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A little note on the odds

Tuesday, 12 August 2008 - My colleague on Crikey Possum Comitatus regularly tries to disparage the market as an indicator of what will happen in elections and yesterday was no exception. The Possum seemed to take great joy in arguing that the Northern Territory result was proof of how the collective wisdom of the market was no good as an indicator without opinion polls to guide it and there is no doubt that the more informed a market is the more likely it is to be accurate. But there is never perfect knowledge of the intentions of people when it comes to voting and some evidence that on occasions it is the very fact that the polls (or in their absence the collective wisdom of the pundits) are pointing to an easy victory for a government that causes voters to have a last minute change of heart. more

To bomb or not to bomb?

Tuesday, 2 July2008 - Those players of the market on international events must be reading The Australian's Paul Kelly or, more likely, listening to the same people he met in Washington during the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue before writing his column this morning previewed on page one as Will Bush Bomb Iran? "Every sign is that Bush will shun the option of a military strike against Iran in the twilight of his term," writes Kelly. more


When in doubt back the dictator

Thursday, 26 June 2008 - I ventured to give a little punting advice in Crikey back on Melbourne Cup Day. I quoted a learned article by an academic who asserted that people normally were far too optimistic in believing that dictators would soon get their comeuppance and be removed by the good forces of democracy. "Which means those of you with any punting money left this afternoon", I wrote, "should hop in and back Zimbabwe 's Robert Mugabe. He is one of those dictators with a very good record as a stayer so laying the short price about the old rogue still being in office mid-way through next year looks like a decent punt." The Intrade Prediction Market at the time the contract "Robert Mugabe to depart as President of Zimbabwe on/before 30 June 08" was given a 20% probability and I recommended taking the other side of that proposition, believing that the chances of him staying put were far greater than 80%. So it has proved unless there is a miracle tomorrow but I note that there is an opportunity to invest on the chances of the old rogue still being in office at the end of September.

Market Moves strongly to Obama

Wednesday, 7 May 2008 - The verdict of the voters of North Carolina and Indiana is in and the market has interpreted Barack Obama to be the clear winner overall. He is now rated an 82% chance on Betfair to finally gain the Democratic Party nomination and at 86% on Intrade. I have pocketed my Indiana gains and quit my position supporting Clinton to finally get there. The plea for financial support in Hillary's "victory" speech had the look of desperation about it to me and the black vote support for Obama today was so strong that for the Democrats to deny him the party's nomination would potentially lead considerable numbers staying away from the polls altogether if their man is not on the ballot against Republican John McCain.

The haggling continues

Tuesday, 18 March 2008 = The temporary hiatus in the battle for the Democratic Party presidential nomination as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton battle for the support of those delegates not chosen by a popular vote continues. While Obama remains the favourite to win out, his support on the Intrade market has declined a little over the last fortnight.

Betting coup fails

Tuesday, 11 March 2008 - It is pleasing to report that the bookies have kept the money after an attempted betting coup on the 2008 Crufts dog show came unstuck.

\Not that I have any brief for the giant international bookmaking firm of William Hill but some things should be sacred and the competition for best dog in show should be one of them. more

Hillary's Come Back

Wednesday, 5 March 2008 - So far so good with my decision last week to back Hillary Clinton to become the Democratic Party nominee when she was rated a 17.1% chance in the market. After today's primaries in Texas , Ohio , Vermont and Rhode Island she is now rated as a 27% chance. I still think there is an unreal sentimental attachment to Barack Obama that presents us with a betting opportunity. I note that Clinton is a firm favourite in Pennsylvania which is the next major state where a primary is to be conducted.

Backing Hillary

Wednesday, 27 February 2008 - My only wager so far on the US presidential election campaign was to take $13 about John McCain becoming the Republican Party candidate and $30 about ending up President. Having seen that Obama picture, and having a healthy fear of the underlying racism and bigotry of the American people, I am now intending to invest a little of my current hypothetical profit on Hillary Clinton becoming the Democratic Party candidate. more

Obama Becomes the Favourite

Sunday, February 10, 2008 - Barack Obama certainly did get a fillip from the three states which chose their delegates at the weekend for the Democratic Party convention to endorse the presidential candidate. He clearly won all three and is now favourite to become the Democratic candidate - a 65% probability to a 35% chance for Hillary Clinton. more

The Owl Indicator Pointed the Way

Friday, January 04, 2008 - I hope some of my readers copped the Owl's tip back on 26 December and took the $10 the bookmakers were then offering about Senator John McCain becoming the Republican candidate for the US Presidency. After today's Iowa Caucus votes Senator McCain is now the clear favourite among the Republican field and when betting resumes in the morning should be less than $3. more

A Little Insider Trading

Monday, November 12, 2007 - There's nothing like a little insider trading to keep a market efficient and so it was last night in the election betting business. For many days now there has been very little fluctuation in the probabilities assigned to the Coalition and Labor about an election win. more

When in Doubt Back the Dictator

Monday, November 05, 2007 - The Owl can give no advice about the Melbourne Cup other than to repeat what he wrote for the Australian Financial Review many moons ago when he put into fancy words some research done by his professional punter mate: in big races, where the pool is large, the place odds about the favourite are invariably longer than they should be. I have no idea if that thesis still holds good but I do notice that the $4.80 fixed price favourite with TAB Sportsbet, Master O'Reilly, is showing $3.20 for the place this afternoon on the NSW tote so maybe there will be some value there tomorrow.

