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Showing posts from January, 2009

How much is the UK tote really worth?

This week Betfair has purchased a US racing network and tote pool company for just £35m. The Tasmanian TAB, a small but innovative tote monopoly, is up for sale with estimates being between AU$30 and $80 million (£13-35m). Let's look at the UK tote. It's not a monopoly. Day-to-day race pools (win, place, exacta, trifecta) are pitiful, the only popular products are the Placepot and Scoop6. The Tote has a lot of shops, some of which are rather dated or closing down. It has a bookmaking arm, but who doesn't these days, and how many of these customers are genuinely loyal without accts elsewhere? The Tote now links in with most UK bookies, which means big pools but gives away most of their margin as well. The technology is outdated and frequently breaks down. A tote should be able to show approximate dividends the instant the horses cross the line. A recent bet of mine at Ascot, a winning trifecta, took 20 minutes to display a dividend. How do they calculate the divs - with pen

Beware the 'match race'

Most of Australia's best sprinters stepped out overnight at Flemington in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes, a weight-for-age contest over 1000m. All the hype was about the two 'superstars', Weekend Hussler and Apache Cat, both coming into the race first-up, plus if you've been following the tennis this week, you'll know it has been stinking hot in Melbourne as well... During the week the betting was as short as 2.1 Weekend Hussler and 3.5 Apache Cat. Thankfully sanity prevailed and they drifted to 2.5 and 4.8 by race time, with a bit of support for other runners, and bookies tightening their margins. The end result? Both unplaced, with WA visitor Scenic Blast winning at 19, followed by Typhoon Zed (13) and Grand Duels (26).

market efficiency

I've been doing an online MBA part-time for a bit over a year now. My latest subject is Maximising Shareholder Wealth, which is basically about greed and all the things which have screwed up the world economy in my cynical opinion. Anyhow, part of the reading this week has been about Market Efficiency and how the stock exchange should always be perfect as the market reacts immediately to information, and that an average analyst should be no more profitable at selecting a portfolio than a child aiming a dart at the financial pages. All information is known, thus there is no advantage for anyone. Lots of similarities with Betfair obviously as that's what BF is based on, but the key difference is that new information happens during trading, not while the markets are closed overnight. In a rush now, I'll expand on that further over the next few days. It's fascinating reading which basically says you'll be far better off on Betfair than the stock market.

Betfair expands into the US

Betfair continues to grow with the purchase of American racing network and betting firm TVG. And who knows what might happen with gambling laws under the Obama admisitration? Betfair purchases TVG from Macrovision Solutions Betfair’s increased presence in the United States reached new heights on Tuesday, when the e-gaming business known for its exchange wagering purchased Television Games Network. Read the full article from Thoroughbred Times here Peter Webb from BetAngel brought up the interesting point of Betfair's profits likely to fall because of interest rates being so low. The problem that Betfair has lies in one aspect of Betfair's business model. One that is directly related to interest rates. If you look at their reports and accounts in the last five years, interest received on cash in hand has totalled a eye watering £26m. In 2007 & 2008 interest received accounted for 25% of profit before tax for Betfair. So perhaps now they get more aggressive in acquiring othe

Tabcorp get creative with the imaginatively named 'Big6'

... but still pull out an average product. Victorian and NSW tote monopoly TABCORP gave been blasted in recent years for their lack of innovation with new bet types. A decade ago they had a bet called the Straight Six requiring punters to land the winner of six races in a row. They sacked it because apparently it was a bad thing the syndicates got heavily involved, pumping tens of thousands of dollars into the pools which rolled over for several weeks. In recent years they have brought out lemons such as Spinner (will the first two horses home be even numbers, odd or 'split' as per two-up, with a 16% margin!), Duet (place quinellas - famously advised as a great bet by King Muppet Robert Nason because 'my mum likes it') and the Mystery 6, which was similar to the Straight 6, but you couldn't pick your own numbers, it was just a lottery ticket. The Big 6 will be on the last six races (no variety for quality of race or how short the favourite is) and mostly likely all

