Advantages and Disadvantages the Spread Firms Have
Don't Bet too Soon!
Consider Selling instead of Buying
Try to ignore Hype
Specialise in one Market
Know the Rules!
Rugby Union and Rugby League
Much advice on sports spread betting applies in all sports. The purpose of this section is to set out that advice, so please read it carefully before going on to read about strategies in particular markets in particular sports. One important piece of advise before we start though is not to chase losses: it is a surefire quick way to wiping out your account.
The first question you need to ask yourself before you do any trading at all is: Why do I want to trade the sports markets? Are you trading for profits Ė taking a professional approach? Or are you trading for entertainment and fun? The professional spread better is not in it for fun or for adrenalin surges but is focussed solely on making profits. They carry out considerable research and operate a proven strategy in a disciplined manner in order to generate annual income, sufficient to meet their targets.
The market makers at the spread firms are professional and practiced in setting prices, and have comprehensive statistics on all markets to aid them in this. All of the Sporting Index's computer trading software is written in-house on .NET technology, whatever that means - the important thing to keep in mind is that this provides dealers with instant access to their lines on each market and the firm's overall exposure as well as information on how each punter is faring.
That said, they have to price up hundreds of markets. You have the advantage that you don't have to bet on any market. You can just choose one or two, you can shop around between the firms for the best price, and you can move quickly.
In order to optimise profit potential in team games like football and rugby, it is best to wait until the last minute before placing bets, to take advantage of late team news, rather than placing a bet on the morning of the match (unless the spread is clearly wrong). For example, let's say you really fancy Manchester United to thrash a team at the bottom end of the table, and you buy their superiority. But then the team news is announced twenty minutes before kick off and you learn that they've left half of their top players out of the starting line-up, preferring to rest them before an upcoming crunch European game in midweek. Such occurrences are not uncommon.
Also, if it's a live TV event with markets being updated in-running, it's a good idea to watch the game for 5 or 10 minutes before placing your bet. The spreads will move very little in this time, and it gives you an opportunity to gauge the shape of the game. You will be able to observe whether it is open end to end stuff with lots of scoring chances or is it settling down into a dour battle.
Taking the contrarian view can pay in sports spread betting - punters tend to over-react on the spreads which means that value is more likely to lie in opposing the herd view. There has in the past been a tendency for there to be more buyers than sellers in many markets. This has occured for a number of reasons -:
The spread firms are aware of this and have accordingly set their prices one or two points higher than they would otherwise. In the early days of spread betting they could get away with setting some prices artificially high, knowing that they would still attract buyers. Recently professional and more savvy punters have also become aware of this and have been sellers, so the disparity is not so pronounced. However, there is still potential profit in being a seller if the circumstances are right. For example, if there has been a lot of hype (see below) about a game likely to be dirty with lots of cards this can be overdone and the spread moves up too high as everyone moves to buy.
Selling the player / team you expect to lose in an index can have advantages over buying the player / team you expect to win. In tournament indexes it means that the bet is now settled, rather than you having to sell a winner later in running in the event, when there will still be a spread to be taken into account, reducing your profit.
It's very difficult not to be influenced by all the hype surrounding a major sporting event. The match commentators, the betting press, and certain pundits can have a major influence on market moves, and if you happen to disagree with their opinion then this can provide a betting opportunity once the spread has moved too far. I know some people who like to spread bet who prefer to watch the TV with the sound off, to avoid being influenced by what the commentators are saying.
The classic case of hype is probably the England football team. Here everything depends on how they have performed in the last match or two. The media will either have built them up as world beaters if they have done well or hopeless losers if they have underperformed. You can take advantage of this by trying to ignore all the hoohah and looking at the match coming up from a rational perspective. This applies in many situations, where the most recent one or two performances influence opinion unduly.
Concentrating your efforts on one or two markets improves your chances of success. Remember that spread betting dealers have a whole range of markets to cover so they are often very busy and may accidentally forget something in the heat of the moment.
There are so many markets to choose from and you should take time out to familiarise with the rules of each market before you place a bet. Even experienced spread bettors get undone occasionally by assuming they know everything they need to know about a market, particularly ones they play less frequently. It is for that reason that you should spend an hour or so getting your head around the various markets and associated rules. For example, Sporting Index and Spreadex offer Team Performance Markets on football matches but each has different scoring criteria, shown below:
Sporting award 25pts to the winning side, 15pts goal, 10pts clean sheet, 3pts corner, -5 yellow card, -15 red card, 10 pts for hitting the woodwork and rebounding into play.
Spreadex award 25pts to the winning side, 15pts per goal, 10pts clean sheet, 3pts corner, -5 yellow card, -15 red card.
If you spreadbet, keep a good record of your winnings and losses. Seriously though you must keep a record of all bets, if you donít then it will be impossible for you to accurately evaluate your performance and make improvements to your strategy. For example, my records have shown a decent profit backing offensive football teams away from home. I've hypothesised that weak sides will always press forward playing at home which leads to a more open, expansive game which offensive sides can readily exploit, Aston Villa are a great example of a side that continue to play well away from home.
Conversely, more or less every bet I place on Rugby loses. Why is this? Because my knowledge of rugby in general is poor and more often that not the reason I chose to get involved is because there would have been a televised game on, my missus would have been out and having a bet on the outcome would have hightened my enjoyment of the game. One of my new years betting resolutions is not to bet on Rugby, ever.
Another motive for keeping records is to continially hone your staking strategy or to establish one on the first place. There is no hard and fast rule for developing a strategy, I think everyone has to find a strategy that suits them.
