Monday, 7 April 2008

The joy of bets

The HornetsBet link is one of the better features of the official site – which, let’s face it, no one would bother with if it wasn’t for the occasional snippet of genuine news lurking among the marketing messages.

I usually have a few punts before each home game, betting a maximum of five quid on various items, at anything between one pound and two pounds fifty a time. First goalscorer is one of my more successful categories, as the odds are so crudely calculated (not surprisingly, since the Bet365 site as a whole carries odds for a bewildering variety of sporting possibilities). Strikers get the shortest odds, then wingers, central midfielders, centre-backs and finally full-backs – okay, it’s slightly more complicated than that, but not a lot. So if your side has a regular penalty taker who doesn’t play up front, for instance, the odds on him getting the first goal will be longer than they should be.

In Watford’s case, this means that Danny Shittu is usually a decent 16-1 to score the first goal in a game, despite his record this year; ditto John-Joe O’Toole, who looks to have more goals in him than most Hornets midfielders of recent years.

Since I’m putting on such small amounts, it’s barely worth betting on anything where the odds are shorter than 10-1. I often have a punt on a slightly unlikely score - usually 3-1 (NB: I never, ever bet against Watford), since we’ve won a few games by that score this season - and sometimes I try one of the ‘Match specials’, things like ‘Watford to score a penalty’ (actually, I don’t think I’ve ever put money on that) or ‘Watford to win from behind’.

And finally, just for fun, I usually do a ‘Scorecast’, where you have to predict not only the first goalscorer, but also the final score. It’s a bit like a horse racing accumulator, and just as unlikely to come off. So if I could work out why, when I sat down to place my bets on Saturday morning, I selected ‘Nathan Ellington’ and ‘Watford win 2-1’ from the dropdown menus - what mystical force was influencing my mouse hand, what powerful visions of the future I was subconsciously channelling – I’d gladly tell you. The truth is, it seemed as likely as any other eventuality in this topsy-turvy season, and as a result I’m now £35 richer.

PS: Well, you didn’t expect me to write about the actual match, did you?

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