Aus Open halfway update on title markets

This was written yesterday for PuntingAce but due to timezones etc, they are yet to publish it. Please forgive what looks to be aftertiming on Bartoli.... AO Halfway Update WOMEN The women's draw has been the one most affected by upsets with the lines around Ivanovic and Venus Williams falling away significantly. In the top half, Jankovic hasn't hit top gear yet, she made hard work of beating an ailing Sugiyama and has tricky opponents from here on in. Versus Bartoli her record is 3-3, Zvonareva 6-4 and Petrova 6-2 - all players capable of beating her on any given day. The main threat in the quarter for me is Zvonareva. She has been in fantastic form since late last year, but needs to overcome a 1-5 record vs Petrova first. On top of her domination in the singles, her doubles form has been top notch as well (with Azarenka). Petrova is in her best form a while as well. Anyone can win that quarter. Safina looked very rusty in the opening rounds but returned to something like her

all hail Svendsen

Really disappointed that Eurosport chose to run with Baghdatis v Fish instead of going to the advertised biathlon (why couldn't they have used Eurosport 2 then??), but it turned out ok in the end. The Biathlonworld website has a brilliant live data system, built in Silverlight, which keeps you up to date with everything - far better than what you can see on TV, especially with Eurosport always being at least SEVEN seconds behind on every sport. Good volume considering (realistically I'm probably one of five biathlon traders in the UK at most!), the Scandinavians no doubt had it live. Keep laying them all as they come into contention and never for a huge risk. The early guys set the pace, but then it was Emil Hegle Svendsen's turn and the super-smooth Norwegian justified favouritism (started around 3.5) as he shot clear and skied fast. Love the sport! Also, if you want bet matchups in biathlon, you'll find the tightest margins at Pinnacle Sports, my newest affiliate who

that's more like it

Had made a mess of a few trades this week which is incredibly annoying, when you are in control, you hesitate or get greedy, and bang, you're caught out. Much better tonight trading the obscure stuff - doubles tennis and NCAA basketball. The beauty of illiquid markets is that if you play your cards right and know percentages, you can make sweeter profits, at least % wise. The screenshot is from Firefox Extras , a Betfair tool which allows you to monitor multiple markets at once, great when there a heap of basketball or tennis matches on at once!

Ladbrokes making a move Down Under?

With the Victorian retail licence up for grabs in 2012 (TABCorp currently hold the licensed monopoly for off-course betting shops in the state of Victoria), it was only to be expected that the big players might get involved. Tabcorp might re-bid, Tattersall's/UniTAB might add to their control of Queensland and SA or perhaps a firm like Betfair might make a bid, considering they are probably favourite to buy the Tasmanian TAB. Well, UK betting giant Ladbrokes have voiced their intention to bid with a well-publicised tour of Melbourne. British betting giant wants to control punting in Victoria Here's the original market from IAS , it's changed a bit already (although Mark Read is never afraid to tweak odds purely for the publicity). Latest odds can be found here . Mainland Aussie govts are very insular. It took a 'rebel' state in Tasmania to give a licence to Betfair, I can't see a non-Australian firm getting the licence. But I've been wrong before and no doub

Venus trumped at 1.01

I'd seen Carlos Suarez Navarro improve on the rankings, about 150 this time last year, started here as no.44 but had never seen her play before. Wow! Amazing single-handed backhand and power and angles on both sides. Venus played pretty well too, but I don't think the backers at 1.01 thought so! Suarez Navarro won 2-6 6-3 7-5. Watch this girl when she gets back onto clay in the next few months.

tonight's action from Melbourne

Tommy Haas won his first round match in straight sets, but his opponent Schwank was rumoured to be just turning up for the money with no preparation. Haas himself was first-up since August and could be tested if stretched to five sets. Tonight he plays Flavio Cipolla who has been flying, winning 8 of 9 matches this year. Definite value in the outsider at 3/1 and above. In the women, I'm a big fan of Sabine Lisicki, and she faces local hope Sam Stosur who is over-rated. Take anything better than 5/4 for the young German, she's top 20 bound this year.

tennis spread bets

I've been disappointed by the lack of value in the Aus Open matches so far. So many lacklustre betting contests with very little to get excited about. Tonight I've gone for something different. I give a couple of underdogs in the men's a chance to at least take it to the seeded favourite and stretch the match out. So I've bought games at SportsAcumen, looking for a four-setter at least, or some tiebreaks. Buy games at 31 Berdych v Dabul. 6-1 6-1 6-3 (23) -8 Buy games at 32 Nalbandian v Lu. 6-4 5-7 4-6 6-4 6-2 (50) +18 Worst case scenario is a triple bagle totally just 18 games. The upside is if there was another contest like that 16-14 Muller v Lopez match on Monday.. can only dream though! The prices are usually in favour of the sellers in these markets, so I'm a bit wary. I'm not a natural spread bettor, it's very tiny in the Australian betting industry, so tonight is just a dabble.

