Bookies Glean Information From The Bets They Accept

There is an old story of the punter who liked to back short-priced horses. He seemed to believe that the shorter the price, the more market confidence it carried; so therefore the bigger certainty it was. He used to attend race meetings and had an entourage of different punters to place bets on his behalf. The story (not to be taken too literally) goes than one day he instructed his punter to, ‘Hurry up and take the 10/11 before if goes Evens,’ about a certain horse. 

Such thinking, if it ever existed in real life, has long been eclipsed by the value-seekers; those looking for odds they feel represent a cut above true odds. I have addressed this subject before; pointing out that Indefinite Odds as opposed to Absolute Odds [those that are incontrovertible], are based on opinion.

As a result it is very important that punters back horses they fancy rather than getting sucked into bets purely because of prices on offer. Overpriced horses are often overpriced for a reason. Some horses fail to win. Welsh Emperor is a prime example. He always has a greater chance in Listed and Group 3 events than his price suggests, but he rarely wins. In his case, although his technical chance is greater than his odds reflect, his track-record means he is an unlikely winner of whatever race he is contesting. Horses like him make up the numbers, take up a percentage, but invariably get in the way.

Be aware that the danger of seeking out value for value’s sake can mean you are about to step into a minefield.

Bookmakers know what they are doing most of the time. Vulnerability tends to exist when they are pricing races the day before. As race time approaches, the more likely they are to be correct even if they have to make several adjustments. Their vulnerability crumbles as bets start to trickle then flood in and before long, the position between punter and bookmaker becomes reversed. Whatever advantage you felt you had over the bookmaker a day before a race, dwindles as the bookmaker’s intelligence system kicks in. And as he starts to record bets, so a pattern unknown to you, emerges. Every customer that wins money (distinct from a winning account), or has a proven record of backing the right horses from certain yards, is tagged-up. That is to say, within seconds of certain bets being placed, traders are informed. The bet may be small it may be large. Some big punters have an incredible strike rate with certain yards. But once they get in front, they start having £100 Yankees and backing race by race, often with their thought processes considerably diluted by champagne or wine and can lose everything they won and more on a cleverly crafted coup by throwing money at hunches. Others can be small players – £5 or £10 a throw being all they risk – but the fact they have a 64% strike rate with a particular yard means their transactions will not go unnoticed. They could be a friend of the trainer’s family, a cleaner, the bloke who delivers the paper. The fact is that once a bookmaker has established a link, he is getting his card marked merely by laying a bet. 

Consequently, a race you might have considered a three-horse affair may contain six serious contenders as far as the bookmaker is concerned. In blind ignorance, you stick to your theory that a certain horse is overpriced but if you knew what Jolly Joe knew, would you be so keen to take the odds? On such occasions, bookmakers hang on to their prices for a long time, confident that they will field enough money to be in a position to make a book. As the time goes on and their odds remain the same, it becomes increasingly obvious that, whilst there may be nothing wrong with your logic or information, your horse faces serious competition. When bookmakers slash a price, trying to wriggle out of their odds, you know they are genuinely worried. 

Pricewise is a good indication of how the situation is developing. We all know that when Tom Segal is in form, which he is now, there will be money for anything he nominates. Everyone gets involved. Those that arb will take a price they know can be sold back later and Joe Punter will back the selection because it is the closest thing he gets to having an edge. So bookmakers are under siege. Storm troopers are busting down the doors to avail themselves of the 10/1 and the expectation is that the horse will start in single figures. Now, there have been occasions when Tom Segal, just like the rest of us, has made a mistake or been forced to nominate a horse he thinks is a poor effort – a half-hearted attempt at coming up with something in a race he has no particular feel for. At first the odds tumble. Then, let us say someone with a connection to the yard comes on for a bet but it does not include the Pricewise selection. Even better, from the bookmaker’s standpoint, he actually backs against the horse. Ask yourself what you would do in such a position. Try if you can to see inside that thick hide beneath which lurks the bookmaker. Instead of shortening the horse further, now he is prepared to stand up to it. He is not going to risk going skint. If he has been in the game five minutes, he knows what can go wrong, but he has a major mark against the horse – a big clue that it may not win. There have even been occasions when Ladbrokes have pushed out a Pricewise selection. Like them or love them, they are the best in the business. Their information is the best. No doubt, they pay for it one way or another – either by lavish entertainment, or by allowing widespread facilities to those who bet with them and whose bets can be used as cast iron marks. We know they are in cahoots with several high profile stables and I make no comment on that. It is their business and they run it well.

But with the advent of Betfair, all be it a depleted market these days, punters do not have to be railroaded into showing their hands quite so early. At one time bookmakers would see a tremendous amount of warm business between 8.30 and 9.30 am. It was almost a game of musical chairs. Those with the information would be on to the traders, shopping their business in return for an inflated price for a few hundred pounds. The bookmakers had the mark for little potential outlay and could protect their morning business by ensuring the 16/1 laid was no longer available. That was the way it used to work. These days, times have changed. But the principle is the same. With the slow advance of the hands on the clock, so the bookmaker becomes better informed. Most information is like water; it will leak. Some, however, known to perhaps only the owner or trainer, does not enter the public domain until much later and can, at times, wreck the best-laid plans of the layers.

This leads me to mention the information trail that most novice punters are so desperate to pursue. Information is useful in a wide range of capacities. Often what you are not told (unfancied horses) can be more useful that what you are. Never forget though that information is only someone else’s opinion. And very often that opinion, unless it concerns something of such magnitude you could not possibly know, is not as good as your own. Some yards are very good yards. They churn out winner after winner and you might be empted to believe that if only you had someone who could help you with such messages, you would have it made. You may be surprised that some of these yards, good though they undoubtedly are, will iron you out if you listen to what they actually tip. Some stables, like the Richard Hannon yard, send out horses fit and ready to win 90% of the time. If they are not fit, they don’t run. So it is a good yard from a punting point of view and one where you are capable of marking your own card. Form an opinion about one their horses and invariably you will get a run for your money and if it fails to win, it is more likely to be you that has called it incorrectly. Sadly, not all yards operate in such an open and straightforward way. When I have worked out how to ensure I am not leading our lawyers down the Private Eye route, I shall return to this issue and make a few observations you may find helpful. Source: Horse Racing Pro

2 comments:

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Anonymous said...

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