Arbitrage is the term used to describe a situation where it is possible to make an immediate profit, simply by buying with one spread firm and selling with another.
To take an example, suppose the prices in the Bookings index for a football match are as follows:
This means that if you sell Bookings at £5 per point at 32 with Spreadex, and buy Bookings at 30 with IG, also at £5 per point, you are guaranteed a £10 profit.
At first glance, this seems an awfully easy way to make money, but of course it's not quite as simple as that, and there are a few things which need to be said about this.
First, 'arbs' as they are sometimes called, don't last long. The firms are very aware of other firms' prices and know when they are out of line, and they soon tend to move into line with each other. So you have to be very fast to get on before the price changes.
Second, leading on from the first point, you can be caught out and left exposed if you manage to get the first of the two bets places, but when you ring the second spread firm, you find their price has changed. You are faced with the prospect of either taking an immediate small loss or letting the first bet run its course.
Third, spread firms hate arbitrageurs. They are very aware of clients who make a regular practice of it and ultimately they could in theory close their accounts.
Fourth, even if you do get on, it will usually only be for small stakes.
Having said all that, my attitude is that it's okay to arb occasionally, but perhaps not make a regular habit of it. A good time to do it is when three firms are more or less in line with their prices, but the fourth is clearly out of line. If you manage to have your bet accepted by the firm that is out of line first, then you can be fairly certain that one of the other three firms will take the second part of the bet.
It is also possible to arb between spread firms and fixed odds firms, where there is a divergence of opinion. This requires a bit more effort and some mathematics.
There are now about twenty different markets on which it is possible to bet on live football matches, from the relatively straightforward ones like supremacy and total goals, to the more exotic like hotshots and multi-corners. You can also bet on the outcome of games in all four leagues in England , as well as Scottish and major European leagues.
Spread firms tend to have the superiority and total goals priced up fairly accurately, and so there is more scope for profit in those markets which are more difficult to price, such as shirt numbers or bookings, though the higher volatility can be scary. There is also probably more scope for profit in the more obscure matches and away from the Premiership than in the really big games like Manchester United v Liverpool .
Bear in mind the advice about biding your time before placing a bet, as described in General Sports Betting Strategy.
Horse races generally don't last long - a 5 furlong sprint can be over in 60 seconds - so there is little opportunity for betting in running on individual races. To this end, the spread firms have developed a number of markets based on the outcome of an entire meeting, rather than a single race. Market prices are updated after each event, enabling trading in running.
One important point to bear in mind is the going - obviously some horses are more suited by particular types of ground, but also in heavy going on the National Hunt winning distances can be much greater. In general avoid punting on very low-level horse racing since the information on these races tends to be less reliable to base a prudent judgement.
Trainers and jockeys, and indeed trainer - jockey combinations, can often do well at particular courses and badly at others.
The Double Card Index refers to the number of the winning horses over the course of a particular meeting. For the purposes of the index, these numbers are doubled. This is probably a market where the result is down to luck more than skill.
There is now loads of rugby on TV, both union and league. In union, the biggest markets are based around the World Cup, the 6 Nations, and England internationals against the southern hemisphere teams.
The two basic bets are superiority and total points. These are updated in running. But there are plenty of others, depending on the importance of the match, such as player try minutes, time of first score and first try.
One thing which makes both codes of the sport excellent for spread betting is the fact that scoring occurs at regular intervals, unlike in football. Markets are also generally not as volatile as in cricket, for example.
In rugby the weather conditions can have a major influence. When it's wet and windy or the pitch is a mudpatch, point and try scoring opportunities can be reduced drastically. For this reason it's always best to check the weather conditions before having a bet, and if it might be relevant the state of the pitch.
Team news is also extremely important. A classic betting opportunity occurred a season or two ago when the London Broncos star playmaker managed to pull his hamstring in the warm up before the game, and was unable to take part. It was possible to sell them on the superiority spread, and they duly got well beaten.
Golf tournaments usually take place over four days, with a cut taking place after the first two rounds. Markets are therefore updated at the end of each days play.
One of the most common markets in golf is the finishing position. In this, what is quoted is the finishing position in which the individual player is expected to finish. The maximum make-up is generally 50, if the player fails to make the cut after the second round.
Tournament within a Tournament Index
Firms will often form this market form a list of maybe ten to fifteen of the better known players taking part in the tournament. This works like a conventional index, rather than the finishing position described above. In other words, the only thing that's important is where a player finished in relation to the other players in the index, not his overall finishing position in the tournament.
Thus, if you expect a player to do well, you would sell his finishing position rather than buying it, which can be a little confusing at first. This is one of those markets where maximum profit and loss can be calculated prior to placing a bet.
Head to head match bets are also popular. If one player misses the cut, his score is doubled to arrive at his 4 round total.
In bigger events like the majors, there can be other markets such as number of players to break par and winners final score. It's fairly obvious one should check on likely playing conditions before entering into these, for example, is it going to be windy or stormy. It's also worth trying to find out what these figures were the last time the event was played on this course, what the conditions were like then, and if there have been any course alterations in the interim, which can certainly have a bearing.
Certain players tend to play well on certain courses and certain types of courses, so it is worth doing some research. Also, if a tournament is taking place in a player's home country in Europe or home state in the USA, that can be an important factor to take into account.
Cricket is possibly the sport ideally suited to spread betting. The fact that it moves along at a leisurely pace over several days, along with lunch, tea, drink breaks, means there is ample opportunity for betting in running.
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