IN the third of a brand new series, we get inside the minds of some of WLB's brightest stars with their favourite resources, valuable insight and greatest memories of betting shared, with James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) up next.
When did you first start betting? Can you remember your first bet?
So much is the free time we all currently have I've gone to the trouble of finding this out, and this came in April 2009. It was a £15 enhanced treble on Barcelona, Almeria and Valladolid.
Almeria got the job done when beating Gijon 3-1, but believe it or not Barcelona let me done, as did Valladolid. Barca would draw 3-3 at home to Villarreal after being 3-1 up and conceding in the 92nd minute, whilst odds-on Valladolid could only draw 0-0 at home to Numancia, who would go on to be relegated.
I really should have given up then!
What sports or leagues do you focus and bet on?
Everything is really on the table when it comes to football. I do like to at least have a partial interest in most of the relatively well-known leagues, but I have well over 100 leagues/competitions saved under my ‘favourites leagues' which range from the likes of the Premier League and La Liga through to the Indian Super League and Swedish second division.
Not all of them run at the same time across the season, so it at least gives me some focus over the course of a year.
I'm into my horse racing as well, whilst I like to think I do OK on the tennis scene, too. I've undoubtedly dipped into most sports at one stage or another, but football will always remain my first love!
What sites or sources do you use to follow them?
FlashScores is great for storing all of the leagues and domestic/international competitions that I have a particular interest in.
I'll often glance through the various previews that several betting content websites produce just to get a flavour for what is taking centre stage in the coming days. WeLoveBetting (of course) and Mr Fixits Tips produce excellent content, whilst I'll look at the blogs on Betfair to see what their experts like the look of.
What are your favourite websites for research?
I'm not one to go too over the top when it comes to the statistics as a lot of the time you can talk yourself out of a selection. Obviously it plays a major part as having some kind of vindication for your selection will only strengthen your case.
I'll happily utilise any of Soccerstats, WhoScored, FlashScores, infogol, WinDrawWin and Soccerway. Even just using a search engine will likely highlight the possibility of a key striker being out injured or suspended for example. At the end of the day, you are the one committing so it is you alone who will make the call.
What stats do you consider the most important?
The obvious answer to this is ‘all of them', but I often finding myself looking towards to the respective home form and away form of the two teams in question. There is nothing better than finding a good price on a team that has an excellent home record. I think that you can quite often find these type of selections in the less well-known world leagues.
At the same time, it is worth checking out to see if said strong home team is strong versus teams in a similar region of the league table to the opponent. It could be they have issues breaking down rather defensive opponents and potentially get caught out on the counter attack, so there are many variables to consider just on that front alone.
Are there any stats or trends you feel are irrelevant?
Expected Goals (xG) continues to have a major say these days, and with good reason. Whilst it is easy to locate the average amount of shots a team has on goal per-game, it is important to get additional context on top of that. It is no good backing a team that frequently favours pot shots from distance as it just shows they have issues breaking teams down more often than not.
xG takes into account the quality of chance created, and that really makes all the difference. Of course, this information is not always readily available to everyone, but I do feel as though it will have a say in your end outcome.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt betting?
There are too many to remember or write down, but some stick out more than others.
It is easier said than done but patience really is the key. You won't always be able to find a strong selection on the weekend football card for example, so having the ability to manage your betting output is quite important. If you find yourself having to really convince yourself on a certain team in a certain match then chances are there is a good reason you are doubting yourself.
Then again, at the same time it is important to back yourself if you feel strongly enough about what you want to bet, but always think before pressing ‘place bet'.
Why is value important in betting?
We've all seen ‘those' Twitter accounts which goes ‘BOOOOM!' after tipping up a 1/4 shot, and it really isn't worth the hassle going forward with that approach. The obvious reason for that is that not every odds-on shot will win, and every underdog could easily have their day.
There are situations where a team can be viewed as great value even if it is odds-on, and to be honest I just generally get a feel for it in terms of it either being too short, too big or just about right.
Sometimes you'll place a bet purely on the value alone. I'll always remember backing Croatia to beat Argentina in the group stage of the last World Cup. Lionel Messi's Argentina were odds-on but playing poorly and heavily relying on the Barca frontman, as always. I think Croatia were priced 3/1 and they easily won 3-0.
Have you any advice for punters looking to try and find an edge?
The simple mantra of ‘never bet with your heart' will certainly be a help. We all have teams we like and dislike, but the reality is that they won't all win and lose respectively every time. At the end of the day it really is all a balancing act. To air on the side of caution to begin with is never a bad thing, and only really commit to something you truly believe in.
Doing your research and determining your area of preference or expertise will only help you in the long-term. Never just blindly follow the league table either and the more you follow certain teams, leagues etc then the more you understand them and start to picture together some likely outcomes on a weekly basis.
What’s your biggest betting win and how do you spend it?
I've been ‘in this game' for over 10 years now so I've had my winners and losers as you can imagine!
I'm most definitely not even close to being at a point where I can head off into the sun armed with my bet winnings, but I those good wins do arrive from time-to-time and boy do they feel good! I've had some decent football accumulator wins over time but in terms of singles
I've come out on top in some decent horse races, such as the Grand National when Ballabriggs won in 2011. I remember, like many, waiting on Annie Power for a good acca return in 2015 at the Cheltenham Festival, only for it to fall at the last hurdle when well clear. Even now that one still gets to me!
Do you review your bets and track your winners/losers?
Only mentally more than anything. I've not got to that point where I document down every selection I make and track wins and losses, although I have thought about it at various points. Quite often your individual online betting accounts will track that anyway, so that'll give you a concrete idea of how you're doing.
Deep down I think you yourself will know if you are doing ‘good' or ‘bad'. There are some weeks where you'll bet more or less than the previous, and only if I have many fancies will I maybe jot them down so I keep track.
How do you cope with losing bets?
It can be easy to think that the world world is against you just because a last minute goal has scuppered your betting prospects, but always remember others will be in the same boat as you.
Everyone will have their own process, but never forget that tomorrow is another day. Like most in the betting world, we've had it good and especially bad at times, but try not to ever get too down as things are never really that bad. Of course, if you are really struggling then reach out to someone.
What’s the best thing about betting?
It is just a good opportunity to really put your knowledge and understanding to the test at every opportunity. It's also important to remember that it really isn't the ‘be all and end all' and I find I generally place bets that I know I would also enjoy watching.
I think I may be quite unique in betting in that I literally have to watch every football game I place a bet on for example, which can sometimes prolong the agony if that selection loses! But even so it'll sharpen up your thought process over time and help develop a greater appreciation for what you really should be betting on.