The exercise of identifying whether or not money down is professional or public can be a difficult one to get right. When it comes to sports betting, perhaps the most obvious example of when large of amounts of professional money are put down is in horse racing. Often, when a horse that has started at 8/1 in the morning hardens in the market and eventually ends up at a price nearer evens, this is usually a sign that that either the online bookmakers – or professional punters – know something.
Notable examples of horses shortening in the market in the past have come from race-fixing. Professional con men would run their horses in aces that didn’t suit their animals and then, when the horse ran badly enough and became a big enough price for his next race, the man would run his horse in a race that did suit, and from there back his animal with big money. From a punter’s perspective, you’re trying to figure out why a significant price shift has happened and sometimes this is due to professional money down.
It is not just the professional gamblers’ money that causes odds to shorten in the market. Indeed, online bookmakers such as Paddy Power Sports employ ‘form-readers’ whose job it is to interpret a horse's form in order to put it in a particular place in the market. These form-readers, along with the opinions of specific industry outside, talk to the trainers and owners of their respective horses and gauge what kind of a chance their horses have. With this information, online bookmakers can price their horses accordingly, and this is why you sometimes see a horse that hasn’t run for a year at the head of the market, or a horse that hasn’t finished in his last three starts halve in price, for example.
It is hard, though, to tell the difference between public and professional betting. Tom Segal, the country’s most successful tipster, causes markets to fluctuate all by himself with his tips. If a well-known tipster in a popular publication tips a specific horse, you can expect public money betting to respond accordingly, causing a considerable swing in the market.
Gambles can also be staged at sporting venues themselves. In particular, as far as greyhounds are concerned, people have been known to heavily back a specific dog that may not have run particularly well in its last outing, or a dog that is weak in the betting. This is an easy way of spotting the chances the dog may have, and, often, it is wise not to ignore the fluctuations of the market.
If a horse or dog – or football team, for that matter – shortens considerably in the market as an event is about to start, then this is a decent indication of professional money down. Online bookmakers usually shorten the odds of a participant long before the occasion in order to limit their losses. So, unusual activity right before the start suggests somebody knows something the bookies don’t. That said, it is not a guarantee and the professionals get it wrong too.