Australian Open previews now available

You may have come across my Grand Slam tennis previews before, I've written them on various sites since about 2000. You can find the full articles here Here are a couple of snippets: Australian Open 2009 Men's Draw The king has been deposed, the reigning champion oddly chose to take the cash and change racquets, a Brit is second favourite to win a Slam title and we have the most open market here in years. We all know the history of this event dishing up first-time winners or finalists, do we go for a shock again, or will undeniable class prevail? Seeds: Men 1. Rafael Nadal (ESP) top ranked with Grand Slam titles to his name, but yet to reach a final in the hardcourt events. Reached the semi here last year but didn't beat anyone inside the top 25 to get there. Hardcourt doesn't suit him his knees have chronic problems already, his slices and spins aren't as effective as on the natural surfaces and he can get blown away by the big guns such as Gonzalez and Tsonga (con

the reason why betting institutions MUST have segregated accts for customers and operations

Prime example of why America doesn't allow widespread gambling - they simply have no idea how to look after the public interest. NH enacts rules to protect track bettors Wednesday, January 14, 2009 CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire has approved stricter gambling regulations to protect bettors if state dog or horse tracks go bankrupt. The rules could have saved bettors at the bankrupt Hinsdale Greyhound Park a half-million dollars they had in betting accounts at the track. The Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission approved the regulations on Tuesday. They will require the state's three remaining greyhound and harness racing tracks to maintain accounts at state financial institutions that could be used to pay back bettors and other creditors in bankruptcy or closure. The Lodge at Belmont, Rockingham Park and Seabrook Greyhound track have until March 1 to open the accounts. The Hinsdale track filed for bankruptcy last month and abruptly closed. The track used money from the bet

loving that biathlon

As I was saying... what a brilliant sport to trade! :) Unfortunately I made a complete hash of the matchups (which are usually easy fodder for small profits), so it wasn't a winning day.

Great Leighs in trouble - did someone forget the paperwork?

This is unbelievable! From the Racing Post... Great Leighs future thrown into doubt By Turia Tellwright9.46AM 16 JAN 2009 THE future of Great Leighs racecourse is up in the air after the track's temporary licence expired at midnight on Thursday. A statement on the BHA website explained that a sub-committee of the BHA regulatory committee had declined to grant a further temporary licence. Consequently, until a new application is made by the managing executive of Great Leighs, racing can not take place at the course. continues... Is this administrative bungling or have I missed something major here? ... Update - nope they're going broke. Great Leighs placed in adminstration.

the biggest weekend of biathlon

What an amazing party atmosphere in Ruhpolding, near the German/Austrian border. This is one of the big World Cup events spread over five days, with different races each day. Biathlon is a fantastic trading sport - you have brilliant marksmen/women who aren't very quick skiers, then you have the very fast cross-country skiers who might crack under pressure when shooting with a crosswind and a rapid heart rate. The German women won the relay today, but the men's relay tomorrow is wide open with several teams in with a winning chance. Norway are the big names, but Austria have won the last two relay events. You can never rule out the Russians and of course, the Germans are on home soil. Tune into Eurosport tomorrow at 1640 GMT for live coverage. To learn the basics of how to trade on biathlon, click here for the Betfair Education guide to this great sport. For results archives, rules, news and live scoring, visit BiathlonWorld And if you need another reason to tune into this spo

the wowsers have too much of a say in the Aussie media

This is one of the reasons why I'm happy to live outside Australia these days. Too many idiots allowed to have their say in the media because they are prudes or don't like something. It's turning into a nanny state, nobody's allowed to do anything remotely fun because 1% of the population might take offence or become addicted to it. Stop making the fine brown land like America, it's full of enough bible-bashing do-gooders as it is. If you've seen any cricket from Australia lately, you've probably noticed the commentators mentioning the Betfair prices occasionally. Why is this a bad thing? It's just another way of saying the public reckon Australia has a 63% chance of winning, South Africa 21% and the draw 16%. The player protection rules in Australia are stronger than anywhere in the world. There is no debit card system which allows minors to play. Every punter has to undergo a 100pt ID check etc. The ICC have stated in previous interviews they are conce

monitor several Betfair markets at once

This is a handy little tool very few people find on their own, but it's available via the Betfair Labs site . The product is called Firefox Extras. It's only available in Firefox (apparently the code is much easier to work with than buggy Microsoft creations) and it has numerous uses apart from what you see below. When you download the programme, you can set up a Watch List as shown above, add notes to a selection (very useful for racing) which will be retained with that selection each time it re-appears in other markets, hide runners from markets (useful during a race when one horse has already fallen and you want to see runners further down the screen) and more. Take a look for yourself. I was just playing around on a few NBA games as well as keeping an eye on some other markets at the same time.

