Before I start exploring the issue of bookmaker restrictions further, I want to post up a fascinating comment left by the bookie 'Insider', around whose original comment I based last night's post.
"The same voice from inside(not b365): you have to consider that companies who play in financial markets have developed bots that are able to "read" financial reports just seconds after they are published looking for some keywords etc and execute trades accordingly; there are bots that are connected to seismographs in and execute trades when ever they see a minor or major quake that is likely to influence commodity and share prices elsewhere in the world. Bet365 is a tech pioneer in gaming industry and I wouldn't be surprised if they have created a software that somehow links accounts who have similar betting pattern - say there are 200 accounts who place their bets on the same horse in a 20 minutes interval and all 200 accounts have done so many times before. + what if that software also records all prices on the market with a timestamp? It is pretty clear that all 200 are following the same tipster and/or that all 200 are looking for best prices and never take low value bets. 3 years were nice of course but what if this bad-ass software was introduced 3 months ago?
I have no experience with horse racing bets but I suppose it is possible to flag accounts that come only for value."
This quite possibly answers the question I posed yesterday: how do the bookmakers keep track of so many accounts to the extent whereby they can close or restrict those which they feel pose a threat to them?
What 'Insider' says here makes an awful lot of sense to me. These bookmakers are multi-million pound turnover companies and if utilising some software allows them to identify accounts which impact negatively on their bottom line, then of course they will. It would be more of a surprise if they didn't, wouldn't it?
Funnily enough, I heard an interview with a bigwig from Ladbrokes on Radio Five this morning as I was driving into work. The discussion was centred around preventing illegal gambling associated with this summer's Olympics, but during the interview, the Ladbrokes chappie (whose name I didn't quite catch) was talking about how they utilise sophisticated software that enables them to very quickly pick up on suspicious betting patterns. You know, the more you think about it, the more likely it seems that 'Insider's' assertions on the use of technology within the larger bookmaker firms to track and monitor clients' accounts closely, are spot on the money.
Right, I promised yesterday that I'd explain how I go about placing my bets, keeping the stakes as low as possible in an attempt to avoid gaining the attention of those dreaded traders. There is nothing clever in what I do and I'm sure you'll read it and think "And...". Many of you will probably think of a phrase that includes the words Granny, sucking, and eggs. But, my Bet365 account has lasted three years, and touch wood, my Hills, Ladbrokes, BetInternet, and Totesport accounts remain fully functional. Paddy Power has just a very small (and thus far insignificant) restriction imposed upon it, and I've even been able to keep a second BetFred and Boylesports account open for going on a year now. These are all BOG bookmakers you'll note (although Totesport don't do BOG on all races).
The systematic approach is simple. Wherever possible, I split my stake between two bookmakers (providing there are at least two that are offering the best price) and I keep a weekly tally of how many bets I have placed with each bookmaker. Therefore, if say Ladbrokes, Hills and BetFred offer the best price on a horse, and so far this week I've had one bet with Fred, two with Hills, and three with Ladbrokes, I'll split my stake in two, placing half with Fred and half with Hills.
And there we have it. Nothing groundbreaking there, is there? It's just a case of notching a mark on a list of BOG bookies each time you have a bet, so you can see where the money's going. If only one bookmaker has a standout price, I will place the whole stake with that one bookmaker, up to a maximum of £50. The advantage of doing this - hypothetically - is that there is a wide range in terms of size of stake used with each bookmaker, which will hopefully distort patterns that can be identified by those looking for them. So one bet might be £50, another as little as £5, with the majority being between £10 and £25.
Does this help prolong the lifespan of accounts? Who knows, but it seems to have worked for me for a wee while now. Obviously there comes a time, as with Bet365 last week, where it is inevitable you're going to be rumbled. We have to accept that inevitability I think, and do what we can to put off that outcome for as long as possible. This is the best way I can see of doing just that.
OK, back to the comments, and one I really want to highlight is that left by Skeeve last Friday. Now here's a chap who places sizeable bets, not only on his own selections, but also on those of other services that he follows. So if anyone is qualified to comment on this subject, it is he.
"Sorry to hear about your Bet365 account. I have no idea how, but I still haven't been restricted there and it's not like I'm losing money with them - I'm actually staking four-digit amounts on doubles, 1X2 and asian handicaps without being referred to traders and I took tens of thousands of euros from them in the last couple of years alone. I'm sure a couple of things helped though - I've never tried to stake an amount that needs further authorisation and I've never placed a horce racing bet in my life. I don't know, maybe they want to keep the market movers under their wing to help them adjust their odds - I've seen an interview with one of Pinnacle's senior traders lately and he said his company likes long-term winners because they help them adjust their odds - and get rid of followers of paying services, but I'm a follower of other services as well and I can still stake huge amounts on, for example, Matt's FE bets (not that they usually offer the best price, but it happens from time to time). Lots of question marks and it's obvious Bet365 are far from Pinnacle or SBO when it comes to welcoming smart punters, but at least they've not hit the fair-play rock bottom like StanJames, VictorChandler and, unfortunately, many many others. I hope the likes of Pinnacle and SBO enter the horce racing market sooner rather than later."
