Bet Chat Diaries: My strategies for success

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Sun Tzu

Last week I spoke about the mini interrogation by my wife about my plans to leave the world of real work and employment and how I was going to make this work. This time round I will share a little about my approach and my plan for the year ahead, in the hope it might give you some inspiration for your own betting portfolio. 

There are different approaches to this and no doubt, experienced professionals tend to specialise in one particular area. Our very own Bet Chat experts are proof of that and I hope one day to follow in their vastly experienced footsteps. 

At the moment though, until I get to that level with my trading, I have a few other income streams that will get me through the year. I’m sure some of you reading might be sceptical about why I would share this with you if it was so profitable…

Well, firstly, it doesn’t impact negatively on me if you also choose to do these strategies, as they are already known to many people. Secondly, I have shared just enough that can get you started but they all require the hours to be put in and aren’t a magic money tree. Thirdly, I believe in karma and have benefited from lots of free advice given over the internet and this is my way of sharing something back.

So, here’s my list!

1) US Horse Racing – This is by far my most profitable strategy and it’s been profitable for over a year now. Put simply, it’s a method of backing horses that are about to shorten in American horse races. Huge edges (20%+ ROI long term) can be found over the bookmakers if your trigger finger is fast enough.

Of course, it’s not without its risks. Be prepared for your accounts to be closed fairly quickly if you do this often enough, so you should also be prepared to charm your friends and make some new ones who are happy to let you run riot with their bookie accounts. 

Top Tip: You can try this for yourself by having a look at some US races on oddschecker and watch how the prices move. See how the price moves at one bookmaker before the rest of them update their prices. If you get in fast enough, there are opportunities for great value. You can even underlay some of these on the exchange to lock in some guaranteed profits.

2) Matched Betting and Casino offers – I’d already exhausted most of my own casino and matched bet offers some time ago but again, through the help of my friends, I’ve been doing the offers all over again and giving them a share of any profits I make. With a bit of time and not a huge amount of effort, you can churn through enough of these in a month to make a very tidy second income with the added bonus that eventually you could hit a huge win on one of the slots. 

Top Tip: Don’t just sign up to every site for the maximum bonus amount. Some of them aren’t worth it. Use a matched betting website to get offers and instructions and work through them. Pick your choice of slot machine carefully, as they aren’t all made equal. To save time, download an ‘autoclicker’ for your computer so you can spin through the night to save you having to sit through all the wagering. 

3) Value Betting Software – There are a few tools available online that I use to place value bets. These clever pieces of kit will scour the betting markets for bets that are posted up in error by the bookies or have just been too slow to bring in line with the rest of the market. If you back these bets hundreds or thousands of times, you will make a nice tidy profit. Just be prepared that you could go on a losing run at first due to variance. 

Top Tip: If you are already signed up to a matched betting service, the bet match finder might throw up these opportunities as arbitrage options. Instead of arbing them, you can just back them and long term they should be in profit. 

4) Bots – In my opinion, bots are the future of profitable sports betting and a constant pain in the backside for bookmakers. The best thing about bots is that they automate some of the processes for you, so you can sit back and watch the profits roll in. What’s the catch? Well, the bots aren’t cheap and you might need a little bit of computer knowledge to get them up and running. And of course, eventually you’ll get restricted. 

Top Tip: Find a developer on a freelancer website such as upwork or freelancer.com who can build the bot you are looking for. You might find they have built what you are looking for already. Also, when running the bot, switch it off from time to time. I’m yet to meet a human being who doesn’t need to eat or go to the toilet and can bet for 23 hours a day. If we know this, the bookies will too!

5) Passive Income Streams – You might notice an automation theme cropping up here. I think it’s the smart thing to do if your time is precious as you want to be able to maximise each minute of it.

I’m a member of Adam Gibb’s Football Index Investor service and for me, it’s great. I spend a little time reading over his weekly updates and follow his selection advice and it’s been working a treat so far. That’s not to say you can’t delve fully into it either, as many members are very active and Adam is always on hand to answer questions. I hope to be more involved in future months too. Our very own horse racing guru, Mel Gee, is a member too, which shows there are some very smart investors in the group. 

