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Interview Former channel man Peter Webb has become one of Betfair's leading customers and bets a quarter of a billion pounds annually on horseracing alone. He also sloshes a good amount on the X Factor market. The ex Compaq and Medion man finally left the UK's computer distribution channel in to make a full time go of trading on the betting exchange. Webb trades the exchange the way a City trader plays the financial markets. As there can be four race meetings in a day and seven races at each of them, it is easy to see how his turnover gets so high.
Here' how it works. Webb will back Dobbin to win say at 5. If, then, the odds to back Dobbin not to win this is called laying fall below the back price say 4. The exchange keeps track of his net position so he's free to re-bet his capital immediately.
If Dobbin's lay price goes up, he's stuffed. Webb makes lots of trade in this manner, on several horses, before a race starts. The odds movements don't tend to be as extreme as this example.
The UK business is usually between 2pm and 5pm, and then the US comes online at 9pm until 1pm. Webb starts trading 10 minutes before a race starts and closes all his bets 10 seconds before the off. When the race starts, he no longer has any financial interest in its result, he's off to trading the next race. Horse racing stood out because of the amount of money that went through it, so I started to work really hard at understanding it.
Webb's approach has nothing to do with knowing form or horse bloodlines. I'm looking at the price of a horse and estimate where the price will go.
My role in the market is as an arbiter of value and whatever I do I do before the race starts — I don't believe I'm better at predicting the form than anyone else.
This sort of thinking might be familiar to anyone who's made money not from taking a view on the absolute merits of a given technology or piece or kit - but rather on how prices are likely to move over time.
There are also dog races a day which he can trade. I've also been providing a lot of the liquidity for X Factor - people would be horrified about how much of that market was me. These opportunities pop out of the woodwork at all times.
Webb opened an account with Betfair seven days after it first went live in He heard about it while knocking around the First Tuesday meetings of the original and glorious dotcom boom. He doesn't need more because unlike the financial markets, Betfair settles trades immediately. A relatively small sum placed in a market can be leveraged very quickly, by closing its position then rebetting it. He builds his own PCs and uses six monitors to trade , and upgrades them every six months. However, he says Medion is good value and he'd buy them now.
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