To herald the release of the 100th SBC Magazine earlier this week, I was recently interviewed on all things ‘Smart Betting Club’ by Matt Bisogno of geegeez.co.uk
Matt grilled me on everything from the early days of SBC, how our review process has developed, through to the tipster world as it stands today and the main issues punters now face.
You can read the interview in full below – I hope you enjoy it!
Matt Geegeez: You’ve been going since 2006 – the same year I started online, incidentally, and we have similar aspirations for betting on horse racing, though of course SBC’s remit is broader than just racing. How does it feel to have reached the 100 issue milestone? Did you ever think you would reach this point?
Pete SBC: Honestly, no, the idea of reaching a milestone like this was beyond what was envisaged at the time. The main reason to launch was the lack of a good and transparent tipster review service, especially as we knew of plenty of profitable tipsters we felt merited exposure to a wider audience.
Having lasted 11 years and 100 magazines, I like to think we have achieved much of our remit – to help ordinary people improve their betting profitability. Had we not, I don’t think we would still be here!
Matt: Why do you feel SBC has stood the test of time and lasted so long? What is the secret to its success?
Pete: There are a couple of reasons behind our longevity.
First of all it’s the fact we have been able to consistently find good quality tipsters to review and monitor. Without these, there would be little reason for a service like SBC and I am pleased to say that if anything, the quantity and quality of genuinely good tipsters out there has only gotten stronger over the years. One of my toughest jobs now as an Editor is shortlisting the tipsters we do review in each magazine as inevitably someone’s nose will be out of joint because their service isn’t being featured.
Secondly, I would have to say that our independent stance has really helped us stand out too as the public always knows our opinion is unbiased and fair. Nor are we influenced by advertising or ‘under the table’ deals to praise something for any reason other than a belief it is genuinely good.
Compared to many other, especially mainstream betting media outlets, who are clearly compromised by their lack of independence, I think our stance appeals to those seeking impartial advice.
Matt: There’s no doubt that SBC has made a mark in the online betting space. What impact do you feel you have had?
Pete: I certainly like to think we have had a hand in dragging standards up when it comes to tipster services.
Whilst there will always be those tipsters that try it on, in the main, punters these days expect a lot more from any tipster before signing-up to a service and can spot a scam that much easier.
Whether that’s the ability to see a full set of results (not just the winners) or some evidence of third party proofing to verify claims, punters are more clued up to what to expect from a tipster.
I also think we have helped make the idea of using tipsters to make money a more realistic proposition. So many SBC members are doing this these days and blogs like our own Bet Diary, have helped expose this as a realistic goal.
Matt: Amongst other things, you are known for your tipster reviews and reports. What has changed in the tipping world over the past 11 years (both good and bad!)?
Pete: Continuing from that last point of improved standards, certainly the professionalism, transparency and quality of tipsters in general has changed and for the better. Especially those we review at the sharper end of the market who really have a significant edge.
A large chunk of this is down to what is required to stand-out in today’s crowded tipster market place. It’s no good just simply giving out tips and hoping they win. Thought needs to go into your customer service, odds settlement policy, the bookmakers you quote and your staking and betting bank advice, plus many other things.
We have also (thankfully) seen the decline in popularity of premium rate phone tipsters who would hide behind unobtainable winners and could claim all sorts in their adverts, regardless of how good they are. Most of them were and still are, ridiculously overpriced and unprofitable.
Matt: And have you evolved your approach to reviewing tipsters? How exactly?
Pete: As SBC grew and expanded, so too did the time and resource we could plough into our reviews, which in turn really helped us improve them and set certain important standards.
The odds tracking we run for all our tipster reviews is a case in point, because through this we monitor how the advised odds hold up for each tip advised. If for example a tipster is advising and settling a bet at 16/1, yet within 15 minutes it is consistently likely to be a best 10/1, you need to know about that!
Just this week I have been examining a racing tipster claiming a ROI of over 45%, yet if taking the best price on their tips just 15 minutes after release, the ROI drops by 25%. Even if you can get the advised odds, these kind of price drops will only see your bookmaker account red flagged for restriction.
