Thursday, 30 July 2009

On the train.

I’m writing this latest update on the train to Birmingham; ironically enough being in the “Quiet zone” with a screaming baby. Not sure how that works…

Anyway, it was around last time that Betfair announced the conception of the “Premium Charge” and like many others, I was understandably annoyed by the concept. However, 12 months down the line, all the outrage and potential boycotts appear to have settled down, with people accepting, through gritted teeth, the premium charge.

I did remember thinking at the time that despite its obvious unfairness, at the end of the day, you would have to be in profit to be a victim and that you would need to have used up the £1,000 allowance. A concession that I knew would make me safe for a long time.

Unfortunately, my £1,000 allowance is now almost fully used up, and I am looking at being another victim of the premium charge. Suddenly the apathy that I showed towards it is no longer quite so applicable!

In terms of potential avoidance, it is fairly apparent to me that my style of trading Rugby League, which is my most profitable market, makes the charge one that I have to live with. I can’t really take my business elsewhere, and 80% of something is greater than 100% of nothing.

Recently, a general Profit and Loss per week of around £500 has resulted in a £75 premium charge, so what can I do to try to avoid this.

The only option that I can see, is to lay an event on Betfair and look to back it back elsewhere, and hope that the result goes my way. However, when you consider that I would only get 80% of any winnings if I laid the event correctly on Betfair, I would obviously require a large price difference to make this option work, so it may just have to be a tax that I pay through gritted teeth.

Looking ahead to this weekend’s Rugby League, well I’m scheduled to be at Edgbaston for Friday and Saturday before returning on Sunday. Therefore, I don’t expect to be in profit at the end of the week given my dislike of outright bets and my tendency to leave Draw backs up in all games, just in case…

However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t profit, so I’ll just briefly run through this weekend’s games, although as ever, these are mere thoughts and I am also without team news at the moment, which would obviously make a large difference.

On Friday, Huddersfield travel to Hull. Suddenly, Huddersfield look like a team that could break in to the top two which would be a phenomenal achievement. Meanwhile, Hull have been talking a good game, saying that their top 8 options are not over. However, given their injuries to their front row, and the fact that their halves look totally insipid, I would argue that they are. Of course, there are no certainties in Rugby League, but a Hull recovery would be the most surprising event of the season to me. Huddersfield could be distracted by their looming Challenge Cup Semi Final, and it is rare that I find value in odds on shots, but certainly Huddersfield are by far the better value selection at anything above 1.5, and anything approaching 1.8 (The current gap on Betfair) is extremely good value.

Salford host Wakefield on Friday and Salford will be keen to put in an improved performance in view of last week’s events, which has even seen their coach threaten legal action to possible detractors. Still, despite Salford’s likely bounce back, Wakefield should be the favourites here. Despite a poor performance last week, Wakefield’s Top 8 ambitions should ensure that they regroup and put in a solid performance. However, Salford have defeated both Saints and Leeds this year, and they aren’t a team that I would like to oppose without seeing which Salford side are going to turn up.

The other Friday night game is the real big one. Saints v Wigan. This one has the potential to be a classic and should be a great game to watch. Much will depend upon Saints’ team news seeing as how they have had a host of players ruled out through injury and illness lately. As for Wigan, they seem to have come together very nicely recently and as usual under a Brian Noble coached side, are peaking at the right time for the playoffs. Much will depend however upon how Sam Tomkins shows in his first game at Knowsley Road. Tomkins produced an excellent performance last week to bring Wigan home against Leeds and has shown nothing to suggest that the occasion will get the better of him, but he won’t be guaranteed the same freedom that he was provided with against Leeds as Saints look to get one back on their rivals after the Murrayfield debacle.

In terms of the game, four strategies would appear to be possibilities here. The first is to watch early on and trust your eyes. The second is to note that the past three Friday games have seen a team go to 1.0 and then drift out to 20+, and the third is obviously the draw. The fourth relates to the Challenge Cup Market. Ever since their defeat to Salford, Saints have drifted from 1.6 out to 1.8, whilst the bookies’ best price is still in the 1.6 range. Now, I thought Saints were good value at 1.6 and I still think they are outstanding value at 1.8. Personally, I can’t see Saints drifting much further even should they lose to Wigan, whilst with Wigan likely to be trading at around 4 before the match starts, there could possibly be a route there to explore.

Onto Saturday’s games, and whilst Catalans are favourites against Celtic, the bookies’ best price of 1/25 this morning is quite frankly hilarious and should be opposed if Betfair looks like being that low. Of course Catalans are favourites, but anything in the 1.0s should be opposed at a level that you are comfortable losing.

The Televised game is Leeds v Warrington and this is one that could produce some good trading opportunities. Historically, Warrington on SKY have been terrific to trade. Back when odds against, lay when odds on. However, Tony Smith has removed some of Warrington’s inconsistency, although he was helpless last week as they went from a 12 -0 lead to trail 20 – 12 before winning 62 – 20!

Still, Warrington have a decent record against Leeds as of late and with Tony Smith returning to his former club, you can be assured that Warrington will be keen to produce a good performance. Leeds will look to bounce back from last week’s defeat and that has to be considered, but given Leeds’ current price (1.3?), the value lies with Warrington / the Draw although as we have seen how an early score for favourites crashes the market, more money should be kept in reserve in case Leeds start well.

Last week my strongest feeling was that Castleford were overpriced against Wakefield as the Home side looked to be backed almost blindly and whilst the value isn’t as strong this time, laying Castleford at home to Hull KR would be a good move. Hull KR have been inconsistent and below par recently, but I consider this game to be pretty much a 50/50 affair. However, home advantage will once again make Castleford the favourites, and when that happens, the correct approach would be to back Hull KR. It may not work in a one off match, but no one will have gone broke backing the away side this year.

The other Sunday game sees Bradford host Harlequins where team news could be crucial. Harlequins have been dreadful recently, but with Danny Orr and Luke Dorn back, if either Rob Purdham or Chad Randall also make it back, then the current 4.3 best price on Betfair looks very good value, whilst if they are both out, then Quins will likely be larger but still the value selection.

Of course in a game like this at the end of the season where both teams need a victory for Play-off reasons, both teams will be looking to give it everything, especially Bradford given their below par form so far this season. However, whilst they are undoubtedly the favourites for the game, and are on paper the better team, the odds would appear to dictate that the value lies with their opponents. Quins are approaching desperate territory and that should produce a good performance as Brian McDermott returns to the club that he had so much success with as a player. However, once again, the key thing will be to check that team news.

