Last week I learned a valuable lesson and I hope watching me stuff up has illustrated the point for all of us so that we don’t fall headlong into the same trap too often.
In last week’s column I explained how bookmakers arrive at odds and how we, the punters, should be on the lookout for odds that we find attractive and that we feel there’s more of a probability of coming through than the bookies have priced up. That was all good and well, but when I went looking for a bet that showed brilliant value I picked…
The Barbarians @3.00 (if you need a recap on the difference between decimal and fractional odds then click here) looked like lovely juicy odds to me and I went charging in to make it my bet of the weekend. [I was happy when I subsequently saw that Voltbet Ambassador Joffers made the same mistake in his Joffers Double, but that didn’t take all the sting out of it]
I’ve said before that I love the rush of having a bet on a sporting result and being hooked to see if it’ll come off or not… Well this was the opposite of that. The Barbarians played a horrific game of rugby and the money I had riding on it and my frustration at not seeing it coming made it an incredibly long 80 minutes. Torture in fact!
I took a fully justified amount of flak over Twitter and messages from my mates asking what I was thinking and for falling in love with the odds and there was little to do but take it squarely on the chin.
If we’re going to mistakes along the way in this betting education then it’s best that we learn from them. I’m fortunate to have a few serious punters watching my columns for me and giving advice and advising me where I’ve understood something and explained it well and they are also quick to point out where I’ve slipped up. These are the guys I’m going to be leaning on and picking their brains over the next couple of months so it’s best to listen and learn.
Here’s a message I received from one of these semi-pros soon after the final whistle on Saturday. I kept it as I thought it summed things up quite well.
“Gareth my boy! Hard lines on the Baabaas. Something you need to note and focus on for your articles is that bookies are professionals doing it as a full time job. You’re not going to beat them in the long term based simply on gut feels and attractive odds.”
“There’s more to it if you’re going to perform over time and lots more to learn, but this little lesson is that if it looks to good to be true, then the bet probably is!”
I’m prepared to take that lesson to heart and roll up my sleeves and continue the education. To do that I think the next fundemental aspect of sports betting we should look at is the handicap and how it works.
When talking sports betting to newbies they normally get a little confused with two things. The first is how the actual odds work, but we’ve covered that already. Next up is getting their heads around what the handicap is and how it works. Handicap betting is absolutely crucial when it comes to betting on rugby and as that’s my strongest suite it’s important for us to understand it early.
The reason for handicap betting in rugby is fairly obvious. Unlike soccer where the draw is a real option and a lucky goal can see a minnow topple a giant (any Man United fans out there still feeling the pain after the Palace result?) in rugby it’s often the stronger team that wins. With the draw a serious rarity, if there wasn’t a handicap it would simply be betting on team A or team B and this would lead to seriously short odds on the favourite and bigger odds on the underdog.
That’s where the handicap comes in. It takes the overall result of the match out of the picture and places the emphasis on winning margin. The handicap will give the underdog an advantage in terms of points and set a new line which either the favourites need to overcome or the underdog team needs to keep within.
Put it this way if the Springboks were playing Namibia and there wasn’t a handicap option you’d get tiny tiny odds on the Boks winning and wouldn’t waste your bucks either backing them or going for Namibia who you know aren’t going to win.
However if someone bets you that the Springboks are going to win by 65 points (this handicap is obviously set by the bookmaker and they use their research, stats and their right to move the handicap using the money coming in as an indicator) you might either say YES the Boks will definitely win by more than 65 or be skeptical that they can put so many past a minnow side.
You’ll hear people quoting the handicap as either a PLUS or a MINUS and this indicates to which side the handicap will move.
In this instance the Springboks (- 65) @2.00 vs Namibia (+ 65) @2.00 would play each other. The Springboks effectively give Namibia a 65 point start or are handicapped by 65 points.
When talking about these bets you would either take the Boks at “MINUS 65” or back Namibia at “PLUS 65”. If you’re on the Springboks they would need to win by 66 points or more for you to collect and Namibia would need to just lose by 64 or less (or draw or win the game) for you to win.
I’ve tried my best to explain something in words that gets easier the more you see it graphically represented and actually lay down some handicap bets. I’m going to pick this up again next week and recap – so don’t get too stressed if you’re still feeling a little confused. Once you get this concept you’re well on the way to enjoying betting on rugby!
If you haven’t already – head over to Voltbet.com and open an account. It’s definitely the best way to crank up your enjoyment of sport this weekend.