Monday, 19 March 2012

Theme of the week: bookmaker restrictions

Judging by the number of comments left after my blatherings posted last Thursday and Friday, it appears that bookmaker restrictions, what can lead to them being imposed, and how to avoid them for as long as possible, together make up a subject area which is at the forefront of many investment gamblers' minds. No real surprise there, I guess.

There have been some very interesting points made by various people, all of which merit some attention being paid to them and perhaps some ongoing discussion. Let's face it, all of us who approach our gambling in an organised and serious manner are going to have to cope with the bookmakers not playing ball at some stage. We need a strategy; a plan as it were, for without one then ultimately our investment vehicle will come to a shuddering halt. And that won't do at all, will it?

This week I want to explore this subject further. The thing is, I'm still on the part of the gambling learning curve that is on a trajectory heading in an upwards direction. So I can explain what I do as far as attempting to ensure that bookmaker accounts remain functional for as long as possible, and I can tell you my longer term plans/strategy that will hopefully allow me to invest in gambling services over the long term, but I'm sure there are many who have been through all this before and have the benefit of experience behind them. If there are any readers who fall into this category, their contributions in the 'Comments' section are warmly welcomed. Let's face it, it's us against the bookmakers, and any ideas that can help us all to gain an upperhand in the ongoing battle will benefit us all.

So, without further ado, let us address the comment left by an intriguing contributor, a bookmaker 'insider'...

"It is pretty easy to determine when the user has placed bets on market high odds and when you see that has happened 10 out of 10 times then it actually doesn't matter if the account is in +/-."

This goes back to my surprise at Bet365 having confirmed to me that their traders do not necessarily look at the profitability or otherwise of an account before imposing restrictions upon it. It is a commonly held belief that if a bookmaker sees a client consistently securing the best price ("market high odds") available on a horse, or who is continually beating the SP by securing an early price offer, then they will soon stop that punter from punting. The 'Insider' here is confirming that this is indeed true. My question though, which only someone who has worked for a bookmaker is going to be able to answer, is how do they monitor this? Bet365 must have a LOT of customers with a LOT of accounts to scrutinize. I assume such monitoring will be software driven; is it the case that all accounts are monitored to see if their owners are ensuring that the prices taken are always the best available in the market? Is this the default setting? If it is, then we as investors have a big problem, because my belief is that it is absolutely imperative to secure the best price possible at all times. It is difficult enough in this game to gain a worthwhile edge, without giving away a couple of percentages of roi by taking lower odds than we are able. And yes, I accept that we can't always get bets on straight away, and that there are some services that issues a selection and within seconds the price on that selection has crashed, but as a general rule, we need to be securing the best possible price we can on each individual bet.

What I would say, is that if Bet365 have used the parameters mentioned above to assess my account, it's taken three years of my taking "market high" prices and of consistently beating SP before they have cottoned on and taken action to restrict my ability to profiteer to their expense.

Is it possible then, that by taking steps to ensure that my average stake size per bet is kept fairly low (on average £10-20 on one particular horse) I have managed to stay 'under the radar' for three years? If so, then I am somewhat heartened, as that would mean that by simply adopting a systematic approach to using our bookmaker accounts, we can prolong their lifespan.

Tomorrow I'll outline the systematic approach I take to placing my bets which is indeed aimed at keeping stake sizes as low as possible, and is also designed to spread my bets amongst the different bookmakers as evenly as they can be. I also want to pass on some thoughts based around a couple of the other comments that were left on Thursday and Friday, notably from Skeeve. I found solace within Skeeve's words, for within them he gave me a big clue that my long term plan - the direction in which I envisage my portfolio investing is going to have to go to remain a viable investment option - has legs.

More on all that tomorrow.

Weekend's Betting

Not a great weekend on the horses, truth be told, although Chasemaster turned a nice profit on the Sunday virtue of a nice winner at Newton Abbott (Maizy Missile - 8/1). That was the only winner of the weekend though, as 4PA drew a blank, as did The Market Examiner, and Winning Racing Tips had a loser and an each way double that provided only a minimal return. On The Nose can count themselves unfortunate on Saturday as their selection in the Midlands National (Major Malarkey - Uttoxeter - 18/1) came within a couple of feet of a very nice return.

Things were better on the football, with a nicely solid performance by Skeeve. Football Elite found one winner from two, The Sportsman's handicap bet returned stakes, and Strike Zone (homes) had a short priced winner from two selections for a small loss.

4PA: Staked 3pts, -3pts.
On The Nose: Staked 3.5pts, -0.75pts.
Chasemaster: Staked 1pt, +0.45pts.
Winning Racing Tips: Staked 1.2pts, -0.581pts.

Skeeve: Staked 14pts, +6.389pts.
Football Elite: Staked 2pts, +0.187pts.
The Sportsman: Staked 0.15pts, N/A.
Strike Zone (h): Staked 2pts, -0.45pts.

Today's Betting

Seems so quiet after the chaos that was Cheltenham.

Chasemaster continued their good form. Just one selection (That's The Deal - Southwell - 2/1) - an easy winner.

The only other racing service in action today was Northern Monkey but no return from their one bet today.

Northern Monkey: Staked 1pt, -1pt.
Chasemaster: Staked 0.125pts, +0.25pts.

Month to Date

Northern Monkey: Staked 19.75pts, -7.55pts, roi -38.23%
4PA: Staked 43.5pts, -3.312pts, roi -7.61%
Chasemaster: Staked 5.5pts, +2.49pts, roi 45.28%
WRT: Staked 7.5pts, +0.827pts, roi 11.02%
The Sportsman Racing: Staked 3.25pts, +0.312pts, roi 9.6%
On The Nose: Staked 19.75pts, -1pt, roi -5.06%
The Market Examiner: Staked 24pts, +2.555pts, roi 10.64%

TFA 7/22: Staked 10pts, +5.91pts, roi 59.1%
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 9pts, -4.553pts, -50.58%

Goodness. That's a rather lengthy post with which to start the week. Trouble is, I think there's a lot more to come. See you tomorrow.


  1. 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.

  2. Hi Rowan,

    Here's how Pinnacle do it - they simply publish SBR's interviews with one of their senior traders on their website: Imagine the world where every bookmaker is as transparent and open to smart punters as them. You may say I'm a dreamer...


  3. Fascinating stuff, Insider. It makes a lot of sense and as I'll point out in tonight's post, multi-million pound turnover companies are likely to be utilising electronic wizadry in any way they can to help them maximise their profits. You wouldn't think that developing programs that can track accounts in the way you suggest is beyond the capabilities of a decent Software Engineer.

    Anyway, thanks for the insight. Much appreciated as always.


  4. Hi Skeeve,

    Shall take a look at that video when I get home tonight.

    Cheers for posting.