# The Mookse and the Gripes discussion

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Talking Points > What are the odds?

message 1: by (last edited Sep 11, 2020 12:13AM) (new)

A place to talk about book related betting odds

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There are two reasons to talk about betting on books - one if people are actually interested in betting, but perhaps of winder interest simply to see what the odds are telling us.

Now typically on literature, this group is better formed that whoever sets the bookmakers odds.

The one big exception to that historically has been the Nobel Prize for literature where the odds have been a bizarrely good guide to possible winners (given a prize that ought to be extremely hard to predict). Most infamously Bob Dylan was one of the favourites for several years before he won. And it did transpire there was a reason - some alleged leaking of tips from the committee itself.

And as Misterhobgoblin has rightly pointed out before, the odds also reflect the weight of money (so punters views) as well as the bookmakers views.

Case in point for both - me betting just 20 pounds was enough to cause William Hill to significantly reduce the odds (increase the implied chance) of Hamnet winning the women's prize from 12.5% (7-1) to 20% (4-1).

Which is another feature of book betting - the amount bookmakers will accept at a given price is usually quite small. Whereas say on the US or UK election, a five or six figure sum would be quite possible to place - Betfair alone has currently matched £80 million pounds of bets.

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The Booker Prize tends to be the most active market - although more at shortlist stage. Currently I think only two people are offering odds and they aren't very good value.

Best way to assess value is to turn the odds into implied probabilities - a bet is good value if your predicted probability of winning is higher than the bookmaker's odds. So 3-1 (English style) means bet 1 pound to win 3 plus you stake back - so the implied probability for this to be a fair bet is 25% =1/(3+1)

And if one adds the odds on all the books you can see the bookmaker's implied profit margin.

Currently on the Booker, the bookmakers' implied probabilities add up to c150% - which is much higher than say the 10% margin on the Women's Prize. I.e. if one bet on all the books to win an equal amount you'd have to bet £1.50 to get a guaranteed return of £1 (i.e. a guaranteed loss).

But there have been years in the past where by betting with different bookmakers on the Booker has meant you can guarantee a profit.

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Great info! I have limited experience in gambling (an occasional horse race, Vegas trip, etc.), but this sounds a lot more fun. Which betting sites do you recommend?

I'm also curious about the process of setting odds for this market. How much of it reflects book-makers views, and how much of it is algorithmically determined (e.g. regression-based)? Do they consider other factors besides the "weight of money"?

What do you think drove the large shift in odds that resulted from your 20-pound bet? Are you a known quantity on the site (and they trust your views)? Or are the bets anonymous?

Or is the shift due to a small number of total bets?

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For books it really is whichever one actually offers odds

For Booker International it was Paddy Power

For Women's Prize it was William Hill

For anglo Booker currently William Hill and Betway

On the questions - the shift is due to a small number of total bets

On setting odds - William Hill's odds are set by Graham Sharpe who has been doing it for years - see e.g. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertain...

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Paul wrote: "There are two reasons to talk about betting on books..."
I agree that no further discussion on why people bet is required (view spoiler).

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Also with reference to other discussions of betting on the forum: please be careful not to normalise large losses which many people could not afford. (e.g. by not mentioning figures of that sort).

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Title changed to be more indicative of content

message 9: by (last edited Sep 11, 2020 12:52AM) (new)

William Hill on Booker as of now:

4/1
Hilary Mantel - The Mirror And The Light
5/1
Gabriel Krauze - Who They Was
Kiley Reid - Such a Fun Age
6/1
Douglas Stuart - Shuggie Bain
7/1
Colum McCann - Apeirogon
Tsitsi Dangarembga - This Mournable Body
Brandon Taylor - Real Life
Sophie Ward - Love and Other Thought Experiments
Maaza Mengiste - The Shadow King
9/1
12/1
Avni Doshi - Burnt Sugar
16/1
C Pam Zhang - How Much of These Hills is Gold
Diane Cook - The New Wilderness

Which are terrible value generally - chance a book wins the list is apparently 160%.

message 10: by (last edited Sep 11, 2020 12:53AM) (new)

5/2
Hilary Mantel - The Mirror And The Light
3/1
Colum McCann - Apeirogon
5/1
Gabriel Krauze - Who They Was
Kiley Reid - Such a Fun Age
7/1
Douglas Stuart - Shuggie Bain
Tsitsi Dangarembga - This Mournable Body
10/1
Brandon Taylor - Real Life
Sophie Ward - Love and Other Thought Experiments
12/1
Maaza Mengiste - The Shadow King
14/1
16/1
Diane Cook - The New Wilderness
20/1
Avni Doshi - Burnt Sugar
C Pam Zhang - How Much of These Hills is Gold

Also not great value

A reasonable consensus between the two though on the favourites and outsiders (which itself isn't great - fairer value tends to arise when the bookmakers differ in view)

message 11: by (new)

Antonomasia wrote: "Also with reference to other discussions of betting on the forum: please be careful not to normalise large losses which many people could not afford. (e.g. by not mentioning figures of that sort)."

