Archive for the 'Betting' Category


Generally on days like this George Osborne improves his Betfair “Next PM” chances

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015


Why my money’s gone on the Chancellor this morning

Today’s the chancellor’s autumn statement – the second big set piece of Mr. Osborne’s parliamentary year. Usually, the “Omnishambles” budget of 2012 apart, he gets a good initial reaction and the betting markets respond accordingly.

So I’ve developed a little trading procedure to try to profit. I back Osbo on Betfair’s next PM markets before speeches and lay him in the months ahead when things often don’t look as good. In July I was on George at an average of 5.8 (that 4.8/1 in conventional odds) on Betfair’s next PM market and got out completely in September/October at an average 3.02 (just over 2/1). That produced a nice profit.

Clearly the market have downgraded his chances quite sharply and this morning I was back betting the Chancellor once again – this time at 3.8 or 2.8/1.

I’m in for the short term. I don’t know whether George will make it in the end but my guess is that perceptions will improve.

Back in the heady days of June and July Osbo moved to a 50% “next PM” chance on Betfair. Then he could do no wrong. Since then the tax credits saga has taken its toll and my bet was at a level that rates his chances at 26%.

One thing about Osborne is that he learns from past mistakes. There’ve been no more 2012-type budgets.

Mike Smithson


You can get 11/8 on Corbyn being leader at general election. Why I’m not tempted

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015


Time to back Biden (if you can)

Saturday, November 21st, 2015



It may be worth having a cover against Hillary

US presidential elections are brilliant. The fractal-like complexity of the process by which someone ends up in the White House provides endless scope for novelists, script-writers and conspiracy theorists to come up with weird and wonderful ways for the most implausible individuals to follow in the footsteps of Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelts and Obama. And in theory, they could.

The reality, of course, is that the nominations are usually all but decided within two months of their having started, the conventions are publicity shows, and that everything is clear on election night before the voting in the west is over.

But not always. While the 2000 election ultimately conformed to type, the consequences of an faithless Bush elector or two, if low, had to be taken seriously (in fact, Gore suffered a faithless, abstaining, elector; Bush’s stayed solid). Likewise the possibility that Florida’s votes might be annulled or not cast, resulting in the elections being thrown to Congress. All the same, one way or another, the president was going to be Bush or Gore.

Fast forward to next year. Hillary Clinton seems almost certain to be the Democratic nominee. She only has one challenger, Bernie Sanders, and he’s so far to the left he should be unelectable. That is, of course, something we’ve heard before and it didn’t stop Corbyn from winning but the kind of activism Corbyn benefitted from will be hard for Sanders to achieve given the larger turnouts in US primaries compared to the Labour leadership. In reality, it’s Hillary’s to lose.

Except lose it she might. The e-mail affair is one of those scandals that many are vaguely aware of in the sense of it being a political football without a killer punch; of interest only to those paid to take an interest. Her husband went through much the same with Whitewater almost a quarter of a century ago when he was running for the White House. But while it is rumbling on, there’s the possibility that there does lie a smoking gun and that someone will find it. What then?

This is where there not being a serious challenger to Hillary makes things interesting. Were Hillary to fall under a political bus (or a health-related one, for that matter), I don’t believe that the Democratic establishment would leave the field open to Sanders. Were it to happen early in the primary campaign, clearly there’d be scope for someone else to take her place; were it to happen late, Clinton delegates could be released and advised to switch to an acceptable alternative; were something to happen really late – after the nominations – the Democrat National Committee would need to find someone themselves, though here we are getting into the realms of political fantasy.

All the same, the chances that something politically fatal to Hillary might happen at some point are not infinitesimal – in which case, who steps in to the gap? By far the most obvious answer is the current Vice President, Joe Biden. He was talked of as a possible candidate for much of the year and while he ultimately opted not to run, were he offered the job I can’t see him turning it down. In what would then be a safety-first situation, it would be difficult to find someone with more safety attached.

The biggest difficulty in backing him may simply be the act of getting a bet on: as far as I can tell, no conventional bookie is offering odds at the moment, though at the time of writing he was 199/1 on Betfair (but with only a tiny amount available). As a cover against a Hillary slip-up, that’s a good price. In fact, at the moment I’d suggest that’s around double his true odds.

David Herdson


So far punters are putting their money on an EU Referendum REMAIN

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

This is a chart that we’ll see a lot over the coming months as we get closer to the election day in the EU referendum. My plan is to update it regularly showing changes so we can see how gambling sentiment is changing.

As of 3.10 am this morning the total wagered on the Betfar Exchange was £136,420 so we are starting to observe a degree of liquidity in the market. If the Scottish IndyRef is anything to go by then the total wagered on Betfair alone could be at least £20m by the time the votes are being counted.

What was interesting about the betting markets in the run-up to that seismic political event was what happened after the famous YouGov poll with 11 days to go showing YES in the lead. Basically the betting barely moved from its strong NO position. Punters didn’t believe what turned out to be an almost isolated set of findings.

