It’s no secret that the betting market is constantly changing, and one man who has stood the test of time is Melbourne racing pro-punter Trevor Lawson. We sat down with him to chat about how to adapt to the market and stay ahead of the game.
Looking at your betting, the first thing that’s noticeable is that even though your edge and profitability have remained really positive, you’re having fewer bets. Why is that?
The market has certainly changed in the past few months, as most people have noted, in line with the introduction of the point-of-consumption tax.
From what I can see, the extra percentage that is going into the market isn’t going in across the field – it’s just being loaded up on the few fancies at the top of the market. That’s had an impact on betting, definitely.
Is this right throughout betting? What about betting early versus betting late?
I’ve never bet too much early personally, but it’s even rarer now.
In terms of betting early – at 9am on raceday when we can get on – there’s just so much percentage in the market that it’s much harder to get an overlay on something we like.
I do my markets to 90% (the true market is obviously 100%, and I want a bit of margin), so it’s very hard to find value when the early market is at 125% or 130%, or higher.
Percentages are coming down later, but it seems to be happening a lot closer to race time, as the really big players get involved at the prices they want. So that’s the opportunity to get on, and as long as Betfair keeps attracting volume there it’ll keep the bookies reasonably honest.
But you’re still dealing with a sharper market there, so you have to take what you can and not get sucked into unders.
What can you do to address it?
It’s about adapting. I’ve been at it for decades and it’s always been about adapting, so it’s the same here.
It’s a case of tuning my own pricing to suit. If the market has some extra percentage in the fancies and less in the roughies (in relative terms) that you don’t want to be on anyway, I can adjust my pricing the same way to ensure we can still get opportunities at the true price.
What does that involve?
It’s a bit of a slow process, and you don’t want to dive in and change everything. That’s the last thing you want to do as we have a winning formula, that’s proven in the longer term. We have an edge on the market that has delivered a return for us constantly (note – Trev’s Melbourne Ratings has returned 350 units profit at 14% PoT since launching in 2016).
So you make adjustments – for argument’s sake, you can tie in things like an increased jockey bonus, an increased bonus for horses that look good on the map, etc. Basically, I can be harder on those I don’t like and put some more into those I do. Just to tip my market a little, the same way the overall market has moved.
Are you confident?
Yep. You just have to adapt. It’s like any game, when the rules change you can either sit there and whinge about it, or you can change what you’re doing and keep going. That’s what anybody has to do, whether it’s a football coach, a punter or anyone else.
There’s no doubt it’s harder. It’s a sharper market. In very simple terms, money that is in it is being taken out by the government in taxes. So there’s less for us, but the same number of players trying to get it. We have to work out how we can extract it. We can do it, but the last thing you want to do is make a heap of changes all at once and impact the edge we do have.
So stick to your guns, in many ways, but make the odd adjustment…
Yeah you can’t change the basics: you’ve got to take the overs you can get and not fall into taking genuine unders just because you’re not seeing as many opportunities as you did.
A good example was at Flemington on Saturday, where I did the race (Race 6) carefully and had Dr Drill as clear favourite, but at $4.40. I had nothing else under $10. Now it came up around $3.30 or $3.40 on Saturday morning, and it got into $2.60 when they jumped. You can think ‘I’ve got a clear favourite here’ and be tempted to have a bet because you’ve got it marked clear favourite and the market obviously agrees… but it was never, ever a $2.60 chance. And it got rolled.
I will tweak things and try to mark those I like a little shorter, but there’s no point marking them super-short for the sake of having a bet. You can’t make money doing that. Even at $2.50, they’re going to get beaten 60 times out of 100. And Dr Drill did.
It’s basic stuff, but you have to remember that and be disciplined.
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