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Green ticks raise a red flag

February 28, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m not going to apologise for basically duplicating a post I made to the SBC forum this afternoon as I think the topic is worthy of a post here and as I have written up my opinions why not paste them in here?

I briefly saw mention of Coral’s green ticks last week when they sponsored some races to promote them but today is the first time I have had a look at what it all means, prompted in part by Coral’s recent email about a related change to their terms and conditions.

What are these green ticks?
Coral have split out the BOG markets from the standard win/each-way markets. They claim that BOG is an insurance policy – you’re safeguarding against your horse drifting – and that like all insurance policies it comes at a price. Remove that insurance and you can get better prices. Apparently. That’s why their default markets are now not BOG.

Another change is the introduction of win only markets. These are supposed to offer better value for bettors backing a horse to win as the odds compilers can ignore the chances of each runner placing when pricing up. It is this market that results in the green ticks as when the odds on this market exceed the price on the win/each-way market you’ll see a green tick on the Coral racecard.

The win only markets are displayed in decimal odds and the prices will move more rapidly than traditional markets. A direct competitor to Betfair, anyone?

There are place only versions of these markets too (if only Betfair had thought of that, oh!). These markets allow place betting without the need to go each-way and retain the original number of places even if there are NRs. So just like the Betfair markets really.

Are they worth it?
Let’s take the first race of the afternoon as an example. Bright Sparky is the favourite in the 2.10 at Catterick and is available at a BOG price of 4/1 with several firms according to Oddschecker at the time of writing. Coral’s price on Oddschecker is 3/1 and displays the “B” above the bookie to indicate they are a BOG firm. But watch out as if you check the markets on the Coral website you will see that the 3/1 is actually their non-BOG price and if you want BOG they have gone 11/4. There is a green tick next to Bright Sparky which if we hover over we see a win-only price of 4.50 (7/2). On Betfair the horse is available at 6.0 to back.

So we can get 5/1 (ex-commission) on Betfair or 4/1 with a few BOG firms and with Corals we have a choice of 7/2 (win only), 3/1 (non-BOG) or 11/4 (BOG). Maybe I have picked a bad example but Coral are trumpeting their changes as helping the punter win even more. Not at those prices though.

Non-Runner Adjustments
Coral have also ditched R4 as the method for re-pricing a market following the withdrawal of a declared runner and replaced it with their own non-runner adjustments in their win-only and place-only markets. They claim it’s fairer as the deduction is based on the price of the horse when you struck your bet, not at the time of withdrawal. If a horse is backed in and then withdrawn your original R4 deduction would increase, fair enough, but your new Coral deduction would be unchanged. Coral don’t mention the case where a horse may drift and lower the deduction though.

Initial Thoughts
I disagree with the insurance policy analogy. I think this is a way of weaseling out of paying punters the BOG bonus. By claiming it as an insurance policy you pave the way to recover the costs of the insurance and in doing so lower your odds. The punter loses out. Whereas it used to be that a drifting winner with the BOG firms made it feel like you had got one over on them, with this new pricing structure at Corals it feels like they have struck back – and hard!

Other firms (e.g. Paddy Power) have been offering win-only markets for a while now and I don’t think they have taken off despite the fact that the prices are generally higher than the standard win/each-way markets. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s a tradition thing and punters are used to betting in win/each-way markets and don’t look for win-only markets. Or maybe it’s because other firms (and Betfair) can beat them on price most of the time anyway.

I was at a Coral focus group session in London last week and these changes are far and away much bigger than anything they presented then. I think these changes are a blow to racing punters and perhaps another sign (after Stan James’ changes) that BOG’s days may be numbered.

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Categories: General, Horse Racing

Whoops A Daisy indeed

February 27, 2011 Leave a comment

On a quiet day with only two UK meetings (plus one Irish meeting but few of the systems in my portfolio pick Irish selections) it’s fairly pleasing to get away with only one race going against me. OK, I backed Hong Kong Harry in the 2.10 at Fontwell and he finished 2nd, 5l behind the winner, but I don’t count that as a race that went wrong for me as I laid Vico to fixed liability in the same and landed a nice win on that bet when he could only finish a distant fourth. The one that went awry was the 2.30 at Towcester, a race won by Whoops A Daisy who I had laid to fixed liability on the Market Leaders system. The horses came in with figures of 9 from 11 with a total profit of 9.60pts. It all helps recover some of yesterday’s loss, eh.

