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Outright Betting

As opposed to trading
Shaker has written a very impressive guide to trading here. To get the most from trading you need to be able to identify the early outright prices that will fall significantly before the event begins. That way, by using the bet exchanges to lay off players at the lower odds, you can either profit from 'arbing'/'scalping' (backing a player at high odds and then laying off at lower odds, thus ensuring a small profit whatever the result) or from laying off a proportion of the initial stake to end up with a much smaller final stake but at very inflated odds. Shaker's guide shows how this can be done.

The outright betting approach
With outright betting, it is not as important to get on the early prices. We are not looking to profit from the movement of prices during the week, but rather find odds that are in excess of a given player's real chances of success. As a result, the outright plays for the PGA and European Tours will generally be posted on Monday evenings. By this stage there are a good number of books offering outright odds for these Tours and the major alignment of prices generally does not occur until the following day. Outright plays for other Tours will generally be posted later in the week as the books tend to post odds much later than on the main two Tours and the price adjustments are also much lower.

The importance of each-way betting
As the outright plays posted on this site are not closed out in-running via the betting exchanges (see Shaker's discussion under 'Why win only?' for the trading alternative), it is important to increase your chances of success by using the each-way terms when available. Apart from a very select few golfers, the probability of a player finishing 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th is significantly larger than the probability of them finishing 1st. That is why, apart from a few examples where a player's odds may be very short, virtually all the outright plays posted on Tour-Tips will be each way ("e.w.").

An each-way bet is a bet that combines (to equal stakes) a win-only (futures) bet with a place-only bet. The place-only odds are typically 1/4 the win-only odds, though it does vary from book to book, while the places offered are typically either four or five. Obviously it is better to have more places and a bigger fraction for the place-only odds, though I will always prefer 5 places at 1/5 odds to 4 places at 1/4 odds at the same full outright price.

Most books offer the each-way bet as a option, while it is possible to make your own each-way bet at books like Five Dimes, Centrebet and Olympic who offer the win-only and place-only odds separately but not as a bundled each-way option. Simply place half your stake on the player to win outright and the other half of your stake on the player to be placed. To avoid confusing staking plans, I do not consider varying the share of the win and place elements in the total each-way stake.

All the books on The List will offer outright odds for PGA Tour events at least and most will offer them for European Tour events as well. That page also details whether each book offers each-way or just win-only odds and whether they cover Tours outside the main two men's Tours.

The alternative of place betting
If the chances of a player finishing 1st are less than that of him finishing 2nd or 3rd or 4th or 5th, then, strictly speaking, it makes sense to bet place-only instead. Why waste half your stake on a player winning the event when you could have your whole stake on a player finishing in the top-5 (or top-4)?

The only counter to this point is that there is a far greater range of each-way odds available than there are place-only. You may commonly find a player at a best price of 100/1 with a book that pays 5 places at 1/4 odds (displayed as "1/4 1-2-3-4-5"), but you will struggle to find the same player at 25/1 to be placed. It is therefore a question of trade-offs ... if I can only get 16/1 on a player to be placed, then I will advise a bet at 100/1 as 0.5*stake at 25/1 to be placed is not that much worse than 1*stake at 16/1 and there is still a (small) chance of the 100/1 win at 0.5*stake.

Of the books on the list, SkyBet (1/4 1-2-3-4-5), Paddy Power (1/5 1-2-3-4-5), Centrebet (1/4 1-2-3-4) and SIA (1/4 1-2-3-4) regularly offer place-only odds. Two other books also offer place-only odds - Five Dimes (1/5 1-2-3-4-5) and Olympic (1/4 1-2-3-4) - but these don't offer odds until at least Tuesday each week, so I will have largely posted my selections before they have posted their odds.

The benefits of outright betting
The primary benefit of outright betting relative to trading is that you only need to place your stake once. You do not need to tie up funds many times in excess of your final stake as in trading. It is also simple and the process is complete in just one wager.

The limitations of outright betting
Trading allows you to create a win-only bet on a player with odds that will be well in excess of anything that had been on offer as a simple outright bet. The compromise of simplicity and convenience is lower odds. Also, as outlined above, the majority of outright plays offered at Tour-Tips will be each-way even if a player has very little chance of winning the event. That may seem a waste of half a bet, but the alternative of place-only betting is constrained by the availability of odds.

Similarly, it may appear to be a waste of two half-stakes given the standard practice at Tour-Tips to offer three outright each-way plays per event. The three selections may be placed, but not all three can win the event. If one of them wins the event, then the half-stakes on the other two will have lost by default. Again, it is the limited availability of alternative place-only odds that keeps the majority of outright plays as each-way and thus keeps this problem alive.

Finally, the outright plays that are posted at Tour-Tips are not closed out in-running with the use of the betting exchanges. They either win if the player is at least placed or the full stake is lost. This is a product of posting outright plays publicly as 'outright plays' - their profit/loss record is measured solely by how well they perform as outright plays and not by how well they may have been closed out in-running. With personal wagers, it is obviously beneficial to cover yourself by using the betting exchanges if you have an outright play on a player and he is either leading or is close to the lead. But how much profit to 'lock in' and how much of the wager to 'let ride' is a personal decision. It is only for recording purposes, and not as advice, that the outright plays on Tour-Tips are never closed out in-running.

What if I can't get the published odds or place terms for a player?
As a general rule of thumb, I would suggest taking odds on a player only if they are available at no more than 1/3 less than the odds posted at Tour-Tips. For a 50/1 outright play, take odds at 33/1 but no lower. For a 33/1 outright play, take odds at 22/1 but no lower. And so on.

As another general rule of thumb, take place terms of 1/5 1-2-3-4-5 only if the outright odds are at least 15% higher than with place terms of 1/4 1-2-3-4-5. By this rule, 20/1 at 1/4 1-2-3-4-5 is preferable to 22/1 at 1/5 1-2-3-4-5, but not 25/1 at 1/5 1-2-3-4-5.

Similarly, take place terms of 1/4 1-2-3-4 only if the outright odds are at least 20% higher than with place terms of 1/4 1-2-3-4-5. By this rule, 33/1 at 1/4 1-2-3-4-5 is preferable to 40/1 at 1/4 1-2-3-4 but not 45/1 at 1/4 1-2-3-4.

Finally, take place terms of 1/4 1-2-3-4 only if the outright odds are at least 5% higher than with place terms of 1/5 1-2-3-4-5. By this rule, 22/1 at 1/5 1-2-3-4-5 is preferable to 23/1 at 1/4 1-2-3-4, but not 25/1 at 1/4 1-2-3-4.

Remember, these are just general rules of thumb rather than based on a mathematical proof of which place terms are preferable in different circumstances.

This is just an introductory guide to outright betting, so if you have any questions, please contact me on Stanley@tour-tips.com