Dean Evans sits with Jake Williams to talk about his view on the evolution of betting and bookmaking. Dean Evans is widely regarded as historically Australia's #1 professional horse racing tips provider, with 2 services (Trial Spy & Dean's Tips) amassing over $120,000 in profits over 8 years for members using an average bet size of just $60.
Read the transcription here:
Jake: Dean Evans, welcome back to the Business of Betting podcast. It's great to chat with you again.
Dean Evans: Yeah, great to chat with you, Jake. I'm really looking forward to us. It's a real pleasure to be back.
Jake: As people will probably know, now we're going back to interview some of the most popular guests and some of the most insightful and I do urge everyone that haven't already or even if they have to go back in and check out your episode and I'll make sure it's easily accessible, given we talked a lot about pretty important principles around betting and then some of the things that you've learned from other things like finance, for example and I think, we even talked about Bitcoin and a few other things back then. So, I'm interested and very excited to get back into some of those topics but more so the different ones and we'll see how we go here but just starting off in terms of the last couple of years.
Is there anything that stands out that has changed or evolved quickly either on the analysis side and the handicapping or even the betting side? Is it a similar circumstance as to when we last spoke or other major changes at this point?
Dean Evans: Things are always evolving from a form perspective. Firstly, we're in a bit of a data revolution at the moment, I would say. Data is becoming more widespread, more mainstream, more accepted sectional times and more accessible. You can pay for sectional data from the likes of [00:01:34 inaudible] and daily sectionals and pull daily ratings to [00:01:38 inaudible] planning for Michael Fraizer and the like, but we're also getting to a stage where bins, for example, is providing sectionals for most metropolitan race clubs and major racing jurisdictions to the point where anyone can access basic sectionals for every horse in a race and they are good quality commercial databases available, planning to win and planning form and self [00:01:59 inaudible] are all highly regarded. There are many pros who use those or their own.
Race sectionals are freely available but many punters are at a loss really on how to use them, isn't unable to control and what value do they assign to those sectionals and how do they use them but speed maps can be generated at the click of a button. It can be obtained from free websites. There is more information on tracks, weather and potential biases and the quality of analysis on mediums such as racing.com and those things is improving as credit to the likes of John Anderson and Matt Welsh have tried to drive more quality insight analysis and an unbiased conversation and discussion where they can.
Theoretically, as it continue to be the case throughout time that there's more information and insight and data available but the argument is the good quality punters and winning punters have always had a more advanced level of information and tools available to them. I suppose the difference now is that less exclusive, you get between those winning punters and those that had no real useful information has reduced and there's an opportunity for punters to gain data and access information more readily and more easily. They're also more able now to access the actual insights and information and tips of a full-time professionals and that thing.
That gaps narrowed and the opportunities widened for people to win punting. So, leveraging that data and finding the edge really is even more critical now than ever. On the flip side, I'd say, the betting side of things unfortunately, has gone backwards quite a bit in the last couple of years. The market percentages are much higher and that's made more challenging for punters to achieve the same level of profitability and turnover as they did previously.
Jake: On the handicapping analysis side, obviously those that are winning longer time and more savvy will be looking to make sure, they are a step ahead. What does the step ahead look like in the last set of 12, you know, months? Is it just making sure the data you get is claimed and make sure it is correct and there aren't any major issues? Or is it how you interpret it, that's the area that you need to focus on, horse like, Nature Strip comes to mind and just trying to figure out what all the times mean for a horse like that? He's probably tricky and it's thrown inside a couple of times and obviously, is been different trainers and all that type of thing. Are there any areas that are more of a heavier focus that you've seen over the past 12 months in those areas?
Dean Evans: I think the edges are shifting all the time and possibly shifting quicker than we are used to. I discuss these topics with a wide range of people [00:04:53 inaudible] analytics services example is entirely data driven. He doesn't do any video, work, anything else. Everything he does is entirely based on your modeling with your own database by a PhD data scientist and the calculations or writings derived from that. He's revising that model every three to six months and finds whatever mix of the 250 plus variables that you can assess about a horse in a race, that actually has an edge completely changes in that period and staying ahead of that is the key.
I've just finished building a Power BI analysis suite that I can use on my betting or analysis for that matter to quickly determine which of around 100 key variables are profitable and which are not in my personal bidding and deep dive where necessary and the next step is moving to machine learning with that, which I'm currently assessing but adapting is the key. You need to be able to quickly write or order those 250 variables that you're assisting from the most important to the least important and that changes based on the situation of a race on a bog heavy track.
You may consider the ability with the horse to handle the going higher waiting on certain tracks and distances. It's the early speed and it's the map that a critical inner weight for age race might just be that true base rating or handicap rating and a staying race. It might be the ability to run the trip but in every circumstance, it's a different weighting of the variables that's important and then that weighting can change over time as the market will catch on or not on some of the variables. In many cases, those variables I've just spoken about, they may not actually be there, they may be back into the price. There's no true edge in those.
You find even example with bias that can be after a few races that can be over compensated by the jockeys and by the betting market. It might be on speed bars for the first few races but suddenly, all the jockeys are steaming to the front and you go fast paint and suddenly the sweepers come home and now the cages, the bias appears there but suddenly, the track is dry or gets wetter or the wind changes and so that bias turns around and many computer-based systems that actually changed the market at all for these factors because there's actually no edge in doing so.
But the most critical element that I think is that with whatever edge you've identified, you need to find what works for you, firstly and then secondly, you need to continually be testing that edge exactly still exists because often that edge is now back into the price and on the topic that you're talking about with speed. That has certainly become one of the major focuses in recent times and I think, it's gotten to the point now where I think there's a speed obsession to the point, where question for a lot of people who were using it whether they're really writing it correctly anymore, where they're really overcompensating with this speed obsession to the detriment of the other 250 plus variables that exist and at the end up, they can assess and if everybody is obsessing and over weighting their belief at their speed rating is correct or most accurate or most reliable and the question whether that's really the edge that many punters want to focus on.
We're going to try to focus on getting around that and looking at the other variables that actually impact a race. It’s open for question but for my experience in talking with so many different punters, they all have a completely different approach and they can all work at the same time.
