In-Work Betting

If you have the pleasure/displeasure to live in the UK, if you’re watching some sports and there’s a commercial break you will be greeted by Ray Winstone’s head telling you that it’s all about the in-play.

Ray Winstone – a classically trained thespian

This is bookmaker bet365’s marketing to get people to bet in play, like most betting adverts it’s implying that sports are better when you have money riding on it. This is true. Would horse racing exist without gambling? Betting does make the most boring sport watchable, even women’s tennis…

I’m joking!

With that in mind I bring you In-work betting!

The other week, in the real world away from the interwebz, I have a job and my department had an “away day”. The mere utterance of those 2 words together: “away day”, is enough to prompt a groan from any reasonable human being. Generally speaking, I consider the majority of work meetings to be a total waste of time. Instead of actually doing work, people like to get together and talk about work, for hours, and without anything to show for it. And you always have at least one knobhead that hasn’t got anything useful to say, but he wants to make himself heard and will waffle on & on. I reckon that the number of people in a meeting is directly proportional to how inefficient the meeting will be:


And don’t get me started on those that like to have a “pre-meet” before the main meeting. I consider an away day to be one long all day meeting.

So, faced with a whole day of being bored out of my bottom. I had the brain wave of organising some gambling on the event. If betting can make watching a few horses running about enjoyable then it should at least make the time go by a bit quicker during this. I decided to offer some props bets to another chap I could trust to keep a secret. I would take the role of the bookmaker, I would come up with some markets, set the lines and he could bet on them. I offered him 1.91 either side, I’m not Pinnacle so he’s not getting anything better than that! He’s already got an advantage, it’s easier for him to choose the over/under and as he’s the only one betting it’s not like I can change my lines accordingly. He was only going to bet £5 on each bet so it’s not like I was going to have a heavy liability and be forced to close his account!

We debated together on some prop bets and I set the lines:

  • Exact Time the away day would start
  • Number of people to be present in the room at the start
  • Number of F words to be spoken
    • This was originally going to be the number of swear words said out loud, but F words is more precise. Is bloody or bugger a swear word?
  • Number of people to leave the room to take a phone call (must have mobile in hand)
  • Exact Time the away day would finish

We also considered a bet on the total number of times the company that we work for’s name to be said during the day. But we reckoned we have to pay attention 100% for the whole day and that was never going to happen! Another stipulation was that we couldn’t directly affect any of the bets. Like if he took the under on the F words I couldn’t stand up and say out loud “fuck-a-doodle-do you fucking fuckers” and sit back down all smug knowing I had won that one. be continued

NFL Conference Championships

Carolina Panthers v Arizona Cardinals

I remember thinking during the Panthers Seahawks game last week, when the Panthers built that large early lead that at least it would lead to generous odds on the Cards winning this weekend. That seems to be the case. All season I’ve been harping on about how underrated I’ve thought the Cards were, and I’ve heard many people say that they’re backing the Panthers in this one.

I’m on the Cards ML here. Cards +3 is a good bet too if you prefer. That’s effectively saying that a a neutral field this would be a pick’em. But by my numbers the Cards should definitely be favoured. Let’s not forgot that the Cards have the best offensive yards per play and most net yards per passing attempt.

Denver Broncos v New England Patriots

Again I’m on the underdog; Broncos ML. We’ve got another inflated number here as Patriots -3 is effectively saying that if they were at home they’d be -9, when last week at home to Kansas City the Patriots were only -5!

Manning’s been bad, sure, but for me the Broncos are the value pick at these odds.


Proper bets:


    • Broncos 2.50 (+150)
    • Cards 2.50 (+150)


Following on from a previous post; Winning Streak, a certain retail bookmaker has decided to restrict my account. Not my first, but now’s a good chance to talk about account restrictions/closures. This bookie will now only lay me a bet that has a max payout of £18. Ok then, I’ll be taking my ‘custom’ elsewhere. Even on sports that I have no idea about, like cricket, I can only get a piddly amount on. On one hand you could say that they should lay me plenty on sports that I never bet on, but on the other hand I’m not the sort of person to place a -EV bet (or a least a bet that I don’t think is -EV). So instead of just restricting me on basketball, they’re basically saying that they don’t want my business at all.

When I noticed my account had been restricted I opened up the Customer chat to see if they had anything interesting to say about the matter:

Me: I have a question about my account. I don’t seem to be able to place bets to the amounts that I was previously. I’m wondering what’s going on?

Squarebook’s Customer Support:
Hi there, this may or may not be happening but we dont see or control this from customer care, the traders decide this and their decision is final , and non-negotiable, this may happen more often on live bets as they cannot be sent for approval here is their answer in relation to this:

We understand the frustration of not always being able to stake the full desired amount however our market limits are constantly reviewed and believe are set at an appropriate level; whether this is modified or not is uniquely at our traders’ discretion and not negotiable. You may have the option of sending your bet for approval with the possibility of such request getting partially/fully approved or rejected. May we remind you however that even if such request gets rejected, you’ll still have the possibility to stake again should the odds change at a later stage.

There’s the usual rubbish. “This may or may not be happening”…it is happening, and laying me £18 is apparently an “appropriate level”!

Now, I’m not going to criticise someone for doing something that I would do in their position. Retail bookmakers exist because their business model relies on losing punters. They offer better odds in order to attract the mugs/squares but if someone has the nerve to win (even if they’re a square enduring some temporary good fortune) then they’ll show you the door. When these businesses are making half their profits from in-shop FOBTs then it makes their decision to ban someone who’s won even a relative small amount of money even easier. Why take on winning punters when you’ve got a guaranteed income from FOBTs? And I don’t think that a company should be forced to do business with a customer.

