Thursday, 13 August 2009

Only four rounds left

With only thirty seven Super League games left this season it really is time to start making the most of what is left and thankfully there seems to be plenty of impressive opportunities this weekend.

It only seems like yesterday that Leeds kicked off the season at home to new boys Celtic but my trading has evolved massively since then although I will ultimately look back at this season with a feeling of what if. There have been several huge opportunities that I never grasped and several swings which I bailed on too soon. In fact, I still am, and I keep doubting that the swings will keep coming but hopefully they will.

And that is the problem with predictions and why I get so nervous when I stick my neck on the line. It also explains why I can talk myself in to and out of almost anything! It is alright considering something to be “value”. I feel that I can certainly nail that concept but at the end of the day, the game will come down to 80 minutes of individual play which has an enormous variable. The difference between losing 40 – 0 and winning 40 – 0 is smaller than ever and whilst that will obviously lead to a natural favouritism towards underdogs, there is very little justification when you find yourself well down after the side you fancied gets a beating.

Indeed, I keep expecting the law of averages to pull me back but so far so good largely, and I just hope that I can defy the law of averages for the rest of the season.

So the weekend starts on Friday with Leeds v Castleford and Warrington v Wigan. Immediately, I am drawn towards Leeds v Castleford. Both teams had last week off and Castleford lost their last game whilst Leeds won their last game. Leeds have home advantage. As regular readers know, that makes it the perfect time to favour Castleford.

Obviously in a one off game, Leeds are favourites. Clear favourites. But when Castleford are a best price of 5/1 with the bookmakers, I know which team I would feel more comfortable backing. I keep expecting Leeds to come good, and I have little doubt that they will hammer one or two teams before the end of the season, maybe even this week but in considering value, I will be looking to back Castleford.

Last week saw Bradford go from 1.3 home favourites against Harlequins to around 2.9 underdogs when they met 6 days later in London and Friday sees two teams meet for the second time in 6 days in Wigan v Warrington. Last Saturday, Warrington secured their first trip to the Challenge Cup Final since 1990 with an impressive victory over Wigan who were pre match favourites at 1.8 in the morning and as low as hilarious 1.2s at just 8 – 0 up.

However, despite losing, Wigan are favourites again and there are three key reasons why. The first is home advantage. The second is that the market has had a man crush on Wigan all year but the third is slightly more genuine in that Warrington have a lot of players out injured. However, when considering Warrington’s first 13, it still looks more than adequate. The problem will likely come in their bench where they will probably field several debutants who are unlikely to have the size to match up with Wigan’s substitutes. (There is also the bounceback factor which means that I automatically consider a bias towards Wigan.)

However, the 1.2s is a ridiculous starting price, although we must equally consider the effect that an early score by a home favourite has on the market in SKY games which means that any initial trade should ensure that some money is kept behind to lay Wigan further if they go ahead. So, whilst a revengeful Wigan should be favourites against an injury hit Warrington side, again the value lies with the underdogs.

I just wish I had followed my advice of not getting involved in the Betfair markets until they have properly settled as I looked to lay Wigan before I had received correct team news although I still believe that the price I laid Wigan at was fair even given Warrington’s injury news.

Moving onto Saturday and there are a further two opportunities. Salford look set to recall Richie Myler and have produced some impressive performances this year defeating both Saints and Leeds. They travel to Harlequins where Quins are a best price of 2/7. Again, the Quins should be favourites, however how short would they be had they not capitulated against Bradford last week? That performance actually makes them more likely to win in my view as they know that they will be in desperate need of victory to reach the playoffs.

Further, the travelling distance involved in playing Harlequins can give them a legitimate home advantage, even if they have tended to perform better away from home this year, and the Quins look to be almost back to full strength. Still, Quins look too short.

The Saturday evening game of Catalans v Hull also sees, surprise surprise, a home favourite looking way too short. Again, I don’t dispute the favourite tag but I do dispute the fact that Catalans are a best price of ¼ to win.

