Our Melbourne metro ratings analyst is this week’s guest on our For and Against podcast series, where we get the lowdown from professional punters on how they go about winning long-term.
Andrew explains how how he approaches form analysis:
- Database vs. instinct and experience
- On-speed vs. backmarkers
- Big vs. small markets
- Specialising vs. diversifying
And also how he then manages his betting strategy:
- 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: Andrew Hannan
Dave Duffield: Nice to have you on the show once again and it’s another part of our series called “For and Against” just celebrating the differences but also the similarities amongst the professionals and how they go about it so I have a whole bunch of questions for you.
Andrew Hannan: Yep, Let’s fire away.
Dave Duffield: On the form side of things, you’ve got some people that are heavily relying on their database and you’ve got other people that are more videos and gut instinct. Which side of the fence would you be on?
Andrew Hannan: If I have to put myself on one side of the fence, I’d definitely be data driven but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s all I’m about. The database factors in all variables that can be quantified. Some of them can be subjectively quantified as well, just along with the data. Yeah. We certainly factor in both but on either side of the table we just make sure we’re able to quantify it.
Dave Duffield: I think we mentioned this last time we were on but in terms of the database that you use and how there’s an output of the right prices, you might tinker with the inputs at times on an overall level, but the actual output race by race you don’t touch, do you?
Andrew Hannan: Yes. That’s correct. It can be dangerous when you’re subjectively tinkering with something that took a long time to construct. We tend to not do that at all.
Dave Duffield: Being data driven in a lot of ways, you mentioned that you try and quantify the subjective factors (if that’s not a contradiction, I’m not sure) but if you’re talking about track bias when you’re reviewing the media and things like that, how do you actually put that in numbers?
Andrew Hannan: Well, we have without trying to go too specific, we have certain rules that we like to follow. It’s probably more subjectively quantifying more with the videos so most people who do watch videos without really thinking about it do quantify it in a way because they do it framing their markets and with what process they like to take the certain horses, etc. but yeah with certain factors like videos and things like that we do have certain rules in what we do see in the video and it’s able to be quantified and therefore the database can read it and interpret it so that’s why we like to do it that way.
Dave Duffield: What about the coverage or the focus that you have? Are you one of those kind of grind away, bet every race every day or are you just focusing on a few?
Andrew Hannan: Well, the database covers all of Australia and Hong Kong so we do have the capability and we do frame markets for all of those races, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we bet in all of them. Basically, we bet mainly in the races that our markets are different to the public’s and it doesn’t really matter where they are, we’re happy to obtain overlays anyway we’re happy to do it so yeah.
When you have the luxury of having a database, you are able to, I guess, diversify your areas of races that you’re able to cover. But if you’re mainly a form person who goes with your gut feel and likes to get the knowledge of the horses and do it sort of more manually, then it is very difficult, particularly in Australia to cover all jurisdictions and that’s why you find most of them will just be in one state. We’re lucky enough that we’re able to cover all bases around the country.
Dave Duffield: What about speed maps? I know you place a lot of importance in them and you know where the horses are first up, up in distance, down and distance and all that type of thing. Where do you find value based on doing those speed maps?
Andrew Hannan: It’s a good question, David. I wouldn’t say the value’s completely gone, but you’ve got to be very careful of speed maps because the speed maps are so well, it’s a general tool for the everyday punter these days. They are put out days before the race is actually run so there’s plenty of people who are able to look at them and interpret them and then particularly jockeys and trainers because they’re continually talked about for days prior to the race you can see the opposite occur and that can really affect the probabilities of the race that you’ve produced. You do have to be very careful.
Of course, you need to know where the horses you’re backing were settling and again quantify the advantages or disadvantages to that but the value has certainly gone away in the last few years since they’ve come into the more general public.
Dave Duffield: A few years ago if you had a race where you were pretty certain there was going to be no speed it’s going to favor the on pacers or just off that speed, are you finding that nowadays because it’s so mainstream that all the trainers and jockeys see that and there can be a bit of a turnaround and then the pace might be right on?
