Dan Weston: Never let a bad run of results wipe you out.
Hi, Dan! Can you please start with telling our readers about your job and your professional path? Why have you picked up tennis?
I started gambling full-time in my last year of university. It probably didn’t help my degree, but I did manage to graduate with savings! Initially my focus was on slot machines before moving to online poker and then on to sports. I picked tennis as there was a lot of pre-match data available at the time (compared to other sports), and it was less saturated/efficient (at the time) than a sport like football.
How often do you bet yourself?
I don’t really have fixed figures on this as some weeks there won’t be nearly as many opportunities than others. I frequently tend to focus on the weeks with high expectations, as I find this is necessary as it is difficult to balance full-time trading with running quite a time intensive business (tennisratings.co.uk) for 11 months a year.
As a tennis analyst, what factors do you consider before placing a wager?
Generally speaking, all my evaluation is model/numbers based. There are far too many factors to mention, but generally an entry will be because my profile of a match (particularly in-play) will fit similar others historically, and these will produce expectations that are out of alignment with the market.
It’s not a secret that the betting line starts moving after it was published by the bookies. The closing odds may differ a lot from the opening ones. Why is it so necessary to follow these movements and how can they be predicted?
It’s highly important to evaluate the market. Generally speaking, I model a price for each player and I’ll trust that - I’ll only worry about the market if there’s a fitness doubt (particularly in 1st round matches) or if the player is someone that I know has been involved in ‘dubious activity’ in the past.
What are your personal betting rules?
Follow the entry point script/numbers, stick to the staking script (which has solid bankroll management rules).
What is your favorite betting market?
I like in-play betting, the match odds market, purely from a liquidity basis.
How have you come up with the idea to create a tennis trading script? What is it? Does it work?
I guess this is something I came across with poker originally. A lot of people used rules to play certain hands in certain positions (which is not really a great strategy, as you can work out their range of hands if they are very transparent) but it could easily be refined and used in trading, because you are playing against the market as opposed to several opponents, and no-one knows who you are (so they can’t run software to exploit an individual traders data/tendencies, as you can with poker). It works by entering the current scoreline and calculates a stake based on various metrics (that I can’t discuss in detail) but those would be things like projected hold percentage, pre-match value, and other areas.
The US Open has just finished. Were you surprised by any outcomes or did the event go as you expected?
The Olympics has meant that many players didn’t play the tournament in as good a condition as they would on a non-Olympic year. Therefore, the fact that there were shock results and non-top seed winners perhaps wasn’t unexpected, although it’s also worth considering that the finalists in 2012 were Djokovic, Murray, Serena Williams and Azarenka - all elite players. Only really the final between Djokovic and Wawrinka was a big match that went against my model in terms of betting value.
The season-ending event, World Tour Finals, will take place in November. In your opinion, who’ll compete at the O2?
Already in the men’s list, the race to the O2 is quite clearly defined. Nishikori in 5th place has almost a 2,000 point cushion over 9th place Berdych, whilst even Monfils and Thiem (6th/7th) have around a 700/800 point lead over Berdych. I’d be pretty surprised if the top 8 in the current race weren’t at the O2 - Berdych and Cilic are going to have to perform very strongly in the Masters events later on in the season (Shanghai, Paris).
Are there any young guns (teenagers) in tennis who will equally compete with the top players in the nearest future?
There are many really good prospects right now - everyone knows about the likes of Kyrgios, Coric, Zverev, Fritz etc…but lower down the rankings, outside the top 100 there are players such as Daniil Medvedev whose stats are improving almost weekly. He’s not as young as some but he’s made ridiculous improvements in recent months. Casper Ruud (17 years old) just won a Challenger title in his first Challenger event, so obviously he’s one to watch too. It’s usually easier for WTA players to break through at a younger age, and there are so many prospects. Darya Kasatkina and Naomi Osaka are two that I really like, and CiCi Bellis (17 years old) is a massive prospect statistically. She might go to University though which I don’t think would have a positive impact on her career.
Let’s make some predictions on the upcoming year. Will Novak dominate on tour? Will Federer recover and make a comeback? Can Juan Martin Del Potro make it to the top? Any other guesses?
Novak Djokovic is by far the best player in the world when he is fully fit. A calendar year slam isn’t out of the question if he stays fit. Federer, tough to say. He might get a few awkward draws in early season big tournaments as his seeding will be lower, and his age is obviously not ideal for a big comeback either. Del Potro is already back playing top-10 tennis and it’s just his ranking that needs to catch up. As far as other predictions go, I think you’ll see quite a few big names declining as they age (there’s a lot of players still at a similar age dynamic - late 20s, early 30s) whilst the breakthrough of younger prospects is inevitable.
What would you advise those who are making their first steps in betting?
Always keep as much data as you can, whether that’s player/scenario data or just data on your own betting. Research as much as you can and keep stakes small - risk tiny percentages of your bankroll. Don’t let a bad run of results wipe you out and don’t chase. I frequently find that the main issue for new bettors is poor discipline/money management.
Thanks a lot, Dan!
If you have any questions to Dan, you may contact him onTwitter or consider buying his book Mastering Tennis Trading.
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