At the launch of the 2010/2011 season I kicked off a little project. The general premise was to take out the bet in the bookie’s window each week and see who came out on top at the end of the season. I managed to get a bet in most weeks, only slowing down towards the tail end of the season as a result of some travel and family commitments. The season has come to a close and that means time to wind down the project and share some reflections.
What did I learn?
Lots of things. Some more interesting than others.
- The bookie comes out on top, in this case to the tune of £180. Admittedly, this should’ve been the outcome so no surprises there. I did win once in the season.
- When the windows says “£10 returns £100”, the odds are 9/1 (9 pounds out for every pound you put in) because the return includes your initial bet.
- The odds are misleading. I tended to take the view that longer odds make for more interesting bets, especially in the context of trying to get “1 big win” during the course of a season. You’d think that shorter odds would give more victories and that’s why shorter odds are, well, shorter. When I look back on the mix of bets, having one with shorter odds doesn’t seem to have given a greater chance of winning than one with longer odds.
- The web is full of serendipitous connectivity.
- Don’t bet on your own team. The first two bets I placed in Arsenal’s favour (1, 2) resulted in dropping points. I then had a window bet for Chelsea to beat Arsenal (gasp!) and that all but sealed the fate of that game. Next Arsenal bet should’ve been a sure bet (Ipswich in the Carling Cup) and Arsenal went and lost that.
- You can bet on stuff all day, every day. Somewhere in the country someone is hurtling some animal around a track with only 3 spectators and a camera for company.
- Bookies run a network of cyber dog races. If there genuinely is a moment in the day where there is no race happening somewhere, there is a piped feed of virtual races which punters can bet on.
- There are lots of very desperate people in bookies. People who smell like last week’s socks and are placing 10p or 20p bets.
- Kids aren’t allowed into bookies. I got thrown out of one shop because I had my baby daughter with me. This doesn’t upset me or even surprise me but as I didn’t actually know it, it counts as a learning.
How did I do?
I kept a running total on this spreadsheet.