Archive for the 'Betting' Category


Betting on the Democratic Party California primary

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

California Dem

Perhaps I’m reading too much into the tweet by the political correspondent of The Washington Post, but Hillary Clinton’s actions don’t appear to be the actions of someone confident of winning California, There is of course huge symbolism if she fails to win California, America’s most populous state, people will inevitability say she’s the wrong candidate to win in November.

I looked at the polling in California, the most recent poll has Clinton defeating Sanders by just 2%. Whilst leads of this size appear to be outliers, Paddy Power have a market up on the California Primary, and I’m wondering whether to back Sanders to win it at 4/1 . The punting heart says back him, the punting head says back Hillary. Perhaps punters will be more bolder than me.

The fact we’re discussing Hillary Clinton not winning California is a reflection on her campaign so far. If she wasn’t facing Trump in November, I’d struggle to come up with plausible reasons on why you should be backing her to win The White House race in November.



Fear and loathing in the Tory Party. Whatever the result of the referendum, the Tory party is looking ungovernable

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

If Labour had a decent leader, they’d be leading by at least double digits in the polls right now.



Is this Ed Miliband’s route back to the Labour leadership?

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

This piece isn’t an attempt to make John Rentoul’s QTWTAIN list, again, but The Daily Telegraph has reported that Ed Miliband is considering a return to Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet. The Telegraph report says

The former Labour leader is said to be weighing up a return to frontline politics as sources said Mr Corbyn wants to appoint the “big hitter” and prevent a leadership challenge by giving his team credibility.

The Labour leader has reportedly made approaches to Mr Miliband about rejoining the shadow cabinet after the Doncaster North MP  turned down a previous offer made last year.

It came as Mr Corbyn posted a picture of his colleague addressing a rally they both attended yesterday, labeling the snap with the words “Ed – awesome”.

When challenged over whether he would like Mr Miliband in his senior team Mr Corbyn said: “All that’s for the future” on three separate occasions last night, but refused to say more.

The former Labour leader told the BBC that he would not comment on “Jeremy Corbyn’s reshuffle”, adding: “I’m a Labour backbencher, I’m supporting the leader, that’s a matter for him.”

A source close to Mr Miliband said he has spent the last year away from frontline politics and feels the time is now right for him to return.

Back in February Alastair Meeks tipped Ed Miliband as the next Labour leader at 200/1 and you can still get a similar price now. If you’re not already on, this could be a decent trading bet, with senior Labour MPs such as Andy Burnham and Luciana Berger looking to follow the lead of Sadiq Khan and become Mayors of the major cities of this country, the talent pool within the shadow cabinet is being drained further (and is probably an indication of the shellacking many in Labour fear that Labour will receive if they are led by Corbyn at the 2020 general election.)

When Jeremy Corbyn ceases to be Labour leader, Ed Miliband might be the only big beast left standing in the shadow cabinet/Parliamentary Labour Party, though those of a crueller disposition might say in that instance it is a case of Ed Miliband being the tallest dwarf. I suspect if Ed Miliband does join the shadow cabinet, those odds of 200/1 will fall and that might be the optimal time to trade out, especially were he to get a high profile shadow cabinet job.



We are getting to a point where LEAVE could be the value bet

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

LEAVE Bedford statue

The record-break political gamble continues

Until now I have refrained from betting on the referendum quite simply because the odds on neither side appear attractive. My instinct tells me to follow the phone polls but I’m not convinced that IN has an 80%+ chance of victory. This is in spite of the fact that Britain’s longest-established phone pollster, Ipsos MORI, is showing a margin of 20% once those not expressing a voting intention are stripped out.

As Keiran Pedley argued in our latest TV Show there hasn’t been a big move to REMAIN in the polls – it is just that we are seeing many more phone surveys. From a period when everything was online, and better numbers for LEAVE, the past two weeks has seen the telephone polls outnumber the internet ones.

I have a target price for LEAVE and plan to bet if/when the price moves to that.

This comes down to the old formula that a value bet is one where your assessment of the outcome happening is greater than the betting price.

Mike Smithson


Judging by his betting price collapse Boris’s back LEAVE decision hasn’t been good for his career ambitions

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

If the vote is REMAIN the ex-mayor could be the scapegoat

Yesterday the Daily Mail’s renowned columnist, Katie Hopkins had a big go at the ex-Mayor under the heading “I thought Boris was going to save Britain from the EU, instead he has turned out to be a big fat fraud.”

In it she registered in her own inimitable style her disappointment at Johnson’s performance in the three months since he made his announcement on February 21st. She concludes:

If the Brexit side does lose, much of the blame will lie with Boris – who will have no compunction about scampering back aboard the government bus if he gets half a chance.