Where there definitely looks to be value is with Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe . Dictators have a very good record as stayers, so laying the short price about the old rogue still being in office mid-way through next year looks like value to me. more

The Market Changes

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - Betting on the election is back to where it was when the election campaign started with the the Owl's Election Indicator showing the Coalition a 33% chance of winning with Labor rated a 67% chance. That was the position before Prime Minister John Howard announced 24 November as the election date. That rose to 43% following the release of the Coalition tax plan but Labor has come back to a firm favouritism following its own future tax proposals, a good performance by Kevin Rudd in the debate and a favourable Newspoll. When people digest the significance of the news about inflation I expect the odds about Labor to shorten considerably. more

The Betting Follows the Worm

Monday, October 22, 2007 - When John Howard officially started the election race that Sunday just over a week ago, the betting markets on the election rated him a 33% chance of remaining Prime Minister after 24 November. After a good reception to the Coalition tax policy the market as measured by the Owl's Election Indicator had risen to a 43% winning chance. more

A Consensus Forms - Labor a 70% Chance of Winning

Monday, October 08, 2007 - The polls keep showing Labor a long way in front and if you believe that nothing is going to change public opinion between now and election day there is a wonderful opportunity to make a dollar. The bookmakers, you see, are telling a rather different story to the pollsters with the consensus of the betting market being that Labor would win seven out of every 10 elections from a position like the one they are in now. The polls point to something closer to a Labor win more than nine times out of 10. more

Bob's View

Thursday, October 04, 2007 - Every week former Labor PM Bob Hawke provides his learned assessment of the up coming federal election for the Darwin based bookmaking firm Sportsbet Australia . more

Maxine Hits the Front

As at Wednesday, September 12, 2007, Maxine McKew was favoured to defeat John Howard in Bennelong.

John Howard is now the underdog not only to remain Prime Minister at the federal election but in his own seat of Bennelong as well. The Crikey Election Indicator for Bennelong now puts the probability of Maxine McKew winning Bennelong at 50.4%. more

Betting Odds by Electorate

Friday, 24th August 2007 - Some great betting opportunities here. more

Some Betting Opportunities

Friday, 17th August 2007 - The betting markets on the coming election still have the anomaly whereby the price of Labor becoming the government is shorter than the price of Labor winning many of the individual seats. For those of you interested in a bet this presents an opportunity. Study the list for the details. more

At Least Peter Will be There

Wednesday, 15 August 2007 - There must be some Liberal Party members this morning pondering whether Peter Costello really does have the stuff to be a successful leader of the party come the day that John Howard departs. Presumably the person who had $10,000 on Malcolm Turnbull to get the job at Sportingbet's price of $6.50 last Friday would agree with the doubters. Yet we should not take too much notice of the betting market from this single bookmaker which has a substantial theoretical profit margin built in. more

The Market Still Lagging Behind the Opinion Polls

Friday, 10 August 2007 - The movement might be in the direction of Labor but the market is still much less optimistic than a believer in opinion polls would be.

The average split of the two party preferred vote according to the four national polls is Coalition 44.3% and Labor 55.8%. The break even result in terms of seats won comes if Labor gets 51.3%. Past history suggests the standard deviation of the polls this far out from an election is around 4 points. That puts the probability of a Labor win at around 87% rather than 61% as the market currently has it.

The Complete Form Guide

Wednesday, 18 July 2007 - When a bookmaker has Labor favourite to win the election but his prices on individual seats show that Labor would not win enough seats to do so there should be an opportunity to make a little profit. Hence today's publication of an Australian federal election form guide giving an assessment of the chances of Labor and Non-Labor winning each individual seat. Where Sportingbet is quoting a price for an individual electorate it is shown as well.

I have assumed that the Owl's Election Indicator (based on Betfair) is a correct assessment with the ALP a 54.8% chance of winning. That would result in the ALP winning 77 seats to non-Labor's 73 seats. The opinion polls are currently showing the ALP winning around 94 seats which points to a winning chance of around 90%. more

A Sporting Chance for an Election Wager

Tuesday, 17 July 2007 - Darwin based bookmaker Sportingbet has decided to take election betting seriously with a redesigned website that makes interesting reading even if you are not a betting person. As well as offering prices on a considerable number of electorates there is an interesting form guide with details about candidates and circumstances which might make individual contests different from any national or statewide pattern. more

Cautionary Advice from an Old Gambling Hand

Thursday, 13th July, 2006 - You will notice up in the adjoining column that the Sportingbet PM watch now has Howard a shorter priced favourite to still be Prime Minister at the time of the next election than he was two days ago. To help readers better understand what emphasis to put on indicators like this I give below some comments sent to me by the man who is probably Australia's most successful professional gambler ever. more








© Richard Farmer 2008