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A Wags Eye View

29/10/13 Getting VALUE in your Betting (Part One)

Hello everyone

In the first of, hopefully, a regular guest blog on here I want to talk about a what is a fairly contentious issue;  namely, what is a "value" bet and how do we achieve the perceived "best value" in our betting.

Firstly, let me introduce myself. My name is David Wagstaff and some of you may be familiar with my intermittent rants and ramblings on Wags-Nags, both online and on facebook.  Heather and Ed have been kind enough to invite me to write a few bits on here as well so here goes...

To begin with I should start by saying that it's a fairly well known statistic that only around 2% of gamblers actually make any consistent profits from their betting.  If we want to skew that stat into something more in our, the punters, favour we need to ensure we are getting the best possible prices from the bookies.  To that end, if you are not betting with a "best odds guaranteed" bookmaker then you should be.  Right now!!!  Since most of us now bet online, either via PC, tablet or phone, this shouldn't be an issue.  I'd estimate around 99% of online bookmakers are now BOG (sportingbet & Skybet being two exceptions that spring to mind) so you should open as many accounts with as many of these operators as possible to ensure that the best price available at any given time is accessible to you.  Not only will many be offering decent incentives to sign up in the form of free bets and bonuses, but there is quite often a big disparity in prices available in the early formed markets and you should be as best placed as possible to take advantage.  It doesn't matter if you bet for fun, profit or just a quickie on a Saturday afternoon (and who doesn't like one of those!), if you have a view on a particular race or horse then, regardless of whether that view is correct or not, guaranteeing yourself the best odds available by the off time is essential to gaining an edge.  And there endeth the lesson on the most obvious part of "value" betting...

At this juncture, I should point out that nothing I'm about to put into print is anything new.  The words will all be mine but the sentiments and ideas are very much borrowed from various betting colleagues I've either met personally or have read on different websites.  The end result, however, should be to give you an idea of what I believe to be the elusive and oft mentioned value.

And this is where the contentious stuff begins!!  Many people will argue that "a winner is a winner" regardless of price.  That view certainly has some merit to it but only if the strike rate being achieved is big enough to warrant backing horses at short odds.  If you like backing well fancied horses toward the top of the market that is your prerogative.  However, it's estimated that only around 26% of favourites actually win so you'd need to be getting 5/1 or bigger on every favourite you backed in order to see any sort of return on your investment.  
I am firmly of the opinion that value hunting on every bet is the only way to make any sort of consistent profit from your betting.  This can take many forms but, in general, if you are consistently backing horses at bigger odds than their eventual SP, then you are, by definition, beating the bookmakers.  You can get away with a lower success rate because the odds have swung in your favour and, if those odds are big enough, sometimes a placed horse will pay out more than the shortie actually winning the same race.  Personally, nothing gives me greater pleasure than identifying an overpriced horse at, say 20/1 (thus securing around 4 or 5/1 just to place), watching it contract in the market and then finishing nicely at 12/1 in second place. Obviously, it's even better when they win but the knowledge that I've read the race better than the industry "experts" is always a very satisfying experience!!
This approach, of course, can work with the shorter priced horses as well. Backing something you like at 4/1 and watching it shorten up to the 2/1 mark is just as nice, albeit without the safety net of the place also paying well, and you will still have found some value in your bet.  Identifying such horses will, inevitably, take some practice.  Explaining how to do that is probably a post for another day but, as a starting point, I would suggest concentrating on certain types of race (mid-size field handicaps for example) and forming your own opinions over a period of time which horses look well treated under the day's conditions but have been overlooked for various reasons by the market.

That's probably enough from me for my first post but, to clarify the points I've made so far...

1 - Open as many "best odds" bookie accounts as you can in order to take advantage of overpriced horses.

2 - Don't blindly believe that the short priced favourite is necessarily "a good thing", always look for a potential "fly in the ointment" that can offer a better return by not actually having to win.

3 - Find a way to consistently identify potentially overlooked horses and bet accordingly.

Assuming you've read this far (and, obviously, if you've found my banging on useful), I shall be back with a few more ideas in the not too distant future.

In the meantime, good luck with whatever you're backing, whatever your approach.


Added 29/10/2013 at 12:24 by wagsnags