This week’s podcast guest has an 8 year track record of success in the sports betting world. Matt is an English sports trader who combines his passion for cricket and NRL with the ability to find good value in the markets.
- His journey from novice to professional punter
- Why he is focused on cricket and NRL
- Why he despises bookies and now photographs every single bet
- How lazy bookies create betting opportunities
Matt is launching a new sports betting package this week which allows members to make the same bets as a seasoned professional.
Today’s Guest: Matt
Dave Duffield: Hi Matt and I wanted to introduce you to the guys and explain a bit about your background and what you’ve done over the last 8 years. So you might as well take us back to that time and just talk about the journey from keen to professional punter.
Matt: I guess when you’re a young lad, most young lads are keen at gambling, which is what I was. Pretty good at maths, good with numbers and enjoyed a punt. Basically just took it part time, bet on basically everything in the world. Lost on most things, and found that I was quite good at cricket gambling. I had a really keen interest in cricket when I was a kid as well. Played for Lancashire up until the age of 15.
I find that if you have a keen interest in something and you like punting they can go together. I enjoyed that. Never really thought about it as a full time career. I don’t think anybody does, to be honest with you. I think that everyone that does this full time falls into it accidentally. I was working for a bank as a mortgage advisor and a financial advisor and then the financial markets crashed and I basically got fired. Started working for any kind of sales jobs that I could get a hold of. Didn’t really enjoy many of them, and I was punting in the background. A little bit more than the average sort of twenty quid here and there on a Saturday afternoon.
I was profitable, I was making a few quid, but definitely not enough to pay the bills and go full time. Then that built for 18 months or so and then I got an insurance payout from a car crash, some guy drove into me as you do. I just hated my job, and hated my life, and being on the phone to people all day telling them to settle their small debts and blah blah blah. So I quit, and gave it a go full time. Started with very small stakes and started off with about 300 English pounds in Betfair and just tried to build it slow and steady. Didn’t tell anyone what I was doing, so the family thought, still think, that I work for a bank which is ridiculous but it’s one of those things. 8 years on, here we are.
Dave Duffield: Betting into cricket, you said you had some knowledge as a junior player, but from a betting perspective how did you find an edge in what is quite a big market, and they tend to be more efficient. So what was your edge?
Matt: Yeah, the thing was in England because you’re legally allowed to bet in play, a lot of the stuff was Betfair related. I was always fascinated by Betfair. My first ever Betfair bet was a nil-nil bet on the Classico between Real Madrid and Barcelona at 1000-1. Which I thought was a very big price, until I realised I’d turned the tv on and started it had started 5 minutes ago and they had already scored. 1000-1 wasn’t the best price for nil-nil and it was 1-nil to Real Madrid. Betfair would fascinate me because their prices were so much bigger than everybody else.
I always thought well, if their prices are so much bigger then obviously you get paid more if you win, so there’s got to be an edge somewhere there. Then, I guess my love of cricket and my love of betting sort of collided. Also, I have this theory that in play, the more points are scored in a sport, the more fluctuations there are in the betting odds. In a football match, if the game could be settled 1-nil, then that price will go from one price to another price and that’s it. It’s instant. You can lose by having one bad trade if you like. Whereas with cricket, there could be hundreds of points, or thousands of points, in this case runs. The prices fluctuate so quickly. Your price will go up and down an awful lot. There’s a lot more trade you can make. You can make a terrible trade and not lose a lot of money on a game. Whereas in football you can make one bad mistake and that’s it.
Dave Duffield: I’ve spoken to a lot of people in recent weeks and basically gone through their approach and looked at the similarities and differences amongst quant models versus your instinct and experience. Where do you sit on that? What kind of research do you do stats wise and then how does that incorporate into the many many hours and many many years of watching the game?