Andrew Hannan: Well, yes that’s right. Sometimes it means that horses will be run out of their pattern, which means their chances are basically over there and then sometimes it can affect your predicted pace ratings and yeah, the way that you think the race will be won. That’s why you’ve got to be careful, I think the trainers these days are getting better and better at doing change of tactics notifications and that’s obviously very important and we like to get those and interpret them and tinker our markets if we have to. Yeah, as you said, certainly the value generally speaking has diminished significantly with the speed maps.
Dave Duffield: Speaking of trainers and jockeys, how do you incorporate those into your markets and are you more looking at their winning strike rates or is it profitability in terms of what the market expects as to what actually occurs?
Andrew Hannan: Yeah, it’s certainly more profitability. We have trainer and jockey ratings and they have an objective input into them, which is basically the profitability or the strike rate etc, then we also have a subjective part of it, which is our interpretation of a jockey’s flair, strengths, initiative, etc. that’s all based on recency and continually updated.
Dave Duffield: What about barriers? How do you treat those and also does that vary dramatically from track to track?
Andrew Hannan: Probably not so much from track to track but race to race. We were talking about the speed maps, the speed maps are probably a lot more important than the actual barrier so having a wide barrier, inside barrier can be a disadvantage or an advantage but in a different race it could be the opposite so you’ve got to be very careful of just backing horses just because they’re in a certain barrier position. It’s dangerous to bet on a horse just because it’s got one positive variable. We’re probably more focused on the pace rating we have on the race and the speed map more than the barriers.
Dave Duffield: Are you a believer in weights?
Andrew Hannan: Yes. Well, handicapping is obviously an integral part of doing form analysis. Weight is a very general discussion. You can be talking about comparable weights or the weights the horses are carrying, A, B, B. It is a very general discussion, go on for a while, but it’s the last input into our database because each horse that we have produces a predictive rating and those predictive ratings then obviously make our market and the market is based upon the weight that each horse carries. Horse A has the same predictive rating than Horse B, but Horse A is carrying three kilos more, should have had the same rated price as B? No, so that’s why it’s our last input there.
Dave Duffield: What about trials and jump-outs? I know you look at those and also first uppers but how does a quant model in a lot of respects incorporate that into what you do?
Andrew Hannan: Yeah, we certainly do look at them. As you said it is more tricky than obviously a race, because you’re not sure about the energy exertion that a horse is showing or the weight that it’s carrying or the gear, etc. so it can be a lot harder. We certainly do look at them and have comments on them and with the jump outs as well now in Melbourne, which is handy. Yeah, we certainly do look at them but it’s not a major input if we’re honest because we find the markets are pretty switched on with interpreting those trials and jump outs and it’s generally reflected in the markets.
Dave Duffield: Sectional times. I know you use them and everyone uses them to some extent but how important are they to you?
Andrew Hannan: No, they’re very important, David. It’s obviously we produce time ratings and that’s part of it obviously has to do with sectional times and they’re also very important in our review of races and important with track bosses and lanes, etc. so yeah. Just like any other professional punter, it’s an important input into your analysis.
Dave Duffield: We’re almost out of the depths of winter, but how do you handle betting on wet tracks?
Andrew Hannan: Generally speaking, we do like them because the markets do go sort of a bit crazy and the fluctuations seem to be a lot more extreme than they do on the dry tracks. People sort of go into panic mode and the markets go into free fall so there can be good advantages to come from that. In saying that, you need to heavily respect market fluctuations more, particularly the drifters you’ll find if a horse is drifting significantly you can almost guarantee that it’s not going to run to its predicted performance. Yeah, we do love betting on them. We like to think our markets a lot more accurate than the public’s in the winters, but yeah. You do have to be careful and tread wearily.
Dave Duffield: What about breeding? Whether it’s wet tracks or even firm tracks, does that ever come into your thinking?
Andrew Hannan: No, we don’t factor in breeding. I guess it’s something that’s pretty difficult to quantify so that’s something that we don’t factor in at all.
