In this episode Gerard discusses the AFL and NRL season so far and looks ahead to the finals including futures betting.
Punting Insights You’ll Find
- Why this year has been such a good one
- The three times each week when the line will move
- The teams he is happy to keep as winners in Tatt’s book
- How and why punters often over-react to just one game
Get the Transcript:
David: We’re only a month or so away from the footy finals so I wanted to talk to you about the season so far and of course what we’ve got to look forward to over the next couple of months, starting with AFL. How has the season been so far for Tatts?
Gerard: It’s been a pretty good year in all codes, so many upsets in this day and age. I just had a look the other day. Leading into this weekend in AFL, we’ve had 153 matches. Only 105 favorites won and that’s probably been the poorest winning record we’ve had in recent history particularly since we’ve had the newer sides in the competition. Most thought that the competition would be one sided.
It probably was to some degree over the last 2 seasons but it’s definitely averaged out now and we’ve seen a lot more shocks.
David: So in horse racing when there is a blowout winner though they say it’s a good result for the bookies. Is that the same in AFL where if it’s a big upset, it tends to be a big result?
Gerard: Well not really because in a field of 2, the other side is always going to be backed, backed the outsider particularly for those who don’t want to take the short prices. I guess the best example of it we’ve seen so far this season was the recent win by St. Kilda win over Fremantle. St. Kilda were $14 but we actually took 4 times as many individual bets on St. Kilda as what we did for Fremantle, just value punters or people who’ve got sides that they support and they back them week in week out but having said that, obviously when a $1.03 pop goes over and there are always matching results because there’s so much business now done through multi’s. While your singles book you might lose on it, ultimately, with a lot of people now focusing on multi’s or trying to pick 2 or 3 wins or maybe even the whole round, once an outsider gets up, that’s normally enough for you to break it square at least for the weekend.
David: With a result like that when Freo are $1.03 do you get much action at the line or plus or minus the points as you do for a straight bet?
Gerard: You do. A lot of people do turn their focus to the lines and it’s interesting looking at those because again, 153 games this season, only 75 favorites have covered the lines and that’s less than 50%. While you might think that these teams will win by big margins, it doesn’t always go that way. A lot of them take their foot off their pedal. They might come out of the blocks and lead by a big margin but it doesn’t always transpire that that will go on throughout the game.
It does get very dangerous at this time of the year. Once sides have consolidated their position either in the 8 in or out of it. There’s not a lot to gain by beating sides by 20 goals so you run the risk of say, some of those bigger sides risking players or not even playing them in the first instance. Taking minuses has never been my cup of tea anyway but more importantly from this time of the year onwards, it gets extremely dangerous.
David: You mentioned 153 games and 75 favorites have covered so the bookies are doing a reasonable job because that’s only a game and half off the perfect 50/50.
Gerard: Yeah, that’s right and I suppose when it’s a $1.90 take you pick, in theory you’d want to be more than 50% in your favor anyway and that would be enough to win on a level staking plan, but given that most of the money is used for the favorites anyway. It’s been a pretty good year for bookies.
David: So even at the line, there’s a majority of bets are on the favorite to cover that line.
Gerard: More often than not unless you get a side at home. Looking back over history, the home sides, particularly when they’re the outsiders quite often get written off and things will … The home ground advantage is not as big as what it was say several years ago. There’s no doubt at all that umpires are influenced by the home ground and we’ve seen that more so at Adelaide this year with 50,000 screaming fans.
A lot of questionable decisions always go in favor or always go seemingly in favor of the home side. If you can get a home side that’s the underdog and get to start with them and just stick to those, I think you’ll have a pretty good winning formula with that.
David: You mentioned that multi’s have proven really popular. Has that happened … I suppose naturally because that’s what punters are interested in or is that something that you guys have pushed?
Gerard: Every bookmaker pushes it because they are a popular form of betting and it does make sense when you think about it because basically, it’s an extension of a tipping competition because we’re all in … In tipping competitions, we all think we can pick 9 wins in the AFL and I guess on the off chance that that will happen. People do like to either take that as an individual multi or perhaps leave a couple out but go that way.
It’s quite attractive to the recreational punter who can have his 1 bet for the weekend and it encompasses either a round of AFL or we can mix it up. You can take horse bets or any of the other cards or anything that’s on TV. They’re always popular through multi’s.
David: So what about the line movements you get from betting earlier in the week, how volatile is the line or the actual odds, how volatile is that earlier in the week and how much has that changed leading up to the game?
Gerard: There’s 3 ways of betting on any code now. Firstly, when the prices come out, so Monday lunchtime when the price come out. There could be a bit of movement then. Quite often, that’s associated with perhaps somebody who has to front the tribunal or perhaps an injury that’s been picked up on the weekend. The thing in this day and age with so many bookmakers having this market share at the same time on a Monday, it doesn’t really lend itself to too much movement.