So that is a brief(?) preview of the weekend’s actions typed up with a baby screaming on a crowded train and my phone not working so to deny me information on team news and the latest odds. Still, some would say that my thoughts are as relevant as a toss of the coin in determining who to back so…!

One final comment is also in response to some replies that have suggested that I am too harsh on myself when reviewing my trade. To that I would agree with but with one caveat. I have strongly commented upon the benefits of laying at 1.1.

Anyone leaving 1.1 bets to run in Super League, would have achieved a £1,900 profit in the past three weeks. Anyone who traded out at 1.3 to 1.4 in all games would also be very nicely in profit and so on… Indeed, given this recent rule, it makes me feel that the recent run of games has left me massively behind on the net scoreboard; such odds won’t always reverse and it seems like I have been pushing the car into first gear too early recently when in reality, there was still an entire street to reverse up.

Finally, I today received my second offer for the LPC, from my second choice. It seems the more that I think about my options, the harder the decision becomes. Especially with a recent BBC article trying to dissuade people from doing the LPC on account of the recent economic happenings which now see more people qualify than jobs are available and obviously that is another dimension that will factor into my decision. Indeed, it is now looking to be a very big risk and that so many things could go wrong. (I would be 25 and starting a new course with no experience and no contacts and without having undertaken any legal study for the past 4 years – Far from ideal!) Still, as we have seen recently, a lot of 1.1s have been turned over!

So I have a weekend in Birmingham to decide given the deadline on acceptances! And as you can see through the muddled state of my last paragraph, I still haven’t got a clue! I just hope the same can’t be said of my RL predictions!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

My weekend... and my future?

The following is a review of my trading weekend, and a life problem is inserted at the end. No idea what that’s doing here!

It is said that the sign of a great team is the ability to win when you are below par and after this weekend, I hope the same applies to traders as well.

Despite what I believe to be a rather poor trading weekend in terms of trades made, I managed to earn £571.64 from Thursday evening onwards; a figure roughly equivalent to two weeks’ net earnings. I can only be thankful that Betfair earnings are not subject to any student loan charges, although they are subject to a similar tax, one which I shall unfortunately come onto later.

It is no co-incidence that my profit and loss level has dramatically increased since my decision in April to increase my level of professionalism with regard to trading, as well as subsequent increases to risk taking and stake sizes.

Sometimes I do wonder though about the sheer amount of effort I put into my trading, however. Now, I have always been a Rugby League fan, so the preparation that I put in on Monday to Wednesday in terms of watching highlights, getting the news etc.. is nothing extra. However, from Wednesday evening things get a little more like work.

I start by looking at the prices for the National League 1 game, and look to the possibility of any early trades. I will keep up to date with the price throughout the day and then on finishing work, will look at the prices listed from Bookmakers for the Super League games where available, and start looking at the possibility of placing my odds depending upon team news. Then, obviously there is the Thursday night game to trade in play.

Adding to the mixture this week however was the Hungary Grand Prix, and I decided to look into taking some prices before the initial practice session so had to look through this on Thursday as well. Friday saw me monitoring the prices before being delayed on my way home, rushing home to set everything up and trading the in play Super League game.

With that down, I reviewed the odds on all the SL markets and the Qualification and Winner F1 Markets before heading off for a well deserved sleep.

Saturday morning saw me awake to the initial practice session, which is when I first start really trading the Qualification market and even during the break in between, I kept the market open and my thoughts are never far from this as I also go about my usual Saturday morning activities.

Upon this finishing, I load up the Super League markets, look for any opportunities in the In Play game, trade out of my pre Qualification race bets, and monitor the markets for the Saturday evening SL games. Only at the end of these do I relax for the day, although I do keep the Sunday events loaded in my pocket and will occasionally check these.

Then on Sunday, like Saturday, I get up, review the markets, complete my usual Sunday morning activities, and then there is the Formula 1 Race, quickly followed by the Sunday Rugby League games before I collapse, then review the weekend and head off to bed for another week to start.

Now, obviously I do all this of my own volition and I do it because frankly, I bloody enjoy it. I love the challenge of testing myself against the Market, and I would say that drives me a lot more than even the financial incentives, lovely though they may be. Still, I am left exhausted at the end of the week with very little time off before heading into another week.

As much as I enjoy it, I am always “on edge”, especially in play, hateful of any red, and always thinking about ways to improve. Even when I am out with friends, my subconscious thoughts will rarely venture from the markets, knowing that in most cases I have a liability there which I want to work on. Put simply, it is hard to switch off knowing that opportunities are just around the corner and a test around the next.

Still, things look set to change pretty soon. I will miss the next two weekends through being at the Ashes, get back into things for a week, before heading off to London for the final test and then hopefully, to Wembley for the Cup Final the week after should Saints get there. Then, the European Grand Prix season and the Super League season will soon be over, granting me a lot of rest and relaxation which I honestly feel I’ve really earned.

Therefore, with 4 weeks of the next 5 set to be missed, and not much left after that, it was hugely important that I enjoyed a very good weekend for reasons that I will come onto later.

Perhaps that explains why I am very self critical of my performance this weekend, that plus the sheer amount of time invested and effort utilised probably robbed me of maximum performance levels.

To quickly run through this weekend’s trades:

Thursday evening: Sheffield v Gateshead. An infuriating display of refereeing (Poor, not corrupt as some would say) really frustrated me. I managed to heavily lay Sheffield in the 1.0s believing that Gateshead were the better side and that the penalty count would ultimately even out. It didn’t, although Gateshead did come back enough to leave me with a £50 win, although I always had a much much larger figure on Gateshead. It just never came off. Still, I was satisfied with myself, although extremely frustrated with the referee.

Friday evening: We had our third consecutive 1.0 drift on a Friday night although I never really got into it. I had backed the draw massively early on, and did not really want to increase my liability on Leeds much beyond that. And any comeback would be reflected in the draw price. Wigan did come back, and when they took the lead, I had close to £300 on them. Given that they were a 1.01 train then, how did I end up with just £120 profit despite never really closing my draw bet; keeping a couple of thousand on the draw for most of the game.

Basically, the game illustrated my major flaws, which are equalising out too soon, and then succumbing to value. Now, green is green, and obviously value is value and neither are bad concepts. However, in a game where you have a massive green on the draw, there is no need to position yourself further towards the dog. Any comeback will see a drop in the draw price. In effect therefore, I was double backing the underdog, ignoring the natural drop on the favourite and ignoring the clock. A very poor performance and one which deserved a loss.

