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Some basic punting lessons for those who like to bet on the AFL
Having good judgement and being a good gambler are quite different. If you can tip 6 winners every round then you have pretty good judgement. If you can tip two winners each round and still turn a profit then you’re a good gambler. It would be ideal to have both, however acquiring good judgement is difficult and arguably cannot be taught. I will not endeavour here to advise how to judge AFL matches but simply provide some basics for gambling on AFL. There are a variety of betting styles and systems which can prove successful, however regardless of your betting style these tips should work for you.
- Choose the right betting agency / bookie
Having multiple accounts enhances your access to the best odds. Ideally each week you would scope out every available market for each game and see who’s offering the best odds. However not everybody has the time to do that (nor wants to), so if you are only going to choose 1 or 2 betting agencies, do a little research and find out who’s the best. Currently, I recommend Betfair for most AFL-related markets. It’s no coincidence that the TAB is losing its fans. Their high takeout in all markets (often at least 8% in head to head markets) makes it very difficult to be a long term winner. Betfair has put backers and layers in direct contact for a small fee on winning bets and provides a few more betting options by allowing punters to ‘lay’ an outcome (bet on it not to happen).
- Frame your markets
Before making a bet, the first thing to concentrate on is to use your judgement to come up with your own market for the match. Framing your own market makes it easy to compare your thoughts with the market that’s on offer. Get your market right, then worry about the maths after that. If you think the Blues have an 80% chance of beating the Tigers then your market is Carlton $1.25 (100 / 80 = 1.25) and Richmond $5 (100 / 20 = 5). If Richmond are paying $8.50 to win then you know you have an ‘over’ to bet on.
- Develop a consistent staking system
Many punters lose because their staking is not consistent. They will have three bets of $30 and then all of the sudden a fourth bet of $250 because they think it’s a sure thing. It’s a better idea to keep your stake amounts consistent and systematic. To develop a staking system, first figure out how much money you can afford to lose over the course of the season. Let’s say you have a bankroll of $2000. A simple rule to follow is that you should never spend more than 5% of your bankroll on a single bet and your average bet should be about 3% of your bankroll (in this case $60).
- Have the right amount on the bet
Following on from the staking principles above, here is a simple staking formula (where x is how much to have on the team you are backing):
x = (3% of bankroll)/(your price minus 1)
For example, if your bankroll is $2000 and you decide West Coast are a $2.50 chance:
x = ( 3% of $2000 ) / ( 2.50 – 1 )
x = $60 / 1.5
x = $40
In another match, if you have Geelong as a $1.60 chance:
x = ( 3% of $2000 ) / ( 1.6 – 1 )
x = $60 / 0.6
x = $100
The benefit of this system is that your bet amount reflects your odds, not the bookie’s odds and thus a greater ‘over’ from a bookie will give you greater profit.
When looking for an ‘over’, it’s a little bit complex knowing exactly what boundaries to set. The level of confidence you have in the bet should determine how small an ‘over’ you will take. Personally I think for odds of $1.60 (62%), you would want to take odds of at least $1.90 (52%), which is a 10% over. The greater the odds, the less risk you will stake and thus you can afford to take a smaller over. For example if you mark a team $5 (20%) you may only need them to pay $7 (14%), which is a 6% over, to justify backing them.
- Choose the right betting markets
Find the event types where you think there is a bit of room for some judgement. Generally trying to pick exact margins and first goalkickers are non-profitable markets that are aimed at punters who bet for the excitement and not the money. A very small number of punters can find an edge in these markets but for most they are Russian roulette. Good old fashioned head to head markets and line betting / margin betting markets are great, as well as most futures markets such as the top 8, premiership, and wooden spoon.
- Bet with everything in your favour
This should really go without saying but for some reason it doesn’t. Don’t bet drunk…or stoned. Don’t bet if you didn’t see the team play last week. Don’t bet too early in the week, wait to see the teams announced. Don’t bet spontaneously. Generally the best bets you will make are if you get an idea on Monday and by Friday you still have the same idea. Bet with everything in your favour and don’t give away an edge to other punters.
- Accept a loss
One of the more impressive acts of self-discipline you can display as a punter is to accept a loss for the week. Having a bet on the Sunday twilight game because it gives you a chance to recover your losses is a cardinal sin. Each bet should be independent of other bets you’ve had that week. In 2012 there will be 216 AFL matches over 23 rounds and a finals series so you can afford to be patient. If you have a disaster round with 4 losing bets then so be it. If you get to a round where there are no games you like then so be it.
- Bet on your own intuition only
With a world of tipsters out there and a variety of people constantly offering conflicting advice on what will happen each game, it’s difficult to know whose opinion you can trust. The easiest way to keep a clear mind is to not get too caught up in what others say, back your own judgement and trust nobody! Similarly don’t get too caught up in statistics. Unless you have a system whereby statistics are finding you consistent winners then it’s better to ignore them and focus on the simple factors; who’s playing at home, injuries, form, motivations…etc.
- Be quick to withdraw
If you put $1000 into an online betting account and delightfully find that 6 weeks later you are up to $1500, the best thing you could do would be to withdraw some money. You pocket your profit and start again from $1000. If anything this is a mental aid. It’s in human nature to bet less controllably when you’re winning because of the idea that you are spending money which you previously didn’t have. You need to be stingier than that with your winnings. Taking cash out every time you’re up should have the mental effect of a fresh start and feeling stingy again.
If you’re a relative beginner and you’d like to try and make some money punting on the AFL this year, have a go at adhering to each of these rules. Good luck!