Big Betfair Mysteries III: Courtsiding

Welcome along to another edition of Big Betfair mysteries! A light hearted look at the bizarre and mysterious things which many of us sports traders notice on a regular basis!

Today we are going to look at something that happens all the time on Betfair, but no-one ever mentions.

Perhaps they are scared to talk about it?

I could probably wake up with a horses head on my pillow in the morning for highlighting this issue..

But today, we are going to look at the issue of Courtsiding!

What is courtsiding?

The term “Courtsiding” originates from those who sit at the side of the tennis court and trade matches from there. By doing this they have the advantage of seeing events unfold as they happen and without the usual delays that a TV or Online feed can provide. So by trading and being a few crucial seconds ahead of everyone else you can easily mop up the value.

For example, if you have just seen Federer score a break point against Nadal then you know his Match odds are going to drop. If you are courtside then you can Back Federer just as he scores the point and then moments later trade out as everyone else catches up, backs him too and his odds drop.

If you have ever traded a tennis match you will notice that the odds often move BEFORE you see the point being scored. This is because your TV pictures will be a good few seconds behind those who are watching it live. When you take the Betfair clock into consideration then trying to trade point by point with TV pictures is almost impossible as the odds you want will be gone before you even clicked the button!

Tennis is the sport where courtsiding is most evident however the odds move far too quickly on other sports like Darts, Cricket and Snooker too so you must assume that courtsiding is happening there too.

When you consider that some tennis matches have over £10 million matched on them then you can understand just how lucrative this business can be!

It sounds easy, Can I go and do some Courtsiding?

It does sound like easy money and so surely it would be worth going to see some tennis matches live and making that easy money? Well, this is where the plot thickens slightly.

If you tried to get into any tennis match and wanted to gamble from the side of the court with a laptop then you wouldn’t get very far. There have been stories about people being thrown out and given life bans when they have been caught gambling at the courtside. So it will be quite tricky to get away with it. I think some stadiums are now so strict that you simply can’t use a laptop when courtside.

Some have said that courtsiding is now in the hands of far eastern gangs who bribe officials to let them have access and allow them to use their laptops in peace. With such big money possible, I cant imagine a low paid official turning down the chance of a few thousand in his back pocket?

So who is doing the courtsiding?

So this is where all the mystery comes in. Who is actually doing the courtsiding and how? Perhaps, those who are courtside are trading with small devices such as an iPhone or Blackberry? This business is so lucrative that perhaps they had some sort of device invented which they could hide in their pocket and trade with. So you could have one button to back, one to lay? Who knows??

There is also an interesting conspiracy theory floating around….

This suggests that it is employees of Betfair who are doing the courtsiding. However, they aren’t actually doing it at the court-side. The conspiracy theory would have you believe that they are trading the matches but with NO Betfair clock. So they can put their bets in and get matched straight away without the usual 5 second delay. This might explain why the odds do move so quickly.

It does sound feasible however all conspiracy theories do don’t they?

So are there people trading without the Betfair Clock?

Well, I was reading a well known trading forum a while back and someone who went to a tennis match tried to do some court-siding. I am not sure what device they were using but they did say that even by being at the match itself they couldn’t beat the clock as the odds moved too quickly!

I am yet to try courtsiding myself. Being based in London means my only realistic opportunity is at Wimbledon or Queens club and getting tickets for those is often like trying to buy gold dust. For the next Premier League season, I will be at Craven Cottage most weeks so I will try and see if it’s possible to nip in just as a goal is scored but football matches have an 8 second delay normally which I think will be tricky to beat.

In conclusion…

The whole issue with court-siding is something that will probably always remain a mystery. Those that are doing it could easily be making 5 figure sums per match, but WHO are they and HOW are they are doing it….??

Answers on a postcard, or in the comments box below!


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  1. Good article. I’ve always thought it wouldn’t be that hard to write a small app that runs on a mobile or iPhone with a couple of specific buttons, one to back and one to lay. The software would do the fancy stuff about working out how much to take at what odds etc before then dumping it back after the odds had shifted. I think you’d also need a second person with access to the account keeping an eye on things though!
    I think journalists are always eyed with suspicion with regards ‘courtsiding’, they can legitimately sit in their own room with a grand view of the court, laptop in front of them and high speed internet access….

    1. Hey Talkbet,

      I forgot about journalists, they are a big suspect in this too.

      Or people posing as journalists?


  2. It seems to me that someone has invented a time-machine and can see into the future.

    The reason why someone court-side “couldn’t beat the clock” is that bet cancels have no delay. So for example you might put in a lay at 1.4 which would only be value to a backer if Player A wins the next point. If Player A does win that point, you cancel the lay within 5 seconds.

    1. Hey Cassini,

      Yep a time machine would solve all our problems!

      I do hope to try it myself one day but without software I imagine it would be tricky!

  3. Courtsiders are always a big problem for traders but there is nothing to do about that.

    Going to a stadium in premier league matches isn’t a good idea bec. the markets are suspended even after the goal scored in these high liquidty matches. Maybe you can catch a goal by pressing the button BEFORE the goal is scored…

    BTW, good article…;)

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