I also have a pot invested in an automated forex trading platform. It ticks away nicely in the background making money on cash that would otherwise be sitting in a bank account doing nothing (and actually depreciating if you take interest and inflation into account). 

Top Tips: Take some time to research passive investment opportunities for yourself and what will work for you. Don’t worry if you don’t have much to put in at first, the idea is that they will grow over time exponentially and reinvest in the future. 

6) Betfair Trading – You will notice that trading comes bottom of my list. Why? It’s not that I don’t enjoy it but in my opinion it is the toughest of these strategies to be consistent in. I’m not the world’s worst trader but I’m not particular consistent with my profits either. Part of my journey this year is to improve my own trading and devote some time each week to doing that.

My focus this year will be to be more selective on my football trading, improve my cricket and tennis and learn how to trade horses in-running. In the coming months I’ll also be checking out Alex Ong’s Football Trading service and letting you know how I get on. 

Top Tip: If you are interested in learning to become a trader, try and paper trade for a while first and start off on small stakes. If you can’t win consistently on small stakes, then you won’t be able to succeed on bigger stakes. 

So, these are my top strategies that I’ll be using this year. What about you? How are you dividing your betting portfolio for the rest of 2020?

If you’d like to get in touch you can reach me via clients@thebetchat.com.

Bettor Expectations (Part Six)

Saturday’s article focused on the need to know something beyond the obvious in order to gain an advantage over the markets and other bettors. Today, I want to illustrate this by talking about two aspects of approaching a racecard that you may not have considered. 

Making Sense of Jockey Bookings

When there is little form to study after a long lay-off like one we experienced during the Covid-19 lockdown, picking up on other clues could be more important than normal if we are to be profitable. 

However, these supposed ‘clues’ are not always as straight-forward as they may seem. One example is jockey bookings and here I’ll detail a few points on what to look for to increase the chances that what we are perceiving as a positive actually holds significance.

Of course, the better the rider, the better the chance of a horse’s success, but the importance of a particular jockey booking can extend beyond riding ability. If connections have made efforts to gain the use of the best available jockey (and have convinced him or her to accept the ride) then that in itself tells us something about their hopes and expectations.

But, there are a few factors that could lead us to misplace our reading of the situation.

Stable Jockeys

It’s worth becoming familiar with which jockeys are attached to which stables. We may be a big fan of a particular jockey, but if he or she has a collection of rides at a particular meeting then it will be common for some, most or all of those bookings to be for their boss. 

If it’s not unusual then it may not be much of a pointer, whereas it’s likely that if they take an ‘outside ride,’ for a trainer they are not attached to and rarely ride for, then that is more of a statement and worth closer examination.

Retained Riders

Similarly, there are some jockeys who have a deal to ride the horses owned by a particular group or individual. Again, it’s worth knowing these associations and avoiding getting overly encouraged by a booking when in actuality it is simply due to following a contract.

Keeping the Ride

After spotting a positive jockey booking, checking whether or not this is the first time they have been paired together can also be revealing. 

Here we should try to see what the information tells us and attempt to make sense of the story. Has the horse recently been ridden by inexperienced apprentices? Can the previous run(s) be excused? Are there other horses in the race the jockey normally rides?

With younger horses, if a high-profile rider sticks with a serial loser then it may be that the horse is seen as having potential that will prove worth persevering with in the long-term. Checking the trainer’s record with similar horses can be useful and help avoid us becoming involved too early or too late in the progression.

Stable Hierarchy

Larger stables may have a number of jockeys attached to them and knowing who is the senior rider is important information and can indicate which are their most fancied on a given day, meeting or race.

However, it’s also worth seeing whether the relevant horses are still being partnered by their normal pilots because the bookings could be chosen the way they have been due to familiarity rather than preference.

Timing of Bookings

When entries are made, it can be worth noting any jockey bookings that catch the eye. At this stage, the information is most likely to be useful whereas bookings made at the declaration stage will commonly include plenty of instances when it is merely a case of horse doesn’t have jockey, jockey doesn’t have ride, horse and jockey get put together. In the latter case what may appear to be a positive actually means little more than both parties taking advantage of circumstance, whereas the former involves planning and nailing colours to the mast at an early stage.

