Why Only A Mug Would Back Nigel Farage

| April 18, 2017 | Reply


This isn’t a political piece (much as I enjoyed the Brexit Betting Rant emails last year) but rather an email on the favourite-longshot bias, using Nigel Farage as an example…

I just didn’t think that would make for as interesting a subject line!

So, now that your heart has stopped palpitating with rage/delight (delete as applicable, depending on political leanings), you might well be asking: “what the buggery is a favourite-longshot bias?”

We’ll start with this, taken from Wikipedia (yes, I know…):

In gambling and economics, the favourite-longshot bias is an observed phenomenon where on average, bettors tend to overvalue “long shots” and undervalue favourites.

That is, in a horse race where one horse is given odds of 2-to-1, and another 100-to-1, the true odds might for example be 1.5-to-1 and 300-to-1 respectively.

Betting on the “long shot” is therefore a much worse proposition than betting on the favourite. In the long run, losing 5% by betting on the favourite, but losing 40% on longshots is not uncommon.

This is no pseudo-science either, as while I have (lazily you might say) used the introduction from the Wikipedia page to describe what it is, this is something that has been studied in-depth by renowned scientists and mathematicians…

And on that note, if you’re interested in the science behind successful betting, this is an excellent read.

It makes perfect sense too, after all it’s common knowledge that, mathematically, the easiest way to make money from horseracing is by backing favourites/horses in lower price bands…

This is because backing short odds runners blind produces a smaller loss than backing bigger priced runners blind, ergo there is a smaller bookmaker margin to overcome on favourites than there is on long shots.


All of which brings us nicely onto Nigel Farage.

Chances are you’ve heard the news that Theresa May has called a snap election for June – here are the betting odds for that election.

May is a general 1/10 shot – short odds sure and you’d need a lot of capital to make betting on her at that price worthwhile but does it offer value?

I’m no political betting expert but with the leader of the opposition apparently floundering it just might do…

It’s not something I will be betting on (stranger things than her losing have most definitely happened in recent public votes around the world!) but you can certainly make a case for it being, at the very least, a fair price.

Now to Nigel Farage, available at a best price 200/1 and as short as 100/1…

This is the same Nigel Farage that doesn’t currently lead a political party…

The same Nigel Farage that isn’t currently an MP, having failing to get elected as one even when his stock was at an all-time high…

The same Nigel Farage whose former party, UKIP, doesn’t have a cat in hells chance of winning a General Election in less than two months’ time…

And the same Nigel Farage who doesn’t have a cat in hells chance of becoming the leader of the Conservatives, Labour or the Lib Dems before the General Election in less than two months’ time.

If you think 200/1 is anything other than an appalling price then, in betting parlance, the only term for you is a mug.

Taking advantage of favourite-longshot bias

You’ve probably read a lot about our new DataKings service recently but one thing that may have passed you by is the fact that its strategy is largely based on this bias.

As it’s creator, Peter Higson, said to me in a recent interview:

If you pause to consider why the favourite is the favourite… well I venture to suggest that, every conceivable aspect of form study for any horse in any race, leads logically to the favourite being the horse on the day that has the best form – doesn’t it? So I am inevitably automatically taking all of the form study into account.

“With the bookmaker margin on favourites considerably lower than any other price band (they do win a large percentage of races after all) the odds are already swinging in my favour BEFORE I even start to put the system to work and apply some filters…

“The filters are there to help me find reasons NOT to pick that horse in that race on that track etc.”

We are currently still taking on new members for this service but demand has been high and we will be closing the doors sooner rather than later…

So, if you want to be the opposite of a betting mug, why not try exploiting the favourite-longshot bias by giving this a go?


Category: Betting Opinion

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