So let’s hope Cameron doesn’t forgive him. Because I won’t.

Whatever happens on June 23rd there will be a huge fall-out across the political scene but most of all within the Conservative party. A LEAVE win or a very narrow REMAIN victory look set to be the peg for Cameron’s exit and we will move into contest.

To become Tory leader Boris has first to surmount the parliamentary test and come in the top two of exhaustive ballots of party MPs. Assuming Osborne or an Osbo-backed contender gets one of those slots the big fight looks set to be amongst the Brexiters. That could be down to “Boris” or the “Stop Boris” choice. So the ex-Mayor’s future could be in the hands of his fellow BREXIT Tory MPs and their perception of his contribution to the outcome will be crucial.

It has been said ever since his decision on February to back leave that he was doing this solely for career purposes. Maybe that will turn out to have been a huge gamble that failed.

Mike Smithson


Ex-Treasury minister & Brexiter, Andrea Leadsom, is having a good war and should be given a bigger role

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016


She’s starting to look like a possible leadership contender

A new YouGov referendum poll published overnight has both sides level-pegging – a marked change from last week’s 4% REMAIN lead. It is a sharp reminder that this could be very close and reinforces the big polling story of this election – the huge divide between phone and online.

If it is a very tight outcome then there will be enormous pressure on David Cameron and we could have a new CON leader and PM within a few months. The question for punters is who?

Of the Tory Brexiters IDS, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling and, of course, Boris Johnson have been the most prominent but I don’t think any have done their leadership prospects much good. Boris has been all bluster and he’s seen a sharp decline in his position on Betfair. As to the others it is hard to see Michael Gove as a leader although he has wide support within the party.

    The one who is impressing most at the moment is Andrea Leadsom the former Economic Secretary to the Treasury and now climate change minister of state.

She became an MP at GE2010 after a very successful career in the city. During the LIBOR scandal in 2012 she made a name for herself with some of her cross-examinations on the Treasury committee and for criticising George Osborne. On Monday’s Newsnight EURef discussion she was the lead for her party and showed how hugely effective she can be

She comes over as a fearless and powerful communicator and should be given a bigger role in the LEAVE campaign which is so dominated by men. She was state school educated and a graduate of Warwick.

I’ve had punts on her overnight as next CON leader a PM at longshot odds at up to 90/1.

Mike Smithson


The Trump-Boris mural on the Bristol wall – the betting chances of what’s depicted actually happening

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

Winner 2016 White House Race

Next CON leader


The uncertainty principle. A step by step guide to handling confusing polling in your betting

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Final Tree

The Alastair Meeks Decision Tree

You can access the descison tree here

The EU referendum polling is all over the shop, with a stark divide between the phone polls, which show a clear Remain lead, and the online polls, which show it neck and neck with Leave perhaps fractionally ahead.  How on earth are we supposed to cater for this in our betting?

Here’s how.  We only need to assess two things: what the current state of public opinion is between Remain and Leave; and how it will move in the next month.  True, we don’t know either of those things.  But we can guess.  Or, more helpfully, we can guess what probabilities to assign to the different possibilities.

Above is an example of just such a set of guesses.  First of all I’ve identified five scenarios:

  1. All the polls are understating Remain’s lead
  2. The phone polls have got Remain’s lead right
  3. Remain’s lead is somewhere between the phone polls and the online polls
  4. The online polls are accurately recording the battle
  5. The online polls understate Leave’s lead

And then in each case I’ve assigned probabilities that the position will change sufficiently to change the result, or not.

In the example above I’ve tentatively concluded that the phone polls might be more accurate and a bit more firmly concluded that the final month might see a swing to Remain.  Mathematicians need not trouble to correct the workings underpinning my implications: there are enough heroic assumptions going on in this already.

By totting up the probabilities of all the green boxes, you reach an overall chance of a Remain victory of 77.7% (or 2/7 in betting terms).  But frankly, I’d be delighted if I were accurate to the nearest 5% either way.

I do NOT (please note the bold and block capitals) hold this example out as either my own estimate or being particularly scientific.  You can alter these assumptions according to taste, and you should do so.  But you should assign probabilities to all these possibilities.  When the pollsters themselves tell you that they don’t know what’s going on, you shouldn’t assume beyond question that the online polls are right and the phone polls are wrong, or vice versa.

Feel free to play around with this as you wish.  At least this should give some structure for people to think about the notional odds that they choose to assign to the two sides’ prospects of success.

Alastair Meeks