Jake: How does an individual or a very small group, let's say, especially if they're not doing it full time but even if they are, how do they go about continually testing to see if the edge exists as you mentioned or continually updating what they're doing or continually doing the R & D on their system and their approach and it seems like an unenviable task and it strikes me that those syndicates and those groups that are able to pull resources are obviously well placed anyway but even more so, as we go through this process of rapidly evolving edges and then the market adjusting accordingly.
Dean Evans: It's probably two parts of the question is, what to the advanced syndicates and pro punters doing and what can the everyday person do? It's incredible when you speak with some of these large syndicates. I've been fortunate that this, the big four group, Jellico and David Walsh are well known in Australia but there's two others that are part of that group before in Hong Kong that are billionaires and four good friends. I've been able to spend quite a bit of time with them and they speak about examples where their model was raking in millions and millions and all of a sudden, they went through quite a period of losing and they couldn't figure out what it was.
After a few months, they suddenly realized that in bidding in Hong Kong that the shout in track could change the camber on the turn from the 600m to 400m mark or something like that. The camber changed and because of the camber change, their entire models got shifted upside down. It's quite incredible when you hear those stories to know the level of detail that they're going into and what they need to do find the edge and have the edge and house and something like that, most people wouldn't even consider it can have such an enormous impact on their models.
When you have access to data and you have access to people who are experts in analyzing their data then you can test these things and test how they shift over time and test what the market is overestimating and under estimating for the average person. You really need to have a fair period of time when you're testing something but if you’re finding, the market opening shorter and staying shorter on edges that you previously found, you were getting great value from then that's usually the indication that it might be time to look at something else and look at it either on another way of exploiting that edge that you have or finding another edge and quite often the answer can be as simple as if you think the edge is disappeared and it's gone the other way.
You can look at playing those analysis if you think they're being over a bit for a period and then switch back when the edge comes, which is the cycle of how things operate. An edge that was there can disappear but then it can come back as the large syndicates and the other punters shifts their weightings of their models to the different variables.
Jake: It is somewhat comforting that even the big syndicates and the billionaires and millionaires can have a bad run and can lose some cash and then on a model, when it comes to their betting. You impacted by the betting markets, you mentioned before, the percentage is getting higher directly for you. Does that impact where you bet, how much you bet, how often you bet? Is it something that you might shy away from smaller provincial meetings or maybe you focus more heavily on different aspects just given how the market is evolving?
Dean Evans: One of the biggest shifts in the new bidding environment. I think, it’s shifting from bidding early to bidding late. I think, to fit those halves of the 2010 decade, I was bidding early a lot. Early markets were much better and the percentages were lower, products available were better and there were more opportunities and more recently, a lot more of the bidding is late now because the markets just don't open up on the bigger price runs until late.
I'm different to a lot of punters who would focus on favorites and more often look to get the favorite bid and then find the races where I believe, there's a false favorite bid around it and the advantage of that is that the markets have tightened up the skinny, pointy end of the market with the favorite. So, the opportunity with horses at bigger odds is still very prevalent, if you bet late. For me, I got to a point where it was no longer feasible for myself to bet for myself really. I was so heavily restricted by bookies and mainly, not even abiding even with the minimum bet laws for me and a fire up a bookmaker website, I get a different price to what everyone else sees.
I see a price and dynamic loads and it doesn't really exist for me. So, I outsource my betting with a syndicate and no longer do that myself and the other drivers that I have to bring services and oversee winning edge investments and other racing related businesses and have an investment property portfolio of other investments or two young kids. So, something had to give and that was the area that I chose to outsource but it was formed.
I think, a number of punters have had to adapt and I believe the edge with the prices and back in the favorites has diminished and going wider hasn't to the same extent but now, I have two very different methodologies of finding winners, a standard database form and video analysis approach and then the trials approach and child's approach really lends itself to maiden races and two year old’s and three year old’s and that it hasn't really changed but the other approach I've switched from focusing exclusively on metropolitan races to then I focus almost exclusively for a number of years on provincial country races for quite a while and then recently, I've gone back to a metropolitan races predominantly major black type races, focusing on those where I can get more on and focusing on where I think the edges are there, a concept called historical profiling major races that has really helped me to identify what it takes to win a major race before analyzing that race and I found that very fruitful.
I'm currently working on a database and on pulling together data from two prominent database sources and two prominent sectional times providers and dynamical data and pulling that together into a bespoke database for myself to analyze edges and variables and take myself to that next level again and there's no stopping in this game. You have to keep moving forward. You have to keep evolving. You have to keep yourself ahead of the market. I felt that's what I needed to do to take things to the next level again and that's what I'm currently doing.
Jake: Take us through the process of shifting all of your betting or a part of your betting anyway to syndicate. It seems like something for anyone who's a gambler or better or punter out there who likes betting and maybe even is very good at it, semiprofessional, professional that aspect of it is probably something that's very difficult to give up and obviously, the control aspect and that being lost. Was that something that you struggled with? Was it difficult to eventually hand over? Or did you just have to look at it pretty methodically and put certain steps in place and ultimately, it was the right call?
Dean Evans: Ultimately, there are people who are able to go out onto the track and place bets and you can get more on the track and you can get more on at better prices quite often on the track and there's a loss of control as various things that you've got to way up with it but for me, I was forced into a corner really to too many options, there was. I'd rather cut down what I was doing somewhere and I couldn't really see where to cut it down and also, was having to accept that I was going to get way worse prices than doing I could go for this option which makes life a lot more difficult.
It ultimately was a reasonably simple decision that I think, my advice is to try to get to the track where you can and have opportunities there and as I've said to most people to have accounts with absolutely every bookie that you possibly can and bet fair and spend as much time as people tend to spend on learning about betting and finding a winner, spends much time actually on getting the best price because that is the one factor that can really change the dial for any punter more so than anything else. I was spoken to punters, it's been hours and hours on the form or databases, all these things and then you talk to them and I've got three bookie accounts and it's startling. That's the easiest way to increase your edge immediately is to absolutely everywhere and bet fair on everywhere that you possibly can at the best price.
It's the most critical thing. So, it's something that I've tried to educate people on for throughout my time is that needs to be your major focus, getting the best price and learning when and where to bet. He has got to be your number one focus ahead of everything else.
