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Brett’s Betting Syndicate has worked with us on a number of different packages over many years now. Aside from providing our members with different betting services, they also operate as a betting syndicate in their own right. We asked Brett to give us an insight into how they actually operate, and the basics of what’s involved.

We’re trying to get an idea of what a betting syndicate actually does. Speaking to you in the past, I would say – in layman’s terms! – that it’s your job to calculate what the closing line will be, then trade around that to profit. How do you model the closing line on a game?

We’ve been building our capabilities to predict it for a very long time. To summarise that, our line comes from:

  • Ten years of modelling experience (eight years full time)
  • ~35,000 features (variables)
  • Many dozens of different pricing solutions coming together to form a ‘super line’. Everything is a model ensemble (ensemble being a group of models working together)
  • We watch everything externally. All the public models, all the time, everywhere
  • We backwards-engineer and profile the shading from market makers / market, especially any Betfair shading before our own entry.
So a betting syndicate isn’t about sitting around watching sport all day and taking notes…

No. We often get feedback regarding ‘write-ups’ about an upcoming game. People want to know the rationale for making bets, in terms of the players or teams involved.

Let’s put it in a certain way, because sometimes it’s really difficult to form a bridge between two different worlds and ideas of what punting/trading is really all about:

If we gave you ‘write-ups’, we are personally in serious trouble as a trading organization, and you should be pulling the pin on following anything we do!

That’s because the idea that you can ‘think your way through’ the closing market is absolute BS. The office is not a scene out of Two For The Money, with savants kicking balls around and talking footy all day.

Closing markets are actually the culmination of a week-long quantitative arms race between a handful of different entities, all of whom are have serious ability in accurate price formation. In this day and age, data science techniques are all the rage and we’re no different.

So are you trying to predict where the line will go based on all the public information you have, as well as what you know about what these other betting syndicates might do?

In a way, we are signal ‘chefs’. We are cooking together models and solutions all the time: internal, external, we don’t care where the signal comes from. We consume and process anything and everything to make the best line possible, by capturing as much information as possible. If you have a favourite public model, chances are if it really has any capacity for being useful, there is a shred of that in our own line.

You spoke above about ‘market makers’ and ‘market shading’. What is that?

Often in markets, there is a ‘market maker’, an entity that acts as a guarantor for a market’s liquidity. Usually that comes with a good deal from the exchange to offset what will happen. Market making is the most thankless task in the punting world.

You will get nibbled on by recreational action until some sharp money comes along and gut punches you only when you are wrong. You need to take on ‘toxic liquidity’ (smart money) constantly, and somehow come out of that battle on top.

Often this market maker stands out like dog’s balls, and they will shade their prices to their opinion. For example, instead of dealing 1.94 / 1.94 on the line, they will ‘shade’ 1.90 / 1.98 to entice action on the side they want to take on. Sometimes it can take a fair bit of experience to spot the market maker, and other times they are ‘playing games’, such as early market deceptive shading to confuse their opponents. That higher-level game theoretic stuff happens with the huge markets like the EPL and the big soccer leagues.

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