How I break down competitions and won $22,000 thanks to Betfair
You may remember that earlier in the year I won the Tattsbet (Ubet) Awesomely Excellent American Sports Tour. It was an all expenses paid trip for 2 to Phoenix to watch the Superbowl and a few other sports. I ended up also watching an NBA game, a PGA tour event and an NHL game. I also used frequent flyer miles to upgrade myself and the two mates who ended up coming. I keep meaning to write a post about how I gamed that contest to make sure I had a very very high chance of winning it.
The prize was valued at $17,000. I doubted I would ever win anything like that again in my entire life. Well 6 short months later I may have won an even bigger prize.
Betfair, like every other bookie have VIP customers. Usually when a sportsbook has “VIP” customers, you can replace the “VIP” for “big time losing customer“. They happily take them to sporting events, give them merchandise, free bets and other little inducements to keep them coming back and betting. VIP customers make up a very high percentage of a sportsbooks profits and it pays to keep them happy. I’ve been told many horror stories of VIP’s being given millions on credit and losing it all.
Unlike all other bookies, a VIP at Betfair doesn’t have to be a losing punter. A VIP is simply someone who makes them a profit. The more I make, the more commission I pay. I rarely use Betfair anymore as my style of betting (betting early) really doesn’t work that well there. But over the years I have paid over $110,000 in commission to betfair. That’s a very nice profit for them.
Over the UK Summer (Aussie Winter), Betfair ran a competition for its Aussie and New Zealand VIP members. It looks as though at least 180 people entered. There were 7 rounds and each round had its own prize. The 7 rounds were the 5 Ashes tests, the Wimbledon Tournament and the British Open Golf.
For each round, the person who made the most profit on the event won $2,000, the person who came second won $1,000 and 3rd place scored $500. This meant they gave away $24,500 in prizes over the 7 rounds.
There was also a Major prize for the one VIP member who won the most over the 7 events. The prize was $15,000. In total the prize pool was just short of $40,000.
Before I even start to break down how I can win a competition, I head to the rules and terms and conditions page. I make sure I follow every single rule and do not break any of them. After I have read all the rules, I read them again. I am looking for two things when I read the rules.
- Any loopholes that I can take advantage of
- Any rules that might make the competition not worth the effort
I qualified for the promotion and there were no terms or conditions that would make it hard to try and figure out a way to win the prize.
Breaking down the competition
Now I had to breakdown the competition and see what strategy I could use to not only win it, but also get the best possible return even if I didn’t win it. At the start, there were many unknowns. I had no idea who I was up against. Were some VIP’s betting hundreds of thousands? What profit would I need to win one of the round prizes? I could only guess at this stage.
So I needed a baseline. Lucky for me I had plenty of time to work this out. All I needed to do was bet and win and I would get a basic idea of what was needed.
The first event was Wimbledon and to be honest, I had completely forgotten about the competition. Luckily I had placed some normal bets. This was a difficult one as it was profit over the entire tournament, so I had no idea how much someone would have won. Looking back, this was the perfect tournament to get an insurmountable lead. There were hundreds of chances to win a lot of money. From my 3 bets on the tournament, I made a profit of $900 and ended up 28th for the round. That gave me absolutely no usable data. I assumed each jump up could have been a $250 difference (on average) and that meant first place probably made close to $7,000. But as I could not be sure, it was back to the drawing board.
The 1st Ashes test was next on the list and it was time to really get cracking. Now, I was never going to risk any money to win a prize. So I had to make the risk as low as possible. How did I do that? I simply narbed. A narb is a near arb. Simply put it meant I backed something at a bookmaker and laid it on betfair for a small loss. Some understanding of the markets was necessary here. I knew that the Aussie bookmakers would be taking a lot of bets on Australia, which would push out Englands odds. I also knew Betfair markets are primarily made up of UK punters, which would make the English price lower.
So I started comparing the odds at the Aussie bookies to the lay price on Betfair and managed to find odds of $4.00 on England at one bookmaker and a lay price of $3.95 on Betfair. It was a simple case of using a back/lay calculator to work out how much to lay on Betfair.
Normally the Aussie books would laugh at me if I tried to place a $2,500 bet on anything. But when there are big one off games and you bet late and call up, they will take the bet if it will balance their books. There were a few times where they flat out denied me, but I stuck to one bookie (TAB) who would never let me bet $50 on EPL games, but seemed happy to take bigger bets to even their books.
As you can see in the image above, this bet cost me $50. That was a price I was willing to pay for information. My hope was that the first test would end in a draw or Australia winning and I would win the $2,559 at Betfair and know where that amount put me in the pecking order. As with most things in betting, the plan usually comes unstuck. England won the game and I lost $7,550 at Betfair. But that loss did give me one vital piece of information. It told me that of the 59 people who bet in that round, I came dead last. That said to me that no one was betting huge. I now had 2 small pieces of knowledge.
