Sports betting and reverse handicapping

Being a successful handicapper will certainly offer you an edge in your sports gambling, but will that be enough to make you a long-term winner? Not exactly. You see, being a successful sports bettor is not only about understanding the sport that you’re betting on perfectly and being able to dissect each and every single match-up right down to the bone. That too is needed but it’s not enough by a long-shot. A sharp sports bettor understands the way the bookmaker works and he is just as good a reverse handicapper as he’s a straight one. Why is it essential to see matchups and lines from the other side of the barricade? Because that’s just about the only way you’ll be able to locate hidden value and thus to secure positive long term EV (expected value).

Believe it or not, square sports betting is a negative EV activity. You get your money in on the favorite and when the fav does come through for you, you win your money back plus almost as much on top of it (minus the vig of course). The vig acts the same way the poker rake does in online poker: it bites into your narrow margin mercilessly. In poker there are rakeback deals, in live sports betting there’s not much you can do about the vig. When you lose, you lose your money. On a perfectly balanced match-up (and believe you me, the bookie will do everything to balance the match-up as close to perfection as possible), that is pretty much the definition of negative long-term EV. There’s only one variable you can exploit to turn your negative EV into positive EV, and that’s the movement of the lines. Before we go any further though, we need to take a look at the reasons why the bookie moves his lines around.

Not all line movements mean hidden value. When the lines move on account of the side notes, then the movements are fully justified and they truthfully reflect the new situation arisen on the court/field. Side notes are player injuries, roster changes, travel problems, suspensions etc. Make sure the line does not move on account of the side notes before you jump all over the perceived hidden value.

Line movements which bring about hidden value are caused by bettor-pressure. Sometimes, square money will come in way too thick on one side of a match-up (usually on that of the favorite) and it will therefore upset the delicate balance achieved by the bookmaker. When the balance is upset, the bookie needs to compensate by moving his lines. He will make the less bet-on side of the match-up more attractive, mostly by inducing undue value to it. That there is the hidden value. The hidden value seldom lasts. Sharps (betting syndicates) may jump on it and erase it in a heartbeat, or the measure undertaken by the bookie may prove a little too successful and the other side of the bandwagon may fill up faster than projected.

The bottom line is that in order to be able to reap the benefits of these line movements, you pretty much need to monitor these movements on a constant basis. Weekly games are easier to track, because you have several days at your disposal to see how the line evolves. Daily games are more difficult to monitor because things speed up for them. The most important thing is to get the opening lines and to remember them, so you have a basis for comparison on subsequent lines. Track just a few games for starters, move up to more as soon as you feel you’re comfortable with what you’re able to handle.

Arbitrage Strategy for the bet365 4/1+ Feature Race Offers

My overall aim is to wait until I spot a good situation and then make both bets together. However, there will inevitably be a delay of a second or two between them.

In general, just before a race I prefer to back with bet365 first and then lay once I have seen the confirmation screen from them. That way my maximum exposure is kept to a minimum. Exchange prices go up and down all the time. Once the books have cut a price it is much less likely to return.

I also want to see alot of cash queuing up at the second and third best prices on the exchange in case the best price has disappeared before I have hit the “confirm” button.

When I look at the Early Prices in the morning I sometimes queue a speculative “lay price” first to see if anyone bites. But I will only do this if it is giving me a “proper arb”.

Your First Free SNR Bet (Stage 2)

OK, so you have followed my basic strategy and eventually your first winner arrives. Now, the first thing to remember is that your free bet goes on the very next race in the series. You don’t get a choice about which race. Use it or lose it.

•    From bet365’s Home Page press the red “offers and promotions” button to see a chronological list of the offer races.
•    Bet365 run two similar offers:4/1+ Feature Races and 4/1+ Channel Four Races. The Channel Four races are shown live on British TV every Saturday afternoon (and at selected race meetings during the week.) You can’t transfer your free bet between the two series. If your first winner is on a Feature Race, the free bet is on the next Feature race and if your winner is on a Ch4 race, your free bet goes on the next Ch4 race.

•    During the week, the offer normally covers two races a day. There shouldn’t be any time pressure. On a Saturday, the Channel Four offer will cover seven or eight races from two or three courses. Sometimes the scheduled start times are only five minutes apart and when there are delays it can get pretty hectic.

Beginners beware!

Also, you must place this free bet using cash from your account. If it loses they will refund you (normally within one hour). But you must have enough cash in your account so that if they are late in settling the first winner you still have sufficient funds to place the “free bet”.

To make the best use of our Stake Not Returned Free Bet we should try to find a good match on a horse with odds of at least 7/1 (I hope to write an article showing the proof of this soon). We also need to adjust our lay stake so that we are underlaying compared to before.