Going The Extra Mile

Whenever somebody does something unusual or makes an extra effort to normal there is often a reason behind it. This applies as much to horse racing as anything else.

For example, yesterday jockey Tom Marquand – who has had an excellent spell that has moved him up to 3rd in the Jockey Championship for this season – had a set of rides at Kempton’s evening meeting. Rather than make the short journey directly to the course from his base in Hungerford, he first went to Leicester for one ride. The addition of that sole bit of action would have resulted in around six hours travelling in the day.

When considering the time and travel costs involved in heading north only to turn around and travel south again – he would have had to leave almost immediately to get to Kempton on time – the only logical conclusion is that he went there with high expectations of winning the race.

On this occasion he was unsuccessful, but picking up on clues such as this can help to have an advantage over other punters and the market. That edge, with sensible bank management, will lead to profit in the long term.

During the winter months, UK flat racing will be contested on just six All-Weather (AW) tracks: Kempton, Lingfield and Chelmsford in the South-East, Wolverhampton and Southwell in the Midlands and Newcastle in the North.

With Newcastle the latest addition – the track was changed from turf to tapeta in 2016 – there was already the common occurrence of Northern and Scottish trainers making the long journey south, but it can be worth noting which trainers based further south now send their representatives to Newcastle when they have similar races available closer to home.

This extra effort can be worthwhile if a trainer has inmates who are likely to be suited to the track. The most obvious difference to the other five courses is that races up to a mile are run on a straight course, whereas Southwell’s 5 furlongs is the only other AW course and distance run on a straight (and on a very different, slower fibresand surface). Additionally, the long, stiff finish often suits runners held-up more than the other courses with their shorter finishing straights.

Since the change to an artificial surface, there have been just over 12,000 individual runs at Newcastle, of which 9762 runners have made a journey of under 240 miles to be there (let’s call them Group A) and 2288 have had a longer trek (Group B). I’ve used this figure because Newmarket is just over 240 miles away and trainers based there have the other options much closer to their base.

The difference in the results from the two sets is worth noting.

Group A have had a strike-rate of 8.39%, winning just under 1 in 12. Had you put a pound on each of these at Betfair SP then you would have lost £887.

However, Group B have won more than twice as frequently per run, giving a strike-rate of 18.66% and had you backed each for a quid at Betfair SP you’d have made a profit of £242 after deducting 5% commission.

As a large sample, even without any additional criteria, these results look statistically significant. Moreover, the figures make sense – why would these trainers travel further than necessary without a good reason for doing so? It appears their extra efforts are often rewarded.

We can break these figures down further. When a trainer makes the long journey with just the one runner, the strike-rate increases to 21%, whereas with more than one entrant – which enables the costs to be split and doesn’t require any more travel time – the strike-rate is 16%. 

When competing for prize money of £10,500 or less, the strike-rate is 19.85%, whereas when there is more reward on offer than this the strike-rate comes down to 13%. Once more this makes sense because when there is less to play for, expectations need to be higher to justify the effort involved.

Miles currently runs an excellent racing service and you can give it a try by clicking the link below…

Improvers

Bettor Expectations (Part Five)

Bookmakers have an advantage because of something called an ‘overround’ which means the odds on any market don’t quite add up and they gain from this gap in the figures…

For example, if two tennis players were playing each other and both had an equal likelihood of winning, fair odds would be evens, meaning you would double your money if the one you side with wins. But, the odds you are likely to find might be 1.83 (5/6) or 1.9 (9/10) on each, giving you a profit of 83p or 90p in winnings for every pound staked but leaving a shortfall were you to repeatedly make this bet blindly or randomly.

Because of this, if we only match the bookmakers knowledge then we will make a loss. We need to be a better bettor just to break even and have to go further still to have an advantage that leads to a profit. But it can be done and what follows is key to achieving this.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

  1. Walk into a bookmakers and find somebody about to make a bet.
  2. Ask them to hand you a copy of the Racing Post, or similar publication. (Chances are they won’t be holding such a paper, so for the purposes of this exercise you may need to take a copy with you, hand it to this person and then ask for it back again.)
  3. Firmly request that they tell you what they are about to bet on.
  4. Look it up in the paper you’ve just been handed and then challenge the unsuspecting bettor to tell you something about their wager that you still don’t know.

