Guest slot by Peter the Punter
Ok, 2007 is all but over and itâ€™s that time of year when all good punters cast a critical eye back over their records and ask themselves where it all went wrong. My own soul-searching takes very little time because itâ€™s all too obvious. My total profit from Political Betting came to approximately Â£10,000, which is about Â£12,000 more than I made from the horses and other forms of gambling. Since the time and effort I put in to the latter far exceeds what goes into the former, no prizes for guessing where Iâ€™ll be redirecting my efforts next year.
This of course raises some interesting questions, most notablyâ€¦ Just How Much Money Can You Make From Political Betting?
This is far from an academic question for me, so let me begin to answer it by giving a rough breakdown of my profits for the year:
Blair Switch Â£514
French Presidentials Â£880
Scottish & Welsh elections Â£400
Labour Deputy Leader Â£817
Next Chancellor Â£187
LD Leadership Â£246
Election date Â£193
Labour seat markets (non-election) Â£3,400
The first thing to note is that this list covers nearly all the main political betting markets. The only one missing is Gordon Brownâ€™s â€˜electionâ€™ on which my profit of about Â£500 was wiped out by an ill-judged gamble on Charles Clarke (sic), so I netted out to zero on that one, but it was the one and only significant blot on the landscape. The rest was happiness.
Nor do the bare figures tell the whole story. If Blair had held on a few more days, Iâ€™d have doubled my â€˜switchâ€™ profits, and the Blessed Harriet cost me another Â£800 by getting home just ahead of The Postman. Moreover, some of these markets were often â€˜all greenâ€™ which means I was operating in a virtually risk-free environment much of the time.
Nor was there enormous skill involved. Anybody able to log in regularly to Politicalbetting.com might well have achieved similar results and I know for a fact that I am not alone amongst PBers in making this kind of profit. In fact the quality of information here, freely and for the most part honestly given, is such that if you canâ€™t turn a profit, it really is time to quit betting altogether.
So why on earth do I bet on anything but politics? Well, there are some issues.
Markets are irregular and outside election years, the pickings are pretty thin. Liquidity is a major problem, although itâ€™s improving. My loss on Big Ears was due in no small part to the fact that I held a sizeable chunk of all bets placed and couldnâ€™t lay off without severely affecting the market price. This isnâ€™t a problem Iâ€™m ever likely to encounter at the Cheltenham Festival.
And then thereâ€™s the question of who exactly we are betting against. Thereâ€™s a real risk that as the Site becomes increasingly recognized as the fount of all knowledge on political betting, we finish up betting with each other. This happens to some extent already and was embarrassingly evident when we challenged Anthony Wells and the IG Index boys over their enterprising but short lived Political Brand Index market. We were too good for them, but there were not enough mugs to create a proper market.
A further issue that has cropped up recently is that we seem to be getting known. Mike now finds it almost impossible to get bets on with Sporting Index and another prominent PBer recently received a warning shot across his bows from one of the Majors. Sidneyâ€™s largesse continues unabated but we canâ€™t expect that and similar generosity from his competitors to continue indefinitely. There are indications that the big firms are willing to treat political betting as a loss leader, but unless markets expand to bring in more players, and hopefully more mug-punters of the type that keep betting shops fully engaged, serious (i.e. good) political punters are bound to attract increasing attention.
My guess is that I may have pushed it about as far I can in terms of gross profit for a year but I like a challenge so I am going to set a target of Â£20,000 for 2008 â€“ but not for myself, for PB.com.
I intend to enlist the support of a couple of like-minded PBers and weâ€™re going to start out with a notional bank of Â£20,000. Every time we see what we think is a decent bet, weâ€™ll enter it on a score sheet which will be publicly available here on Site. The aim will be to double it by the year end. You can be sure that the notional bets will reflect the real ones which we are having, so if we get anywhere near the target, you can guess that weâ€™re also doing very well thank you.
If anybody is interested in joining me in this venture, please let me know. It will also be interesting to know how you fared in 2007. Was it a profitable year for you too and if so how profitable? (And have you had any accounts closed yet?)
So come on, letâ€™s have your tales â€“ the good, the bad and the gruesome. How was it for you? And do you think you can beat the PB team in 2008? Weâ€™ll be posting our scores; donâ€™t be shy about posting yours.
Happy New Year.
Peter Smith (Peter the Punter)