11:51am: Now here’s something peculiar. I was doing my weekly accumulator this morning (pay £2, try to win thousands, never works) when I came across these very strange odds, on a Serie B game between Padova and Atalanta:
People who understand odds will notice how strange this is. If it looks like a home team seem likely to lose, they will have long odds, as Padova do, above. However, in such cases the away team, correspondingly, should have short odds. Atalanta do not – their odds are pretty long too. Weird.
Oddly, the figures seem to suggest that, in this game, a draw is an extremely likely outcome. Draws are never likely outcomes. Even more intriguingly, 1-1 looks to have very disproportionate odds. Also, Betfair have chosen not to include it in their multiples market, for some reason. Have they spotted something odd themselves?
I emailed a friend of mine, who understands these things better than I do, and he was equally alarmed:
Serie B’s top side Atalanta are away at mid-table Padova tonight. Granted, you might make the prospective champions favourites if you were running a book. They are currently 4.4 on Betfair, which equates to a 23% chance of winning. Good odds if you ask me. The same, however, cannot be said for the draw which has been the subject of sustained betting over the past 24 hours. It is now trading at 1.48 which means punters believe it has a 68% chance of happening. Padova have drawn 13 of their 32 games this season (40%), while Atalanta have drawn only nine. To my virgin eyes it looks like something fishy is going on.
Well wadddaya know. Final score Padova 1-1 Atalanta. The exact score the (distinctively dodgy) odds pointed towards.
A note on veracity: All of the screengrabs linked above are time-stamped according to when I added them to Flickr – well before the game. If anyone has other ways of proving the strange betting patterns though backdating the odds, please let me know and I’ll post it here.
Perhaps this kind of thing happens all the time. Either way, I’m gobsmacked.
***UPDATE: 00:27 am***
Just found this Goal piece from last week. Seems Atalanta were involved in a dodgy game last week too:
Last Saturday’s Serie B encounter between Atalanta and Piacenza has caught the attention of the prosecutor of the FIGC (Italian football association), La Repubblica reports.
An unusual amount of bets were placed on the league clash between the two sides and the Monopoli di Stato reported the irregular betting patterns to the FIGC. Italian football’s governing body has consequently opened an investigation into the match.
A large number of bets were placed on a home win for Atalanta, who currently sit atop the Serie B table, while there were also more bets than usual predicting the half-time score and final outcome of the match.
The game eventually ended in a 3-0 win for the Bergamo side, as an unusually large percentage of the gamblers had predicted.
***UPDATE: 02:34 am***
Here’s Gabriele Marcotti‘s take on it (click to enlarge):
And here’s the highlights of the game:
***UPDATE: Monday 28th***
A couple of interesting Tweets came in yesterday. First up.. Betfair responded to me directly:
… I look forward to their response. Second, Twitter user @AlexWPoker has found some more funny-looking odds next weekend on a Serie A game between Chievo and Sampdoria:
…And yes, the odds are indeed looking distinctively skewed. Betfair already has it odds-on for a draw. One to watch.