Wednesday, 3 February 2010

During a Super League Game

In my previous post, I outlined the rather unique way I consider pre match odds when trading Super League matches. Now, I will very briefly outline some of the easier to explain strategies I use during the match.

Now, this is just an overview. Obviously some of my trading strategies will be very difficult to explain and will depend upon the flow of the match as I see it and there will be very little point in outlining these. (I also don’t want to explain how I do things 100% - the market isn’t liquid enough to allow someone to copy my entire approach and leave a profit for me!) However, I shall outline some of the more general things to look for when trading a match without explaining how I attempt to read the game during the game because as anyone who has read the below post will know, it makes no sense!

Trading the draw was pretty much the first strategy I ever used. I started trading at around the time the Draw layer appeared. (Someone would push the draw out to 100+ for around £1,000 until there was a draw in the Salford v Celtic Crusaders 2008 Grand Final)

Now, trading the draw can involve using small stakes and yet be very profitable if you back first. The simple idea is that whilst the chance of a game ending up as a draw is small, the chance of the game being close enough to bring about a drop in the draw odds is relatively high. (I know that draw layers can consistently profit which does beg the question of who actually loses, but as we all know, everyone on Betfair wins anyway…) In two years, I can probably count on one hand the games that have caught the express to 1000. And, to be honest, most of these have been games where the draw strategy is clearly unavoidable.

So, you back the draw early on. What to do next is entirely up to you. You can either leave it until it reaches a point where you are happy to trade out to remove any liability, or you can look to consistently trade the draw throughout the game; taking advantage of price swings as the market overreacts to events and the relatively low liquidity available forces position takers to take up positions which are amenable to traders.

One position I have recently started to adopt is to look to lay the draw. The truth is, there are times where the draw odds can be too low and are profitable laying. Any game which sees a starting position of below 25 is definitely a long term laying proposition whilst I have also been interested in the differences in the market for a game that is level at Half Time or which sees a gap of 2 or 4 points. The fact is, if a game is level at HT, I don’t think the odds of a draw at FT are necessarily lower than if there is a gap of say 2 or 4 points. We are not dealing with football here where the result sees few changes. You can look to expect over 20 points on average in the second half of a RL game which should see points differentials increase. Even the most recent game, Leeds v Crusaders, which was scoreless between 41 and 60 minutes, saw the draw occasionally peak out to beyond the Half Time odds!

And whatever happens, I have never seen the draw be less than 10 after 60 minutes, which limits the potential liability involved.

Of course, the chance of the game ending up as a draw is low which raises the question of when to trade out. In the playoffs and the 4 Nations final, I took the position of letting my draw bets run but on the whole I would say this is unadvisable. (You have no idea of my reaction to the Wigan v Castleford playoff game when with 77 minutes gone, Castleford kicked to the corner and the ball just bounced into touch before Kirk Dixon got there. My £14,000 possible profit on the draw matched the colour of my face!) It depends on how you trade the game in general. The truth is I prefer to close my liability pretty quickly but to keep my green on the draw. That sounds somewhat of a contradiction but that works well with my trading style.

One other piece of information is what to do when the draw comes in. I can recall several draws being overturned last year. The 1.01 in Castleford v Leeds when I was sat in a pub without SKY not having a damn clue what was going on. Leigh v Featherstone(?) where 1.4 got turned over. Saints v Wakefield where 1.8 got turned over as Saints missed a late kick. Leeds v Warrington where the draw traded around 2.5 before getting turned over as I again sat in a pub clueless.

In situations like these, I advise to take the profit. I am a trader and when the draw comes in, I get out. However, when the draw is reliant upon a conversion being made, there tends to be several people like me who are too keen to get out and offer very appealing prices for gamblers to take a good punt.

The fact is, you can either join the draw train at the start or the end. However, if you jump on in the middle, you will probably find there is no door.

Finally, there is the whole issue of to what extent backing the draw covers the underdog but I don’t plan to go into this right now other than to say that I usually view the two as separate to begin with although if I have a large enough green on the draw in the second half, I will sometimes use this to justify having a lesser position on the underdog when the chances of a 1.01 train are higher.

Which brings me onto the next strategy and also relates to some of my points that I made yesterday.

Fundamentally, Rugby League is a game full of random events. You can be the best player in the world, but you will still drop a ball and miss a tackle. When that happens cannot be predicted but it will happen. For that reason, I will look to lay 1.0 shots in the first half (Possibly discounting Crusaders). Of course it won’t always come off but it will come off even in the most unlikely of situations. For every clear 1.0 lay (Warrington at 16-6 v Catalans in 2009) there is a 1.0 lay which looks so unlikely but comes in (Catalans 30-0 v Bradford in 2009) or an unlikely 1.0 lay which drifts to a very profitable price (Salford 18 – 0 v Celtic in 2009). Plus you will regularly run into the evening up of the penalty count!

It is easier to do so when you already have some green on the market, but it is something that should be done at all times. 1.0s in the second half aren’t as clear cut and cannot always be advised although at times there are definitely some great opportunities.

For that reason, I always advise laying handicap markets late on. Not only can anything happen, but to the vast majority of players, whether you win by 6 or by 10 is immaterial. They may sprint 100 metres to win a game, but to preserve a margin of victory in a game that has already been decided? It doesn’t always happen.

The final thing to discuss is definitely the most difficult but profitable trade and something I call the inverse tick. Markets on Betfair as a whole overreact to events and this is definitely true for tries and Rugby League has a special friend in this instance – the video referee.

Now, to get this correct is not easy and requires you to almost be at one with the market. However, if you place your lays correctly then not only can you get matched at the trough of the market, which might allow for a few ticks profit when it recovers but you run the hope of saying hello to the video referee.

When this happens however, there is one thing to remember and that is that the benefit of the doubt always goes to the attacking side. So, unless you can be 100% certain that it is no try, you are always more beneficial to trade out before the decision arrives especially as in some cases people who have matched your bet at the bottom can be anxious to look to limit their possible loss.

So there is a quick introduction to the world of rugby league and trading a match.

Obviously however, the key in all this is to study the market and study the game. I believe there is profit to be made in the RL markets and I know I started from scratch so it can be done. However, at the end of the day, it is only your observations and your application that can allow you to prosper.


  1. nice post!

    keep up the good work, nice to see a blog that actually goes into detail!

  2. Hi Ben.

    Thanks for the kind words.


  3. Another great post Craig, you are spoiling us, not that I 'm complaining :-)

  4. Thanks Red Red Robin! Hopefully I will find more positive things to write about shortly!