Mike Lindley is the owner of Winabobatoo. Winabobatoo provides match ratings for all the UK football leagues. Members receive access to the ratings along with the details of all betting systems covered. They also have access to a fully searchable database covering all matches rated since 2006-07. This can be used for searching all past results and for the development of your own personal selection methods.
What was your first contact with the sports betting world?
My father was a racehorse trainer when I was a child. I regularly used to go to the races with my mum and dad in the early 1970s. My first betting experiences were bad ones. I regularly lost my pocket money on my dad’s horses! By the late 1980s my intrigue for stats and betting systems had developed. I’d created some profitable betting strategies for horse racing and was a regular bettor at the race tracks at the time. Sadly my dad died in 1987. When my mum became ill in the mid-1990s I then spent much of my time caring for her. It was during this time that I started to develop my interest in football betting.
How long have you been working as a tipster?
I don’t actually consider myself to be a tipster, as such. I am a supplier of statistical information, from which people can pick and choose how to use the data. The information can be used in the same way as tips but I provide advice on every match played as opposed to giving a handful of tips.
I first released my Winabobatoo football match ratings and data to the public at the start of the 2006-07 season. We’ve now analysed over 18,000 matches in real-time.
Can you tell us how your service works?
Some people like short-priced bets with very short losing runs. I have the “Beat The Odds” system for this type of bettor. This one has produced 77% winners: There have been 385 bets giving a profit of +9.58 points, or 2.49% ROI. Others like betting at longer odds. They may prefer “The Outsider” system. This has produced 28% winners from 758 bets giving a profit of +99.52 points, or +13.13%. (Results as of February 11, 2014). As bettors, we all want to make a profit but we each have preferred ways of achieving profits. By giving people choice, I can better meet a person’s specific needs.
The jewel in the crown is the “Winabobatoo database”. Although this does require additional software to use it, it allows members instant access to all 18,000 matches. You can enter your own search criteria and see the results in seconds. For example, what happens if you back every home team in the Premiership priced odds on? All Winabobatoo ratings-related information is in there, which means each person can devise and save their own betting systems tailored exactly to meet their specific needs. This is a very powerful betting analysis tool. It’s great fun to use but also very addictive. I still spend hours sifting through the data.
I try to cater for everyone’s differing needs, so whether you want bets in seconds, or an analysis tool to dig much deeper, there’s an aspect of Winabobatoo for you.
Recently I’ve been able to convert all of my ratings information into a True Odds (or Fair Odds) assessment for the home win, draw, and away win for every game played in the UK leagues. By comparing the bookmakers’ prices with the assessed price, we can identify where the good value lies, and where the bad value lies.
What are the best and the worst parts of the tipster profession?
The best part about being in the tipping profession is that I’m able to share all the hard work I’ve put in over the years with everyone, albeit to a restricted number of people because I limit memberships to 300. I know I’ve been able to change people’s lives for the better. When someone writes in and says thank you, it means an enormous amount to me.
About the worst, you can imagine the pressure a football manager feels whenever his team plays. Sometimes, I feel as though I’m managing 64 teams at the same time because I’ll have a vested interest in every match for one reason or another. I’d been betting seriously on my ratings information for around five years before releasing it to the public. Being responsible for my own bets was one thing, being responsible for what would amount to thousands of pounds of other people’s money was something else. I was desperate for people to win because not only was my reputation on the line, their money was on the line too.
Eight years later, whilst the pressure still exists, I know my longer-term members will all be playing with the bookmakers’ cash. Any downturns in the short-term are less harmful to them and less stressful for me. I think we’ve all learnt a great deal during that time too. Losing runs happen. We can’t stop them. The critical part is how we manage them.
You send your subscribers an e-magazine every Monday and Thursday. Where can punters find it?
To get the magazines you have to be one of the paying members to my service. However an example magazine is available for download from my website.
Whilst my members’ money will be spread across quite a range of bets, unlike most tipping services where everyone heads to place their bets on the same outcomes at the same times, there are still pressures put on prices. By limiting membership numbers to 300, I can help to keep the pressures down. I can’t allow everyone access to the information or else the prices would get blown away.
If you want to know more about Winabobatoo, there are several videos available to watch on my website and I’m always available to answer any questions you may have.
What is your staking method? What is your advice for punters?
Bankroll management and staking is an essential part of being a long-term successful bettor. The bankroll is our cushion against the inevitable losing runs that come our way. It should take the strain when losing runs occur, not our emotions. If our bankroll is too small we risk crumbling under pressure.
Staking should be viewed as a means of managing risk. Each person’s aversion to risk is different. Consequently, there is no single staking method that suits everyone. If you started out with £1,000, lost it all, shrugged your shoulders, carried on with no emotional scars, and your lifestyle had in no way been compromised by your actions, you’re the type of person who can possibly take a more aggressive approach to staking. If you started out with £1,000, have no money left to bet with should the money be lost, or get stressed if your bankroll drops, you must take a more passive approach.
The simplest way to smooth the betting rollercoaster of returns is to bet to variable stakes. In this way, you stake more on shorter-priced bets and less on longer-priced bets. As there is a direct link between the odds we bet at and losing runs, your returns will take a smoother course. Downturns will be less severe using this method of staking. The downside to this approach is that if you make more money on longer-priced bets you will win less in terms of return on investment. This is because the biggest profit-makers will have had the smallest stakes. Level stakes betting would have given better returns … but would have seen much bigger swings in your bankroll along the way.
It is also quite common for people to believe that if they are receiving tips from a tipster the risks from betting have been removed. Even the most skilled of operators have downturns and protracted bad runs. It is a mistake to think the risk is removed.
