Beating the bookies – the Chairman’s infallible system

Beating the bookies – the Chairman’s infallible system


By Will Buckley

The man with a plan. Casino owners and bookmakers pay for their holidays by people walking into their premises with a system that this time, surely, will break the bank. And yet the search goes on… and the happy news the Chairman has to report is that we may be on to one. This time it will be us going to Barbados, not the wretched bookies.

The plan revolves around penalty shoot-outs, which will inevitably be a feature of the forthcoming European Championships, and it is pleasingly counter-intuitive. Enough padding: The Chairman’s strategy is to bet on the team which falls behind in a penalty shoot-out. That’s right, if one team scores and the other misses we are going to lump our money on the team that misses. Madness, I hope you are thinking, for it is those who call us mad who will make us rich.  They are the ones who by, in large numbers, backing the team that has just scored will ensure that the odds for us mad people will be gratifyingly large.

But long odds are only any good if the bets come in. And in the last three penalty shoot-outs I have watched (Huddersfield v Sheff Utd; Chelsea v Bayern; Cardiff v Liverpool) the team which has been behind after two, yes two, penalties apiece has gone on to triumph. Now, three results may not be sufficient to found a system, but it’s a start.

And while it may be counter-intuitive to others it makes perfect sense to the Chairman. If you flip a coin and get four heads in a row the odds on getting a fifth head are evens because the coin, like the roulette wheel, has no memory. This is simple statistics yet most people mistrust statistics and replace an entirely rational calculation with an entirely bonkers supposition that some coins come up heads more than other coins.

Similarly with penalties – just because a team has scored with their first two penalties it does not mean the odds on them scoring with their third are drastically reduced. Quite the reverse, I would say, because the more penalties you score, the nearer you come to the winning line, the greater the pressure becomes. Meanwhile, for the side who has missed an early penalty the pressure decreases. No one wants to be the only player in the team to miss and be held solely responsible for the consequent defeat. Once a team-mate has missed, this fear recedes.

So there you have the Chairman’s plan. See you in Barbados. The drinks are on you.

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Will's avatar

About Will
Host of ESPN's Off the Ball, BBC Fighting talk panellist, practising sports law barrister, Chairman of Full Contact Law, author of “The Man Who Hated Football.


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