Matt: Yeah, that’s what it is. It’s experience mainly. I definitely do my due diligence and my research before a match. I’ve no models, I’ve never had a model. I’m not that way inclined with computers, I’m not intelligent with things like that. I’ll go through previous history on a ground before a game, previous history between the two teams, but that’s about as far as it goes. In terms of pre match bets I’ll find any pre match bets based on those statistics and I will take a view in play usually based on that.
But it tends to be dependent on the type of cricket match, it tends to be either overhead conditions or the type of pitch they’re playing on, the state of the pitch. For example, Perth at the WACA you would always be backing next wicket caught because of the bounce. It’s very difficult to get an LBW at Perth. It’s very difficult to get a bowled because the ball bounces over the stumps and all are just basically caught behind. That’s just a random stat that you can use to your advantage against the bookmakers there. In terms of statistical models or anything like that, that’s of no interest to me. I just sort of back myself really.
Dave Duffield: Yeah, interesting again that some people will have quite a complicated approach. We’ve spoken quite a few times in recent times and you’ve always played it down that a lot of it is actually common sense.
Matt: Yeah, it’s difficult to say. I have this thing about common sense that it isn’t all that common, because not that many people have it. It’s kind of more rare sense as opposed to common sense. A lot of it is common sense. But like you say, you don’t want to play yourself down because if it was that straight forward then everyone would be able to do it. It’s not that straightforward, but I do think that as long as you keep your head screwed on, you know what you’re talking about, you have a background in the sport and you have experience then provided that you keep your stakes to the correct levels and you sort of preserve your capital. One of the guys that I spoke to when I first started this, he always said to me preservation of capital is key. I’ve always stuck to that. As long as you don’t go all guns blazing with 15-20% of your bank or half your bank or put your bank on some kind of bet, then long-term as long as you’re sensible and you use your common sense you should be fine, I think.
Dave Duffield: What’s life like as a pro-punter? A lot of people think it’s glamorous and the till keeps ticking over and it’s lots of regular profits, how does that equate to your own lifestyle?
Matt: I’ve had worse, I’ve had worse lifestyles. I love my job, I love my life. It allows me to travel all around the world. Live anywhere I want. That’s basically all I want, time freedom for me is the big keyword for life because it doesn’t really matter how much money you earn, if you have no time then it’s all a bit pointless. I love the fact that I can take a day off if I want, I can go and do anything that I want and I can live anywhere in the world. From that perspective it is quite glamorous.
At the same time, the cricket schedule itself is obviously all based around Summer, so half of the year is spent in one hemisphere and one is spent in the other hemisphere. When I was in England and it was the Australian Summer, it was obviously the middle of Winter in England, and the middle of the night, so for six months of the year I’m basically nocturnal. I work at night, in the middle of English Winter, freezing cold, from 10pm until 10am and then I go to bed. I barely see the sun. I barely talk to humans. It’s definitely not glamorous from that perspective.
Dave Duffield: Well that’s why you’ve seen the light and made it down to Melbourne.
Matt: Yeah, but unfortunately for me as soon as I made it down to Melbourne the Summer ended and it was English Summer and Australian Winter and I basically had the same issues, but it wasn’t quite as cold. I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve definitely enjoyed the last six months. I’m looking forward to the Melbourne Summer and the Australian Summer so I can work some normal hours.
Dave Duffield: Well I think it was last week it was 35 one day and 18 the next so you get variety as well.
Matt: Ridiculous isn’t it? Absolutely ridiculous.
Dave Duffield: On the capital preservation that you spoke about, do you have a maximum amount that you’ll outlay on any one bet?
Matt: Yeah, I do. For me, I mean numbers are pretty much irrelevant from person to person, it’s all about yourself. For me, it’s usually around about 1,000 pounds as an absolute max, to bet around an even money mark. Which for you guys is like 2,000 dollars. As I say, the numbers are pretty irrelevant. I would say it’s probably 1 per cent of your betting bank but I don’t really like to talk in terms of percentages and betting banks, I don’t really know exactly how much everybody has and exactly how aggressive people are.
