and written guides as well as spreadsheets and calculators to make each one as easy as possible. Whether you use these profits to fund your Cheltenham bank or just for some extra cash, it is really a no brainer.

Enjoy the festival.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The world goes on

Last night in Manchester was predictably dramatic, albeit slightly tarnished as a spectacle. There are plenty of unbalanced opinions doing the rounds at the moment, so I won't add mine. It is a bad year for English football however, with potentially no teams in the quarter finals (unless Arsenal can produce something incredible) since 1996, and that is a shame considering we have some very good sides this year, as well as the holders. The Betfair market Champions League winner market is currently suspended, but the bookies have Madrid as favourites at around 3.5, and I'm sure Munich's price of 4.2 won't last a great deal longer. It will depend on the draw, and whether Barca can pull their tie back.

Back to the Premier League and QPR continue to be unpredictable in their campaign for safety. They have been matched as low as 1.15 and as high as 7.8 throughout the season, but their victory away at Southampton has put them four points adrift of safety, and they are back out to 1.37 for the drop. This week they have a winnable game at home to Sunderland, while Villa and Reading play each other and Wigan play in the Cup. I would like to say that if they lose this weekend and there is a victor in the Villa-Reading match then it really is over for QPR, but there is just no telling. There are 10 games to go and this is more than enough in a relegation battle where 2 wins on the bounce take you out of trouble.

The race for the top 10 is hotting up nicely as well. Swansea and West Brom, you would think, have 8th and 9th sown up, which leaves 10th spot for feasibly any team down as far as Southampton. Six points separate 16th and 10th and a little run for any of these teams could secure a top 10 spot. Stoke are the favourites to take this place at 2.84, while the current 10th placed team Fulham are second favourites at 3.4. At the moment goal difference is separating Fulham, Stoke and West Ham, and a race as close as this could come down to such fine margins on the last day. I wouldn't like to call this one, so I will stick with my pre-season pick of Fulham.

Further up the table and if the markets are anything to go by, then the race for the top 4 is all but done. Spurs' huge victory over Arsenal at the weekend saw them shorten to 1.33, their lowest price of the season, while Arsenal are out to 3.25. Chelsea are at 1.26, despite sitting in 4th place currently. Like most things however, I still feel this has a long way to go and the 5 point gap between Arsenal and Chelsea is not insurmountable. Tottenham have the toughest fixture list out of the three, playing Liverpool, Everton, Chelsea and Man City in the next month or so, along with a 2-legged tie against Inter Milan. It is advantage Spurs at the moment but a lay at 1.33 would not be the worst decision in the world, the main difficulty would be how well Arsenal could put the pressure on. If, like me, Arsenal do not fill you with hope but you still think Spurs will drop some points, then backing Chelsea to finish top 3 at 1.96 could be a more appealing option.

At the top United appear to be running away with things. 1.05 for the title and with a 12 point lead it is hard to disagree with that price. I would not go as far to say it is over, but it is looking good for Fergi and co, and I decided to take a big loss on my lay of United to win, rather than let it run. If United lose to Chelsea on Sunday then we might see a small amount of panic creep in, but it is difficult to see them losing such a lead, regardless of what happened last year. Man City are at 21 to win the title incidentally.

We are into the final stretch of games once more, yet it only seems like yesterday I was preparing some preseason trades. How time flies. Cheltenham starts next week and I will be looking to take advantage of a few bookie offers, while also enjoying the festival. Keep your eyes peeled for free bets because there are normally a fair few about, with a potential to win decent amounts. Good luck with your bets and enjoy.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


Apologies for the lack of blogging recently, my 12,000 word dissertation is finally beginning to take its toll on me and I have not had a great deal of time for anything else. I just looked back over last year's posts and found my blogging activity petered off throughout February and March, so it must be something about this time of year. I have taken a little break from betting as I found that if I did not have time to sit down and do it properly, then I would just lose money, which was what I was beginning to do. I was only losing pounds here and there but I know enough to know that is the start of a slippery slope, so I have taken a break in order to focus on more important things right now. I still have a lot of liabilities in the outright markets to manage so I will just be looking at that for now. I'll go into detail on this in my next post.

