I made the mistake or my partner made the mistake of arranging a lunch date with another couple at our home on the day of the England v Sweden quarter final. Luckily the guy was a football fan so we peeled off at 3pm for the football minus the cigars and snooker or is it billiards that gentlemen play?.
When we returned to announce that England were through to the semi finals which we never would have managed if it was not for Brexit, my partner got rather annoyed that I had not put that fiver on for her when England were 8/1 earlier in the competition, lamenting the fact that they were now around 11/4. Her friend mentioned that when they go racing she never backs the favourite which is always about 2/1, its just not worth it. Suddenly I saw an opportunity for some basic betting tuition and could not resist a quick insight into the error of her statement. I pointed out that if I was to offer her 2/1 on it not raining tomorrow (we are in the middle of a heat wave extending for at least another week)would she not rush to the cash till ?. The answer was no because for the amount she puts on it is not worth having a pound on to win two. I pointed out that her betting strategy is being governed by how much she might win and not what chance does she think she has of winning compared to the odds I am offering. I was expecting or hoping for a light bulb moment but it wasn’t to be, she still could not even bring herself to admit that it made perfect sense and maybe she should bet according to chance and not how much she may win.

What astounded me about this was here we had an educated person who simply could not grasp or maybe accept that her perspective was totally wrong. Her point of view is that she takes x pounds to the races and is prepared to lose it as part of the days cost. I would suggest that in the long run she is aiming to lose it. Part of the problem is that at school we are not taught to think in terms of chance and probabilities. We come away with a ‘it will happen’ or ‘it wont happen’ view of the world. Politicians suffer from this as much as anyone as highlighted in the excellent book Superforcasting by Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner.

For four years I ran the UK’s most successful tipping line in terms of level stake profit and as voted by The Secret Betting club. During this period I told everyone to have more on all the odds on shots. I made this suggestion because they made each year between 12 and 20 points profit and furthermore being odds on a bookmaker was likely to take more. I suggested that this boost would pay for the service and hopefully a few changed their perspective on odds on shots as my suggestion was prompted by a complaint after an odds on shot got beat.

In my view there are three approaches to price. You are either good at spotting overpriced horses which is why I backed Saxon Warrior at 11/4 yesterday, beaten a head. The second approach is that you have an algorithmic based approach of producing an oddsline or the third is that you have created a model or system that you are confident consistently underbets the selections and you are also confident that this is unlikely to change.

Adopt one of them but forget about how much you are likely to win.