..slightly off topic…

As retail books rely on losing punters, if you’re getting banned then you’re on the right track. You see on Twitter people posting photos of large bets placed online at renowned square books (we all know who they are!). If they thought you knew what you were doing then you wouldn’t have been able to place that bet.

There’s a couple of excellent articles elsewhere describing why books will ban you and how to get around it, or at least try and delay it:

How bookmakers track your every move & how to get around it (from an industry insider).

NFL Divisional Round

Well the Wild card round was pretty interesting… My ML bets went 2-2 for a small loss of -0.31 points, but it could have quite easily been a 4-0 weekend… I still can’t believe Blair Walsh missed that kick!

Blair minny kicker

Arizona Cardinals v Green Bay Packers

I’ve backed the Cards plenty this season to much success as they’ve generally been underrated. I was hoping for a decent price to back them here but the odds are pretty much spot on according to my numbers: 1.33 – 3.60 on Pinnacle, Cards -7.5. So no bet here.

Carolina Panthers v Seattle Seahawks

Seattle were the “in form team” coming into the playoffs, but they were extremely lucky to get through against the Vikings. Not just the missed FG but the TD the Seahawks scored was fortunate to say the least.  It made me remember reading somewhere that in the Superbowl the Patriots wanted to keep Wilson in the pocket and didn’t want him making plays with his legs.

Anyway the Seahawks didn’t play well, but still came through, something all good teams can do. This week I liked their odds earlier on and backed them outright at 2.30 on the ML. They opened up at +3 and have come into +1. By my numbers I’d have them at -1 but there’s a very small percentage difference between +1 and -1.

Part of the reason for the odds coming in is that Lynch has decided that he fancies playing football this week. To be honest I wouldn’t have wanted to play last week at temperatures of -17 degrees or whatever it was! Anyway, as always, the market reacts to the most replaceable position in football.

Denver Broncos v Pittsburgh Steelers

If Rapistburger was healthy then I’d be all over Pittsburgh at the current odds. But even if he plays there’s no way he’d he anywhere near 100%, and the Steelers reserve QBs have been terrible this season. So I’m happy to leave this alone pre-game. If Big Ben plays and looks like he’s been on the “deer antler spray” all week then I may back the Steelers in play.

New England Patriots v Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have won 11 straight games. Like most analytical/numbers/stats guys I’ve liked them for a while and I’m on the ML. Football Outsiders reckon they have a 52% chance of winning at the Patriots, I wouldn’t go that far but there’s still value to back them now.


Proper bets:


    • Seahawks 2.30 (+130)
    • Chiefs 3.05 (+205)

NFL Wild Card Weekend

So I finished my Supercontest with 47 points out of a possible 85 (55%) which was good enough for joint 17th out of 122. I was 3 points off the top and 1.5 points away from finishing in the money. Prior to the competition I set myself the low target off getting over 50% and not disgracing myself, so at least I achieved that!

As for my actual bets, they went 46-49-2 for a regular season ending total of +7.6 points for a ROI of 7.8%. Not a spectacle season, but at least we have a profit, especially when the amount of work I’ve put in the NFL have been reduced this season.

If we have a look at these numbers further my ML bets went 31-24 for +18.86 points, while my ATS bets went 14-25-2 for –12.26 points! Also there was a single future, which was a win on the Cards wining their division. For the past few seasons my ML bets have been very good while my ATS bets have a much lower, but still positive ROI. The *crude model I’ve created does a much better job calculating a team chance of winning rather than ATS. I may do some work on this to improve it if I ever have a chance.

Ok on to the games and there’s a lot I like.

Minnesota Vikings v Seattle Seahawks

Seattle are the “in form team” coming into the playoffs. I was quite harsh on Seattle earlier on in the season, I thought they were overrated. While they are no doubt a top team (I’ve got them ranked 2nd) I still think they’re overrated on the road at Minnesota. Minny opened up around 2/1, which isn’t showing them much respect. Although to be honest I haven’t shown the Vikings much repect this season by opposing them most weeks then complaining about how lucky they’ve been. But I’m on the Minny ML, and would be even if the weather was fine. It’s going to be extremely cold in Minny this weekend, also Lynch is out, but he’s just a running back…yeah I said it, the majority of RBs are overrated.

Washington Redskins v Green Bay Packers

Remember the days when the Packers were undefeated and the cool pick to win the Superbowl? Remember when the squares were parroting that “you don’t back against Aaron Rodgers bro”? Well the Packers opened up as underdogs to the Redskins. That’s crazy IMO. I took the Packers +1 at evens straight away. The Packers are still the underdogs. The Redskins are easiest the worst team in the playoffs, by my numbers I’d expect the Packers to be favoured at Washington…Maybe Kirk Cousins is really good after all?

You like that!?

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers

Accounting for Bengals performances without Dalton, and Steelers performances with Big Ben, I like the Bengals, another ML bet. The Bengals are a good all-round team and are underrated here.

Houston Texans v Kansas City Chiefs

Even at low odds there’s value on the Chiefs here. I didn’t bet the Chiefs early in the week but they’ve drifted slightly and I’ve backed them.

*What I mean by a crude model is based around power rankings of the teams. More info on mine here.

A much more sophisticated model would take into account the players playing, simulate the game thousands of times accounting for game states (ie generally speaking teams have more efficient play calling when trailing, while team leading are much more conservative).


Proper bets:


    • Bengals 2.21 (+121)
    • Vikings 3.10 (+210)
    • Chiefs 1.67 (-149)


    • Packers +1 2.02 (+102)