People know who wins awards before they're handed out... no shit Sherlock!

Betting on this sort of rubbish is just asking for trouble. But bookies want all the publicity they can get (this stuff gets them into the front half of the paper rather than the sports section), so they'll keep on doing it so they can stir up a story for the free advertising. Betting on gong review Notice there are no actual complaints from the bookies (Centrebet and Sportingbet) about the punters in the know, just "we'll keep an eye on it".

Aussie cricketers hoping to regain more lost pride

The Twenty20 series starts in the morning UK time with Australia hosting South Africa at the magnificent Melbourne Cricket Ground. Both sides have shuffled the deckchairs a little to rest players with many more matches left in the back-to-back home and away series. I find Twenty20 hard to trade on personally, much prefer Test matches where things take time develop, and importantly, you don't have to be glued to the box every second as the game continually ebbs and flows. But, each to their own. Australia is trading at 1.61 currently on Betfair, looks a bit on the short side to me.

Tote Tasmania up for sale

While the UK Tote can't find a buyer, mostly because of the ridiculous price they were expecting, TOTE Tasmania is being put up for sale by the Tasmanian government. Who's in the market to buy? Betfair, TABCorp, Tattersall's or perhaps a foreign company. Tas govt press release If I was framing a market, I'd mark Tattersall's as favourite, followed by Betfair as both companies already have strong relationships in Tasmania.

excellent racing article from the Guardian

Lydia Hislop of Racing UK gives the bureaucracy something to think about with this piece. Very interesting points about Betfair terminals on-course... The new year detox action plan for a healthier sport The Tote does need a good kick up the backside too - it could be so much bigger if they knew how to exploit their niche in the market.

WTA coaching rules

If you've been watching any of the WTA matches on Betfair Live Video, you will have noticed players being coached at the change of ends. It's an interesting development which might take a little bit of skill away, but certainly adds another variable to a match. Here are the rules: WTA Tour allows on-court coaching next year New York: Women's tennis players will be able to consult with their coaches during matches starting next year (2009), though the WTA Tour's motivation for the move seems to be aiding fans as much as competitors. To visit their players on court, coaches must agree to wear a microphone so television audiences can hear the conversations. The long-discussed rule change was approved by the Tour's board last week, CEO Larry Scott said on Wednesday during the US Open. ''It was a polarizing issue, to be sure, a lot of potential consequences in the eyes of our players and tournaments, and that's why we took so long to really think it through

Tennis - 2008 in review and preview of 2009

Last week I wrote an article for PuntingAce, looking back at the big improvers and big losers last year, and naturally, looking ahead to 209. An added bonus is a quick scan of all the Betfair 1.01s beaten during 08. You might be surprised who rates a mention... You can read the full article here . I'll be punting rather than trading on tennis this year, but just dipping my toe into the water this week before I get right back into it. Make use of Betfair and other firm's live video from Auckland, Brisbane and Doha to check the form as players resume from the off-season.

another drug scandal about to break in the AFL? is reporting some significant bets going on Geelong to win the 2009 AFL Premiership on the back of rumours of a player being suspended on a drug test (three strikes and you're out is the policy). No names mentioned as yet, but it can only be a big name from their main rival, reigning premiers Hawthorn. I'd have a guess at who the player is but I don't want to deal with lawyers and a libel case. No major moves on Betfair yet, but OTP is usually on the money with these things so chances are this story has legs...

Murray off to a flyer

Impressive start to the season by Andy Murray in Abu Dhabi. Wins over Blake, Federer and Nadal just a fortnight before the Australian Open is a great sign for the season ahead. He's definitely good enough to win in Melbourne, and the Aus Open has a history of throwing up first-time winners, or first-time Grand Slam finalists. The Aus media has been full of articles this week about players ready for a big season - Tsonga, Baghdatis, Gasquet, Ivanovic, Dellacqua, Hantuchova etc. Also the Nick Bollettieri blog has details of players training with him over the off-season as well. Proper ATP and WTA action starts tomorrow. I'll be following the circuit closer this season than I have for years, so stay tuned for a few tips. But be warned, I am quite selective. I'm more likely to have four bets a week than four for the day.