Archive for the 'Betting' Category


WH2020: Punters still not fully convinced that it’ll be Trump v Biden

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

Either can be had at longer than evens

The chart shows the latest betting on who will be the next President in Betfair’s now £30m market. The amount that’s been gambled so far is by far a record this far out but the interesting thing is that the uncertainty that still remains over who is going to be heading the ticket for either side.

By contrast the other big market on WH2020 outcome on which will be the winning party has the Democrats and Republicans both trading at evens.

In time terms we are till a long way from the nominations being finally resolved and clearly a lot can happen in the meantime between now and the party conventions in August. One element, of course, is their ages. Trump is just about to celebrate his 74th birthday and Biden is 77 and clearly there is an actuarial risk of one or both of them not making it. On top of that there are all the uncertainties relating to each of them politically.

Probably Biden is seen as being most at risk with the accusation against him and the fact that at time he can appear to be very frail. Trump is Trump with all that entails and he’s now trying to tar the Biden campaign with what he’s calling Obamagate.

My view is that the market are overpricing the risk

Mike Smithson


Vice President nominee betting. A market that it is better to lay than back

Sunday, May 17th, 2020

If there’s one market that I usually avoid it is the Vice Presidential nominee markets, I couldn’t tip more rubbish if you give me a forklift truck and I’m not alone as punters are determined to give the politics team at Ladbrokes a very nice Christmas bonus by pushing the price of Michelle Obama as the Veep pick down to 10/1.

One of the reasons I avoid this market is that there’s a history of the successful candidate coming from nowhere, in recent times Sarah Palin, Paul Ryan, and Dick Cheney have come from nowhere to be the nominee, and four years ago it was the same with Mike Pence in this market as we can see in the below tweet. I think this happens because the Presidential nominee doesn’t want someone who will overshadow them at the bottom of the ticket so they go for someone a little bit more obscure.

So my opinion this is one of those markets where the profits come from laying rather than backing, it is what I’m largely doing this time.



Joe Biden’s VP pick – the case for 40/1 Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth

Saturday, May 16th, 2020

This weekend the junior senator for Illinois, Tammy Duckworth, is due to have a meeting with presumptive nominee, Joe Biden, about the possibility of her being on the ticket in November.

What is striking about Duckworth is her extraordinary backstory and the way she’s triumphed over some terrible injuries incurred while serving in the US armed forces. Back in 2004 she was a helicopter pilot in Iraq which got attacked the result of which left her having to have both legs amputated and losing the power of one arm.

Since then she’s managed to recover her mobility while at the same time developing a political career which now sees her sitting in the US Senate as the junior senator from Illinois.

It is that extraordinary background in a country that has high regards for veterans that marks her out compared with with some of the other women who are said to be being considered by Biden.

There’s been quite a fuss about her in the US media this weekend and she could be just the choice for Biden as he tries to differentiate his campaign even more from Donald Trump. The President, it will be recalled, managed to avoid the draft during the Vietnam war because of “bone spurs”.

It is hard not being impressed with Tammy’s background and her fight back from what must have been a terrible experience. Tammy, from my brief checkout on YouTube, seems to be an effective communicator and could be a major addition to Biden as he seeks to unset the president.

At the current betting price she looks great value.

Mike Smithson


Joe Biden’s VP pick – the case for Amy Klobuchar

Friday, May 15th, 2020
Amy Klobuchar launching her abortive bid for the presidency in a blizard. Pic Lorie Shaull –

On Saturday we launched a series of posts on the various possibilities for Joe Biden as he ponders on who to choose for the VP slot on the ticket for WH2020. The second favourite in the betting is the Minnesota Senator, Amy Klobuchar, who pulled out of her White House bid to back Biden just before Super Tuesday.

On Betfair Klobuchar is rated as a 22% chance and is in the second favourite slot for the VP nomination. There’s been a movement to her following an announcement by the Biden campaign that he and her were going to do a virtual fundraising event together with it being made clear that she is being considered seriously.

There are a number of elements that make her a good VP pick. She is 60 later in the month and that would help enormously and present a younger image to the campaign then 77 year old Biden who at times can be quite frail. Secondly she is very experienced and has been a member of the US senate for 13 years and is now in her third term. She can point to point of record of achievement during her time there and her success in elections with significant victories in each of her senate races in Minnesota – state which is marginal and could be a target for Trump in November

She did well at the start of the primary campaign coming in third in Iowa and and if it had not been for Pete Buttigieg she would certainly have done a lot better. They were both competing for the same centrist vote and both undermined each other.