The other movement will be on Thursdays around about 5:00pm once word gets out of who’s likely to be in or out, obviously a big name that’s either in or out. That can affect the market and the other market movement, and I guess from my point of view; it’s the least relevant but it’s always the biggest move, is on the day of the game, because people tend not to bet early unless they think they’ve got an edge.
Most people wait until the day of the game and once a price collapses for no particular reason at all apart from the fact that it’s public money, that’s when the bookie instinct takes over and they think well, they’re now taking under the odds so we’ll let it ride.
David: With that line movement, is it purely based on weight of money or are you also playing heads in a way that the smart money moves the line in an exaggerated fashion?
Gerard: I think it’s definitely now weight of money on the day of the game. At other points in time, quite clearly it can be ahead but the information channels are now so good and so open to everybody that it’s highly unlikely that somebody would have an edge with a player being injured at training this afternoon that the whole world wouldn’t know about within 20 seconds with the advent of Twitter and that.
I think that aspect of that is gone. It’s just public support and particularly with AFL, because it’s such a popular competition with all sports followers. Rugby league’s a little bit more … They’re a little a bit more rugby league-centric but rugby league punters also bet on AFL. It just depends on the timing of the games and quite clearly who’s playing and at what price they have, but more often than not, money on the day of the game is just money after money after money.
David: So for the futures betting at the moment, Sydney and Hawthorn are basically equal favorites. Would you have similar exposure to both those teams or does it vary quite a bit?
Gerard: No, well it’s interesting because Sydney, before the season started, were the best backed side of all of the favorites. Now, that was on the back of Franklin being signed up. They were $8 before they signed, it was shortened up pretty quickly once that was announced. They were really rock solid at $5.50 before the season went underway. Now after a couple of weeks, it looked like that hadn’t worked and they were double figures. I think they were $13 or $15.
They went on this massive winning streak, 12 in a row before last week. They quite clearly are going to finish 1, 2 which gives them a couple of home finals, pretty clear path in the grand finale. On the flip side, punters didn’t really want to know about Hawthorn even thought they were the favorites at the time and they’ve been well in the betting all year, and that was again due to the Franklin factor. He left so most people thought, “Well how do they apply these holds?” which they’ve been able to do quite admirably and they’ve had their fair share of injuries through this season.
One thing that’s fallen their way is some of these other sides have fallen off their perch. Fremantle were pushing for favorites at one stage but that loss to St. Kilda, you’ve got to sit back and stretch when you hear about them. Port Adelaide, well the wheels have temporarily fallen right out there. They were $5 at one stage. It looks like they can’t finish in the top 4 which would make it extremely difficult for them so their price is now at $15. Sydney and Hawthorn…Hawthorn a big winner; Sydney a big loser.
David: What about the Brownlow? Did that change pretty dramatically when Garry Ablett went down with the dislocated shoulder? How is the betting looking and also your exposure?
Gerard: Well, it slowed down. Ablett was one of the most popular throughout the season as he always is. He was the opening favorite. He got into a $1.45 at one stage but you’ve always got this hanging over your head that it’s fairly easy to be suspended in this day and age or of course you can be injured. That’s definitely slowed down Brownlow betting throughout the season as the years have gone by because there have been too many players ousted and people don’t want that happening.
He gets injured; we had him a long way from that point in time. We had many votes in front. He obviously can’t get any more votes but at the moment, we’ve got him on the 4th line of betting. He shortened up a little bit last week although he didn’t play because those around him didn’t … We didn’t think featured prominently in the batch as well so it’s definitely slowed down.
He’s a loser for us but I suspect he’ll end up being a pretty big winner but we might know in 2 or 3 weeks time whether the others have surpassed him anyway. Couple of others that have been backed. Dyson Heppell, really popular now with Essendon’s winning run. He’s at $26; Patty Dangerfield’s always popular. He’s no good for us. Robbie Gray is another, he’s a bad loser for us. Aaron Sandilands, he’s dropped off the radar in the last 3 or 4 weeks but he got into $17 at one stage. Highly unlikely that a ruckman could win but you just never know.
David: It’s been a while. Let’s switch it to NRL then and what’s the comparison like amongst Tatts as far as AFL versus NRL and the popularity of each?
Gerard: Well, the popularity of AFL overall is a lot higher quite clearly with Tatts having that Queensland license where we’ve got the 3 Queensland sides. A lot’s depending on that and also the state of Origin so that sort of bolsters rugby league figures. A lot of what we do is weighted only on the success or failure of those 3 Queensland sides and I guess in their term, they’ve had a little bit of success this season and also some failures as well.