Jake: You mentioned before, you tend to work around the favorite, so you have more recently anyway. Has that resulted in bigger swings in your betting or is it very manageable? And I think, the obvious follow up and it's funny, I still read and he had different approaches to this which is pretty startling and I’m guessing, you're going to have a very clear answer on this when betting in these races. I'm sure you're betting on at least one and probably two, even three different horses or more to be able to build your own book around a favorite, if you don't necessarily love the price.
Dean Evans: Yeah, absolutely that certainly bet multiple horses in a race and there's no reason not to. You can provide a really simple example, if you have a three-horse race and the market thinks that there's a 50% chance of horse one winning and a 25% chance of horse two winning and a 25% chance of horse three winning. Do you think there's a, let's say, 33% chance of all three horses winning then why would you not bet both horses, two and three? Why would you want to pick one and guess? And then when you run the mathematics of that, you can use as extreme examples as you like but if there's one horse who's short on the market and you think it's got a very low chance of winning then you should be betting a very large number of the other runners in the race.
Unless you want to go to the option of simply laying the favorite that's the other option that's available to punters on bet fair but some prefer to simply bet to win and then it comes down to how many of those do you want to bet and you're going to use Kelly or what form are you going to use to devise your age and place those bets and where you're going to draw the line in terms of the edge. It's not necessarily just a feel, it's a market price, the copyright price. You might need a certain amount of juice to be worth betting and to deal with that variance. Bidding around the favorites, it can have wide swings in terms of variance but bet in multiple runners can help with that.
For me, I've found probably the biggest driver of variances can lead to bias that's been inherent in the tracks more than anything else. If the tracks are fair then I go very well and if they're biased then it's a lot harder.
Jake: You talked about you're spending far more time betting at the very end closer to jump time. What impact has that had on the general punter as well as yourself? Are there many positives that come with that? Or is it simply something that's forced on you and you wouldn't prefer to do it and there's far more negatives that are outweighing any of the remaining positives?
Dean Evans: I think, it really comes down to the way that the process is working at the moment with the early markets which is a set of very high market percentages and then bent into shape by people sniping away at them but no one's really getting any decent amount of money on and you look at the Saturday market, you start on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday. By the morning, they're pretty well bent into shape whether by Friday, they're more or less bent into shape and no one's really got a lot of money on. The bookies are essentially getting a free market adjustment.
While they're making mistakes in those early times, they're not paying much for them and I think that's one of the limitations with the minimum bet was, if a bookie is a real bookie and they're putting up a price and they really should be forced a bid that price from the moment they put it up. No one's forcing them to put it up but once they do, they should be beholden to the same rules that apply after 9am. I don't think it's really ideal at the moment. It's sucking a lot of money from the mug punters who are living in the old times or FOMO type situation where they believe they'll be better betting early when 9 times out of 10, they're not.
Now, they'll be far better off waiting or even just bidding BOB or bid various pay than they are getting early because they've been to these huge markets but then the deductions are enormous sometimes and they're just getting ripped off really.
Jake: The Friday afternoon punter walks into the tab and fills out his paper slips still or puts in 10 or 15 different bets into the machine. He's far better off just doing BOB or bet for SP almost every time.
Dean Evans: Yeah. I would say, absolutely.
Jake: Have you thought about any way? Obviously, you mentioned one there about making any bookie that puts up a price to bet to minimum bet laws. Is that the only thing that can be done to try and make sure it's a real market or without even condense things further and they may not necessarily be that interested in putting it up, as they typically do now? Or are there other things that come to mind to try and draw out the available length of time to bet on some of these races, given if it really is the last 3,5,7, 10,20 minutes before race that obviously is going to have a major impact on that market?
Dean Evans: I think, to start off the bidding markets have changed dramatically in the last few years and I think to be blunt, one of the major issues we've had is prominent breeders in charge of racing and it was in their best interest to raise prize money to enormous, unsustainable levels and increase the prices of yearlings and the values of SARS and broodmares and we think about how the industry is funded by punters, funders extravagance. Now, the market percentages have increased and have increased to increase the margins of corporate bookmakers to pay the race field for use and likes and alike the situation doesn't really benefit the industry at all.
Now, when I think about high stallion fees and instilling values and broodmare values, all it means is that our best horses are retiring early. How is that a benefit to us? It's not even it's coming at a negative cost of the turnover and hence, the funding of the industry. How's that a benefit? It's not, so to add to the pain and we had the lunacy of these point of consumption taxes from the state governments which to me is, it's killing the goose that lays the golden egg. It's all being passed to punters to fund and the point of consumption tax imposed by the government.
It has led to those early markets opening up at bid greater than 135% and the SP prices are even above 120% and this is 5% points higher than it was in previous years. It's like getting $165 in a two-horse race. Now, the government's getting these huge tax increases and prize money is going through the roof but punters are suffering and I don't really know if any other industry whether the most critical cost customers is put in last? They're usually the VIP but punters have been charged double the price of admission and shoved to the most lead section at the moment and punters have options.
They can turn over less, they can turn over nothing, they could switch their betting funds to sports to E-Sports or pokies to drinking or dining or any other recreational activity in the world. Should the wheel turn so far away from the punter that they switch their capital tool to alternative sources and prize money will drop and standard and quality racing will drop. It'll cause irreparable damage to this game that we will love. The bookies are paying more in fees and taxes. They're removing betting products. They're increasing market percentages and it's all at the expense of the punter. I think Winston Churchill said, “You can't text a nation to prosperity. You can't try to tax yourself into prosperity. It's like standing in a bucket and trying to lift yourself up by the handle.”
The entire economic history of Earth has proven this statement to be correct and yet it feels like that's exactly what the racing industry is doing. We can learn lessons from the UK racing as the annual turnover of course, is pitting in great but decline year in year from 2008 to 2018 just keeps going down. The prize money is in the pits. The punters have different options in sports betting, casino betting and E-Sports and all these things that offer better market percentages and I think, there's a lot that needs to be done in this place and there's plenty that can be done.