The next event was the British open golf and I follow a few tipsters so just bet normally into that. I think I lost a small amount and came mid table. After 3 rounds I was sitting on a $7,000 loss and was dead last overall.
It was time to kick things up a notch. I had to go big or go home. I had decided to change my strategy and back the longest possible odds (the draw) and lay them on Betfair. What this meant was pretty simple. If any of the remaining games ended in a draw, I could kiss my chances of winning goodbye. I was very close to just betting $50,000 on the Aussies and laying them in the second test, luckily the odds were never there to do that. Instead, I noticed the TAB were way out of line with the rest of the market with their draw odds. I called and they would only accept $2,000, so I took that and waited. The odds stayed the same so online I tried to bet another $2,000. To my surprise that was taken, and so too were the next 3 bets. In total I had $10,000 on the draw at $3.85 and laid at $3.80 for a loss of about $250. For me this represented great value. I was pretty sure that a $10,000 win would put me first for the round and thus win me $2,000. I also picked the most unlikely event (the draw). An 8 times return was well worth the chance that it would end up a draw.
Happily for me, the Aussies won the second test and I won that rounds top prize. It also moved me from -$7,000 to +$3,000 in the major prize draw. I moved from dead last to inside the top 25.
So now I had won $2,000 and knew that no one was betting to win over $10,000. I still had no idea how much profit 1st place had.
Onto the 5th round and the 3rd Ashes test. I had found a great price on England at Ubet and called them up and was very specific on the phone. Asking for $12,000 on England at the current price. The customer service rep rang the trader and told me “yes that would be fine”. I placed the bet and the trader had moved the price in 25 cent. I was still on the phone while trying to place the bet and asked why the price had moved. I was then told that I could still place the bet at the worse odds. A complete joke. I complained on twitter and received a call from their media relations guy who did admit there was a bit of a stuff up and offered to let me on at the same price at much lower stakes. I declined on principle and I am glad I did. Once again I ended up at the TAB and the draw price was tempting. So over several bets I managed to get on for $12,500 and laid it off on Betfair for another small loss.
This was my one piece of big luck. If Ubet had taken my bet on the poms, I would have lost at Betfair and been out of the running. Instead I won another $12,000 on Betfair and that meant another $2,000 top prize. I was now sitting on +$15,000 in total and sitting in second place. I also now had a nemesis. Player 53. Player 53 had come second in the Wimbledon round, 4th in the 1st Test, 18th in the 2nd Test and 5th in the 3rd test. I guessed that Player 53 was a trader, and a damn good one. He was sitting above me after Round 5 with at least $16,000 profit. The other wildcard was Player 41, who seemed to be betting big like me. He picked up a 1st, a 2nd and a 4th placing. But also a last place.
So now I had won $4,000. Was sitting on $15,000 profit and knew a fair bit about my competition. By this stage I was pretty happy. I assumed I would win at least one of the next 2 rounds and take home at least $6,000 (minus $1,000 in losing narbs).
That brings us to the 4th test. The draw prices kept getting bigger and there was a massive drift just before the game started. Once again I got on at the TAB across a number of bets. This time I managed to get $15,000 on at $4.80 before they moved the price. I had to be careful with my laying at Betfair as the lay side at $4.80 was only there for a few thousand and I did not want to spook the market with a $15,000 lay. I had to drip feed in my bets and at one stage the prices started going against me. I still had over an hour and thought the price would contract so took the risk and held off. The prices did come back in a little and I had to take a bigger loss on this game of $500.
Once again England won (boo) and I won 1st prize. So all up I now had $6,000 in winnings and was sitting on $30,000 profit. Player 53 was in second and Player 41 was lurking in 6th.
This is where I started some gamesmanship. I had been posting on the blog and twitter about my wins, and I assumed that the other players probably read my blog. So decided to try and put them off by stating I was at least $50,000 in the lead. I assumed they were also doing everything they could to win and if they saw that I was massively ahead, they just wouldn’t bother.
I believed I was ahead by at least $10,000. But could not be sure. This is where I really had to think. Do I not bet and hope the players behind don’t catch up? Do I continue on like normal and back and lay the draw again? Do I factor in the prize being mine and arb it to make a guaranteed profit no matter what? This was a very tough decision. In the end I decided that I would not bet. If the other players were good enough to catch me, well so be it. $6,000 was still a great prize.
I asked a few friends what they thought I should do and one evil one eventually convinced me to go for it. He said if I won the last round as well, it would be a $17,000 prize and in all likelihood the other guys would be betting big as well. The email from Betfair said the competition was really close (I didn’t believe it) and all of this combined pushed me into what I still think was the wrong decision.
