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Backing Both Outcomes in a Sporting Event

This article describes a trading strategy that we have imaginitively named Back 'em Both Trading.

Different sporting events have a different number of outcomes. For example, football matches can result in a win, lose or draw situation. On the other hand a horse race may 3 runners or it may have 16 runners or one of many other numbers, giving many possible outcomes. Tennis has only two possible outcomes, since there is no draw. There are other sports as well that have only two outcomes, such as darts, snooker and pool.

The point of this discussion is firstly to highlight that the fewer number of possible outcomes, the easier it should be to establish a winning situation. Lets assume there are two sporting events that you know nothing about, one is a football match and one is a tennis match. Which event are you most likely to win on? Well the football match gives you a one in three chance of winning, whilst the tennis match gives you a one in two chance of winning, so you have more chance of winning on an event with only two outcomes.

However, whilst the above is interesting, this guide to "Back 'em Both Trading" really is not interested in the ease with which one can pick a winner. The reason for this is that, as the name suggests, we will be backing both outcomes so that we can put ourselves in winning situation regardless of who win the match. That said, the number of possible outcomes is still significant, continue reading to find out why!

The Number of Outcomes on Sporting Events

As mentioned above, the number of outcomes that a sporting event has impacts on the "Back 'em Both Trading" strategy. Essentially it is easier to apply this technique to events with fewer outcomes, such as tennis and darts that only have two outcomes. But, you may be surprised to learn that this is nothing to do with these sports being easier to pick a winner, in fact that isn't always true, despite having fewer outcomes anyway. The reason that fewer outcomes are prefered is purely down to speed.

How it Works

It should come as no surprise that this trading strategy involves backing both (or all) outcomes of a sporting event. The rest of this guide assumes we are dealing tennis, a two outcome sporting event. Your aim is to back both players so that no matter wins you are able to ensure you do not make a loss, with a bit of pratise though you will find that you can put yourself in a position where you make a profit regardless of who wins.

Lets assume our tennis match start at 15:00, the first thing you should do is check the odds of both players prior to the match commencing. This will give you a good idea of who is favourite in the eyes of the bookmakers, this can be very useful information later on. Whilst looking at these odds you will find that you can not back both outcomes so that you can't possibly lose (take a look at our guide to arbitrage to see when this might not be the case).

Whilst we have taken a quick look at the pre match odds we haven't actually placed a bet yet, we are going to do all of our betting in running! It's a good idea to watch a few games without placing any money to begin with, just so you can see how the odds move, it can be quite interesting. What you will find is that during the match the odds can be quite sensitive to events that take place. You should be monitoring how the odds change in response to a number of events such as:

  • Player holding their serve
  • Play breaking serve
  • Player threatening to break server
  • Player winning set

Each of the events outlined above are likely to have an impact on the odds available on both players. Your goal is to manipulate these events during the match so that can back both players at favourable odds. For example lets assume the pre match favourite is serving in the first game but following a hard fought battle they lose their serve after hitting the ball into the net. Almost certainly their odds will drift out a little compared to their pre match odds. However, you will also find the outsiders odds will have just come in as well, so overall your position has not changed as you can't back all outcomes to guarantee a winning position.

This is where your judgement comes in though, if you know that the favourite often starts slowly but then comes on strong you can take advantage of the more genrous odds and back the favourite, expecting them to come back later on in the match. You don't back the outsider just yet, remember that if the favoutire does come back the outsiders odds will drift out. You will actually find that once the outsider starts faultering their odds can drift very quickly,

Anyhow, play resumes, it's the second game and the favourite is currently one game down having lost their serve. The favourite breaks back immediately, and furthermore they then hold their own server and break serve a second time. Almost certainly, following this second break of server you will now be able to back the outsider at odds that mean you can back both outcomes so that you have a guaranteed win.

Here are some numbers to show you how it works:

Tennis match - T Henman v R Federer
Prematch odds - Henman 2.5, Federer 1.4

* Federer loses server in first game
* Federer's odds drift to 1.5
* Henman's odds shorten to 2.4
* Back Federer at 1.5 with 200
* Federer breaks Henman's serve to love in the second game
* Federer's odds shorten to 1.4
* Henman's odds drift to 2.6
* Federer hold serve in the third game
* Federer's odds shorten to 1.3
* Henman's odds drift to 2.8
* Federer breaks Henman's serve in the fourth game
* Federer's odds shorten to 1.2
* Henman's odds lengthen to 3.2

Now we can make a guaranteed profit!

Remember we backed Federer at 1.5 with 200, this gives us a profit of 100 on this trade. This is calculated as 200 x 1.5 = 300, we then subtract our original stake money of 200 to give us the profit figure.

With Henman's odds now at 3.2 you can back him with 93.75. This to will give a return of 93.75 x 3.2 = 300, we now subtract the stake money of 93.75 leaving a profit of 206.25 on this trade.

Now look at both trades together, both trades return 300, your total stakes are now 293.75, calcualted as 200 on Federer + 93.75 on Henman.

Since either bet will return 300 and your total stakes are only 293.75 your are guaranteed to make a profit of 6.25.

Supposing you put in a little more effort, lets assume the 1.5 you got on Federer was offered at William Hill, if you took the time to head over to Bet365 you may have been able to get odds of say 1.6. We'll let you work this one out, but rather than a guaranteed profit of 6.25, in this case you would be able to get a guaranteed profit of 20, you still stake 200 on Federer, but what do you stake on Henman?


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