The Masters isn’t just the first major of the year – it’s the first really big opportunity in golf for punters and bookmakers to continue their never-ending battle.
Sure there are prices offered every week on the European and PGA Tours. But nothing gets the blood pumping, and has us all dipping into our wallets, like the sight of those azaleas or the iconic clubhouse at Augusta National.
The faint air of proper golf might have been sending some of the oddsmakers a little dizzy. Several of the bigger firms have gone 10 each-way places in the outright winner market.
But there’s no such thing as a giveaway. You might get more places, but you may have to put up with reduced terms (1/5 of the odds instead of 1/4) as well as shorter prices.
So what is the best way to approach this maze of numbers and is taking 10 places really worth it?
Dave Tindall is one of Britain’s best golf tipsters, working with Betfair, William Hill, TeamTalk and Rotoworld.
This year, he’s already up nearly £500 (based on £5 each-way selection outrights and £10 win top 5s and 10s) on the PGA Tour through his weekly Betfair column and had a profit/loss of +£1,180 during the 2016/17 season.
So who better to ask, with the bookies seemingly falling over themselves to offer us lots of places at The Masters, whether we should all be piling in…
Every firm seems to be offering something for The Masters and we seem to get a lot more places around the majors then we do at any other time of the year…
When I first started betting on golf it was considered risqué for someone to offer five places. Here we are in an era where you are getting 10. It does look, on the face of it, quite punter friendly.
Is this an attractive thing for punters? Obviously there is a trade-off in terms of the odds you might get…
That’s the key word: trade-off. For example, this week Coral are going 10 places. But if you pick someone out like Justin Rose, Coral go 10 places for Rose at 10/1 but Betfred have him at 14/1. Betfred are offering 1/4 of the odds for the first five (Coral are offering 1/5).
So it’s a trade-off. It’s really what your betting philosophy is. A lot of people will go onto Oddschecker, which aggregates all the prices and they’ll just see the ones that are highlighted in black and they are the biggest price.
They’ll say ‘he’s the biggest price I am going to bet with them’. Then you check the terms and it might only be 1/4 the first five.
Jordan Spieth is 14/1 in a number of places this week but you can get 12/1 with 10 places at SkyBet. That seems like quite a reasonable trade-off – you are only losing two points and yet you are getting all these extra places.
Are you a fan generally of each-way betting in golf? Are they usually a part of your portfolio?
The best example I can think of this year was at Torrey Pines. I put up Scott Stallings at 200/1 in the Farmers Insurance and that was seven places with Betfair.
He absolutely scraped into 7th place. I think somebody double bogeyed the last hole to allow him to get 7th and, suddenly, because I’ve taken that extra place terms I have got a 50/1 each-way payout – to a quarter of the odds of 200.
Had I gone with a firm who were only top six, I’d have got absolutely nothing.
The Holy Grail is you find the best price with the best terms.
In that case, that was Stallings’ biggest price as well so it was the perfect storm.
Most of the time, you are dealing with this trade-off. Do you go with the biggest odds or the best each-way terms? There is no science to it, really. I think a lot of it comes down to personal preference.
Are you somebody who just wants to get a return on the week – you feel good about yourself and you can put some of that back on another week – or do you want to go for a big price and no messing about?
Because I tip golf, I want to see returns coming back in regularly so I tend to take advantage of more places.
Are you looking at the bigger priced players when you are looking at betting with 10 places in mind? Should new punters, for example, be looking at Rory McIlroy, at 9/1, with the same eye?
I think new punters are still thinking they need someone to win. Maybe 10 places are a little bit more for picking out somebody at bigger odds, who they think ‘he’s probably not going to win but he could sneak into a top 10’.
So rather than having to play the top 10 market, which is what you used to have to do, you can still go each-way and get those 10 places.
Let’s look at a specific player like Justin Rose. The best price is 14/1 at 1/4 of the odds but you are only getting five places. You can get 10 places at 10/1 at 1/5 of the odds. What’s the best way to bet?
With Rose, if you go back to the HSBC Champions, for example, he will have had six top-5 finishes. He is somebody who can get top 5s. At The Masters, in two of the last three years, he has finished runner-up. You’d have been better off taking the bigger price and still getting your 1/4 at 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
With some players you think ‘I don’t particularly have to go for that insurance of extra places’ – because you think they are going to play great anyway – so you take the bigger price.
So if you were advocating a strategy, for the 10 places for example, you’d almost be looking further down the market?
With someone like Rose, it would be too much of a drop off to have to take 10/1 when you can get 14s. For me, he will be one of those fighting for the Green Jacket – not scraping into 9th. I think he will be right up there, so I’d rather take the 14s than the 10s with more places.
These sorts of bets then are great for someone like, and regardless of form, Louis Oosthuizen who is 50/1 and has done well there in the past…
Yes. That’s a good example. He’s actually 55/1 with Bet365, who are going eight places. So that seems quite a good deal overall.
It’s about getting the deal.
If you can find a player who is nearly top price and you are getting good each-way place terms then that is what you are looking for.
Major time seems to be quite decent for punters at the moment…
Week to week you do get some firms playing seven places, and we have seen a few more in recent times, but in the majors – the last few years – it has really exploded.
As I said earlier, back in the day it was ‘wow, somebody is going five places, incredible’, Then someone went six and that seemed astonishing. Now we are getting 10. It does seem quite attractive.
But the bookies know that a huge part of their betting on golf is done around the majors. This is when they want to get new customers in.
For anyone new to it, on a week like this it is imperative to shop about the various bookies isn’t it?
Absolutely. To this day, I find it baffling when somebody tells me they’ve only got one betting account. There’s a slightly odd perception that if you’ve got 10 betting accounts you are some kind of reprobate gambler when all you are doing is shopping around.
Say you buy food at supermarkets – you don’t just go to one, surely? I look around and say ‘well, it’s cheaper there’.
Maybe insurance is a better example with comparison sites and so on. You shop around and it’s absolutely imperative you do that.
It doesn’t mean to say you are some sort of loony betting person. It just means you are looking for the value and it makes sense.
So who is your top tip for The Masters at the moment?
I wish I knew, to be honest. We are talking some 10 days out and I still have a shortlist of about 20. The only one I’ve had antepost is Phil Mickelson at 40s. I am quite happy with that, as he’s 20s now, but for the rest I am still mulling.
You’re looking very good with Mickelson…
I am delighted with how he has played. I have backed him to win a couple of times when he has won and he’s one of my favourite punts of the year – Mickelson at The Masters.
When 40s was on offer, before he won in Mexico, I was like ‘I’ve got to have a bit of that’. It would be great, wouldn’t it, if Mickelson had another charge at it?