The latest EU Referendum polls

So far I’ve not been tempted to bet. My view is that things will get much more lively once the data is fixed and that might be some time. It has been suggested that if the move to extend the franchise is extended to 16 year olds then that could delay it. Clearly the electoral roll will have to be revised.

Mike Smithson


The latest Republican TV debate was the best so far but won’t change anything

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Rubio once again the most accomplished & good for Trump

Overnight we have had the latest TV debate in the search to find the Republican nominee for next year’s White House Race. Compares with the last such event a couple of weeks ago which was poorly moderated this was a far better organised and much more inormative

It was organised by Fox Business and the Wall Street Journal and there were no real losers or runaway winners. It was the best so far by Jeb Bush, the one time front runner but because all the others did OK I can’t see it making a difference. If he’d performed like this in the earlier debates he might still have been right up there.

For me the two that most impressed were Marco Rubio and Donald Trump who is getting better with each outing. He no longer has to use shock tactics.

Rubio is so calm and nothing seems to dent his air of accomplishment. He’s going to be hard to beat.

We are only two and a half months off the first primaries and time is running out for a game changer.

Mike Smithson


Why we need more than the basic win market for the Oldham by-election

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

The battle for the lower positions is what’s interesting

The panel above shows the latest position on Betfair in the Oldham by-election. Just about all the money is being wagered on Labour and it is very difficult to see any betting interest in going against that.

The judgement of punters so far is that Labour’s new leader is not going to act as a negative in his first by-election contest. LAB is simply too strong there.

What we really need are some markets on the lower position order and party vote percentages. Is the cash-strapped UKIP going to be in second place and if so what sort of vote percentage can it expect to achieve?

Now the nominations have finally closed let’s hope that the bookies start offering some more interesting markets.

The one thing I really like about the by-election is that none of the nominated candidates actually live in the constituency. This means that the usual tedious rhetoric about “our man is more local than yours” is not going to be seen.

Mike Smithson


Richard Nabavi’s guide to the Irish election part 2

Sunday, November 8th, 2015


Votes, Seats, Coalitions

As I mentioned in Part 1, an understanding the voting system is essential to understanding Irish politics. There are 40 constituencies which this time will elect a total of 158 TDs, by Single Transferable Vote (STV). Each constituency elects either 3, 4 or 5 TDs. Voters rank the candidates. The first-preference votes are counted first. Any candidate who has enough votes to exceed the ‘quota’ (i.e. the total number of voters divided by one plus the number of available seats in the constituency) is elected. Any votes over the quota are declared surplus and go to the next preference. If no-one new meets the quota, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the next preferences of those voters are transferred to the next round of counting.

The key point here is that votes cast for losing candidates and excess votes cast for winning candidates are both transferred to voters’ next choice candidates. The way in which transfers are distributed is thus crucial to the result. Also, because there are very few ‘wasted votes’, independents and very small parties can get elected as one of the members in a multi-member constituency.

In the past, Labour has tended to benefit from transfers both from candidates on the far-left and from centre-right voters who prefer Labour to the alternatives if their first preference party is no longer in the running. Sinn Féin, in contrast, has been seen as transfer-toxic because of its history.

Whilst that general pattern may persist, with Sinn Féin polling at up to 20% nationally it may have enough votes to make substantial gains without needing many transfers, and it may pick up transfers from the far-left given its Syriza-style economic stance.

A new factor is that Labour and Fine Gael have agreed a pact whereby they will each encourage their supporters to put the other as second preferences. However, Labour may be at such a low point that its candidates will be eliminated early and therefore not benefit from potential transfers – this effect is likely to kick in if they get less than around 10% of first preferences. For this reason, Fine Gael may end up the winners from this pact.

Translating vote shares to seat totals: Because of the multiplicity of parties and independents, plus the difficulty of estimating how second and lower preferences will be distributed, predicting Irish seat totals from opinion poll figures is particularly difficult. A website to watch is that of Dr. Adrian Kavanagh, whose model of the Irish electoral system is well-regarded. As an example, the latest Red C poll (24 Oct) had Fine Gael 30% (up 2%), Fianna Fáil 20% (down 2%), Sinn Féin 16% (NC), Labour 7% (down 3%), Independents and Others 27% (down 1%). Dr Kavanagh’s seat projection on those figures was Fine Gael 63, Fianna Fáil 33, Sinn Féin 22, Labour 2, Independents and Others 38. This shows how badly Labour, who got 20 seats in 2011, could potentially be hit, although the projection is very sensitive to the exact vote-share; on other polls in the last few weeks the projection has been as high as 14 Labour seats.

Betting on the next government

As the election approaches, Paddy Power, Boyle, Betfair Sportsbook and Ladbrokes should have a range of markets available. For now, the focus is on which parties will form the next government.

