Whist flicking through Twitter the other day, I saw the age old question of ‘how do you compile a tissue’ asked of a football odds-compiler. The reply involved lots of tables of goals scored home and away for both teams and various other statistics which appeared to be crucial in ‘pricing up’ a football match. It made me think of the self same question which is oft’ asked of guys like Hugh Taylor and Eddie ‘The Shoe’ Freemantle when they appear on TV, with regards to horseracing. To my mind, the simple answer is, it’s impossible to prescribe a ‘formula’. In horseracing it is impossible to feed previous results and form into a ‘program’ which is going to accurately predict the relative chances of each runner unless you are going to include the dozens (hundreds) of variables that sophisticated computerised ratings do. Even then I don’t think these would reflect the significant factors which are ‘where is the pace’ and ‘how will the race be run’.
Odds compilation is about ‘feel’ and ‘judgement’ and can only be done accurately with a detailed knowledge of the form book and judgement which has, over a period of time, been proven to be profitable. For all that it appears to be a mystical art, requiring gnostic awareness, it is nothing more or less than being able to pin a percentage chance to any horse’s chance reasonably accurately.
The way to compile a tissue (at least the way I do it) is very simple. Sit down with all of the form at hand (including relevant jockey/trainer/course stats), making sure that, whenever possible, you have not seen any formed markets or existing tissues on the race. Work your way steadily through the form of every runner and decide how the race will be run. Having done this, you should have already formed an opinion on which runner has the ‘best’ chance. This, obviously, is your favourite. From here on in, it is simply a case of finding the price at which you could neither back nor lay it. If you would still back it at your own price then obviously you have to shorten it, if you would be tempted to lay, knock it out a bit. It really is that simple. Subsequent horses should be priced in the same manner, but, with direct comparison to the chance of your ‘favourite’. In an ideal world, the sum of these prices, converted to percentages, will be 100%, if not, you need to reevaluate each runner in turn, starting with your favourite, to make the prices ‘fit’. If your original attempt falls short of the 100% mark then you have clearly underestimated the chance of a significant number of runners in the race, if it has gone significantly over, then you have overestimated some and their prices will have to be lenghtened.
When you arrive at a figure around 100% you have accurately reflected your own opinions on the race and can start to look at the prices on offer. It should then be impossible, without further information coming to hand, that you could contemplate betting any runner that is shorter than your tissue price, for example, if you made the favourite a genuine even money (50%) chance and it is 4/6 then, for all you think it the most likely winner in the race, it becomes impossible to bet, lets face it, if someone offered to toss a coin with you and asked you to put up 6 to their 4 I’d hope you would tell them where to go ! Prospective bets should come from those where the available price is greater than ‘yours’. If you are going to trust your judgement it is pointless to deviate from this principle.
Once you have identified any ‘over priced’ horses you have two options : bet all of them combined or bet the one(s) that is/are significantly away from the price you made them.
Many people baulk at the idea of betting more than one horse in a race for win-only purposes, a simple analogy which dispels this myth is to consider the rolling of a single die. Obviously the chances of any given number are 5/1 (16.667%), but, if someone were to offer 4/1 numbers 1,2 and 3 (3 X 20 %) and 13/2 numbers 4,5 and 6 (3 X 13.33%), their ‘book’ still comes to 100%, but, we can clearly see that 3 of the 6 options are the ‘wrong price’. Backing any of 4,5 or 6 individually is a ‘good bet’, each of them are ‘wrong’ by 3.33%, but, wouldn’t you rather bet them all at a combined 40% and get 10 % of ‘value’ every roll as opposed to 3.33% ? Obviously you are going to back 2 losers every roll, but, you have actually trebled the ‘value’ you receive each time. The principle here is exactly the same as with any horse race in which more than one of your prices can be exceeded.
The other mistake is correctly identifying the amount of value you are actually receiving. It is easy to see 9/1 (10%) about a horse that you made 7/1 (12.5%) and say it is 2 points ‘wrong’. The significant amount here is the 2.5% difference between your perceived price and that available. Compare this to being able to obtain even money (50%) about a horse you made a genuine 4/6 (60%) chance, it is ‘only’ 1/3rd of a point ‘wrong’, but your edge is 10%. Over time, if your judgement is accurate, your profit will be 4 times greater from these bets. This is not simply advocating playing short priced favourites for larger stakes than bigger priced selections, but, if a bet is going to return 4 times more profit over time, why not have 4 times more on it ?
In short, there is no magic formula or training regime which can ‘teach’ someone how to compile an accurate, worthwhile tissue, it is all about judgement. It’s an excellent discipline if you have the time and patience to attempt it and should be at the heart of any punters strategy who hopes to make a profit from horseracing betting, but, the simple fact remains, if your judgement is sound you will make a profit, if not, you’ll do your dough !