Saturday 16 August 2014

Crazy cricket tie market

My recent article on the Betfair cricket tie rule reminded me of one of the most bizarre markets in Betfair history - when a cricket tie market was 1.01 Yes and No at the same time!

I know it's hard to believe but it was such a curious case that I took a screenshot. Just click the picture for a larger image.

There's no need to rub your eyes. That tie market really is 1.01 on both sides as the market is suspended at the end of the match.

What's even more bonkers is there's more money trying to back No tie (£997)  than Yes tie (£307) - when the market was correctly settled as Yes tie.

For those wondering the match was a Twenty 20 international between India and Pakistan during the 2007 inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa. The scorecard is here.

I'm sure some of you are thinking WTF? How on earth did this happen? So let's take a quick wander down memory lane...

What was going on in this market?

There's actually several things at work here that helped create this situation so let's take a look at some of them:

Match Situation / Snipers/ TV Pics traders

If you take a peak at the commentary you can see that after needing 1 run to win off two balls Misbah was beaten by Sreesanth's full length delivery outside off to leave Pakistan needing 1 run off 1 ball to win.

Misbah connected with the final delivery and set off on the run. No doubt snipers did their thing but jumped the gun as Yuvraj swooped in and threw the ball to the non strikers end where Misbah was run out leaving the match tied.

TV traders no doubt did a similar thing with some also trying to follow the snipers before seeing the actual pictures. And in the confusion the market was suspended with both sides of the market on 1.01.

Lack of knowledge of tie rule

I discussed this lack of knowledge in my recent cricket tie article but back in 2007 there was an even greater misunderstanding of the rule.

Besides the image above this is also more than demonstrated by the match odds market. With 1 run to win off 1 ball people were laying Pakistan at 1.08 in the match odds market.

Why? The match is already a tie and the only two outcomes from the final ball are a tie or a Pakistan win! People were clearly betting thousands into a market they did not understand.

No doubt there was plenty of carnage and blood red books when the dust settled down after this match. And I suspect more than a few people made the effort to understand the tie rule as they learned an expensive lesson.

Cross Matching Bot

This match took place before the introduction of the cross matching bot. Though quite how the bot would have coped with demand for 1.01 on both sides of the market I'm not quite sure! My guess is if the algo didn't fall over with steam pouring out the top of the box it's sat in Betfair would have made a very tidy risk free profit from their customers.

Other observations

One of the things I found interesting about the screenshot, which I'd not seen for years, is quite how small the tie market for that match was.

We can accept that in the confusion maybe some people kept their cash out of the market at the end. But the £42,158 matched in the entire match is tiny compared to the kind of figures we see today.

The other thing is, cross matching bot aside, the markets are clearly smarter today than they were back then. There is no way 1.08 would be available on Pakistan with 1 ball to go and 1 ball to win if that situation arose today.

There would be piles of money waiting to back Pakistan at 1.01 knowing it was essentially a free bet - if someone at Betfair was asleep and the market had not already been suspended.

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