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!


  1. I wouldn't be so sure that the outrage about the Premium Charge has died down as much as it may appear.

    Many people have been silenced by being banned for life from the Betfair forum for merely criticizing it.

  2. I didn't realise there was this charge, I thought there was only a usage charge. Thanks for pointing it out although I wouldn't mind having the charge - it would mean I'm making alot of money!!