Our approach to betting banks is also another area we spent a lot of time working on, to ensure we could apply certain standards across the board to make for easy comparison.
Matt: Return on Investment, Return on Capital, points profit, strike-rate… there are a lot of ways of measuring the effectiveness of a tipster. Which is the one key calculation out of all of them you look for? And how would you rank those four?
Pete: Out of all of them I would tend towards Return on Capital, because ultimately it tells you how much money you will make if following. If I know a tipster makes 200% bank growth in an average year, I know that £2000 will make me £4000 and can put the profits in context.
Return on Investment is also very useful as it tells you how much you must stake to make a profit so should never be ignored. A tipster might claim they made £5000 profit last year, but if you had to risk £500,000 to achieve that (A ROI of just 1%) you wouldn’t want to follow them in!
Both ROI and ROC together are a potent way to judge a tipster.
In order of importance I would go: ROC, ROI, Points Profit, Strike-Rate.
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Matt: Over the course of the first 100 issues, you have reviewed, literally, hundreds of tipsters. Do you think there is more choice for punters looking for tipsters these days compared to when you started? And how can punters protect themselves from disreputable tipsters?
Pete: Yes, there is certainly more choice for punters these days. One simple reason for this is how easy it is to setup a website and take online payments these days, so anyone can do it.
There are also quite a few good ‘tipster hub’ website that do this for you, such as Pyckio, Betting Gods & Tipster Street (alongside our own Premium Section), who operate to high standards and feature a smattering of good tipsters.
In terms of protecting yourself, I would urge any punter interested in a tipster to firstly check sites like SBC and Geegeez for our own reviews on their service. If that uncovers nothing then don’t be afraid to send the tipster an email to ask questions like where do they proof, do they have a full history of results and what is their odds quoting and settling policy?
Very often the reply received will be indicative of their customer service and how genuine they are. And if something doesn’t seem quite right…move on! There are plenty of other tipsters out there that you can follow.
Matt: Do you think social media has had a positive impact on the tipster industry?
Pete: For those genuine tipsters, social media can be a useful way to notify followers of tips, to share information and interact with their audience and in that sense it helps.
On the other hand, I find social media to be a breeding ground for all kinds of bad tipster practice as it’s so easy to open a new Twitter or Facebook account claiming to be a betting guru. Most of them only make money through bookmaker affiliation when their followers post a loss and it’s something the authorities need to clamp down on. It’s illegal in many countries to earn money promoting a product or service without making it clear you have a vested interest.
Add into this the frankly ridiculous number of tipsters who claim to be able to win 10 bets on the run at short odds (a fool’s quest if ever there was one) and in many ways, social media hasn’t helped all that much.
Matt: What have been the biggest fundamental changes impacting punters in the past decade?
Pete: Certainly, the biggest change has been as regards racing punters when it comes to betting restrictions and closures.
You can still win money but depending on how much you stake, the sports you bet on and the tactics employed – these all have an impact on how long your accounts remain open for when betting on racing.
What started as a problem that impacted only high rollers at big stakes (and which the bookies denied took place) has become all too common-place.
Matt: How have restrictions and closures impacted your reviews and the tipsters you focus on?
Pete: With any racing tipster, it’s probably one of the most important considerations. For example, some racing tipsters that put up bets at 5/6pm the evening before racing offer little genuine chance for punters to get on in a sustainable way. Especially those tipping at the larger end of the market on horses the bookies are wary about money coming in for. The merest whiff of support for a horse at that time with the bookies will impact the odds and there is next to nothing available on the exchanges.
Instead, we focus on racing tipsters that put up tips you can realistically follow without too many issues. Our preference is for those sustainable, fair and practical services as whilst restrictions do exist, there are ways and means to prevent their impact for quite some time.
Naturally, we have also extended our focus on other sports like Football, Tennis & US Sports where this issue doesn’t exist. The odds in these markets are often extremely competitive and better value, plus of course – entirely sustainable as your account is less likely to get limited.
