One of the insults modern day punters like to throw at bookmakers is, ‘All they do is follow the machine’. Despite the spite in which the phrase is often spat, it’s by necessity a true one, at least at the business end of the race. The machine knows.
It wasn’t so much different back in the ‘good old days’. As former bookmakers who deride the current crop of on-course layers as ‘commission agents’ will tell you, there were only a few back in the day that had the talent to price up. The rest would follow then money would make the market, not that much has changed.
Those on both sides of the fence that possess a talent for compiling odds accurately have the edge over everyone else. Despite what you read on social media from legions of ‘winners’, my hunch is that most punters are as clueless as the bookies they chastise when it comes to pricing horses independently.
I thought I’d put my guess to the test and asked a hypothetical question.
Punters. If you were at a racecourse and a bookmaker was priced up to 150% in an eight horse race but was 11/4 your fancy which you made a solid 9/4 chance, would you bet with him?
— Simon Nott (@SimonNott) September 12, 2020
The large response took me by surprise, what did not, were the amount of people that replied they’d just back it bigger on Betfair. I’d stick my neck out and surmise that the majority of them had no idea in their head what price their selection should be to make it a bet, just take the best price that was on offer. So, I did a poll
Following on my my thread yesterday. Form students, when picking your selections, do you have a value price in mind before checking the market or just take the best price the market is offering?
— Simon Nott (@SimonNott) September 13, 2020
Of the 300 people that took part, 186 of them said that they had value in mind, so I assume priced up the races they were getting involved in before checking the exchanges. It seems a remarkably high percentage to me, but I am not one to cast doubt on the honesty of people.
Those that do have the skill to accurately work out the true odds, thus value, of their intended bets must be absolutely gutted that Betfair ever existed. Ricks are going to be made the night before to small money and unlikely to be available to the shrewdies anywhere other than the exchanges, snapped up in no time. Happy days for layers who get their cards marked by impatient punters showing their hands early.
Wouldn’t it be great if it were illegal to price up or bet on an event until half an hour before it was due to happen? Imagine the frenetic betting action that would take place in that 30 minutes, on and off course, what a dust up it would be.
I’ll hold the coats!
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring