Thursday, 25 June 2009

A look ahead to the weekend and a review of the recent TV games.

It’s fair to say that my previous blog post was posted in fairly significant anger, and equally demonstrated a need to change my trading style. Initial results were mixed. In the Harlequins – Leeds game, I was stunned to see that despite being 4 – 0 up, the Quins were still available in the low 1.6s or high 1.5s.

Despite this, I did not back the Quins heavily at this point because it was obvious that there were some big time Leeds backers who were determined to keep the Quins price down so backing the Quins further (I had carried some 1.4 in play) would only lead to disaster if Leeds scored next. In fact, Leeds scored consecutively to lead 12 – 4.

At this point, I had a major argument with the market. You could lay Leeds at 1.2, and within a minute, they had slipped to as low as 1.15. To my amazement, there were people who described this as value for a team with a two score lead who had started at 1.4.

Well maybe, but that would assume that the starting price was correct, that Leeds “two score” lead was a genuine one, (an 8 point lead is only a converted try and a penalty) and that the game had gone to plan, which it had not as Leeds resembled an Under 9s side to begin with (although it could be argued that as they had since improved, that Leeds were being underrated) and ignored the fact that there are seemingly lots of comebacks in Super League. People say assumptions only make an ass out of you and me. In this case, I was hoping the assumption would only make an ass out of them.

Anyway, I heavily laid Leeds, having around four figures on the Quins, and as it would go the Quins did score next although only after some market trades had gone against me. At that point, I could have greened out for around £50 or £250 on Quins. However, I didn’t.

At 1.3, and only trailing by four, the Quins price was still in my eyes extremely generous, and I refused to equalise, although I did reduce my red on Leeds. However, from there it was one way traffic and after Will Sharp threw the ball into touch at the start of the second half, I made the decision to red out.

So, my decision to be “bolder” had cost me £100, but I actually didn’t care as I felt that I was right. Now, value is a very subjective topic, and who is to say whether I was right, but I certainly feel that if I let my value bets run longer, then I will eventually become more profitable but we will see.

Anyway, after I had taken the decision to red out, I looked at the Warrington v Catalans market, to try to see the score as the game was not being reported anywhere other than Sky Sports’ intermittent updates. (Presumably when a try is scored, but you can never be sure.)

I was amazed to see that Catalans could be laid at 1.06, and not just for pennies. There was over £450 sat there. I gawped at it. I scratched my head some more whilst frantically trying to find the latest score. I eventually couldn’t but took the decision to take £100. Even if Catalans had stormed into the lead, what was £6? The reward far outweighed the risk, so I even took another £100. Then, Sky Sports reported Warrington as being in the lead. I was sure they must be behind, but decided to take it all and sat with £450 green on Warrington for around £30 red.

I then found a link, and whilst not knowing how far behind it was, saw for myself that Warrington were winning. Now, non televised games often have very poor liquidity, but I felt that I had to get something from this gift, and backed Catalans at the very generous 1.5 for £100, the slightly generous 2 for £100 and generously laid Warrington at 2.7 for £50. These all went, and I found myself looking at a green screen of over £170 within ten minutes.

Obviously, at no point did I accept true value, but in my eyes, I had received a gift and the possibility of receiving nothing from a gift would have been stupid. If someone offers you a pair of Gucci shoes which are a half size too large, you don’t turn them down, but wear an extra pair of socks.

Indeed, someone was keen to give me the socks to go with the shoes and backed Catalans after the full time whistle as low as 12. Not for a huge amount, but it just added to a very weird but profitable half hour. I sure would like to know who laid Catalans and why. If you are reading this, please get in touch!

Moving onto tonight’s game, and it was another very good but slightly frustrating game. I fortunately laid Oldham at 1.25 and 1.26 just before York scored a try at 12 – 0 down, grabbing 1.26 as they were attacking and the 1.25 which someone left up for a quick second after York touched down. This enabled me to potentially green up for £50, which throughout the game I turned into £50 on the teams and close to £800 on the draw as York came back to lead 20 – 18 with fifteen minutes to go.

