Friday, 25 February 2011


It seems that often when reviewing the weekend's results on here, I mention a late goal that either cost me a win or gave me a win. It's the late goals that cost me money that are more remembered, although over time these things clearly even themselves out. It's part of the game, and while it is annoying when they go against you, the strategy of locking in a profit 'because you can' rather than 'because it is value to do so' will cost you money in the long run. Ian Erskine posts on this subject today:

No football today. I often get mail about people who cannot make gambling work for them and usually think they are unlucky and then move on. The last three months I have struggled and know exactly how those people feel. I often mention winning and do not like to dwell on losing as it is part of the game and you have to move on. In the week I layed the draw in the Nottingham Forest v Preston match at 1.85 for a reasonable sum with about 20 minutes to go and the match poised at 1-1. Forest scored in the 92nd minute and it was happy days. I could have got out then but it was injury time so why bother with a minute or so to go, Preston equalised in the 96th minute for that to go down the swanny. Last night I made almost exactly the same play in the Sporting v Rangers match but at slightly lower odds. Sporting score with about 8 minutes to go, I could have got out. Didn’t! Rangers score in the 92nd minute and that too goes down the swanny. Now of course when it happens it hurts and we can curse our stupidity for not getting out or whatever. The facts are it is gambling and it will happen but in the grand scheme over time these moves have made me much more than I have lost. We all have tough times and that is the nature of the beast. The break will come and I will go on a good run maybe starting today or this weekend. It is not fate, it is not bad luck it is just plain old gambling!
I do accept that when you have backed something of an outsider, and thus stand to make a significant percentage profit, it would be hard to justify not trading out at say 1.04, even you considered the true odds to be 1.03. There was a discussion on Patient Speculation recently, where the example was a horse named Strophic that had been backed at 5.9 had traded in-running at 1.04 before finishing fourth. Apart from the fact that it would have been nigh on impossible (for me anyway) to determine whether 1.04 was value or not in the heat of the battle, giving up four ticks would have been very cheap insurance. My comments on laying off for the sake of it are typically written from a football match viewpoint, where the back price is seldom anything like 5.9, and thus the four ticks is more significant. If I back at anything like 5.9, it is usually because I think that price will shorten, rather than because I think it will go on to win, and as you all know, I don't go near horses anyway!


Simon Davis said...

Erskine might be better off laying the current score in the correct market for a price only marginally worse than the one to lay the draw...

Mark said...

Hi Cassini

Thanks for the mention and great picture (I had just that same look on my face when I realised Strophic had not placed! LOL)

With regards to laying off as a form of insurance, I have a few further thoughts I would like to share. I agree with you that at long odds the difference a lay at really low odds (ie 1.05 etc)will make is minimal and I also believe that the beneficial effect on our psyche of the’ insurance’ will more than make up for the theoretical small loss of value achieved.

Another potential way of looking at it is that by not laying off we will theoretically maximise our returns, alternatively by laying off we will be lowering the volatility of our betting bank. Or in other words, it is a balancing act between the risks we are prepared to take on board opposed to the profits we intend to make. The higher the insurance, the lower the profits opposed to the lower the insurance, the bigger the swings between profit and loss.

It really is a matter of weighing up our aversion to risk as opposed to our greed for profit.

In the football examples you mention, I think that a way to set insurance in place is to set our staking at such as level so that we are not setting ourselves up for such huge swings in fortune if the unexpected happens, I suppose that if we are the sort of trader that does get affected by these sort of swings then it may be worth looking at altering our approach so that we capitalise on them rather than fall victim to them!

Keep up the good work

Tony said...

In response to mark and the comments re laying at 1.05 and the minimal effect his has on your profit. Are you saying you would also lay off at much bigger odds to save a couple of quid when the horse is beaten? If so then my argument is that I think that if you are profitable long term but only lay off at short odds and leave the big odds alone in the hope of a great comeback then those minimal effects are big over time. Effectively you are giving profit away at one end but not cutting your loss at the other?

Mark said...

Hi Tony
I am not saying I would lay off at much bigger odds; sorry if you thought that is the case. You make a really valid point and I totally agree with you with regards to that situation. I am from a punting background so until Jason highlighted the point of laying at really low odds I had not even considered it.

What I am trying to say is that if I back a horse/team at fairly long odds as in the example of my horse that was 5.9 and have the chance to lay off in running at really low odds such as 1.05 for example I might in future look at doing just that.

There are two main reasons;

My first reason is that financially it will in my opinion have little effect to the value I am getting.

My second reason is for the sake of my emotional wellbeing(which I believe is vital to successful punting/trading by the way), it is gut wrenching when the sort of situation that happened with Stophic occurs and for the sake of a potentially small loss in value achieved I think it is worth it.

I hope the above answers your question.