Why Having a Good Odds Based Selection System Will See You Quids In Everytime.
I actually wrote this article last week and have told Brian it’s ‘in the making’, but found myself totally rewriting it again (not for the first time) as some of the principles needed expounding on in more depth.
In fact, one of the main reasons I have rewritten this is because of something Ron said in one of his very rare comments the other day regarding his selections and odds, when questioned by T as to why he didn’t tip up his selections on a particular day – what he said in reply was very true… about odds guiding him not to do it, even though of those he put in the comments, 2 were decent winners.
The basis of any sound selection system has to be probability and odds. By calculating probability, even if it’s in your own mind, then comparing that to the odds on offer, you have a much better chance of making a profit long term.
This was clearly demonstrated with the BV System Probabilities I posted in the forum today – If you had of bet the horses with the highest probability of winning, at the odds, then you would have found yourself losing money. However, if you go through the top 3 and look for those who’s odds are bigger than their probability suggested, then you would have made a considerable profit.
The problem is, that if I have spotted a horse with a high probability of winning, using the factors that I do to compile the chances, then others have as well. Bookmakers have whole teams of people working tirelessly to compile odds based on probability – they generally make the horse with the highest probability of winning the favourite initially, then let the market determine whether or not they are right. In at least 50% of all races the horses with the highest probability wins (either the favourite or the 2nd), whether this is based on the bookies assumption or the markets view. So in order to make money long term you have to find discrepancies in not only the bookies assumption of chance, but also in the markets. Not easy to do, but not impossible.
The case in point with a couple of my selections over the last week, and today in particular putting up Lunar Deity today at Chelmsford. When all the factors were taken into consideration, this horse came out with a tissue price of 10/3, so at 1.00am+ in the morning I was eager to get this horse on the board. Not the first time I have spotted one like this, there have been a few times over the last year, notably the 50/1 shot Expidite that came in on the tissue at 5/1.
More and more I am realising just how important it is to spot these, and just put them up, which is the strategy I am going to be adopting from tomorrow. It’s great to be tipping up 5 horses a day, and I love doing it, but ultimately profits are not determined by the quantity of tips, but rather the quality of them.
This means my periscope is up! I am scanning the market looking for horses that have a high probability of winning or placing, at odds that don’t accurately reflect their chance. This is true value betting in my mind and something I am sticking to religiously from now on, regardless of how much I fancy a runner at the odds, if the probabilities don’t stack up it doesn’t go on the board.
Hopefully less tips will mean more profit in the long run. I have noticed that Ron himself has reduced the amount of tips he puts up, but when he does put one up at a big price people know its for a good reason and are happy to punt it. I am now adopting the same philosophy as a tipster as it pays dividends long term.
Feel free to use the probabilities in the forum as a guide. They are not infallible, but they do often provide a valuable insight into the horse’s chances of winning or placing – the key to unlocking the profit is to spot when the chance and the odds are out of quilter with each other and then strike the bet. Just remember, it’s a quality vs quantity approach at all times. The fact I put the system probabilities up, doesn’t mean having a bet in every race, choose your bets carefully – handicaps are the best ones to focus on, and in particular higher grade handicaps. Novice hurdles show a good profit also. Avoid claimers, maidens, etc as the chance is not calculated so much on the horse, but rather the trainer, jockey, etc – information that is not unrelevant, but not always practical to use as a guide for value.
Focus your selections on chance / probability and odds and you can’t go far wrong. Whether you calculate this yourself, or use an external rating source, you must have a good understanding of what represents a good bet in a race, and at what point it represents real value.
I know it’s hard to do at times, I am often guilty of putting up a selection based on the jockey, the trainer, the horse’s handicap mark, etc – and while these are important, they should not really form the basis of a selection alone, they should be combined in a statistical manner with all the other factors that could affect or enhance a horse’s performance to form an overall view of chance.
Oftentimes this also involves comparing the chance of other runners also. In the first at Sandown today, in a 4 runner race, there was a short price favorite running that was hugely overbet. It had a probability of 31% unyet the market considered it a sure thing and it was odds on (and additionally overbet due to Ruby Walsh riding). The other 2 contenders were within 5% on probability, so I calculated that it would be a good bet to lay the favourite as it represented poor value and was vulnerable to one of the other closely rated horses – which did prove the case, the fav was beaten by Sneaking Budge that I had bet at 13’s on Betfair to win. So not only did I get the lay bet, but also a nice win bet to boot.
Another example of how I use probabilities is detailed below, I calculated the probability of India’s song to win at just under 20%, so say 5/1, but it was available at Betfair a few minutes before the off at nearly 8/1 so that represented pretty good value. I also calculated that Farletti should have been around 4/1 and was available at just over 10/1 on Betfair so that represented huge value. I also threw in an insurance bet as well on a selection that I thought might run well – a complete waste of time that was as it ran to it’s probability and duly got last, which is why I say base your selections on probabilities!
