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THE PRACTICAL PUNTER #17


ROWAN DAY
THE PRACTICAL PUNTER ROWAN DAY
REAL LIFE BETTING EX PERIENCES

Welcome to this latest betting Practical Punter column from SBC writer, Rowan Day, featuring
the latest on his own practical experiences of following a range of tipster services.
Expect to read plenty on topics very relevant to the realities of what it takes to make money
betting, based on Rowan's several years experience at the sharp end of it all.
You can also find more from Rowan on the ups and downs of using tipsters to make money via
his Bet Diary, which is available for all Gold and Platinum SBC members to enjoy.
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PORTFOLIO UPDATE
Its been a while since the last Practical Punter piece, so for those who might be interested in
how the portfolio is doing but who havent read the Bet Diary installments (why on earth
havent you?!!!?), Ill start with a quick update.
Since the turn of the year the ROC for the portfolio lies at 11.5%. Thats approximately half of
what I had hoped it would be this far into 2015, but when I hear from so many that are in a lossmaking position for the year to date, then I have to count my blessings. Mays contribution to
the pot was an ROI of 2.46% and an ROC of 2.62%.
Sys Analyst had a good month with bank growth just north of 20%, and perhaps the most
pleasing aspect to May was the fact that I was able to marginally better the official figures posted
by both Northern Monkey and Sys Analyst, whilst exclusively using Betfair. Im not saying that
this will always be the case, but I am encouraged to think that it is perhaps possible, with a little
diligence and care, to get at least close to the performance you might expect from following a
good horse racing tipster using non-BOG bookmakers. Ill continue to monitor this and report
back in due course.
Away from racing and it was a poor month for Insider Betting (-8.81pts) which has left me
pondering deeply its place in the portfolio. Its not simply recent poor performance that is
causing me so much concern, but the fact that Im missing too many of the bets that are issued.
Saturdays are proving particularly troublesome, and whereas I may miss the same number of
say, Soyloco picks for the same reason (that Im playing cricket on a Saturday afternoon), the
impact is not so great with the South American tipster due to the much higher turnover of bets
provided. Missing one or two Soyloco bets each month is simply not going to have as great an
impact on the services bottom line as having to pass over the same number of Insider Betting
selections. Ive not made any final decision as yet. Lets see what happens.

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THE ISSUES FACING THE FOOTBALL RATINGS SERVICES


The main topic I wish to explore in this Practical Punter piece is that of betting on football.
This season has undoubtedly been a particularly tough one for followers of the main ratings
services. Since the turn of the year, not much has gone right for Football Investor, The Football
Analyst, or Winabobatoo. Some pretty sizeable drawdowns will have acutely challenged the
resolve of many followers/subscribers, but it hasnt only been the results that have tested those
that run these services, Graeme Dand and Stewboss in particular.
Both The Football Analyst and Football Investor have suffered unduly from the set times at
which they release their bets and essentially being limited to quoting Pinnacle prices when they
tend to be at their lowest. The gradient of the slope in what is obviously already an uphill battle
has been steepened somewhat further by the fact that football tipping is an increasingly
competitive market; I know for a fact that other services continue to do everything they can to
lay claim to the better prices by releasing their bets at various and inconsistent times, which is all
well and good for their official bottom line figures but pays scant regard to the issues they might
be causing their followers by tipping into partially formed and illiquid markets. Anyway, Im sure
both tipsters are thinking deeply and working hard on finding solutions for next season. If I know
them only half as well as I think I do, the solutions they find, whatever they may be, will not only
benefit themselves in their quest to create a more level playing field on which they can be
judged, but will also benefit their paying customers.

EMBRACING CORRELATION AND TURNING IT INTO A POSITIVE


Regular readers of my ramblings will know that as Ive become a more experienced bettor, I have
made a greater effort to minimise the level of correlation in my portfolio of tipping services. My
feeling is that this is essential if we want to control risk. Of course the consequence of following
more than one ratings based football service is that levels of correlation will rise. I reached a
point a couple of seasons ago whereby it was often the case that the success or failure of my
whole weekends betting essentially lay in the performance of just two or three football teams. I
still cringe when I look back now!
It is in this context that I feel the biggest thing to come out of this seasons betting has been the
true emergence of the Combo system. The series of articles written by my colleague Nick Ward
has really opened my mind; it has the potential to turn the existence of correlated bets from a
negative into a real positive.
Im very aware that Nick hasnt yet finished his Combo series, and indeed, until he has, I am
unclear as to exactly how I am to bet on domestic football next season. But the beauty of the
Combo system is that it identifies the stronger bets from the various ratings services by taking
the teams where there is correlation (i.e. where one or more set of ratings have identified real
value in the same team), but we only back those teams with one bet. In other words, were
taking advantage of correlation but are hopefully achieving a smoother path to profit and are
avoiding those boom or bust weekends.
Im hoping that for an even smoother ride, Ill be able to utilise the Asian Handicaps, even if it
means sacrificing some of the bottom line in return. Its something I dabbled in earlier this year
before deciding to wait until the end of season Combo review due this summer before settling on
a final strategy. Once Ive read this through properly, I can settle on my plan for domestic
football betting over the 2015/16 season.
And theres another valuable lesson. You can always wait if not 100% sure of the way forward.
No-one has ever lost a penny by not betting, and in my experience, if there is any doubt at all in
the mind as to how to proceed with your gambling, its better to exercise patience and wait until
you are in a position where you can settle on what you believe to be the best course of action.

