Blog 53 Gaming

Betting on the Office Darts Tournament

12 March 2018

Degree 53 annual Darts Tournament was held earlier in January. The evening combined some pretty poor darts throwing, socialising and questionable entertainment brought by our very own wannabe stand up comedian, JZ, and DJ Tunds.

For this year’s tournament, we decided to up our game by introducing a betting element to the event. The idea behind this was to add a bit more fun and competition for the participants while educating them on principles of betting, how a bookmaker prices up an event and the mathematics behind it. There was no better time to showcase this than doing it in real time in an event that everyone was taking part in. For the competition, we used fictitious money to place bets (which made it even more fun as there was no risk involved). All participants were given £50 and whoever would end up with the most profit, would be the winner.

I was in charge of the entire betting system and introduced the following markets to bet on:

  • Outright market and markets for each game
  • Highest score
  • Match winner
  • Hitting a treble 20

The real struggle was creating the outright market, as I’m fairly new to the company and didn’t know how good the players were. Plus, it was the first tournament for many players and their chance of winning was a complete gamble even for them.

Making a book

The first thing I needed to do was ‘make the book’. The term ‘Making a Book’ originates from the practice of recording bets in a hard-bound ledger (the 'book'). A bookmaker is the person laying the bets and thus 'making the book'.

With over 30 years of odds compilation, I have learned that two minds are better than one. It is rare that two odds compilers will generate exactly the same price for each selection. The process is subjective, but most of the time, they will reach the same conclusion in as much as the favourite is player X. I had to rely on the wisdom of crowds by utilising the knowledge within the company to come up with the percentage for the chances of winning for each player along with keeping a keen eye on when entrants took to the darts board. Prior to the tournament, I asked everyone to grade each player from 1-10. I then converted these numbers into a percentage by dividing the sum of each player’s rating by the sum of the total ratings.

Here is an example:

The column “Chance %” in the above table was the true percentage of each player winning the competition. The sum of all the players percentage equates to 100%. Bookmakers make a profit by pricing their betting markets so that the odds offered are lower than the statistical probability of the occurrence happening.

This process then gave me what I needed to create the “Tissue Prices”, which are a set of prices that are constructed from ratings converted to probability. This rating is then converted to a percentage and expressed as odds.

Odds Formats

Bookmakers offer different odds formats. Regardless of which format is used, the probability is always the same, it’s just the presentation that differs.

Fractional odds are predominantly used in UK and Ireland, Decimal Odds are used throughout Europe and Australia and Money Line odds are used in the US. Betting odds represent the chance an event will occur - the probability. In any event, each outcome has a chance of occurring. Odds are simply an interpretation of those chances.

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds represent the amount of profit you would receive for a winning bet relative to your stake. Fractional odds are displayed as 10/1 or 7/2. For odds on selections fractional odds appear the other way around; 1/10 or 2/7.

The simplest way to understand this format is:

How much you will win / how much you stake

To calculate your potential returns from fractional odds, you can use this simple equation:

((numerator/denominator) +1) * stake = return

Decimal Odds

Decimal Odds represent the potential return of a bet including a stake. Decimals are more common as it’s the easiest formats to compare prices between bookmakers and exchanges.

The potential return of decimal odds is simple to calculate. Just multiply the amount you wish to bet by the decimal odds offered.

odds * stake = return (Including stake)

American Odds

American odds, also known as money line or US odds, are expressed with either a positive or negative number. A negative number indicates what you must bet to make £100 profit, while a positive number indicates how much you might profit if you bet £100. It’s important to understand that you don’t need to bet the amount equal to the money line - you can bet more or less, with the return linked to your stake. The calculation to see a return on a negative money line is:

(100/negative money line odds) * stake

The calculation to see a return on a positive money line is:

Positive money line odds * (stake/100)

Making a Profit

It is not in the interest of the bookmaker to offer the true probability of an event. Instead, they price markets to go above 100%, creating an edge in their favour. The deviation of the price offered from the ‘true odds’ is the bookmaker's margin, otherwise known as the over-round.

