Aug 172009

Betting companies fascinate me, partly because I have a propensity for number crunching, and partly because the people involved have to be lightning quick, reacting with incredible speed to the most innocuous looking story, hidden in an unnoticed column on a newspaper’s website.

Because these days, you can bet on anything. For example, odds are offered on which club a player will join (e.g. Owen at the start of the summer), but to ensure success, these firms must have contacts all over the place, else they’d lose vast sums whenever anyone with real knowledge gambled on it.

The odds on offer have to be tempting, but not to the level where you set yourself up to lose heavily – people often complain that England are second or third favourites for major tournaments, when that plainly shouldn’t be the case. Do the bookies consider them likely to win? Not to that level certainly, but the point is that so many people bet on England that if realistic odds were given, betting companies would fold if it ever happened.

And therein lies the secret – what you choose to bet on should be a combinati0n of what you think will happen and, to get the best odds, what other people don’tthink will happen. Hence the Betfair model.

And so we come to Arsenal. Pre-season, everyone was writing us off, and the bookies were getting fewer and fewer bets on us challenging for the title. That resulted in odds of 8/1 on us lifting the Premiership, odds I gladly snapped up the other day.

The odds with the same firm today? 11/2. Place the identical bet now, and your £1 can only earn you a £5.50 profit, far less than the £8 on offer on Saturday morning. And all that from the first game of a 38 match campaign. Incredible.

Yet it is normal, it is what a bookie has to react to – undoubtedly, a whole load of people changed their minds about Arsenal after Saturday, and seeing the long odds, had a flutter. Now, the market has collapsed. But after one game??

I had a quick look at the other bets I placed, to see if all the odds had gone the same way. Bolton’s relegation odds have dropped from 8/1 to 6/1 after one defeat, Eduardo finishing top scorer has gone from 28/1 to 22/1, but most odd of all, our Carling Cup odds have been slashed.

Hang on, rewind just a bit.

We win one Premiership game, and that means we are suddenly more likely to win a competition none of those players will feature in, certainly before the semi final stage?

Of course, that logic doesn’t belong to the bookies themselves, it is caused by the sound of the general public putting their money down. The media certainly aren’t ready to give us the same credit yet, preferring to focus on Everton’s failings, or how we’ll lose ‘up north on a rainy winter’s day’, an old cliché spouted byStan Collymore, one of a disturbingly long line of footballers given column inches despite having absolutely no brain to speak of.

Personally, I think the bookies have the clearer picture.

  One Response to “The fickle world of football betting”

  1. The thing I love about what stan said is he completely missed the fact that arsenal are very good away from home. The haven’t lost away since man city last year. The only thing cold and wet is you stan.

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