Ever wondered who makes the odds and how? You probably thought it’s all done by computers, but no: Even in this business, the computer can’t take the place of a human being. This is is why we talked to Arvids, an odds compiler for Betway.com. Arvids gets paid for dealing with sports and bets all day long, so we had some interesting questions for him.
What exactly does an odds compiler like you are have to do? Is it a 24/7 job?
To put it in a fun way, I would have to say that I am being paid for reading about sports, analyzing sports and watching sports. But in truth it goes way more beyond that since it’s hardly all fun in general. One thing is to try and come up with odds which actually takes a lot of thought and a lot of time if you wanna do it in a proper way. But after the odds are done, then comes the hard part – managing risks. This is where you might look like a guy who is just staring at the screen and watching some betting tickets coming in. Yet, during that time you can of course research other stuff, but one thing is clear: I have to be on top of my game, otherwise it might end up badly. And more often than not it has been proven that if bookies do not pay attention to detail, they are going to pay for it.
When it comes to working hours, it’s hardly is a 24/7 job, but at least for me it is well over 40 hours per week as well. Kinda working 7 days a week and on many occasions it does take more than 12 hours a day, so sometimes my working week can go into 60 or 70 hours. I am earning my living with what I truly love, but there is one shortcoming: Where do I draw the line and say that work ends and hobby starts?
What is your strategy for making odds? For example, how much and what kind of research do you do?
Of course, I start with some generic stuff that I have to look at. Like, home or away, recent form, overall performance, head-to-head for teams (and not like 15 years ago when it hardly matters), injuries and suspensions. Those are the clear-cut factors that I believe people where familiar with. Since I am more of a basketball kinda guy (yet I compile odds on many other sports as well), then I will just elaborate a bit on that as well.
Personally, I believe that basketball is a game of matchups between players and at a high level every team tries to take advantage of those matchups, so I have to figure out how they might pan out. I look at all positions on the court, I try to put players against each other and figure out where each team has an advantage, and then try to figure out how much benefit it gives in term of points. Unlike the NBA, in European basketball coaches come a lot more into play on odds in my opinion as well. On thing I find really great about oddsmaking is when you have to deal with injuries in basketball. In general, the public (and also smart guys on many occasions) clearly overreacts or underestimates some injuries. There is hardly a player in Europe that is worth four or more points on the spread to his team but once the leader goes out, everyone tends to write that team off, like people generally did to CSKA when they went to Vitoria in group stages. But there are cases of underestimation: The best example was the Partizan-Efes Pilsen match where some Efes guys refused to go to Serbia. Partizan went from -2.5 point favorites to -9.5 in some places. What happened was that people underplayed the importance of it and were kinda betting against Partizan and not that much on Efes Pilsen, but what it came down to was that all of those combined were too important for Efes together. Because if eliminated every one of them singly, it would have made the line something like -7.5 on Partizan or so, but combined effect also has to be accounted for. This is where I challenge myself and try to thrive in it.
I am trying to learn more and more on the American way of compiling basketball odds, but you have to make some adjustments since there are hardly any situational spots for most teams in Europe. But to be fair, there is a lot to learn.
Do you think it’s possible to make a living with basketball bets?
With the current state of the market I personally doubt it, since limits are mostly nowhere near as good as people wish (only maybe at the game day, but by then the value has faded away). For starters, I do not think that one person could be any good on all basketball leagues in general; three to four is maximum that I think one person could cover at a high level when betting. So that already diminishes your options, but if you have a group of people who mesh well you could have a go at it, but once you show your skill, bookies see that, your limits are taken down and that complicates the process. But this is my thinking based on the experiences that I have here, since I might not have enough time for betting as such in general as work takes considerable time of my day here. If you solely concentrated on betting then you might have a shot at it, but the limit issue is what I would say is going to stop that. You could sustain it over a short term, but making a living is not six months; I’m speaking more about period of three to four years for starters.
What is more interesting, NBA bets or European basketball bets?
When it comes to betting, European basketball is more interesting to me, since there are still more gaps to fill and I love that kind of stuff. In the NBA, there are hardly any unknown things in general, but you have to think more about situational capping and stuff like that, which I personally still have not mastered since I have not had time to go into detail.
When it comes to watching the game, the NBA is clearly entertainment-based and I love it, since I cannot watch European basketball just for fun: I always analyze the game in my head, I always think about players and how they deal with situations on the court.
Do you think that bets on women’s basketball are easier to make than on men’s games?
When it comes to making odds, then there is hardly any difference in the process as such, but it is just harder to find some solid information about teams in general in women’s basketball. But when it comes to betting, finding value is a lot easier in women’s basketball since bookies rarely pay attention to women’s basketball as being instrumental element in their offerings. Limits of course are lower than for men’s basketball at a given bookie, but when it comes to women’s basketball, you will see bookies mostly copying odds from one another, so you will have wider range of bookies with the same value out there.
Since you must know a lot about international Basketball, who will win the Olympic tournament this summer?
No matter how people in Europe would not like to hear it, the US is gonna go all the way. Currently they are doing all the right things for it to happen. People worried how will all those big stars co-exist together on the court, but it seems that a guy like Carmelo will take on scoring for the most part. LeBron and Kobe will do the ball distribution as well, with loads of double teams and giving up the ball to the free guy. Zone defense should no longer be a problem for them, since they’ve seen enough of it over the regular season as it is now allowed in the NBA. Defensively they should be OK, and they will pay a lot more attention on defending the pick-and-roll more effectively (a huge problem for them in past tournaments). So if they continue doing all the right things, there is no team in the world that should be able to match the skill and athleticism of this team.
Thank you very much for your time, Arvids.