Betting 360 Ep 088 – For and Against with Ben Krahe

Today is the first of our For and Against series where will get successful punters on the Betting 360 podcast to detail exactly how they go about winning long-term. You will soon see that while there are many common traits amongst the professionals, no two punters operate the same way.

In fact many come at it from very different angles yet each of them are successful in their own right.

Punting Insights:

In this series we will discuss aspects of the form such as:

  • Database vs. instinct and experience
  • On-speed vs. backmarkers
  • Big vs. small markets
  • Specialising vs. diversifying

We will also get their take on a number of different betting, staking and money management methods including:

  • Level vs. proportionate staking
  • Standard bet size vs. confidence levels
  • Market intelligence vs market ignorance
  • Early vs late betting
  • Favourites vs long shots
  • Each way (or place only) vs straight out.
  • Static vs dynamic banks
  • Profit on Turnover % vs Profit only

Today’s Guest:
Ben Krahe

David Duffield: Hi Ben I wanted to get you on as the first part of a series with most of the guys in our team. That’s because there’s some similarities in the way people operate, and then there’s also some pretty key differences.
I wanted to run through a few different things, and just find out your take on how you approach it, and whether that’s changed over the years from the bookmaking that you did right through to punting.

Ben Krahe: Sure, let’s go.

David Duffield: The first one was in terms of the staking. I’ve always said I’ve never come across anyone that level stakes and has been really successful, but in recent times I have. There is one guy who is heavily data driven and is happy to level stake and ride out the peaks and troughs there. You’re like most though, you’re from the other side of things, where you’ve always bet proportionately.

Ben Krahe: Yeah, that’s right. I believe the reason we bet is because we have an edge. When we price things, we give certain percentage to those horses. The reason we price things is because we want to find value. If we find more value in a horse, for me, it makes sense that we bet more according to that value. So I always bet according to what I’ve priced a horse. If I get even money, and I’m betting to five units, then obviously we’ll bet to collect five units on that horse, irrespective of whether it’s paying $2.50 or if it’s actually paying $10. The more value we get, the better return for what we’ve come up with.
That’s the reason I don’t bet level stakes. I just believe that the reason we are betting is because we’ve got an edge and some value, so let’s really exploit that value.

David Duffield: One thing that has changed from earlier this year, though, was you went from outlaying the same amount per race, or having the same unit value assigned, to having different confidence levels. How did that come about, and how has it gone?

Ben Krahe: I did a bit of research. What I’ve basically done is, in effect an A, B, and C race, or a one race, or a half unit race, or maybe even just a one and a quarter or one and a half times unit race.
At one stage there I wouldn’t price every race, I might leave a couple of races out if I just wasn’t confident. But the service that I’m giving the people is that they want to have a bet. Most guys want to have a bet in most races. I’ve priced every race. If I’m not too confident on the race, but I’ve still priced it, and I believe that I’ve got those prices right, we might only assign that a half unit staking race.

There might be other reasons for that. There might be a change of trainer, or a whole heap of first data that we haven’t seen any vision of the trials. There might be various reasons why we’re still interested in having a bit of a bet, but we mightn’t be as confident in the race.

On the other side, sometimes I get up there, and I am just super confident that I’ve got that race right. Rather than just plug away at the same stake for every race, I might say, “Okay, guys, we’re going to bet one and a quarter times this time, or even one and a half to an extreme, if I’m really confident about a race.”

I did a bit of research. I think we’ve been doing it now for about three months. I believe that we’re probably somewhere in the vicinity of 5-10 units better per month, at least. That could be the difference between winning and losing. I think everyone took a little bit of time to get used to it.

Yeah, there are times when one of these 0.5 races, in other words, we’re only betting half as much as normal, they might come up with a great result. What I do tell the guys is that that could have been a race where I just avoided altogether. Most of the time, those 0.5 races are the ones which I wouldn’t have bothered pricing, but we’re still getting results out of them.

David Duffield: Five to ten units, as you mentioned, especially over the course of the year that can be a massive difference.