I bet $8,000 on the draw and laid it for a small arb profit. There was still a high chance that one of the other guys would just arb an Australian or England win for big money and that would see me out of the top prize. But I had placed the bet and now had to pray that either team won. I had put myself in a really bad position. If it was a draw, I 100% would have lost the competition as I would be in negative territory. Even if it wasn’t a draw, would $38,000 be enough to take it out? I really wished I had been in second place and could have really gone for it. Once I knew I was going to bet, I should have pushed my entire balance into the bet. This was a big mistake from me.
We know how the 5th Test ended. The Aussies won, but it was not really as simple as that. If I asked you to play a word association game and gave you the word England, many would come back with RAIN.
On the 4th day the Aussies needed 4 wickets to wrap it up, but the forecast was also for nonstop rain for the next 2 days starting at lunchtime. The Aussies had about 3 hours to clean up the tail. They managed 2 wickets before the heavens opened and my butt cheeks closed. I thought it was all over, the game would be rained out, it would end in a draw and I had just cost myself a potential $15,000 prize. When I worry, I like to clean, during the rain delay my house went from looking like a tornado had ripped through it, to a spotless masterpiece. The rain relented and the Aussies finished off the innings. I had won the bet, $8,000 profit at Betfair and a total profit of $38,000 over the tournament. Was it enough? Would I just be beat out?
Now all we could do was play the waiting game. I prefer Hungry hungry hippos, but that was not an option here. I actually wrote the entire article up till this point on Monday. I really had no idea if I had won or lost. Just moments ago I received the email from Betfair stating that the final round and tournament placings were in. I don’t know why but I loaded up the Round competition first. Why I didn’t just look at the grand prize is beyond me, maybe I like to self inflict mental wounds on myself.
This is what I saw. I had come second to Player 41. Player 53 had come 5th so I knew I had beat him, but the big question was…. How much had Player 41 won? It was over $8,000. Was it enough to knock me off the top placing overall? Another agonising wait as I went back to the email and clicked on the overall prize link….
Do you remember when you had dial up internet as a teenager and tried to download pictures of naked ladies? Do you remember how slow that was, you would see some hair, then a forehead, followed by eyes, nose, mouth…. finally about 8 minutes later it got to the boobs, and just as it was about to reveal all someone would pick up the phone to make a call and disconnect you.. Noooooooo
That’s how it felt as I clicked that link…. it loaded so slowly in my mind. But finally it was in front of me.
Stayed tuned next week when I will let you know if I won… hahaha. I wouldn’t do that to you. This is what I saw.
As idiot punters like to say, BOOM. I had won it. Player 41 hadn’t done enough to dethrone me. In the final Round I had won $1,000 for coming second and added to the $15,000 grand prize, my final tally came to a massive $22,000. Total loss from the narbs was well under $1,000, so let’s call it a total profit of $21,000.
That brings my prize winning this year to just shy of $40,000.
Update: I asked how close second place was and it seems if I had not have bet in the final round I would have lost. So big props to my evil friend.
This was a low risk, high reward scenario for me. I was risking about $1,000 to win well over $20,000. There were a heap of stages where I could have lost this competition and I did get very lucky with some bets. But even in a worst case scenario, the way I was betting meant I would win 1 or 2 top round prizes, making this almost risk free.
These are just like the sort of offers we break down every week at the Dailyprofit service (got my plug in there). The profit each time isn’t huge, but the risk to reward ratio is very close.
What I will do with the money
The money will be used to set up a sort of trust fund for my Son, his first birthday is coming up and $22,000 worth of shares will be put in his name. On his 21st birthday he will have access to the fund and use it however he wants. I’d hope he either uses it to travel and experience the world or maybe start his first business, but if he wants to blow it on some frivolous purchase that is also fine with me. All things going well, it should be worth close to $100,000 by his 21st birthday.
This isn’t just a fun story. There are real lessons that can be taken away from this. Every year there are so many little areas where extra profit can be made. Apart from my 4th year of betting where I made $160,000, I have actually made more from loopholes, cashbacks, rewards and so on. A break even year with the pure betting does not mean I made no money in the year. But this blog is more about if Tipsters can make you a profit, so I never add in the extras.
Always try and breakdown things and see if there is an opportunity there. In most cases there won’t be, but in those rare cases where you find something that very few others have found, you will be able to make a huge profit from it. While a few hundred every week or month might not sound like a lot, it adds up very quickly over time, especially when you have multiple streams of profitable extras.
In regards to competitions run by bookies, understand that there are likely to be very few entries. Just entering will give you a massive chance. There were really only 2 other people I was competing against in this competition.
Hopefully there are a few more competitions that pop up this year. I doubt I’ll ever win another one, but it won’t be from a lack of trying.
Let me know in the comments below if you have ever won a prize before and what it was. Or what you would spend the $22,000 on if you had won it? I always like to hear of others success and thoughts as well. Also let me know if you want to hear how I won the $17,000 Superbowl prize.