Reading letters from our clients, one thing is clear: each of them wants to know how to improve the accuracy of their predictions, using the advice of real experts. What better way to meet this request than an interview with a truly experienced gambler who has been betting for six decades, successfully calculating odds and making a profit.
Lewis Deyong has devoted most of his life to perfecting the art of finding a good bet. He is an elite backgammon player: after finishing second in the 1972 World Cup, Lewis wrote several books on the topic. Later he was the organizer of the World Championship in Monte Carlo, talked with the best players of that time and learned a lot from them.
Immersion in the world of gambling and a natural inclination to work with odds led to Lewis being invited and worked for a long time as a consultant to some of the largest bookmakers in the world, where he was involved in setting the odds. Meanwhile, he continues to find ways to beat other bookmakers who are not his clients.
Now, at the age of 81, still actively betting on significant amounts at the leading bookmakers, he took time out to share with other bettors some of his accumulated knowledge of gambling.
Learn, Learn and Learn
Arriving to talk to a man who has seen so many changes in the world of gambling, our correspondent wanted to ask him a great many questions, but their conversation began with a discussion of the upcoming 2016 NFL playoffs (interview took place the day before).
– I loved the Kansas City game this week. ”His words were careful and measured. – There are very convincing statistics about teams with strong defenses.
Kansas City then faced the Texans in the Wild Card playoffs, qualifying second in the AFC Western Division, and conceded fewer points than both teams in their entire NFL career.
In the end, Kansas City destroyed Houston 30-0 that weekend. Just luck? This phrase has never been less appropriate.
Despite the experience of six decades of immersion in sports betting, Lewis is still constantly looking for news items that can help him gain an edge over the market, and encourages all players to do the same.
He was impressed, for example, to read recently about the effects of wind on NFL results in one of our posts.
“The wind has to blow at more than 20 miles per hour to affect anything, but as the wind gets stronger, the score goes down, just like the totals.” He highlighted this point, strongly recommending that you check the weather forecast on the day of an NFL game before placing any bets.
The origins of the famous veteran bettor career
Our reporter was eager to find out how this brilliant player career began.
Lewis is keen to emphasize that he is not a statistician. He read English literature at Oxford and is humble about his basic understanding of arithmetic, but has an intuitive ability to judge the meaning of the odds.
“I’ve always loved betting and was a sports fan, but my route to real gambling was through the 5 card poker I was into in those days. A friend of mine, also a poker player, kindly offered to introduce me (he chuckles) to backgammon at $ 10 per point. Luckily for me, like the Rain Man hero, I felt a natural inclination for this game, and it seemed so obvious that I quickly began to make progress. ”
Backgammon has its roots in games that are over 5000 years old. It’s a mixture of both skill and luck – through rolling two dice. The game is based on the ability for any player to double their bets at any time. If the opponent rejects the doubling, then the game will continue with the initial bet. If the player agrees to double the bet, then the “doubling cube” goes to him, and therefore the right to be the first to offer the next doubling of the game. Doubling can be performed an unlimited number of times ad infinitum. The key to playing is understanding under what circumstances to accept or reject doubling. This decision actually indicates how you assess your chances of making a profit in this situation. The same happens with any other gambling game. Which of the two options is more beneficial? It is no surprise that gambling professionals achieve excellent results in backgammon and vice versa.
“Backgammon is 100% a game of chance. It’s like poker. People can go crazy about doubling and doubling again, but I want to say that this opportunity attracts a huge number of professional players. I got to know many of these people, and during my career as a backgammon tournament organizer, I paid out perhaps about $ 40 million in prize money (derived from entry fees).
Despite all these numbers, every player has always received money and I have built a great reputation for myself. As a result, players around the world felt confident that they could trust me. ”
As much as a seasoned backgammon player and former World Backgammon Champion, Lewis is an excellent storyteller with a confident tone of voice, subtly hinting at where the conversation will lead. However, when asked to go over the key advice he would give to any aspiring player, he is very straightforward.
In the photo: Lewis Deyong plays backgammon with the famous football player Stanley Matthews
The most important tip for any player
“I have one piece of advice for everyone who hears it, more important than all the others put together. Don’t bet money that you cannot afford to lose. In this case, your judgments lose their logic, and you put yourself under unbearable pressure. If there are ten tips that I can convey to your readers, they will all be about it. The last money never wins! ”.
It’s no coincidence that one of Pinnacle’s most popular betting articles focuses not on handicap, but on bet management.