•    It is crucial to remember that we must now reduce our lay stake on the exchange. It is doing this that will guarantee us an overall profit
Its time to place our “free bet” and we see a likely-looking match. 8.00 (7/1) with bet365 8.50 (15/2) on the exchange. After a little tinkering with the spreadsheet we arrive at:

1.    If the horse loses our bet with bet365 will be refunded. So our profit will be the lay stake less commission. Start again at stage 1 for the next race
2.    If the horse wins we collect from bet365 as normal. But because we have reduced the amount laid on the exchange, we pay out less than we collect
3.    If the horse wins the only adjustment made to our bet365 account is to add our winnings. The free bet rolls on to the next race. Repeat stage 2
4.    Our profit from the race is X despite the fact that 8.00 and 8.50 is not an especially close match. The better the match the more profit it will deliver
5.    There is a case for laying slightly more than the amount shown in the picture to equalize the outcomes of winning and losing. Here, if the horse wins you get X and another free bet. If it loses you only get X.
6.    Our overall profit is X less any loss incurred on the first race. One or two winners a week should generate X/year [Read more…]

Bet365 4/1+ Feature Races

A Typical Match (Good but not Outstanding)

bet365 are offering 5.0 (4/1) on a horse which you can lay at 5.1 (4.1/1) on the exchange:

I pay 3% commission with Betmate so need to lay X there to cover a bet of X with bet365.
If the horse loses I breakeven (in fact make 1p due to rounding). When the horse wins I am down X but I get a free X bet on the next race.

A True Arb (An Excellent Match)

bet365 offer 7.0 (6/1) on a horse that can be laid at 6.7 (5.7/1)

This is the sort of situation I am really looking for. I have no downside at all (barring a deadheat or late non-runner) and have the flexibility to lay a few more pennies to balance my returns if I want. I also have bet365’s Best Odds Guarantee working for me so if the SP is returned at 13/2 or 7/1 (and the horse wins), then I will get an extra X or X profit on top.

A Marginal Match

bet365 offer 5.0 (4/1). I thought I could lay at 5.10 on the exchange. Unfortunately, the market moves against me whilst I am placing my bet. It’s just before the race and I bail out at 5.5 (9/2).

About 80% of the time in this situation the horse won’t win and I end up level. When it does win I will be in the position of needing to make X from the free bet to show an overall profit.

My experience has been that you can normally expect to recover at least X from your X SNR (Stake Not Returned) bet. So, in the long run, I will make a small profit here. Later on, I will discuss the best way to maximize the value of your free bets.

However, if the best prices available were 5.50 on the exchange, verses 5.00 at bet365 and I wasn’t yet committed to the race then I would pass here. You don’t have any margin of safety in this situation. [Read more…]

Bet365’s Feature Race 4/1+ Offer

Bet365’s 4/1+ Feature Race Offer is my favourite gambling promotion and provides a major contribution to my bankroll.
This page is devoted to explaining my matched betting strategy for this offer and the related Channel Four 4/1+ and Sky Greyhound Racing 2/1+ offers.

You will need:

1.    An account with bet365
2.    An account with a betting exchange such as Betfair, Betmate or WBX.
3.    A spreadsheet to help calculate the matches

My strategy is to place a bet with bet365 and lay the same horse on one of the betting exchanges. Most of the time the horse loses but my loss at bet365 is covered by my win on the exchange. But whenever my horse wins, the loss on the exchange is covered by the win at the bookmakers and I also get a free bet from bet365.com.

One win a week should add $$ to your annual profits. However, it is not risk-free and there are several traps for the unwary punter.

How Bet365’s 4/1+ Offer Works

Each day Bet365.com nominate a number of races to be part of the 4/1+ Feature Race promotion. Back a winner at a price of 4/1 or more (decimal 5.0 or greater) and Bet365 will give you a free bet to the same stake on the next feature race.

If this free bet also wins, it is carried forward to the next race in the series (provided it was also placed at 4/1 or more) and so on.

Like any offer you must check the T and Cs on the website:

•    The offer applies to a maximum stake of $/race
•    Only your first bet you place on each feature race counts for the offer
•    Your bet must be a single
•    It must be placed at odds of 4/1 (decimal 5.0) or more [Read more…]

Matched Betting – Sports Arbitrage

Matched betting or arbitrage betting, is a method of gambling on sporting events that involves betting on all the possible outcomes of that event to try and secure a profit regardless of who ends up actually winning.

Most of the time, of course, the odds offered by bookmakers, casinos and betting exchanges don’t allow you to do this. However,when bookmakers have significantly different opinions, have adjusted their prices to reflect their liabilities on a race or are simply running a promotion to attract new business then betting ricks can arise.

Sometimes they disappear in seconds, sometimes in minutes. Occasionally, no one wants to back down and they remain for 24 hours or more. Whenever they It is then that the matched bettors (or arbers) step in with their hedging calculators to extract a small – but significant profit every time.

Bet365’s Feature Race offer

The best place to start matched betting is with bet365.com’s 4/1+ feature race offer. I have prepared a step by step guide to extracting a safe profit from this offer which runs every day at my favourite bookie, bet365.

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