Practical aspects of betting
Level 2 - DEEP DIVER
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Welcome Degen Gambler!
It’s time for a post discussing the practical aspects of betting. Less theory, more day-to-day stuff.
As we’ve mentioned multiple times before, thinking doesn’t translate into profits. *Doing* does. No matter what kind of ingenious model/edge you’ve managed to develop, it won’t make you any money unless you keep showing up day after day for [at least] a couple of years. Thus, since this part of the game is guaranteed to take up such a great chunk of your time, why not optimize it?
In today’s post we’ll share a few things we’ve picked up along our path that relates to increasing the efficiency and profitability of a betting operation.
Note I: Some will truly believe that they can start tomorrow & “build a betting bot and let it print while spending time at the beach“. As delusional as it gets.
Note II: Real winners enjoy the infinite hammering & refinements of their edges. The Grind. Why? No doubt there’s a charm in it. For me personally there’s not much that beats a meeting where “I know everything about everything”. Completely prepared & in sync with what happens both at the racetrack and on the odds boards/in the pools. Magic.
Note III: One of our earlier posts, So you’re gonna be a bettor, huh?, is somewhat along the same lines and is a recommended read if you for some reason haven’t read it already.
Note IV: Since there are more or less an unlimited amount of things to say on this subject we’ll be back with a follow-up to this post in a few weeks. Will treat the practical parts of the Banking & Data segment of betting [unfortunately an important piece of the puzzle].
Structure of the post: a division into several subsections with each section containing a bunch of bullet points. Zero time wasted, tons of information.
Limits [how much you’re allowed to bet] are a huge problem in betting. Some bookies offer fixed, equal limits for everyone, others (the marketing companies) decide the limits on a customer by customer basis. Profitable +EV bettors → kicked out as soon as possible. Casual punters with no clue/degenerate -EV enjoyooors → limits increased. Can discuss this for years but it is what it is.
The natural question to ask: how can I avoid being hindered by those limits? Several answers to this. If you insist on using sportsbooks, jump to the next bullet point. If not, betting exchanges [e.g. Betfair] or parimutuel betting [primarily available for horse racing] are possible solutions. However, no solutions without problems.
The ease of getting volume down attracts other sharps, i.e. makes the market more competitive & harder to beat.
Liquidity issues are common if you look beyond the most popular markets in the top leagues/games/meetings. On exchanges: significant spreads + no one willing to take the other side of your trades. In parimutuel pools: pool sizes too small to allow for appropriate sizing [your bets move the odds].
Multi Accounting is a popular technique to avoid limits/restrictions. You pay someone a fraction of the net profits/a lump sum to use their bookie/s account/s [win-win] & repeat this process ad infinitum. -EV accounts with high volume are optimal purchases, such accounts can be worth tons of money. Even new accounts can be made somewhat valuable if you artificially make them look -EV by placing a bunch of dummy bets before going full ‘tism.
Another plausible solution is Staking. Not staking in the sense of staking ETH lol. Instead: you’re a gambler with an edge in the NHL prop market. Meanwhile, your autist fren is an expert in the corners market for soccer games. Both of you are using a bookmaker that employs equal limits for everyone & both of you consider this limit [e.g. $ 500] too low. To avoid this problem you agree on sending all your bets to your gambling fren which places/stakes them on your behalf [effectively doubling your size]. As part of the deal you do the same when he finds something worth pursuing. Notes:
Be clever. There’s a reason for the limits being there in the first place and if you abuse them to a great extent there’s a risk of *all the accounts* being closed down due to ‘syndicate betting’. Don’t bet an outcome from multiple accounts at the same exact moment.
Requires trust between the people involved.
There are many versions/varieties of the deal described above. E.g. could be that your wanted size is $700 and so the guy places $200 on your behalf and keeps the other $300 of the bet for himself. Countless ways to come up with reasonable terms for the partnership.
Parlays can often be a clever trick to get more size down. In some cases it can be as simple as betting max limit on bet A, max limit on bet B, and finally combining them into a third bet, a double, to increase your stakes even more. In other cases: due to the nature of parlays [occasional, huge wins] bookies often allow higher max net profits from a parlay than they do for a single. For instance, let’s say that max return for singles are capped at $2K while it’s $10K for parlays. You have found a great bet at an odds of 4.00.
Alternative 1: Bet $500 at it.
Alternative 2: Pick a high RTP two-way market, say A: 1.96 - B: 1.96. Bet $1 275 on parlay A which is your 4.00 bet & outcome A, and $1 275 on parlay B [your 4.00 bet & outcome B]. Instead of $500 at 4.00 you now have $2 550 deployed at 3.92.
Alternative 3: Parlay it with a 1.01 outcome [what’s known as a ‘sure thing’ ;)] and bet ~$2.5K.
Betting is in large part an information game. If you’re a winning bettor you either:
Have access to better/more information.
Possess a stronger ability to learn from available information.
No matter which of it it is, getting the information streams set up correctly to strengthen your information advantage is crucial for a successful day-to-day operation.
Running automated sportsbook comparisons & therefore always knowing where to find the best prices without having to spend 15 minutes comparing them is extremely helpful. For main markets in top leagues there are more often than not tons of sites/services that help you do this, but for smaller/special markets you may need to build out the infrastructure yourself [lots of content on this here at BowTiedBettor]. Saves you time, earns you dollars. A necessity.
Receiving notifications when odds are released/limits are increased is another must-have. At odds release it’s *you against the bookie*. The bookie must put up a price for *all* outcomes. Meanwhile, all that’s required from you is to find *one* error. 20 minutes later a decent amount of gamblers have had a look at the offered odds already and almost surely corrected the most obvious mispricings [money you’re leaving at the table due to laziness & poor infrastructure].
& it’s of course much easier to beat *one counterparty* compared to a whole army of gamblers. Choose your battles wisely.
Again, have a look at our coding content and our Unibet scraper for inspiration on how to build this. If you don’t know how to do it yourself, hire someone to do it for you. Take action.
A third thing we do *all the time*. Observe the market action. What are other bettors doing? Where are prices moving? When did the moves take place? Why did they happen? Who’s behind the move? Did all the bookies react [appropriately] to the new information? Was the information even informative, or nothing but noise?
Setting up clever software systems to monitor the markets is an obvious way to get ahead. Common examples:
A horse drops from 10.00 to 7.50 over a span of 4 minutes. We have a second look at the horse and find that we’ve missed a change in equipment. Result: increased precision in our probability estimates.
30 minutes into our preparations for a specific race we have a clear picture of how a certain race will evolve. However, after taking a really deep dive into the race we discover something that turns our previous beliefs upside down. The premarket action may now serve as a proxy for how sharp the competition is for the given day.
In many cases the market sticks to the naive scenario, confirming that our competitors don’t *really* know what they’re doing. We understand what they’re doing but we don’t agree. An optimal situation.
In other cases we are confused by what’s happening → often a sign of us lagging [knowledge-wise] the bettors behind the moves.
Perhaps the most obvious reason: Use what’s happening at bookie/exchange A to beat bookie/exchange B.
Example: Scan the Betfair price action for UK horse racing and whenever you observe a price move that Bet365/Unibet etc. haven’t reacted to, bet the horse at those sites [you’re of course free to use any bookie and/or *arb* against the exchange if you prefer]. How can you do this? Well, we’ve already built it for you. Check out the BowTied BetPicks Website & join the Telegram Channel! Full launch later this summer. Stay toon’d!