“I learned this lesson from the first days of my immersion in gambling, when I was addicted to one of the varieties of Baccarat,” Lewis smiles, recalling this bitter lesson, “and I lost all my university allowance for the first semester before I even ended up in campus “.
Reflections on Change
I asked Lewis how much the gambling industry has changed over the years.
“Very often in the past, it was just a matter of getting the right information. Today, a huge amount of information is transmitted via the Internet as quickly as possible. ”
To highlight the difference in odds, he tells a story about his trip to Austria.
“When I first started sports betting in Austria, I looked at some odds on the internet. The situation with betting with a handicap on tennis among the Austrians was simply appalling – a huge range of values. So I went to Vienna to open several accounts: I went to the first office I came across (it was on a street called Artillerie Strasse) and said that I wanted to open a credit account.
– Mr. Deyong, – the manager turned to me.
– Do we know each other?
– Last year I won the junior tournament in Monte Carlo! ”.
It is difficult to remain anonymous when you are known to be a successful bettor.
His position in the backgammon world may have made his face recognizable and opened many doors, but his success in professional betting was associated with a systematic approach to identifying market inefficiencies in the days when bookmakers still did not know how to think globally.
“It was beneficial for me in those days to get up early and call Australia to check the odds; for some reason, almost all bookmakers guarded their quotes as state secrets, and of course there was no internet yet. ”
“I had a good knowledge of tennis, and gradually it became more than just a hobby,” alluding to the scale of betting, Lewis recounts how he used the phone, working around the world, and made significant bets at several bookmakers on all of Europe, Austria and Great Britain, getting what is called a “corridor” – a risk-free position for both outcomes; and so on up to three times a day.
“It seemed like an absolute paradise then. It was possible to make a one-to-one bet on the obvious favorite and the current outsider, whose real odds were estimated at 5/2 with a set value of approximately 12/1. ”
This is completely impossible today, when APIs allow instant transmission of bookmaker odds, and digital communication provides instant information exchange.
Another consequence of the current ubiquitous access to odds, in contrast to the era that Lewis talks about, is that it is possible to take advantage of the “corridors” and opportunities for arbitrage in very short periods of time. The rules of bookmakers have also tightened, therefore, according to our interlocutor, it has become much more difficult to place bets in the same way in the modern world.
We asked Lewis if he thinks information noise, such as on social media, actually complicates the activities of bettors.
“Information noise has fundamentally changed the betting industry, but it does not affect the odds in any way.”
Lewis talks about organizing professional-amateur tennis tournaments in the 1970s that gave him privileged access to athletes. It was his own version of today’s social media, where he interacted with some of the biggest players of the era. As a left-hander, he was particularly well adapted to doubles play, which allowed him to achieve success on the court, as well as in betting.
When Wimbledon was held, Lewis was able to leverage that relationship by learning more about the game and gaining important nuggets of information – something that was unheard of even for years after – and hosted a pro-amateur competition in Queens sponsored by the legendary casino tycoon and environmentalist John Aspinall.
Miscalculations and mistakes
“I remember that one of my biggest losses was with a tall American tennis player named Sherwood Stewart when he played at Wimbledon against another American, Mike Estep. I could not understand why this volleyball player with excellent serve was losing to a miniature opponent, over whom he towered a good six inches. ”
Lewis later found out that they both grew up in the same city in Texas and knew each other very well.
“When close friends play, the dynamics of the games between them change dramatically,” he adds calmly.
This sounds quite true and is especially evident in the matches between the Williams sisters, in which, for the same reason, it is extremely difficult to bet with a handicap. Of course, today such information can be freely accessed with one touch of the hand or the click of a mouse. This is a simple example of how much the information world has changed, but these changes have not always been good.
Lewis says: “Professional athletes are the worst at betting with a handicap on their sport.” He believes this view is also true of those he calls “quasi-experts,” whose sports betting advice is geared towards the untrained mass consumer. Therefore, Lewis warns players to refrain from using such tipsters’ predictions.
Lewis’s career has focused on two sports, specifically American football and tennis, and has developed a deep understanding of both, and has played the latter all his life.
In the early days of dedicated sports television, he served as a permanent expert on the UK’s first NFL program, Screen Sport. Unfortunately, despite very good ratings, his television career did not last long and ended due to unreasonable (and very strange) demands from the production company.