Saturday afternoon: I traded the Formula One market reasonably poorly in the practice session, opposing the drop on Lewis Hamilton far too early. A good move at a silly price for betters, but not for traders. Still, it did not ruin my position, although the usual Rosberg / Trulli late crash never really happened.

Onto Q1 and with less than a minute to go, Fernando Alonso is down in 16th with yellow flags following Jaime Alguesuari going off track. Having backed Alonso reasonably heavily, I saw the chance of him going out and laid him at 90 – 200. I kept a large green on Alonso in any case, but obviously at those odds, I am giving up a lot of green as well.

Q2 sees Rosberg and Alonso experience major price crashes, only for me to have laid further too early. Further infuriation built up in me.

Given Felipe Massa’s incident, and obviously it is without saying that the best is wished for him, the session was delayed but the market was left open, which allowed me to improve on my position only for in Q3, the timing sheets to drop.

Now, this was fortunate for me, as I would usually look to trade out way before the huge price drop in Fernando Alonso, and a seemingly premature suspension from Betfair disallowed any possibility. Thankfully, Alonso was one of my larger greens, and I earned close to £150. Another good result which was largely undeserved.

Nothing much happened in the Saints – Harlequins game, so I was then ready for the Saturday night SKY game. Obviously one of my major ploys is to back the draw pre match, but for the first time ever, I laid it. Put simply, starting at 26 was beyond absurd and I was happy to oppose it; worst case scenario would be 17.5 at HT. Again, two early scores for the home favourite, but given how dire Hull FC are these days, I could not bring myself to lay Hull KR heavily at this stage. I can honestly say I can rarely recall seeing a team so bland in attack and appearing so devoid of confidence. However, some lucky bounces, poor play by Hull KR and a general improvement from Hull FC saw them come back into it. By now I had handily taken to backing the draw again, but continued to trade poorly. Still, my belief that FC could not win and the plunge on the draw late on helped me to a near £90 win although once again, I felt it to be totally undeserved.

And breathe….

Sunday: Whilst I find qualifying easy enough to trade, I don’t find the race as easy. However, the pre race markets are slightly easier and some overnight positions, as well as some Sunday morning trades (Button from 18.5 out to 36 into 21) allowed me to start the race £90 in profit. I was very pleased by this as for once I had traded well, although there were obvious areas for improvement. (A £1,000 trader of the favourite could have achieved this much more easily for instance!) Some further tick swings during the race helped me to an eventual win of just over £100, almost doubling my previous best.

No sooner was that over did the afternoon RL start. I had not commented much upon the games beforehand, and it is probably best that I didn’t – my tipping this week was poor, but the one game I felt strongest about on Sunday was Castleford. Regular readers will know my thoughts on both away teams and underdogs, and after being matched at the generous price of 3 overnight for £30, I was fairly comfortable. However, I cannot sit back on a bet, and having completed a draw trade for £18 green on the draw, I cut my liability to Wakefield to £18 pre match and then traded the match in play and although the liquidity was short to dreadful, I had managed to achieve £25 green on Wakefield at 18 – 12 down, before Joe Westerman’s late penalty effectively sealed the match and I ended up with near enough my pre match green on Castleford of close to £35.

As for the other matches, I was surprised, and disappointed!, that Warrington never really traded in the mid 1.0s despite being 12 – 0 up, and largely missed Salford’s comeback to 12 – 20, although my belief that they were way too large at Half Time did allow me to earn nearly £25, whilst I managed to earn the princely sum of £4.99 from the Huddersfield game through small trades. I wisely avoided the half time lay of Huddersfield at 1.11. If it had been in the 1.0s though, I would have been down for the day on RL! Sadly, there didn’t seem to be the large lays available that I had seen in recent weeks. Hopefully this was a one off though! They have proved most profitable.

So, a poor weekend trading wise although a good weekend results wise, even if I do think that outright betting would be more profitable and a lot less hassle – it just isn’t me. This is a guy so risk averse that when starting a pension at 21 I put most of that in Gilts!!!

My profit and loss through Betfair and Free bets now stands at over £7,000 in total, £5,000 of which has come since 6 April. An incredible amount really and a testament to the sheer hard work I have put in, in my opinion. Obviously though that looks set to drop considerably going forward. My off-season ideas of NFL and Correct Score Football won’t bring in much, but they hopefully will prove profitable; they did produce a small profit when I was less experienced last year.

So, maybe it is time to treat myself. If my savings from work have provided this Ashes summer, what about a trip to America to watch Arizona Cardinals, or a trip to Australia for next year’s Ashes. Or, a year off work… whilst I go back to study for the Legal Practice Course.

Those of you who know me, know my love of procrastination, but I finally submitted an application for the LPC at the eleventh hour on Wednesday, and I am now faced with the biggest decision of my life, well at least since Strawberry or Vanilla ice cream on Friday evening. (On a serious note, I had anticipated applying for University / LPC before my Ashes summer and having left my job before then which was why I moved back home to St Helens in April, despite working in Leeds! No point taking a 6 month lease when I thought I would only need it for 10 weeks. The past 4 months commute has not been fun and will have to end whatever decision is made, probably.)

I should hear about my application within the next two weeks, and I would have to hand my notice in at work immediately so it is imperative that I arrive at a decision as to whether I would accept any offer, and it is an issue that is running through my mind constantly; shortening my sleep and probably effecting my trading.

Those of you who are purely interested in trading can close the window now because I will probably rant through my mind for the next two minutes in case any kind visitor can make some sense of my thoughts. (It is good to get them down on paper in any case. I have no idea why I am airing them on this blog however. Am I that desperate for clarity?)

All my way up to University, I had wanted to train as a barrister until I effectively became confused in my second year, and refused to commit to anything; getting a job whilst I thought about things. Four years later and I am still unsure! (I have suffered a fairly big injury and illness in the intervening periods which explain most of the delay!)

I had always dismissed the LPC, and had visions of returning to University and possibly going into Academia aka Student forever. However, it is becoming more and more apparent that I could not decide, and given the past six years of my life, Barrister training is out and the LPC is an option if I want to pursue law.

Anyway, with University not an option now until next year, when I will be 26, and 30 at the very least before I would probably finish my further education, the LPC has become more and more appealing. I have an interest in law, could always eventually train to become a barrister, or revert back to Academia. Heck, I could even continue as a solicitor; that’s not too bad!

