Fancy your chances on this innovative US market?

Fancy your chances on this innovative US market?

    Peter the Punter on the “McCain Firewall Finder

Ladbrokes have of late become rather more innovative with their political betting markets. No doubt the credit goes to their politics expert, PB regular Matthew Shaddick [Shadsy]. He has come up with an intriguing angle on the US Presidency. The main contest looks pretty moribund now from a betting perspective and most of the value has been drained from the individual States in the Electoral Votes markets. Shadsy has livened things up by offering a McCain Firewall Finder bet. The idea is simple.

Look at the list on the right. How far down do you have to go before finding a State John McCain wins? If for example McCain loses Iowa and Michigan but wins Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania is settled as the winner; all other selections following in the list are settled as losers irrespective of the result in those States.

Easy, no?

Well, superficially no, because it seems a bit of a lottery and you can see why serious punters tend to avoid this kind of bet. You might figure out correctly a State in which McCain does exceedingly well but fail to collect because of some anomalous result higher up the list. No coconuts for coming second in this contest; you get it spot on or lose. So is the market only good for a bit of fun and small stakes? I’m not so sure.

For a start, you have here a good example of a related contingency. The likelihood of McCain exceeding expectations is about the same in all the States. If he starts to prosper generally in the polls, all the prices towards the top of the list will shorten while all those towards the end will lengthen. You only have to guess correctly in general terms how his fortunes are likely to run and you’ll have a pretty good idea where the value is to be found. Furthermore, any PB regular ought to be able put a line straight through at least 60% of the States with barely a moment’s thought. As any punter knows, if you can do that with any field, there has to be some good value amongst the remainder.

It shouldn’t take much more reflection to get the list down to five or so probables and since the shortest price is 10/1, you can afford to back all five and still win nicely, if you have identified the right general area.

My approach would be to identify first all those States which I think McCain would win even on a very bad day and then back the highest of them in the list plus the four above it. So, if you think that in a worst case scenario, he still can’t lose Montana, back that plus West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri and North Carolina. If any of them win, you have a win of at least 6 points to a level one point stake. If they lose, you of course lose 5 points. You are in effect taking odds of approximately 6/5 that you can identify roughly where the tipping point will be. If you don’t think you can do that, you are either not a punter or you don’t read enough!

I won’t tell you which are my five selections but I can tell you that I have had £50 on each. Shadsy has the slip and will be happy to reveal all, after the event.

Good luck and happy punting!

Peter Smith [Peter the Punter]

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