Tricks and Tips
Learn how to protect your business from potential loses before it is too late
Pinnacle as the last man standing. Or maybe not?
The phrase “last man standing” refers to the sole survivor of a battle, when everybody else has fallen. Figuratively, the phrase is commonly used to describe anything or anyone that has outlived or outlasted other similar things. The sharp betting community eye-witnessed and facilitated the last man standing competition, where one after another, bookmakers and exchanges were exhausted by sharp action.
Now let me take you some years back. What were the options for the sharp player?
- Betfair. Massive liquidity while still operating in most European markets. Volumes of 100.000.000 Euros on a Champions League game. Accounts starting with a commission rate of 5%, but a much lower rate (2-3%) was negotiable with their managers as a starting point.
- Matchbook. An excellent choice for American sports, a great Betfair substitute in markets where Betfair wasn’t that strong.
- Smarkets. Pumping liquidity to their own exchange to copy Betfair odds but offering a commission rate down to 1%. A rising star, challenging Betfair’s monarchy.
- SBObet. Huge Asian power is offering the best odds for favourites, but cutting odds for underdogs — an authority on football odds and very tough to move their lines.
- Pinnacle. The arbitrage friendly bookmaker, never limiting players, offering the highest limits in the industry (with the exception of exchanges), even offering a 10% welcome bonus for all new clients.
Now, fast forward to today
- Betfair. Operating only in some countries and accessible via white labels. The volumes of a Champions League game are lower than the cost of a London Mansion. In the last UK’s general elections, the “most seats” market had a volume of almost 10 million.
- Matchbook. Skyrocketing fees and Premium Charges. Commission rates ready to fly.
- Smarkets. Confiscating balances from those who beat their software.
- SBObet. Offering limits of 30-40 euros per event, literally out of business.
- Pinnacle. Still arbitrage friendly but accompanied by many asterisks.
Let’s take a good look at these asterisks. Here in arbusers, we prefer professional bettor’s point of view over the academic. Someone who is observing only the surface of the market would quickly conclude that Pinnacle is the dominant power, the last man standing, the one that won the prize. But is that battle over, or are we just watching an attrition war? We believe it is the latest.
The danger for every bookmaker
The failure of several exchanges and bookmakers to serve the smart betting money properly, resulted in the concentration of sharp action in Pinnacle, outnumbering by far the dump money of square bettors. Smart money represents a danger for every bookmaker with no exception. We have seen how bookmakers are trying to protect themselves from the smart money, by limiting accounts, confiscating winnings, or by offering dual lines. You will find 1000s of reports about these tactics on our forum.
Pinnacle’s lines of defence
Pinnacle is condemned not to follow these tactics for two reasons. First, because their bookmaking style is fundamentally based on large volumes, second because all marketing efforts are roofed under the “winners welcome” slogan. This doesn’t mean that Pinnacle has no lines of defence. Quite the contrary. Let’s see what these measures that Pinnacle already took to protect itself from smart money are.
- Pinnacle withdrew from several markets with limited liquidity.
- Pinnacle lowered the wagering limits in several other markets.
- Pinnace added juice to many markets.
- Pinnacle reduced significantly the wagering limits to brokers, agents and white labels as we believe they identified much sharp action coming from these channels.
In reality, what Pinnacle is doing is reducing exposure to markets where they are bleeding. As more bookmakers and exchanges get exhausted by sharp action, we conclude that even more smart money will be using Pinnacle, creating a vicious external spiral.
Also, a 2nd vicious spiral, this time internal, will be formatting. Slashed limits combined with additional juice in specific markets, will channel the smart money to more mainstream and popular markets.
Most probably they will continue lowering their risks in the same style. We expect to see them leaving from more markets and lowering the wagering limits even more.
In the end, we don’t see Pinnacle’s end anytime soon, as they will move back from one trench to another, and this will take time.
In the unlikely event that Pinnacle somehow disappears from the market, the market will be disorientated completely, and bookmakers will suffer massively. This will mean the end of arbitrage as we know it, (unless a new Pinnacle or an exchange emerges) and the complete domination of value betting.
To sum up, if Pinnacle goes, there must be a new equilibrium, a state in which opposing forces are balanced. This equilibrium will be created by sharp action coming from different sources. Pinnacle might be a good help for arbers, but it is a competitor for value bettors. Value bettors will be pleased to see Pinnacle going, but arbers will be sad.
I find it very difficult for Pinnacle to change the current business model, as this will come with massive marketing costs. At this point in time, only 3-4 operators can afford a complete 180 marketing turn.
I also find it very difficult that they switch from the Asian style of bookmaking to the high street soft bookmaker style, because this would make them no different from others. Of course, they can always come up with a sister bookmaker, as Betfair did with the Betfair sportsbook.
We are watching closely as we identify Pinnacle’s good standing, a key factor for the smart betting community.
Could you imagine sharp betting without Pinnacle?