For example, betting on a coin toss statistically represents a 50/50 chance (2.0 in decimal odds) on either outcome – heads or tails. You bet £10 to win £10, making this a 100% market, otherwise known as a round market. For the coin toss, bookmakers would offer heads or tails at odds below 2.0, meaning you would have to bet more to win £10. If the odds were offered at 1.91 for heads and 1.91 for tails (10/11 in fractional odds), you would have to bet £11 to make £10 on either selection.

To calculate margins on a two-way market you need to use the following equation to convert the decimal price into a percentage and sum them together.

(1/Decimal Odds option A) + (1/Decimal Odds option B) = Margin

Using the bookmaker’s odds for 1.91 for Heads and 1.91 for tails we get the following formula

(1/1.91) +(1/1.91) = 104.7%

In the bookmaking terminology, the percentage sum of all the prices is known as the book percentage, which will always be over 100% to give the bookmakers an edge. The value over 100% is known as the over-round.

In the example above:

  • Book % is 104.7%
  • Over-round is 4.7% (104.7%-100%)

The over-round or "juice" is what gives the bookmaker his profit, If the over-round is 120% the bookmaker will expect to pay out 100 pounds for every 120 pounds he takes in, yielding him an expected profit of 20/120 = 16.7%.

So, applying the above methodology, I came up with the following prices supported with a form guide, courtesy of our Operations Director, Rich.

