Jon Roberts has spent the best part of a decade fine-tuning his approach to the biggest betting market in the world – the English Premier League. He’s combined an extensive stats and trends database with a passion for the game, meticulous record-keeping and a willingness to go against the consensus. Jon is on the podcast this week to explain how he has a very profitable edge betting the world game.

Punting Insights

  • How he combines both quantitative and qualitative analysis
  • Where there are gaps in the market on a conistent basis
  • The types of stats he considers important
  • How he tries to maximise his returns

Today’s Guest: Jon Roberts

Dave Duffield: Good day Jon, thanks for joining us. I wanted to get you on to talk about Football Advisor and then Champion. Just in case people don’t know much about your background just run the guys through it.

Jon Roberts: Yeah sure. I guess from a broader perspective I’ve worked in a number of start-ups over the last 15 years all around the digital marketing space but I had a strong passion for sports betting and particularly football. And that’s been sort of the semi serious over the last 8 to 9 years. I think at times there’s a lot of similarities I guess in terms of the start ups I’ve worked in and my approach to betting. You know, you’re looking for disruptions and gaps in the market. Very analytical, I think there’s been times where the betting’s paid for me working the start ups and vice versa. But certainly over the last couple of years it’s been becoming increasingly moving towards being the sole source of income which it is now. And the last couple of years we’ve been running the Football Advisor website with great success for our UK audience and it’s really exciting to be partnering up with you, Dave and Champion Picks and bring it to a broader audience.

Dave Duffield: Yeah, so we’ll touch on that a bit later on but to run people through the way you go about coming up with your selections because you’re focusing on what should be pretty efficient markets being the English Premier League and Championship, some of the big leagues in Spain and Italy and places like that. What’s your process in working out whether you’re going to have a bet?

Jon Roberts: As we’ve talked a lot about how I work out I’d say it’s a little bit quasi quantitative/qualitative analysis,. I’ve got my own database of football statistics and results that go back more than 10 years. I’ve got a naturally analytical mind and I do like playing with the numbers but often it can come down to that initial experience or that initial instinct. Even now I can take a quick look through a coupon and spot one or two where I think the bookies have probably got it wrong and then I’ve also got to weigh and use my statistical analysis to build odds models to compare it to see perceived value then that becomes a play. But I also use what I’ve dubbed sentiment analysis and it’s quite a hard one to sort of explain. I guess it’s a combination of experience, instinct and looking at what information is available around each of these matches and try and separate what’s useful information and what’s not and then using that form an opinion for a go on a bet.

Dave Duffield: So maybe you want to expand on the sentiment analysis. I know you read various reports and try to get a feel for the way the market is. But are you going against that as often as you’re going for it?

Jon Roberts: Yeah I think more often than not we’re probably going against it, but I think in any form of betting and in fact anything in life if you find yourself too often on the popular side of opinion then you’ve probably not got an opinion at all. So you look at it and a lot of statistics can be banded around and are often used to justify an opinion. So we look at it really to see whether it’s actually a valuable statistic that actually has meaning to the result of what we’re looking at or whether it’s just something that’s being used to fit the narrative of that particular article. And I think I really looked to sort of strip that away and look for some things that actually have actionable insight rather than just it sounds good on a blog post.

Dave Duffield: So this confirmation bias you’ve spoken about a bit, it sounds like you think that applies for a number of people where they’re looking for reasons to justify having that bet?

Jon Roberts: Absolutely, yeah. It’s a much more technical term you used there Dave. I used a lot of words but I should have started with that one.

Dave Duffield: You mentioned that you’re looking at the odds available and whether they’re basically an ‘overlay’ in our language. What comes first, again in our language, are you doing the form before you look at the odds available or does it come the other way around?

Jon Roberts: Yeah like I said it varies and often I’ll have to get into some part of consuming football related information for 3 to 5 hours a day, both through the purposeful exercise of actively working on our statistics and just for the pure enjoyment of it. But normally through then, even 4 or 5 days even before the matches are starting, I’ve probably just gone through the coupons, the fixtures ahead and just made notes of teams that look interesting purely on paper in terms of where their odds are at, who’s playing and sort of building a picture of the matches I’m going to be interested in taking a closer look at.

I think there’s football pretty much every day of the week now and pretty much every day of the year as well. And I think that if you try and analyse every single one of those games, you won’t do it properly or you won’t do it in time. So I’m always sort of building up a picture of the matches where I think it’s going to be interesting or based off previous bets we’ve had or matches that we’ve analysed and if the play we made didn’t quite come off but we think it’s something that’s a growing trend or the market hasn’t quite sort of caught on to the changing form of that team. But I’ll know which teams I’m looking to follow during a certain period.

Dave Duffield: What kind of stats do you consider most important when you’re going through and basically doing the form for an upcoming game? What is important to you?