However, £7,000 - £10,000 is a lot of money to spend on something which isn’t clear cut, and I also have concerns as to whether I would waste this opportunity like I have so many in my life, and how overawed I would be having not read a law textbook in four years. I also can’t completely discount the current economic climate. The course is no guarantee of a related job. Some people get those before starting the course, and I would definitely be behind the 8 ball.

If it was purely 50 / 50, the decision would be easy. It’s the fact that I’m 85 / 15 in favour that makes it so tough and further complicating matters is the emergence of a possible job at my current workplace which would make use of my law degree and allow me to research my options further.

All in all, I suspect my passion is Academia. However, passion must give way to realism and the LPC would be a great challenge; one to open more doors than it closes. It would also end my current life dissatisfaction through wasting away in a mediocre job and not really following my passions (I really don’t want another year of that above all else). The easiest answer would be rejection from the Course, and I think that will happen anyway (I always think all my trades will lose too!) but if it shouldn’t I have to be prepared. And I’m not.

And there is the end of a completely unrelated rant to the blog, and I apologise if I have wasted anyone’s time! However, to make it up to anyone who has got this far, might I suggest trading Rugby League. It’s profitable. Honest!

Coming next: The Premium Charge and more life rantings.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

The harder you work, the luckier you get.

I can be bloody hard on myself at times but the truth is that is how you improve.

Just over a month ago, my confidence had seemed to peak before I made some ridiculous decisions. I lost a comparatively lot of money by throwing money around without thinking and then refused to bail out of a £500 loss. A loss which six months ago would have left me devastated but made me feel like it could be a major turning point.

I don't want to get back to the over-confidence that I displayed at that time, but right now, I feel quite good, and that the £500 loss was the breakthrough I anticipated.

This weekend I primarily traded four games when to be honest, I've been feeling bloody poor.

The first game was Barrow v Whitehaven where I lost £99.99. Feeling ill clouded my judgement and I was also slightly reckless, turning down a £50 profit expecting Barrow to surge ahead in the second half only for Whitehaven to ease home in the end.

The second game I almost didn't trade as I was feeling quite ill. However, despite dealing with a very sticky API service and in a game where the fast picture guys were out in force, I had managed to secure £100 on both St Helens and Wakefield. Ironically, if I had shown the same persistence with Wakefield as I did with Barrow, I would have been in a much better position, but I stuck with my gut which despite feeling like crap is proving to be fairly accurate.

Anyway, with five minutes to go and Saints behind by 2 the draw market went scizophrenic. You could back the draw at 30+ when Wakefield had the ball, and lay the draw at 11-15 when Saints had the ball. Indeed, someone eventually pushed the draw out to 720, although only for £1 or so. After doing this a few times, I had £900 on the draw, when with time running out, Saints were awarded a penalty.

On one level, sheer luck decided this. On another level, having worked so hard on the draw this year, it was not luck but my hard work which helped me to take advantage of this. Anyway, as the kick was being lined up, having been stung to the tune of £500 by a missed kick a few weeks ago, and given that Saints had not made a kick all night, I traded out. Whilst the draw was as low as 1.2 at one point, I accepted 1.8 - 2.2 and collected my £500 hoping, as a Saints fan, for the kick to go over. It didn't and the hooter subsequently sounded immediately.

The draw is a puzzling beast. It is something that I have made a lot of money from. However, at the same time, so have persistent layers with only one draw in 140+ Super League games this season. I'm sure there are better ways to make money than laying a 2 point game with 5 minutes to go at odds of 30+, but it is showing a profit for both the layers, and the backers like me. The losers? Those who don't have the foresight to back the draw at nice odds but rather rush in at 2.0.

Anyway, another excellent return.

Onto Sunday, and I opted to discuss the game's events in the Paltalk trading room through Bettrader. Hopefully people who were there managed to learn one or two tricks and for those of you who weren't, I'll describe the afternoon below.

I traded the non televised game of Bradford v Wigan, and this is where my big breakthroughs have come recently. At first, I thought the lack of money made these games untradeable, but the fact is, that money does get matched, and at stupid odds.

Wigan, who started at 2.0, led 6 - 0 and someone pushed them down to 1.08. They were that desperate to get a bet on that they ignored any concept of value, and whilst I didn't get matched there, I did get a £200 lay at 1.25 matched at Half Time.

Now, what I did next was controversial in so far as given a large red on Wigan, I opted to offer equally silly value back, offering to back Wigan in the 1.4s. However, in an illiquid market, a profit is a profit and given that you never know if anyone will be around, it is probably safer to do this.

Anyway, Wigan scored again, and my red increased as Wigan were backed as low as 1.15. However, Bradford then came back to lead 14 - 12 with less than ten to go. Whilst I had laid Bradford for a total of £600, I had converted this into only £150, displaying more of a loss avoidance technique than a value based one which my long term profitability now allows me to employ.

However, it wasn't over yet, and further lays of Bradford at 1.19, which was equally ridiculous, allowed me to end up with over £250 when Wigan scored two late tries to win. If only Bradford had scored at the end though, I had £700 on the draw!

A very interesting afternoon although one which to be honest, if you don't have a love of RL and a willingness to listen to the games out of interest, probably isn't worth it. Indeed, I definitely get too carried away with red on my screen and in general and staying calm is something that I definitely need to improve.

One comment that was made to me before was that given my success in this market by what is essentially a "being the highest of the low" pricers was why do I publish my methods? The truth is that I want to get more people involved in RL trading, and I want to get more money in the markets. I would back myself in a liquid market way more than in an illiquid one and if people arrive pushing the prices up, then obviously we have a more complete market which will allow for greater trading.

The final match of the weekend was Sunday's main event; the televised clash between Catalans and Harlequins.

Quins gave a good showing considering their injury crisis, and due to ridiculous liquidity (Everyone watching cricket and golf I suspect), their price stayed sensible making it hard for me to get fully involved other than backing the draw, which at 8-0, was a great price of 50.

The main issue of the match however, was my actions when Quins were 20 - 4 down and the refereeing.

As I say, the harder you work the luckier you get. (Obviously someone said this before me, but anyway...) I had laid Catalans at 1.03 and backed Quins in the 40s at this point which was little better than fair value when Quins gave away a penalty and looked out of the match only for Catalans to knock on, and Quins to race away narrowing the lead to 20 - 14 and giving me close to £2,000 risk free on the London outfit.

However, the sport of Rugby League is one where a random incident can have a great impact. Could anyone see the looming knock on? Of course not. However, having traded all bar a few SL games this year, I knew well enough that one random play would produce a good profit and that is the key reason why it is so profitable to lay low in Super League. Regardless of the flow of the game, one knock on, one interception, one refereeing decision, one moment of skill, can turn a game on its head in a way that no one can accurately predict, save for the fact that you can predict the unpredictability. If that makes sense.

