Why every cent really does count (getting the best odds)

every cent is important[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s a cliche you hear all the time. But it’s one that holds true and one that has cost me a fair bit of profit this year. I espouse this advice all the time to Dailyprofit members, yet this year I was one of the many who didn’t listen to my own advice. The advice sounds simple enough, “Make sure you are always getting the best possible odds“.  But it really is not all that simple. Odds move around all the time, different bookies can have completely different odds and a syndicate betting could move those odds massively one way or the other.

How do you know if it’s better to take the odds now or wait till later? Do you continually open new account at the bookies that have great odds but close accounts after a few winners? How do you deal with tipsters who move markets?

There is no simple answer to any of these. If you knew which way the markets would move every time, you would be a very rich genius. Is it really worth the effort of setting up new accounts all the time? It takes time, trust and a cut to have a friend allow you to bet in their name. Dealing with tipsters odds quoting and price movements is a whole other headache.

every-cent-counts[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his year I was lazy, really lazy. It was my 5th year of betting and I was over the hassle of setting up new accounts, trying to time the markets and figuring out the optimal time to place bets. Over 65% of my bets were placed at Pinnacle. A few other Asian facing books and some US facing books took up about 25% and the extremely tightfisted Australian books got the rest.

For the most part I believe I did pretty well. Pinnacle usually has the top price and for Sportpunter plays I would place the bets the second they came out. I wouldn’t bother with other sites as if I looked for a better price and couldn’t find one, the price at Pinnacle would disappear. I believed that the lower priced games I placed at Pinnacle would be covered by getting the best prices on most of the others. The only Sportpunter model I go to any effort for is the AFL one. It takes me about 30 minutes to prepare my spreadsheet and figure out which books to attack depending on what team I am backing and what the second and third best book is as well.

Soccer on the other hand was a mess. I am asleep when bets are sent out so need to wait for odds to rebound (if they do at all). But I would bet as soon as the odds reached the quoted odds. This was very silly, as time and time again I would end up with very poor odds compared to the closing price. It would have been much better if I had just bet every soccer bet to closing prices. Prices were usually 10-20c better at kickoff as I was betting mostly on longer odds away teams.

So what did my laziness cost me this year? Well we can never really know for sure so we will have to make some assumptions. First we start with real data.

I placed 10,047 bets.

I won 3,269 bets.

My average odds on winning bets was $2.37 and the average amount bet per winning bet was $881.

With this data we have enough info to see how I would have done if I worked just that little bit harder.

Assumption 1: I could get 1 cent better odds (on average) on all winning bets

This was 100% achievable. For very little effort I could have averaged 1 cent better odds. What would have that looked like in added profit?

We had 3,269 winning bets at an average bet size of $881.16. That means we bet a total of $2,880,511.00 on winning bets. The return on those bets was $6,256,867.46 which means the profit on those bets was $3,376,356.46.

The easiest way to see how much extra we would have made if we had got 1c better odds on all winning bets is to times the amount bet by 0.01.

So $2,880,511.00 * 0.01 = $28,805.11

Assumption 2: I could get 2-3 cent better odds (on average) on Soccer only

I’m less convinced that this would have been a possibility on all bets. I do believe that on the soccer bets alone I could have achieved this with ease. So we will look at winning Soccer bets only.

We had 1,460 winning soccer bets and bet a total of $869,813.00 on those bets. 2 cents better is the absolute minimum I feel I could have gotten if I worked hard on finding the best odds and that means my return would have been $17,396.26 better on just these bets. But I would say I would have received 3 cents better odds on average with a little effort. If this was the case, we are looking at an extra $26,094.39 profit on just the Soccer bets.

In Summary

make every cent countI believe I cost myself in between $20,000 and $30,000 profit this year because of my laziness. The fact that I only made a total profit of $38,533.30 means I could have added an extra 78% profit and ended the season on a much better $68,533.30.

Year 5 taught me many lessons. But this was a very expensive one and one that I need to rectify very quickly. In year 6 I will be making sure I get those better odds, I’ll take the extra time to track price movements, open those new accounts and squeeze every last cent of profit from the books. While you might think this is an extreme case because my turnover is so big, the percentages remain the same no matter if you bet $10 million a year or $10,000. It’s actually much easy to find those better odds when you are betting small as most books are still available to you. That extra 1 cent really can be the difference between a winning and losing year.

It seems this holds true even today.

Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves

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  • Tony

    Great article Steve. when you put it like that it really makes sense to take a few extra minutes to get the best price. It will be interesting to see if your average is up a bit this time next year

  • steve jones

    Steve this a dead right. My whole business model is based on this. Betbrain is my best friend, even though I wouldn’t touch most of those books. Odd shopping is the main way I have managed a 7% return on turnover (of several mill) over the last few years.

  • steve jones

    All right odds shopping is only half. The other half is the mathematical model attempts to eliminate upset potentials amongst 1.15 -1.45 favourites. Bank management is a given, although playing with house money doesn’t hurt either.

  • wah

    Out of interest which of those books do you use and what is your model.
    I follow a lot of the same tipsters as Steve which is how I came across his blog and I have just had my first ever losing year (ever)

  • steve jones

    Two strategies, with emphasis on either finding value or beating the market (and combination of both). I don’t follow any tipsters. I would not be disciplined enough to get on in time at a price worth taking.
    Finding Value
    1.Trust in the wisdom of in the weight of (smart) money.
    2. Get value (preferably outlying) odds. If you can get very close the best odds on offer, pass up on the bet.
    3. Stick with a handful of sports that you have chosen to specialise in. Develop a learning, adjusting predictive model for each one. This is really just to reality check your identified value odds. It helps to refine the model for when you want to actually beat the market as opposed to picking off outlying odds.
    4. Stick to favourites (If you prefer to win 85% of the time than lose 85% of the time for the same result).
    5. Build in margin for error. Generally avoid lines, I don’t believe any predictive models are that good.

    Beating the market.
    Use the model developed to ID likely value at even the worst odds.

  • steve jones

    A large bank of pure profit helps too