Some people can definitely work with higher percentage than 1 per cent of your betting bank but I tend to work with numbers that I’m comfortable with and numbers that I know the bookmakers will take without sort of panicking and shutting me down straight away or anything like that. If I was having a bet on something at like 7-1, or $8 for your guys, then it’d be closer to 200 pounds instead of a thousand pounds. I tend to work it based upon how much I can sort of win as opposed to how much I’m staking. If I’m having a bet on a golfer I tend to try and make it so that if my golfer was to win it’d be to sort of 3 or 4 thousand pounds, so if he’s 100-1 that would be 30 quid, if he’s 12-1 that’d be 300 quid. That kind of idea.
Dave Duffield: Without mentioning specific bookmakers, because I don’t really want to learn anymore about defamation or anything like that, you now take photos of every bet you make. Why’s that?
Matt: Well, when I first started I was blissfully unaware of the tactics that these bookmakers have, and I am now not. I am very hardened to their ways. I despise them with a passion. They’ll do anything. They’ll really do anything to not pay you. A couple of weeks ago, I had a bet on a game of cricket and it was a Test match, and it was when Ben Stokes was injured and there was talk about whether he would or he wouldn’t be batting. Then the tv pictures showed him padded up in the dressing room and I think they were 8 down. The innings runs lines were, for whatever they were, 230 or something.
A specific bookmaker had it at 200. They obviously just hadn’t seen or hadn’t changed their prices because Stokes was padded up. I backed the England overs, innings runs at 200. Anyway they scored like 210 or 215 or something. I went to check my settled bet and it said lost. They’d actually manually changed my bet from innings runs to fall ofninth wicket after I’d struck it, and I didn’t take a photo of it. Instead of winning whatever it was 1100 pounds, I ended up losing 600 pounds, so I went ballistic with them. They claimed that I’d obviously just made a mistake even though I know I hadn’t. It’s not big headed to say that I just don’t make those kind of mistakes.
I would never bet on something like fall of the ninth wicket because I have no real opinion on something like that. Anyway, I had a big argument with them on social media and they, without accepting that they were backing down, they did back down because they refunded me a bet, but they refunded me the wrong bet. They refunded me some random bet from 2 days previously. That’s just one example of the kind of things that they’ll do.
Dave Duffield: So the dodgy aspect isn’t much fun, but you’re trying to counteract that. Thankfully though, they’re still quite lazy. There’s a number of bookmakers that either don’t do the research, or just aren’t on the ball and that presents betting opportunities.
Matt: Yeah, absolutely. You guys can still bet during games as long as the game isn’t actually live, so during a Test match in between days you can bet. There was a game two weeks ago now I think, and it was well advanced after I think it was day 1, I think India had bowled South Africa out for next to nothing, 150 or something and then they were 60 for none or 80 for none or something like that. Then there was a bunch of information that came to light on weather and there was this tropical monsoon or whatever the hell they have in India that was coming over.
The draw was trading at sort of $9, so I found this information out and piled on the draw. By the time it rolled around to 11am the next day local time, the draw was trading at even money, and then it got even shorter and that was such a good trade that was available just because bookmakers don’t pay attention enough, I guess. They don’t anticipate people doing more research than them, paying more attention to things in between days of cricket than them. They’re very vulnerable to things like that. That was a very pleasant trade that I had. That was anything that, even in Australia you can do, even though your legislation states that you’re not allowed to gamble in play, even the Australians could have taken advantage of that one.
Dave Duffield: Well they will when we get the memberships up and running. We’ll chat a bit about that later on. For the games you focus on, it’s Test matches, it’s one day internationals, 20/20 internationals, but also the domestic T20 tournaments which there seem to be a lot of each year now?
