Archive for the 'Betting' Category


Is PaddyPower right not to pay out now on these “2020 or later” bets?

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Quite often punters contact me about disputes they are having with bookies and this is a case where I think the bookie, PaddyPower is wrong. The bets the punter made were:

  • When will Donald Trump cease to be POTUS? ‘2020 or later’
  • When will the next IndyRef take place (in Scotland)? 2020 or later’.
  • When will alien existence be proven? ‘2020 or later’.

In all 3 cases he expected PaddyPower to pay out after New Year’s Day. It is now 2020 and the events set out in the bets have not happened. After giving PP more than a fortnight he queried via Live Chat and was told that they won’t settle because the bet says ‘2020 or later’ and the event hasn’t happened at all yet so the bet hasn’t won.

I totally agree with his contention that this is unfair and the bet may never settle with this interpretation, and basically that in context the bet clearly implied it was ‘Not before 2020’. He’s now escalated this to the Escalation Team at PaddyPower, the step before IBAS – the external arbitration scheme.

I’ve long since stopped betting with PaddyPower after an argument over how a bet should be settled. It appears that too often the firm is putting up betting markets with the intention of generating media coverage rather than betting.

I’ll report back if I get news of any development here.

Mike Smithson


Looking at when Boris Johnson’s tenure as Conservative Party leader will end

Sunday, January 12th, 2020
Boris Johnson exit date market on Betfair as at 8pm on 11th of January 2020.

Recent history suggests Boris Johnson will not see out a full term.

It seems churlish to be talking about Boris Johnson’s exit date a month after he won a majority of 80 but two out of the last three Conservative leaders to win a majority didn’t see out a full term (and the third one was said to be in office but not power leading to a devastating defeat for the Conservative Party at the next election) so winning a majority for the Conservative party doesn’t ensure political longevity.

The last four Conservative Prime Ministers have seen their Premierships either ended or destroyed because of the United Kingdom’s relationship with our European neighbours and you can see it happening again. As David Herdson noted yesterday Brexit isn’t going away and it is likely to be the biggest domestic issue of 2020.

As we can see in the tweets above even Boris Johnson’s own advisers are expecting Boris Johnson to disappoint Leavers, the evidence is strong for that supposition. Just look at his comments in 2018 when he said a UK Prime Minister never could or should put the border in the Irish Sea, then in 2019 that’s exactly what he did. If Boris Johnson takes Brexit in a direction that the Leavers/ERG aren’t happy with then they might seek to oust him.

I’m reminded of the fact that when Johnson was Mayor of London ‘[Boris Johnson] loved to be loved and found it so hard to say “no” that aides never allowed him to meet Bob Crow, the transport workers’ leader, lest he gave away the store.’ when you add in that desire to be loved he might end up acquiescing to the EU to get a deal done, he didn’t do anything to stop Brexit being delayed in October 2019 because deep down I’m guessing he knew the dangers of a sustained No Deal Brexit.

Apart from Brexit there’s other way for Boris Johnson to leave office unexpectedly, he seems to be a scandal magnet because of his love life. Those who know him well offered him the advice to ‘lock up your willy’ when he was contemplating running for London Mayor. It isn’t difficult to envisage a scenario when the Prime Minister’s willy might lead to a career ending incident.

As far as I can see Betfair are the only bookies offering a market on Boris Johnson’s exit so I’m tempted to take a nibble on the 14s on 2021 being Boris Johnson year of departure, but this is currently a very illiquid market, hopefully we’ll see more bookies offering odds on this market.



Will the Conservatives increase their majority at the next election?

Sunday, January 5th, 2020


Ladbrokes have a market up on the Conservatives increasing their majority at the next general election. I can understand why some will want to back the 4/1.

Boundary changes would see the Conservative majority increase to around 104 if the vote shares remained identical at the next election and if Labour choose electoral Ebola in the form of Ian Lavery then this bet looks like a winner.

