Automatic Exchange Betting: Automating the Betting Process – From Strategy to Execution
Author Colin Magee
Published by High Stakes
There are few books that offer a fresh prospective on the betting game but I can say that Automatic Exchange Betting by Colin Magee is a groundbreaking book that deserves to be read.
Ever since I first encountered the internet I wondered whether it could be utilised to implement automated betting systems. In my fantasy I would use information on the web or from my computerised form database to research and develop profitable systems. My PC would then go out and search for data on the web and identify the systems selections. The same PC would then deploy this data and place bets on the selections, according to my own staking formula and at the best available prices. The human element would therefore be removed from the betting process and with it the room for error. It would also take considerable effort out of the betting process and allow me to relax and enjoy my winning s and dream up new systems and strategies.
However, turning a dream into a reality is the difficult bit and if you were like me and only had basic PC and programming skills then the dream would remain only a dream. Until Colin Magee put pen to paper those that had the skills and know how to implement automated betting strategies generally did not share their work. William Benter in Hong Kong was perhaps an exception in that he published a series of academic papers and spoke at seminars on how he had successfully implemented a computerised betting operation that was raking in millions per year for him and his investors. This openness was refreshing and i'm sure sparked interest in hundreds of people that had a dream similar to mine. The detail though was still lacking and if you wanted to start embarking on developing automated betting systems you really needed a good introductory text book or two to get you started. These simply didn’t exist until High Stakes published Automatic Exchange Betting.
Colin Magee provides the perfect introductory text for those wanting to develop automated betting systems. As he states in the first few pages the past decade has seen a technological revolution in facilities for betting on horseracing. From the proliferation of online information to the advent of betting exchanges, it is now possible to analyse form and betting odds; run selection systems; place bets and track results electronically. One of the biggest and most important developments has been the advent of computerised betting exchanges. For instance Betfair matches 15 times as many daily transactions as the London Stock Exchange and like the London stock exchange these transactions are all digitised.
The Big Bang for those pursuing automated betting strategies was when Betfair gave programmatic access to their exchange markets via an application programming interface (API). The author explains in detail what the Betfair API is all about and how you can interact with it by using a computer programming language called Perl and a database program called MySQL. The book explains how you can use Perl and MySQL to write programs to work with Betfair’s free access API.
Each Chapter of the book takes you through the process of placing a bet on Betfair automatically. It explains how you can take a list of selections and pass these to a Perl program that will be able to schedule the placing of bets prior to the off time and then record your profits and losses.
The brilliantly clever Mr Magee then also shows you how to set up a database to automatically record fluctuations in the Betfair odds of every runner, in every race run in Great Britain and Ireland every few seconds prior to the off and in-running. This in itself is a hugely valuable piece of computer code that opens up endless possibilities. For instance, you can quickly build up a huge amount of data and then start to analyse this information to identify back and lay strategies based on forecasting changes in the odds of each runner in a race
One of the best bits of the book is that not only does Magee reproduce his Perl scripts in full he also provides these electronically on the web so you can quickly download the scripts and start running them. This is when the books really starts to make sense and you will find that you keep reading and reading it to understand how the programs operate and then, when you feel up-to-speed, you can start manipulating them to produce your own code.
In order to get to the stage of being able to run your own programs you need to invest time and effort. You won’t just be able to pick this book up off the shelf and understand its content. You will first need to study the basics of Perl and MySQL to do that. This isn’t a criticism. It simply reflects the fact that Colin Magee has written a book about automatic exchange betting and not an introduction to the Perl programming language. The author though provides plenty of annotated examples of his code and includes an excellent bibliography that will quickly get you started. I have also found that there are also huge resources that you can draw upon from the web, not least installing for free the Perl language interpreter.
Implementing automatic betting strategies isn’t easy and as well as mastering Perl to some degree you will also need to ensure that you have the right hardware and software environment to run Magee’s example programs. Again though he points you in the right direction and I have followed his advice and successfully installed the Ubuntu operating system on my modest PC and have Perl and MySQL running in perfect harmony (I did initially try to go down the Windows route but it wasn’t worth the effort because the code in the book isn’t always compatible).
After a bit of re-reading and a little bit of head scratching I had my first programs running and interacting with the Betfair API and Magee again has to take considerable credit for ensuring that his code is reproduced error free and works as stated. His detailed code walkthroughs are also invaluable and reveal how the programs work bit by bit.
One of the best things about this book is that it helps you build up some fairly impressive programming skills and you will be surprised about how far you can get by following Magee’s advice and I have now started to use my newly acquired skills to develop programs for scraping betting information and racing form from the web. Considering that I started off with virtually no background or knowledge of the Perl language then I’m pleased with what I’ve achieved. The credit though goes to Colin Magee for writing such a ground breaking book and to High Stakes for having the foresight to publish it.
This book wont be everyone’s cup of tea but for those interested in implementing automated betting strategies then it is a must read. I’m sure that in a few years time automated programs will be a common feature of the betting scene, but the profits will go to those that get started now.
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