GE2017 – Tracker – Sunday 7th May

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 398.5 – 24hr change = -0.7 | Week change = +9.7

Labour: Av u/o seats = 159.2 – 24 hr = 0 | Week = -1

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 17.8 – 24 hr = +0.3 | Week = -6.3


Spreadex | Con 398-404 (24hr = -1)| Lab 149-155 (+2) | LD 18-21 (-3)

Sporting Index | Con 398-404 (-3) | Lab 150-156 (+4) | LD 18-21 (-3)

(2015 result | Con 330 | Lab 232 | LD 8)


Plotted below are the average under/over line and the average spread midpoint for Tory seats.

Notice that, especially on the spreads, Tory seat predictions increased swiftly over the first week of the campaign – most likely due to weight of money getting with the Conservatives. Prices then settled in the run up to the locals but, understandably, spiked after the extent of the Tory gains on May 4th became clear.

Early days, but there has since been a slight correction in favour of Labour. Will be interesting to see if the Conservative prediction remains north of 400 seats (that’s a majority in the region of 150) through the month.

tory mid points.jpg


Volatility, bet sizing, and relative success

Fixed odds betting writers and tipsters tend to talk in terms of ‘points’.

They might recommend: Bale to score first, 1pt at 4/1.

One point refers to the size of your standard bet. Depending on how flush or reckless you are this might be 10p, £1, £10, £100 or, if you’re a Premier League footballer or Russian oil baron, £10,000. The idea is pretty straightforward: using points allows the tipster to recommend a bet size relative your standard stake.

For example, a standard tip (like the one given above) might suggest a 1 pt bet, a day’s NAP (i.e. a strong recommendation) might suggest a 2 pt investment, whilst a more speculative outsider (perhaps with some each way value) may well be tipped up to the tune of 0.5pts.

The nature of fixed odds betting means you only stand to lose your stake: the maximum loss of a one point bet is one point, if your usual punt is a tenner, then a tenner is the most you can lose. Your winnings, naturally, depend on the odds offered.

Of course, spread betting is quite different: the size of your win or loss varies according to just how right, or how wrong, you are in predicting a certain outcome.

An example:

In a cricket match, a fixed-odds firm will offer you a ‘runs line’. Say England are batting first in a Test Match, the bookie might set the line at 320.5 (the half is there to ensure the tie is out of play) and the punter can either back England to get fewer or more runs than the prediction (normally called the ‘unders’ or ‘overs’) – the odds will typically be 10/11 or 4/5 for either option.

Not exactly a road: Sabina Park, 1998

Not exactly a road: Sabina Park, 1998

Your mate on the ground staff reckons it’s a good pitch and suggests you back the overs for 2 pts. Your standard bet is £10 and as you trust your friend with the heavy roller, you stick £20 (2 x 10) on England to make 321 or more.

Unfortunately the surface is dryer that a Jack Dee joke about a Jacob’s cream cracker, the pitch does all sorts from ball one and England collapse to 115 all out. You’re £20 out of pocket and need to have a stern conversation with your pal.

Imagine the same scenario with a spreads firm. They make England’s 1st innings runs 315-330. You’re backing England to bat well so you ‘buy’ at 330. A 2pt (£20) stake here equates to £20 per run. England’s collapse doesn’t just cost you a score, it costs you £4,300 ((330-115)x20=4300)). Ouch. You’re seriously out of pocket and fantasizing about that heavy roller and your friend’s head.

We clearly need a different way of describing stake size for spread markets. However, one more element to consider first:

Whilst it is perfectly feasible to be 200 runs out (either higher or lower) on the prediction of a 1st innings score in a Test Match, the number of goals in a football match very rarely goes beyond the range of 0-8 (obviously having ‘minus goals’ is impossible and 9,10,11+ goals in a game is very, very rare – but does happen, just look at the closing day thriller between the Baggies and Man United at The Hawthorns).