As you can see from the above seat projection, the Irish system makes it very hard for any one party to get a majority (79 seats needed), or even to get enough seats to form a one-party minority government. Another coalition is, therefore, likely. The table shows some of the betting odds.

FG/FF 13/8 Paddy Power
FG/Lab 3/1 Paddy Power, Ladbrokes
FG/FF/Other 7/1 Boyle, Paddy Power
FG Minority 8/1 Betfair Sports
FF/SF 14/1 Boyle
FG Majority 33/1 Betfair Sports

If the numbers add up, a continuation of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition would suit both partners. That, however, would require Labour to do a lot better than the polls currently indicate. Enda Kenny could try to make up the numbers with support from Renua (formed by ex-Fine Gael TDs), and perhaps a couple of independents.

Fianna Fáil (who are slightly to the left of Fine Gael) could also be interested in a deal with Labour, but on current polling it’s hard to see them having the numbers to outbid Fine Gael.

One party which is very unlikely to enter any coalition is Sinn Féin. The other three main parties wouldn’t want to be associated with them, and Sinn Féin wouldn’t want to repeat the Greens’ and Labour’s experience of suffering from being the junior coalition partner.

If Fine Gael and Labour can’t between them get a majority, what about the logical combination, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, who are not far apart ideologically and economically? Logical though it is, the historic rivalry between the two parties means that neither is likely to be keen on the idea, and Fianna Fáil are worried that they too would suffer as a junior coalition party. Although the numbers may well add up, the politics doesn’t: the current odds look much too short to me.

In my view the value is a continuation of the Fine Gael/Lab coalition at 3/1. It’s the only realistic option which the parties involved actively want, and as the election approaches and voters begin to focus on the make-up of the next government, I expect the independents’ support to fall and the coalition parties to benefit as their ‘Don’t risk the recovery’ message gains traction. Even if the two parties can’t between them get a majority, we could well see a minority FG/Lab coalition government with grudging Fianna Fáil and independent support. But if Labour don’t improve their position substantially from here, even that option might not be viable.

Richard Nabavi



Antifrank on the GE2020 prospects for Tim Farron’s Lib Dems

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

The Lib Dems had a disastrous election in 2015, tallying just eight seats.  Where do they go from here?  Is the only way up?

Well, actually, no.  There is a serious possibility that things could get worse for them in 2020.  Of their eight seats, only one of them looks truly safe on current boundaries: that of their leader, Tim Farron.  Three of their four most marginal seats look as though they may well lose their Lib Dem incumbents: Southport, where John Pugh will be 72 in 2020 and may well be thinking about retirement; Sheffield Hallam, where Nick Clegg is surely unlikely to want to continue his stint as MP; and Orkney & Shetland, where Alistair Carmichael is currently embroiled in a court case over his last campaign.  This would make retaining them so much harder.

It gets worse.  We can expect boundary changes by the time of the next election.  These look likely to cause further problems for the Lib Dems by swamping their seats with unfriendly voters.  Lewis Baston reckons that the Lib Dems might be looking at starting the 2020 election notionally holding just four seats, as this Times article explains (paywalled): Nor do the Lib Dems have a target list stuffed full of easy prospects.  Here it is:

A uniform 5% swing to them gets them just 16 seats.  And their chances of getting such a swing in those seats are dramatically reduced because in most cases (Bath and Fife North East being the exceptions) these are seats where the Lib Dems were incumbents with large incumbency votes. Large numbers of these former incumbents will not be standing in 2020, meaning that any new candidate will be starting from a much lower base.  For example, of the top five Lib Dem targets, former incumbents Vince Cable, Norman Baker and Stephen Lloyd have all already said that they are retiring from politics.

All of these seats now have new incumbents who will be relentlessly working to get their own incumbency bonus.  Not to mention that the boundaries will in all probability be redrawn, so any loyalty to former incumbents will be seriously diluted in many cases.  The Lib Dems will face a stern test to get even a few of these seats back.

In order to have any chance of progress, the Lib Dems would need to show some revival in the national polls.  Since the election, the Lib Dems have flatlined or worse.  Whatever the public’s qualms about Jeremy Corbyn’s menace to national security or about George Osborne’s menace to hardworking poor families, they have yet to conclude that the Lib Dems represent a viable option.  They seem largely to have been forgotten about.  Even the protest vote has found a new receptacle in UKIP.  It is hard to see what might resuscitate them.

So prospects for the Lib Dems look grim.  Unless they can sharply revive in the polls, they look at least as likely to suffer a further decline in 2020 as to improve their tally.  Sharp revivals don’t look on the agenda any time soon.

Ladbrokes are offering some specials on their prospects here:

One bet stands out.  Ladbrokes are offering 11/4 that the Lib Dems will get fewer than 8.5 seats.  I make this at worst an even money bet.  You would have to wait nearly five years to collect, but even allowing for notional interest on your stake this looks like a great bet to me.  Take it.