She’s probably got broader appeal and certainly has more experience than Kamala Harris who is the current favourite for the vice presidential nomination.

The big thing against her is she has a record of being a terrible boss with lots of reported ructions over the years in her office. She puts this down to her high standards but there are enough people around who have been bruised by her that will keep this factor alive in any campaign. If it wasn’t for this I would make her favourite.

Mike Smithson


From a betting perspective the dangers of “fighting the last war”

Monday, May 11th, 2020

On Boxing Day last year, a fortnight after the Tories won an 80 seat majority, a delighted family friend declared over lunch “I couldn’t believe the result. Politics has been so unpredictable, and no-one thought Boris would win big!

He was wrong, but not completely. Despite double-digit poll leads the media had speculated about hung parliaments a hell of a lot and the betting markets had the Tories as surprisingly modest favourites. Longer than 1/2 on a majority of any size was available on election day itself. The real question is: Why didn’t everyone think Boris would win big?

I suspect this: The memory of 2017 loomed too large. Two years prior Theresa May had lost a huge poll lead over a matter of weeks, and an apparently certain landslide had turned into a hung parliament. Even though that was an exceptional campaign, the media and the punters and my family friend couldn’t remember all the elections where big leads had led to big wins. 

Everything was filtered through the most recent experience, leading many to deny the obvious favourite even though the evidence was right in front of them. The same mistake is being made now in America.

Joe Biden has a national poll lead of several percent over Donald Trump. His lead in swing states is even better judging by recent polling. Trump’s ratings on handling the coronavirus pandemic are moderate at best. Yet polls show most people think Trump will be re-elected, and the betting markets show him as mild favourite. Why? Because Hillary Clinton had these leads and lost.

I would suggest we are blinding ourselves the same way many did in the UK last year. 2016 was an unusual election in the US. Trump won narrowly and was frankly lucky to barely win several key states. Hillary Clinton suffered from some unusual difficulties, not least a whiff of sexism against her and the timing of the Comey letter. There were unusually prominent third party candidates.

In short: 2016 was the exception, not the rule. We should treat it accordingly. Much has been made on Twitter of how Clinton had similar or larger leads in April/May 2016 than Biden has now. But most candidates with her leads go on to win.

Furthermore, Biden’s position is arguably stronger than Clinton’s was at this stage. The race appears far less volatile. Whereas Clinton’s lead over Trump shrank to near zero repeatedly over 2016 Biden’s lead has been much more steady. His favourables are better than hers at the same stage, and views on Trump are much more entrenched now. In 2016 Trump won voters who disliked both candidates by a 17% margin, but they now give Biden a 32% lead.

The race isn’t over. Trump is a strong campaigner, and his supporters are loyal. But he didn’t win in 2016 with only his base. Biden should be considered a solid favourite, not a mild underdog. 2016 is the latest precedent, but we shouldn’t treat it like the only one.

Pip Moss

Pip Moss posts on Political Betting as Quincel. You can follow him on Twitter at @PipsFunFacts


Holyrood 2021: The election that could kill the Union stone dead?

Sunday, May 10th, 2020
Holyrood 2021 election voting intention polls, constituency section

I’m genuinely looking forward to next year’s Holyrood election, 2011 and 2016 were really profitable elections thanks to Iain Grey’s dire ratings indicating a shellacking for Labour and in 2016 you could get 8/1 on the day of the election on the SNP not obtaining a majority, sometimes betting from distance gives a great perspective.

On the political front this might be the most important election this decade, if the the SNP win a majority then it reinforces their mandate for another Scottish independence referendum and if Boris Johnson rejects this democratic mandate then I’d expect a major constitutional crisis which is always exciting and gives us plenty to bet upon.

Looking at the polling figures at the top we can see the SNP are in a commanding position with 30% leads in the constituency section and something similar in list section, which frankly given the SNP have been in continually in power since 2007 is astonishing, this is the sort of time governing parties become really unpopular. Some of it might be down to surge the government parties are getting during this pandemic but prior to the pandemic the the SNP vote share and lead was impressive.

So what betting strategy should we follow? Ladbrokes have a range of markets up,

If I had to choose I think I’d back the SNP winning a majority at 5/6, this mostly down to insipid leadership of the Unionist parties. As a fan of Ruth Davidson she wasn’t afraid of socking it to the SNP in a way others weren’t which explained the relatively impressive Tory results in 2015 and 2016, from what I’ve seen of Jackson Carslaw, he’s not as good as Ruth Davidson.