Jon Roberts: Yeah, that’s a good question. I put a lot of stock behind…I think it’s about a third of our bets are through the Asian handicap markets and so we look a lot at sort of goal ratio, supremacy, shots for teams and then just general form bias, statistics in terms whether we think the form is going to continue or confirmation bias sort of looking at teams where I think people were expecting the team to be underperforming but our statistical records show that they were on the rise and they’re probably one or two matches from actually hitting form. So it’s really sort of run on performance metrics such as shots, goal supremacy, how they’re performing against handicaps, underlying form issues which sort of my IP.

Dave Duffield: That all makes sense to me. How much of it is the actual result of the game? A lot of people work out whether they won or they lost and it doesn’t matter whether they’ve had twice as many shots or anything like that. Soccer being a low scoring game, how do you include that as a part of your process?

Jon Roberts: I think there’s no one metric that we’re forever married to and I think although we are always looking at various statistical angles within this. I still put a lot of it down to my own instinct, my own experience of doing this, you know, betting on these matches for the last 15 years and seriously properly for the last 8 or 9 years. You can look at statistics and form any form of opinion but there’s always a selection for the bets I’ll be putting forward. Some will be more numbers based or statistics based and others will be solely instinct and I think that aligns us to if one area is not quite in the form then other selection criteria is picking up the bat as it were.

Dave Duffield: So how do you find an edge? How do you maintain that? Because some of the big boys in betting syndicates in this type of market, say English Premier League, they’re 1 or 2 percent ROI and are betting big and making good returns out of it. Your results are far and existent that so in broad terms, I don’t know how deep you can go but how do you achieve such strong results?

Jon Roberts: I think there’s quite a true fact there and the two that I’ll particularly highlight here is that I’m meticulous with my record keeping and members will see this as well in terms of, I keep an accurate record not just the bets placed but in terms of the competitions, I can tell you how many bets we’ve placed on any given team throughout all the leagues we’ve bet on the market type. So I’m always sort of looking at a sort of 6 week sort of runway. We started hits a bit in form looking back and I started to overcompensate on certain markets or I overcompensated on certain teams.

Overall I’m always looking at sort of where I need to recalibrate or readjust my edge. The only thing I think would put myself apart from the market is that we’re not afraid to go after quite a broad range in terms of prices and markets we look at as well. From what I’ve been told about the people within the industry are at their jobs for bets for the last 2 years, it’s been around about $4.70 to $5 and I think it’s very rare to see a football service or a football tipster, even the pro punters in that price bracket. And I think we will look at those markets and then see where it’s going to be greater value in some of the other available markets, particularly in the Asian handicaps.

Dave Duffield: So instead of, say taking a team plus a half, you might have them, just to put words in your mouth but it might be half time/ full time. It’s probably a good time to chat about a bet that you had on Sunderland, you attacked it in a few different ways.

Jon Roberts: Yeah, I think the Sunderland match is a very interesting one. Firstly, if you actually take Swansea as the opposition, someone they were playing last night. We’d already tipped them off about a week ago at about #4.20 as sort of an outsider bet for relegations. Considering if you go back to 6 or 12 months ago they’re sort of a poster child team for how you should run a football club. You know, they’ve had great success, they play great football they’ve done it on a budget, they’re everyone’s sort of second team but something is going on internally within them as a club.

And I’ve heard different reports that there’s sort of power struggles within the club which would result in their manager moving on then they had quite a bit of a debacle in terms of the replacement of the manager they’re now keeping the caretaker to the end of the season despite the fact that results actually haven’t picked up since they got rid of Monk. It’s got all those early hallmarks of a team or a club that’s got some internal issues going on. So that already puts them as sort of a team I’m quite comfortable with opposing for the coming weeks. It’s Sunderland and not many people would have probably been picking up Sunderland and putting it on the consistently worse performing teams over the last 4 or 5 years or with relegation.

There’s been signs in our minds in terms of their recovery Jermain Defoe sort of coming back to form, you know Big Sam always has a factor and instinct too is looking at the prices. I think they first came on the market around$ 5.75, we got in at$ 5.50. You know, that playing a team that’s one place above then 4 points above them, the prices in our database they should have been around $3.80 to$ 4.20. Already we’re seeing a pretty decent value play and if you look at other markets I think the bookies actually had a pretty bad week. They had Newcastle priced over $5 at home to Manchester United which we took some good profits away from.

We didn’t follow this one but Leicseter were a similar price to Sunderland and just another example of the bookies underplaying them. And certainly when we looked at those three markets, Sunderland should have been much closer in the odds and we were happy to play that pretty hard. So we structured our bets to really push on the Asian handicap so we could actually get Sunderland with a goal headstart so we pretty much would have won our money win or draw and had greater odds than evens.