Notice in this image that I don’t use big stakes either, unless I am having a major punt, I tend to be small and even. Most of the time my bets on these type of selections total less than £15 a race (unless I am laying and it becomes a bit more with liabilities taken into account). However, I only need 4 races a day to pan out the way I want them to at the odds and I have made a £100 a day! Most days it is achieved, and more to be honest – but without knowing the true odds of a selection, and if I just relied on my own judgement I would be broke within a week!!!!
Here’s another example of how I use different types of bets to best effect with probabilities. In this instance I layed the short price favourite, as well as backing a couple of horses against it for an even bigger return, thankfully the fav was well beaten and one of my other selections duly bolted up and returned a nice profit on that race.
This was in the Chelmsford 13.05 where if you take a look, the probabilities suggested the the shortie was only actually 4% more likely to win than the 2nd rated horse. However the odds on the 2nd rated horse were about in line with expectation, but the odds on the 3rd rated, Figurante were real value and had to be grabbed. I also had an ‘insurance’ bet running in this race, Mariee which duly bolted up.
So you can see in this race my strategy here was to lay the shortie for £50 which resulted in a small liability at the odds, and if it had won I would have been looking at around -£25 for the race in total and I could live with that. I had backed Figurante and the Commendatore against the fav and also noticed that there was a new comer with decent stats, so backed that against it as well. The newcomer won and a healthy profit was gained.
I often use lay betting as part of my strategy when looking at a race, especially if he favourite is overbet and the probabilities suggest there are at least 2 horses that have a good chance of beating it. I never lay a horse and not back against it as well. This substantially increases the chances of a bigger payout, as the horses I back against it are almost always at much bigger odds than they should be and more often than not I do get it right. A couple of wins a day like this is nice to have and keeps the bank manager (wife) happy – she goes shopping!
In the Sandown 13:15 we had another example of where I used just probabilities to bet from. I fancied all 3 to win this, and threw in another one of those stupid ‘insurance’ bets that is still running to the post long after the race has been won. In this example Bishops Road obliged, 1 of 4 horses I had running for me in this race. Total stake outlay would have been just over £20 if they had all lost, but as it happens they didn’t lose, I had the winner, and another £21.75 in the betting bank for a few minutes work. Of course they don’t always pan out like this, I do have losing races, but thankfully not as many as winning ones!
In the next example you can see how it didn’t pan out the way I wanted it, with all 3 bets losing. However, I had value odds about each of the selections, with Pull The Pin having a 10% chance of winning, but was available at odds of around 17/1, so they are allowed to lose sometimes at that price.
Another strategy I use is to bet a horse at the bookies across multiple accounts at prices down, and the top up again at Betfair, also backing a few other horses again as ‘insurance’ bets – I had Lunar Deity on the tissue at 10/3 and was top rated in the probabilities, so I snapped up 20/1 all the way down to 10/1 at the bookmakers during the course of the day with stakes of around £5-10 each time, then just before the off I saw that he was on the move out, so took BSP and placed another £15 quid on as well as the additional bets on those I thought might spring a surprise.
Using bookmakers and betting exchanges is something I am doing more and more now. The price on Betfair for Lunar Deity never really matched the bookies – there was always a lot of support on the betting exchanges for this horse (now we know why), and it was reflected in the diminishing price through the course of the day. However, the bookies were slow to respond and I did manage to mop up some nice prices, better than those on Betfair through various bookmaker accounts I have.
I don’t mind betting higher stakes in an instance where my confidence level is high. In this instance from the moment I spotted this horse on the ratings, saw the tissue, jockey and trainer, I just knew this was ‘bang on’ to win. I even waited up until after 1.00am in the morning to get the tip on to the board – holding off for an hour to see if it would drift before I put it up. But the support was there and never in danger of drifting out – the result of course was that Lunar Deity bolted up like a good Stuart Williams horse with Pat Cosgrave onboard should, and did so at generous odds.
In the next image you can see how I effectively become a bookmaker on betfair by backing a number of horses against the field – in this example I had 6 horses running for me, each one representing either great value, or had another clearly positive factor that I felt could increase their chances of a win.
Six horses running for me, I had to hit the winner didn’t I? Sods law says I shouldn’t if they were randomly selected, but each one represented value in one way or another to me – some were based on probability, some were based on going preference, some on distance, some on trainer – I just try to spread the chance around a bit, and thankfully I win more races than I lose.
This strategy is basically playing bookie in the win market. If all the selections had lost I would have been down £30, but as I was prepared, had my bases covered, and was willing to take the risk in a competitive race, I ended up £36.69 richer, a nice return on investment for a few minutes work. Try getting that at the office or 9-5 job! This is the way I generally bet from day to day if I am looking to make ‘bread and butter’ money for the week – 2-3 winning races like this a day is a great way to make a living. And, if I do hit a few losers I just stop, tally up my losses, then hit the next day fresh – I never chase losses, I always just consider them an ‘expense’ and look to make a profit on future bets to cover them.
Anyway, there’s an insight into the world of BV and his betting exploits. The 3rd edition of the staking and bet management article will be with you in the next day or so. Hope you are finding them useful, really enjoying writing them!