The taxation situation is being looked at holistically. Racing needs have found and needs to get majority of those from punters. We want decent prize money. We want a vibrant game but it needs to be sustainable. I think, a tank with the key government of peak racing bodies to discuss a serious reform on the taxation and the fee structure on horse racing and ensure its longevity and survival. It's critical that PoC taxes aren't sustainable. The funding model needs reviewing. Contribution of the tab and corporate bookmakers and rails bookmakers, I think, needs to be assessed and taxing companies on turnover rather than profit or margin. It's not the right approach.
Potentially merging the tab into one totally more international investment can relieve the pressure on the local betting markets and what we need is a bid in marketplaces competitive and vibrant and generates turnover. That's what generates funding. The minimum bet laws are ridiculous. The bookmakers aren't bookmakers anymore. You should be aligning more with rails bookies to win 5K at least rather than 2k. The bookies should be forced to abide by minimum bet laws from the moment they put up the prices, as I mentioned.
No one's forcing me to put up those prices but they should be forced to accept that set those prices. I think, one piece that hasn't really been discussed much but a really solid idea would be enforcing market percentages. We were talking about the markets for a Saturday. On a Wednesday, let's say that the market percentages if bookie wants to put up a market should be maximum. Let's say, 130%. I'm not being unreasonable here. Then on Thursday, it goes to 125% and on Friday, it goes to 120% and on a Saturday, it should be 115%.
Let's have a market that people can actually bet into and at least people will appreciate that as they go as they bid closer. A bid earlier, they're getting a worse market percentage but at least it's no and the issue with the way, they're treating the markets at the moment is they might open them up at 1.5% but then the horse gets bet. They win the prize in for that horse and they don't want the prize out for another horse, so that they're not bookmaking. That’s just ridiculous prices. You're having a price available to all is it should be something that's enforced for bookie changes. The price for certain individual locking in that file, it should be six figures. So, they don't do it and we've got a fair marketplace.
Uniform deductions methodology, bookie is really a low unto themselves in this regard. They're applying whatever with methodology they like that even the official top flock, it's currently based on five or six bookies and having the same price at the same time and it's being gamed. They're changing their prices at different times. It should be based on whether a price was available with free bookies at any time of betting in that last 30 minutes of bidding and that’s so their fair top flock.
At the moment, their price is embarrassing compared to the actual, true top flock on bet fair. I certainly think that there's a lot of ways that the industry can come together and look at trying to improve both balance and improve the markets that generates high turnover, whilst also ensuring game reminds us. It's obviously critical and required.
Jake: Are there any silver linings to what's going on the betting side or are there more viable options out there because it sounds like to me, if you and I had to convince, let's just say, a professional sports bettor to dip their toe into racing or get more involved in racing. They really only have the exchange which is obviously very light. They have on track options potentially, if they want to gather up the miles on the road and get out to all those tracks. They have some limited availability with corporates but again, closer to jump time in play isn't really an option.
Betting early, like you've said, is really difficult if not impossible. Is there any silver lining within that if we had to convince someone to come over or is it requiring at this point, it's past the tipping point and there's got to be change different regulation, different enforcement, mandating margins and those type of things before we see any positive uptick?
Dean Evans: There's been a negative tone because punters are getting a raw deal at the moment but there's always opportunities, in spite of everything said about market percentages with bookies. The market percentages on bet fair haven't changed. The opportunities to live on bet fair is an example. The issue is that as compared to the UK, the market liquidity in Australia is too low which is a shame. You can bet powers before the first race at a lowly nothing meeting in the UK with reasonably substantial deep pools in Australia. They don't get going properly, usually into last 20 minutes. I think, bet fair marketing's a bit off the mark.
Potentially, they should be attending bet mass marketing, I think, to get the tab crowd, the nod crowd for one of a better word. That's where the focus should be to simplify but they don't, they're still tiny as compared to corporates and that's a real shame because if bet fair was much bigger than the corporates would be forced to be more competitive because no one would be bidding with them and really, the tab [00:31:45 inaudible] create its own exchange account for let me understand, why they haven't bid but the opportunity is there on bet fair now and the on-track bookmakers are doing great things, are offering great prices and services as well above the corporates and they're starting to get online.
There's plenty of opportunities to make money betting on horses, still there's no doubt but I just believe the industry has a lot of work to do to shore up its future and improve things. I put forward some of these ideas sometimes on social media and people say, “Oh! But the taxation and corporate bookies can't survive.” I'd argue, why do we need all these corporate bookies to survive? There's this fixed mentality that they need to exist but the point is, who cares? If my sole interest is the improvement and betterment of the racing industry. I don't really care if some of these overseas corporate makes need to fold or consolidate in Australia or divest because punters and the racing industry for free from a funding perspective, we'd all be better off with three corporate bookmakers.
It was bid spending less on new bugs for suggestions that I provided to dramatically increase the local and global turnover and to fund this industry and keep it alive. The current model is just killing that goose that laid the golden egg and once it's gone, it’s gone. That's why I'm so passionate about it. I just think, the industry really needs to take step back into where are we going and where are we getting our funding from. I do think that the biggest and the easiest way to improve the funding would be to have some levy or tax on the breeding industry based on a percentage of either the sale of stock or the stallion stud fees.
This would share the load to a portion of the industry that to be honest, really isn't contributing its share. I think that needs to be done. It's critical to the success of the industry and it's time to industry starts getting local on this because the punters just can't keep funding everything. There's just no more room to move there.
Jake: How about bet types because I've lived in the US a while now and I see a strong push on pick six and all different options including multiple races, multiple horses and things like that and obviously in Australia, there's the equities and other options, trifecta and what not but it's definitely not pushed nearly as much and obviously, there's certain challenges that come with those different betting options but have you explored much and even more recently around betting qualities and what that looks like from a tab perspective as well as things like trifecta, even if it's only on group one race days or during the spring Carnival. Obviously, the Melbourne Cup, it seems like everyone has a first for now and that's evolved a bit more but it's a very wind focused marketplace generally and I think, most people that talk about it, most of the coverage and maybe rightly so it’s headed that direction but have you seen any other bet types that you've either dabbled in or considered or spent some time investigating?
Dean Evans: Equities are mathematically a good betting type and I certainly do enjoy taking equities on big days and they're black type racing arm and with the equity pulls a reasonably deep and most importantly, they're taking out 5% of races. The equity is at the lowest, take out right from the tabs of any bet times. Absolutely, they're not a bad betting medium. I agree with what you say, I think racing should really be pushing the big win type opportunity, wooden places, it's there for the most but you are competing with Lotto and Keno and these things and I think, Kevin earned these big jackpot pools with big sixes which hasn't taken off who usually here, like you say, it is huge in other countries.
