Time is Money: How to profit as the event goes on

Football is the ideal sport for using time to inform your in-play trading
Football is the ideal sport for using time to inform your in-play trading

"Two things are certain in life: death and taxes," goes the famous quote. There is a third however; the passing of time. Peter Webb, founder of Bet Angel, explains how Betfair users can benefit from this...

The strategy I am about to explain to you revolves around time and relies on time moving forward which, as I understand it, time always has. Because time only moves in one direction, within our current practical understanding, it's possible to see the future and profit from it. This may sound a really odd tactic, but it's a very useful one and one that is quite easy to understand and put to use.

How in-play markets create the opportunity

The reason this strategy exists is due to the ability to bet in-play on exchanges. When betting exchanges were born, sports events started to be offered in-play. In other words you could not only bet before a sport had started, but you could also bet as the sport was being played. This was useful as if you backed something before an event started and changed your mind; you could quickly reverse your decision by backing something else. That is typically how most people used in-play betting, but by thinking outside the box, you can do much cleverer things.

The core principle behind the tactic of using time to profit is that as time ticks away the chance of something happening in any sports event gets more likely. By backing and laying ahead of this expected movement, you will profit. The key determinate in this tactic is that the sport you are betting on has to be time limited, it has to have a definite end. Tennis, for example, can go on for infinity; there is no time limit to how long a match can last. It is the end point in time that will create a definite, predictable, movement in odds. What you need is a sport where there are long periods of time where nothing but the time to the end of the sports event will change. 

Time value in football markets

The ideal sport for this tactic therefore, is football. We definitely meet our criteria in that each match lasts for a pre-defined period. As a match progresses, the chances of a team winning or drawing will move in line with the underlying score, but also with the amount of time left. You also have a significant advantage that, on average, there are very few goals in a football match. That generates long periods of time where the only thing that is moving the odds, is time itself.

Let me explain in simple terms what I mean.

Team A is leading 1-0 after ten minutes so it still has 80 minutes to protect its lead over the rival team. Team B is leading 1-0 after 80 minutes and therefore only has 10 minutes to protect its lead. Which would you think has a better chance of going on to win the match? You would guess that there is probably a good chance that in Team A's case, the other team could score at some point in the remaining 80 minutes. But team B has a much better chance of defending its lead with just 10 minutes remaining. Therefore the chance of Team B going on to the win the match is obviously significantly different to Team A. The difference can clearly be expressed as "time value" and the odds will definitely be different as there is 70 minutes of time value between these two scenarios. In summary, as time ticks away, something gets more likely and therefore the odds in this case will get smaller, representing this fact.

In the first illustration we are looking at the Betfair odds chart for a draw.

Match Odds

You can see that as the match has progressed and no goals have been scored the odds on the draw get lower and lower as it becomes more certain. As time has elapsed, the price of the draw has changed to reflect this increased certainty. Time also changes the price of the home team and away team as well, but, in simplistic terms, they will generally get bigger instead as the chance of them occurring gets smaller. By backing the draw when the scores in the match are equal we know that the price on the draw must get smaller. When the price gets smaller we can place a lay bet at the lower odds and profit from the difference.
Reducing risk

This strategy works well on football because there are often long periods without any goals in a match. On average there are around 2.60 goals in a match and those goals are spread out over 90 minutes or so. So, on average, you have around 30 minutes between goals where the odds will move due to time alone. The longer you are in the market, the more chance there is that a goal could be scored. If a goal is scored you could face a potentially large loss. We say could, because if the favourite scores first, the odds on a draw will certainly get larger. If the weaker team scores first the draw could actually shorten in price. A draw will be the final result around 25-28% of the time in a football match so a goal shouldn't necessarily be a time to panic or accept the loss.

There are other ways that you can reduce your risk. You may want to try and pick moments when the match is favourable from several characteristics. By this, we mean you are looking for periods of the match where the time decay is strong but where a goal is less likely, or where a goal will be beneficial to your strategy. Bet Angel contains specialist features to help you on football matches.

Another way to hedge your risk on time decay is to back multiple selections of correct scores. In the next illustration I have used the Dutching area of Bet Angel to back 1-0, 0-0 and 0-1 at the start of the match (click for a larger image). Twelve minutes later we exit the market for a 12% profit because all those three scores are more likely now than there were at the start of the match. Because of the lack of goals in a match, more than 25% of all matches end with these score lines. 

Time is Money


Benefiting from time decay is unusual, but if you want to minimise your risk significantly and participate in the market without waiting for something to happen, then profiting from the decay of time is a useful strategy to put to use.

Bet Angel contains a unique football profiling tool which will allow you to look ahead in a match and spot how the odds are likely to move according to time and on the underlying score. This makes Bet Angel perfect for this type of strategy. Before you start, make sure you use practice mode to test your strategy.


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Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.

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