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Id suggest that, looking at the results of the ratings services since February, I may well have
saved myself a pretty penny by being cautious. It could easily have gone the other way of
course, and as a result Id have missed out on some profit, but Id always rather play things
carefully and keep risk levels as low as possible. After all, we are investing our money, and not
looking to do the equivalent of sticking all we have on either red or black!

HOW TO AVOID PORTFOLIO CORRELATION, EVEN IF ONLY BETTING ON FOOTBALL


Weve seen how it is possible, via the Combo system, to take advantage of correlation, but to my
mind, that is where we draw a line in the sand. Its vital we take a step back to enable us to look
at our portfolio as a whole, ensuring that correlation elsewhere is kept to a minimum.
Its a mistake to think that to ensure a portfolio is sufficiently diversified, it must carry services
that operate within different sports. Of course if youre happy to bet on horse racing, basketball,
NFL, baseball, or any other sport, then great. But there are many who tell me they prefer to
concentrate their betting on just one particular sport.
It should still be possible to do this satisfactorily, even if only betting on football, and diversify
sufficiently. It is simply a case of identifying services that dont clash, and the easiest way to do
this is to look to the niche market specialists. Just from the top of my head, I can think of
Soyloco (South/Central America), Scottish Football Bets, Skeeve (UK non-league), and Skeeves
Croatia bets simply from those tipsters who are monitored by the SBC. It is also worth bearing in
mind that there are plenty of other good, niche market tipsters whose records you can analyse
on sites such as Blogabet too. In short, compiling a low-correlation football-only betting portfolio
should not prove to be too arduous a task.
These guys Ive mentioned tend to adopt an analytical approach to their studies when it comes
to identifying value in the markets. They study team news including injuries and suspensions,
assess form and historical trends, and often will attempt to factor in styles of play into their
decision making. So you can see that they are arriving at their selections from a different
direction to those of the ratings services who use in play stats, especially shots at goal, to
develop models from which they derive their picks. So not only is it possible to diversify in terms
of leagues or countries that you bet in, you can also vary the methodologies used by the tipsters
you employ.

GETTING THE ODDS UTILISING THE IN-PLAY MARKETS


Anyone who has followed a successful tipster and I assume that is all of you will be familiar
with the issue of rapidly falling odds. The best tipsters move the market. Theres no getting
away from that fact.
So what to do?
Personally, instead of rushing straight in to get whatever odds I can as soon as I can, I prefer to
bide my time. Sure, if you can get the quoted odds, or very close to them when a bet is issued,
then as Vinnie Jones once said in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, in my experience its best
to take that opportunity. If its there.
If the opportunity is not there, then that is when I will wait. Ill check the odds shortly prior to
the start of each match and frequently find theyve rebounded to an acceptable level allowing
me to strike the bet pre-match. If not, then Ill simply wait for the in-play market and hopefully
an opportunity will arise to grab the advised odds. I previously wrote a whole Practical Punter
article covering this subject which youll find amongst the archive and available to download if
you havent read it already.

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Ive heard a few counter-arguments to this strategy, the most common being that by waiting,
youre reducing the amount of time available in which the relevant goals must be scored and
therefore reducing the value that exists in the bet. Whilst this is true to an extent, I would
suggest that stance misses the point that the dynamic of any football match is shaped by goals.
The saying that goals change games in very true, as one will force the team going behind to be
more open perhaps, than at the beginning when they are already in possession of a point. A
goal can, and usually does, change the whole nature of an game. Anyway, provided my required
price arises within the first 20-25 minutes of play, Im happy enough.
Naturally there will be times when an early goal will be scored and the best laid plans are left
somewhat scuppered. Well, thats inevitable, but in my experience it doesnt happen too often
and anyway, what have you lost? Youve not struck the bet pre-match anyway, because the odds
werent there (and is anyone going to argue that you should have made the bet regardless of the
price?). What you gain is the knowledge that with each and every bet you strike, you are
securing some level of value (presuming the tipster is correct in his initial assessment), even if
some of it has been eroded by the loss of a few minutes as the match progresses prior to you
placing your bet.

NEXT SEASON HOW TO GET ON


The season past saw a huge amount of consternation raised amongst serious gamblers when it
was announced in the autumn that the Asian books and SportmarketPro were withdrawing from
the UK. I dont want to go over old ground again here, but there is some promise of a brighter
future for UK-based punters.
The SBC are currently running the rule over Samvo bet brokers, who have applied for and been
granted a license by the UK Gambling Commission. They offer a similar service to that of
Sportmarket, albeit at this stage, only on football betting. I wouldnt be at all surprised if other
companies didnt follow suit.
Well bring out a full review of Samvo in the not too distant future, so look out for that.
In the meantime, if you have any questions or queries, please do give me a shout at
rowan@secretbettingclub.com. Its always good to hear from you, even if its just to share
experiences and chew the cud!
And in the meantime, make the most of the summer months. Watch some cricket and tennis,
and make sure you enjoy the odd barbecue in the evening sun, because before you know it, itll
be cold, dark by five, and the new football season will be well underway.
Speak soon,
Rowan

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