If you emerge from this exchange intact, both mentally and physically, then you will probably have very quickly established whether or not the person that you’ve just surprised is, a) violent, b) quite lonely and receptive to any opportunity to talk to someone, and c) likely to be a winning or losing bettor in the long-term, regardless of the success or otherwise of the selection you’ve just discussed.

The reason for this is quite straight-forward – if making a bet without knowing additional information to the masses or the odds compilers, then, in turn, it would be illogical to suspect an advantage is held; if there is no forthcoming reason to indicate that the odds are incorrect due to overlooking one or more relevant factors then such an approach will be simply playing (or, perhaps more appropriately, paying) into the bookmakers hands.

For example, if looking to bet on a football match at the top level, you and I, that man walking past outside and his dog will all know if a key player is currently injured. You can be also be pretty darn sure that Paddy Power and his merry band of odds compilers will know this and it will be factored into the prices. 

However, if you know that your local non-league side, or their opponents, has hit an injury crisis or suddenly has a number of key players unavailable then it is likely you have an advantage because you know something relevant and important that most don’t and, significantly, probably hasn’t been considered in the odds.

If you check the odds’ history and find they have remained the same since this news became available then you’ll know you stand in a position of strength.

In the quest for long-term profit, it’s crucial not to be thinking about what is the most likely outcome, but what is more likely to happen than the odds suggest. If you can find a reason that a horse, team or whatever outcome is more or less likely to prevail than other punters and bookmakers are thinking, then, by knowing such a factor that others haven’t considered, the odds will be in your favour which is the key to sustained profitability in the long-term.

This doesn’t have to be especially clever or original but it can be helped by remembering the advantage we have against bookmakers: they price everything and therefore have their resources hugely diluted across thousands of events and markets, but we can be selective. By being more focused in one area or in a little niche, we can spot things that may well have been missed.

In the medical world, we may go and see our GP from time to time. These General Practitioners know plenty about a wide range of ailments, especially certain important ones. But, in the case of specific problems we may be moved onto specialists who are more focused in what they consider.

Their knowledge is narrower but deeper and while you would hope your GP has a sound understanding of the entire body, it’s unlikely a foot surgeon often deals with ear complaints, so doesn’t need to be an aural expert and can instead spend their time deepening their knowledge of two of our cheesiest bits.

In this awkward and probably quite unnecessary analogy, the GP is the bookie, having to know enough about every area, whereas we can strive to be the foot surgeon. If we focus ourselves on specific areas we can ignore ears, elbows and Swedish netball because in our area we know more than the bookmaker and therefore can have an advantage.

We don’t need to consider anything else – we’re not going to be betting on it – but we can know what we know well and we can know it better than others who take a wider but shallower approach.

Earlier, non-league football was mentioned and concentrating on one league or even one team could be a way to gain enough of a positive edge.

Similarly, there are so many different types of horse race that to have a solid enough understanding of all of them is going to be stretching anybody’s time and memory to an extreme, but these can be broken down into smaller subsets, from sprinters to stayers, trainers to tracks, to give ourselves a reduced amount on which to build our knowledge and understanding.

However, to gain this knowledge and understanding takes time to build up and time to preserve. Not all of us have this and thus may choose to follow professional tipsters to give an increased chance of beating the bookies, making profitable bets and enhancing enjoyment of a sport we wish to follow…

Over the weekend, I’ll have two articles with examples of how a bit of extra knowledge and analysis can help to make this happen.

Miles currently runs an excellent racing service and you can give it a try by clicking the link below…

Improvers

Bettor Expectations (Part Four)

This series of articles began by asserting that making a profit in betting isn’t easy. If it was then everyone would be doing it until bookmakers went bankrupt. That’s not to say it’s not possible, far from it, but expectations should be realistic and if we are to be rewarded by positive returns, we need to do all we can to maximise that possibility.

Yesterday looked at different types of betting from a low odds/high strike-rate approach – that may appeal to some with it’s slow and steady nature but not be exciting enough for others – to high odds/low strike-rates that may excite some bettors but not be for others who cannot tolerate the inevitable dips and losing runs that accompany such a service.

