Tuesday, 25 January 2011

All about value.

How often do we hear this refrain when it comes to successful betting? Of course, it usually refers for the need for a tipster to pick selections that are "value" against the book, ie. identifying when the odds on an event happening are greater than the actual chance of that event happening. By doing this successfully and consistently, the tipster creates his edge. However, I want to attribute another context to the word "value"; I want to use it in the context of the price I pay to follow a particular service. Does the cost of following a service provide value to me as a subscriber?

It was interesting to read recent comments made by the 'Secret Betting Club' about the service Personal Info. Good recent form from this service was noted, as was it's long term record of achieving a consistent 10-12% roi, but, the SBC observed, this should be placed in the context of the cost to a follower of subscribing. It is no good at all for a service to make a profit, if a high proportion of that profit is eaten up by relatively high subscription fees. This is no criticism of Personal Info. If I was a punter who was placing a high monetary value to each Personal Info point, then it would be an extremely attractive proposition - lengthy losing runs a rarity, consistency in selection process, long term record of profitability, etc. Unfortunately though, my staking levels are not such that I can dedicate enough of my betting bank to this one service - my stakes would be relatively low; too low indeed to avoid the pitfall that the SBC had pointed out. Therefore, Personal Info would not at this stage be a good service for me personally to add to my portfolio.

With many aspects of portfolio betting, lessons are usually learnt the hard way. The realisation that I was paying too much to follow some of the services I was subscribing to was no exception to this rule. The observation I have referred to made by the SBC came about twelve months too late for me. Subscribing to services such as Tipping Legends, Steve Lewis Hamilton and AH Betting, I was tying up a lot of cash in subscription fees. And although each of these services have had admirable periods of success, and I'm sure will do so again (and in AH Betting's case seem to be doing so right now), these periods of subscription for me were pretty disastrous. I slowly started to realise that there were other services out there that would provide better value to me at my staking levels. There were services that were producing returns as healthy as these expensive services, but at a much lower fee level. Concentrating on these services would allow me to bet comfortably at a staking level I could afford, and make good levels of profit less affected by 'taxation' in the form of subscription fees.

Another factor to consider is that there have been a number of new services come to the market recently. It seems to me that we are in an exciting period for portfolio gamblers. Northern Monkey Punter, ProBandit, On The Nose, Chasemaster, and Football Investor are all services that relatively speaking, are quite new. Each of them charge at very reasonable levels for their expertise, high levels of customer service, and diligence to their craft. Each of these services are hitting excellent roi figures over the medium term now. Naturally, the effect on a market that is becoming bigger and therefore providing more choice to the consumer and thus more competition amongst the tipsters, is that prices for joining a service are being depressed. If I wanted to launch a new tipping service now, I would have to be producing pretty spectacular results to be able to justify a charge of any more than £500 per year. Seriously spectacular. In fact, charging more than £300 a year might prove to be out of step with market forces - I think I might struggle for interest, at least from members who perhaps saw beyond 'overenthusiastic' advertising and who wanted to do a little research before making a decision to commit financially to a tipster.

Another possible knock-on effect of these economic forces is that the pressure on the tipsters themselves perhaps does not become too heavy a burden to carry during periods of poor performance. If a tipster is charging £200 per year for membership, surely expectations are lower than for a tipster charging £1,000 per year? Are members not more likely to exercise a little more patience with the cheaper service during the hard times? Does this mean that the individual running the cheaper option is not so haunted by the demons that pressure can raise from the fires of betting hell when on a losing run?

I have never been a member of Equine Investments, a service that for so long has been held up as the elite service of the tipping world, but one which charges a hefty amount for the privilege of being a member. But after years of producing profit levels that other services could only dream about, one poor summer was enough for forums to be drenched in the ire of demanding subscribers. Can someone remain clear-headed in the face of such huge pressure? You would have to ask the person who runs the service for the definitive answer - I wouldn't know. But I have to think that there must be at the very least a chance that performance could be adversely affected in such circumstances. I'm very confident that EI will come back, and it would be no surprise to see next summer a strong return to form (and I hope for subscribers and the chap who runs EI that it does), but I would liken the situation to a football team's star performer when the team isn't playing well. The pressure is on the individual to perform even better, to single-handedly drag his teammates over the line in the big match. How often does that player become inhibited and struggle under the weight of expectation? The pressure can tell.

I'm not saying that I will never again pay fees to join a more expensive service. In time, as circumstances change, there may be other factors that mean that a particular service is better suited to my personal situation at that time, and paying a bit more makes sense. I would add that an expensive but profitable service is preferable by far to a cheap, loss-making service! But just at this moment, I see no reason why I need to pay more than £500 per year to follow any service.

Fortunately, in considering an addition to my portfolio, there are a few services for me to choose from that charge very reasonably. Off the top of my head, there is the SBC's very own Each Way Value service, Sportyy, Shaolin Betting, CD Systems Daily Bargain and Pro Bets, Betting And Laying Sports Club, PJA Racing All Weather and Flat, and Scottish Football Bets. And I don't think this list is exhaustive.

It shouldn't be too hard to identify some value, should it!?!

Today's Action

A bad day. A very bad day, and one that has left me wondering if January is not going to post a loss. I guess I am due a losing month after six consecutive months of making good profits. We shall see.

The racing was disappointing but far from disastrous, showing a £60.10 loss. The only winner came from Chasemaster (Antonius Caesar - Leicester - 7/1) and with their other selection backed each way and placing, the service posted a welcome 1.1pt profit. That is where the good news ends though. PJA could only manage one place from two selections and a 0.8pt loss. Northern Monkey Punter (-1.75pts), ProBandit (-0.5pts), and On The Nose (-1.5pts) all fired blanks. Winning Racing Tips had a busy day for them, but from two individual bets and an each way double, they could only manage a 0.4pt loss as the only winner was the second leg of the double. Naturally, the first leg finished second.

Still there was always the footie this evening. Yep. The Footie. Oh dear!

Most of my cash was placed on my friend's tips. Four of them. Four losers. Can't complain at all - he's provided me with great returns already, but like Football Elite this month, it seems generally speaking that losses are coming from where they are least expected. Football Investor managed a very small (0.5pt) profit by picking one winner from four, and Strike Zone's solitary bet was a winner, but at odds of 1.4, it was never going to be enough to save the day.

Tuesday 25th January: Staked £531, -£236.60.
Week to date: Staked £651, -£250.60.
Month to date: Staked £12,917, +£218.74, roi 1.69%.

It may seem that the optimism for the future that I claimed to feel after struggling through the weekend has faded a little. Far from it. I maintain what I said about limiting losses in trying circumstances being a victory. Mind you, my frame of mind is probably being helped by the Arsenal tonight! Up the Gunners! (it's my blog - I'll say what I like, ok?).

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