I think that it is important for bettors to compare sports betting with everyday life experiences. While many of us will never think about being sommeliers, an interesting documentary sparked my interest and led me to look at sports betting in a different way.
Occasionally when the betting markets are slow, I turn my mind off and watch something on Netflix. I recently found the documentary “Somm”.
The movie was about four men who attempted to pass the master sommelier exam. The master exam is considered to be among the most difficult tests in the world to pass.
Those who attempt to pass spend years obsessing, studying and learning everything there is to know about wine from its history, to geography and of course, its taste.
The blind tasting is the final part of the exam where participants will taste six different unlabelled glasses of wine and try to trace the origin and vintage by putting the wine into different categories using sight, smell, and taste.
When one exam taker on the movie exclaimed that he noted an aroma of “fresh tennis balls in a can” and “fresh rubber hose” from one of the glasses of white wine, I nearly vomited at the tone of condescending snobbery.
But as the process repeated and future sommeliers explained their methods, I could not help but make the connection to sports betting.
Reading a market
An essential part of my betting process is to read a market. With limited context I evaluate market prices and use numerous signals and signs to begin to tell a story about the market.
When odds change, determining if the move was based on a large number of bets or a few small bets for large amounts can be useful.
Sommeliers look for viscosity, volume, body, bitterness, and tannin to trace the origin of wine. I look for early movement, resistance, time stamps, existing precedence, bookmaker margins and where bettors are placing their bets to trace the origin of bets and identify value.
My goal with every market I read is to provide as much supporting information to build a profile of a market. The profile puts a game in a certain market situation that helps to determine the best time to place a bet.
Making note of any existing precedence is important. Many bettors will only note the odds in previous matchups of teams or common opponents.
I look further to determine what the market conditions were like for those prior games. Where did the odds open? Where did the odds close? What other indicators were present?
The more information that can be gathered on how bettors made their decisions in similar situations, the more likelihood there is of determining if the same behaviour will repeat.
Once existing precedence is established I build a profile. These are examples of common indicators I look for when walking back a market.
- Read: The Green Lumber Fallacy
Determining if these indicators are present will allow me to evaluate the market conditions and make my wager at the best time. I search for all indicators by looking at the market as a whole, and not just at one bookmaker. These factors include:
MarginsI always begin by calculating margins. It is extremely important to know which bookmakers are offering the lowest margin price and which are offering the highest margin price. Low margin bookmakers typically cater to professionals while high margin bookmakers service recreational gamblers.
Using any odds comparison website will show all market movements with time stamps.
Early movement and stabilityEarly movement refers to changes in the odds within 5-10 minutes after the market is open. Sharp bookmakers like Pinnacle welcome winners and will encourage influential money to enter the market early to shape the best price.
If a bettor can identify bookmaker’s margins, note early line movement and spot stability, then volume moves or influential moves become very clear.
Identifying early movement can be a good indicator of where market makers were short and needed to adjust.
Early movement can often times be a cause of market manipulation where influential bettors intentionally bet on a team to move the odds to create a better price for the opponent. Looking for the first sign of stability in the market which is represented by no line movement for an extended period of time will confirm, or invalidate early line movement.
Volume move or influential movementWhen odds change, determining if the move was based on a large number of bets or a few small bets for large amounts can be useful.
Volume moves are represented by small but consistent odds changes. Influential moves are indicated by large, quick changes in price. Looking at time stamps in comparison with odds movement is an easy way to distinguish volume moves from influential moves.
Leading sourceMaking note of which bookmaker in the industry changes their price first is important.
Often times bookmakers will adjust their prices in relation to what competing operators have available.
Since these price changes are not based off of money, volume moves can often be mistaken for a leading source move.
Late movementOdds changes that occur within 30 minutes of the event start time can be as telling as early movement. Monitoring the accuracy of late and early movement per sport is important as the accuracy of the closing price may be inflated by recreational money betting late just to have money on the game.
The above examples are just a handful of many indicators I use in reading markets. If a bettor can identify bookmaker’s margins, note early line movement and spot stability, then volume moves or influential moves become very clear.
With that baseline established, looking at the leading source can identify the true position and project market movement. Putting this process in practice will lead to better market entry with wagers and clearer reads of betting markets.