Ben Krahe: Even if it was five units, that’s 60 units over a year. Even if you’re a $10 punter, that’s $600 over a year. You can’t tell me how many $10 punters wouldn’t prefer to be $600 better off at the end of the year.

David Duffield: What about how you manage your money? There’s 100 units set aside, for some people that initial amount is forever their unit size, other people reassess every race, every day. What’s your approach?

Ben Krahe: Managing money, isn’t that what the wives do for us?
No, look, my bank value stays the same at all times. Say your bank’s $10,000 to start with, if we’re winning a couple of thousand dollars, my bank doesn’t become $12,000 and then we bet 5% of that.

There’s no right or wrong reason about it other than that’s the amount that I’m comfortable betting. If I’m a $100 punter, and we’re betting three units a race, I don’t really want to be betting more than $300 outlay per race. If your bank gets up … Last year we won 560 units, or something ridiculous. I don’t know what our bank would have been if we had have kept upping it by a certain percentage. We might have been betting seven or eight units a race in equivalent at one stage.

Then if you have a bad time, all of a sudden, if you’re betting $700-$800, outlaying that much per race, and you have a bad run, that’s when the demons start to kick in, and you start to chase, and all this sort of stuff, when you’re not comfortable losing the amount that you are.

The bottom line for me is that I’m happy to keep betting to a $10,000 bank, and then whatever percentage of that you want to bet, to keep betting that time.

Like I said, I’m not comfortable betting huge amounts. I’m not a huge gambler, in terms of money amounts. What I stand to lose is the three or four units. Whatever the unit size is that I bet, that’s what I’m comfortable losing.

David Duffield: What about bet timing? Because different people approach it in different ways. Some people want to chip away at some of the early fixed odds that are around. It’s probably less available to you, in that you’re waiting for the bookies to go up. How do you time your bets?

Ben Krahe: We’ve done a couple of webinars on this, for the trots guys and for other people that bet in greyhounds and less liquid markets, it’s a real art to get right. Nobody gets it right all the time, it’s just a matter of how right you can get it.

There’s certain things to do. If you can still bet at Bet365, and you’ve got our service, I’m more than happy that if you just take all the overs early on that we’ll still end up in front, because they’re the guys that go up first. I’m not saying that they’ve got wrong odds or anything like that, but you can actually get on, and you’re going to be taking overs.

Other than that, if you have to wait for the TAB and Tatts, and those type of guys to go up, it’s just a practice thing. We’ve gone into detail on this on webinars. If anyone wants to see one of those webinars, I’m sure we can send it to them, Dave. We’ve probably got it on link there somewhere.

There’s a lot of different indicators about when to bet. Things that have gone off early at other bookmakers. Early tote prices, Betfair indicators, and all of this kind of stuff.

David Duffield: What about the price bracket that you’re normally betting into? Is there a particular area that you’re focused on? I know you’re more than happy to back the shorter priced ones if they’re value, and to really pot the long shots if they’re no chance. What’s your typical approach?

Ben Krahe: Yeah, there isn’t. Like you said, I’m happy to take value where it’s value. I don’t want to be diving into a $1.30 pop too often, but if I’ve marketed it for $1.04 or a $1.05, the percentage difference there is huge, so you’re probably going to have to do it.

When you get into that lower odds-on scale of things, that’s up to you where you want to draw the line, or how much value you’re actually getting.

The trots is unlike any other sport. There are more short price horses going around than in any other code. It’s nothing for $1.10 pop to be going around. People will say, “There’s no value in that $1.10 pop,” but let me tell you, most of the time, the $1.10 pop is a $1.10 pop for a reason. The trots is one area where a lot of short is going around, and there are reasons for that.

On the other side of the scale, 30-40:1 pops going around really should have a zero added to those odds. That’s what we try to expose in our markets.

In getting back to what you’re saying, there is no set level, whether I don’t go under $1.40. If something’s $1.30 and I’ve marked it $1.04 to 100%, you would be crazy not to take it, because it’s still value.

