Good morning from the Major and the compacted frozen fields of Worcestershire. The hard earth is covered in a whiteness that defies racing to go ahead and the constitutional stroll was in an air crisp and cutting.
The Major had a bit of a turn around this week, putting up an 8/1 and a 12/1 winner from four selections since Sunday. Let us see if we can find an angle into the days sports to reap reward from the soulless enemy who awaits our arrival with his devious book.
The key to all gambling is forming an opinion and understanding how that relates to the bookmakers price. You must base your opinion in research because myth pervades the media and other people.
Thus, opinion may be better expressed as knowledge. To be a good gambler you need to question perceived wisdom and form your own line of knowledge. Your ability to do this dictates your profitability.
For example, I have been backing Spurs for some time thinking that behind Manchester City they have been the second best team in the league. Bookmakers have taken time to catch up to that view and this has given me a price advantage during that time. Sadly, no longer!
A good bet should not be struck solely on probability, it should be taken as a combination of probability and price. You have to mercilessly seek out advantageous knowledge that allows you to make better judgements as to where you think pricing is wrong in a bookmakers market.
How do you do this? My advice is always to price your own market up based on your research and then compare it to the bookmakers prices. This ensures that you do not follow the crowd and perceived logic but instead compare what you actually think to what is available. This process will also train you to be better at pricing and weighing up probability.
Most gamblers go on a hunch, think of something they could conceive and then look for a best price. Not many people back 100/1 shots but you should if it really is a 50/1 shot.
It is perverse to start with a price and then see how you feel, first you need to understand what you think the price should be and then seek better, so the advantage is with your knowledge and opinion.
The Saturday Lesson – The Mathematics of Bookmaking
Reading from the Major Chapter 3, versus 12 -18….
To calculate your price, write down the possible outcomes that could occur in an event (3 in a football game) and then write down all of the factors you think should influence that outcome. This is the research stage.
For football as a minimum you should consider injuries, form, squad quality and home/away form, but add in any factors you like.
Next you need to calculate the probability of each outcome, as you see it. The easiest way to do this is to allocate points out of a hundred as to how likely you see an outcome. I often find a useful question at this point is ‘If this game were to play a hundred times, how often would I expect each outcome’.
Here is an example.
If I consider the Chelsea v Sunderland today, I am taking into account Chelsea’s squad troubles (I do not think all is that well in the camp), Chelsea while having a much stronger squad have won only half of their last ten home games.
Sunderland have now managed five wins in seven, revitalised under a new manager. Chelsea are without Drogba and Kalou who go to Africa while Malouda is unlikely. They will have Terry and Sturridge. Sunderland are missing Brown.
On balance I score it Chelsea 50 Draw 30 Sunderland 20.
So how to calculate odds? Well, you need to use the formula that the Major has adapted. Take the probability that you worked out (expressed as a number of occurrences from one hundred) and then apply this formula..
Odds = 100-(probability/(1-probability))
So for example, I think Chelsea will win, in todays conditions, 50 from one hundred times thus 100-(50/(1-50) = 1 or expressed as a more familiar bookmaking odd evens.
To show this works in an easy context, consider the same market with all outcomes equally likely. Therefore your probability (from 100) is 33.3. In my calculator, the odds of each outcome is 2 commonly expressed as 2/1. Thus a pound on each outcome would always get your money back in that market.
Crucially, a bookmaker will not price this way, they need to make a profit. Thus, they will have an extra step which will be to reduce the number by around 10-25%. This is called their overround and is designed to ensure they make a profit. Instead of offering 2/1 in my example, he might offer 7/4, slightly shorter on all three outcomes. This is why it is always hard to find genuine good value in any punt.
It is useful to be able to calculate how high the overround is, it shows how greedy the market is!
The formula to calculate the probability back from the bookmaker odds then first convert the odds into a probability. To do this, take the odds and apply the following denominator/(numerator+denominator)… so 2/1 becomes 1/3 or 33% and 4/5 becomes 5/9 or 55.6%. Then add them together and subtract a hundred
So, in our case of three 2/1 shots, each priced now at 7/4, then we need to add three lots of 4/11, which is 36.4%, thus three times that minus a hundred is 9.1%. To check that works, consider placing a pound on all three outcomes. Your return is £2.75 and therefore you lost 25p from £3. 25/300 = 8%. This is slightly short of the overround which calculates on a round basis so for example, to get £3 from 7/4 you need to stake £1.0909..