Likewise (and with reference to the Women's Prize thread - talking about ideas like recouping losses.

I know for people who are organised and running a bankroll or float for gambling, or have an affordable set budget for it, these sorts of swings and roundabouts can all be part of the fun.

But out of that context, and in terms of modelling thinking about these things to others, it can be considered an issue. When doing offers related to matched betting, I've lurked in chatrooms on bingo sites, and on the stricter ones, seen users talking about things like trying to win money back being warned and booted out and told they'll be getting a call from the support team.
(They are supposed to be seeing it as if it's entertainment budgeted for and gone, like e.g a theme park or a night out, and wins are just a bonus.)

message 12: by (new)

So bookies joint shortlist

Hilary Mantel - The Mirror And The Light
Colum McCann - Apeirogon
Gabriel Krauze - Who They Was
Kiley Reid - Such a Fun Age
Douglas Stuart - Shuggie Bain
Tsitsi Dangarembga - This Mournable Body

with an outside chance for:
Brandon Taylor - Real Life
Sophie Ward - Love and Other Thought Experiments

[NB bookies always list the author as well as book as that is how I guess most people think of it - Mantel has won the booker, not The Mirror and the Light has]

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Paul wrote: "For books it really is whichever one actually offers odds

For Booker International it was Paddy Power

For Women's Prize it was William Hill

For anglo Booker currently William Hill and Betway

On..."

Bet365 was also doing the Booker International IIRC

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That is all very interesting (and not because I want to place a bet myself).

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Val wrote: "That is all very interesting (and not because I want to place a bet myself)."

That's why I changed the title. It feels more inclusive.

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Thanks Ang.

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I think its been a very good idea to create this separate link for this book odds discussion. The points made about sensitivity to others as discussion moves into financial gains and losses is well made. Gambling addiction has destroyed many lives and families.

In the context of this message board, and the knock about discussions about, and creations of, league tables, I personally think its fine. It is undoubtedly interesting to get this one other measure (the bookmakers) of how the longlist is viewed from a perspective different to the intensive readers on the Mookse board.

My other independent measure of how a wider world views the list is one I get when I speak to my local Waterstones and other indie booksellers.
I looked at the Gabriel Krauze bookmakers odds with incredulity; but my amazement was further spiked when Waterstones Tunbridge Wells, Kent (!) told me they had already re-ordered Who They Was three times, and that I was just lucky to have asked for a copy when new stocks had arrived that same morning.

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Mod
Jonathan wrote: "I think its been a very good idea to create this separate link for this book odds discussion. The points made about sensitivity to others as discussion moves into financial gains and losses is well..."

I'm always shocked when my bookstore tells me they've had to reorder things. I imagine orders to be huge trucks filled with pallets of books, but apparently my imagination is VERY wrong!

message 19: by (last edited Sep 11, 2020 11:20AM) (new)

I wonder how Mantel's odds this time compare to her odds in 2009 and 2012 (at this point in the process).

message 20: by (last edited Sep 11, 2020 11:33AM) (new)

Actually there was a rather interesting story in 2009

At longlist stage Mantel was originally 12-1 which is essentially average (12-1 = 1 in 13 chance of winning, from 13 books)

Then suddenly, even pre the shortlist, loads of "literary insiders" piled in and overnight her odds were slashed from 12-1 to 2-1 (which is very short odds in a 13 book field)

It didn't seem to be anything suspicious but rather rave reviews starting to appear:

see here for the story at the time....
https://www.theguardian.com/books/200...

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Well now there is a story

She was 2-1 favourite at the longlist stage in 2009

As often is the case the odds are swung by a few bets - 2010 completely incorrectly in favour of C

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2013 I can only find odds at shortlist stage.

Rather bizarrely to my mind, Will Self's Umbrella was actually joint favourite with Mantel.

Mantel's sequel to Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies (Fourth Estate) has been allocated odds of 6/4, just ahead of Will Self's Umbrella (Bloomsbury). Both authors have been favourites during the run-up to the prize.

