Market Behaviour And Observations At Wimbledon


Tennis Trading on Betfair

Over the last week or so I’ve been playing about with the Tennis markets more and more…

I’ve noticed a few interesting things with it being so different to the racing and thought it would be good to share/hear what others think on it. Don’t be shy, drop us a comment…

Emotional Game?

The tennis is a different beast altogether in most ways, although there are similarities in some areas too. Mostly the human behaviour aspect, both inside and interestingly outside of the markets.

The interesting thing about the tennis is that once you have some good in-play strategies it should be far easier to ‘scale up’ than the racing (in theory). The strangest thing I’ve noticed about the tennis though, is the pattern in the players behaviour. When it comes to closing a set/match or even consolidating a break of serve, even more so in the WTA.

You’re probably wondering what the screenshot’s all about right now, let me explain….

So in this game with Makarova v Radwanska it appears the 1.3 Favourite is about to get turned over and is still likely on the face of it. However play has been stopped due to the rain! In my eye’s this presents us with a bit of a different situation as there is the possibility that Radwanska should come back out firing on all cylinders with Makarova a bag of nerves – if that’s the case it must be a value bet at the prices at least.

While im in the red its my own foolishness as I had the opportunity to hedge up for just over 3 figures a couple of games before play was delayed – c’est la vie. I actually believed she could still turn the game around – hopefully she will!

When play resumes Radwanska will serve to stay in the match, presuming she does I may even go crazy and back her for another tenner (risk taking isn’t my strongest point). This leads me on to my next point nicely, as you may wonder why don’t you just back her now? Indeed I could and I’d get a better price than if she wins the next game but its a poor entry based on what I’ve learnt recently.

The urge to back a player on serve seems great in trading terms although it seems there are very few who it is safe to do this with and numbers wise it just absolutely does not make any sense!! It only ever makes sense to lay the server numerically in the markets – let me explain…

Based on a match with a 1.36 fav –

  • If the favourite is to serve and WIN the first point the price will contract 1 tick, maybe 2 if you’re lucky.
  • If they are to go 2 points ahead again 1 more (3 ticks total – tops)
  • If they are then to win the game again once more you may get 1 more tick although depending on the market and previous points played it may just remain the same!

Now lets look what would happen if you was to lay the serve instead –

  • If the favourite is to serve and Looses the first point  the price will drift 4 ticks, maybe 5 if you’re lucky.
  • If they then go 2 points down you get an extra 10 ticks profit on top of your existing position!
  • If they then lose the game you’re likely to get another 21 ticks on top of that!!

So if you compare the two different possible outcomes in such an instance (and I know at that range the price is more compressed) then why would you even consider such a risk?

In comparison if you back the server for the game you stand to gain 4 ticks. Alternately you could lose 36! I know which side I’d rather be on.

One of the other things I have noticed is it seems normal to feel more comfortable staking larger at shorter odds (probably because you think it’s definitely going to happen) and smaller at large odds – again, it make’s not sense! I have to admit though its tricky. I suspect fully the key to tennis is having a very good staking/bank management plan. More so than the horse racing.

And finally – the odds. Nobody seems to talk about this but if you notice the screenshot above once more the price on player A always reflects the price on player B. For example 1.02 = 55 (a bit less than 55 but I wont waffle on) but what about after a player is trading at 1.01 – for example when a favourite is ahead even though there is a whole load of games ahead of them? From 100 – 1000 it seems to be a bit of a ‘value’ zone in tennis as there is no corresponding odds on the alternate player (worth bearing in mind if the favourite is ahead and suddenly starts to play terribly).

A bit of a ramble there although I have no doubt a few of you will find it thought-provoking if nothing else! If you have anything of interest to add/ask please do!

Related: Simple Tennis Trading Strategies

13 thoughts on “Market Behaviour And Observations At Wimbledon

  1. Just a thought waiting hoping for a player to turn things around really is gambling not trading . I suppose also betters just bet players who are serving knowing they can get a couple of ticks if they hold serve then are scrambling like mad to try and get out if they don’t hold think there’s software that can predict odds at tennis matches point by point


    1. Sure, maybe i should have mentioned had Rad broke back or even gone two points ahead on the serve i’d of been looking to hedge up in that instance – for a hefty sum too no doubt. Interesting, just seems no value in backing the serve for a few quid and risking a large stake.