The football figures are skewed by the Serie A Simplex system which picked out two matches today. The stakes are now getting up to a reasonable level and would be deemed quite considerable given the starting stake. For instance I had nearly 700pts on Cagliari-Lazio to end all square. It didn’t, but it did go the way of the home side as Football Elite had said it should so that was a nice winner. That has been topped up with Bet Bank Alerts and the FE Shortlist picking out Levante on the draw no bet market with Osasuna, a match that Levante won landing both bets. I have over 400pts out on Sampdoria-Inter Milan to be a draw but I can’t be bothered to wait for that one to play out before updating this blog. The game will end as it pleases really and my bet will stand or fall as it may. Nothing I do can influence the result so why sweat it?

Massacre!

February 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday afternoon started in the worst possible way with a four horse dutch (selections by A List and Northern Monkey) going wrong in the 2.10 at Lingfield, a double-figure outsider edging out two of the dutched runners into the also-ran places. That was an expensive start to the day, but always a possibility I guess. When multiple tipsters are playing in the same race you can end up backing several runners but leaving yourself exposed to a lively outsider, something that has been happening all too often this year it seems.

A few minutes later Reindeer Dippin – a qualifier on the Classic Lays and NHPM lays systems – won the 2.15 at Newcastle by a neck. That was another expensive race. This was followed by a small odds-on winner in the form of Captain Chris pulling a small amount back.

The recovery didn’t last very long though as by the time the 2.45 at Newcastle was run I had laid another winner, Battle Group winning by a short head. Yurok, the 8/11 favourite, traded at 1.10 or less on Betfair too but still lost out to the horse that qualified on all three Unity Racing lay systems.

The damage had been done by this point and I was pretty glad to see the rest of the afternoon play out for a roughly breakeven position. I was stood behind figures of 5 from 17 and a loss of 23.14pts but in cash terms the result was several times worse than the previous day’s profit on the horses, despite a net points gain. That’s the ‘beauty’ of having different bank sizes and points values I guess.

Things away from the four-legged bank drainers were a little better. Three from four on the football but only a small profit of 0.96pts as FBD were playing some safe low-odds trends this week. Bet Bank Alerts went for a couple of rugby punts too. Wales (-5) on the second half handicap was a loser but England (-5) on the full match handicap was a winner at evens so these bets broke even.

Saturday was seriously expensive and just a few days back I was thinking that there hadn’t been a significant profit/loss figure posted for a little while. I got my wish, but why did it have to be a loss?

A 25/1 winner for breakfast

February 26, 2011 Leave a comment

I was out with friends from mid-to-late afternoon onwards yesterday so for the second day running I bunged a load of bets on to cover the period I was away from my PC and crossed my fingers. I don’t like working in this manner as then I can’t follow price movements etc so usually miss some bets (lays mostly) as my orders on Betfair lapse or I get lousy prices on some horses that are matched. But sometimes life comes ahead of work and at least I do have the option to leave orders on Betfair so can continue betting while I am out.

When I am out and about and have bets on I tend to check Betfair mobile a few times to see how things are going. I tend not  or place many bets that way as the platform’s not all that easy to use when you’re used to the website but it does a job. It’s hard to work out your daily P&L via the mobile app though so I end up estimating how things have gone most of the time. My estimates yesterday had me down as winning a few quid, nothing too special but a profit at Betfair all the same.

Betfair is only half the story though as I also had a few backs on with traditional bookies. I can’t be bothered to go round all the firms I might have had a bet with, logging in to my accounts with them via my phone to see how things went. And if I look down the racing results I often forget whether I have backed or laid a horse so I will see the winner’s name, it may ring a bell but I don’t know whether to be happy (because I backed it) or sad (if I laid it). I am lost without my PC, with all the spreadsheets and web access to all the bookies and Betfair.

Had I gone to the effort of checking all the bookies yesterday evening I would have found a 25/1 winner on the NailedOn AW system with Bet365. As it happens I only learned of this welcome winner this morning. That horse (Vertumnus) made the difference between winning and losing as it seemed that odds-on shots were getting turned over when I backed them but short-priced (albeit odds-against) runners were winning readily when I had laid them. Final figures of 20 from 33, up 28.72pts on the horses.