We refer to this difference in the range of feasible outcomes as ‘volatility’. A trade on innings runs is thus more volatile than a trade on total goals in a game of football.

A market’s volatility will typically be reflected in the size of the spread offered. An innings runs quote typically starts with a spread size of 15 (315-330) whereas a total goals quote will typically have a spread of 0.2 (2.65 to 2.85, for example).

We can think about the size of spreads wagers (and the relative success of their outcomes) in terms of spread times stake (SXS), that is the size of the spread multiplied by the size of the bet. The bigger your typical bet is, the higher your SXS will be.

A SXS of 100 would equate to a £6.66 bet on innings runs (15×6.66=c.100) but a £500 bet on total goals (500×0.2=100) – both hefty wagers. Working to a SXS of 15 would allow a £1 bet on innings runs and £75 on total goals. A smaller punter might look at a SXS of 5 – that’s a 33p bet on the cricket and £25 on the total goals.

Using SXS allows us to consider a bet size appropriate to our means across different sports and markets. The spread tipster can express a particularly strong recommendation (equivalent to a fixed-odds 2 or 5 pointer) by suggesting a SXSx2 or SXSx5) or a more tentative punt as SXSx0.5.

Thinking in terms of SXS also gives a means of comparing the relative success of bets. It is clearly not satisfactory to equate a 2 point win (i.e. very slim) on a cricket runs market to a 2 point win (pretty significant) on football goals.

The loss talked about in the cricket example earlier could be represented as follows:

-215 (points lost) / 15 (size of spread) = -14.3

If, in the football example, I had bought goals at 2.85 and the match was a seven-goal thriller, that would be:

(7-2.85) = 4.15 (points profit)

4.15/0.2 = 20.75

In my previous post I discussed underestimating England’s series ton ups by 23 points (original spread = 52-57, make up = 34):

-23/5 = -4.6

You can calculate what you might have won or lost by multiplying this figure by your SXS. So if you had a SXS of 100 you would have lost £460, A SXS of £15, loss of £69, and a SXS of 5 (unsurprisingly) a loss of £23.

I will use this method to keep a running account of the success (or more likely failure) of my spreads tips. So, for this week I’m -4.6.

Results: Eng vs NZ 2nd Test

Buy England series ton ups @57

Make up = 34. Loss of 23 points

This bet could have gone better. It could have been a good deal worse.

The skies over Leeds were always going to be a problem and with the first day washed out this bet was in horrible shape.

What was really needed was an England batsman to make a so-called ‘daddy ton’ (150+) and, as such, whilst it was great to see Joe Root make his maiden Test century it was a frustration that he fell soon after.

With only 4 ‘ton up’ points from England’s first dig in the bag things were looking decidedly bleak when New Zealand fell short of the follow on target. If Cook had enforced, in all likelihood, NZ would have suffered an innings defeat or, if England did need to bat again it would only be to knock off a few.

Whilst Boycott and Botham chuntered about Cook’s conservative decision not to enforce, I was smiling. The captain decided on a bit of pre-Ashes batting practice  and personally notched up 130 thus adding 30 points to the ton-ups market  and reducing the loss.

England vs NZ, 2nd Test, Leeds

The first test of the summer at Lord’s was a low scoring affair with neither side managing to make more than 250. The pitch was atypical for headquarters being somewhat sluggish and even offering some assistance to orthodox spin from early on. A damp outfield didn’t help matters with many shots which might have been boundaries come August pulling up inside the ropes.

Headingley promises to offer a quite different surface. Various ex-pro pitch reading shamen are predicting a flat one and their reading is supported by cold hard stats. Joe Root, by a distance England’s most impressive batsman at Lord’s, made 236 here earlier in the season for Yorkshire (vs Derbyshire) and in the most recent match on the ground Adil Rashid (remember him?) made 180.