I’m always wary of markets where the bookmaker doesn’t offer the other side of the bet add in that there so many unknowns, inter alia,

  • Who will be the Labour leader? Will they be a Corbyn clone or chose a leader who will move to centre ground where Labour have won majorities in the last forty six years?
  • Will Brexit turn out to be a success, a mistake, or just a bit middling?
  • How will the economy perform between now and the next election, I cannot see a cyclical recession (or a Brexit related recession) help the Conservatives increase their majority.
  • What kind of government will Boris Johnson deliver?
  • How much time will the Red Wall seats that switched to the Conservatives give Boris Johnson? 

There are a few other unknowns I could list but these are the main ones, so for me it is no bet at the moment, I am sure 2020 will bring a few 4/1 or better bets that will pay out a lot sooner than 2024.



Starmer now firm odds-on favourite to succeed Corbyn

Thursday, January 2nd, 2020

Inevitably the YouGov poll of Labour members that came out last night has had a big impact on the the Corbyn succession betting. That the former Director of Public Prosecutions who has only been MP since 2015 has such a clear leading the poll is impacting on the betting and it is hard seeing him being beaten.

Inevitably as well there has been the criticism of YouGov from some factions on the left who persistently criticise the firm. I think this is crazy and over the years as a gambler have relied on the firm particularly for leadership races where their record is very good.

YouGov has the biggest database for its online polling and when people join they are asked if they are members of political parties. This is what it has used for samples like in the latest poll.

The next step in this race is for Labour’s NEC to agree the rules and set out the timetable.

Mike Smithson


Rishi Sunak – tipped here for next PM when he was 200/1 now 25/1

Friday, December 27th, 2019

My Ladbrokes betting slip

Back at the end of November longstanding PBer, Philip Thompson, wrote a header here suggesting that the 200/1 then available on Rishi Sunak for next CON leader was a great value bet.

I was one of a number on the site who had a little flutter taking the 250/1 on Sunak after Ladbrokes boosted the odds. Clearly this is going to be a long term bet but I’m encouraged that the latest odds are now 25/1

In his post on November 30th Thomson argued:

” The market has a tendency to overestimate long established names, even David Miliband is still on the Betfair list. If the Conservatives do indeed win a healthy majority then we will quickly move on from the last generation of MPs that have stepped down and there are some potential future big hitters in that list.

Currently listed at 200/1 with Ladbrokes is Rishi Sunak. A supporter of Johnson he has repeatedly appeared on the media to argue the government’s line, after the newly elected PM culled the Cabinet and promoted Sunak he argued unequivocally that Johnson was being “decisive”. During the election campaign Sunak has been used frequently on media appearances, appearing on GMB, Sky, BBC etc. Already promoted once by Johnson to Chief Secretary of the Treasury, while not yet in the Cabinet he does attend it. Sunak has been earmarked by Boris to represent the Conservative Party in the 7-way debate and is already tipped to get a full Cabinet portfolio in the future.

My guess is that Sunak will get a boost to full cabinet status in the likely re-shuffle following Brexit at the end of January.

Mike Smithson


A Punters History of the Labour Contest. From Callaghan to Corbyn

Saturday, December 21st, 2019

As I wrote in the run-up to the general election, political betting markets can be lucrative ones for punters. One of the so-called ‘iron laws’ of Conservative leadership contests is that the front runner does not win it. In 2019, Boris Johnson finally put the myth to bed. Labour on the other hand have a different past, much more content to back the front runner and at time they have proved to be coronations rather than contests. 2019 has the potential to break into a civil war for the party.

The first contest to be held after gambling was liberated in the 1960s was in 1976 when Harold Wilson’s reign as Labour leader finally came to an end. His thirteen years as leader had created a number of suitable replacements who now read like a who’s who of post-war Labour titans. The bookmakers opened up with James Callaghan (4/5), Denis Healey (7/4), Tony Crosland (7/2) Roy Jenkins (5/1), Tony Benn (10/1), Michael Foot (12/1), Shirley Williams (20/1) and Eric Varley at (25/1).

Callaghan was immediately seen as the ‘likely successor’ and adopted a Boris Johnson-Esque safety first strategy; refusing to outline a policy platform, refusing to make a speech or do an interview during the campaign. Back then, the contest was selected by MPs alone and Callaghan benefited from a push to ‘stop Michael Foot’, winning by 176 to 137 in the final round.