Player Form Guide Sum
Ashley 'Boy Racer' Smith A confident player that performs well in league fixtures, yet to show any form on the big stage 255 4.83% 20.69 14.00
Chris 'The Artist' Banks Self professed master of all pub sports, The Artist will be one to watch 235 4.45% 22.45 18.00
Rick 'Bottler' Fox The most experienced tournament darts player with one title under his belt, however known to bottle it under pressure 232 4.40% 22.74 18.00
Tom 'Hawkshot' Dowling Darts is Tom's second strongest sport after his beloved ice dancing, he'll be a strong competitor on the night 228 4.32% 23.14 18.00
Tom 'The Village' Cantello Another player who talks a strong game, with lots of lunchtime practice under his belt, he'll be keen to impress before heading out to the Village after the tournament 220 4.17% 23.98 18.00
Richard 'Can't Finish' Wagstaff Beaten finalist in last year's tournament but a serial bottler, don't count on him making the finals 215 4.08% 24.53 20.00
Alex 'The Farmer' Kemp Alex has great potential but spends too much time shopping for Barbour jumpers rather than practicing his darts. 210 3.98% 25.12 20.00
Adam 'Playboy' Stanway An enthusiastic darts player who's a favourite with the female supporters. 210 3.98% 25.12 20.00
Andy 'Bossman' Daniels Will use his seniority to build pressure on his opposition, however he's bang average at the oche. 208 3.94% 25.36 20.00
Tom "Tom Dutson" Dutson With the most original name in the tournament and a cack hander, Tom offers some variety to the tournament. Apparently a recent darts holiday to Haworth helped him hone his skills. 206 3.91% 25.61 20.00
Craig 'Steak Bake' Harley If Craig can throw darts as well as he spins on his head or consumes outrageous amounts of beige food, he could win a few games. 205 3.89% 25.73 20.00
Johnny "The Baked Bean" Zen Resident compare, comedian and seller of dodgy goods. The Baked Bean has won a tournement previously, however will have little chance of winning due to a lack of focus on his darts the last couple of years. 202 3.83% 26.11 20.00
Brian "Vin Diesel" Modica The bald headed assasin is a fierce competitor and hates losing more than most. He needs to stick to computer games rather than real sport if he wants to win any trophies. 198 3.75% 26.64 20.00
Chris 'The Captain' Benstead Chris can usually be seen drinking craft beer and eating overpriced food in the Northern Quarter. He was once a darts champion but has since spent too many lunchtimes watching YouTube videos and investing in hipster ideas on crowdfunding sites. 195 3.70% 27.05 22.00
Robert 'His Majesty' Banister Born into royalty, Rob sees darts as a game that's beneath him and for the common man. He has been known to hit the board 3 times out of 3 though, so will be competitive. 190 3.60% 27.76 22.00
Jade 'Braveheart' Daniels Previously known as Jade So-hot-aaaa, will the name change mean she's not so hot at darts anymore? 188 3.56% 28.06 22.00
Bav 'Tee-Total' Patel Unfortunately, Bav no longer has a steady hand after years of drinking his colleagues under the table. We're not backing him to make a dent on the tournament 185 3.51% 28.51 22.00
Pete 'The Pistol' Stringer Pete will be good value for a laugh on the night but will likely want to exit the tournament early to concentrate on drinking and flirting. 172 3.26% 30.36 25.00
Kate ‘MadDog’ Margis A sportswoman and competitor, Kate will give it her all. Lack of tournament darts experience will likely show on the night. 165 3.13% 31.97 25.00
Steven 'The Flying Scotsman' Griffin He'll baffle you with long words and may start speaking Scottish as the night goes on. With no recorded darts appearances to date, this novice is unlikely to be carrying the Scottish flag to victory. 160 3.03% 32.97 25.00
Jenny 'Raven' Winter Normally a heckler from the crowd, it's time for Jenny to put her money where her mouth is and step up to the oche. Don't expect big things… 155 2.94% 34.03 25.00
Martin "Arrows" Appleton An unkown quantity but with a strong darts name and equally appropriate walk on tune, Martin could be a dark horse in the tournament. He's also known to be a dead-eye with a gun in his hand so if he can transfer that aim to the oche we could have an outsider claiming the trophy. 150 2.84% 35.17 28.00
Shan 'Bullseye' Phillips If Shan is as good at darts as she is at football, she'll be a top darts player. Unfortunately, darts is nothing like football so we're not backing her to win. 143 2.71% 36.89 28.00
Nathan 'The Popper' Grundle After being named The Popper, we can only assume that's due to his ability to pop the darts in the bullseye. One to watch. 140 2.65% 37.68 28.00
Tony 'Deadeye' Lewis A highly competitive scouser and once the champion of his home-town Liverpool, Tony could be an outsider to watch in the tournament. 132 2.50% 39.96 33.00
Kay 'Bros' Olutayo An unknown quantity who once played in the same football team as Daniel Amokachi, Kay could be good or could be terrible. A risky bet but one that could reward the risk takers. 128 2.43% 41.21 33.00
Tunde 'Tunds' Adegoroye Fridays are know as Tunde Fundays. That doesn't mean he's good at darts though… Expect big things from DJ Tunds on the decks but not on the oche. 120 2.27% 43.96 33.00
Joe 'Johnny Bravo' Fradley Norfolk's greatest ever developer, Joe could be good, could be bad, who knows? 115 2.18% 45.87 40.00
Brad "The Power" Ankers Born in the same house as Phil The Power Taylor, Brad could well have darts in his blood. He may talk funny but if he's as good as his relative Phil, he'll take the tournament by storm. 113 2.14% 46.68 40.00

The Winners of The Tournament

We had quite a few surprises, such as one of the favourites dropping out in the first qualifying round and some of the dark horses progressing quite far into the latter stages of the tournament. The odds shifted a lot and it was very exciting as everything was changing in real-time. It got very competitive in the final, which saw our MD, Andy, go head to head with one of our Test Analysts, Martin, who was competing for the first time. Surprisingly, Martin was the fan’s favourite!

The final didn’t go as the odds suggested, and one of the rank outsiders at 28/1, Martin became the winner and was crowned the D53 Darts Tournament 2018 champion. Meanwhile, one of our BAs, Tom, profited the most from his wagers and was crowned the D53 betting champion. Degree 53 matched his winnings with real money and we donated it to a charity of his choice (East Cheshire Hospice in Macclesfield).

Our Darts Tournament was a great success in terms of team building, as well as introducing our team members to the principles of bookmaking, covering the over-round and the principles of value. It was great to do this on a social scale without any risks, but we all learned about the different types of bets and how odds and profit margins are worked out in real time. We’ll be doing more of these events in the future to offer a better understanding of what our clients do on a bigger scale and building our knowledge of bookmaking and betting

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