I’m an actuary by trade. An actuary is like the bookmaker of life insurance and super funds. We love to deal with odds. My byline is ‘Anomaly Nick‘, and I like to explore all those possibilities where there’s a bit of an edge to be made.
The main reason behind bookies offering multis is to try to lock you into the odds at the earliest possible stage. I liken it to each multi leg being like a cherry. The trouble with the multis is that the bookies take a bite of the cherry on each of the legs.
The bookmakers love to be able to take out that 5% on each of the legs. If you do the maths for instance, just calculate the odds for an eight-leg multi, each leg where you’re just taking the bet at the line.
If the bookies were very generous and they decided to give you $2 for about each of the bets, then the all-up bet would be worth $256 for each dollar you invested.
However, by taking $1.90 and the bookie taking a bite of that cherry for each of the eight bets, your all-up bet would only be worth $170. That’s a big difference between odds of $256 and $170.
On one single bet it represents only 5%, so a $1.90 line is a 5% margin, but across eight legs all up, the margin instead of being 5% is a pretty big 33%. That’s the main detriment in regard to the multis. The more legs you have in the multi, the worse that detriment becomes.
The other mistake that a lot of punters make when betting multis is that you can’t take multis through a number of bookmakers. You’ve got to stick to the one bookmaker which means you’re not getting the best odds about every one of your legs. If you were to shop around, you would bet each of those legs where the odds were the best.
Often by having a multi, but you organising it (waiting for that first leg to be won before you put the all-up bet on the next leg), you’ll get much better odds. Although it is rather a frustrating thing to do so many people just throw in a multi and see how it goes.
If you’re really after the value for money, then you are shooting yourself in the foot a lot of the time by betting on multis.
However, there are some circumstances where a multi can be of advantage. For example, you may see that the bookmaker has got one of your teams or one of the horses that you’re interested in at much better odds than other bookies. If you take it now and put it in a multi, you can get much better odds than if you wait to just before the game.
If you look at any of the Quaddies or Big 6s every Saturday, do a comparison between the all-up price based on tote odds or SP odds and compare that to the actual payout. Nine times out of ten, probably 99 times out of a 100, the tote dividend on that is always better than the all-up. That’s because of this deleterious effect of them taking a bite out of each of the legs.
Look at the odds of your last leg failing and add that as an increment based on your first four legs. Maybe if you’re betting the shorter-priced favourites in the first four legs, then it could sway the odds in your favour. The odds have got to be fairly short for that to be of significant benefit because if you look at what the odds would be of getting your first four up.
Let’s say you’ve had an eight-leg multi and you’ve got seven of your legs in, then what they do is work out what would have been paid had your first seven legs won. Then they take an exit fee of say 10%, and pay you out that dividend. The other way they look at it is to look at your original final payout, and then discount that total payout by using the estimated market odds of your last leg.
It sounds pretty good on the ads on TV and it looks as if everybody’s ejecting before the last leg.
For instance, if you had an all-up on the Pick the Margins and coming into the last leg, you got $1.90 at the line for Souths but now they’re a $1.60, then you’d be mad to take the cash out because that will effectively give you back the odds that Souths are now, and not what they were when you had the bet. An understanding of market percentages is crucial.
A Better Way To Cash Out
My advice to any serious punter: by all means get a quote from your bookie in regards to what the pay-out will be. But open up a Betfair account so you can lay the odds rather than back the odds. In that way you can do a quick calculation and say, right, well my bookie is going to give me x dollars of my original y dollars if I cash out now.
That’s the difference between what I expect to do and what they’re going to pay me, would I be better off in laying that last leg with that money, so no matter what the outcome, compare the two outcomes and whatever gives you a better financial return, then go with it.
Don’t glibly accept what the bookie is offering for a cash out because they’re in it to make money. It’s the old buyer beware. Make sure you know the terms of that cash out option.
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Nick’s website is puntforprofit.com and he calls it a ‘not-for-loss organisation’.