As I settled down to watch the Uruguay England World Cup game with my son and two of his friends, one of his friends declared that he had backed Uruguay to win at 3/1. I suspect that this had more to do with feeling good if England lost and feeling good if England win but he asked me my opinion of the bet. I thought it was a sound bet as most models would have Uruguay and England closely matched at getting through the group and hence a game between them was probably more like 13/8 England 2/1 Uruguay. As we got into the final stages of the game my son’s friend agonised over whether to cash out with William Hill or hold the bet as Uruguay were 1-0 up. When England equalised he was furious that he had not cashed out. He was of course overjoyed when Uruguay quickly scored again but this presented another deliberation over whether to cash out, not helped by the numerous adverts from Bet365 advertising the wonders of such bets. At this point I stepped in and tried to offer some advice. The point I made was that before kick off we were confident that this was a sound bet and that over a run of such bets we would probably make a profit. Of course England may win this particular game but at 3/1 Uruguay had to be backed. Now what was it about the inevitable shitty odds that Hills are offering you with 10 minutes to go that in your estimation makes cashing out an overpriced bet once again. Why is the 3/1 post match with Uruguay 2-1 up suddenly a bad bet that needs laying off. Hills and other bookmakers know that if we are not very good at calculating pre match odds we are certainly awful at calculating in running prices and thus in the long run they will steal money off us with their poor IR prices. Of course this kind of decision for the novice punter highlights the difficulty that novice punters have with the first golden rule of betting, namely that a bet has to be value but that value only exists in the long run. In fact these IR bets help to cement the novice’s thinking into a permanent state of ‘a bet is only a good bet if it wins’. My Uruguay friend is a very bright lad, University Maths student so let’s not assume that this is an intelligence matter. No its more a case of experience and temperament and I have met many smart guys who when it comes to betting who do not have the latter. Fortunately my young friend got it and decided to leave the bet to run. I hope he has gained a lesson as well as a few quid.

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