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 don’t do in-play trading. I know I have an edge with pre-match betting. I would need to build a completely new ratings model and analyse thousands of matches (and their odds) to know whether in-play trading can be profitable. Without such, I’d be working on instincts and whims and I prefer not to do that. Personally, I like to sit down and make decisions slowly over a cup of tea, not in a hurried rush when someone may have scored a goal.
If your numbers are good, can you earn a good living as a tipster?
I’ve been working full-time on Winabobatoo since 2006. I have a full-time assistant called Carol. My only income is from the subscription payments my members make to me. It is possible to earn a fair income from the job but having a cap on the number of customers severely limits the upside of the earnings potential. At many stages during Winabobatoo’s life, I have had people on my waiting list. It would have been very easy for me to have gone back on my word with regards to the 300 member limit and taken them on board, but I would have been betraying my members by doing so.
I try to offer a comprehensive service at a fair price but the cost has to reflect the number of members I can have. In an ideal world, I would like to have 10,000 members paying me £10 per season, but the reality is that it wouldn’t work as the bookmakers’ odds would be crushed. A service must limit the number of customers it can have, which means there is a limit as to how much can be earned from running it.
What advice would you give to those who want to become professional tipsters?
In my first year of trading I had to give everything away for nothing as I had no track record to prove I was any good. It was only from year two onwards that I started to get money coming in. I had to advertise in the Racing Post and Racing & Football Outlook in the early years too. Marketing costs are an extra expense you will have to factor in.
- Be prepared to give your information away for free until you’ve built up your reputation. How do you create a good reputation? You will need evidence to show your potential customers that you are worth investing in. Without trusted independent verification of your skill nobody will believe you are any good. Proof your selections to a reliable independent source like Sports Tipsters.
- Customer service will form an important part of your service. Always do your very best to answer all questions no matter whether they are complicated or simple. To do this properly will certainly take a considerable amount of your time. This aspect of the job will be much more time consuming than you imagine.
- No tipster can ever guarantee results but there is never an excuse for poor customer service. Can someone make a better living from running a service of their own than being involved in another profession? If you do, it certainly won’t happen overnight. To put the challenge into perspective, as a proportion of the population, there will certainly be more people making a living from playing professional football than there will be from being a professional tipster. That’s how tough the challenge is.
- Build up your service over time. Don’t give up the day job until you’re sure it’s the right thing to do.
What advice would you give to someone looking to find a tipster to follow?
If 100 new tipping services started up tomorrow, and none of them had any skill at all, after providing 200 tips, each service would show various levels of returns. It is highly likely that around 80% of them would be showing a loss. But that means 20% of them would be showing a profit. Out of the 20 services that are showing a profit, there will be a couple who will be showing very good profits. Out of the original 100 services, 98 will probably disappear without trace. The two that are left will continue.
The question you must ask is, “Has this service made a profit through being skilful or has it made a profit through being lucky?” No one can stay lucky forever. Similarly no one can stay unlucky forever. But it takes some considerable time before we can be reasonably sure profits have been achieved through skill as opposed to luck.
If you’ve joined a service in the past, and not made money, it is quite possible that their previous profits may have been achieved through luck and not skill. When you joined, the bad luck came along to average things out, and you found yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The flip side of the coin could apply and you may have joined a particularly skilful tipster who has hit a bad run. Always look at the very long-term returns in order to try to determine if a tipster is skilful or has been lucky. If you look at short-term numbers, you run more risk of drawing wrong conclusions. I would also add that the level of customer service you receive and the way the tipster conducts themselves also gives valuable clues as to their worthiness.
As a general rule, tipsters who have been around for a long time will show smaller profits than newer services because of the reasons mentioned earlier. These are factors you need to consider when you make your judgements as to which tipsters to follow.
Can you tell us how a normal day in your life is?
Every Monday morning throughout the football season, I’m at my desk at 6.30 with my chief assistant Carol. The stats from all the weekend games are now available to us and our first job is to update all the 128 teams’ ratings after the weekend matches. We then have to make preparations for the publication of our first magazine of the week, which has to be ready for issue at midday. Collating odds for all the matches is quite time consuming. We also have to update our members’ database ready for the 12 o’clock deadline. I tend to write articles on a Sunday which means I don’t have my Inbox open. I’m no good at multi-tasking. I can either do one job well or two jobs badly! Consequently, there are usually a fair number of messages for me to answer on a Monday afternoon. Carol will continue with the general admin and website updating. I’ll sort the Inbox. Once those duties have been done, I’ll spend some time reviewing all the weekend games, reading match reports, and taking in general news before scrutinising the ratings for the upcoming midweek matches. I usually finish around 6pm. Thursday is very similar to Monday. Tuesday and Wednesdays are less busy. This allows us time to research stats and prepare written articles for our magazines.
In the summer months, when there are no fixtures, we spend most of our time writing the members’ guide for the new season. This tends to take at least a month of our time. Our lives never go quiet; they’re just somewhat less busy when there are no matches being played. I can assure anyone who thinks that a tipster spends half an hour day deciding on their picks, and then spends the rest of their time with their feet up, has got the wrong picture as to what life is really like!
What do you do in your free time? What are your hobbies?
I like taking my border collie dog, Charlie, for long walks. He’s not a brave dog. He runs and hides behinds my legs when he gets scared! I go away on a week’s golf holiday in the summer with my friends. We went to Carnoustie last year. I enjoy watching sport on television and have a season ticket to watch my local rugby team.
Any sports betting book you have read and want to recommend?
I find both books written by Joe Buchdahl fascinating: “Fixed Odds Sports Betting: Statistical Forecasting and Risk Management” and “How to find a black cat in a coal cellar”.