The second point is the amount of people who consider RL to be possibly "bent" in terms of the refereeing decisions on the Betfair forum. To this, I say nonesense. Yes, you get some "eh" decisions and yes you get some decisions which are wrong, but to suggest that there is a plan to keep games close is ridiculous in my view.

Like players, referees can make mistakes and I would also say that you could penalise every play the ball. Be it moving off the mark, lying on, hands in, offside... there is always something not quite right. Referees don't give decisions to make games close. Games are made close by refereeing decisions. The key is to acknowledge this and profit off the back of it.

In the end, I didn't win anything as Quins never got the next try that I was hoping for and would have produced a very large win but after this weekend, I can't be disappointed, can I?

Now, if only I could apply this dedication and work ethic to my life in general...! But, as my mates would say, how many times have we heard that...!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Brief, muddled and conditional thoughts before I disappear for the week

Just a very quick post regarding initial thoughts on this weekend’s rugby before I head off to Cardiff to sit in a pub judging by the recent weather forecasts. If anyone knows of any good ones or ones which show the RL, let me know!

Now, I would not usually ever post thoughts this early. The markets have not been set up and I am useless at predicting these and there is still a lot of team news to emerge. That said, let’s roll the dice.

Wakefield v Leeds is the Friday SKY game, and I would advise a wait and see approach. The past four games have seen the favourites go two scores up inside 20 minutes and then they can be laid in the 1.0s or 1.1s! Laying at that price should get you very far! That said, there has also been more liquidity recently which has pushed the draw price out, so I would keep an eye out for that pre match. Anything over 40 would represent good value for trading later.

Wigan v Catalans is another Friday game and one which will see little liquidity in play, but that doesn’t mean little value as I’ve found out recently. This is a funny game because I have grown to strongly oppose Wigan prices recently but they have kept on winning. Still, the Market has a lot of love for Wigan and that is definitely a valuable opportunity for value seekers. However, how will the market react to Wigan being without three back rowers, their reserve hooker, their first choice (but second rate) halfback and Martin Gleeson. Catalans don’t travel well, but at anything below 1.3, they would represent very good value. 1.3 to the 1.4 would be decent value and 1.4 to 1.5 would probably be fair value given that Wigan appear to have developed a good team spirit, Catalans’ poor travelling form and the fact that none of Wigan’s injuries are really that crucial.

If there is one game I love to trade it is St Helens v Warrington. That was one of the first games I ever traded in 2008, and I seem to remember doing reasonably well in their Cup match before I tipped Warrington coming back from 1.05, sending to Saints to double figures before eventually losing which was one of the two games that convinced me that maybe I could make a good profit. This year, I also called Warrington from 4 into odds on before losing!

So I am gutted to miss this game, although I would say that this is a game where the money will likely be made in play. However, Warrington have displayed more consistency under Tony Smith and Saints have a few injuries, although I would expect last week’s loss to send them out more motivated than ever. The pre-match odds will be very interesting, but if you are looking for a pre kick off prediction here, don’t ask me! Just sit back and watch what has to be the most volatile match up ever. (However, I like Saints’ in the Challenge Cup market where they have drifted from 1.6 to 1.7 on the basis of Friday night, a ridiculous overreaction in my opinion.)

Saturday’s other games include Harlequins v Huddersfield which is another game I would not like to comment on until I see the match odds. Harlequins have played poorly recently whilst Huddersfield are coming off a good win over Wakefield. Usually, that would make me favour Harlequins, although how much will home advantage (over) effect the market? As a general rule, I would probably go for the outsider for value purposes, but again, are any of Quins’ players back from injury?

The other game on Saturday is Celtic v Salford, and with me staying very close to Celtic’s ground, if the cricket is rained off, I will likely venture down. Another tough match to call without reference to the odds. Salford should be clear favourites, but might they ease off after last weekend’s win and is Matty Smith back for Celtic yet? Celtic’s recent financial issues may also draw them closer together. If you can get in the 1.2s to lay Salford, that would be good value, although I would be surprised if Salford were that low.

On Sunday, two out of form sides meet in Hull KR v Bradford. Again, I would want to see the match odds before commenting. I thought Hull KR were under-rated last week and Bradford over-rated although whether this was home advantage or the market’s views, I don’t know. Certainly, if Bradford resemble Castleford’s odds from last week, I would look to get on them. If Bradford resemble Hull KR’s odds from last week, I would probably steer clear.

The other game, Castleford v Hull, would, on the face of it, look to represent my strongest position of the week. Castleford won last week so might be over-rated. Hull lost so might be under-rated but displayed some very good team spirit and attacking prowess which were my two biggest question marks over Hull. Castleford are at home so despite some poor performances at home this week, might be over-rated here. If Hull have a couple of players back from injury, then Castleford could be vastly under-priced. Alternatively, the market may read the game correctly or Castleford’s need to win may drive them home. However, based upon recent market starting prices, I would think Castleford could be as low as 1.3 and that price should be laid and I think that’s the most unconditional I have been so far!

And don’t forget the Northern Rail Cup final on Sunday at 5:15 on SKY. Although Barrow were poor last week, Widnes look ridiculously low at 1.5, and that might be worth watching in play, although as with any semi professional match, these are much harder to call, in my opinion.

But above all, I would advise that if you have a spare afternoon on Sunday, that you watch the cricket with the RL markets up and look for value or even throw out some speculative lays. There are some people out there who seem to like to make bets with no reference to value, and without me there to compete with you for these prices, you might strike lucky. In play trading, and the draw, is where the biggest value lies, in my opinion.

As always, I do not hold any liability if any of the above is completely wrong! They are just my thoughts and based upon general principles which may not apply in every game. No-one can call a RL game with certainty before the match starts, but sometimes there are clues which can lead you down a particular road!

Anyway, time to go and get some lunch and then head off to Wales for the start of the Ashes summer. Come on England!

Sunday, 5 July 2009


After a morning shopping for some last minute clothes and other bits and bobs for my week in Wales, I returned home to follow the afternoon’s rugby and if I spotted any value on Betfair, then great, I could do with a nice profit after a rather poor week and having just spent an obscene amount of money on a pair of sunglasses.

However, to begin with I was not wholly focused and almost got into a very bad situation when my mobile phone lost all power whilst out at 2.30, leaving me with potentially a very large liability on the afternoon’s two games depending upon any last minute price swings. Add in more national rail incompetence, and I didn’t even arrive home until 15 minutes had passed in both Super League games. Thankfully however, my fears of a possible large liability went unfounded.