I suspect the only thing that might stop the SNP winning a majority is the SNP as we’ve see in the response to the recent intervention from Joanne Cherry.

If you’re not sure about my tip I think with interest rates on savings accounts at 0.01% you might want to back the SNP winning the most seats at 1/10.



The Other 2020 US Elections – the Democratic party fight to take back control of the Senate

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

Yes, all eyes are on the Presidency. But let us not forget that there are other national US elections taking place on November 3: the Senate and the House of Representatives.

I’m not going to dwell on the House, where I think the Republicans will regain some ground, but not enough to take the Chamber back. Instead, let’s talk about the Senate. The current composition is 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and 2 Independents. The two Independents (Bernie Sanders and Angus King) can probably be counted as Democrats, so it means the effective split is 53:47.

For the Democrats to gain control, they need a net gain of three Senate seats (if they win the Presidency), and four if they do not. They also have to defend Alabama.

So, a tough, tough ask for them, yes?

Well, except for one thing. The Republicans are defending quite a few marginal states. So, without further ado, here are my betting recommendations:

Colorado. Republican incumbent facing the former Governor, John Hickenlooper. The polls have been horrible for the incumbent and Colorado moves further to the left with each passing year. Smarkets have the Democrats as massive favourites, and they are correct. This is an easy Democratic pickup.

D + 1

Maine. Susan Collins has held Maine for almost a quarter century. She used to have the highest approval ratings in the Senate. Not any more. The latest Maine polls have her favorability at 37% against 52% who disapprove. Smarkets seems to think she stands a chance. Smarkets is wrong.

D + 2

Alabama. Doug Jones made the incomprehensible decision to vote for President Trump’s impeachment, despite it making no difference at all. Republican pickup. Next.

D + 1

Georgia. Two Republicans are up for election. Only one of them has truly horrendous personal ratings and sold all their shares after receiving a confidential briefing on the Coronavirus’s likely economic impact. I fear Georgia is going to see a pretty awful second CV-19 wave. Smarkets has Loeffler as narrow favourite to retain her Senate seat. I think she’s a goner. Her Republican colleague will probably hang on.

D + 2

Arizona. John McCain’s Senate seat is currently in the hands of appointee Martha McSally. You may remember her as the person who lost badly to Kyrsten Sinema in 2018. Well, this time Ms McSally is facing popular former astronaut Mark Kelly. The Smarkets odds have Kelly as massive favorite. They are probably right.

D + 3. But now it gets harder for the Democrats.

North Carolina. Smarkets have it as practically 50/50. I think the Republicans probably hang on here.

Iowa. You can get 2-1 on the Democrats here. Joni Ernst has seen her popularity plummet, but the odds are probably about right. If you want a bet on the Democrats having a really good night, this might be the one.

Kentucky. Why are we talking about Kentucky? Because Mitch McConnell is not a popular Senator. Still, I wouldn’t waste my money.

Alaska? Possible but unlikely. The recent plunge in oil prices will not have done the state’s finances any good. And there is a case for the Democrat former Governor of Montana, but it would require an unprecedented level of ticket splitting. Possible? Yes. Likely? No.

All in all, I think the Democrats have a comfortably better than 50% chance of getting to 50 seats (including Independents). It’s also possible they have a blow out night, picking up both Georgia seats and Iowa. You can sell 51 or more Republican seats at slightly worse than evens on Smarkets, and get only marginally worse returns with Betfred and Ladbrokes. Take them.

Robert Smithson


A knighthood for Colonel Tom Moore?

Sunday, May 3rd, 2020

During this pandemic one of the most uplifting moments has been the now promoted Colonel Tom Moore raising millions for the NHS at age of 99 now 100. He’s been an inspiration to us all as evidenced by the thirty million plus pounds raised and him becoming the oldest person to feature in a UK number one single.

As noted above he’s been honoured with a promotion from captain to honorary colonel but I wonder if he’ll be awarded a knighthood. There’s certainly precedent, Ian Botham was awarded a knighthood for raising over ten million pounds for Leukemia research charities.

Ladbrokes are offering 5/6 on Colonel Moore being knighted before the end of 2021. Normally I avoid these specials markets because they are terrible value (and some won’t pay out for decades) but given the desire to cheer up the nation I’m going to back the 5/6 on it happening.

I’m fairly certain Boris Johnson and many others in the government and media will back Colonel Moore being knighted. With the Queen’s birthday honours due next month it is possible Colonel Moore might be honoured then, he more than deserves it.