At this time, I was obviously hoping for a penalty for Oldham to level the game, but it sadly never came making this the second two point game which did not end in a draw in a week. Now, if this was a Super League game, the liquidity probably would have allowed me to trade out in single figures, but the draw here only traded between 10 and 15, which I deemed to be slightly too high. I did trade some out to end up with £64, but I was determined not to lose value with so close to call, and 14 was definitely too high a price to lay in the long term, and so I am actually very pleased that I managed to avoid equalising. I just hope this pays off in the end!!!

Looking ahead to the weekend again, and I immediately notice the success my thoughts had last week. Obviously Castleford provided the big winner, with Warrington not too far behind and Hull KR also managed to win for low odds backers. My thoughts on Harlequins and Leeds may have looked accurate after ten minutes but eventually failed, whilst I advised that I thought Hull v Salford and Bradford v Saints games were pretty much even.

The important thing to note is that I never universally support one team but rather produce qualified opinions. I do not offer my thoughts as any tips, in fact I often change my mind, (I backed Saints with the Handicap on the Betfair forum) so I cannot claim that I have tipped any winners! Also, as I am looking primarily at the concept of value rather than winners in the actual game, as I see it, then it is hard to qualify any success.

Hopefully, over a sustained period of time, my opinions would produce a net gain, but such an approach means that weekly results are not crucial. In fact, last week’s success probably means that I am more likely to fail this week, and I would say that my opinions this week are significantly weaker than last week.

There is no SKY game tomorrow, but there are still three games to be played. The odds in Leeds v Bradford really surprised me, but look to be correct. They surprised me because usually I disagree with strong favourites, but I had expected Leeds to be a best price of around 1/10. (Compare this price to the price Saints were at home to Bradford earlier in the year.) It is easy to just recommend backing underdogs, and I am sure a blind pattern would work in Super League, but I don’t really see any value in this one. Having said, that watch Bradford go on and win now!

The first price I saw on Salford v Huddersfield was 1/3 for Huddersfield at Ladbrokes, and I would definitely see some value in laying Huddersfield at that price but that seems to be best price, and neither prices on Salford v Huddersfield really shout out as being value to me.

The other game on Friday night sees Celtic Crusaders travelling to Saints. Saints start massive favourites for this, and whilst I would not mind laying Saints at 1/500, it is very hard to see anything but a Saints win. However, due to Saints’ perceived superiority, it might be worthwhile keeping an eye on the game as if Celtic can stay with Saints in the first half, you might be able to get a nice price.

So, three games and no strong thoughts. Saturday isn’t much better either. I think that there should be value during the game, but I think the pre-match prices generally look fair although it should be noted that Catalans have had a tendency to start slow this year.

The Sunday night game between Wigan and Hull KR is one where the first ten minutes will be crucial to form an opinion. Have Wigan fallen into disarray with Brian Noble seemingly certain to leave at the end of the year, and Gareth Hock having failed a drugs test or will they group together and produce a spirited performance. Watch the opening 10 minutes, see how Wigan approach the collision and react to adversity. Those of you who can spot this first will have the opportunity to collect a juicy price.

Wakefield v Harlequins also seems to be a game that has been priced fairly. I do see some value in backing Quins, who have performed very well away from home this season. However, I have not seen any team news, and am reluctant to back the Quins, although if they were to drift to 2/1, then I do think they would become a very good value bet, whilst the return of Rob Purdham would probably allow me to consider them value in the 2.8 – 2.9 range.

The other game of the round, Warrington v Hull, holds for me the greatest value in the round. Tony Smith has definitely removed some of Warrington’s inconsistency, but any time Warrington are 1.2 Favourites, you must question the price. Warrington have drifted to 2/7 best price from the 2/9 I saw at first, but I do think there is value in Hull at anything above say 4/1 or above.

Warrington are coming off a good win in Barcelona, whilst Hull have struggled lately, but I am not one to follow form too closely and Hull are rumoured to have one or two players back from injury. The last time these two teams met, Hull lead for most of the game before falling away to a late show from Lee Briers, and if Warrington’s main playmaker is out again, it is fair to wonder whether they will be able to break down a generally solid Hull side, whilst Warrington could produce enough errors to give Hull the field position they need to score.

Obviously, there are a lot of if’s there, and Warrington are deservedly favourites and could run away with the game, but from a value perspective, Hull do look enticing. Obviously the fact that you will unlikely be able to trade out during the game does reduce the appeal and I would wait for the team news before deciding whether to back them, but the initial prices do look to be very generous.

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