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5th July 2011
Good afternoon, friends,
In this issue of Punters' Verdict....
The right 'choice' for racing punters?
'Choice' is one of those words often bandied about by politicians
and big business as though it were the answer to all our problems
and something devoid of any inherent negative connotations.
I guess we'd all rather have it than be without it - but choice does
have its downsides. For a start it can create complexity and
Take raspberry jam, for instance. Walk down the preserves aisle of
any major supermarket and you're going to be confronted by
approximately 285 (at least that's what it feels like to me)
different brands, types and varieties all competing for your
Which to choose? Which is the best quality? Which offers the best
value? Which tastes the sweetest? Which one is the real deal?
To be truthful your guess is as good as mine. And I don't suppose
any of us invests too much time or energy coming to a decision. More
often than not our eventual choice is based on existing habits,
guesswork or pot luck. Just because we have choice doesn't mean we
always get the decision right.
It's the same with race betting. Excluding spread-betting (which is
not typically a viable option for the average Joe), ignoring ante-
post betting and assuming that you don't want to get involved with
the lottery of 'taking a price' in the early bird markets, there are
just 3 choices available for the day-of-race racing punter when it
comes to placing a win single bet on a horse:
Betting with a traditional bookmaking firm and getting paid
out at the Industry Starting Price (SP) - determined by the on-
course bookies who determine an aggregate price.
Betting on Betfair (the betting exchange) and getting paid out
at the Betfair Starting Price (BSP) - an exchange alternative to the
Industry SP which is based on bets placed by both backers and layers
in the win market for a specific race (you pay 5% commission on
Betting in the Tote win pool and getting a return calculated
by reference to the money staked in the pool (minus the Tote's take-
out percentage) and the eventual number of winning bets.
Just three choices... but sufficient to provide plenty of potential
for the racing punter to make the wrong decision.
Running a value for money test on Royal Ascot....
Just as the average consumer is always vulnerable to making the
wrong choice when it comes to buying the weekly supply of raspberry
jam... the average racing punter is always at risk of making the
wrong choice when it comes to placing his betting business.
In both cases the wrong choice is usually a result of acting on
habit or guesswork... and ignoring the alternatives... because we
know no better... because we don't have the information we need to
reach the right judgement.
In so many situations and circumstances in life the difference
between making the right choice or making an absolute howler usually
does boil down to the information we are working from... and this
holds true for race betting...
So, for all you racing punters out there, here is some very useful
factual information to think about the next time you're looking to
back a horse.... and deciding how to bet....
The recent Royal meeting at Ascot provided a 5-day, 30-race
opportunity to take a good look at which of the 3 betting options
outlined above might offer the best deal for the racing punter.
There were 30 races at the Royal Ascot meeting. If you'd
backed all the winners at Betfair SP you'd be in profit to the tune
of 291.2 points. If you backed all the winners in the Tote win pool
you'd be 263.1 points ahead for the week. If you backed all the
winners with a traditional bookmaker at the Industry Starting Price
you'd be just 232.7 points up.
The Betfair SP paid out the best return on 23 of the 30
winners over the meeting - it provided the 2nd best price on 6 and
the worst price on just one.
The Tote paid out the best return on 7 Royal Ascot winners. It
was the 2nd best price on an additional 10 winners and worst price
The Industry SP - the price the traditional bookmaking firms
pay out at - was best price on precisely NONE of the horses that won
at Royal Ascot. It did produce the 2nd best return on 14 horses -
but it was the worst price on 16 (more than 50%) of the winners.
Simple - but nonetheless compelling - facts. Of course, it's a
snapshot... the produce of one major Festival meeting... but the
findings supply plenty of food for thought and possible future
Conclusions we can draw.... Actions you must take
ONE, if you bet the races and you don't have a Betfair account then
you should make it your first priority to get one. Payouts that beat
(nay, soundly thrash) Industry SP by 58.5 points simply cannot be
Even taking commission into account Betfair SP spanks the Industry
SP and nails the Tote to boot. And the only way to get paid out at
Betfair SP is to actually do your betting on the Betfair platform.
A lot of people look at Betfair and don't get it - at least not
straight away. But it's real easy to learn - there's a stack of
easy-to-follow tutorials on-site - and once you get started you
won't look back - I promise you.
Even if you're a total technophobe and you just can't (or won't) get
to grips with the Betfair website that's still not a good enough
excuse. Open an account and bet with them over the telephone - just
as you might with an ordinary bookie. You used to have to stake at
least £50 to bet over the phone with Betfair - but that stipulation
long since went west.
If you're serious about your punting - at least serious about
turning some coin from it - then NOT having a Betfair account is the
equivalent of pointing a shotgun at your foot and blowing it off.
Simple as that.
TWO, always consider the Tote. On an average week day when markets
aren't especially liquid the Tote probably won't be of too much use
to you. But it's at the big meetings - where every man and his dog
is betting - that the Tote really comes into its own.
If you're backing short-priced horses - the kind of horse that all
the once- or twice- a year punters gravitate towards - then the Win
pool payout isn't going to beat Betfair SP and probably won't be too
much bigger (and in some cases might be a bit shorter) than Industry
But if you're backing bigger priced animals the Tote can be a highly
beneficial betting vehicle. Six of the 7 Royal Ascot winners that
the Tote paid out best-price on were sent off 7s or bigger at
The biggest priced winner of Ascot week, Society Rock, was sent off
at - and the bookies paid out at - an Industry SP of 25/1. On the
Tote it paid out at almost 36/1 - better even than Betfair SP
returned. Where bigger-priced horses are concerned it pays to keep
the Tote in mind.
THREE, if you bet consistently, predominantly or exclusively with
the traditional bookmaking firms then just take another look at the
value-for-money test findings outlined above.
If, having done that, you still intend to stick to your guns and
continue on the road to absolute destruction then the only
conclusions I can draw are that you are (a) out of your tiny mind
and (b) that I'd get a damn sight more sense out of a pot of
raspberry jam - if only I knew which one to pick. There's simply
nothing more to say.
I'll be back with the Verdict next week.