Hong Kong has things like the triple trio, large equity pools. I've suggested before, one of the best things that racing could do would be to come together and offer punting competitions that are cheap or free to enter. If they're able to spend millions and millions on prize money, why not have a punting competition with a decent prize pool. I’m talking, a million bucks and have it over a spring or an autumn and set rules and get absolutely everybody joining in and there might be a nominal cost to enter that any punter is going to want to have a crack at that and suddenly, you've engaged them, you entranced them and you've got them interested for a long period of time.
I do think putting really substantial prize money into some punting, tipping competition would really generate an enormous amount of interest. Racing Victoria, racing.com pushing pick 7 thing and it's a great concept and most of the time is 50 grand, that's good but people aren't falling over themselves to do that. You want something that's going to engage the audience over a long period of time and it's in the mainstream newspapers and everyone can have a go and everyone wants to win. I think, that's an option and like you said, I think you want those options with big pools whether it's equities or big six or triple three or all these things but they need to find a way to capture the imagination of the mainstream. Not just the people who’re currently fans of horse racing.
Jake: I want to ask you about pricing because obviously, the way you're describing things, it sounds like the options are relatively limited and all the information is more available, more accessible and potentially, a lot of the off the shelf approaches might basically spit out the same or a similar number and if that's the case, is that negative necessarily? Or are they positives within that? For example, if you're, let's say, 10 betting options. All have the favorite up to 80 and you think it's a $2 chance versus it might be 10 different options that have all relatively different prices from even money after $3, which obviously is a bit of extreme example but there are certain things you can take advantage of when pricing seemingly is headed in a more homogenous direction?
Dean Evans: The reality is most of the leading syndicates in the world are heavily influenced by the wisdom of crowds and the market price already. You hear from the likes of David Walsh as part of that original group before that included Jellico and him, many others have started by trying to build these complex computer models to accurately price the race and virtually, all of them found it actually substantially more profitable to take the market price as the truth and then adjust that for the variables that they felt the market had mispriced or under bet on that event.
The largest syndicates that don't believe they can price a race so accurately that they can disregard what everyone else thinks. That's something for everyone to consider, particularly when it comes to not just model building but also staking. The challenge is most punters in truth would have no idea which of the variables that they wait as important are already baked into the price, which aren't but I would argue that some of the activities that most punters undertake and spend a lot of time on have no value at all to them in practice.
I'll give you one example. Let's say, speed maps. You've probably spoken to dozens of successful pro punters in your business of betting on cars and let's say, the first thing that they uniformly say they do is, done to the form for a race will be a speeding map and I'd argue, why? You interviewed Dominic Byrne. He invented the speed bet, when no one else was doing it. When was that? 20 years ago. If every single punter and broodmares is doing a speed map then is there really an agenda? And don't get me wrong on some bias tracks.
For sure, you have to do a speed map. Canterbury, Caulfield both of which in the last few months have been frankly complete and in other shambolic disasters as far as race horses go with just an inside rails lead bias. This is not a [00:40:05 inaudible] valley and other tight tracks that have a clear pattern, [00:40:07 inaudible] distances within those tracks.
Speed maps opposition running are more important than most other factors but I see people assessing the Melbourne [00:40:15 inaudible] Derby and the first thing they do is a speed map as well and I'm like, really, why? You're not adapting at all of the 250 plus variables to assess. Do you reckon one that's really worth doing. Are you going to predict the speed map of 24 horses, most of which you've never seen in Australia before? What purpose of all those variables to analyze? Do you think that speed maps on top 30 in that situation?
I'd say, no that you're wasting your time and I spoke with one of the most prominent sectional time providers in Australia and he has been many thousands of hours and dollars, getting multiple PhD and Masters to try to come up with an accurate computer formula to determine the early speed of race and he had all that are the early sectional times and cross referencing with the barriers and the jockeys and the standard early sectionals and everything and after all of that, he could not produce anything that could with any remote accuracy, determined accurately the early speed of a race with any statistical significance and that's impacted by two factors, jockey intent.
All the jockeys get speed maps done. If all speed maps say, it's going to be hot speed. Guess, what happens? It will pull the reins early and try to get a slip behind. Suddenly, there's no pace and conversely, they see race with no speed on. Suddenly for them, all have a bright idea and want to go forward and then you have a track bias where it's favoring on paces early and suddenly, everyone wants to go forward and the speed is suicidal and the bet marker wins. Even once you've determined, you’re predicted to be.
You saw the need to assess, how that will impact the race because the old thinking was that a quick early speed suit and bet markers and slow really speeds to dog paces and now, the more advanced thinking is that dropping accurately can actually disadvantage the leaders and so on. Really, speed can break the hearts of the runners behind, even if you could accurately determine the really speed and what does that mean when you're way better than bias.
Given all of that, the average punter and even in the [00:42:10 inaudible] has asked question, how many speed maps the average and ask punter are doing or even accurate with all that time being spent on that could be spent on identify an edge one of the other 250 plus variables that probably have a far bigger edge and importantly, more certainty of accurate analysis. I've never said it publicly but in the spring from the June, Brisbane Winter Carnival to November, the random component Carnivals, I think my tip service, using as an example because you can assess it and I made 130 units profit, about 22% POT.
We didn't have a losing period in six months and I didn't do a single speed map because I focused on other variables that I felt had a far more substantial edge that worth my time and ultimately, involved back in the horses most suited to the race.
Jake: Their tracks are racing fairly like they did in the spring?
Dean Evans: On those big traps, the maps are in my opinion of a little substantial edge but the key caveat to that is when the tracks are biased, suddenly the map and position and run variable can have more importance but I think, that's why there are so many including, myself has such a hatred for unfair tracks but the point of that is there are many ways to skin a cat and I think, trying to educate the everyday punter. The point of what I'm trying to say is that I've seen punters who don't consider sectional times at all in their betting and get a hugely successful. I know punters who are totally video based and don't have a database and are hugely successful. There's many ways to do things and the point I'm trying to make is, with this modernist pricing that you're speaking about and with the situation, you need to find an edge somewhere and I'm saying, the edge might not be where everyone's trying to point you. If everyone's trying to point you to a speed rating database. If everyone's trying to point you to their speed map. Maybe that's not where the edge is, maybe it’s somewhere else.