Matt: What are your thoughts on the promised changes to the bookmaking industry by the Gambling Commission?
Pete: They are long overdue as bookmakers have been getting away with murder for years. Whether it’s manipulating their terms and conditions to suit them, delaying or refusing withdrawal payments or encouraging problem gambling with the proliferation of FOBT machines.
This latter point is for me the kicker as it’s the only reason we have so many bookie shops open these days. Strict limitation on them might well force bookies to go back to taking bets.
Everything I hear tells me that change is coming and that the Gambling Commission (GC) in conjunction with the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) mean business. Let’s hope so and that the all-powerful bookmaker lobby doesn’t see these measures watered down.
Matt: Do you hold out much hope for a ‘right to bet’ law compelling all bookmakers to lay all punters a bet?
Pete: Not now as I think the GC and CMA are more focused on FOBT’s and bookie behaviour/customer service rather than a right to bet.
Ultimately, I think any campaign for a ‘right to bet’ will be a slow burner and may take more time and pressure before it is considered by the authorities.
Perhaps the most likely approach for change may lie from bookmakers themselves and if any other firms fancy following the lead of Black Type who promise to lay all punters up to £500 on racing. No doubt other firms are watching their business model to see how they fare and may well launch something similar in future if they feel there is a market.
Matt: Have you any thoughts on other sports or betting markets that punters impacted by restrictions could look into?
Pete: As previously mentioned, sports like Football, Golf, Tennis, plus all the various US Sports offer some very sustainable profits to punters with the right tipsters.
Very often the betting markets for these sports are super competitive with very tight margins, all of which works in the punters favour.
In fact, just this week I have been interviewing one American based SBC member who is unable to bet on racing, yet has still made $1m dollars betting with tipsters in the past 5 years. He is proof that betting with tipsters does not have to be limited to racing!
Matt: Looking forward, which other sports do you cover currently, and do you plan to focus more on them in the future?
Pete: Aside from those already mentioned we also cover tipsters providing advice on, darts, rugby, American football, baseball, ice hockey and basketball.
We do plan on covering more tipsters from these sports in the future, especially given the quality of expert we are currently tracking.
Matt: What developments do you expect to see in the betting world in the next few years?
Pete: Well I do expect to see more and more on e-sports in the next few years as it’s a rapidly growing market. Already I am proofing one clued-up e-sports tipster who has quietly been developing an impressive record. I expect more to come out of the woodwork soon!
Matt: Going back to your eleven years with SBC since 2006 – out of everything you have achieved, what are you most proud of?
Pete: Ultimately, it’s the fact that we have helped so many people make a profit from their betting through our advice, reviews and reports. There is nothing better than at the end of a hard day, picking up an email from someone thanking us for the difference we have made. It makes all the hard work worthwhile!
Matt: And finally, what are your plans for the future and the next 10 and the next 100 SBC magazines?
Pete: In short – To keep on helping punters win and beat the bookies!
Just as over the last 11 years we have evolved and adapted our reviews to provide answers for punters in a changing betting world, so too will we moving forward.
The plan for the next 10 and 100 magazines is to keep uncovering more quality tipsters to provide even more choice and opportunity across a wide range of sports and markets. We will also be tackling the subjects that matter to punters, whether it be restrictions or even the use of automated software to help you bet – something we will be featuring in SBC 101. Yes, despite the ink barely being dry on SBC 100, already I am thinking of the next issue!
My thanks to go Matt for taking the time to interview me and for his interest in the Smart Betting Club!
For those of you unfamiliar, Matt runs the very successful (and highly recommended by SBC readers, who voted it #1 betting website in our recent awards survey) geegeez.co.uk website, which provides start of the art racecards, ratings, form tools, reports & much more besides.
New users can take a one month Geegeez Gold trial for just £1, or if you’d prefer to have a browse first, register here to get a free Gold feature daily plus full Gold access to selected races each day.
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