There was also an ice hockey bet to be had last night, Atlanta Thrashers tipped to beat Florida Panthers by Sports Bet USA. It didn’t happen and I am beginning to slightly doubt the wisdom of Oxon Press changing the successful formula they had with the Linebacker service and wondering whether the systems/tipsters they use for the other US sports are really up to scratch. Time will tell I guess.

Have opinion, will travel

February 25, 2011 Leave a comment

I started this blog with the intention of providing regular updates as to how things were going on the gambling front. In an ideal world I would end each day with a nice summary of how it went but that’s just not practical most days. With racing running on into the evening a few days each week and football bets on the go too I don’t have a true picture of the day until late into the evening, and by then I have switched the PC off to spend time with the missus so most days I can’t update this blog till the following day. And today (or should that be yesterday) is no exception.

Before I got on to how things went yesterday I want to briefly cover the event that led to today’s title. Last week I was contacted by Coral (along with thousands of others no doubt), enquiring if I would be interested in taking part in a market research session discussing betting and gaming up in London. An opportunity to tell other people what I think – not something I am going to turn down. I have opinions on most things, and can quickly form an opinion about anything I don’t currently have one on, and am not afraid to make it heard so these focus group sessions are fantastic for me. And on top of that I was getting paid for it. £40 in Coral credit for a couple of hours of my time – I’m on for that. I’m sure several of you out there have been severely restricted by Coral traders but they are a firm I use quite regularly and freely so the £40 is quite useful for me. It’s not a massive sum but I do like to think of myself as someone whose opinions on betting should often be taken seriously so it was as much an opportunity to let Coral know what I thought as it was a chance to make a few quid.

The session was up in central London, a couple of blocks back off Oxford Street. Half-term, late afternoon/early evening around Oxford Street – ugh! I hate London at times. I hate busy places which is why I live out in the suburbs. London is available to me if I need it but for the most part I can avoid it. I could never live in town (London) like so many do – far too many people for my liking. I like to be able to walk down the street without being jostled and crowded. There are so many wonderful things about London but it would be a much nicer city without all the people. I suspect that is true of most cities though.

Anyway, the focus group was only about eight of us and started with the traditional round-the-room introductions covering who we were and what our betting/gaming experiences were. I was last and the only full-timer there. The rest of the group were generally mug punters. Guys who frequent the betting shops playing the machines. Scratch card junkies. Online live casino fans. Someone lamenting the one team that scuppered his 17 (!) team accumulator on the football. They like to listen to the old guys in the bookies to pick up tips and so on. In short, their combined experiences were almost a dictionary definition of mug punter.

The market research firm running the session showed us around 10 mock-ups of what the new Coral website might look like and wanted feedback. The whole session was being recorded and other researchers were sat behind a one-way mirror (which I initially thought was rather sinister) but that all soon faded into the background as I settled into my stride of telling people what I thought. I’d better not spoil the surprise too much because even though I didn’t sign anything saying I wouldn’t blab about what I had seen they do know my Coral account details and I don’t want that being restricted or shut down. I will say this though: I didn’t see a massive amount of innovation. There was one innovative feature (enhanced bets) but I can’t see it catching on. Maybe when Coral relaunch we can see if they have stuck with it or not. And if not, if someone reminds me, I’ll perhaps talk about it in more detail then. But I felt that most of the features were simply copies of functionality available on rival sites. Yes, it’s good that Coral are trying to catch up I guess but nothing I saw would take them particularly far ahead of the general curve when it comes to bookies websites.

Because I was out at this focus group session yesterday I had to bung all my bets on for the second half of the afternoon and cross my fingers. I didn’t get a chance to check the results till maybe 8pm and even then it wasn’t that clear how things had gone as I was only grabbing odd bits on my phone. I didn’t have all the data in front of me like I would were I using the PC so it wasn’t until this morning that I was truly able to assess how things went yesterday. And it was a swingy day at times that more or less levelled itself out in the end. 8 from 18, down 9.43pts doesn’t tell the whole story by any means as in cash terms the loss was trivial, far more so than a nine-point-something loss would suggest. The key to this is the fact that ProBandit’s A List hit a big winner and that’s my biggest backing bank by some way. That came in the form of Interchoice Star (9.60 on Betfair, 7/1 SP). The lays did their best to take these winnings back though and Zarius (6.80, 5/1 SP) did just that for the Lay’em system, my biggest lay bank so a decent cash loss for relatively few points. All told though the day more or less evened out, which is slightly annoying given I hit a nice winner but these things happen. I’d rather that than have the same results without that big winner.