Still, both games had largely uneventful first halves, although I did have some lays in the 1.1s nibbled at which some would say was very fair value given that both favourites held a two score lead.

The major change was in the second half when with there being little action in the Huddersfield v Wakefield match, the Castleford v Bradford match exploded into life.

Castleford scored first in the second half, pushing the score to 22 – 18 and maybe on account of my relatively poor week or on account of my search for value, I opted to pile in on a near £800 wanting to back Bradford in the mid 1.1s. At this point, if Bradford had scored next, I probably would have lost it all, but I made an instant decision to go for it.

Castleford then scored again to take the lead at 22 – 24, and I made the decision to offer up value by offering a lay of Bradford at 1.3 and 1.4. There are definitely two schools of thought here. The first is that I am giving up value which, in the long run will depreciate profit. The second is that I am looking to avoid losses, and that in a game which notoriously has low liquidity, the value concept should be adjusted to include that. After all, laying in the 1.1s was a tremendous trading opportunity. As a one off bet, its value was probably no more than good.

The other reason that I follow the second strand is because my initial bets are very rare. There is very limited turnover during the games, and so the ability to profit is vastly reduced. I would probably back myself more in a more efficient, liquid market than in an illiquid market where fastest finger or luck can be the greatest influence. Certainly, the more that gets turned over, the more money will be bet and that is of great interest to me. Let’s also not forget that £100 is a large liability, and not one that I always like to take on!

Anyway, Cas went onto score two more tries and I was stunned by the good fortune I had received. I was then able to trade out as low as the 1.3s on Cas, which had near enough guaranteed me a win of £280, only for Bradford to come back to level the game at 34 – 34!

By now, I was getting increasingly excited as I had also placed a £10 back of the draw prior to kick off, and I had a very large green on the draw of over £800. Castleford went on and scored again however, but at 40 – 34, the draw could not be ignored, and was trading at a remarkable 16.5! and as the full time whistle approached, and a final lay of Castleford of 1.05 got taken, Bradford seemed to go near enough the distance to score with minutes remaining!

However, they had scored in the corner and needed the kick to draw level. At this point, there was still sensational value on the draw of 6 and later 8 which was frankly incredible. The odds of the kick being converted were probably around 2/1. Maybe an extra .5 to 1 weighting for layers securing a profit, but that was value.

Adding to the pressure was the sound of the full time hooter as the ball seemed to be in the air. Only, for the ball…. to….. shave…..the….post.

And with that, I missed out on my largest ever win and had not even managed to trade out. This was precisely the situation I had dreaded. £500 resting on a single kick where despite my best intentions, I could not trade out.

Of course, it is hard to feel too sorry for me. After all, I did win over £400 before commission, but to miss out on such a large extra by a couple of metres is the stuff of nightmares.

Add in a very small win on Wakefield, and a small loss on Andy Roddick (any other time I would have traded out, but following a £400 win, I was prepared to keep a small red) and I have turned what looked like a poor week into a great week. Indeed, the first week of the RL season that I will miss comes just as I seem to be hitting top form. Since my disaster in the Wakefield game, I have earned over £1,500 which takes my profit for the year over £5,000, and my profit from 6 April, when I resolved to get more serious, to an incredible £4,000.

It just goes to show that all the hard work I have put into this is paying off and if I am getting lucky in the less liquid games, it is only because I am working so hard, constantly looking for value. Now, if only I could apply such a work ethic to perhaps the more important things in life which, whilst I don’t neglect, I don’t embrace with the same dedication that I do here. (Possibly because they can go much more wrong than a loss of profit, but that’s another story for another day.)

As I am not here next week, I will try to quickly post a preview of the weekend’s action tomorrow, although given that it will be without odds and team news, it will be very vague but hopefully still of some use.

Saturday, 4 July 2009


Three games this evening and it would be fair to say that I feel a great deal of frustration at the moment. Most of that would come from the last game of the evening, where Catalans defeated Hull KR 23 – 12.

Carrying a liability on Catalans into the game, I was fortunate to trade out at a higher price on Hull KR whilst they had a try disallowed by the video referee, and then resorted to my usual type of laying the fast starting favourite heavily, taking what I considered to be the generous prices of 1.15 at 12 – 6. However, Catalans’ try on the stroke of half time made my position less comfortable, and for once I relied upon the generosity of a layer, getting out at 1.3 at Half Time for a small red on Catalans, and a nice green on Hull KR and the Draw.

About ten minutes through the second half, I risked my lot by laying Catalans at 1.11. At the time, I thought this was superb value for a two score game. Looking back, it probably wasn’t the value I thought, but it still was very fair, and getting an additional £100 matched at 1.05 didn’t hurt.

For the next twenty or so minutes Hull KR appeared to bomb chance after chance whilst receiving penalty after penalty, only to score to make it 18 – 12 with ten minutes to go. However, the market did not move. Now, at this point, my red on Catalans was only around £40, but I wanted out and offered the exceptional value of 1.2 to eliminate my red and was now tasked with over £250 on Hull KR, £300 on the draw and a marginal amount on Catalans.

However, I cannot begin to describe how exceptional value this was. In a one score game, the favourites could still be laid in the mid 1.2s whilst a draw layer was comfortable giving up 16.5. My only surprise is that no-one bit. In a more liquid game, this would have been smashed, and this lack of liquidity meant that I could only sweat and hope for a massive win. After all, there was no-one looking to back Hull KR and the prices were already insane. Sadly, it wasn’t to be as the betters achieved another success over the value takers.

The middle game of the evening saw Warrington defeat Celtic but only after a slow start. Again, some fair value was taken although as like last week, three quick tries in the second half from Warrington eliminated any hope of a big profit.

Preceding all this was the SKY game, Hull v Leeds, which was a very interesting game. My thoughts before the game were that Leeds represented value and the team news did nothing to alter my mind as Hull only had one prop on the bench, and let’s face it, none of Paul King, Jamie Thackray or Sam Moa are exactly known for their stamina.

However, I could not bring myself to back Leeds before the game, and some good trades were cancelled out by the drop on Leeds to as low as 1.16 before the game kicked off. A quick try saw Leeds reach 1.09, so I laid. Only for Leeds to score again, pushing the price to 1.05, so I laid again. Hull did score to allow me to green out and cancel my earlier backs overall although it was then pretty much one way traffic, mixed in with an unfortunate video referee decision and a moment of idiocy from Willie Manu. (Maybe I am being harsh and he did not hear the whistle, but it wasn’t exactly his first error.)