“Just imagine! I was asked to wear a wig to better suit the tastes and interests of a young audience. It was simply out of the question. ”
He is easily admitted to betting on other sports “as an amateur,” emphasizing that specialization is critical to success – ideally in sports where there are no draws.
Deyong makes it clear that players must be specialized and that it is impossible to make good money in the Super Bowl or the Wimbledon final in the men’s category, as in these cases bookmakers are very careful with the formation of odds, and all the relevant information is widely available and studied.
Interest (and hence the number of interested parties) in the most popular events is enormous, so the market reaches an effective state much faster, thereby revealing the true values of rates. To reinforce this idea, Lewis says that he still regularly bets with a huge limit on one well-known participant during the NFL season, but adheres to one key rule: you can only place bets an hour before the start of the match.
“Your guess may be absolutely correct, but it may not bring you the profit you want. This pattern is seen in the early stages of tennis and in lower league football matches, and invariably in the case of outsiders. ”
Lewis added that along with big events, serious players avoid betting on popular teams. Speaking of this, he laughs: “Everyone wants to dance with a pretty girl, so you need to keep an eye on her less attractive sisters, because they are most likely underestimated.
If wise guys decide to bet on the favorite, they will do it in advance, and at later stages they will bet the money they earned on the favorite on the outsider, getting free points for this. ”
The fact that throughout his life Lewis has made bets mainly on those sports where only two outcomes are possible is not a coincidence. In his opinion, the market for betting on events with three outcomes (that is, when a tie is a possible outcome, for example, in cricket and football) provides ideal conditions for bookmakers. (It should be noted, however, that in recent years the Draw-No-Bet [Asian Handicap] has appeared, which completely excludes the possibility of a tie.)
Deyong also believes that derivatives markets (such as the set betting market) are better suited for experts, since it is very difficult to calculate the value given a large number of variables, influencing the establishment of even higher margins (which the bettor has yet to surpass).
Betting – From Art to Science
His experience in backgammon, coupled with an understanding of the game, allowed him to “… have a better idea of what the odds should be than the experts who set odds at events like the Wimbledon tournament.” When Lewis discovered that he could make money off these values in a confined space, he was in a very advantageous position.
Now he bets on tennis less and less. “I am against people who know less (or the same) about tennis than I do, but are qualified mathematicians and can analyze data in a professional manner, which I cannot do. And now I have to admit that, unfortunately, betting is more science than art. ”
Perhaps exactly what Lewis – an expert with many years of experience – has observed over the past 50 years, best reflects the changing world of gambling.
Having experience in a specific area, which is an integral part of professional betting, loses its meaning under the pressure of these complex numerical calculations. Betting may indeed have become more of a science than an art, but it’s great to be able to connect with those who see the difference.
To give our readers some practical advice that will be helpful no matter what kind of data analysis is being used, Lewis suggested the following:
- To understand which NFL team is underrated, you need to figure out how the offensive line is. Andrew Luck is considered the most talented young quarterback and will eventually replace Peyton Manning, who has already retired from his professional career, on the sporting Olympus. However, until now he has not been able to reach his full potential due to the dire situation with the offensive line in his team. Solving this problem should be the # 1 priority for the Colts during the draft and free agent picks. If a team approaches the issue of roster renewal wisely, there will be no limit to its capabilities. It should be remembered that identifying gifted passing and receiving players is fairly straightforward, but trying to spot a team with a strong Pro-Bowl attack line is like looking for a big needle in a huge haystack. The results of DALLAS in 2015 and Carolina in 2016 are striking examples of this theory.
- Although the turf composition of the Wimbledon courts has undergone significant changes, well-served players continue to lead the championship. I find that my serve win rate in men’s and women’s singles is 5% higher on grass than on clay, and for men it is approximately 85%. These relative serving rates can also be seen among women.
A case that perfectly illustrates this statement happened in 2015. The tall American tennis player Coco Vandeweghe has an incredibly strong serve. However, at present, the 24-year-old athlete has nothing to brag about, except for the only title won naturally on the grass (Holland, 2014). Still, in 2015 at Wimbledon, she defeated three rivals (including Shafarzhova, the beloved finalist of Roland Garros), but lost to Sharapova in the quarterfinals. A subjective approach to the analysis of sports events will work well if you really devote a lot of time to this activity and study everything related to the chosen sport.
Remember that bookmakers always take public opinion (but not public information) into account as possibly a key aspect that you don’t know about in advance.