Rugby League, apart from Sydney itself, you know the heartland of Rugby League, is Queensland. I don’t think it will get to a stage where it will ever overtake AFL internationally but still quite a popular sport.
David: When you guys are pricing up the games ready to be released on a Monday, is that all done internally amongst a few guys and there’s a consensus reached? Are you keeping an eye on what the markets already doing? What’s your policy there?
Gerard: Yeah, we have 5 guys who have some input and quite clearly there’s a leader of that team, so we pretty much know what position we want to take. It would be delusional if you think in this day and age that you’re going to go out on a market based on what you think and just completely ignore what the marketplace is.
As I mentioned in the AFL chat before, the market is the market and it’s extremely rare that there’s anything more than 4 or 5 cents on a favorite out there as a differential because of course then you create an arbitrage market and it’s not necessary. Having said that, we quite clearly often slant things in favor of the way that we saw it … The way that we think we’ll get money and noticeably that’s always the Queensland side and also Melbourne Storm. They’re a popular side as well.
We might lead the charge with whoever’s playing those particular sides and try to get some money in early because invariably, those sides are always popular at the latter stages of betting.
David: If you’ve priced the team, for example, at $2 and you see the early market consensus is more like say $1.90, it means you wouldn’t necessarily bring it out at $2 you might have a $1.92 or $1.93 or $1.94 or somewhere around there.
Gerard: Yes, something like that. I think it’s more relevant David with the sides that are at a longer quote, particularly a game with a heavy focus on the home side. If we are a little bit keener on a home side and, as an example, it might be $2.75, we might just go $2.50 or something like that and see what happens after that and try and get that favorite in early. The favorites away from home are quite often hard to sell.
There are a couple of trends against that, Friday night favorites are always quite easy to lay as are Monday night favorites. Monday night is probably the biggest game of the round now so we’re always conscious of that. Apart from the fact that we’ve got our own prices and our own opinions, there are a lot of other things that you’ve got to throw into the mix as well.
David: So Manly at the moment are premiership favorites at $3.50?
Gerard: Yeah, they are and it’s quite incredible. If they didn’t have this off field drama going on there, I think they’d be a lot shorter than what they are at the $3.50. They just seem to get the job done. Some of these other sides have got convictions. Souths have picked up a couple of injuries at their last match so they’re $5 but they are winning. The Roosters, got to be a question mark over them they are at $5.50, the Bulldogs at $7.
I guess the quiet achiever has been Melbourne Storm who got through the Origin Series relatively unscathed. I know that they lost Cronk for several weeks with a broken arm but they were able to win a couple of games while he was out. They’ve now shown that they’ve bounced back to form. They’ve been there before. It does look like they might finish in that middle part of that top 4 or that top 8 so maybe even 4th position but definitely 5th.
That puts them well and truly in the mix and we’ve found before that they are always a popular side come finals time. They’re a good winner for us at the moment. We’re happy to have them as a winner because come finals time, they will be quite popular.
David: To put it on your punting hat for a moment rather than bookmaking, do you think there’s any value at the moment in there, the premiership betting?
Gerard: Yeah. It’s funny you should say that because we were trying to find the other day, the value and it’s hard … Until you get a definitive view of who’s likely to finish in the top 4. I almost still think the Bulldogs have got the armory to win it, they’ve definitely missed Reynolds. They were out of the win a couple of games against the odds throughout the Origin Series but then of course, they bombed out a couple of weekends ago. If they can find their mojo, I think they’re more than capable of winning, so I think I’d be happy to take the odds for them around about the $7 or $8 mark.
David: Just to finish up then. For either AFL or NRL, what type or what style of punter do you think has been successful because you’ve been in the game for so long. Is it more the data driven, quantitative guy or is it the one that lives and breathes it and has a fair bit of gut instinct involved?
Gerard: Well, I think to win on AFL and NRL … Or this really applies to any code Dave, you’ve got to forget about what happened last week and otherwise try and do, well I do, do some practices for the following round before this round gets underway and then reflect back on those as a result of what happens at the weekend.
There’s a massive over emphasis on 1 game. As we found out, even with the Swans good as they are, you just can’t maintain that winning edge. We’ve seen 40, 50 point turnarounds in Rugby League this season. A lot of teams don’t appreciate the quick backup, we’ve seen in AFL a lot of teams travel to the West and come back and lose even though they won there.
There’s so many factors to weigh up to try and win but the age old theory that if you bet against the favorite, you’ll come out in front probably … It hasn’t been more evident than it has been this year so I’m always happy to run with that particularly if they’re at home. If you can get an outsider at home, back it to win and have a saver on it at the start.
David: Good stuff. All right, I appreciate your time once again Gerard. Thanks so much for coming on the show.
Gerard: Thanks Dave.
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