Saturday, 2 August 2014

Betfair cricket tie rule

This issue of Betfair and the cricket tie rule never ceases to amaze me. The rule is there for a great reason. Yet when a match is tied there's usually no end of moaning from people who clearly don't understand the markets they're betting in - and want to advertise the fact!

Put simply when a one day cricket match* ends in a tie Betfair cancels all the bets struck in the Match Odds market and returns the stakes.

In the distant past Betfair used to instead settle these Match Odds bets in tied matches as a Dead Heat. This changed many years ago for very good reasons and a specific Yes / No tie market has been offered ever since.


Despite this you'd back 1.01 that each time there's a tie there will be much gnashing of teeth from people moaning about how unfair everything is and what a joke Betfair is. Of course, it isn't unfair. And the only jokers are those threatening to go running to IBAS.

So why did Betfair scrap the Dead Heat rule for ties in cricket and introduce a specific tie market instead? And why was the decision for the best?

Indian Cricket Bookmakers

Indian cricket bookmakers, sub continent cricket markets, even illegal betting markets. Call them what you will but they are ultimately the reason for the change in policy.

The fact is the Indian cricket markets pump massive liquidity into the Betfair cricket Match Odds markets. I've written about their sheer size before so here it's suffice to say they dwarf the Betfair market many tens of times over.

If you doubt this simply fire up a Betfair cricket Match Odds market when the Indian books are not sitting. Just be careful to avoid the tumbleweed while you watch how quiet the markets are.

So what I hear you ask? Why should that lead to a rule change on Betfair?

Simple. If the match ends in a tie all match odds bets struck in the Indian markets are cancelled. Stakes are refunded.

You see the issue? The Indian books can't settle a tie one way in the sub continent and have their own activity on Betfair settled another way. They could end up losing fortunes on the match! Because they'd have to refund all bets in the sub continent but could be battered by a Dead Heat rule on Betfair.

So when it was suggested to Betfair it might like to settle the cricket Match Odds markets the same way as the Indian markets they asked the opinion of a group of their larger cricket customers and the decision was made.

And a good one it was too. Because the Indian money remains on Betfair to this day. And you can't underestimate the importance of it to Betfair's cricket market ecosystem.

Two of the largest losing accounts in Betfair history have had Indian cricket money flowing through them and they've both been at least 7 figures down. I'll come back to this later but just think about that for a moment.

But it's so unfair - I'd have won with a Dead Heat

It's not unfair. Read the rules before you bet! And make the effort to understand the markets you are betting in. Then, if you are in a position to win, and really want to guarantee that win, you can hedge into the tie market itself, and for the cost of a few per cent of your green, you definitely will win.


Clicking on the rules section brings up a small box that clearly states: "If scores are deemed tied at the completion of both innings then all bets on the Match Odds market will be void."

To be fair most times there's a moan about the tie rule someone usually tries to explain it. There was even a brief discussion recently on the Betfair forum about if the rule had been reviewed since its initial introduction.

That particular discussion currently ends with the suggestion the rule is now "archaic". And simply serves to bring up another issue that always raises its head when there's a tie and people gripe about the rule.

But Betfair is crazy - It loses so much commission when bets are cancelled

Well. Think about it. Yes, Betfair does lose out on commission on that particular Match Odds market. And that won't be an insignificant amount.

However, it does make commission on all the tie markets, game in and game out, which will help offset any lost commission in cancelled Match Odds markets.

More importantly remember that by scrapping the Dead Heat rule Betfair helped retain the business of some very large cricket accounts.

These accounts inject hundreds of millions into the markets in terms of volume. Thus helping to keep the markets liquid enabling recreational and professional traders and punters to get matched more easily. This increases the commission Betfair gets each game in itself.

Recall also how much money some of these Indian type accounts have lost on Betfair. Those millions are won by others. This is a real money pool for winners to win. And, of course, much of it will then get churned many times over - generating even more commission for Betfair.

It really isn't that crazy a rule after all is it?



* By one day cricket match I simply mean limited overs games such as Twenty20, domestic 40 and 50 over matches and ODIs.

Frequency of ties in cricket

I was intending to cover this subject in this post but it's getting a little long. And as it would actually make for quite an interesting article on its own I'll cover it at a later date in more detail than I'd intended to here.

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