Jake: No, I think it sounds like from a far anyway, we're at the very top of the bell curve when it comes to people using speed maps and even it’s finding its way into the mainstream and you're right, that's a good indication that maybe, it's time to hop off that bandwagon and maybe, it'll come back around sometime soon where it is useful or maybe, it helps some people get a frame for the race or framework and it helps them picture what they’re going into but you're right, if that's a sole dominant factor then it's probably at this moment anyway, not necessarily that useful.
It's interesting though because I think, the quandary still exists where we want to try and educate the mainstream. If I asked you three or five years ago, you might have said or seven years ago, yeah, let's try and get them understanding. Certain things that are now less in vogue or more useful to put it that way and then vice versa. Now, if you're starting off day one tomorrow, you may not necessarily start there but it is a challenge where I think, we do need to do a better job at letting the masses know about how the smart people are thinking about it and obviously, the problem with that is, as soon as it becomes part of the masses, it's no longer what the smart guy is looking at.
Dean Evans: Yeah, that is a challenge but the point of what I'm trying to say really and convey is just that you need to be contrarian to be winning. If you're doing the same thing that everyone else is doing. With the way, they syndicates and the large punters are operating in the way that the markets are currently in the margins, pricing these things, you just need to find an edge for each for yourself, be continually need to look at what you're missing and if you truly believe that you're going to be able to read sectional times better than someone else's speed maps better than someone else is good on you and some people can.
I'm not saying, the people working solely on speed that are winning a lot. There's people working solely on speed maps that are winning a lot but you got to bet yourself to be better than that or you find something else. There are edges everywhere and there's opportunities to make great money in this game everywhere, in spite of, what I've been speaking about in general which is more than I want the game to improve. I want the game to be more open to everyone. I want the markets to improve because that'll help funding. It doesn't mean that there's not still great opportunities for everyone bidding on horse racing as they most certainly are but you've just got to think differently.
Jake: Where are things that in Australian racing and I must admit the amount that I do follow it. It doesn't strike me as if we're in a golden age. [00:46:37 inaudible] I do think, there are more internationals having more success. Again, I'm certainly not living and breathing in it but I do remember the old days of you would have a Melbourne Cup or a Caulfield cup runner and putting aside maybe the Japanese runners that had a bit of a hot streak in Delta Blues and then a couple of others was a Pop Rock or something like that did well on there but where the things sit now in terms of locally as well as internationally? Do you have a sense of whether we are in a strong period of time or maybe, it's not the case?
Dean Evans: I think, in terms of the standard of racing in Australia, I think the weight for age and the staying ranks, in particular, have a very low standard. Quite frankly, in the spring we had a betting came of last placing and wonder group on [00:47:24 inaudible] miles second up at 101, we have Blackheart back, come out as a nine-year-old after two tendon injuries and when the group one Underwood, 101. Kluger was a seven-year-old who hadn't won for three years in Japan hadn't run a place and it's last forced out, couldn't even run a place in the nonblack tight race in Japan came out and ran a quite a close second to Winx and the Queen Elizabeth, which is Sydney's version of the Cox Plate. Again, we had the Queen Elizabeth this year in day one and he's not a superstar but he absolutely playing them with [00:48:01 inaudible] James when the Sydney Cup who was flat out trying to win a listed race previously.
The loss of Winx has exposed the real lack of depth in the white frayed standard horses in Australia as much as we all want to defend our backyard. I think, the reality is the question marks internationally are the quality and depth form of probably Warrington at the moment. We've been blessed recently like, some true champions like, Winx and Black Caviar and despite that they are absolute the world champions with one anyway. Hopefully, another can come along and distract us but I think, we need to look at the causes, a couple of key drivers. The breeding industry is so strong, is driven by the high prize money.
[0:48:45 inaudible] is worth more as a [0:48:46 inaudible] and a racing proposition and as a result in a large number of our top two-year-old and three-year-old colts, not even progressing into their four-year-old beyond and that leaves the geldings but then you've got race horse exports to Asia, they've exploded. We get around 400 plus horses exported to Hong Kong and China each year. I think, they're only accepting the younger horses, the two- and three-year olds that are prepared to pay telephone numbers sometimes even for non-black type horses and you can see how quickly our depth and stocks are being depleted as obviously having an impact on the quality of our horses and this is why so many of our very best champions in recent times such as Winx and Black Caviar and Finger Lakes have enabled overseas.
Now, they're all [0:49:23 inaudible]. Beginning, when it comes back to punting, it again comes back to stop looking for the obvious and stop being a bit contrary and I think, in the form between many states is more comparable than previously believed. We have the lights of also like, Mystic Journey and the WA horses are really doing very well. These in states now and in even most of the fields, many horses winning a far bigger prices than the true learning [00:49:50 inaudible] are vastly over a bet.
Particularly, these unproven horses with seemingly good records to find the next step a bit of a challenge but I think, punters they are waiting and hoping that next Winx or Black Caviar and taking short odds about biddable commodities we've sent in horses like Avilius and Mystic Journey and Libertarian [00:50:09 inaudible], when a nature's driven to be. They'll get beat at these really short quotes and their handy list of horses but I do think, given the weakness in the stock says, it's only an opportunity to bet horses at big prices because some feel quite even and they're just not as strong as people sometimes want them to be.
Jake: What about tracks, you mentioned it before and it's comes up really often about how awful they are or how unexpectedly bad they might have been, I think. Obviously, a heavy 10 is a heavy 10 but that seems like there's much more chatter around about it. How does that impact, obviously, betting and has it had an impact with obviously the quality of horses and it might be a bit more of an unknown, where you get more 101 shots up or what's your sense of how it's been impacting racing?
Dean Evans: Look, I'll be blunt it. I really believe one of the biggest issues in racing is the track preparation. The bias is an unavoidable, it's an outdoor sport. There are factors such as, weather and typically wind and rain that creates the bias but there are mitigating factors available and the first is the real position and when people are on the record and they defend the track managers but I can tell you off the record. I spoke to a number of track preparers and experts and they say in the vast majority of cases that these inside rails and on pace track biases were avoidable if the track appears to the right course of action.