Dave Duffield: In terms of your focus, do you prefer softer markets like provincial and country where you might have a bigger edge but more than likely, less liquidity, or do you prefer playing against the big boys at the metro meetings?
Andrew Hannan: I guess for us there’s advantages to both. With the bigger meetings we find our ratings to be a lot more accurate, they predict the outcome of those races a little more accurately compared to the country meets. But in saying that the market’s a lot more efficient which means that it can be a lot more harder to find overlays. In the country we certainly do find more overlays than we’re … We actually find that we’re betting a little bit more in the country meetings, but it can be less predictable therefore the profit on turnover can be less compared to the Metropolitan meetings. Just like any racing fan, I enjoy watching the big races and the spring carnival and the autumn carnival and yeah, we find out our win rate, our return rate is a lot more higher in the Metro.
Dave Duffield: We’ll move on to betting, staking, money management. Have you ever been a level stakes punter?
Andrew Hannan: No, definitely not.
Dave Duffield: You might want to expand on why then.
Andrew Hannan: Well, it doesn’t really make sense, does it? I think you don’t really have to be a gifted mathematician to understand that putting the same amount on a horse that’s two dollars compared to ten dollars doesn’t make sense. I certainly have changed my staking plan over the years and very satisfied where it is at the moment. We have a certain equation which factors in the public market and alongside using Kelly’s criterion and we’re very satisfied with that and the clients are very happy with it, so happy to continue with that staking plan.
Dave Duffield: Yeah that was going to be my next question, for each person we’ve had on this series the question is does your staking vary according to your confidence level? You might just want to explain how that works for this spreadsheet you’ve developed in this staking plan.
Andrew Hannan: Yeah, well Kelly’s criterion and people want to look it up, it’s all about taking advantage of your advantage really. Your edge is the bigger your edge you get, the more you should be betting on it. That’s reflected in our Excel sheets so the larger the overlay you’ll see that the more we’ll be backing on it and that’s because we think our markets are a lot more accurate than the public’s and I think it’s universally acknowledged by professional gamblers and mathematicians as the best way to stake your money in wagering. Yeah, we’ve been doing that for three or so years now and really reaping the benefits.
Dave Duffield: In layman’s terms if you’ve assessed something and even money chance if the market’s $2.50 you’ll have a certain bet, but if the market’s $3.50 you’ll have a much bigger bet?
Andrew Hannan: Yes, that’s right.
Dave Duffield: What about marketing intelligence? Part of the calculations on what goes on in that betting sheet incorporates a percentage of the betting market and I know that varies depends on how much exposed form you’ve got to work with, but what role does marketing intelligence play in what you do?
Andrew Hannan: Yeah, it’s an integral part. I think David Walsh said in his book he wrote a whole chapter on it about the importance of the wisdom of the public and how it’s better to be a sheep than a contarian. We like to factor in some of the public market, although not as much as most larger professional gamblers because we like to think our raw markets are quite accurate in themselves but you got to be pretty ignorant to not think that you’re not factoring absolutely everything into your markets and by taking a slice of the public market and connecting it to your own market, it does increase the confidence that you have when you go to put your bets on.
Dave Duffield: Bet timing. Some people want to chip away at what they consider the early overs whether that’s early in the week or early in the day. Then you’ve got others that bet late once some of that market intelligence is known. How do you approach it?
Andrew Hannan: Generally speaking, we like to bet late because particularly on the exchange, you do gather a lot of valuable information in that last five minutes or so, which you couldn’t have got beforehand and that’s because a lot of the smart money is in that last five minutes. Yeah, if you can bet quite late, you can sort of read the play in what the exchange is doing and gather some very valuable information and as I said, because we’re factoring in the public processes into our markets, it also makes that side of our markets a lot more efficient, which is beneficial.
Dave Duffield: Do you find that you’re generally backing horses that are hard in the market or long shots?
