Why choose Tennis for Trading?

Latest posts by Paul Shires (see all)

When you find Betfair and the idea of trading, the first thing everyone does is to research which sports are best to trade, right?

Of course not!

People start off trying to trade on sports they know something about. That is why football is the biggest sport that is bet on or traded on the Betfair exchange.  Football offers a great variety of markets and anyone with an interest in the sport is likely to find a market they feel comfortable with whether it is match odds, over 2.5 goals or any of the many other options.

When I started on Betfair it was an article by Adam Todd who created Racing Traders that got my interest and he was trading the horses pre race so that is what I started with. The markets on a weekend were not quite as liquid as during the week so I looked around for other options. Lay the draw on football matches was something that seemed popular but after a short time it was clear that it was all about match selection. I also didn’t like the fact that the market suspended for significant events during the match.

I was interested in the possibilities that trading offered but I wanted something that I could have a little more control over. I felt that football was more like gambling for me. I loved all sports as a kid and football was no exception but I loved sports as a player. I was never really interested in who was being bought and sold or who was being rested or how the teams had fared in previous meetings today etc. I loved football for the players’ abilities.

As a goalkeeper if I was watching Match of the Day I used to know the score before the programme started and when the score reached what I knew was the final score I got excited as that meant we would see some saves.

I played most sports and could achieve a good standard in all of them with the single exception of skiing but that’s a story for another day! Having checked out the Betfair markets there seemed to be tennis matches on every day. As a teenager I had been forced to choose between tennis and table tennis. I excelled in both and opted for table tennis going on to represent England and Wales Boys Clubs. Of the two sports there was much more money in the tennis markets so this was the sport I started to research.

Tennis seemed much more manageable. a lot more significant events in a tennis match compared to football and no irritating market suspensions.

It is really tough to research a match if you don’t have at least some interest in the sport.  At the very least you need to know the basics of how the games are scored and some simple rules of the sport.

If you do not know anything about tennis here are some pointers to get you started. It can seem a little complicated but you soon get the hang of it.

Scores progress from “love” to “fifteen” to “thirty” to “forty” to “game” rather than However a player needs to win by 2 clear points. If the score reaches 40 for both players it is called as “deuce”.  The player winning the next point is said to have advantage. For example if Murray is playing and wins a point at Deuce the score is called as “Advantage Murray”.

The umpire will call the serving player’s score first.

In each game only 1 player will serve and they serve in alternate games until 1 player reaches 6 games to win the set. They must win by 2 clear games though so if the games score reaches 5-5 if a player wins the next 2 games they win the set 7-5.

If the game score hits 6-6 then they play a tie break game. The player who received in the last game will serve first for 1 point. After that they each serve 2 points in a row. The winner is the player who gets to 7 points first but, again, they must win by 2 clear points. The tie break continues from 5-5 until 1 player has a 2 point lead.  Note in a tie break the leading player’s score is given first followed by their name. For example, “4-2, Murray”.

Matches are the best of 3 sets. There are exceptions! Men’s matches in Grand Slams are the best of 5 sets. They also play the best of 5 in Davis Cup ties and the final of the Olympics tournament. In the 5th set in Grand Slams they do not play a tie break but will continue from 5-5 until a player has a 2 game lead.  Note that at the US Open a tie break IS played in the 5th set. I guess Americans like matches to be over quicker.

Isner won this 5th set with Mahut 70 games to 68!
Maybe the US Open has the right idea! Isner won this 5th set with Mahut 70 games to 68!

The above rules are for singles matches. Doubles matches can be different with no “advantage” point after deuce. The doubles pair winning the point at “deuce” win the game. Also deciding sets are sometimes played as a single tie break type game, called a “Super Tie Break”with the winner being the first to 10 points. They have to win by 2 clear points so from 8-8 they continue until one pair have a 2 point lead.

Simple eh?

After the first game of the set the players take a short rest and change ends. During this change of ends the players are not permitted to sit down though may have a drink. From then on they will change ends every 2 games. This change of ends lasts 90 seconds and they are permitted to sit.

The players will sit down for 2 and a half minutes after the last game of a set though this time is often extended if a player wants to go to the bathroom.

That’s about all you need to be able to follow a match. There are a lot more things to learn but you will pick those up as you go along.

Due to the scoring format with a player being able to win a game in just 4 points matches can turn around VERY quickly. This is one of the main reasons for it being popular for traders on Betfair. When the market thinks a set is over we often see things switch in favour of the other player, or at least switch enough to give us a worthwhile move in the prices.

In the next article I will look at the things we look for when trading a tennis match.
Read it here: What do we look for when trading tennis?


(If you want some more info on Tennis  join Paul at his site: blog.tradesharktennis.com)


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