THE psychology of betting reared its head last week as I watched the betting market form in the hours before the weekend’s fixtures. My normal routine on a Saturday is to sit in front of the laptop with various windows showing the European prices at traditional bookmakers. Perhaps more importantly to me, I’m also watching the volatile Asian Betting markets.
As a result of compiling my own odds earlier in the week (see how in Week Ten), I always have an idea what teams I’m looking to back by this point. It might be that I’ve placed some early bets regardless, but the majority are always placed between 8am to 2pm on the day of the match.
Last weekend was a strange one. After compiling the odds, the initial prices offered by the European bookmakers indicated such that if they were still available in the market by the time I bet, I was going to have the following bets:
- Dunfermline 6/4 (the odds in my own “tissue” were 6/5)
- Thistle 6/4 (6/5)
- Alloa 3/1 (7/4)
- QOS 4/7 (1/3)
Unfortunately, the market moved quickly to back the top two teams in the First Division; once the value was lost, I crossed them off my list. As is often the case with winning teams, the Asian market started to back them as if they couldn’t lose, until it reached the situation on Saturday morning where the odds had been over-compensated to the point I’d describe them as an “overbet” – Queen of the South turned out the same way, so they were another team I had to strike off.
There were also a number of key points I’d gathered going into the weekend which reflected the bets I ultimately had:
- Mark McGuigan would help Albion significantly. He provides an out-ball for their defence and causes serious problems at the other end
- Ayr may have won a few games but it seemed to have been due to a combination of weak opposition and good fortune. They are still a mid-table team at best in my opinion
- Stranraer have abandoned their free-flowing style that made them prolific scorers last season. They now seem to be “parking the bus”
- Forfar are always going to score goals, but teams with decent movement will get in behind their defence.
Browsing the various markets where my feelings could have an impact (such as “goals”) I spotted some bits and pieces of value. These weren’t particularly large bets, although the prices offered were all good value in my opinion.
The resultant bets I had were:
- Forfar -vs- Alloa (Alloa +.5 and over 2.75 goals)
- Ayr -vs- Albion Rovers (over 2.75 goals)
- Stranraer -vs- Queen of the South (under 3 goals)
- Stenhousemuir -vs- East Fife (Stenhousemuir -.25)
What about the Falkirk and Morton games?
This is where psychology became relevant.
At around mid-day, I was looking at a situation where the prices on both Thistle and Dunfermline had been reduced to around 5/6, making the odds on both Falkirk and Morton around the 11/4 mark (the best price). In the Asian market, I would have bet on them +.25 at around 1.35. There is no way in my head that either of these teams should be such a large price, especially given that Falkirk were at home in a derby and Morton were at home on the back of a four-match winning run – both favourites faced stern tests.
Here was the dilemma: how could I now back a team to beat the opposition whom three days prior I was happy to back? To make the problem worse, one of the opposing teams were my beloved Jags – how could I go to the game and sing my heart out whilst betting on Morton?
This is where I am not as smart as I should be. A true professional would bet the value without a care as to the emotion of the event. Unfortunately, I am a proper supporter of my team and wouldn’t sell out for a few quid. That big winning bet would have to wait for another week.
The situation at Falkirk was virtually identical in terms of prices. I have no emotional attachment to Falkirk and I don’t believe they’re among the best teams in the First Division at the moment. I had it in my head that if they drifted to 4/1 I’d bet them, but that price never arrived. Betting them at 1.35+.25 would have shown a good profit, but it wasn’t to be.
It’s not easy being a punter and a supporter. I can see the benefits of having a complete detachment from supporting a team, but overall the benefits of match attendance far outweigh the occasional amateurish (lack of a) bet.
This weekend, we only have the Challenge Cup semi-finals to look forward to. With Arbroath looking to avenge the 6-0 loss to Queen of the South in the league, I would expect a defensive approach to the game from them – anyone expecting a repeat score line will be disappointed.
The other match is exactly the type of game that Thistle wouldn’t have wanted when the draw was made: a difficult away tie at Central park against Colin Cameron’s organised Cowdenbeath. The Blue Brazil are working hard in midfield and are definitely a team to respect (as Livingston found out at the weekend). I feel this could be a pivotal point in the season for Jackie McNamara’s team, moreso than the match against Morton.
The first quarter of the season is almost over, the major players have revealed themselves and there will no doubt be a number of surprises still to come. On a personal note, I’m happy with the majority of my SFL bets, but have of course had a few disasters most notably on NFL and the cricket (don’t ask!).
As ever, if you have any questions then please contact David on Twitter @sflpunter or leave a comment below.