At 36 – 12, it looked all over, but by this point, I was sitting on around £35 on Leeds, which to be honest amazed me. Having reviewed how I got to this amount, I can only say that it was by market trading and this re-inforced why I love trading Rugby League. Recently, I have taken a decisive move to embrace the subjective concept of value, and it hasn’t worked out great, although as such a strategy is based on long term success, I’m not unhappy with it (I just wish I had not been so cautious last week!).

However, part of the reason I can take such a position is because I know the markets. No-one can ever accurately predict what the market will do, but if you study it long enough, you learn that every event has a price. A knock on, a penalty, a goal line drop out, a bad kick, a good kick, a half break, a full break. Everything has its price, and there are always two opinions. The sooner you embrace that, the sooner you will profit.

Anyway, just as Hull scored to make it 36 – 16, I opted to chance my arm and laid £1,000 at 1.01. Not a huge amount, but a potential big win, and even if it just moved to 1.02, I could achieve a free £500. Not only did it do that, but it moved out to 1.09 I think as Hull closed to within 12 and almost closed to within 6 until a Rob Burrow drop goal effectively ended the game.

However, Hull showed great spirit if not ability and fought back to 37 – 30, only for a late Leeds try to absolutely secure victory, by which time I had increased my profit to £80 and leave me astonished.

I’ve made some good calls in the past, executed some good games but this felt by far my best performance. There is an old saying that the best succeed when they perform badly, and I had got the game very wrong in terms of prediction, but had secured an exceptional result.

I embraced the volatility, took chances and yes, I did get lucky, but for the first time in a very long time, I walked away thinking I could not have really traded any better.

There were also very encouraging signs for Hull. Their team is not very good, and they had not even scored five tries in a match since March! However, they showed excellent resiliency and that they want to play for their coach. That is a massive boost, and whilst they have signed three players who are past their best for 2010 in Sean Long, Mark O’Meley and Craig Fitzgibbon, the one thing you can’t doubt is that they will give 100% effort and should add the class that they have been lacking this year. (On a related note, what has happened to Chris Thorman? I was never a huge fan, but his form since last year has been on a par with the National Leagues.)

By my own high standards, it has been a disappointing week, and I believe that it may be my second worst of the year. I’m not going to achieve the profit required to make the £5,000 yearly profit before I go to Cardiff, but I feel that over the past two weeks, I have definitely improved my general trading. Maybe I am looking for the big win and the underdog too much, but I’m not convinced. The fact is that in play betting creates fantastic opportunities, and all you need is one or two to come off to have an excellent win.

If I was looking for areas of improvement, two stick out like a sore thumb. Firstly, I need to embrace short value a lot more. I considered Leeds to be good value at 1.25, but never got on. Maybe it is because I usually play with relatively small stakes, but value is value, and by steering clear, all I am doing is cutting my profits.

Secondly, and this was hugely obvious in the Catalans v Hull KR game, I get way too nervous during games. I need to become calmer not only to ensure that my decisions are rational, but also for general health reasons! The way I was fretting, you would think that I had stood to win £300,000. Not £300. I guess this reverts back to my non gambling mentality and wish to always equalise, but there is still no reason to be excessively agitated. Whatever happens will happen whilst I was reacting with extreme nervousness, sweating like crazy and feeling my heart rate noticeably increase.

Anyway, two games to go before I depart for Cardiff. I like both underdogs for value reasons, although neither are exactly nailed on. However, hopefully both favourites will take an early lead, offer excellent value, and then wilt in the second half. Only time will tell, however.

Friday, 3 July 2009


I really should stop lumping on early prices in RL matches. Whenever I do that, I tend to end up in a poor position which I never get out of, and tonight was no exception.

After backing Harlequins at what I considered to be a ridiculously high price at 3.65 on Wednesday evening, they went onto trade at 4.3 prior to kick off, and even a couple of nice pre match trades did little to assist me.

To make matters even worse, I was re-arranging my equipment when Wigan scored an early try and their price dropped to 1.15, which seemed to be beyond absurd, although no sooner had it reached 1.15, then they scored again to get to the 1.0s, and again to get to 1.03. I can only apologise to anyone who stumbled upon this blog and had heeded my advice.

At this point, I had a very large red on Wigan and decided to screw it, and to lay Wigan at 1.03, moving several thousand green on to Harlequins and the Draw, all the while thinking that whilst the prices were ridiculous value, it looked for all purposes that Lumpy was going to ease home.

However, Quins then seemed to realise that they were in a RL match and scored a try to make the score 14 – 6. At this point, I could have taken a nice profit and still left a large green on Quins, but in my attempt to seek value, I largely let the bet run only for Harlequins’ David Howell to effectively end the match with a moment of lunacy when he took out Sam Tomkins a good five or so seconds after the whistle had blown.

Of course, there was no option for anything but the red card to come out for the first time this season and making matters worse was the penalty to Wigan deep in Harlequins’ half, which Wigan scored from to make the score 18 – 6, and whilst there was some hope, that was all eliminated by Wigan’s try just before Half Time which made the score 24 – 6.

So, what went wrong?

I think the number one point to make is that when you move to a value system as opposed to a loss elimination system, results like this will happen. The key area that I need to improve on is letting winning trades run longer.

The game was also the perfect example of why I like to watch games early on. Favourites can shoot down in prices, and irrespective of a team’s form, they can come out and be abysmal or brilliant for no apparent reason.

However, I maintain my original position which was that the odds on the game were incorrect, and just wish I had traded out when Quins scored and approached the game more methodically.

I was saved from ultimate disaster however by Salford’s win over Saints. Now, last night I could not seen an opening, but when Saints shortened to 1.08 despite team news showing they were without several first team regulars, I placed a speculative £20 on Salford.

Early on in the game, I was so engrossed in the Wigan game that I missed several opportunities to enhance my position, rather backing Saints trying to achieve something, all the while lumping on the draw as some person was taking it out, only for small amounts, to over 100 which was beyond ridiculous.

During the second half, I looked to trade this game, although the liquidity was understandably poor due to the game not being televised, and succeeded in making over £100 from the game, although if only there had been more interest in the draw, then my winnings could have been even greater!

So, disappointingly, despite some good results on Saints v Salford, last night’s rugby and £30 from the exit of Andy Murray, I am down around £50 this week. However, I will hope to make some back tomorrow although I do feel that tomorrow’s SKY game could be a 1.01 express, that there appears to be no value in the Warrington game ( I thought that about the Saints game!) although Hull KR do appear to be slightly overpriced in tomorrow’s other game.