We then staked a small amount in terms of the win bet as well at $5.50 and then I guess where it really came into its own and this is something that we did on a frequent basis, that we actually really had a good think about how the match might play out. And it’s one thing to think whether a team’s going to win but we actually thought if Sunderland do go ahead, Swansea is the type of team at the moment where their heads might drop form and slip a little bit. So it’s probably just as good a chance of it being a victory by 2 clear goals as it would be a 1. So we were obviously keen on that at about $14 which thanks to Jermain completing a hat trick about with a few minutes to go was very good across the board.

Dave Duffield: So that was a nice winner overnight or first thing this morning. You also don’t mind the occasional English terminology and I should point out that you’re actually city-based despite the accent. We call them multi you call them acca

Jon Roberts: Yes. Ask pretty much anyone, even sort of the bookies bets the tax we give them back. But I don’t agree to that if you’re going out there looking to get your big win. They’re very far between but it’s something that I believe I’ve perfected a strategy that allows us to collect reasonable odds and on a frequent basis. Again, that actually counts for around about 10-15% of the total bets we’ve played but it’s actually given about 26.5% ROI over the last few years. What we do is what I call an anchor bet this is where we’re really looking at one or two teams where we’re pretty strong that they’re going to win. Sometimes it’s above even, sometimes it’s below even.

And then we’re mixing one or two sort of values and teams which we think are stronger fancies so we don’t have them every week. And last night we did actually play that, we had Stokes with Sunderland and just to prove we don’t win every bet Chelsea were the only one to actually let us down on that anchor bet but our anchor bet was probably Stoke and Chelsea abd Sunderland were put in to give us the enhanced odds which would have been about just another 20 to 1 payout but it’s that kind of bet that we know we won’t win every one. I think we win around about 1 in 4, just under 1 in 4 of those but playing that way it certainly makes a good enhanced profit channel for us.

Dave Duffield: So speaking of bookies one of the challenges for most Aussie punters is just getting a bet on and all the limits that we come across at various corporates. One of the benefits of these markets is you can bet, depending on which bookie you’re funded with, you can bet in decent amounts. There’s no problems with liquidity.

Jon Roberts: Yeah most of the markets we’re playing are pretty high volume markets. There shouldn’t be too many restrictions. The key thing would be to followers to make sure that they’ve got one or two of the bookies that cover the Asian handicaps on a regular basis. You know people like SportsBet for example have the soccer the markets and then frustratingly don’t have them for others or they’ll decide which Asian handicaps they’re going to make available and it may not necessarily be the one that we want. But Bet 365 which is obviously available here now is good and they don’t always have the best possible price but they always have the market coverage which is good.

Unibet, I believe are here locally as well known and things that William Hill and Luxbet have them from time to time. The good thing for the folks here and actually one of the problems in the UK is the number of the international bookmakers and I’ll sort of call out Pinnacle, 10 bet and SBO bet here. And particularly Pinnacle are number one in terms of the value for the point and extension of markets. They actually advertise they’re not afraid of…they quite welcome winners on board so there’s very little chance of getting restrictions there and I bet it is available for Aussie players.

A lot of these guys don’t actually offer those markets now to the UK audience because of the changes in the on-shore tax requirements. So in a lot of ways the guys here should be able to get access to better value bookies and also grow into having a better account has been quite key as well. They often will have a lot of the Asian handicap markets to be won and some good prices on some of the more space selections that we have.

Dave Duffield: And Pinnacle for sure, they’re definitely one of the best and we’ll link out to a few of those in the show notes. So the reason I wanted to get you on was obviously an 18 month track record is very strong and you’re the type of person we want to partner up with. So for Champion Picks we’ve had a really strong racing and harness offering for quite some time. We wanted to expand on the sporting side and there aren’t many bigger sports outside of what we’re talking about here and your record’s fantastic. So basically as of now, partnering up, it’ll be around about 5 o’clock each day, each betting day which is at least half the week. The bets will go out so there’s plenty of time to get the bets on. It’ll be really clear as to how much to stake based on 100 unit bank and as long as you’re funded with at least a couple of bookmakers it’ll be pretty easy to get your bets on. So welcome aboard and all you need to do is maintain 20% plus ROI that you’ve been doing!

Jon Roberts: I’ll certainly endeavour to. I think over the last 8-9 years I’ve consistently been between 10 and 15% as a baseline and the last couple years could have been doing above 20% so I’m really excited to be part of the team here, really looking forward to getting to know some of the members. And we’ll obviously do some webinar and things in the coming weeks and really excited to be on board and hope we’ll being some more winners in like we did last night.

Dave Duffield: Excellent. Well thanks for joining us today. As for the members we’ll definitely put together some other FAQ’s, podcasts, webinars, whatever’s going to be needed to get people up to speed. We’ll handle that, you’ll handle the winners and we look forward to working together so thanks very much for coming on the show.

Jon Roberts: Great. Thanks for having me.

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