What I did accidentally discover this week though was Paddy Power's 'BetDash', a game which challenges you to turn £100,000 into £1,000,000 in 10 days. If you reach the million, you are rewarded with between £45-£150 in real money, depending on your initial buy in. Reaching £700,000 and above also equals a cash reward. You can play for free but the reward is only tokens. I was quite surprised to find this as I had heard little about it from the usually very lairy PaddyPower, and was even more surprised to discover it was actually good. The game is not quite as straightforward as putting all your money on a 10/1 shot, there are restrictions and challenges to meet first, meaning it can only be done by gradual accumulation. You can challenge other people's bets as well as copying them, and can play along with your friends too. The main reason I was so impressed with the game is because I had concocted similar ideas in my own head before I found this; where a social and competitive element was added to punting. I am currently playing the game using a £5 free credit, which is gifted upon the start of your first game, but after that you can choose to buy in for £5 upwards. I know many people out there, even those who call themselves 'traders', like to have a 'fun bet' from time to time, so I think participation in something like this would help to satisfy such an urge without potentially ruining profits from elsewhere. It could also educate people on how to nurture and grow a bank slowly and efficiently.

Don't get me wrong though, BetDash is for fun. You cannot trade positions as all bets are placed on PaddyPower's betting platform, and you are rushed into chasing the million before your time runs out. Serious traders will not be interested, but for those of you who do like a 'fun bet', it is probably worth checking out, especially as the first one is free. I have little else to report from recent weeks, so enjoy the rest of your week and happy trading one and all.

Friday, 8 February 2013

A review of the odds

So here we are in February 2013 and the Premier League is entering its final third of the season. January transfers are all done with, meaning it is now just a desperate dash to the finish. Throughout the league, each point of contention is very tight and there seems to be many teams chasing each position.

Starting at the top then, the hunt for the Premier League crown unusually seems to be the least contentious area of the league, at least if the markets are anything to go by. Manchester United sit 9 points clear of their closest rivals with just 13 games remaining, and are currently as low as 1.15 to win the title. At present, this does seen a relatively fair price for a team who have obliterated all in their path thus far, while their noisy neighbours have struggled to live up to last years heights. As I alluded to in my last post however, football is a funny old game and momentum can shift in an instant. One poor result or injury can destroy a team and make people wonder why they never layed them while they had the chance. The majority of the country had proclaimed United champions last year before a shock loss against Wigan sparked a collapse at the crucial moment. I do think United will win this year, and I don't envisage a collapse like last season, but there is a long way to go yet and I expect City to close the gap in the next few months. Just think what a battering at the hands of Madrid could do to United's run...

Moving on and Spurs are now odds on at 1.95 to finish in the top four, as their good form is finally beginning to convince the markets that they might actually be able to qualify for Europe. The top 10 market is currently a bit unpredictable, as there are only 9 points between Liverpool in 7th and Newcastle in 15th, meaning any number of teams are still in with a shout. Newcastle, remarkably considering how much criticism they have had this year, are now only 3 points from the top 10, and sit at 3.4 for a top 10 finish. Their squad has had a bit of a French Revolution and they look a lot stronger than in the first half of the season, 3.4 could be a steal come May. Fulham are only 2 points off, yet are a large 4.4 to reach the top ten, with Sunderland 2.88, despite being just a point off the top half.

Down at the bottom and the woes of QPR continue. It is getting to the stage now when all the 'they can't possibly go down' people are beginning to think that actually they might, including me. They need to start scoring goals quickly and turning these draws into wins. I have a large position on QPR not to go down, but I am beginning to believe I might have to take a loss on the trade in the next few weeks. They currently sit 1.47, while there are three other odds-on teams for the drop: Wigan, Reading and Villa. The resurgent Southampton are currently 3.4.