  2. Is trading not gambling? If its risk free then surely its arbing? neva really thought about the prices over 100

  3. There is no point with scalping under 2.00. If you scalp every point, isn’t that a luck (there is a good servers but still…)? Someone who is under 2.00 is a fav, why would you lay a fav at his serve? There is no long term profit from that. But if you do it a few times during the match at higher odds you can make a good profit.

    1. I’m not too sure what you mean there onecapo – scalping every point would be a bit scary im sure. But there is no value in backing a favourite at a short price on serve especially – look at radwanska today! I fail to see how there is no long term profit from that when winning a service game gives us 4 ticks supposed to loosing 21 ?! Laying at low odds is always going to be preferable with the risk/reward ratio im sure, no ?!

      1. Suppose you have to weigh up risk and reward not worth risking a possible 21 ticks to win 4 in essence you’re betting a 1/5 shot espically in women’s tennis where breaks of serve are more common than in the men’s game

      2. I know what are you trying to say with that risk/reward thing and i totally agree with you…but i have a way different strategy which makes me a constant profit. maybe this strategy just doesnt fit for me ….i cant feel it hahah…also there is so much factors included in this strategy. maybe its just not for me…i think there is a problem. anyway, great post!

  4. Are you saying that generally the market moves too little for a hold or too much for a break of serve? Wouldn’t that mean that the markets would be fundamentally wrong as soon as the match has started and hence massively exploitable?

    I’d suggest looking into the Markov models for tennis matches and some basic data on the probabilities of players on the ATP and WTA tour holding serve.

    I have to say it is interesting to see the observations of someone who usually trades Horse Racing playing on the Tennis markets, so thanks for your posts.


    1. Hey Chris, im not suggesting it moves too little or too much for either – im just saying it moves far more for a break! (only exception is with momentum at the end of a set for example with one player ahead) So to go with the server all the time is insanity in my mind for their service game… you could back the server for 4 games and make a profit every time, but on the game you get it wrong….. ouch. Thanks – im not great at it and still learning but its something new to keep me awake!

      1. One thing I’ve always found interesting is comparing the amount the Betfair market moves for a hold/break compared to the ‘game betting’ prices for a player to hold/break at a bookmakers or on Betfair when offered.

        For the Radwanska match you mentioned, I think the best price for holds were around 1.25 for Radwanska and 1.44 for Makarova. Obviously as the match moved on and didn’t go as the markets expected these prices would have changes. For the Lopez/Isner match today you would have been doing well to find 1.10 on either to hold serve (wasn’t following that one closely but wasn’t it one break in 48 games?).

  5. Hi

    Interesting post.

    I’m not a tennis trader by any means (horse racing takes up too much of my time!) but it is always an ‘art’ that has fascinated me and I have started looking into it a bit deeper recently (very recently).

    I had always believed/thought that there was potentially easy money to be made when looking to scalp a huge server on their service game and watched the Lopez/Isner game with interest yesterday. What you mention in this post is spot on, based on my (limited) observations. When Isner held service there was a small shift in his price (4 to 6 ticks maybe) and then when Lopez also held his serve Isner’s price trickled back out to what it had been pre-Isner’s last service game. However, if there was a wobble from Isner say 0-30 even 0-15 his price drifted 10+ ticks, a move to 15-40 would have seen even more. That is surely where, as you mentioned, the real juice sits with regards to trading profits. If the players held their serve up to say 5-5 you would probably be able to exit the trade for scratch or maybe a few ticks loss.

    As I said though this is from limited analysis from myself so ask me again next week and I may give a different answer!!

    Cheers – Ben (BDH)

  6. You’re all acting as if these are unchartered waters, tennis is one of those sports that is probably more automated than any other with plenty of teams botting the markets using very sophisticated stats based software. Surely the recent courtsiding legal issues should have shown you that.

    The markets are very efficient and driven by probabilities, stats dictate what the prices should be, overall they earn the operators fortunes by being more informed than the majority. Of course there are chinks in their armour and they’re happy to leak a few quid here and there on the basis the majority will pay it back with interest. Just don’t go in assuming because you’ve come out on top in a few markets you’ve cracked the tennis because you can be pretty sure someone’s put in a lot more effort to crack it.

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