Betting analyst MATT McCANN offers advice on successfully navigating Puntersland
In the early days of fixed odds betting on greyhound racing, the corporate bookmaking firms channelled the glory days of the bagman by supporting the opinions of their respective form analysts with a clear point of difference evident when the odds were first released.
Of course, markets always had to be framed hastily as being the first to go up within the industry was a coveted position as the competition for the punting dollar from the greyhound racing fraternity began to intensify, but at the same time there was a quality standard maintained, an accuracy that delivered a set of prices that were structurally sound.
Still, legendary plunges were landed by artful crews with pricing pride temporarily crushed, however, the odds assessors also had their moments, revelling in watching the marketplace buckle and bend back towards their original determinations on certain races with a ‘fat book’ vindicating their judgement, but there was never any time to gloat as the next race likely required refinement and so the battle continued, the adrenalin flowed and the trading floor was often energized – tribal desk-thumping following a big result was wholehearted yet there were just as many occasions in which the freakish punting abilities of certain ‘smarties’ simply had to be acknowledged and admired.
This was a fantastic time to be involved on the bookmaking side of the fence because offering a fixed odds service at dog tracks on a national scale was a gradual process and so the bookies were afforded the luxury of specialising in each State, responsible for their books from the moment box draws were conducted, setting the odds, trading the race, running reports and finally, performance review. True ownership with nothing lost in translation from a strategic perspective. Further to that, fixed odds betting initially focussed mainly on metropolitan greyhound racing within these specific jurisdictions, so the number of meetings to be expertly priced was easily managed.
Nowadays the task to consistently frame quality books on dog races is a formidable one as nobody could have predicted the rapid rate of recovery of the sport since the dark days of the proposed NSW ban, to the point at which the industry is now officially booming with prizemoney at an all-time high and therefore the profile of many provincial and country tracks has been raised significantly which then demands even greater fixed odds coverage and subsequently a sterner test of the proficiency of pricing teams.
There are now 78 different corporate wagering service providers currently operating in Australia, but the reality is that there are very few truly skilled greyhound racing price assessors, making the reliance on an automated marketplace heavy in comparison to the thoroughbred world, and this has led to tentative, compact books on dog races being produced on a regular basis. I recently noted a race in which four dogs were posted as $4.00 equal favourites, a market that obviously screams of indecision, yet one that was still copied across multiple platforms.
Armed with the knowledge that bookmaker pricing expertise on greyhound racing is spread wafer-thin and always subject to the constant pressure of marketing deadlines, dog punters should readily question fixed odds assessments and quickly calculate a runner’s true price for themselves with even rudimentary homework perhaps exposing a weakness ironically born from a reinvigorated industry that has witnessed substantial fixed odds growth from Cannington to Capalaba.