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Against the odds: three bets

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A few early predictions as betting thoughts turn to spring

2013 Milan - San Remo Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

After an introduction to betting, I thought I’d talk about some fake bets I like, based on the currently available odds (most races aren’t “priced” until close to the start, but for the biggest races the markets are available early). Betting early has disadvantages – in that you lose if the rider doesn’t turn up owing to injury, form, or selection – but it also has the advantage of securing a price that may be bigger than the starting price. There’s also something comforting on these long winter evenings about picturing the road to San Remo, the start of spring, and the return of pro cycling.

Something you’ll notice about my picking as the season goes on is that I favour long odds. This is purely a psychological preference. I know people who have bought nice houses with the cash they’ve made betting on short-priced favourites, but I can’t do it. You need to turn over big stakes and win a very high percentage of bets to be successful. I prefer small stakes, long odds, and big wins, and accept long losing streaks as part of the process. I’ve had far more bad days than good, but I’ve never had a losing season in any sport I bet on (golf, cycling, biathlon and horse racing). The picks below are typical of my approach.

By the way, the easiest place to look at betting markets is on an odds comparison website – oddschecker is the most popular and is easy to use, customise and understand. It may not be available in some jurisdictions or on some work servers.

For the purposes of our fake bets, we’ll work in points. A point can be a $, £100, a matchstick – whatever you want. For our purposes, it is just a way of “keeping score”.

Three bets that I think represent value at the moment are:

  1. Paris-Roubaix – Florian Senechal. 1 point each-way (81.0, with ¼ odds four places. That is, first place wins 102 points, second-fourth wins 21 points). Before I started writing at PdC I had a blog where I talked about Florian. If the public knew how good he was, he’d be 41 or 34, not 81).
  2. Milan-San Remo – Niccolo Bonifazio. 1 point each-way (41.0, ¼ odds four places. Returns 52/11.). I really rate Bonifazio and he’s shown the ability to go well in this race before (5th in 2015 at 21, 17th last year) and generally performs to his best in longer, tougher sprint events. Should have Bahrain-Merida working for him and is only 23, so can be expected to improve. Oh, and I included Ciolek as the image for this story because he was a much, much bigger price when he won MSR. Big wins can happen. That one was 125/1.
  3. Tour of Flanders – Alexander Kristoff. 2 points win (9.0, returns 27). Another about whom I wrote on my blog, I can see Kristoff having a very good year and we know this race suits him. Yes, Sagan is a worthy favourite, but he’s 3.5, and I’d much rather have Kristoff at 9. This is a price that I’d expect to see reduce before April, given the likelihood of success for the Norwegian in the various warm-up races, even with Qatar off the table.