That's all from me, enjoy your weekend and stay green.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Getting ahead of the game

Relax, this is not going to be a post in which I try to sell you the latest gizmo to help you become a trading miracle, despite what the title suggests. Instead I will be looking at the differences and difficulties in picking your trades at the right times, in order to catch the price wave you desire rather than hit a wall.

This season has been my biggest learning curve yet as I have taken on a new challenge in trading the long term markets. So far it has been a fairly positive experience as I am currently in profit, but this has not been without some trials and tribulations. On occasions I think I have reacted to the form of teams and made a move, rather than anticipating a change in form, which is the crucial element. This has mainly resulted in a red screen and it is something which I will need to expel from my game if I am to make good profits. To put this into simpler terms, it is the equivalent of a football match which sees a goal scored in the first 5 minutes, and backing over 2.5 goals after the goal has been scored. With a pre-match price around evens for the over 2.5, an early goal would see the price plummet to around 1.4, and in my opinion backing it at this stage would be rather stupid (though I have been known to do such a thing in a less disciplined era!) Backing at this stage and this price would represent little value and more often than not would lead to losses, particularly if you are looking to trade the bet rather than punt outright. In my opinion there are only two reasons for making such a bet: either because you are reacting to the electric start to the match and think there will be more goals, or because you were waiting for a bigger price on the overs before getting involved, and were frustrated at the early goal, yet buoyed that your pre-match prediction looks to be taking place. This is a classic case of reaction over anticipation, which will commonly lead to unsuccessful trading in the long run.

With the outright markets, the trend remains the same but it is even more crucial to make your trades at the right times because of liquidity problems. It is tempting at times to back with the form book, for instance when a team is on a losing streak and playing diabolical football it sometimes seems incomprehensible that they may ever regain form, but of course they normally do. It is unusual that a team goes through a whole season without a win, losing every match along the way, and similarly so that a team will win every game. Even Arsenal's 'Invincibles' were 2nd in the league at the halfway point in 03/04, having drawn 6 of 19 matches. The reason for this post is that I was considering my potential next moves earlier in the week, and the two which came to my head were Norwich to be relegated and Liverpool top 4 both as back-to-lays. When looking at the form table however, it soon became evident why these two were in my mind, as Liverpool sit 4th from the last 6 matches, and Norwich bottom. Norwich are now 7.4 for relegation, after being around 12.5 before their slump in form. Liverpool are 8 for the top 4 now, after being matched as high as 13 just a few weeks ago. There is little point in taking these prices now as the movement has already happened. There are exceptions to this of course, and either of these teams might continue in the same form, but mostly taking trades in this manner will lead to disaster. Looking at the form table a more realistic option might be backing Southampton for relegation at a generous 3.5, particularly as they are only four points from the drop zone.

I have battled with anticipation and reaction throughout the season, as can be demonstrated clearly by these two images: 

Backed at a low price of 4.7, not far from their lowest matched price this season, after a run of poor form. Layed at 12 for a loss.

Backed for top 6 at 1.733 after a run of poor form at the start of the season, layed at 1.4 for a profit after they picked up the pace.

The two images above really reflect the difference in my trades, and I am looking to expel the need to go with the trends after they have happened, however tempting it might be. QPR's home performance to Liverpool a few weeks ago showed a depleted, awful side who look destined for relegation. The next match they won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. At the end of the day, football is a crazy old sport and to be profitable you have to attempt to predict what's coming. Easy huh? Have a good week.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Ally Pally

My week has been dominated by the snooker as I had predicted, and it has been a firecracker so far. Comebacks from the big name players such as Robertson, Trump and Selby was the theme from the last 16,   and the top 5 in the world all made it to the quarter finals to make it a thrilling tournament in store. I had a little interest on the winners market by dutching the four favourites, so I was pleased to see them all come through (just about). I've layed off a bit of my liability now but the odds are all still fairly long because no big name has left the tournament yet. I also had a £5 bet on Murphy to win on the fixed odds market (to qualify for a free bet elsewhere) which I have partially layed off, hence the large liability on him:

