Virtual betting is betting on computer generated images of a sporting event, usually a horse or dog race but it can be any sport from cycling or motor racing through to a football match. “Return to player” is widely quoted at 80% to 95% (which means that over a long period expect to get back £8.75 for every £10 you bet.) The Return to Player is higher with fewer runners.
Why does virtual betting exist? Primarily it exists to keep punters interested during non-real racing periods, and, of course, to make money. Bookmakers want to keep shops busy in between live events. People won’t stay in quite shops, and bookmakers want to keep them there before the racing starts. It also creates noise and excitement in the betting shops, while otherwise the tannoy would just buzz. People in betting shops will also play machines while they are there and perhaps put a football bet on.
What characterizes virtual racing is usually a large number of runners, with winners and placed horses at large odds generating phenomenal forecast (pick the first 2 in order) and tricast (pick the first 3 in order) odds. This enables punters to have very small stakes per race thus enabling them to pass a lot of time, always with the promise of a large payout.
You can’t possibly win on virtual racing. You just need to work out how much you would lose in each race if you bet every horse in it to win £10. Further there is no form to study; not edges to spot; no whispers to cash in on. There is even no market to follow, all outcomes open at a price and start the event at that price. Furthermore, they are a nuisance, the prices appear for all 20 runners, the clock announces thirty minutes to get your bet on and then it starts.
Or can you?
We are not setting up Bletchley Park here, but it is a known fact that computers are never random. If clever people with sophisticated computer programmes can manipulate the LIBOR rate, no more said.
It is always important to look at the real world. Most people would imagine that a computer programme generates a random number relative to the horses’ odds when the race starts and that gives the fair result. Ah, but hang on a minute, how then do they get the computer images to match the result, how is the commentary word-perfect?
The answer is we don’t know. These matters are shrouded in secrecy and commercial confidentiality.
Who operates them is interesting. Some bookmakers have a constant stream of their own feeds from Joe Bloggs racecourse that run every 5 minutes. These are best ignored. SIS provides most virtual racing. This company is owned primarily by the large bookmakers and provides racing streaming to all betting shops. Their virtual venues like Portman Park can easily be identified by the fact that they appear in more than one high street bookmakers. This company’s turnover is £250m, so you have to believe that it has spent some hefty monies on software for its virtual racing product.
The good thing about the SIS product is that the priced cards all appear early in the morning on the large bookmakers sites. At least this gives you the time to study the race formats. Look for an unusual race, there is always one there. What you want is a small field with a short-priced favourite (anything between 11/8 and 15/8 is short in a virtual race.)
Now imagine that the SIS software could override its predetermined winner or the winner decided at the start of the race by random software. Perhaps it couldn’t even determine the winner, but it had the ability to either increase or decrease the chances of the favourite winning.
Then there could be value in betting on this. We then have to look for situations in which the bookmakers would want the virtual favourite to win. You have to recognize that it’s not going to cost them much if it wins. The small punter tricast regulars are going to ignore the favourite and people who do back it are not going to bet large stakes, and in any event it is at a short price.
So the first occasion they would want it to win is at a particular time of day. Lunchtimes or early evenings (as opposed to 10 in the morning or 9 at night.) This is because they want to keep people in the shops for the racing; they don’t want them to get disillusioned by losing all of their money on a virtual favourite and go home.
The next occasion is when factors in the real world have gone a particular way. Let’s say lots of favourites have won in the real world that day before the virtual race. There is no reason to put a virtual favourite in. On the other hand if lots of outsiders have won in the real world, dogs and horses, then the bookmaker has made his money that day and has a shop full of disillusioned punters who are about to leave. I know what I would do in that situation, or perhaps the software would do it for me.
If you accepted some of these possibilities, then you might end up with a 7/4 winner once a week. You might also like to consider that to “beat” the software you would need to cap your bet (say £50 maximum); place your bet in a shop never online, and strike it as close to the off as possible.