Latest Cases - July 2012

The devil is in the detail...

6th July 2012

Good afternoon, friends,

In this issue of Punters’ Verdict

  • The devil is in the detail…
  • Ignorance might cost you a packet…
  • The smart move is to know the rules…
  • Knowing what the next man doesn’t is an edge…

The devil is in the detail…

For the vast majority of sporting punters betting is a pretty simple and straightforward business.

You find your fancy, you put your money down and then you either wave your stake goodbye or collect your winnings based on how right you were with your selection. End of story.

The vast majority of sporting punters see no reason to complicate the betting process any more than that. After all we’re betting on sport – not building space rockets or performing brain surgery. We’re just doing something we enjoy in our leisure time…. having a stake in the outcome of a sporting event… investing in an opinion…. hoping to profit from what we think we know…

But sports betting is more nuanced than the straightforward recreational punters would have you believe. As with space rocket building, brain surgery and pretty much every other area of human interest and endeavor, the devil really is in the DETAIL

…. and how focused or not you are on the detail can determine how much you profit, how much you don’t and what kind of betting experience you enjoy… or endure…. over the long-term…

Ignorance might cost you a packet…

Imagine you’ve had the following bet with Staffordshire-based bookmaker, bet365

It’s a 6-leg accumulator to a £5 stake on horses running in races on tracks in Great Britain – and you’ve taken the following early-bird prices about your selections…

  • HORSE 1 – 10/1
  • HORSE 2 – 12/1
  • HORSE 3 – 16/1
  • HORSE 4 – 7/2
  • HORSE 5 – 4/1
  • HORSE 6 – 8/1

It only takes one loser to let the whole bet down but on this particular hypothetical day your system works, the racing Gods are with you and all 6 of your selections win their races.

You take a moment to scrape yourself off the ceiling and with shaking hands you set about working out exactly how much bet365 are going to pay out…

You do the math and figure out bet365 are into you for £2,461,387.50.  Now you’re back scraping yourself off the living-room ceiling.

But…. and it’s a big BUT…. you’ve got it WRONG. What you’ve missed is the devil in the detail.

You are clearly not aware of bet365’s Terms & Conditions – the rules and regulations you agree to and are bound by when you use the bet365 website.

In Appendix 2 of those binding T & Cs there’s a section that relates to ‘Maximum Winnings’…. and where British and Irish racing is concerned bet365 will not pay out more than £1,000,000 in winnings to any one punter in any single 24-hour period.

Ouch! Your ignorance of the detail has just cost you a six-figure sum. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Had you known about that devil in the detail beforehand then you’d have split your bet and your stakes between bookmakers. But you found out too late that the landscape is not as straightforward as it appeared.

Had your bet included selections for races outside Britain the payout would have been restricted to £250,000. And if your bet had revolved around selections in certain European football leagues the payout would have been limited to £100,000.

It’s all there – in bet365’s Terms and Conditions – but most punters are completely unaware of it. And this isn’t a situation peculiar to bet365 either. I use that firm’s T & Cs merely as an example. ALL the bookmakers have their own version of the rules.

These complex and detailed T & C documents are not the kind of thing we want to be reading and memorizing. We just want to have a bet after all. But not being aware of the detail in the rules you’re playing by can have pretty dire and expensive consequences.

The smart move is to know the rules…

Smart punters take steps to familiarize themselves with all the various rules, regulations, terms and conditions that surround the sports and markets they bet most frequently on.

Take Tom Wilson – a tennis betting expert who produces the Total Tennis Betting service.

The focus of the Total Tennis Betting service is on finding winners – as you’d expect – but there’s more to it than that. Whilst most sports-betting services concentrate on just churning out the selections Wilson also makes sure his punters benefit from knowing the rules the various bookmakers bet to on the big ATP and WTA tournaments – useful information that can mean the difference between a profit and a loss. 

Like me you’re probably hoping that Andy Murray manages to win Wimbledon this year. No doubt some of you will be backing him in this afternoon’s semi-final against Jo Wilfried Tsonga. But, like me, you might be worried that Murray has been holding his hip at various stages of the Wimbledon tournament – suggesting he’s suffering some kind of physical discomfort.

If that’s the case – and you’re concerned that Murray might break down at some stage of the match – then you might want to consider placing your Murray bets with one of the following bookmakers: Bet365, Boylesports, Paddy Power, Stan James, Victor Chandler, William Hill
or Bodog.

Why? Because all these bookmakers void tennis match bets and return stakes if the match is not completed. Bet with these firms and a Murray breakdown will not see you lose money.

Betfair, Betfred, Skybet, SportingBet and Totesport all pay out on matches where one set has been completed – so if Murray were to break down in Set 3 then your stakes on him would go west with these bookmakers.

Any punter worried about Murray’s hip-holding or persistent back problems would be well-advised to avoid backing him with:

  • Coral (if Murray broke down they would pay out on Tsonga if the Umpire had called for play to begin)
  • Ladbrokes (would pay out on Tsonga if first Serve had been taken)
  • Blue Square, Bwin and 888 Sport (pay out on Tsonga if match had started)
  • Expekt (pay out on Tsonga if at least one point had been played)

I’d bet that 80% of punters betting on this week’s tennis are completely unaware of the different ways different bookmakers settle matches where a player has had to pull out through injury. And that ignorance of the detail could very well lead to unnecessary and avoidable financial losses…

Being aware of the finer points of the detail puts you at an advantage…. enables you to make the right choices…. take the right options…. place the right bet with the right bookmaker…

My thanks to Tom Wilson for giving me the lowdown on these crucial details that can affect tennis bets.

Knowing what the next man doesn’t is an edge…

And it’s not always abut knowing how specific markets or specific bookmakers work. Sometimes it’s about knowing how specific sporting outcomes are calculated and decided.

Take the recent Golden Boot outcome at the Euro 2012 Championships.

Spain’s Fernando Torres took the award – but it was a close run thing. He scored 3 goals but so too did 5 other players.

Among them was Germany’s Mario Gomez. He obviously didn’t play in the final but 20 minutes from the end of the deciding game he was sitting pretty and all set to take the Golden Boot. He’d got 3 goals and (crucially) an assist that put him ahead of the other guys on 3 goals. Fernando Torres (2 goals and 0 assists at that stage) wasn’t even on the pitch in the Italy game. It all looked done and dusted.

But it wasn’t to be for Gomez. Torres came on as a late substitute, scored one, collected an assist for another and won the Golden Boot by virtue of the fact that he’d played less minutes in the tournament than Gomez.

In hindsight, given that he was on the bench and a goal and an assist behind Gomez in the rankings, Torres was probably a biggish price to get the Golden Boot as the final was about to kick off.

I like to think that had I known exactly how the Golden Boot would be decided in the event of a tie on goals scored and assists made that I might have had a few quid on the lightly-played Torres at biggish prices either before the final or during in-play (assuming there was an in-play market) when Torres was about to come on.

With Italy having to try and get forward in the closing stages of the game to get goals they were ripe for picking off by the sweet-passing Spaniards – a situation in which Torres was probably bound to both figure prominently and prosper. And so it turned out – unluckily for Gomez.

Of course, all this is after-timing. I like to think I would have made the bet to small stakes on Torres had I been aware of the circumstances and known the rules. But I didn’t. I was completely unaware of the detail. And, as such, I was ignorant and effectively unarmed…. never in any danger of taking what would have been a lucrative course of action…

The details can confound you – or they can help you. It depends on how aware of the detail you are and this is an interesting and potentially fertile subject we will return to in the future.

I’ll be back with the Verdict next week.

The Judge

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