Labour’s next contest would be in the wake of its 1979 defeat.

Callaghan’s leadership – by bypassing conference decisions and compromising on policy – would stoke a ‘betrayal’ narrative on the Bennite left. A key critique of the party was that the leader should no longer be chosen solely by MPs, but that the trade unions and members should have greater say. Callaghan fixed it so that it would occur under the old system before the conference could vote again on a new system of electing the leader.

Denis Healey was the bookmakers favourite at 2/5 and Michael Foot (9/2) – who was initially viewed by the Daily Mirror as a good candidate to instigate a debate on the left-wing of the party – was joined by John Silkin (14/1) and Peter Shore (14/1). Tony Benn boycotted the ‘illegitimate’ contest, in the knowledge that he would not win through MP support alone.

Healey was not on the bookmakers favourite, but he was the most favoured choice in the country. A poll of national voters during the campaign, for The Sun,  had Healey ahead on 71%  to Foot on 16%. Moreover, another poll showed that Healey was the favoured candidate of three out of four Labour supporters. Narrowly, Foot defeated Healey 139-129 in the final round of voting after a lacklustre and arrogant campaign from Healey.

Michael Foot would lead Labour to a landslide defeat in 1983 and the trauma of that, and the fact that Tony Benn lost his seat in Parliament, gave Neil Kinnock a strong chance to win from the left. Kinnock and Roy Hattersley emerged as the favourites at 4/5 and 5/4 respectively with Peter Shore quoted at 7/1. The new system for choosing the leader was an electoral college with 40 per cent of the votes to the trade unions and 30 per cent each for the MPs and for the party membership.

Kinnock quickly secured the backing of the major trade unions – such as the TGWU – and by July he was assured of victory.Kinnock would go on to become the longest-serving leader of the opposition in history. By the time he stood down, there was the talk of the party skipping a generation and opting for a ‘moderniser’ to take the party forward. Ron Pollard, the man credited with introducing political betting to the public, advised punters to keep an eye out for the young Shadow Employment Secretary Tony Blair.

In the aftermath of 1992, bookmakers reported a number of ‘shrewd bets on the Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Gordon Brown. When the Daily Mirror’s Political Editor Alistair Campbell outlined the runners and riders – he identified Smith, Bryan Gould, Margaret Beckett and Gordon Brown as candidates. Tony Blair, Campbell argued, was ‘a long term leadership bet’.

John Smith quickly emerged as the favourite, when Brown refused to stand as the ‘moderniser’ candidate. Smith opened up at 2/5 and was quickly backed in with a general consensus emerging that he should have a ‘clean run’ at the leadership.

The only other candidate was on the ballot paper was the Shadow Environment Secretary Bryan Gould who admitted he was running only to widen the debate. Gould was a Eurosceptic and centred his campaign on the need to devalue the pound and exit the ERM. Gould would be proven right just a few months later.

Smith took Labour into a commanding poll position. Yet Labour had been ahead in the polls many times during the Thatcher/Major years. As such, the bookmakers remained cautious and on the week that Smith died, Labour was quoted at odds of 8/11 to win the next election outright.

The real battle in 1994 was between which ‘moderniser’ would stand. Contrary to later mythology, Blair was already the bookmakers favourite to take over. In the three days after Smith’s death,  Blair was backed in from 2/5 to 1/5 to be the next leader. Gordon Brown was quoted at 4/1 with Robin Cook at 8/1, John Prescott at 12/1, Margaret Beckett at 20/1 and Jack Cunningham at 33/1. When Brown and Blair agreed on the infamous Granita pact, punters could be confident of a healthy return.

Blair’s victory was welcome news to the Durham taxi driver George Elliott. In 1983 Elliot had picked up a passenger who he thought ‘had something about him’. After a political discussion, he dashed to his local bookmakers to request a bet: that his new MP, Tony Blair, would one day become Prime Minister. 14 years later, Elliot picked up £5,000 in what must rank as the shrewdest £10 punt in political history.