If you are to follow a tipster for a long period then it seems logical that you need to share the same preference of method and have a matching mentality that will determine whether you are going to remain interested in persevering for a long period. 

If you’re going to be bored with continually betting to win small amounts then an odds-on service isn’t going to be for you. If you’re known to go ‘on tilt’ and implode at the hint of a losing run, then backing longshots is not going to work out well. 

What if its subject matter is a sport or area in which you have no interest? For some, they’ll be happy as long as it’s profitable but for others it could become an unwelcome daily task.

Knowing what you want will make it easier to find what you need. Betting shouldn’t and needn’t be a chore and finding the right service will help to make for an enjoyable experience. However, the likelihood of an enjoyable experience is going to be related to making a profit – losing money is unlikely to be too much fun, after all – and here are a few more points to consider to make this more likely:

The importance of getting the best price

To give ourselves the best chance of making a profit, we should aim to obtain the best odds we possibly can as often as we possibly can.

Let’s say a tipster provides 1,000 tips a year, an average of just under 3 per day, and the average price is 5 in decimal odds (4/1 in old money). He has 200 successful bets and therefore breaks even.

If, however, 6 or 5/1 was available for each of those, then backing each bet would return a profit of £2,000 to £10 stakes with 1,000 x £10 staked (£10,000) and £12,000 returned (£60 for each of the 200 winners).

But, if these were backed at 4 (3/1) then a loss of £2,000 would be made. Same bets, same stakes, but because of the different odds a very different financial outcome.

There are three points to be made here. Firstly, it’s worth opening as many different accounts with bookmakers as possible because with each one, the chances of being able to find the best price increases. Odds comparison sites such as oddschecker.com can then be an invaluable time saving resource to help find the best place for each bet.

Many new to betting just want to have one account and stubbornly refuse to open more. In doing so, they have already made things harder for themselves and reduced their own chances of success. Years ago, when withdrawals took days there was a small excuse. Now, with the likes of PayPal widely accepted by bookmakers, money can be moved in minutes or hours.

Secondly, prices move around all the time and any tipster worth his salt is making a value call on his or her selections considering the odds available at the time the selections are made. If you join a tipster who publishes bets when you’re not available to make them, perhaps because of being at work, on the school run or being soundly asleep, then there’s a chance the opportunity to get the best price will be gone.

Similarly, the quantity of the tips could be a factor. If you have plenty of time and the inclination to place 20 bets a day and to shop around to get the best price with each, then a high volume service may be for you. If not, then you need a service with fewer tips.This is just one of the practicalities of betting – the time and quantity of bets a service provides is an important but often overlooked consideration.

Seasoned bettors may also have found restrictions on bookmaker accounts and need to use the betting exchanges. However, their markets are often not normally fully formed until the day for many events, so a service offering bets the night before racing is unlikely to be suitable whereas one providing picks closer to the off would be preferable.

Another consideration is the price of a service. Again, this is only logical, but if you are only staking small amounts then a high priced subscription isn’t going to work because even if it does well then you’ll be paying back most of your profit in fees and making little progress. 

Of course, the cheapest way and to avoid paying subscriptions for services is to find selections for yourself and tomorrow I’ll look at the key aspect needed to come out on top if you choose to do that.

Miles currently runs an excellent racing service and you can give it a try by clicking the link below…

Improvers

Bettor Expectations (Part Three)

Yesterday I talked about the role odds play alongside strike-rates. There are different approaches and ways to attempt to make a profit and what appeals to one person may not suit another. 

Understanding what sort of bettor you are is an important step towards finding services suited to you. Do you want to win a little often? Do you want the thrill of a big win even if that can mean lots of long losing runs in between?

(Spoiler: Sorry, but you can’t have a constant supply of big wins – that’s not how it works, I’m afraid.)

Below is an article I wrote last year, slightly crudely splitting betting services into three types but it is worth pondering on which type suits you best. It also begins to touch on the topic of bank management which I’ll come back to tomorrow. 

We’re not all in the same boat

Here’s a nice picture of a barge on a canal.

