Friday, July 27, 2012

Layers and the Olympic games

With Galway and Glorious Goodwood (referred to as simply 'Glorious' in some quarters) next week, this weekend's racing action looks somewhat mundane, especially with anticipation building for the much-heralded start to the London 2012 Olympic Games...

Perhaps it's just me but over the past few days I sense bookmakers have started to smell some easy Olympic-sized pickings in the forthcoming fortnight and have been indulging in some Olympic games of their own - yesterday I swear I saw a tweet where a layer quoted 8/1 about James Bond to light the Olympic flame...

Olympic betting isn't something I have any experience of but by far the best article I've read in recent months was penned by The Times' Owen Slot back in early March. The Times, in conjunction with Infostrada Sports in Holland, created a virtual medal table using a database of form collated up to that point. In that virtual medal table, Great Britain finished fifth with 16 gold medals, four behind Germany in fourth and Russia in third. Now, the table hasn't factored in home advantage but, as Slot is keen to point out, the layers have.

Home advantage would need to be worth a notional 11% improvement in form for Great Britain to finish third with 21 golds - the tally at Beijing in 2008 was 19 when Team GB finished fourth.

Depending on your perception of the value of home advantage, you can make your plays... Skybet go 5/4 Great Britain to finish fourth, while the same firm offer 6/1 Team GB will finish fifth, a price that makes plenty of appeal to the more pessimistic amongst us; more persistent punters may also care to ask for a price about Germany finishing fourth.

A word of warning before you rush to part with your cash - that table was compiled on form as at 5th March 2012 and a lot has happened since. Slot's article 'Bookmakers banking on home advantage to boost medal tally' was published with the sub-header 'Leading layers ignore statistics to frame optimisitc market for Britain' (The Times, Monday March 5 2012, p59).

As I said earlier, generally I don't bet on the Olympics - if I succumb to temptation this time, I'll take 6/1 about GB to finish fifth in the medal table.


Postscript added 28.07.12 @ 13:40

Supplement published with Thursday's Times (26.07.12) printed an updated virtual medal table - top five places shown below:

1. USA             39 gold, 21 silver, 28 bronze
2. CHINA         34 gold, 33 silver, 24 bronze
3. RUSSIA       20 gold, 30 silver, 32 bronze
4. GB               19 gold, 24 silver, 21 bronze
5. GERMANY  17 gold, 22 silver, 20 bronze.

Note that the comment added to this post by reader mrvp highlights a potentially better opportunity.



mrvp said...

Really nice blog - re: the Olympics, a better opportunity potentially looks at the over/under market for Great Britain golds at the 22.5 mark with various firms (allowing for the home advantage point but I still feel it's 22 or less - even allowing for the Times article plus results since March 5th). I'd personally take the under. You could possibly hedge this with a handicap bet against the US for total golds with GB having a 16.5 Gold Head start (I would personally take the US with this as they are fairly consistent).

GeeDee said...

mrvp - thanks for this comment.

Looking at the updated virtual medal table, under 22.5 makes plenty of appeal.