Again, this needs qualification. Hull have been woeful recently and they definitely have injury worries. However, Catalans haven’t been superbly impressive either recently. Looking set to be without their key player Thomas Bosc, Catalans only just scraped home against Salford last week whilst Hull were able to put their feet up and rest. Further, the game is being played at almost a neutral venue, although obviously Catalans will keep the geographical advantage of playing the game in Southern France where the conditions will naturally favour them.

Still, experience tells me that they are too short and despite Catalans needing to win like Harlequins, I know where I would want my money if I could stand the strain of betting as opposed to trading.

Onto Sunday’s games and amazingly, I agree with the bookies on one game. I think the Hull KR v Saints game is priced up correctly and can see no clear edge there.

The other afternoon game sees Wakefield v Celtic, and with Wakefield a best price of 1/16, if you could lay that, well, it wouldn’t be the worst bet in the world. Obviously Celtic are massive underdogs, but at that price, there are definitely worse ways to spend a few pounds. Celtic have defeated Bradford and Wigan this year and if they can produce a good performance and catch Wakefield on an off day stranger things have definitely happened.

Sunday evening sees Huddersfield host Bradford in the SKY game and my immediate question is whether the liquidity will be bursting through like it was when Hull KR hosted Wigan on a Sunday night or whether the liquidity will be all but absent like it was when Catalans hosted Harlequins. My guess is that it will be somewhere in the middle.

Again, I lean towards Bradford being the value selection here. Huddersfield will still be on a high following last week’s Semi Final victory and it can be very hard to replicate the necessary intensity in a game situation after such a great win, although equally it could inspire confidence and allow them to produce a great display. Bradford meanwhile have been inconsistent all year. They have defeated Saints and Leeds but on the whole, underperformed dreadfully although last week’s thrashing of Harlequins should give them a good confidence boost without being such a great win that they can afford to sit back and rest.

Again, in a one off match, Huddersfield should be favourites but at a best price of 4/11 with the bookmakers there is very little value there long term although as advised in the Wigan game, keep something back as an early Huddersfield try will likely crash the price to 1.1s.

So, there we have some quick thoughts on this weekend’s game and they aren’t much different from my usual fare but I do feel that this weekend when I looked at the prices, I was very surprised by three or four whereas usually there is only one stand out price. Obviously, Sod’s law probably indicates that this means that I will be wrong this week, but anyone who has followed my hints so far can probably afford to lose a couple of quid, as such an approach will invariably do from time to time.

Just a quick note on Thursday night’s game which is becoming ever more difficult to trade as the liquidity continues to decline. Still, I did manage to earn a respectable profit of £90 largely through laying Barrow in the 1.1s as the market overreacted to a fast starting favourite and generally fell in love with Barrow. The draw price was bizarre again as it stayed at a generally low 20 – 30s for the first half and then exploded upto 120 as Widnes took the lead in the second half to go 10 – 8 up. Most odd and from then, the price was definitely higher than it should have been. My biggest regret in the game was in backing Barrow at 1.5 after Widnes took the lead to green up. It was a regret because 90 seconds later with nothing further happened, the price was as high as 1.7. Given that I was backing between £300 - £500 back, I’ll let you calculate the missed profit! (Although I must note that Barrow were looking the better side at this point and one knock on or missed tackle or debatable refereeing decision could have crashed price.) It just goes to show though that however experienced you are in the markets, one big player can always do strange things, especially in the less liquid markets.

Anyway, hopefully I will be able to build on this good start with some good underdog performances this weekend. Given the current prices, even just one victory could result in almost breaking even but hopefully there will be more than that although I must say that surely we are due for a 1.01 express in the TV matches shortly!

Finally, with the Premier League starting on Saturday, I will aim to post my thoughts on my Correct Score strategy, to try to make sense of it if possible, tomorrow as well as hopefully being able to comment on a very exciting Friday match.

1 comment:

  1. Great read as usual Craig, look forward to getting involved - problem is Friday night is pub night !!