When you’re trading on Betfair, there are two states to market conditions that you see. There is the pre-off period, the period before an event has started and then in-play, when the sport you are trading is underway. Sometimes this is called in-running, but the industry seems to have popularised it as in-play.
Pre-off vs In-play
The pre-off trading period is determined purely by opinion. Barring unexpected events, the market tends to move in a nice smooth pattern.
In horse racing, the pre-race period means the period where horses get saddled up, parade then go to post. People change their opinion on how the horse is behaving and lock in a profit by trading on that basis.
On football matches, the team is announced one hour before the match starts and people may change their opinion at the point. But other than this. It’s fairly quiet in comparison to a horse race.
When betting inplay then a number of factors determine what happens, but predominatley the underlying state of the sport determines the pricing.
On horse racing the horses just run as fast as they can do the finishing post and therefore if it’s in the lead it’s price will shorten quickly. On Football, Tennis or other sports it’s all down to the score and how much time is left.
Where is there an in-play delay?
If you’re Betfair trading InPlay, then one of the things that you need to take account of is the in-play delay.
This can be as short as one second or it could be nine seconds, but there will be a delay when you place a bet in play. The reason the delay was introduced on betting exchanges was basically to get over the transmission time to whatever device you’re particular watching.
If you think about the way the pictures are transmitted from a sports event, there’ll be an outside broadcast unit actually at an event itself. They will have a little desk there bringing the pictures in that gets beamed up to a satellite. The satellite then beams the raw feed down into a studio where a producer who decides what shots that they decide they want. Then they will beam that back out to somwhere.
Now, it could go by the Internet or it could go back up to the satellite and then back down to you the in a number of different ways. But effectively, there is a lot of this bouncing up and down from the actual event to you back at home.
Wherever you are watching the sports event on TV, on your phone, your tablet, UPC or on a conventional TV, it will experience a delay. You may have seen this first hand during football competitions or other major sports. You often hear the guy down the street or next door cheering a few seconds before you hear something.
The in-play delay was basically designed to mitigate the amount of time that it takes to go from the event to your screen. It was seen as a way of levelling the playing field effectively. They wanted to make it impossible that somebody who was actually at the event itself to nip in front of you and beat you by basically getting slightly faster pictures. That’s the reason the in-play delay was introduced.
Beating the in-play delay
But typically the reason that you need to be aware of this delay as well is that somebody somewhere is probably going to see the action slightly before you. Whatever in-play markets you are trading and whatever in-play betting you wish to you. It’s quite likely that somebody will beat you to some key information because of this time delay.
The way you see this manifest itself in a live betting market is that the market seems to ‘know’ what is about to happen next. People at the event will be trying to beat the in-play delay by taking a position based on something that has just happened, or by anticipating that something is about to happen. There are big bucks to be made by seeing the future a few seconds ahead of others.
This was brought to prominence when Tennis tournaments decided to take a tough line on people ‘court siding’ at Tennis matches. Events in the UK did not get much advantage because the transmission speed was so quick. But if you are in South America or Asia then the tranmission delay could be significant and the advantage of being at the event, will be huge.
Because of the short in-play time and speed of a horse racing market, people have been trying to beat the delay almost since the inception of in-play betting on Horse racing. This was highlighted again by Simon Nott who witnessed a whole bunch of people at Bath racecourse trying to get an advantage. Have a read of the article here, which also includes pictures of the culprits!: –
It’s easier to get away with this sort of thing on Horse Racing as a lot of racecourses are on, or cross, public land. So getting an advantageous position is more likely than in a Tennis match. Most major Tennis tournaments require that you get admission into a stadium and therefore, it’s become much harder.
A watershed moment for Tennis courtsiding was Dan Dobson was arrested at the Australian Open in Melbourne and the world of Tennis courtsiding became a lot riskier for aspiring individuals. Whatever the risks though, it won’t stop people from trying to gain an advantage by being at an event.
When people post P&L’s I always find it interesting. This is because there are clearly defined moments in an in-play event where the prices can move significantly. If they seem to have captured that exact moment, that hints that they are active around critical points in the market. Using any other strategy, there are only a limited number of things you can do. This is particularly prominent in football, for example.
But sometimes you get more obvious clues that people are trying to get an advantage.
I’ll never forget the image I captured on TV of the 1m start at Thirsk one year. In racing the start is significant, If a horse gets a good break it can hold the rail and dominate proceedings. If that happens then it’s obvious that a better chance produces shorter odds that you can trade or bet on.
At Thirsk, a couple of ‘enterprising’ individuals set up an alternative sort of ladder trade. They drove to the start and hoisted themselves up a ladder to get a good look at which horse broke the best, or worst. Ultimately, if you are active in the market at these points, that’s what you are up against!