David Duffield: In terms of the liquidity battle, I suppose you’d say, we’ve got some guys amongst us that say that the Sports Predictor boys that are almost the biggest market in the world in the US sports. Then you’ve got New Zealand, and harness, and greyhounds, where part of the battle is just getting the bet on. How have you approached that? Because I know that you have also focused geographically on New South Wales primarily.

Ben Krahe: As far as getting on, I can only bet at the two TABs and SportsBet, and obviously Betfair, and a couple of the other boutique bookies let us on for a little bit. You’ve just got to do your best.
We’ve cut back our results to only show results at the TAB and Tatts and SportsBet. We’ve had a good year so far. I think we’re winning nearly 90 units in New South Wales and 70 in Victoria. We’ve had a huge couple of months. That’s only using those couple of bookmakers. If you can get on Bet365 and better prices at Betfair and other bookmakers, your results are going to be a lot better than that.

You’ve just got to do your best. When the TAB and Tatts come up, you’ve got to judge what the market is going. It only takes practice. The more you watch the market every race, the more you’ll get the hang of it. Like I said, we’ve done some webinars on that.

As far as where we bet, yeah, I do New South Wales and Victoria. In New South Wales, I only concentrate on a certain area. That’s in the city and that Hunter western district, north west, as in into Tamworth. Basically, there’s a bunch of horses that just go around in the city, or they just run around at Newcastle and Tamworth. That way, it’s a bit like betting into a Hong Kong market, or a WA market, where there’s just the same horses going around against each other, and the form lines aren’t too great. That’s where we’ve come up with the best results with that type of thing.

We’ve been doing Victoria now for a year, and the results are still good there. They’re not as good as New South Wales, but they’re still very good. I think we won 16 units last night, so it’s a good result there.
It’s just more of a matter of getting the form lines together there. We do just focus on the two states. I don’t watch Queensland trots, I don’t watch WA trots, I couldn’t tell you what horses are going around in there, because I just want to focus on what I’m doing.

David Duffield: What about place betting and each way betting? What are your thoughts on those?

Ben Krahe: I’m not a big each way bettor, for no particular reason. We do quite a bit of place betting with Champion Picks here. We’re winning quite well at it. People that say there’s no value in place betting, well the trots, there’s a huge amount of value. I look for runners that are going to be on the pace, on the pegs, ones that are going to be trailing hot favourites that might be 20 or 30/1 in the win market.

They might only be $2.50 or $3 a place, and that doesn’t sound like good value, but when you take the favorite out of it, all of a sudden, that becomes really good value. These horses are getting good runs in the trots. That’s a huge thing, getting cushy runs on the rails, or getting runs through behind good horses and that type of thing.

A lot of times people say to me, “This thing’s $3 a place, it’s huge odds the place.” I might have only marked it $4 or $5 a win. But if it’s drawn barrier 10 at Menangle, that doesn’t necessarily mean I want to take those what seem to be inflated place odds. I’m just happy to be on it on the win, because it will probably either win, or just not run a place, if that makes sense.

The ones that I look for in the place are the ones that are going to get good runs, either behind a favourite, or behind something that’s going to lead. I know it’s going to be on the pegs, and I know it’s going to be up near the lead.

David Duffield: Does market intelligence play any role in how in how you price them up?
For example for our VIC boys, once they’ve determined an overlay, part of the actual staking strategy, when you input the price into the sheet, there is a small component that is the market. You come from the other side of things, which is you don’t care, you go up well before the market’s up so you might want to explain that.

Ben Krahe: Again, trots is different to gallops. Every bookmaker that’s doing gallops probably has three or four guys that are actually doing the form on gallops. Therefore, there might be in Australia, throughout the bookmakers, there might be 30 guys doing form on gallops. The market is probably going to be closer to what it should be when it comes up, if that makes sense.