Now for me, to be honest, when I talk about track bias, I actually really just talk about that inside rails bias. I'm not that fussed about any other bias and I don't think generally, is anyone else. It's rare, it’s an on-pace bias on its own. It hardly ever happens. If it does cause, there's a rock-hard track with a short strike that generally favors on paces anyway but I can tell you in Hong Kong and Japan and New Zealand, I don't think, they have anywhere near the same level of this inside rails track bias issue that occurs in Australia and I believe it's a choice.
I think that racing fans and punters and track managers are accepting of a form of racing in Australia, we're on paces and horses hiking the rails wind but it’s terrible racing and reason I'm so passionate about it is it's terrible for the industry in every way. I posted on social media belt wicked rails pilot bias in the past and often the members that pipe up the most of the members of the industry that pipe up the most, first and foremost are the jockeys and that's because the inside rails bias is inherently dangerous if you're a jockey and you come to the realization that the only way you can win a race on a certain day is to find the rails. It is suddenly competing for a tiny portion of real estate on a 450 kg thoroughbred running. 50 or 60 something km/hr. and you're in a 16-horse field and everyone wants to be on the fence.
It's really dangerous and then you think of a trainer, you've set a horse for a major race. You want an entire team work for months to prepare horse for certain race and you can't control the weather or the track conditions, they vary [00:53:03 inaudible] but at the very least, you should expect that if there's 16 horses in a race, they will all have some chance of winning and there's been a truckload of races this autumn where they say, 16 horses in a race and literally only three of them could possibly win after they've run 400m.
How is that acceptable for an owner who's invested hundreds and thousands, often millions of dollars to get to a race and they go there with their family and their friends and they syndicate and they get to the race and I know they can't even possibly win because of the drawing wide and the fence is a travelator and the rest of the track is [00:53:37 inaudible] quick stand like, only horse in the rails can win. It's just completely unacceptable and for me, it's very fixable and it's quite simple.
The defense on pacers is already favored by mathematics and physics. They don't need further assistance. To my eyes, if there's any chance whatsoever that the inside is going to be faster than the rest of the track. Any chance at all then either move the rail or water the shit out of the inside, to be honest. [00:54:03 inaudible] and Flemington, the horses swoop often the rails off but do you ever hear anyone complain about that? No, because it's great racing. Every horse can get off the rails. That's easy.
The field can [00:54:13 inaudible] 10 wide and every horse gets clear running, every punter who funds the entire show in the industry, you can cheer for their horse on the straight knowing they've got clear running and they've had a go. Same with the owners and the trainers and jockeys, it benefits everyone. That's completely fixable. It just takes the industry leaders to say, hey, this is actually the biggest problem. Let's just fix that stuff. There's guidance on start with a good four and with a good three. Make the guidance to track managers.
Just make sure the track is fair, make sure you've eliminated the lanes as much as possible in particular rails lane and make sure every horse is going to have its chance because that benefits jockeys, trainers, owners, punters and everyone and they won't like the tracks too hard because that creates bias. Frankly, the job of the track managers should be to make the track safe firstly and fair and that's basically fair means every horse has chance and that's all the industry asks. That’s why, I'm so passionate about those inside rails bias.
It just keeps happening over and over again and even though the Corfield track got completely lambasted in the media by everyone on Blue Diamond day. Since then, it has happened another two times. In Canterbury, they had a couple of meetings where living races in a row one by the leader on the rails living in a row, something like 19 out of 21 races that I looked at, was one by the first two but that's not racing. It's just garbage and it’s avoidable. I just think, it's a massive issue and I think, its avoidable issue and the governing bodies are there to make calls on these things and it sounds like one that should be the key focus of track managers and I think that they’ve given that direction and given that focus then they'll find the solutions.
Jake: I can certainly hear it in your voice and I'm just picturing the 100m final at the Olympics and you can't win unless you're in line one or line two and the outside six lines of no hope.
Dean Evans: Exactly! People would just say, what the hell is this? That just be a complete joke, if you had running races and if you're in wild lands, you're running at half the speed of everyone else. It's just ludicrous that happens and that will happen so often and I just do not believe for a second when people say that it's not avoidable. It is avoidable. It can if that was the key focus point and it would be completely avoidable. I would avoid it.
Jake: Absolutely. One final, for I like hearing your thoughts on the tipping world. Obviously, it's one that there are plenty of bad services out there and it always strikes me that what you're doing and how you're doing it and the terminology used and the process as well as the education part of it's critical. What are your thoughts on the state as it is now with respect to the tipping industry?
Dean Evans: We tried to try to revolutionize the industry, frankly, at winning edge investments, trying to do the basic things that are spoken about a lot in our recording results or prices that members can actually achieve a substantially downplaying the results compared to what was available. Actually, posting those results on the website and social media every single day being 100% transparent. I don't think it's a shame, though. It's a real shame but it's a big industry and it gets a bad rap from certain providers. There are con artists in the industry everywhere to be frank.
We had someone asked to join our services or tips when we turned them down and now compares his results as when they're completely fabricated and recorded the highest of either the fixed price or the best owed or the top flag or the bet fair SP without commission taken out and using Einstein try to compare these things but in spite of that, he still doesn't post results sheet because you can't actually make a profit pretends that he is and even the biggest tipping service in Australia for horses and many knows who he is recorded them, the highest possible price available anywhere at any time when sending a tip.
So, you've got people trying to compare these things and you can once the results are achievable and one is not and I think, it's unfortunate. There's a lot of dodgy providers out there and it's easy for someone to set up a Facebook page or Twitter page and start taking money and I'm astounded how many people actually fall for that stuff and might not even have a basic website or they've got no long term record or they show the best [00:58:33 inaudible] can be easily faked or now with a weak bookie, there's a lot of people taking people for a ride but no man was just always be truthful and realistic about the realities of betting that the ups and downs, there's lots of downs but over time, if you're profitable, they're simply part of the journey.
