It’s ironic, to say the least, that a young man on the cusp of generation Y-Z would be embracing a betting approach linked to the basics which were once the preserve of ‘baby boomers’ and the ‘silent generation’ and which have largely disappeared from the racing landscape.
That is, he actually goes to the races! And, good heavens, he often watches them through binoculars.
I speak of 23 year-old Matt who’s found an edge in in-play trading on racing on Betfair. It’s an edge he’s happy to discuss despite the fact that it might even diminish, to some extent, by the very fact of its disclosure.
It’s the slight delay between the live action and the transmission of the racing broadcast you’re seeing at home and that split second/s advantage can be crucial when you’re betting in the run. “You’d be amazed at the nuances and camera angles that vary from track to track, it happens not only in racing but in various sports across the globe. I’m not the first and won’t be the last to understand it’ Matt said.
Of course, it’s one thing to know that. Another to know what you’re looking at and to have the mental dexterity to be watching the race live and transacting at the same time. Software helps but doesn’t do everything.
What’s helped Matt is a variety of factors spanning the generations. At his end is gaming, that is playing various video and computer games from an early age – not poker machines!
At the other end, is the connection provided by his father Michael who’s variously dabbled between the accountancy and bookmaking professions.
Somewhere in between is the innate knowledge developed by going to the races with his father from the age of seven; watching countless videos of races, initially with the clarity of detachment from betting and then – initially with similar detachment – spending numerous hours watching his father trading on Betfair. “Dad embraced the exchange betting very early on,’ he said.
Detached became real when Matt began arbitraging on races at the Gold Coast. Thus his disposition has always been to find the edge rather than wade through the form. “I really try not to do too much form. Too many others have done that in a more sophisticated manner than I could do,’ he said.
Matt acknowledges without his father’s contacts the transition wouldn’t have been as smooth and understands the value of networking at the racetrack. “I love to speak to the old-fashioned bookies and other professionals, the knowledge they are very happy to share all helps in some way or another.”
An appetite to continue to learn or improve is a key ingredient to success according to Matt. Whether it be reading the Education on The Hub or talking to other punters at VIP functions throughout the year.
Corporate Bookmakers have assisted his learning. “I would often sit at university and sweep the internet for offers to take up and arbitrage back into the exchange. The spawn of new bookmaker’s is not going to last forever so I need to maximise my yield from that.”
Matt’s approach is obviously more observational and more mathematical. “I have a maths inclination and I like stats,’ he says unsurprisingly. Statistics and economics are key modules of the commerce degree he’s undertaken. Study which has been deferred given his success trading on Betfair.
So, how does he work?
For starters it’s a preparedness to travel to the track five days a week, a willingness to learn the various nuances of the tracks and the broadcasts and to develop the ‘feel’ for the likely outcomes at all venues. Feel is a recurring theme in my discussion with Matt.
“Camera angles vary from track to track as do vantage points if I’m watching live. I want to be in a position where I can beat everybody else who’s watching at home. I want to beat the race-caller as well. It’s all about anticipating what’s likely to happen….’
“I try not to let myself be seduced by thinking I’ve spotted a winner too early in the run because you’ll be often wrong,”
Identifying the likely winner, rather than beaten horses, is his approach. “I can back my predicted winner and back it again if that’s how it’s unfolding or trade out of it if I sense a dramatic change in what’s happening. It’s about successful long term trading rather than having massive, individual win bets,’ he said.
He names Flemington, where he watches the races from high in the Hill Stand, as one of his preferred tracks. “I guess a lot of the better meetings are there, so there is more liquidity but I also like to back my judgement in straight races as I don’t think too many other people can decipher them,’ he said.
When it comes down to identifying that likely winner in the run, Matt believes that’s intuitive. “Sometimes it might be obvious but not always and that’s when your own intuition comes into play. It is all about feel for the race and naturally I think I have that right feel and you have to be prepared to trust yourself.
“You also have to be able to watch the market and the race at virtually the same time and make the right calls which is probably beyond many people. However, I’m sure plenty of people could do it and I’m surprised that more don’t. In my case, I’d put it down to plenty of practice,” said Matt who trades in partnership with his father and brother Josh.
Finding New Converts
Matt would welcome more players emulating his approach. “Firstly, because more money in the market will always be better and it’s still a matter of opinion watching horses in the run. Everybody’s not going to see a race unfolding in exactly the same way or all identify the same horse as the likely winner,’ he said.
Matt has spent most of 2017 in Melbourne, betting on Victorian races, after moving down from Queensland. Now, he plans to head to the UK because of the greater liquidity in the markets and costs of business. “You can see as much as 200,000 pounds traded in play there and that volume is appealing. I’m sure there’s some smart people trading at the track in-play there but I’ve done some reconnaissance and I think I can make it work for certain times of the year,’ he said.
So what does his mates think of his punting? “I try to teach them but not too many show much interest. They’d rather take multi bets and don’t have the patience or understanding that things don’t just happen overnight. Other mates probably just don’t want to be exposed to the risk or they’re consumed doing other things or they’re just not interested,’ he said.
Interested? They probably should be if Matt’s trading is any example. As to the completion of that commerce degree, well…if I was betting in-play I think I’d be laying it.