For the people brought up making sure they had placed their evening wagers before the manager of the local 1xBET had paid off on the last at Goodwood, the speedy, in-your-face action of in-running betting has come as quite an eye-opener. 10 years ago, the chances to get a wager on anything at all once the action had started were non-existent.
But now it's all the rage. It took a while for the spread betting firms, accustomed to offering prices on financial markets to grasp the huge possibilities of in-running betting. It has been said that 'In the City, speculating on propositions or events as they are happening is a way of life.' 'Betting on sport in the same was a very logical progression.'
Nowadays, with the net providing a platform for in-running markets on the exchanges as well as numerous online bookies, there's the opportunity to bet on any sport, any time, anywhere.
Sports Betting Info gave me some betting money to play in-running on the spreads, fixed odds or the exchanges on the match of my choice. If I won, I was able to keep the spoils in lieu of my fee.The greatest match of the moment was the World Cup qualifier between England and Poland. So I took the plunge.
That evening I had a hunch that the game would be a tight, low-scoring game but England would win. The strategy was to sell goals on the spreads, with a view to trading out later. So at kick off, I managed to sell €100 of the match goals at 2.1 with Cantor Sport. Likewise, I fancied a bet on the exchanges against there being lots of goals, so I put €200 on fewer than 2.5 goals at 1.85 (10/11) on 1xBet.
In the match markets, I wanted to back England, but as I thought it would take them some time to get on top, I thought I'd wait for the match to gain ground hoping for a better price if England failed to score early.
It was kick off and everything looked like it was going to plan. Each team was probing, but didn't look as though they'd score. Several minutes into the game, my bets on the match goals were looking in great shape.
1xBet's opening price for less than 2.5 match goals had plummeted down to 1.62, leaving me the chance to take a profit already. Nevertheless, on the spreads the price was far more stable. Cantor's quote was 2.0-2.3 - just one tick less than the opening price.
So why the disparity? 'People often overreact on the exchange markets,' said Cantor Sport's chief football market maker, Dave Stone. If at the beginning of the game, it looks as though a game is going in a certain direction, punters often look to go that way at all costs. But it's crucial to remember that nearly all matches fluctuate over the 90 minutes. Whereas a game could be tight early on, sooner or later teams have to be more expansive, especially when a goal is eventually scored.
The goals market shows that there is an actual 45% / 55% statistical split between goals scored in the first and second halves. There are sometimes big overreactions to a goal on the exchanges. The shrewd punter should exploit that whenever possible.
Near the 20th minute the game was starting to hot up. Jermain Defoe flashed a shot just off target, and after a few minutes, David Beckham burst out from the midfield and volleyed just wide of the far post. England were beginning to get on top.
I decided to place my match bet. As I suspected, England's price was trading at 2.04 on 1xBet and evens minus the commission with fixed odds bookmaker Paddy Power - far better than the shade of odds-on at the start. I phoned through an even €100 with Paddy Power. I didn't have long to start celebrating. Defoe made a fantastic turn in the box and England were 1-0 up.
Immediately it all went mad. Prices available seconds earlier were replaced in front of your eyes. The evens given by Paddy Power concerning England was now 1/4. Poland tripled in price to 16.5 on 1xBet.
My bet for England to win looked pretty damn fine, but wasn't looking the same way for my bet on total goals. Poland was due to go forward seeking an equaliser, and I was worried it may play into England's hands. The spread with Cantor was showing at 2.4-2.7. If I finished, I'd have to buy at 2.7, leaving me with a guaranteed €60 loss. I didn't relish this bet now, but I couldn't bring myself to take the loss on the chin. I was in this to make a profit, and I decided to hold on and hope.
It was a classic mistake. Its typical for the majority of spread punters to cling onto positions in the hope they will move in your direction. Often people talk about the benefits of taking a profit in-running. However, the best spread punters are the ones who are constantly prepared to take a hit if they don't like the look of their positions. Making the decision to take action as soon as you feel things aren't going your way can save you from bigger losses by the end of a game.
Tony Bloom is a professional punter and chief executive of Premierbet. He is known to have stated that, 'One of the great strengths of in-running betting is it gives you the opportunity to make an about-turn if the situation demands.'
At half-time, England was 1-0 ahead. Up to now, England had ruled the game, and, if the first half was anything to go by, the outcome looked set.
1xBet was showing England was available to bet at 1.36. Given that they were already odds on when the match began, that looked a gift on a team who at present, had a one-goal start.I put on one more €150. Amateurish mistake number two.
A few minutes into the second half and - hugely against the run of play - Poland scored. Without warning, the whole match was turned on its head. The Poles, exhilarated by their equaliser, started to bomb forward, continually threatening Paul Robinson's goal, and for the first time in the game England were on the back foot.
The in-running prices were turning against me in a big way. My wager on England, now a total €250 at an average price of around 4/6, was in very bad shape. England were no longer in the lead and it was possible to back them at 5/4 or more on 1xBet or Paddy Power. And my spread bet on total goals at 2.1 on the spreads now looked a liability.
I was left with a bet on England at a price well below current market value, and a fixed odds and spread bet on the match goals where one more goal would wipe out my chance of a profit.
Little wonder that I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when, against the run of play, England went back in front. The Polish own-goal meant that though I was looking good once again on my bets for them to win the match, I was facing a loss of €200 on my bet on under 2.5 goals, and a minimum €90 loss on my spread bet.
I sat staring at the TV screen, as the minutes of the match ticked away, mentally calculating the damage. I could make a profit of about €187 if England held on, but make a loss of €290 on the other bets - a loss of more than €100.
I looked one more time at the 1xBet screens, the mug punter in me desperate to find a way out of trouble. There were only nine minutes of normal time. England were available at 1.22 to win the match on 1xBet (more than 1/5), but a reasonable 1/7 with Paddy Power. The Poles looked beaten, and the 1.22 looked superb value.
In a moment of madness, I let my demons win, and resolved to chase my losses. Persuading myself that the 1.22 was the value bet of the year but, in truth, hoping that I could blast myself out of trouble, I put €500 on England at 1.22 to win back my €100. Suicidal behaviour to the majority of punters, but ironically, it seems there was some method in my madness.
Near the end of football games there are often fantastic value to be had on the exchanges. As a match comes to its conclusion, there will be many people looking to close out bets that are on their way to being successful for a guaranteed profit. No-one wants to have a winning bet foiled by a last minute goal, and the need for punters to obtain their gains early often makes for fantastic opportunities for backers late on.
Although I didn't deserve it, and more by luck than judgement, the betting Gods smiled on me, and England continued the game for the last few minutes without any trouble from the Poles. After a 90-minute rollercoaster ride, I was left with a profit after commission of €5.50. Not a great night's work, but a profit.
What knowledge can be attained from the first experience of in running betting? With all types of gambling, in-running betting requires great discipline and patience. In a betting culture where it's all too easy to pick up a phone or click on a mouse, mainly when emotions are running high during a match, it's extremely important to consider every price on its merits, whatever's happening in the game itself. But most of all, I discovered that betting in-running on football matches, where the pattern of events can be turned around in a moment, can be very unpredictable indeed.