Over in the football world, the biggest move of the week has been QPR's relegation odds. They did well to secure a point against Spurs, although I watched the match and must say they were abysmal on the attack, but their transfer activity, or at least the rumours surrounding them, have seen their odds jump from 1.55 to 1.65 for relegation without touching a ball. I topped up at 1.57 when I heard about Remy, and now M'Vila is rumoured although apparently he isn't too keen. 'Arry the wheeler dealer trying to work his magic once more. At the other end of the table, United and City got through their weekend unscathed, proving once again that this season is going to be all about them. United remain at 1.38 for the title, and I have now decided to get involved in laying United. They have a tough month or two to come, despite their big lead, as they will be focused on their huge matches with Real Madrid in February. 

Apart from that though I'm off to Ally Pally myself tomorrow, hopefully for a top day of snooker. Have a good day people, I leave you with a blatant lie from Old 'Arry: 

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The Betfair Masters 2013

The Masters starts this week and regular users of this blog will know that I enjoy a good snooker tournament from time to time. This one I am particularly excited about though, as I have tickets to one of the quarter finals which will be my first time going to watch any form of snooker. Some may say they couldn't think of anything worse, but what do they know?

In terms of betting, the favourite going into Friday is snooker's new darling Judd Trump at 5.3 (9/2) with Betfair. It is an interesting price up for Trump, who crashed out in the first round at the last ranking event (UK Championships) to world number 50 Mark Joyce, although he did win the International Championship back in November. Since Ronnie O'Sullivan's recent sabbatical, Trump appears to have taken the mantle of snooker's exciting bad boy, or 'full time playboy' as his Twitter bio used to read. A key feature of the O'Sullivan reign was unpredictability on the table, yet he was frequently a lowed priced favourite for each tournament, mainly because of his name. This was the case even as he began to slip down the rankings in recent seasons, and I can't help but feel this is already beginning to happen to Trump. He is, of course, the world number 2, but at these prices I do not think I would like to back him, especially with his unpredictability as a relative rookie to the game. 

The second favourite some way behind him is world number 1 and UK Championship 2012 winner Mark Selby at 7.8 (7/1). This seems a somewhat reserved price for the world leader and this is presumably down to his lackluster win at the UK Championship. He managed to dig deep and claw back wins rather than sweep away all in his path with slick snooker, but this should still not be underestimated as a good ranking title. Having been out with a neck injury before this it is certainly an admirable achievement to recover and reclaim his number 1 spot, and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a big improvement in his play at The Masters. The 7.8 therefore looks like quite a decent price.

Due to the talent which has come through in recent years, snooker has become a bit like Formula 1 in that it is difficult for one player to dominate all the events. So far this season there has been 5 world ranking events, and 5 different winners (Ricky Walden, Barry Hawkins, John Higgins, Judd Trump and Mark Selby). Additionally, no one has won the 'triple crown' (The UK Championship, the Masters, and the World Championship) since 2002/3. Despite the fact that The Masters is not a ranking event, it is still seen as extremely prestigious in the Snooker circuit, and I am sure the £175,000 winners prize helps too. This is shown by the recent winners of the tournament, as Ding Junhui is the only to have won it since 2004 other than O'Sullivan/Selby/Robertson/Higgins.

This leaves the tournament rather open with any of the 'big players' looking to take the title, and the betting markets mark up Robertson and Higgins (both 8.4 or 15/2) as completing the top 4 favourites. There appears little to choose between these 4, and dutching them would give you odds of 1.8 (4/5), with the option of trading your position on Betfair throughout the tournament. If you fancied adding in world number 4 and UK Championship runner up Shaun Murphy at 12 for a less ambitious punt, you would get odds of 1.5 (1/2). Due to the way the draw has fallen, Robertson, Higgins, Selby and Trump could theoretically be the 4 semi-finalists in the tournament, so dutching could be an interesting option to take. Naturally I expect there to be a shock along the way, but the point is none of these 4 will be knocking each other out in the early rounds. 

