Value in beholder's eye
Ben Coley asks what exactly is value while recapping a week which failed to have any impact on ante-post golf markets.
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"The worth of something compared to the price paid or asked for it."
The word 'value' should always be at the forefront of any punter's mind before he places a bet. Of that we can probably just about all agree. Quite simply, you wouldn't pay for something you don't need if the asking price were too high, nor should you back something you don't need to back if the price is too low.
But what exactly is good value and where should one draw the line? That's a question which isn't so easy to answer, except to say that it varies from person to person.
One may see a 33/1 chance and think good value, another may think bad value, and ultimately it's impossible to say with certainty which is correct - not difficult, but impossible.
Nor should it be possible to reverse judgement on value after the result of an event is known. Simply put, if you thought the 33/1 shot was bad value before, said 33/1 shot winning should not change that view.
Personally, my approach is to assess an event without looking at prices, have one in mind for those on my shortlist, and select accordingly thereafter.
As primarily a golf tipster, I'll often have a dozen players in my mind for an event and the decision on which to select comes down to which offers the best value.
I must admit that in the ever competitive world of betting my boundaries have changed somewhat. Golf prices now go up on a Monday and any serious mistakes will soon be corrected as more and more firms publish and adjust their books.
It's not always possible to be ready to post tips as soon as prices are available, and I'm aware that doing so can be slightly misleading anyway - tipping someone at 100/1 only for 99 per cent of punters having to accept 50s isn't particularly helpful and I'll only post early if the perceived mistake is a big one.
Instead, I'm forced to compromise slightly and I would imagine that applies to most. As a loose example, if I have in mind 50/1 as the price I'm looking for and the player is generally 40s with one or two quoting 45s, I'm more inclined to accept that than in the past. My logic is that if we shaved a point or two off every winning tip last year, the record would still show considerable profit.
After all, successful tipping isn't all about value - it's about finding winners too. The common consensus is that value selections over time will yield profit, but only if one or two of them win. And if there's a player who is nowhere near my shortlist but happens to be a bigger price than I expected, he's still unlikely to end up in the staking plan unless the price offered is wildly inaccurate.
The simple conclusion is that value is always open to debate and should be actively sought, but in this day and age slight compromise is probably a reasonable policy.
I thought I'd found some terrific value last week in putting Bill Haas forward as my headline selection at 33/1, only to see him blow a three-shot lead having traded at odds-on before finishing in a share of third.
I was asked by one Twitter follower if I could explain the performance of a man who has four PGA Tour wins to his name, including from the front, and the simple answer is that for most PGA Tour professionals winning will always be very hard.
It's harder still on a course like Riviera, which will punish anything other than excellence. That's why prior to the final round I was hopeful rather than confident, and it's why a slightly wayward round from Haas was punished cruelly.
Some will say he 'bottled it', but I'd ask what does that even mean? All of those guys in contention were nervous and the fact that the winner was the only one who hadn't previously picked up a PGA Tour title says it all - it was simply John Merrick's day and good luck to him, he's earned it.
That event and the Africa Open failed to have any impact on ante-post markets, with neither winner at all likely to feature in the Money List and Race To Dubai frames.
Fortunately, we're in a good position in both. Brandt Snedeker, backed at 50/1 to win the PGA Tour Money List, is currently 7/2 with Sky Bet behind 9/4 favourite Tiger Woods.
Snedeker's rib injury isn't ideal as there is an easy cheque up for grabs in the Match Play this week, but he should be back for the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral and therefore won't have missed much - indeed, a rest could even do him good.
Dustin Johnson has been very poor for a month since winning in Hawaii but at 10/1 from 16s his prospects have also improved, while third selection Hunter Mahan looks close to his best and is worth considering at 66/1 now if you're not already involved.
Rory McIlroy remains a strong favourite for the Race To Dubai but our headline selection Louis Oosthuizen has halved in price to a standout 9/1 with BetVictor as the season steps up a gear.