Matt: That’s right, yeah. I think there’s either 5 or 6 domestic T20 tournaments around the world. They’re spread out so that obviously they don’t clash ever. There’s the obvious ones, the Big Bash and the IPL. There’s also the English Domestic 20/20 tournament, there’s a Caribbean one, there’s currently a Bangladesh 20/20 tournament going on at the moment, which is shambolic standard but it’s still a 20/20 tournament so there’s an ability to make money off that. There used to be a Champions League, which they scrapped but they’re looking at reintroducing.
There’s the World 20/20 which is starting straight after the IPL in April next year I believe? There’s people that I know that just bet on 20/20 cricket and they make a full time living out of it easily enough. Because there’s so much cricket that goes on. There’s more cricket matches than days in the year, which gives you an idea as to how many sort of cricket matches there are that go on every year.
Dave Duffield: The cricket keeps you nice and busy, but there’s actually two strings to your bow. NRL’s a passion as well?
Matt: Yeah, it is. It’s definitely a passion of mine over cricket. If I was to choose a sport to watch without having a bet it would be NRL. I’m a Northern English boy, I was born very near Wigan which are the sort of traditional, old school, successful rugby league side. I used to go to basically every game as a kid with my dad so I got into rugby league very young and then when I realised English rugby league doesn’t have a patch on Australian rugby league and the NRL is so much more skilful, faster, so much more enjoyable to watch, I probably watched it for ten years back home.
It’s on at really good times in England actually, so it would be great on a weekend. You’d get up and you’d switch your tv on and sort of 8, 9 in the morning there’d be a classic NRL game on. I really enjoyed that. Then as I was gambling, I sort of have an addictive personality and if I really enjoy something I’ll have a look to see if I can make money out of it. I looked into seeing whether there was the ability to make money out of NRL and again, the same thing’s … I have a little bit of an advantage with Australian sports because English bookmakers are very bad at pricing up Australian sports, in just the same way as I’m sure different country bookmakers struggle to price up exactly different countries sports because their trader won’t be as in tune as the local trader will, because he won’t have the local news.
I’ve taken advantage plenty of times of some good prices on the NRL, and I really enjoy doing that. I’ve been profitable every year that I’ve done it and I’ve probably done it for 6 years, something like that? I’ve picked the top try scorer, I’ve picked 3 of the top 4 actually last year. Also the Cowboys to win the whole thing. Had the Roosters to finish top for the regular season, which was frustrating. I had Thurston to win the Dally M at 10-1 as well which was a completely ridiculous price, I don’t know what he was over here but he was about 6-1 in most bookmakers at the start of last year and Bet365 went 10-1 which was just insane. It’s been a very good season of NRL, I’m looking forward to the next one.
Dave Duffield: Yeah, so we’ve teamed up to launch a package so there’s plenty of action with cricket, it’s even going to get bigger when there’s NRL so we’re going to make your pre-match selections available to members but also there’ll be some, like you mentioned Test matches after a day’s play there might be a recommendation depending on how the game is going and what the market’s done.
Just to speak on your behalf for a moment, the reason why you’ve taken on a membership base is because it allows you to get paid twice for the same work. I’d also say that the interaction with members would be a positive, because you’ve mentioned in the past that it’s a pretty isolated and in some ways quite a lonely existence as a pro, and also I think in the friendliest way I think there’s probably a healthy ego aspect to it as well, in that we’re going to post some pretty good results and we’re going to allow members to piggyback those and achieve some pretty good profits.
Matt: Yeah, I absolutely agree with that. I think there’s definitely an opportunity to make a fair bit of money from ante-post cricket bets or from futures as you call them, on most tournaments, because bookmakers really don’t know how to price these things up. As I say, they’ll be few and far between but there’ll be occasional very good prices on probably the draw in between days of Test match cricket when there’s weather worries around. Then with the 20/20 tournaments there’s always a statistical angle you can come in from for basically every game. So they’ll be plenty of things to keep us busy with.
Dave Duffield: No problems. We’ll expand on that in another part of the site. But for the podcast, for now, we’ll leave it there Matt. Great to have you on board the team and we look forward to a whole bunch of winners from you.
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