Good to have you back

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment

After two or three weeks enforced absence due to ill-health, it was a welcome return to action for Alan and his NailedOn services yesterday. The whole set of services I take from them tend to produce a whole bunch of qualifiers so now they are back in the fold things are much busier than they have been of late which will be good for my turnover I guess. Might keep me out of mischief too.

That said, I kinda crave a return to the quiet days of late as they were at least profitable. Wednesday afternoon started horribly with several horses I had laid going in quite comfortably even though at times the markets gave the impression the horses were well beaten. Bah! Both the Classic Lays and Premier Lays picked out Ere Alfie who ran out a comfortable winner by 10l at 14/1. That’s way outside the price cutoff I employ on those systems but I wasn’t expecting a 14/1 shot to win as easily as it did. One of those days maybe.

Looking down the backs it’s a sea of red in the profit column too, with Lewyn (4.30 Lingfield) about the only exception. That was an A List selection alongside the favourite, Northern Dare, but the staking was such that Lewyn was a very welcome winner at 9/4. Just a shame there weren’t a few more to go with it though. Overall I recorded figures of12 from 33, down 8.99pts.

A couple of football bets to mention too. Football Elite had a shortlist bet on Bologna against Roma, a match that was abandoned with 16 minutes played according to some of the markets I saw which meant the draw no bet markets were fairly ill-formed with some firms not offering odds at all. I got on at a better than advised price through Betfair but the bet was a loser anyway. Mario Gomez gave us a winner on the Bet Bank Alerts though, landing Bayern Munich (+0.25) on the Asian Handicap at 88/100 for a small overall profit on the football

It’s oh so quiet

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Sorry. There’s not much happening on the betting front so I have been using the time to do a few other bits instead. Take yesterday for example. I had a hospital appointment in the morning (which I obviously would have attended whether things were busy for me gambling wise or not) but when I got back I saw from the online text commentary that the Netherlands were giving England a bit of a game in the cricket World Cup so I watched the end of their innings, grabbed a bit of lunch and then settled in to watch the English reply. With so few bets to place yesterday afternoon I could afford to do this but it’s not something I intend to make a habit of.

It worked out quite nicely for me though, I got to see some good cricket, dodged a winner on the lays as I wasn’t at the PC to chase the price up having left an order and picked up a tidy profit from the rest of the lays with the horses I had singled out all losing. A clean sweep of 7 from 7 yesterday then, up 6.15pts.

Away from the horses there were a couple of football bets to follow. FBD had a couple of recommended bets for the Blackpool-Tottenham game but I only placed one of them – time of first goal to be before the 28th minute which was a winner thanks to Charlie Adam’s 18th minute penalty. The second bet I disagreed with the reasoning behind. The analysis FBD included in the email looked at under 3.5 cards which was occurring in something like 75% of games for both sides but the recommended bet was under 2.5 cards. As it happens only two cards were shown so the bet was a winner but I wasn’t on. I checked the lines and pretty much everyone was offering under/over 2.5 cards but with the analysis showing under 3.5 was only happening around 75% of the time I skipped the bet and I would do so again.

Bet Bank Alerts came up with a Europa League double involving one of yesterday’s matches (CSKA Moscow v PAOK Saloniki) paired with Man City to beat Aris Salonika. Having checked out the odds available on both matches (and the fancied sides were heavy odds-on) I felt the best value was to be had by splitting the double so backing CSKA in their match and parlaying the return on Man City. As it happens CSKA and PAOK drew 1-1 yesterday evening so there are no returns to play on the Man City game. I guess that’s saved me the bother of that then.

With so few bets I haven’t felt an urgent push to update this blog with yesterday’s results so this post was delayed until such time as I had completed the updates to a website of mine. But that’s all done now (I think), as is this update, so I can get back to Betfair.