As most Australian punters know, live in-play betting is typically only available by telephone. There are a few exceptions to this, however, like financial betting and now, the Australian Open tournament winner betting through Betfair. Recently I have been using opposing bets in tournament betting to effectively bet in-play for particular Australian Open tennis fixtures This strategy is based on the principal that under certain circumstances, the odds on a player to win the tournament drop if they win their next round, especially if they weren’t expected to beat their opponent.
Live in-play betting enables punters to place bets on the outcome of a match or tournament while it’s still in progress. For example you can bet in-play during a football match, with the odds changing depending on the outcome of the game so far. Unfortunately, for Australian punters, this feature is only available by telephone, not online. I find this frustrating because you can react to game outcomes much faster with the click of a mouse than through a telephone call.
Betfair is typically no exception to this, however for the 2010 Australian Open punters can make bets on the tournament winner even when there are games in progress. This is in contrast to bookmakers like Sportsbet and Sportingbet, who close down tournament winner betting during each day’s play. They do this because typical bookmakers need time to determine updated odds based on who’s left in the tournament. Betfair is a marketplace, so this information is interpreted immediately by market participants.
The reason I’m excited about this feature is because online tournament betting enables you to effectively bet in-play online for individual fixtures. If a player looks like they may be eliminated from the tournament, the odds on them winning the tournament increase. If a player is on the verge of losing a match their odds to win the tournament typically rise to 1000-1. Conversely, if an underdog makes a good start to the match, the betting odds on them winning the tournament drop drastically. In many circumstances you can make money by correctly predicting the result to a game in progress by taking advantage of odds shifts in the tournament winner betting as a result of that match.
The following example illustrates this principle. It involves betting on an underdog who is expected to be beaten in the upcoming round. Say at the beginning of the tournament you bet $10 on Maria Kirilenko to win the Australian Open at odds of 500-1. In her first round match against Maria Sharapova she wins the first set 7-6. As a result the odds of her winning the tournament drop to 300-1. At this point, if you can hedge your bets by laying a bet of $16 against her at the 300-1 odds. This means you stand to win $200 if she wins the tournament and $6 if she doesn’t. Now let’s suppose you don’t hedge your bets and Kirilenko wins the match. As of the time of writing this article, you can now bet against Kirilenko winning the tournament at odds of 180-1. If you bet $27 against Kirilenko at these odds you would net $140 if she wins the tournament and $17 if she doesn’t, a profit either way.
As a second example, you can bet on a top seed after they have made a poor start to a match. Prior to her game against Kleybanova, the odds on Henin to win the tournament were around 4.5-1. Henin lost the first set 3-6 and in the middle on the second set the odds on her to win the tournament were 7-1. I believed Henin would win the match but didn’t want to make a head-to-head bet over the phone so I placed a $5 bet online for her to win the tournament at the 7-1 odds. After Henin won the match I then placed a $5 bet against her to win the tournament at 5.6-1 odds. This means I will net (7)(5) – (5.6)(5) = $7 if she wins the tournament, with no loss if she doesn’t.
In essence, the changes in the odds for tournament winner betting can act as a proxy for individual match betting. There are a few caveats to this method, however. First, this strategy relies on adequate liquidity in the Betfair marketplace. There’s nothing more infuriating than taking up odds of 200-1 and then seeing the ‘Back’ odds drop as you had predicted to 150-1 only to find that the ‘Lay’ odds are still above 200-1. I have typically found that more liquidity is available in the men’s draw than the women’s, however there is typically sufficient liquidity for the top eight or so female seeds.
A second caveat to this strategy is you don’t know the odds you will receive if you are correct. In head-to-head betting, you know the exact payoff if you have a winning bet. However, when using the tournament winner for your bets, you are trying to profit based on odds movements, which you simply can’t know in advance. With my Henin bet I felt the odds against her would drop if she won the match, but I didn’t know if they would drop to 4-1, 5-1, 6-1, etc.
A third caveat is that the odds won’t move substantially in certain circumstances, so this strategy doesn’t work in all scenarios. Typically a top seed’s odds to win the tournament won’t drop drastically after an early round victory. The strategy outlined here works best in two scenarios: (1) when the player you wish to back is an underdog in their fixture and (2) when a top seed makes a poor start to the match, but you still expect them to win.
Overall, if you can bet by phone and the odds look reasonable, I would bet in-play using head-to-head bets, but if you want to make an immediate online bet at the available odds, I find tournament winner betting to be an effective way to bet in-play on certain fixtures by proxy.