"First Will Self was favourite, then Hilary Mantel edged into the lead, then punters couldn't split them and now we are making Hilary a very narrow favourite," said William Hill spokesperson Graham Sharpe. "I don't envy the judges having to split them, it could be the most difficult decision yet."

Alison Moore's The Lighthouse (Salt) is in third place, with odds of 5/1; Tan Twan Eng's The Garden of Evening Mists (Myrmidon) has odds of 5/1; Deborah Levy's Swimming Home (Faber) is at 6/1, while Jeet Thayil's Narcopolis (Faber) has odds of 10/1.

message 23: by (last edited Sep 11, 2020 11:39AM) (new)

Gumble's Yard wrote: "Well now there is a story

In years to come people will write stories of the mystery punter in September 2020 who got wind in advance of Hamnet's victory despite not having read the book.

He predicted Brexit, he called 2016 for Trump, Macron for France - who is this mysterious expert on politics and fiction...

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Paul wrote: "2013 I can only find odds at shortlist stage.

Rather bizarrely to my mind, Will Self's Umbrella was actually joint favourite with Mantel.

Mantel's sequel to Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies (Fourth..."

A bit earlier (26 July 2012):

Bookmaker William Hill has installed Hilary Mantel as the favourite to take this year's prize at 3/1, with Will Self at 5/1
.

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Thanks - well found

Spokesman Graham Sharpe said: "Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall was the best backed Booker Prize winner of all time and we fear that all her fans will be equally convinced that the new one will follow suit - so we're taking no chances by making her follow-up book hot favourite again.

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Paul wrote: "Gumble's Yard wrote: "Well now there is a story

In years to come people will write stories of the mystery punter in September 2020 who got wind in advance of Hamnet's victory despite not having re..."

If this mystery punter predicts Trump to win 2020 I beg him to keep it under his hat to prevent scores of us jumping off bridges or running for the Canadian border.

message 27: by (last edited Sep 11, 2020 10:18PM) (new)

Said punter is, the rumours suggest, on Biden this time around.

But said punter also called the 2019 UK election wrong so may be losing his touch.

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The 'people' who liked Wolf Hall, C and Umbrella don't find it in the least bizarre.

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I maintain confidence in said punter. Phew.

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Still not seeing updated betting odds for the shortlisted books. I wonder how closely they will mirror the longlist.

Avni Doshi - Burnt Sugar
Brandon Taylor - Real Life
Diane Cook- The New Wilderness
Douglas Stuart - Shuggie Bain
Maaza Mengiste - The Shadow King
Tsitsi Dangarembga - This Mournable Body

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Feels the Booker oddssetters have got the memo from the judges, as This Mournable Body is now the favourite in the first set of odds:

5/2 This Mournable Body
4/1 Shuggie Bain
5/1 Real Life
5/1 The New Wilderness
6/1 Burt Sugar

The bookies called the longlist as badly as all of us though so this may not be a good guide!

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One thing is consistent. They expect the third book of a trilogy to win.

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Debra wrote: "One thing is consistent. They expect the third book of a trilogy to win."

Very good!!

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Moved this here as I know not all like gambling - but more on the betting around the Nobel prize yesterday

https://www.dn.se/kultur/snabbt-sjunk...
translation:
https://newsbeezer.com/swedeneng/the-...

Betsson said there was betting on Kincaid, Houllebecq and Gluck but in relatively small amounts and they think it was speculation not a leak

Betsson cut Gluck's odds to just 2.75-1 by the time betting closed.

Meanwhile Ladbrokes said they had just two bets on Gluck at 25-1 for 5 pounds each ... I know who one of those was :-)

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Latest according to the Booker Prize itself

Naturally, betting should be done with care – stop when the fun stops, and all that – but a quick look at the Booker Prize odds as the days before 19 November tick themselves off reveals the bookies’ thoughts. According to Paddy Power, at least, Tsitsi Dangarembga’s This Mournable Body is the favourite with complicated odds of 23/10, then Douglas Stuart with Shuggie Bain at 3/1, Maaza Mengiste's The Shadow King at 4/1, Brandon Taylor’s Real Life at 11/2, Avni Doshi’s Burnt Sugar at 6/1 and Diane Cook’s The New Wilderness at 7/1

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better odds with Ladbrokes for most books

Mournable Body 2-1
Shuggie 3-1
Real Life 4-1
Burnt Sugar 10-1
New Wilderness 10-1

message 37: by (new)

Shadow King looks the best odds - given we know the strong pre-longlist links to two of the judges.

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As well as being much the best book on the shortlist. I think the odds generally though are about right although I'd make Real Life longer odds and Shadow King shorter.