They say a week is a long time in politics, well a week in betting can be an eternity. The fluctuations in results, and even details that can affect results, can change a person’s mood at a moment’s notice. Just ask those Devon Loch punters as the horse past ‘the elbow’ leading by 5 lengths and was about to claim victory in the 1956 Grand National. An infamous slip later and I’m sure even the horse’s owner, The Queen Mother would have gone from a feeling of elation to one wanting to go on the ‘Chevy’.
My own personal betting week started in pretty dismal fashion. Advised SBFP selections of Mark King to beat Matthew Stevens and Xiao Guodong to beat Yuan Sijun both suffered defeats in the 2nd round of the International Championship over in Daqing, China. I contemplated the defeats that evening and tried to work out which one had hurt most. King had led 3-1 and 5-4 against the resilient Stevens before losing out in a final frame decider. The Welshman, who had looked firmly past his best for a long time, failed to knock in a single break over 50 in the match (in fact apart from a 49 break, his next best was just 37!) and I was bemoaning my bad luck on how I could manage to get a bet beat by those stats, in an event where the pockets looked like something you would see at the Mosconi Cup. The afternoon defeat of Guodong by the young Sijun was a completely different style of beat. Sijun came out of the traps like Ballyregan Bob, and shortly after the interval 55 minutes later, the match and the bet, was all but over. Breaks of 81, 69, 65, 64 and 52 with only 32 points in return from Xiao crushed the wager, and to be quite honest, made me look like a bit of a twat for advising a bet of Guodong at 4/6 pre-match.
So, which is worse? The 4-hour surgical extraction by Stevens or the quick knife in the guts from Sijun? Everyone loves a hard-luck story, the big price winner you picked but didn’t get the bet on in time, the value you nabbed only for it to be dashed on the line, the player you picked out to be the next big thing before he went on to win a major championship. I have had some big winners over the years, but for some reason it is the close losers, the ‘bad beats’, the ones that got away that seem to stick in the mind. I believe there is a masochistic side to all gamblers. A kind of pleasure in the pain of unfortunate betting situations. In the long term these create the stories we tell to friends, work colleagues or random strangers in the pub, but they are also the ones that leave the biggest scars. Instead the smash and grab, quickfire losers may look bad on the surface….like we have given our cash away without a run for our money, but they are put aside with more ease and allow us to focus on the next betting angle we find the day, the week, the month afterwards.
The initial reaction to a heavy losing day is to want to try and get it back as soon as possible. You can go looking for something which isn’t really there, finding value where there is none. As I compiled my prices for the 3rd round of the snooker, that thought was lodged firmly in the back of my mind. Stats were checked and checked again. Prop markets waded through to see if anything had slipped the net. There was almost a sense of relief when two hours after first looking at the eight matches, I couldn’t come up with a single bet on the day’s play. The rest of the day was spent with the repetitive mundane tasks of family life. Filling dishwashers, walking the dogs and collecting the kids from school may not find a winner and pay the bills, but that distraction from the intensity of sports betting can in itself be a great way to help create future profits. Get your mind away from the pursuit of money and when you do return to it the next day, you will do so with a freshness and a clearer outlook on the way to proceed.
You know what I said about the tasks of family life? Yeah, well forget that, its all bullshit! Well it is if you are currently trying to renovate a house. Builders, carpenters, plumbers and electricians are basically the equivalent of overnight UK horse racing prices. They offer the world, but in reality, they are just talk and if you do try and get involved with them, they can end up being more hassle than what they are worth. A day that was meant to be settled in the office working through the weekends World Series Of Darts fixtures and taking a scan through the Breeders Cup form, ended up being spent arguing in broken Greek with a plumber who didn’t seen to see a problem with water seeping from sink joints and streaming down newly decorated walls. We finally got on the same wavelength when I took his van keys off him and refused to let him leave the property until he called his two assistants to come and deal with the issue. Fun and games this moving house malarkey.
After the plumber hostage situation of Wednesday, Thursday was back to the grind of darts pricing. The World Series finals was a strange affair with the likes of Damon Heta, Raymond Smith, and Maik Langendorf lining up in the first round. Heta and Smith had both qualified from the slightly warped order of merit system, while Langendorf has somehow come through four qualifying matches in the middle of last month.
Darts has been a product which SBFP has done well on this year and there a couple of reasons for that. One, is that it can be a sport which brings about match-ups between players who have never played each other before, thus making it harder to get a handle on their ability in respect to each other. Many times, in the Euro Tour events last and this year, have we seen matches which from their initial prices to their starting prices, trade well under 100%. The second reason is that 2018 has seen the advent of ‘DartsConnect’. This is basically a database of all PTC matches for each tour player this season (It does also have smaller databases for Euro Tour qualifying). It lists a players vital stats – match averages, yearly averages, number of 180’s, percentage rate to which a player hits a 180 etc. It has pretty much everything a sharp statistical darts bettor needs. The great thing about it though was how long it took a majority of bookmakers to pick up on this information. Even as late as June and July, it appeared as if this strong data (getting stronger by the week) was being virtually ignored by some compilers. A good example was Jelle Klaasen. A player who was having a dreadful year on the Pro Tour with an average only in the high 80’s, and yet he was being priced as if he was playing the same mid 90’s darts of 18 months previous. As the year continued to progress, and the stats became stronger through sheer number of matches, the firms did finally start to pick up on how useful this data could and had been. It raises a great point in the pursuit of trying to win through gambling…..if you find an angle, try and milk it for all that it is worth, because that angle will not last forever. Sooner or later, secrets become known, stats become more in the public domain. Like Michael Van Gerwen’s (and my) hair, one day its there, the next it’s gone forever.