Therefore, it looks like I won’t manage to reach the £5,000 yearly profit before I depart for Wales and the 1st Ashes test, but it’s hard to be too disappointed at the moment! I just hope tomorrow’s SKY game offers more trading possibilities than tonight’s.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Looking ahead to the weekend (again!).

Another decent Thursday night in a large part thanks to Toulouse’s opening try of the game not long after I had laid Barrow. Of course, I had greened out before Toulouse scored their second try, and that is becoming a recurring pattern and something that I will need to correct going forward.

Anyway, in addition to other trades in the first half, and my approach to the draw, I ended up winning £35 after commission, which is a good result for a Thursday night game where the liquidity seems to get worse every week. The result could have been different but I did not really trade the second half; with BetTrader seeming to suffer from heavy lagging, and my own inability to get a grip on the game.

I had intended to post last night on how I study games before I ran through this weekend’s games tonight. Sadly, thanks to the incompetence of National Rail, that didn’t get completed, but hopefully I will find the time to post it despite I head off to Wales next week for the first Ashes test. (Although if National Rail continue with their incompetence… I was delayed by almost an hour tonight! The trains seemingly cope as well with sun as they do with snow.)

Looking ahead to Friday’s games, the non televised game sees Saints play Salford at The Willows, and I can’t really see any potential opening. I had expected Saints to be lower, which would have offered a small bet on Salford, but that just goes to show that I can’t predict the bookmakers’ prices!

The other game is the televised game, and this is the type of game which I dislike for reasons which might sound bizarre at first. Basically, I strongly disagree with the bookmakers’ price to the extent that I want to get into a big fight with them! Now, when I have felt this strongly before this season, it has worked out pretty well, but as I was planning to outline last night, Rugby League is fundamentally a game that can turn on a large number of factors, some of which are essentially random, and the more I disagree with the price, the more likely I am to eventually get one wrong, big time. After all, I always figure that there must be a reason for the price, and what am I missing?

I could not help myself from piling into Harlequins last night at a price which, whilst representing value, will only increase to kick off. This leaves me in a pickle of whether to trust my instinct or to reduce the red that I have on Wigan, and thereby reduce the odds that I effectively hold on Harlequins.

The other problem that comes with having backed the Quins is that if Wigan get off to a very quick start, it restricts my ability to jump on even better value. Favourites in RL matches nearly always get pushed down to an absurd level when they start a match well (The Lumpy Effect) but if you already have a very large red on them, then piling on them again won’t reduce the average odds by a substantial amount, whilst it offers much larger potential for a big mistake, if you actually find yourself on a 1.01 express. Have you tried jumping from a moving train recently?

As regular readers will know, I have the ability to talk myself out of anything, so before I do this, let me outline in brief why I disagree with the price strongly.

After 20 minutes of the Wigan v Hull KR game, the Warriors were a club in crisis. They need a new coach for next year given that Brian Noble is almost certain to leave, and have had a big player, Gareth Hock, provisionally suspended for drug use. They have not performed to expectations, and whilst the news that Sam Tomkins will play is a big boost, Wigan are no longer the force they were.

Meanwhile, Harlequins have had a fantastic year. They are a well coached, disciplined outfit who have excelled on their travels this year. They play as a team, and their young kids have really stepped up this year.

Put simply, there is no way that Harlequins are as poor a side to accurately represent the odds and that is how I perceive the game (Super League itself is a much more level playing competition now). I am bound to get one wrong eventually, but taking a long term look at how the teams have performed this year and their respective skill levels the price cannot be justified in my view.

However, and here is where I begin to doubt my gut feeling, Wigan did come back against Hull KR, showing tremendous spirit, and Sam Tomkins played a huge role in that, and he will play the full 80 on Friday. Meanwhile, Harlequins are without the inspirational Rob Purdham and the danger of Luke Dorn.

But, add in the fact that I always disagree with the extent that odds display home advantage and the fact that I nearly always disagree with the way favourites get shortened, and I think I have to stick with my gut instinct.

One final point that I would contend is that even if Wigan go onto win easily, this would not necessarily mean that my initial thoughts were incorrect. Put simply, I am interested in general value and therefore playing a match once, with a large number of random variables, does not allow you to accurately determine whether I got it wrong. Indeed, it is these random events, such as a penalty, or a knock on (which, depending on field position can by themselves create massive opportunities out of sync with the flow of the game) which probably explain why underdogs can seem to do so well generally.

So, ultimately, whilst this bet has a relatively high percentage chance of being wrong, the potential reward far outweighs the ultimate risk, but only if you ultimately stay with your initial conviction! If like me, you trade out too soon, then you will struggle with such a relatively long term trade!

Moving onto Saturday’s game, and I have no strong opinion on the Leeds v Hull game. Hull are a solid side, who really struggle going forward. It will be hard to see this being turned around against the best defence in Super League, and with this game being on TV, it is one that I initially want to watch.

Celtic v Warrington is another game which is hard to find an opening into. Tony Smith has removed some of Warrington’s inconsistencies, and they should have enough to ease past the Welsh outfit in terms of talent.

Catalans v Hull KR is a difficult game because my initial instinct is to lay Catalans. Again, I consider Hull KR to be overpriced. The visitors are coming off a difficult loss, and their awful June has ended, whilst Catalans are coming off a win, which leads to the French outfit being overpriced.

The relative disruption that travelling to France causes does mean that Catalans normally receive a slight home advantage, but should they be such clear favourites? I think not, but again, this is a value call more than anything.

Sunday’s games fall into exactly the same situation, although I would say that my strength of conviction is less here. Whilst I positively identified the two above games as being wrong, I disagree less strongly with the two Sunday games, but believe that value does lie with the underdogs. Backing Bradford has been fairly profitable this year, but again, at 1/3, they are underrated against a Castleford side who need to start winning to get back into the playoffs, and will be very motivated for this game (I would have wanted 1.6 and above to consider Bradford as value, and less than 1.5 to consider Cas). I also would have expected Huddersfield to be 1.5, and not 1.4, for their clash against Wakefield, who always appear to play better than expected, unless they don’t show up and get thrashed!

So, there are my brief thoughts on the weekend’s action. Four games have been identified as creating possible value, and if two of them come in, then given the odds, you would be in a nice position! However, I keep looking at games and thinking that even if they are value, they will all eventually lose one week! Just hopefully not this week, and hopefully not Harlequins!