Isn’t it lovely?

A barge can potter along serenely. You can have a cup of tea. People might wave at you as you crawl past.

The worst that can happen is starting a conversation with someone who turns out to be walking along the footpath at the side of you who is moving in the same direction at the same speed. Without the chance to turn off, you could be stuck with them for some while.

On a barge you can make slow but steady progress. Also, as appears to be the case in the picture above, if you don’t get on with the person you are with then you can stand at opposite ends and have minimal interaction.

Now, here’s a picture of a big ship on a big wave.

Your barge wouldn’t like this wave. You see, your canal barge isn’t cut out for bobbing around on the sea, while this ferry would struggle on a canal and cause lengthy queues at the ice-cream kiosk.

Finally, here’s a speedboat.

Your speedboat can go very quickly but there is also the chance that you could crash and be very badly injured, possibly needing to have a limb amputated. This nippy vessel is also unsuitable for canal use as it would upset the ducks, while if you were to try to drink tea in a speedboat on the open water then you’d end up wearing it.

Okay, this is a betting newsletter and you could be forgiven for wondering why I am sharing with you what so far appears to be a sub-standard piece of GCSE coursework. (If so, you might also be wondering which school subject this falls under.)

Well, the point I want to make is that, just as the three water vehicles above have their positives and negatives, requirements and suitabilities, not all betting services are the same and how they are approached needs to be adapted to their needs.

When joining a service or reading a review, you’ll often come across a statement along the lines of ‘just open the email, make the bets and you’re done,’ but, at the beginning at least, this misses out a crucial stage…

There needs to be a bit of thought prior to making any bets with any service, otherwise you could be doing the betting equivalent of attempting to cross the channel on a barge or getting a ferry stuck in a lock.

If you place the same stakes on every service you follow then you are making a very basic but very common mistake and one that could be preventing you from either maximising your returns or leaving you open to busting your bank, perhaps even both.

Let’s say you decide to follow 3 different services and dedicate the same amount to each. It would then be a mistake to bet the same amount on each bet for each service.

A suitable number of points in a bank is essential for being able to ride out any downturns on the one hand, yet being able to significantly benefit from upturns on the other. If the bank of points is too small there will be times when it is put in danger and if it’s too large then stakes will be divided into unnecessarily small pieces and profits will be lessened.

But, the required number of bank points is going to vary according to the type of service and the odds involved…

For example, if we take two equally successful services in terms of Return on Investment but one is a golf service, backing at very high odds in tournaments where there are 150+ different potential winners, common sense should tell us that this is going to have longer losing runs and therefore requires a high number of points in a bank with that bank divided into many small pieces, whereas another service that tips at odds-on in tennis matches, where there are only 2 possible outcomes, is going to be best used with a small number of points in the bank.

Two useful rules of thumb can be used to decide how many points are needed for each service:

  1. Look through results and find the biggest dip the service has had and then double it. This should see that you are able to cope with the worst and still be able to keep following and then benefit from more positive periods.This is especially true of newer services, in which case you may want to treble or quadruple the biggest dip so far because it is more likely that they are yet to experience their worst period than a service that has been around for years.
  2. It’s often the case that a service that makes x amount of points in a purple patch is also likely to be able to lose a similar amount in a similar period of time when results don’t go their way.

To summarise, is the service you are (about to be) following most like:

  • a barge. Slow and steady. The odds are low, losing runs are short, profits in terms of points won’t blow you out of the water but the downturns are also relatively small. If so, your bank can be divided into relatively fewer points and therefore, to maximise the returns, your stakes can be higher than with most other approaches. 
  • a ferry. Covers a greater distance than the barge but can hit more difficult passages on its journey. It needs to be resilient but if all precautions are followed it should be a safe crossing. A moderate bank of points can be used to maximise returns but also protect against more difficult periods.
  • a speedboat. Exciting but dangerous. High odds, big wins, long losing runs. This needs that bank of yours to be divided into many small pieces otherwise you may well crash and burn. 

By adapting how services are used according to their nature, you can increase your chances of having a successful and rewarding time following them.

Miles currently runs an excellent racing service and you can give it a try by clicking the link below…

Improvers