Matt Love runs Football Elite, a tipping service specialized in the top 5 European leagues. Football Elite has a contrarian approach, going against what the majority of people do in the top football markets. As of 30 March 2014 the service has achieved a 12.6% yield in 1,731 bets, what are outstanding figures if we take into account the high liquidity of the markets where Matt tips. Football Elite is proofed by the Secret Betting Club.
What was your first contact with the sports betting world?
I guess like a lot of UK football fans my first contact with the gambling world was trying to sneak into bookies as a 14 year old to try and get my accumulator bets on the weekends football!
I started treating betting as a serious investment opportunity about 13/14 years ago. I don’t remember exactly when or what the lightbulb moment was but it dawned on me pretty early in life that betting was something that had lots of potential. I think I was kind of lucky that I started betting seriously while I was still young and so I could make mistakes and take the risk of betting for a living while I had little responsibilities or financial commitments.
How long have you been working as a tipster?
I started Football Elite in 2006. When I first started I never expected the service to take off as it has and indeed it was never really the intention for it to do so. I kind of started the service on a whim to be honest, with the thoughts that, as someone who was making good money betting, it would be a bit of easy extra money as all I’d be doing is passing on whatever bets I’d be having myself.
Of course, I soon realized that there was a world of difference between being able to make a profit with your own bets and replicating that as a practical, sustainable service that others could follow and easy money it most certainly was not! While I first started it in an almost flippant way 8 years ago, it became very serious very quickly. Nowadays it is my business and an important part of my future life plans.
What are the best and the worst parts of being a tipster?
The best bit is it is a very nice business to run in general. I enjoy it, have made some very good contacts and of course if you can get the results the potential is there to make decent money.
The worst is definitely the pressure. It gets easier as the years go on but I’d be lieing if I said I didn’t still feel nervous at the start of every weekend.
Losing runs are bad enough when it is just your own betting but when you’ve got tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of pounds of other peoples money riding on every bet you give, losing runs are utterly horrible. You wouldn’t be human if it didn’t affect you. It is also part and parcel of the business that you have to accept that many people will experience a bad run during their membership and leave your service, probably thinking negatively of you and your service. That used to bother me massively but I have learnt as the years have gone on that it is just the way it is and there’s nothing you can do to control losing runs and the timing of them. If you do not have a very thick skin, running a betting service is not for you! Also, a lot of things as a tipster are out of your control. The only thing you can do is find value prices. Everything after that initial identification of the value price is out of your hands. It can be hugely, hugely frustrating.
You tip in the top 5 Football leagues, where the betting market is more liquid and inneficiencies are supossed to be lower. How do you do to beat the market consistently?
I take the position that hype is your friend in top class football markets. It is basic supply and demand really. The most popular toys at Xmas are not going to be in the sale, they will be full price as the retailer naturally wants to make the most profit they can out of them. It’s the same for betting. Popular, big name teams or teams in great eye-catching form are very often priced lower than they should be simply because the weight of money on them is much greater than their opponents.
My focus is on smaller, lesser hyped teams and opposing the big names. I can’t really say much more than that without giving away too much but that is a neat basic 1 line summary.
I guess you can’t watch all games of the 5 leagues on TV :-). In your opinion, how important is for a tipster to watch the games?
It think it depends how you bet. For my style of betting where I’m opposing public opinion and conventional wisdom rather than trying to outwit the market makers I don’t think it is vital to watch every kick. If you were someone whose betting was based on knowing more about a team than the market (virtually impossible in top flight football) then of course it would be vital to watch as much as possible.
I do end up watching a lot of games just because I am a football fan and would watch them anyway even if I had no betting interest, but for my style of betting it isn’t vital to do so IMO.
Do you personally “hedge” your pre-match bets with live betting? what is your point on that?
Personally, I never hedge. I firmly believe that most people give away potential profit over the long term by not letting their pre-match bets run 100%. It makes for a bumpier ride to just let everything ride but my personal stats say I am much better off for doing so.
What is your opinion about live betting and trading? Do you think it’s easier or tougher to win money than with pre-match betting?
I’m by no means an expert on live betting but to me it seems more structured. Unless a game has very unusual circumstances, every point in the game is mapped out to some degree. A big favourite 1-0 up with 20 minutes to go? The market will know exactly what the correct price at that moment the game should be. I’m not sure how you find an edge in that situation. Pre-game there are much more variables in play and it leaves much more room for there to be value one way or another IMO.
As I say though I’m not an expert on in-running betting so I have no doubts there are opportunities there for those who know what to look for.
What is your staking method? What is your advice for punters?
For Football Elite I go level stakes for all bets. I feel level stakes betting is the most transparent way of betting for a tipping service as there is no way of manipulating the figures. If something cannot make a profit to level stakes then no staking plan in the world is going to make it profitable.
I think it should be up to the individual member to implement their own staking plan based on their own risk/reward comfort zone.
Which are the bookies where you bet most?
I place virtually all of my bets with the US/Asian firms – Pinnacle, SBObet etc – and the exchanges – Betfair, Matchbook, Betdaq etc. All Football Elite bets are 1×2 or Asian Handicap bets so can be placed with little fuss and it is just whoever has the best odds/limits. On occasions I’ll also use cash betting in the UK shops if needs be which I think is a very underrated weapon in the arsenal of those of us in the UK.
What do you do in your free time? What are your hobbies?
Thinking about it, most of my time is taken up with football one way or another! Whether betting on it for the day job, watching it, reading about it or playing it (nippy right winger – somehow slipped through the net of the pro’s scouting networks!).
Since I turned 30 a couple of years ago I’ve become a little obsessed with health and fitness. More because I’m incredibly vain more than anything and don’t like the thought of getting old!
Oh dear, that doesn’t sound too interesting does it?! I probably should have lied and said something cool like skydiving or basejumping!
Any sports betting book you have read and want to recommend?
It has probably been mentioned by others but Fixed Odds Sports Betting: The Essential Guide: Statistical Forecasting and Risk Management by Joseph Buchdahl isn’t the lightest of reads but covers a vitally important subject.