Ask any punter who is married and has kids and he’ll tell you, that trying to combine attending a family event and having a decent bet with his/her ‘hard earned’ on the line, is a virtually impossible task. It takes acts of diplomacy usually found in government meeting rooms, and levels of bluffing usually found on the poker table. Conversations tend to go as following:
‘What are you looking at on your phone, love?’’
‘’Just following a few sports events, dear’’
‘’Put it down, we are at (insert child’s name) birthday party’’
‘’Darling, she’s fine. she is over there playing on the bouncy castle, with that other girl who is always crying. I’ll be around for when we cut the cake’’
‘’Why are you more bothered about that Raymond Van Gerwen, rather than our own child?? I hope you didn’t have a bet, you knew we were coming here this afternoon’’
‘’I had to bet the match, love. It was a big difference with the percentage I thought the game should be. We thought we should get 3 bananas if it wins, but the bookmaker is giving us 5 bananas. Don’t worry, its not a lot of money (….it is)’’
‘’Go and talk to (insert another child’s name)’s dad. He is the one who was telling you all about his bus timetable collection last time’’
‘’Ok dear, I will just follow these last couple of legs of darts, it will be ove……’’
‘’Now, before I take one of those bananas you are about to win and ram it somewhere you won’t be able to peel it’’
‘’Of course, my darling. One moment, I will just pop to the toilet for a second first’’
……closes toilet cubicle door and logs on to PDC TV.
Well that was pretty much Friday. Unfortunately, when a bet loses in these situations, you have to try and keep your cool and pretend nothing has happened. I was invested in the tie for the most 180’s in the glamour match of Maik Langendorf and Damon Heta in the 1st round of the World Series finals. By my reckoning the match was in for a very low number of maximums, with both players knowing the match was a massive game for them, and with neither being precocious lipstick hitters either. 0-0 and 1-1 were very big runners and the 11/4 (3/1 in places) was overpriced based on my numbers. The match went the full 11 legs and just one 180 was notched by Langendorf which was yet another loser for the website, in what has been a horrific couple of months. The fact that at 5-5 and 261 points on the board, Heta wired his 3rd dart on the treble 20 to ping what would have been a bet winning maximum only added to the frustration. As I placed my mobile down on the table….
‘’Is it over now? How many bananas did we win?’’
Nothing in Saturday’s order of play in the World Series Of Darts finals stood out from my tissue prices which I had compiled while eating breakfast early Saturday morning. That’s one of the good things about living in the Mediterranean. The time over here is 2 hours ahead of that of the UK, so it gives a nice window of opportunity in the morning to get the work done for a snooker or darts event that starts that lunchtime in the UK. The downside to no darts product needing to be written up and released, meant that I was free to spend the day at the new house James Wading through dozens of boxes, seeing if there was any furniture or ‘odds and ends’ we could sell on for a decent Gerwyn Price. Eight hours later, I felt like a Steve Beaton man.
The evening however was a more enjoyable experience. The Breeders Cup is a strange beast. The American’s really know how to put on a show and the two-day Breeders Cup spectacle is their yearly chance to show the world (or at least Europe), how the Yanks like to showcase their racing product. As a boy who grew up with his days at the races being spent at the likes of Pontefract, Thirsk and Ripon, watching the parades, pre and post interviews and general ‘sellability’ of the Churchill Downs product is still a little surreal. 4 bets, 1 winner and a couple of beers passed the evening in a pleasant way. The Breeders Cup was also the catalyst for one of my earliest sporting memories. Andre Fabre’s Arazi may not have achieved what was expected of him at the age of 3, but his 1991 Juvenile win is still one of the most scintillating performances I have ever seen in my life.
Same drill as Saturday in the new house, but without the terrible darts player puns. Safe to say, my hands are very much those of a man who has spent most of his adult life tapping away at a keyboard rather than doing any sort of job more….well let’s face it….manly. In my mind, I sometimes wish I had a 9-5 job working on the building site, or fixing leaking taps, or re-wiring circuit boards, but then sanity takes over and I realise just how lucky I am to be doing a job that I love, opposed to one that creates a chance of me being crushed, electrocuted or falling to my death. I might moan to my wife about the compiling for the next day’s Champion Of Champions snooker being a little tricky to assess, and that no bets stand out at the prices, but in the grand scheme of things I prefer Shaun Murphy being accurately priced rather than pottering along on some creaky scaffolding 80 feet off the ground.
Things I learnt from the week.
- House renovations are seriously big projects
- The BDO Worlds will be shown live on TV, which will create many good betting opportunities
- Darts Connect stats are becoming more and more factored into bookmakers’ prices
- Claimantakinforgan will win the 2019 Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival
- Do your very best to try and not have a bet at the same time a family event is taking place