Now there are a couple of things there that really caught my eye. The words "four-digit figures" for a start. Now this confirms one thing to me that I have long suspected...that it is much easier getting larger amounts into the football markets than it is the horse racing markets.
What Skeeve says about Pinnacle is also fascinating. Now from what I believe, Pinnacle is one of the bookies who will take stakes from the likes of Asian syndicates that dwarf the size of bets that our high street bookmakers will ever accept. That they use successful punters to their advantage is a lesson that some UK bookmakers would do well to learn from, although I sadly fear the likelihood of them doing so is rather slim.
Reading the last two paragraphs though, it seems to be increasingly clear where the future lies...football betting. Now that's not to say that horse racing should be completely dismissed as a betting medium. I'm not throwing the towel in just yet (perhaps the towel that was going to be used to dry the baby in the bath water because I ain't throwing that out either!). But I do think that it is an inescapable fact of life that in the future, there is going to have to be a shift in balance within the portfolio towards "sports" betting and away from "horse racing" betting. This is not ideal as such a shift naturally kicks up issues of diversity (which is such an important factor in portfolio investing but is a subject in itself deserving of proper attention at a later date). What is good to know though, is that even facing full account restrictions/closures, there are avenues for successful investors to explore. There is a way around the barriers the UK bookmakers put in our way.
That's enough for tonight, but Mike of the SBC left an interesting comment after last night's post that merits further attention, along with some other comments that have been left too.
One of those days on the racing where almost everything goes right. Five horses backed and only a short head prevented the tips providing five winners. Firstly, The Market Examiner tipped a stonker (Sea Saffron - Exeter - 8.2/1). The only issue here was Sam's observation that at the time the bet was placed by BetButler (at 8.2/1), 10/1 was still available with a couple of bookmakers and 9s elsewhere. This is the sort of thing that BetButler need to get right if they are to prove to be a viable option long term.
It was great to see On The Nose back tipping at Cheltenham last week after a recent self-imposed break, and they provided a nice winner today (Darna - Exeter - 7/2). The Sportsman Racing gave two facile winners from two (Trans Sonic - Southwell - 8/11 and First In Command - Southwell - 11/8). Finally, Chasemaster almost had a winner from their one selection (Bubbly Bruce - Exeter - 11/2). Just shaded in a photo, but no harm done as it was advised each way.
Onto the footie this evening and a small profit secured. The Football Analyst System 7/22 found one winner from three for a small loss. Swindon were the winner, which was pleasing, as Swindon were also the team found by Strike Zone (homes).
On The Nose: Staked 0.5pts, +1.75pts.
The Sportsman Racing: Staked 1pt, +1.051pts.
Chasemaster: Staked 0.25pts, +0.012pts.
The Market Examiner: Staked 1pt, +8.2pts.
The Football Analyst 7/22: Staked 4pts, -0.425pts.
Strike Zone (homes): Staked 1pt, +0.76pts.
(*It should also be noted that Strike Zone (homes) had a short priced winner (Roma at 1.5) last night; I managed to forget to post this last night).
Month to Date
Northern Monkey: Staked 19.75pts, -7.55pts, roi -38.23%
4PA: Staked 43.5pts, -3.312pts, roi -7.61%
Chasemaster: Staked 5.75pts, +2.503pts, roi 43.53%
WRT: Staked 7.5pts, +0.827pts, roi 11.02%
The Sportsman Racing: Staked 4.25pts, +1.363pts, roi 32.07%
On The Nose: Staked 20.25pts, +0.75pts, roi 3.7%
The Market Examiner: Staked 25pts, +10.755pts, roi 43.02%
TFA 7/22: Staked 14pts, +5.485pts, roi 39.17%
Skeeve: Staked 47pts, +8.369pts, roi 17.8%
Football Elite: Staked 11pts, +6.445pts, roi 58.59%
The Sportsman: Staked 0.5pts, 0pts, roi 0%
On The Oche: Staked 2pts, +0.25pts, roi 12.5%
Strike Zone (h): Staked 11pts, -3.3pts, -30%
Now, it's likely to be a late post tomorrow. My evening is likely going to be spent chasing a grainy stream into which I will peer, trying to make out where the ball is and getting increasingly frustrated by it constantly freezing. Up the Gunners!