Man vs. Machine vs. Horse

| December 13, 2017 | 2 Replies

Today I’m handing over to our brand new Head Reviewer, Chris Sowerby.

If you ever have any feedback or questions for Chris or I, you can reach us at bettingrant@agorapub.co.uk.

Matt Houghton


As you read this, I am squirreling away on your behalf, collecting data on the first five tipster services that will be reviewed over the coming months.

They are: The Cricket Man, The Football Guru, JPW Racing Tipster, The Bookies Enemy and Trackside. Some of the early results make for interesting reading. Actually they all make for interesting reading, just some are more positive than others!

The first of the monthly reviews should be ready just before Christmas and then they will be appearing at weekly intervals. In the meantime, enjoy the article below.

Chris

Good news! Horses aren’t machines

You could be forgiven for thinking that the world of betting as we know it is in danger of extinction from the growing influence of computers and data (see my article)

While it is true that developments in these fields are changing the landscape of the sports betting industry, there is one factor which will ensure that there is always an opportunity to beat the bookies, so read on!

The clue to that factor is actually contained in this “feedback” comment received by a trainer friend of mine after a 20/1 winner turned over the odds-on favourite:

The xxxx, how could that horse win that race like that, I fu**ing dispies cheating fu**ing trainers. Why do trainers like you cheat the betting public. Vile horrible trainer.

Please excuse the language and the spelling – clearly someone talking through their wallet!

Said horse has since gone on to complete a hat-trick!

The important comment here is “how could that horse win that race?”The simple answer is any horse can win any race and the odds given by the bookies simply reflect the likelihood of that horse being the winner based on a number of different, known, criteria.

But… horses aren’t machines.

So, unlike roulette and other games of chance, where the likelihood of every possible outcome is known and fixed, horse racing (and other sporting events) have uncertain outcomes.

Herein lies the very reason why no bookmaker will ban or restrict anyone playing fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs). The mathematics behind the pay-outs and probabilities of any fixed odds event (FOBTs, National Lottery, roulette etc.) are immutable and clearly understood by the layers, so nobody can win at gaming in the long run.

Betting on horse racing (or any sporting event) however, is governed by ever fluctuating odds, both between bookmakers and at different times…

A quick look at Oddschecker for any given sporting event will show a range of prices offered by different bookies. At this point, it’s worth throwing in a reminder to seek out the best value on any bet you place (and I’ll be covering value in a future article).

Furthermore, unlike fixed odds events, the odds on sporting events will fluctuate in response to strength of support for a selection, changes in circumstances – overnight rain turning the going heavy, a star striker left out of the starting XI etc. – and it is a combination of these fluctuations, together with the bookies initial assessment of a potential outcome, which will always leave the door open for shrewd punters to profit in the LONG-TERM.

The large bookmakers are investing huge amounts in mathematicians and risk managers, rather than people who understand sport, and using their knowledge and skills to create algorithms which will accurately predict the outcome of any given sporting event.

Happily, there is one factor that nobody can build into an algorithm, and that is that horses (or footballers or tennis players) are not machines and can perform erratically and make errors.

So, how does this help us?

It all comes down to information and timing of information. If we can get access to information that will affect the likely outcome of a result ahead of the bookies, then there is an edge to be had.

Likewise, if we have better information than the bookies, there is an edge to be had.

How can we ensure we get that edge? Here’s three possible opportunities:

  • Build a network of informants that can pass on information before it becomes common knowledge. Now it’s unlikely that we as individuals can create that network, but a new service has come on my radar which is based on just this principle, and I hope to have an opportunity to proof this in the New Year.
  • Create algorithms that are better than the bookies. Now that might seem like a tall order, but consider the following:

Bookmakers are using mathematicians not sports experts, so there is potential for them not identifying the correct or complete criteria to measure…

Machine learning can be reinforced i.e. it will take the outcome of an event and use that to enhance its predictive capabilities. But if it fails to take into account any “human” impact on the outcome, it will be reinforcing an inaccuracy…

So there is an opportunity for a syndicate with the money and resources to actually stay ahead of the game, and I’m sure we will see this happen in the near future.

  • Get it straight from the horse’s mouth. I know an owner that uses a form of crystal dowsing to communicate with their horses! I know, your initial reaction is probably similar to mine – nutter! But as sceptical as I am, I have to admit to seeing several changes made as a result of such communication paying dividends.

So, while they wouldn’t be able to tell us whether they will win or not, they would be able to communicate any aches and pains, any problems with particular jockeys etc. thereby improving our knowledge over the bookies.

The bottom line is that no algorithm will ever be able to predict an outcome of a sporting event with 100% accuracy and so the opportunity for a 20/1 shot turning over an odds-on favourite will always be there. The trick is in finding new and innovative ways of spotting those prospects.

The issue of data, artificial intelligence, algorithms and other such topics will be an area I will return to from time to time given its impact on the betting industry…

I have already booked a place at ICE 2018 at Excel in London on 6-8 February 2018 which has a dedicated sports betting zone showcasing the latest innovation and new products. I look forward to providing you with a comprehensive review of the findings afterwards.

Email

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Category: Betting Advice, Betting System Reviews

Comments (2)

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  1. Martin Richards says:

    Password not working for man v machine
    Martin

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