Monday 20 January 2014

A Look At The Books

While we eagerly await the final matches of the weekend and publication of this weekend's FTL table, I took a few minutes to review the odds used to determine the totals.

I had a little more time on my hands this weekend than usual due to a tactical change from FTL entrant Punters' Friend, aka Neil, who has decided to try a more filtered and rigorous approach to his selections.

As most readers will know, I chose to record this season prices for everyone in the table using those recorded for Pinnacle Sports taken from the incredibly useful Football Data site.

One thing I wasn't aware of until today is that for weekend games, the prices are collected on Friday afternoons. I had assumed that they were closing numbers, or at least close to lick-off prices, and it certainly goes some way to explaining why there is often a fairly sizeable discrepancy between the odds recorded, and the odds seen at kick-off.

This discovery came about while I was researching how good Pinnacle's prices really are for football. I continue to use the exchanges for most of my betting, and the debate on whether they really are usually the best prices after taking into account commission and possibly Premium Charges on Betfair continues, but the consensus was that Pinnacle were the best, and that was why they were chosen**.

"Best" can mean more than "best odds" of course. The ability to keep a winning account open is a rather important consideration.

Looking at the full English Premier league season of 2012-13, it may surprise many that if you were looking to bet on the favourite, Bet Victor were top-price in 107 of the 380 matches.

Of more interest to me is the draw price, and if this is your speciality, Pinnacle Sports come out as top in the most markets, but only 73. That means 75% of the time, you would find a better price elsewhere.

Football Data used 9 books for their recorded prices, although since Bet & Win and Gamebookers are absolutely identical, it's really only 8. The other seven are Bet365, Interwetten, Ladbrokes, Pinnacle, William Hill, Bet Victor and Stan James.

That may seem like a broad sample, but Football Data uses an even broader sample of books to calculate their average and maximum prices, last season anywhere between 33 and 41 with 39 the average number polled. More often than not, the 9 (or 8) books are not those offering the top price.

Of the named books, for backing the favourite or the home team, Bet Victor by quite a long way offer the top price most often, and they are close to being the best on away sides too, just one match behind Interwetten and Pinnacle Sports.

Unfortunately Bet Victor have a reputation for being very quick to close accounts, with reports of accounts being closed after as few as two bets, so there top prices may be of academic interest.

If we ignore the frankly awful Bet & Win / Gamebookers books, the worst for favourites are Bet365 followed closely by William Hill and Pinnacle, the worst for Home teams are William Hill followed closely by Bet365, for Aways the worst are Ladbrokes follwed by William Hill and for Draws, you should forget about Ladbrokes.

This is a limited study of course, and the results may be different across other leagues - certainly the Pinnacle draw price in France and Italy is often ridiculously short and much higher on Betfair, but it was an interesting exercise and revealing how often the big names are not competitive.

Note that top-price counts include joint-top prices, so the totals will not be 380.

Update: ** An example from tonight is the West Bromwich Albion v Everton game. This was an XX Draw Selection, and was backed at 3.65 on Betfair, and was 3.55 / 3.6 at kick-off. The price recorded at Pinnacle? 3.39 


Sheva said...

With regard to the actual KO prices, Football Data, as you mention is only likely to be accurate for games on Friday and Tuesday evening games, just a couple of hours after the prices are taken for Weekend and midweek games respectively. Since you don't mention a site that does give them, here's the one that i'm aware of:
although it won't be as easy to lift the data from.

It also gives you the opening price as well which can be useful.

I'd certainly be sticking with Pinnacle as the reference price, since often the few prices which may be higher are often only to get new people in or are only available for very limited amounts.

Rugby Trader said...

Hi Cassini,

You should take a look at Marathonbet as well, I place a heavy majority of the XXDraws there
I am currently at
XX Draws = 10.91 versus 0.59 official