Beating the bookies at spread betting
By Paul
Economists in the UK claim to have found a new system to win at spread betting, according to a report on BBC news. The two economics lecturers, Dr Leighton Vaughan Williams of Nottingham Trent University and Dr. David Paton of the Nottingham University Business School, presented their findings to the annual conference of the Royal Economic Society last week.

Dr Vaughan Williams said: 'Punters using the system pinpointed by our research would have won in more than 60% of matches examined over the last two seasons. 'The key to the system is identifying those cases where one bookmaker is offering prices out of line with their competitors.'

Dr. Williams says the trick is to add up the spread offered by all the bookmakers and then find the average. If one of the bookies is offering a spread outside of this average, this is the one to go for. The academics call the discrepancy between different prices the “Quarb” – quasi-arbitrage – whereby bookmakers offer price differences small enough to avoid the bookies bringing in an arbitrage.

An arbitrage position is opened when one bookie is offering a spread which is very different from its competitors. When that happens, bets are restricted because potentially it is possible for punters to bet so that they make a sure profit, by 'buying high with one company and selling low with another'.

Quarbs are more common than true arbitrages, and spread bookmakers are much less likely to restrict the number of bets on them.

'Although betting on a quarb does not guarantee you a profit, we found 140 cases during the last two Premier League seasons.

'Of these, 86 would have been winning bets and only 50 would have lost.

Their study was based on spread bets in one of the most popular markets - the number of bookings 'points' in Premier League football (soccer) matches. This is where people gamble on how many points teams in a match will clock up, given that there are there are 10 points for a yellow card and 25 for a red. Bookings are disciplinary penalties, denoted by either a yellow or a red card.

According to Dr. Williams, a punter (bettor) staking a modest £5 ($7.17) per point in each case would have won almost £5,000 ($7,170) over two years.

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