Blair’s grip on the Labour Party ensured that the ‘Next Leader’ market was one best avoided. By 2005, bookmakers were still taking bets on his longevity; offering 13/2 that he would last as long as Margaret Thatcher. By September 2006, when Blair began the lengthy race to find his successor, Gordon Brown was offered up at a value 4/9 with John Reid at 8/1 and Alan Johnson the third favourite at 10/1.

By April 2007, Brown was 1/10 and there was no contest for the leadership. Only the 250/1 shot John McDonnell put himself forward for the nomination but failed to meet the threshold. Brown supporters saw no need in widening the debate to include him

Brown’s Premiership he was dogged by manoeuvres against him which enticed political punters in. By April 2008, Brown’s honeymoon was well and truly over and various stalking horses such as Charles Clarke, James Purnell and Alan Milburn – became favoured candidates.

Milburn was heavily fancied to make a bid in the wake of the historic Crewe & Nantwich by-election defeat. Such was his decline, bookmakers offered 4/5 on Brown not lasting the course with David Miliband the 5/2 favourite to replace him.

In the end, nobody was bold enough to try and take over an unpopular government in the middle of an economic and political crisis. Brown’s departure instigated the first leadership contest since Tony Blair’s in 1994.

David Miliband had entered the 2010 general election as the even-money favourite to replace Brown yet his dithering from 2007 onwards made people think twice about his leadership credentials.

He opened up the contest as the 4/6 favourite with Ed Balls at 6/1 and Alan Johnson was 7/1 (who did not stand) and Ed Miliband at 11/1. David Miliband’s supporters put Diane Abbott on the ballot to widen the debate.

Few expected Ed to challenge his brother for the nomination and it quickly turned into a two-horse race between David (1/2) and Ed (5/2). In a leadership contest dominated by the Iraq War, David remained the solid favourite throughout the Summer and by July remained the 4/9 favourite. However, Ladbrokes identified a trend that Ed was ‘the candidate with the most momentum in the race’ and at the end of September finally made Ed the favourite after a series of large bets.

Ed’s leadership was also dominated by rumours of a challenge from within. It peaked in November 2014 when it was rumoured that 20 shadow ministers were willing to quit and back Alan Johnson to be the leader.

Even the New Statesman dismissed him as an ‘old-style Hampstead socialist’ who does not understand the ‘lower middle class or material aspiration’. The runners and riders were identified as Yvette Cooper (9/4), Andy Burnham (4/1) and Alan Johnson (14/1). As with Brown’s leadership, however, Labour was unwilling to move against an unpopular leader.

When it was Ed’s turn to step down, the bookmakers made Chuka Umunna the 7/4 favourite with Tristram Hunt tipped up as a 10/1 outsider to make a challenge. Neither stood, which cleared the way for Andy Burnham, the 5/6 favourite, and Liz Kendall, at 9/4, to put their case.

Burnham had sought to distance himself from the Miliband era by refusing to take money from trade unions and spoke of the desire to shift the debate towards the North, out of the Westminster Bubble. To prove his credentials to the country, his supporters put the far-left backbencher Jeremy Corbyn on the ballot to ‘widen the debate’.

It was the banality of the candidates, which included the 10/3 shot Yvette Cooper, which made Corbyn a great value bet at 200/1. Corbyn was quickly backed into 16/1 after a run of CLP endorsements in June. A turning point is seen as the Newsnight debate were Corbyn offered a distinct break with the New Labour era. A snap poll for the Daily Mirror found 81% of readers overwhelmingly thought he won the debate – but his odds remained at 12/1.

A month later Bookmakers Ladbrokes finally made Corbyn the favourite. After a flurry of bets, he became the 6/4 favourite and in the end, he secured 59.9% of the vote – a remarkable achievement in a four-horse race.

Since then there have been a number of people hold the mantle of ‘favourite’ to be the next leader Dan Jarvis, Tom Watson, Hilary Benn, Angela Eagle, Owen Smith, Clive Lewis, Emily Thornberry, Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey. In 2016 Angela Eagle and

Owen Smith were the stalking horse candidates put up to test the support for Corbyn within the party.