Andrew Hannan: It does vary. We do find our markets to be reasonably similar to the public’s, generally speaking. We obviously like to focus more on the top end of the market. We do find most of our betting is on that side but as I said, every race is different and very jurisdiction is different so I really wouldn’t want to generally say what side of the market that we’re on.
Dave Duffield: Do you ever bet each way or place only?
Andrew Hannan: Very rarely. The place market has to be taken as a different beast to the win market and not all horses should be divided evenly from their win rated price. A horse that’s had ten wins and three placings shouldn’t be the same place prices one that’s had ten wins and no placings. It’s a completely different algorithm to the win market. You need to really take it as a different market. If you’re betting horses for the win and horses for the place, it can affect your book a bit. Ninety-nine percent of the time we tend to just stick with the win pools.
Dave Duffield: When do you bet exotics and on those occasions that you do bet exotics, are you staking them a certain way or really just boxing them together?
Andrew Hannan: We do stake them a certain way. It’s from some other staking models that I’ve read in academic papers in the past. We tend to bet exotics really when we find there could be stronger overlays in the quinella and trifecta markets compared to the win markets. That’s quite rare but it does happen every now and then and yeah, that’s how we like to play it.
Dave Duffield: What about the futures or pre-post betting? Do you ever dabble in Cups betting round about now?
Andrew Hannan: Yes, we do. We do enjoy looking at the future’s markets of last year backing Fawkner at $35 in the Cox Plate to see it come 2nd was a bit brutal to see it come second….
Dave Duffield: There’s more to that story right – you backed it again on the day?
Andrew Hannan: Yeah it was an overlay on the day again so we had quite a bit on it and to Adelaide the deserving winner come down to the outside brought a tear to my eye but we’ve got to move on.
Dave Duffield: No laying back for you.
Andrew Hannan: That’s right. In a couple weeks or so, we do look at all the major races in the spring and enjoy doing some futures analysis and sending it to our clients and yeah, we’ll certainly be doing that again this spring, hopefully we can get the Cox Plate winner this year.
Dave Duffield: That’d be nice. In terms of bankroll management, we’ve had people on who basically never change their unit size and then there’s others that change it race by race and then some in the middle. What’s your approach?
Andrew Hannan: Yeah, we change our bank after every race so it’s very dynamic. I guess Kelly’s criterion is based upon betting to a certain percentage of your bank. Our bank automatically updates after every race and it sort of just makes sense to do that. Some people like to if they have a win just keep their bank the same size but I particularly don’t recommend people who their bank goes down but they keep it at the size that it was beforehand and there’s no point doing that because it doesn’t make sense to bet a certain percentage of the bank that you actually don’t have.
Dave Duffield: So with that dynamic bank you can never go bust but at the same time if you were to lose half your bank you need to double just to get back where you were. Have you gone through a significant drawdown and been able to recover okay from it?
Andrew Hannan: Yeah, we’ve been pretty lucky. I’m only still quite young so I haven’t had as much time in the betting game compared to others that we haven’t had a significant loss, but I guess that’s how the formula works so until we get to that point we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Dave Duffield: Hopefully you never do, but most people go through something like that. What about measuring your success? Obviously, it’s dollars in the bank, but profit on turnover is a common metric. Are you more focused on POT as a percentage or just your bottom line at the end of the day?
Andrew Hannan: Well, we certainly look at both. Profit on turnover is probably an important one for us. You’ll find due to (a) most professionals not being able to get on and (b) the market’s being more efficient than they’ve ever been that more professionals have to lower their POT and then increase their turnover. So turnover more money to try and gain the same amount of profit. We’re pretty lucky. We haven’t really got to that point yet but sort of I guess you’ve always got to brace for it. Yeah, certainly POT is the one which we look at more importantly but at the end of the day what pays the bills and the expenses is the money that’s in the bank, isn’t it?
Dave Duffield: For sure. All right. We’ll leave it there for now Andrew and I really appreciate you coming on the show again. There’s been plenty of success since we kicked off in February and long may that continue. Good luck for a really big spring.
Andrew Hannan: Great. Thanks, David.
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