Essentially this competition, like most of snooker's tournaments, is up for grabs. If you are someone who enjoys a more risky and money chasing bet, then I would suggest last year's runner-up Shaun Murphy to win at 12 (11/1). As number 4 in the world and also runner-up in the UK Championships, playing some superb snooker along the way, I think he is fairly overpriced this time out. Otherwise though, sit back and enjoy the spectacle.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

2012 Review

In keeping with the tradition on this blog (and by that I mean I have done it once), this post will feature a round up of my progress over the last year. I will admit that I have skim read a lot of my posts from the last 12 months as I needed a bit of reminding about what I was up to this time last year! 2012 was a good year for me on the whole however, as I completed my first full season of trading in good profit, and that has continued into this season.

The first few months of last year I was attempting to continue where I had left off in 2011, by trading each week and looking to take a profit close to the target I had set myself. I was mainly focused on developing my own systems, and I took to making spreadsheets and detailing the trades I made in order to see which was proving the most profitable for me. This was a good move as it is something I still stick to today, and not just when trading, in order to keep my dealings as organised as possible. These months didn't really feature a heavy amount of trading however, not compared to 2011 anyway, mainly due to a lack of funds and a lack of time, as my university year was coming to an end. All the while however, I was keeping an eye on the outright markets and plotting my strategy for the following season. May came and I finished the season in a good amount of profit, something I was extremely pleased with given that it was my first year attempting to do so properly.

The summer months were brilliant for sport. The Euros, Wimbledon and then of course the Olympics all over a few months. I continued trading on a smaller scale over these months, taking a profit from the Euros but not really dabbling in the other sports. This is something which I feel I have really kicked from my game in 2012: gambling on unfamiliar sports. On the whole, I have only traded football and snooker, two sports which I feel comfortable with. Betting needlessly on other sports had cost me a fair amount of money in the past, so I am pleased this appears to now be behind me. I did even have a lucky dabble in the manager markets but this was a one off and not something which I could really repeat. July was a momentous month as it saw the year anniversary of the blog, and a proud moment for me as I had wondered whether blogging would be a fad which I would just forget about after a while.

The new season arrived in August and I embarked on my new strategy, one which I hope I will be able to continue for many years. I won't go into detail here on how it is going because I did so in my last post, so please refer to that if you are interested. On the blogging side of things, the blog has evolved to cover things other than my own personal journey by looking at the markets, the teams and players, as well as bets from various bookmakers. This has been a conscious effort as when I read blogs I am more interested in general betting chat than the personal experiences of individuals. This is not to say that personal experiences are boring however, I think the best blogs I read are ones which integrate personal experiences with context from the betting world too.

One thing which has not had too much of a mention this year is matched betting. I have exacerbated the free bets on offer to me, with the exception of the odd reload free bet, so I have moved on to teaching/advising friends and family on how to match bet. This has provided me with a decent sized regular income (at least by my student standards), which has allowed me to generate capital for my trading and live less like a student this year. I have many more 'customers' lined up as well, so this should continue for some time into the new year.

In terms of the blog, it continues to grow and I have almost reached 15,000 hits after four consecutive months of over 1000 views (the first time this has ever happened). December 2012 was my best ever in terms of pageviews with 1418, so long may this upward trend continue!

My plans for 2013 are simple: to keep calm and pass Berbatov the ball. Oh wait, no, wrong one. My actual plan is just to continue as normal, keeping things simple and tidy with no need for drastic changes. I have learned a great deal over the last year, but I am still eager to learn more. I will continue to follow the markets, tweaking my trades here and there and if I finish with a profit this season I will be a very pleased man. I will graduate from university in June (hopefully) and I would very much like to go into marketing for a bookmaker or exchange. I applied for the Sky Bet marketing graduate scheme a couple of months ago but I was rejected, presumably because I have nothing which relates to marketing on my CV! If anyone reading works in such a department (at any firm), some work experience in the summer would be much appreciated! Otherwise, the marketing department of every bookmaker can expect a request for experience at some stage this year!

So that was my year, and my plans for this year also. I would like to thank everyone who has been reading over 2012, it is very much appreciated. I hope you will all continue to follow my journey in 2013. Happy New Year.