This week Mark caught up with well known Lay Tipster Andy Newton, who shares his frank views with Donkeyites.
Why be a layer?
Most people think it’s easier being a layer and often refer back to the old saying “You never see a poor bookie” but it’s not as easy as that. Remember since Betfair launched in 1999, nearly ten years ago, there’s been novice bookmakers trying their hands to successfully making a profit laying prices to other punters - and with that comes mistakes. So during the high-rise times of the exchanges there are hundreds backers out there who have no doubt cleaned up, going in search of these amateurs and mopping up any errors – it’s a ruthless world in exchange land!
For me personally there’s been plenty of highs and lows but whereas I used to love backing horses I find it much easier to now be the layer, and although some of the fun and enjoyment has been taken out of the punting side for me you either do this for a profit or for fun – and for me I try to make it the former!
Overall I think it really depends on what sort of punter you are. If you want a better chance to make a steady profit over time then being a layer can often satisfy that need, but you need to have a certain amount of bottle to stick to your guns when you’ve just had to pay out on an unsuccessful lay. While, on the other side, if you are the sort of punter that wants that big win, having a £2.00 e/w acca that scoops you £5,000 once every three years then it goes with out saying laying is probably not for you.
Do you remember your first lay?
I’ve been betting, mainly on the horses, now for around 17 years and feel over that time I’ve built up enough knowledge and experience to at least hold my own in what can be a tough interest. I started using the exchanges; I would think, in 2002 - so fairly early on. I was of course heavily into betting and in particular the horses and after discovering the exchanges thought everyday was like Christmas Day. Not only could you take on fellow punters if you thought a horse was going to lose but you could also invariably get around 25%+ better odds (than the fixed odds bookies) if you fancied backing a horse – a win-win situation in my book!
So like most industries when a new ground breaking bit of technology or concept hits the streets it’s bound to have it’s winners and losers. The punters were of course the huge winners with the exchanges, now having the choice to set their own odds and cut out the traditional bookmakers, but it goes without saying that the on-course and high street bookmakers hated the introduction of the exchanges. For me, the exchanges have been a great tool to go to war with and although you could argue the days of the high street bookie might be numbered in say 25-30 years with Betfair and co growing by the day, let’s not forget you still have to pay a commission on exchange winnings. So with the exchanges on a steep upward curve it will mean the traditional bookies will have to compete harder – and that can only be good for the punter.
In terms of going forward the exchanges seem to be adding new features by the week and that’s great, albeit hard to keep up with at times. But what I would like to see is the introduction of in-house betting bots by the exchanges. There are now plenty of firms out there that supply the software (normally at a price) that will allow you to queue up all your bets at the start of the day in one go and then the betting bot will fire your backs or lays into exchange land near the off. You can set your own requirements, like stake, time to place bet, odds etc and if, like a lot of people, you have a normal job to do from 9-5 then these programs can be great. So what I’m saying is that if the exchanges developed their own similar program where punters can preload their daily bets on then that will surely see the market liquidity grow further and be a great addition to their service.
What was your best ever lay?
Not the answer you were probably hoping for here, but although I’ve laid the odd 1/10 favourite and seen it trail in down the field these are few and far between. There are a lot of Betfair punters out there who will have stories on how they’ve laid 1.01 shots in running – and won, but this is not really my style. Yes, it’s great when you beat the odds and one goes your way, with the recent Wimbledon tennis event seeing a few games swing from a near 1.01 position (notably the Andy Murray v Richard Gasquet match), but for every 1.01 lay that goes your way there will be 100’s that don’t. Yes, the liability is so low each time that it doesn’t really matter but you certainly won’t be able to make a steady profit laying 1.01 chances over a period of time. To me it’s almost like playing the slot machines at Vegas, you might get lucky and win big on your first few spins, but the more likely scenario will be that you’ll be on them for days (spending a fortune) before you strike any form of a win.
…and what was your worst?
Most exchange players will have plenty of hard luck stories to tell and I’m no different. I’ve had a few bad lays when learning the Betfair ropes, but all this is part of the process in my opinion. With so many novices hitting the exchanges everyday there will be always be the big boys out there waiting for any slip-ups so be careful, but most of my bad days on Betfair are when you lose sight of some basic betting rules and let things get the better of you.
Would you lay anything?
I concentrate mainly on horse racing and football, but if I have a strong fancy or just want a bit of interest in another sporting event I’m watching - then Yes I’ve been known to dabble in most things from Big Brother, Darts, F1, Tennis and Golf. Most of these other sports are though only on the big events and, like I’ve said, only to spice up the fact that I’m probably going to be watching it anyway and like Skybet say – “it matters more when there’s money on it”
I think that you will find very few layers on the exchanges that can make a steady profit across more than 4 or 5 sports. In my opinion those who do better are the ones that can concentrate on just one or at the most two sports and make a real effort to know your stuff on just these. You have to remember that even though you think you might know who the best darts or snooker players are on the circuit if you don’t really keep your ear to the ground for 52 weeks a year then this can be very costly if you want to delve into a lot of sports at once.
In terms of my strategy, with the horses I tend to just lay a horse and then stand by my opinions. There are times when I will lay the bet off, if the price drifts a lot, but most of the time now I will just lay to level stakes. About 3 years ago I spent around a year being a full time trader on Betfair and although you can show a decent profit it can be a lonely world and with the amount of racing there is these days you can find yourself working longer than you would in a normal job. I found it easier to set a limit to make each race by backing and laying horses that would move in the market and in the space of about 5-10 mins before each race you could easily find yourself with an all-green book with little effort at all. That’s the easy bit, but if the market starts to go against you it now when you have some tricky decisions to make. Do you leave your lay with a huge liability, try to get out of the bet in-running, or do you lay the bet off for a loss? These scenarios are normally what lead to a lot of people’s downfall on the exchanges and it’s key to know how to react and handle them should they go against you.
What is your Golden rule of laying?
I’ve learnt bundles from the exchanges and apart from trading for a year for a little profit each week it’s only really been in the last year or so that I’ve become disciplined enough to make monthly profit from the exchanges. So based on that my golden rules of laying would be –
And finally, have you any advice for Donkeyites?
My final bit of advice would be to make sure you try to record all your bets. I know the exchanges offer great statement and profit and loss facilities, but it’s always good to keep your own record, with as much information as you can, in a separate spreadsheet. Then each week or month you can at least analyse your bets in a bit more detail and if you do have a good or even a bad run you might be able to see why.