With an England batting order keen to answer critics and certain players (Bairstow, Compton and Root in particular) looking to cement places in advance of KP’s return and The Ashes, big tons are surely on the cards. With no batsman having reached three figures in London, both Sporting and Spreadex make England’s series (effectively match) ton-ups 52-57 or, if you fancy one or two of the Kiwis to make big runs too, combined ton-ups can be had at 74-81 at Spreadex (a point preferable for buyers compared to Sporting).

In principle it would make sense to be long on England ton-ups. However, the forecast for later in the week is mixed (i.e. actually pretty horrible) and rain is not conducive to big scores – batsmen can’t make runs sat in the pavilion and overcast conditions tend to favour a bowling side – so it would be wise to treat this market with caution and with an eye on the sky.

Recommendation: if it shows signs of sun in Leeds, BUY England ton-ups @57

Spreads update

Apologies for the recent radio silence.

To bring things up to date in the swiftest and most transparent fashion possible I’ll reproduce my spread betting activity over recent weeks and talk through the highs and the lows.

You’ll notice that I punt in relatively small stakes; I do so because I am poor and a coward.

Picture 19

A quiet Friday afternoon and over at The Masters snooker I fancy tucking into a bit of Judd Trump, the cue man of the moment, against squeaky-voiced Scot Graeme Dott and buy the haircut on both the 10-3 and frame supremacies. What follows is frame after frame of Trump carelessness that sickens in the way that only a spread bet going wrong can; I let my positions ride as I am sure that Trump must improve. It’s almost a relief when Dott completes a 6-1 victory and I can chalk a lazy punt that cost best part of a ton down to experience.

I remember at this point I though about depositing into my account but stubbornness made me see what I could make out of the beans left in. By close of play on the Saturday I’d repaired a fair chunk of the damage with two decent rugby bets which were both closed at pretty much the best point (selling points in the French clash and buying Sarries shirts suprem over Edinburgh).

Picture 20

My account’s health undulates for a while. I can’t show you the screenshots as my biggest win came from playing the ‘Instant Roulette’ which is somewhat embarrassing. The following is equally shaming but I’ll share anyway:


This cheeky £100 came as a result of a Spreadex rick. In the opening round of the ‘World Cup of Darts’ the traders erroneously made the Hungarian team, barely knew which end of the arrow to point at the board, massive jollies over the Belgian pair, the Huybrechts brothers – both very decent players. I managed to get a fiver on the Belgian win index at 2.5 and ,with the error corrected and Belgium well on the path to victory, traded out at close to 25 . I expected the bet to be voided as a palp but Spreadex, decently, let it stand. Is it ethical to bet on ricks? Probably not, but good luck finding a sympathetic shoulder to weep on if you’re a bookmaker.

Exploit ricks, but just remember that karma is, all too often, a bitch:

pak runsBuy Leeds over Hull in the Rugby League at 10 and close at 30 for a 20 point profit and think you’re getting good at this spread betting lark. Hand back over £60 hoping that a stacked England Saxons might do the business over the Sweaties’ A XV. Dabble on the snooker (a good tip from @McChazzz) before turning to the cricket. With Pakistan at 6/0 at the end of Day 1 the quote seems a bit stingy so I buy for 50p a run at 263. I go to bed fairly relaxed and when I wake up I run a worst case scenario, bowled out for 170 or so, through my head before logging on to Cricinfo fully expecting Pakistan to still be batting. Instead I am greeted with this:

Picture 24And I very nearly regurgitate my mid-morning cornflakes as I digest a three-figure loss and another rebuilding task.

Since that particular disaster I have managed to claw my way back and have traded fairly consistently in recent days:

Picture 25Ironically the £20 loss is a result of selling Pakistan runs. Of course, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, in my incarnations as student of literature and small time punter, it’s that hubris is a dangerous thing and catastrophe is never far away. I wonder what form my nemesis will take, Judd Trump and his dodgy tip, Shahid Afridi or instant bet roulette?

Captain Cook’s passage to India

India: where the temperature is hotter than the curries and the pitches are flatter than chapatis. It’s a famously demanding place to tour and this is reflected in Sporting Index’s series supremacy market; for the four match encounter they go India over England 8-11 (awarding 10 pts to the series winner plus 5 pts per Test won by).

