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Betting strategies for a big political week

April 30th, 2007


    How prices change in the final few days

One of the features covered in my book “The Political Punter” is what happens to betting markets in the final few days before an election when the small body of knowledgeable political gamblers is joined by many in the wider betting community.

They tend to follow favourites resulting in the prices of the most fancied options getting tighter and others moving out. So according to the book “If the person or party you want to back is a strong election favourite the early you get your money on the better. If you want to bet on anything other than a strong favourite wait until after the polling booths have opened to get a better price”.

This applies very strongly this week and these are my approaches to some of the key markets.

  • Scottish Elections. It’s hard to see the SNP not finishing in top slot in terms of seats after Thursday. You can currently get 0.26/1 which won’t last long. Get your money as soon as possible if you think Alex Salmond is going to do it.
  • Welsh Assembly Elections. The assumption for months is that Labour is a certainty to come top on seats and this is reflected in the very tight price of 0.05/1. So a £100 bet would produce just a £5 profit. That’s fine if you are absolutely sure about Labour. I’m not because I have strong doubts about the three Welsh polls that there have been have been. I’m convinced that Labour is being grossly over-stated though I’m not sure that this will be enough to deny them first place. I’ll be holding my fire until Thursday morning and might try a small lay (bet against) if the price goes to 0.03/1.
  • Labour leadership. This morning’s report in the Telegraph ruling out a possible John Reid challenge has sent the Brown price to 0.11/1. There might just be a possibility that in the aftermath of a bloody night for Labour on Thursday that the price might ease. If that happens then it could be worth a punt on the Chancellor at a slightly better price. The great thing about this bet now is that you won’t have to wait long to cash in.
  • Locally in Bedford where I live we are in the final three days of a bruising battle for the Borough’s elected mayor. Last time a multi-millionaire retired local newspaper owner won it on an independent ticket with the Lib Dems in second place. Unlike Thursday that election took place on its own without council seat elections at the same time and had a very low turnout. Things could be different on Thursday when the ability of the incumbent to hold on will require a lot of voters to switch from their normal allegiance.

    The Tories appear to have been using their national direct marketing operation and the Lib Dems have produced the best election literature that I have ever seen. I’ll be trying to find a local bookie to offer me a good price against the incumbent winning again. As with all bets everything depends on the price and whether your assessment of the probability of something happening are better than the odds being offered.

    Mike Smithson






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