A cursory glance at the pricing for Chelsea versus Sunderland shows that 7/2 is generally available about the draw, 8/1 is available about a Sunderland win and Ladbrokes are best price Chelsea at 9/20. With these prices the overround = 2.2% – It is lower than it would be with any one bookmaker but we are taking advantage of best odds in the marketplace. If the overround ever drops below 100% then you can make money without risk using the right staking strategy.
To calculate an easier version to use when pen and paper are not handy, use
Value = (odds x probability)/100
Express odds as a decimal and probability as a number from 1 to 100. If the number exceeds 1 then it is a value bet, simple.
Again the probability is you own thinking so for example, the odds for Villa to win at home today are 6/4 or 2.5 (expressed as decimal odds) multiply that by your probability, mine is 50 ( I would fancy them to win half of these encounters v Everton ) so 2.5*50 = 125. Divided by 100 = 1.25 A VALUE BET.
My Chelsea example would be odds 1.4 * probability 50 = 70 DEFINITELY NOT A VALUE BET.
So if anything can be drawn from this mathematical look at odds remember to convert odds to decimals, multiply by the possibilities of the event occurring in a hundred and divide by a hundred. Over 1, get stuck in like a lunatic, below 1, leave it for the sheep.
There, you can now price your own markets and talk more knowledgeably about why you want to back an outcome. If someone tells you something is a ‘good price’, ask them in their view how many times from a hundred they think the outcome would occur. Then calculate the value based on the odds and their probability and see if they are right!
To the Racing
2.25 Punchestown – Juvenile Grade 3 Hurdle
Clearly Ut de Sivola is thought of in magnificent terms because the 1/3 price when the only Irish or British form is winning a Clonmel maiden looks frighteningly skinny.
Ok that run was in Heavy but you have to be brave taking odds on prices on these juveniles.
My money on this will always be on One Cool Shabra. He lost a Grade two last time out by half a length after making an error at the last. He has a superb attitude and seems to take his racing well, even when in soft conditions.
10/1 does not reflect the chances, have a slice.
The Lanzarote – 2.50 Kempton
There is still some doubt as to whether the Lanzarote will go ahead. Assuming we get past the inspection then we have a decent little contest on our hands.
This is the sort of handicap I like to apply trends to, but there is a complication. This race has been moved to Carlisle for two years and seen two distance changes from 2m to 2m5f, via 2m 1f. Therefore it is comparing apples and pears. That said, 6 year olds under eleven stone have a good record which brings to the fore; Drumshambo, Sincombe Flame, Timesawastin, Eastlake, Decoy and Lightening Strike. Act of Kalanisi and Ohio Gold just fall above the weight marker.
Of them, Ohio Gold looked a great horse with the superb teenager Brendan Powell taking off a further 5lbs (he won’t have that claim for too long!). Sadly I think this horse needs to get his toe in and so overlooked.
Swincombe Flame will handle the ground and is no doubt well handicapped. Being introduced at this level is an advert in itself. 13/2 seems very fair and whats more impressive is the record in winning in big fields which is highly impressive.
At a bigger price I like Eastlake too who may continue improving and at 14/1 seems fairly priced. Timesawastin could run a big race if on a going day, he is one that has hung and reared before now!
I am going to suggest backing both of my main fancies each way. While Skybet and Bet365 go five places, the prices do not warrant backing them there. Take Swincombe Flame at 13/2 with Sportingbet and Eastlake at 16/1 with Victor Chandler or William Hill.
Send me a postcard.
To the football…
If you bothered to read the mathematical betting education above then you would know that I am all about Sunderland getting something at Stamford Bridge. Of all the markets, I think backing, straight, the draw at 7/2 and the Sunderland win at 8/1 gives best value. 2/5 Chelsea is not how I see it today.
The only other bet for today for me is at Ipswich where I expect Blackpool to take the spoils. The Lancashire team are mounting their promotion charge while Ipswich, whom I fancied early in the season, don’t seem to be firing. 6/4 is more than fair.
May your dinner be Italian, a broth of clams and mussels with Swordfish perhaps, much like the Major enjoyed this week. Take a voluptuous sort with flaxen bountiful hair and a smile to match. Tip well and be discreet as your wallet thuds to the table. Her eyes widen just the tiniest amount and you know the game is won.
Courage and shuffle those cards.