Cook nets ahead of the Test series

Kevin Pietersen (remember him?) led England to a one-nil defeat in December 2008’s two match series in which India famously chased down 387 to win the first Test in Chennai. Before KP, Andrew Flintoff managed a 1-1 draw in 2006 – a series notable for the test debuts of Monty Panesar and England’s skipper for this trip, Alastair Cook (who made a ton on debut in the second innings at Nagpur).

As far as this series goes, England’s main concern must be in their ability to take 20 wickets. The necessary stoicism and application required to succeed with the bat on the subcontinent appears to be present, but, with Finn likely to miss the first Test, injury doubts hovering over Stuart Broad and England’s premier spinner Graeme Swann, off the back of an underwhelming summer, having rushed home to attend a sick child, the bowling could well be found wanting. As such, India would appear to be good value to buy at 11 on the supremacy market.

Looking at the player runs markets,  there are significant differences of opinion between Sporting Index and Spreadex. Whilst SpIn make Gambhir 305-325 for the series, Spreadex are a full 15 points lower at 290-310; you can get Cook for 300-320 on Spreadex or 315-335 on SpIn. It goes without saying to check the rival markets to select the spread that is most favourable for your buy or sell.

I like the look of getting long on Samit Patel’s runs at 200 (Spreadex). The Nottinghamshire all-rounder has shown decent form in the warm-up matches and the conditions ought to suit his game better than some other England batsmen.  The prodigal KP is a still a tempting buy at 320 (Spreadex) as one feels a truly massive innings is never far away. However, with Cook now required to deal with the added responsibilities of the captaincy, I might look to oppose the new England skipper at 315 (Sporting Index).

Not surprisingly, given England’s much-hyped travails against the turning ball, the Indian spin twins Ashwin (265-280) and Ojha (220-235) are top of the shops on SpIn’s (pun half intended) bowling index (10 pts per wicket + 25 pt bonus for a five-for). Assuming England bat twice in each match, Aswhin would need to take four-or-so wickets per innings to beat his spread. Even with the carrot of the 5-wicket haul bonus, I feel this is a sell – just don’t let me watch the DVD of England in Pakistan last year before Thursday.

Euro sceptic

Saturday was a bad day: a parking ticket to kick things off, a broken little toe in a Shooters Hill 2nd XV defeat (I now have a little more sympathy for David Haye; it is surprisingly painful), and Europe getting their asses handed to them in the Ryder Cup.

Cheers Tiger, so sporting of you

Things got worse on Sunday: as Europe pulled off one of the most remarkable sporting comebacks of all time (shaded only by Headingley ’81 in my ‘bouncebackability’ hall of fame) I was hobbling around cursing every Poulter putt and wayward Yank drive. I’d had a pretty lumpy bet buying the US points supremacy at one in the singles. When I should have been enjoying the miracle of Medinah with all other fair-weather golf fans, I was lying in bed, half an ear on the increasingly excitable 5-live commentary, doing some hasty mental maths and dreading checking my balance in the morning.

I think it’s only me and the CEOs of Ladbrokes, Coral, Hills et al who think that Tiger Woods’ final hole concession of Molinari’s 4-footer was an act of gross unprofessionalism rather than a symbol of sportsmanship – unusual to be sympathizing with the bookies!

The weekend’s misfortunes were all a bit frustrating as, to that point, I’d had a great week on the spreads displaying a Derren Brown-like ability to predict the course of sporting events. I’d made a fair bit buying India’s supremacy as they dispatched a hapless England in the World T20; flipped my allegiance at just the right moment in the Sri Lanka / New Zealand clash; and even made a bit blindly betting on the NRL Grand Final.

Just goes to show you that the warnings are correct, spread betting can lead to losses in excess of your original stake or, as the FSA ought to phrase it, you’re never that far away from doing your bollocks.