Latest Cases - May 2016

Thursday, 5th May 2016

Good afternoon, friends,

In this issue of Punters’ Verdict….

  • Sick to my stomach….
  • The greatest sporting story of all time?
  • Hijacking the headlines….
  • The other half of the story….
  • Get better at playing the money game….
  • My Wells Fargo pick at 66s….

Sick to my stomach….

Yes, that’s right. I’m back – like the proverbial bad penny.

The truth is I couldn’t keep quiet. Not after what I saw yesterday. It would have been criminal to stay silent….

There I was minding my own business and waiting for the lazy boys at Oddschecker to put up the 72-Hole Group betting for the Wells Fargo Golf Championship….

I don’t know if you’ve ever waited for the guy at Oddschecker to WAKE UP and get these markets up. But I’m beginning to think he’s suffering from a severe case of narcolepsy….

You can wait for hours. And I speak with authority. I sit waiting for these markets to go up every week.

It’s become a battle of wills. I sit and wait. He sits and waits. Let’s see who blinks first.

Yesterday it was me who cracked. I sent them an email asking WHEN the markets were going up. I email so regularly I might as well be a member of staff. I’m half-expecting an invite to the Christmas do….

Even when you send an email there’s no guarantee anything will happen quickly. The Oddschecker guy rises slowly from his slumbers.

While I waited for a response, I turned to my news feeds for a catch-up on the old betting beat.

What I saw made me sick to my stomach….

The greatest sporting story of all time?

Unless you’ve been on the moon, you will be aware that some football team called Leicester City won the Premiership….

Against all the odds (they were 5000/1 in August) one of the little-men of British football landed the world’s greatest prize. It’s a fairytale. Perhaps the greatest sporting story of all time.

Fair play. Well done. It’s a great thing for the game….

The newspapers have missed the real story, of course – that Leicester’s transformation from relegation fodder last season to Champions this season revolved completely around Robert Huth (the defensive rock at the heart of Leicester’s success) and his transfer from Stoke City….

But it would be churlish of me to seek to deflect some of the glory onto the club I support…. so I won’t mention it….  

And I suppose the likes of Vardy, Mahrez and Drinkwater did play some small part….

But what really made me sick yesterday afternoon was not Leicester’s success but the way the bookmaking industry set about hijacking the headlines – seeking to make the whole story about bookmakers and their needs….

Hijacking the headlines….

The bookies didn’t even wait for the Chelsea and Tottenham players to finish scrapping on the pitch at Stamford Bridge on Monday night before mobilizing the bootlickers and forked-tongued liars that make up their PR teams….

The party hadn’t got started at Jamie Vardy’s place and the bookies were already on maneuvers – banging out press-releases and shaping the perceptions of the headline writers….

You might choose to see the whole thing as a brand awareness exercise. Fair enough. But it made for a stomach-churning spectacle.

Reading the resulting newspaper stories was an experience I would compare to drowning in a vat of steaming animal waste.

We were treated to a bizarre parade of bookmaker reps falling over themselves to report good-naturedly on apparent ‘losses’ of eye-watering proportions.

  • Skybet reported paying out £4.6 million and were quick to try and sucker punters into placing bets at similar prices. ‘We're now bracing ourselves for more punters looking to get on long-price outright odds….’
  • Betfred boss, shy and retiring Fred Done, also did his best to entice punters into a crazy bet – highlighting that his firm were 5000/1 about Burnley emulating Leicester. ‘Some people might say that we'll never learn….’
  • Bet365’s Steve Freeth reported a payout of £3 million and announced the firm had Leicester in at 100/1 for the Champions League. Hats off to Freeth though – he’s a true pro and kept a straight face….
  • Next up was William Hill’s Graham Sharp. He reported a payout of £2.2 million. Then, playing for laughs, he told reporters his firm had Leicester in at 25/1 to do a repeat performance.
  • BetVictor’s Jack Milner reported £1 million payout and then advertised a price of 40/1 about Leicester providing a repeat dose – shining a light on William Hill’s ridiculous quote.

On it went. Like a series of dreadful X-Factor auditions – each less convincing than the one before. Every scalawag with a bookmaking license wheeled out a stuffed-dummy to tell his tall stories and sucker the market….

The unpublished sides of the story….

But let’s not overlook the fact that bookies are in the only business where it’s possible to prosper whilst treating customers like brain-dead morons.

Only a business that has that level of disregard for clients would dare go public with corporate propaganda that tells half a story – and a dubious half at that….

  • No mention from any bookmaker about the volume of stakes retained on short-price losers in the Premiership outright market. Man City. Chelsea. Man United. Arsenal. Thousands of punters lost money backing them. Bookies win when the jollies get beat. But it’s like those stakes never made it into the book….
  • Leicester won the title on merit. But fancied teams under-performed across the season. That too played a part. Week on week favorites in the 90-minute markets got beat – putting lashings of moolah in the till. But strangely no mention of that bonanza.
  • The way the bookies are talking it’s like Leicester were 5000/1 all season and that every backer was on at that price. The truth is most bets were struck at lower prices – many at much lower prices when it became apparent Leicester were maintaining their form. No mention of that mitigating fact.
  • No mention either of the punters who were persuaded by bookies to ‘cash out’ of bets on Leicester at prices more attractive to the bookie than the punter.

All these details have been forgotten in the delirium of the moment.

Questions weren’t asked either. Journalists pretty much reported what the bookie told them ad verbatim. Nobody asked any of the bookmakers to confirm that reported ‘payouts’ represent genuine and actual ‘losses’….

And the bookies weren’t about to clarify the issue themselves…. for pretty obvious reasons….

One more thing….

Little was made of widespread comparisons between Leicester’s price (5000/1) in August and other ‘unlikely’ events.

For example, the proposition that Elvis would be found alive has been as short as 2000/1. And Paddy Power were 500/1 about President Obama announcing that the moon-landing was faked. 

Do those prices illustrate just how ‘unlikely’ Leicester City’s title win really is?

Or do they serve to highlight the really poor value prices bookies offer punters in the really stupid Specials markets?

I know which side of the proposition I’d be betting on….

Get better at playing the money game….

Thanks a lot to everybody who has written in saying they miss the PV column. I appreciate it.

I’ve missed the old beat myself. But time is limited and I’ve got so much on that I can’t commit on a week-by-week basis any more….

I’m putting the time to good use though. And I’m very excited about a new project I’ve been working on with my publisher, Dave Gibson.

For about 10 years now Dave has been talking about producing something on a subject close to both our hearts – money….

In life, as in betting, money serves to tell us how well we are playing the game. And, let’s face it, we would all like to improve our game a little. We would all like to be getting a better bottom-line result….  

If there’s one guy I know who can help people play the money game better, it’s Dave Gibson.

His first words to me – delivered on a Friday afternoon in 1997 in a publishing house in deepest Hampshire – were these: ‘You’ve got a steep learning curve to climb….’ And he was right….

I’ve been working with Dave pretty much ever since. I’ve watched him manage, build and grow successful businesses….

I’ve had a lot of day-to-day access to his unique take on the world…. And I’ve done a lot of learning as a result…. It’s been very good for me personally and professionally….

So when Dave asked me if I’d be interested in doing some of the boot-room work on his new project, I jumped at it….

Expect me in your email box next Thursday – when I’ll tell you why….

The guy at Oddschecker did eventually wake up. I was able to do my study and get my money down on the Wells Fargo. I like Charles Howell III each-way on the outright at 66s. He’s got track form and he’s been playing well. I’ve had him to make the Top 10 and in a couple of 72-Hole Group bets too….

The Judge

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