Free money, but what’s the catch?

How would you like some free money from the horse racing at Ascot today? A couple of clicks and you have instant profit on your screen, it’s that simple!

There is a catch though. While this profit may appear on your screen, it may never actually appear in your account. As with most things, if it appears to be too good to be true, it probably is. Read on if you want to find out why.

The Shergar Cup at Ascot

The Shergar Cup at isn’t your normal horse racing format, it’s a team competition. Its introduction was a way of making horse racing appeal to a wider audience. It was conceived as a sort of ‘Ryder Cup for horse racing’.

Run at Ascot once a year a variety of teams from Great Britain and Ireland compete with the rest of the world, Europe and an all women’s team to win races and points to decide the winner. No royal procession will take place at Ascot racecourse, but the Royalty in racing world will come together to race and as a result, the coverage on ITV racing and other channels will be a bit different and quite high profile.

The betting markets will also be quite a bit different on the Betfair exchange. The amount of money traded on these markets will be OK, but often a little less that you are used to. So if you are trading horse racing pre race, you will find the markets act very differently. They don’t act like a normal horse racing meeting.

How betting markets are priced

When you look at a sports trading market, in an outright market than can only be one winner. That is why, if you add up all the odds and percentages, the market will settle on a book value near 100%, the is a 100% chance of a winner in that market.

If you look at the top left or top right of a market on the Betfair betting exchange you will see a percentage figure. This figure represents the sum of all offers in that market. It should always be slightly above 100% on the back side and below 100% on the lay side over the long term. This is because the spread between two prices creates a differential in price over the market on either side of the book.

If you can lay above 100% then effectively your payout is only 100% but your profit will be anything above that. You can’t just place one lay bet, you need to place a lay bet across the entire market to capture any profit. If you look at the Shergar cup markets at Ascot today each one is over 100%. Perhaps an excuse to get tucked in and make a small fortune by laying the field?

It’s obvious that people are actually doing this. You would normally expect about £10-30k in a market but often an hour out but at Ascot on Shergar Cup day you can often see much more than this

The flaw with this Betfair trading strategy

Laying the field like this for a guaranteed profit is not like normal Betfair trading, so people often get caught out. It’s easy to lay the field using any Betfair trading software, but even Bet Angel can’t specifically know exactly what you are trying to do. So all it can do is follow your instruction regardless of the consequences.

The upshot of this, is that you have all the power and your slavish servant Bet Angel will dutifully follow your every command. Even if you ask it to march off a tall cliff. This is where things can go wrong! Let’s examine exactly what can go wrong at this racing meeting.

The problem with the strategy of laying the field pre off at the Sherger Cup is that all the Ascot markets today contain reserve runners that WILL be removed before the ‘true’ market is formed. So anybody betting or trading before these races is doing so in a ‘false market’.

The wiki entry for the competition clearly states this as do the Betfair exchange rules. If you carry on doing this, as Betfair will allow you to continue to do so, you may have a lovely green on your screen but eventually you will totally clean out your entire Betfair account and then some!

Now, of course, you can exploit this apathy but doing the opposite. This is why I warn everybody each year, so they don’t fall into the trap. But the fact is people blunder into markets without reading the rules or understanding the true structure of the market. So despite alerting people, there always seems to be people on the other side.

One of the best ever examples came from the money-saving expert forums. Read about the incredible fiasco on the forum. It turned into a ‘money-losing expert’ site for that horrific period before people realised they had made a terrible mistake. Greed can be a horrible master.

I hope by posting this blog you will understand false markets a bit better and avoid them in future. Have a look at the Ascot markets today to see a false market in full effect. Give it a go on either side if you want to see what it can do to your P&L. You have been warned!

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