November 2007
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Loving the free bets

I can’t even remember the last time I watched football, but I was betting on it at the weekend thanks to a Sporting Index "safety net" promotion.  The deal: lose up to £50 over the weekend and get your money back on Monday.

This is a great promo, almost the same as a free £50 fixed odds bet if you use it well.  To get maximum value, you have to find a single spread bet with a fixed downside and a reasonable upside.  If you play volatile spread markets, there’s the risk that you could lose much more than £50, or win or lose a only few quid which makes the refund hardly worth having.

Not that I’m complaining, but I’m sure this promotion must actually discourage action.  Even for a genuine bettor, if you lose a bet early in the weekend and are guaranteed £50 back on monday morning, in effect you have to win that £50 on your next bet before you can take any profit from it – so why bother trying to win it back when you can just sit tight and wait for the refund?

I backed Norwich City.  I can’t remember who they were playing, and I didn’t particularly care.  I wouldn’t have been any more likely to make a better decision if I’d considered the game.  I’d realised it was already Sunday and opportunities to use this free bet were running short, so I jumped in and bought their win index at 11.5 for a highly suspicious £4.34 per point.

The "win index" on a football game awards 25 points for a win, 10 points for a draw nothing for a loss.  So if Norwich lost, my total loss would be 11.5 x £4.34, a fully refundable £49.91.  If they won I’d be looking at a nice little profit of £58.59.

In fact the game was a draw, although I only saw my bet result not the game result, and I just wasn’t interested enough to look it up.  It was a small loss of £6.51, but because the safety net promotion covered net losses from the whole weekend I got to have another go.

This time I bet against West Ham.  They were playing some other team that I don’t remember, and I only know that it was West Ham because it says so on my bet result.  I just went for whatever game was on TV at the time.  It was about 30 minutes into the match and they were a goal up, so I could sell the win index at 19 for £7.30 per point – slightly less suspicious, but it’s still pretty obvious what I’m up to if they care to look!

Worst case, if West Ham stay ahead and win, I’d be down another £43.80 – with the previous loss that’s just a few pence more than the refund limit.  If they give up a draw, I’m up £65.70 on the bet and if they manage to throw it all away for me, I’d be counting £138.70.  Worth a random punt for sure.

Another draw, and I’m £59.19 up on the day.  Result!