With the trots, we’ve got Bet365 go up early and SportsBet go up early, so a couple of guys are doing form there, but to be honest, I’ve worked at Bet365, they probably take 5-10 minutes to put a market up, and then let the so-called markers come in and fix the market up, for want of a better word. Then the TAB will go up. There’s one guy doing the prices at the TAB, and then everyone just goes and cut and pastes and follows them, to within one roll of them.

Basically, the market ‘intelligence’, for want of a better word, is all about what one person does at the TAB. Whether they get it right or wrong.

For mine, I’m not saying that I’m smarter than that guy at the TAB or not, but there’s only one person forming an opinion throughout Australia on this market. We’re only really competing against one person, whereas we might be competing against 10-20 people in the gallops. That’s why I disregard all the market intelligence, for want of a better word.

David Duffield: Yeah, I think there’s that saying the wisdom of crowds, or wisdom of large crowds, whereas for harness like you said it’s almost a one man band. It’s a different story.

Ben Krahe: It is. It’s amazing. Bet365 and SportsBet, they might be $10 about one horse. If the TAB goes up $3.50 all of sudden both those guys will be back under $4 straight away. They mightn’t have even laid 10 bucks for the two hours they were up beforehand. Is there any market intelligence? That says no to me.

David Duffield: What about data versus gut instinct and experience? I know which side of the fence you’re on here, but you might just want to explain how your time in the industry influences how you price up a race.

Ben Krahe: There’s two ways to go in pricing, as you said. There’s very data driven, and there’s gut instinct. I’ve got a mate that’s totally data driven, and he does very well at the game. For me, I can’t get a feel of the race that way. I have literally no data. Everything I’ve got is in my head.

I’ve got a pretty good memory for where a horse ran last time, and what happened in the market, and that type of thing. For me, I just get a feel of a race. That’s something you can’t teach. It’s not right and it’s not wrong. It’s just something you can’t teach. It might be the way you might get the feel of a footy game, or anything like that.

I’ve priced a couple of races on a webinar, which people can ask for if they want to get a copy of that. I think last time we priced a race on the webinar, Dave, we shortened something from 10/1 to about 2/1 in the space of about an hour. That horse did nothing. Would you believe, it’s won about five times since?

David Duffield: I would believe that, yeah.

Ben Krahe: We were one week out there.
I do a lot of form, but I don’t do any data stuff per se yet. I do have a lot of gut instinct about what a horse can and can’t do.

David Duffield: All right. Just to finish then, what about profit on turnover, as a percentage, or just profit as the bottom line? Which is your preferred metric?

Ben Krahe: A lot of people do the profit on turnover, or percent on turnover. For me, it’s more about just how much … If you’re winning 2%, it doesn’t sound like much, people go, “You can get more in a bank,” but you might turn over half a million dollars a year. You haven’t got half a million dollars to put into the bank to get your 2%.

For mine, the percent on turnover is not a huge thing. It’s just a matter of whether you’re making money, and how much you’re making, and whether that’s actually helping you out in your life. If you’re making consistently 20 units a month, and you’re a $10 punter, well I’m sure that $200 a month is much better off than you were ever doing when you were sitting in the TAB betting on every race.

It’s not really about percent on turnover for mine. As long as you’re consistently making some decent profit on what you are actually investing.

David Duffield: Excellent. All right. We’ll leave it there for now. Thanks for being our first, Ben. The whole point of this was just to run through the cases for and against, and just to explain how there’s no one right way of doing things. You mix amongst professional punters, and as you just mentioned before with your harness racing mate, he’s data driven and I believe he rates just three horses to 80%. There’s just so many different ways of going about it.

Ben Krahe: There’s no right or wrong way. What I’ve learned is I’ve worked for four or five very smart bookmakers who are all very well considered in the game. I’ve also learned off a few different pro punters as well. You’ve just got to take a little bit of what you can from everyone and do what is best for you. There’s no right or wrong way. What I do is not 100% right. What someone else does is not 100% right. You’ve just got to grab what’s right for you, and what works for you, and make sure that that’s what happens.

David Duffield: Definitely. All right I appreciate your time, Ben. All the best for the rest of the year, and also for surviving the Darwin Carnival.

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