I've spent time with playing poker and having dinners with two of the original [00:58:55 inaudible]. And even these billionaires they talk to you about having these significant losing periods, despite having the most sophisticated and profitable databases and bidding operations in the world but you still get these guys on social media trying to point out losing periods and it's like, about a losing period because he saw our results sheets and our graph and that's what we're transparently uploading and referring to every day but it's moronic and childish. Can you imagine walking up to Warren Buffett? The world's most biggest and most successful investor where 75 million enters Berkshire Hathaway annual conference and trying to pour and point out that the poor stock you invested in or the few months where the share price went down.
It's idiotic, you'd be laughed out of the room but the issue with the tipping is really it's that short term focus. Its people that ask, what's the most important factor when assessing your own betting your own bidding or tipping service in recent units profit or was [00:59:51 inaudible] or strike writing nonsense. It’s none of them, Otto's longevity and transparency is there's hundreds of services out their claims have been around for a period of time and yet their results through either nonexistence or they only show a recent period.
Why do you think that is, the guy's been around five years and shows you the past year's results, what do you think that is, what happened the other four years and the livestreams? Guys, I'm sure results at all at the end of the year and some random periods suddenly send out some summary of their results. Now, I've achieved x units YPOT and who's verified that it's garbage. To me, it's just nothing, it's worthless and we've seen it firsthand, we've had dozens of people trying to apply and join winning edge investments as an analyst and we trial them for long periods and most fail before we take them all.
Now they give up or they stop and they don't like our recording or our transparency or our accountability, you'll know your results and find holes and they don't like that return them away and Siemens set themselves up on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram with an inaccurate set of results. We all do and we didn't accept and you just have to be really weary. We're independent, we thoroughly review and audit everyone, we engage independent contractors to do that we refer a new service and when we're satisfied, it'll benefit the members and unlike most different services, we offer a profit guarantee we don't receive trailing commissions from affiliate bookies based on losses Soviet, it doesn't benefit us to have a losing service is actually very detrimental.
So, less people can rely on that as a general basis and mindset terms of how we want to operate but it's a tough industry, the reality is most punters just don't have the long-term mindset and the ability to wait out a tough losing or dread on period to succeed and so, they bounce from idea to idea or they bounce from service to service and they're looking for some perfect service or method that never loses in it and it doesn't exist. I get suckered into talking about a big day or a week that they had and focusing on the short term but it's about the long-term results.
I've just tried to convey that in terms of you, we try to offer a range of services that suit different punters summer, high volumes on a low volume, something a bit early fixed odds are somebody that's better be BOB or bet fair SP and some back favors and some back refuse and some focus on certain states and Australia wide. It's just about tailoring the right service to the individual which we like to help people with before they join.
I think the key is just to be wary, I think people it's a real false economy to try to go with someone who's free or cheap, when you're turning over spending as much money as you are betting that's cutting your nose off to spite your face or trying to save a bit of dollars a year but really, what you're costing yourself is the opportunity to learn and grow and invest successfully and learn from these full time professionals and really get information from the right sources and if you want to be serious about betting and that's really what you want to do, you got to be able to critically analyze where you're getting your information from and whether that's actually providing you with a true edge in whether you really loved learning and growing with that. So that you can take yourself to the next level and actually, really win on the pump.
Jake: Absolutely and it's a difficult one, given there are con artists that do exist but obviously keep fighting the good fight and hopefully those that are looking for long term investments in different things, they can find it and order themselves and make the right decisions and before I go, I wanted to just ask and fingers crossed, we're all hopeful that nothing gets called off anytime soon. I think the chances are that it may happen, if that does have you and obviously there's been equine influenza before but since then, I dare say, you probably haven't had a day off in the last decade. If you did get let's just say, I told you got three weeks off or four weeks off, what would that mean, would that be a holiday, would that be a time to go back and look at certain things, would that be a full cleanse from racing or do you have the luxury of thinking what that might look like?
Dean Evans: Well, yeah, I like a lot of people in the industry would love a break. I think the industry is so wall to wall and I know it's been causing a lot of consternation with trainers and jockeys and the light winners. They've got to get up really early in the morning for track work and then they're racing at nighttime as well. I think the industry as a whole needs to look at that and know it's suitable and funding but Geez, I could really do with the day off a week, a Monday or something. Even, if each state had a different day off, one state with a Monday, one state with a Tuesday and one state with a Thursday, where they don't race but now, I think, all participants need that.
I certainly don't want racing to stop and this is just an enormous number of people that rely on it but I've been preparing in the background for it. I certainly spending a bit more time with the kids in the family would always be welcomed and is as with anyone in the industry but for me, I'd certainly see it as an opportunity and that seller was looking at everything in life and if racing to stop, I would spend all of my time on working on my database and I didn't find new edges and getting prepared for when it resumed. So, I'd certainly say, it was a huge opportunity, in the same way that I think, a trainer or a jockey or anyone could spend that time, getting better at what they do and learning from someone else, as well as reconnecting with your family and having some downtime.
I think there's always opportunity with these things and yeah, it would give me a lot more time to focus on the going forward and the planning for the future. So, I'd be okay with it but the other day, there's a lot of people that do rely on it to get to give huge credit to the racing industry, to still be running to really be the only sport that is still going they've done just an incredible job and as the trainers have said that they feel more safe on a race course than they do anywhere else.
The biosecurity measures that they put in place and emergence, restricting travel in the various regions that jockeys can travel in and that thing. It’s remarkable that we're still racing in this crazy time and it's a real quick to the industry and we're very fortunate that it's still going but I just think, if there was any broken everyone, the industry needs to look at it as an opportunity to spend some time to improve their craft.
Jake: Absolutely. They've done a terrific job and like I said before and you reiterated hopefully, just given how many people rely on the industry it doesn't happen but if it does, I'm sure it might be a welcome relief for some. Dean, thank you very much for coming on. I know it's been a while since we last spoke and I always love chatting just given the depth and breadth of your knowledge not just in racing and betting but more broadly and it's always fun to get your insights. Thanks again for coming on the show.
Dean Evans: No. Thank you very much, Jake. I really appreciate you calling me back and keep doing an amazing job, interview, so insightful and everyone in the industry just loves what you do and listening to the insights of so many different people and the different approaches and knowledge. It's incredible what you do and very enjoyable for all of us.
Jake: Much appreciated!