Angela Eagle dropped out of the race and bookmakers opened up at 2/1 for Owen Smith and 4/11 for Jeremy Corbyn to maintain his hold on the party. A lengthy debate about whether Corbyn would automatically be on the ballot as an incumbent leader did nothing but embolden sympathies for him in the party. The 4/11 became the surest bet in political history when Smith failed to lay a finger on Corbyn.

This time there appears to be much more at stake. The value bets have already been snapped up (I advised followers of my twitter account to back Lisa Nandy at 70/1 on election night). It remains to be seen whether the current favourites (Starmer and Long-Bailey) live up to their the front-runner status as Kinnock, Smith, Blair and Brown did before them or whether there is another 200/1 shot waiting in the wings.

Anthony Broxton

Anthony Broxton runs the Tides of History project on twitter and tweets as @labour_history


After the latest Democratic debate watch Klobuchar

Friday, December 20th, 2019

The 59 year old from Minnesota should now get some traction

Overnight we have had the the December democratic debate in the long process to choose the party’s nominee for next November’s White House election. The field is getting much smaller and on the debate stage in Los Angeles there were just seven which made it a lot more manageable and better television.

There was tough questioning on the age issue which is not surprising given how Biden and Sanders are in their late 70s and Warren would be the the oldest President ever to be inaugurated if she made it all the way.

Until now the oldies have contrasted with the 37 year old Pete Buttigieg who is facing more scrutiny as he has progressed and had a particularly furious spat with Warren.

Taegan Goddard of Political Wire summed it like this.

“..For the first half of the debate, there was notably little explicit conflict…That changed with a fierce exchange between Warren and Buttigieg over wealthy campaign donors. Both landed solid punches because neither is as pure as they would like you to believe.

But Klobuchar also went after Buttigieg for his now infamous “wine cave” fundraiser. And she also scored points challenging Buttigieg on his relative lack of experience. Both were devastatingly effective attacks.

If there was a winner tonight, it was Klobuchar. And that’s partly because Buttigieg was a loser. Klobuchar’s appeal overlaps with Buttigieg’s but she has the added advantage of more experience and a proven track record of getting elected in a state very much like Iowa.”

This was Nate Silver’s verdict:

“There are two candidates who I thought definitely had good evenings, and then several I’m not sure about. I’ll start with Klobuchar, the candidate who I was assigned to cover tonight. I thought this was not only her best debate, but one of the better debates that any Democrat has had so far in the cycle. I say that because she was both pretty good on the substance and smart tactically — going after Buttigieg by emphasizing electability and experience is exactly the strategy I advocated for her at the start of the evening. I don’t know whether we’re going to get a Klobuchar surge — she’s at only at 3 percent nationally so she has a looooong way to go! — but if there’s one in the cards, tonight might have been the catalyst for it.

If Klobuchar does get a boost the timing could not be better. The Iowa caucuses take place on February 3rd.

Financial disclosure: As I have reported here before I have £8 at 770/1 on Klobuchar.

Mike Smithson


Trump’s impeachment has almost no impact on the WH2020 betting – he’s still an evens chance to win

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

And it might not even get to the Senate

The betdata/io chart shows the latest WH2020 betting and as can be seen Trump remains the evens favourite to secure re-election in November next year. The overnight apparently dramatic news that this is only the third time in US history that the House of Representatives has voted in this way was widely anticipated and, of course, only the Senate can remove him from office.

The upper house would require a two thirds majority and is controlled by the Republicans who are sticking firmly with their man. For Trump remains very popular with his base and GOP Senators seeking re-election do no not want to incur their wrath which could risk them not being renominated.

It might not even get as far as the Senate voting on it. Nancy Pelosi has indicated that she could defer forwarding it until such time as she’s satisfied with the Senate’s procedures for handling what is a judicial process. So Trump could remain the impeached President without the satisfaction of a Senate vote in his favour.

There are many battles ahead.

Mike Smithson