6 Books to Start You in Sports Trading

I have recommended a lot of books on this blog. If I had to recommend a small subset of books for you to start your sports trading career then the following six books would be the ones that I would choose. The selection would also be of interest to the intermediate trader looking to improve.

You will notice that there are no handicapping or form following books amongst the selection. Nor any books on speed or biomechanics. You don't need to know what makes one horse better than another to make money from horse racing. The same can be said about other sports too. As I have said before, market structure and simple concepts from financial trading are more important than the sports themselves. Let the market determine the price. You just need to trade on its movement whilst the market discovers the true price of an event.

Here are the books that you should be reading to give yourself a head-start in sports trading.

Efficiency of Racetrack Betting Markets

This is the book that started me thinking that market structure was more important than fundamentals. After reading this book in the 1990s I stopped trying to determine which horse would win a race and concentrated solely on the horse most likely to yield me a profit. The book is an anthology of academic papers written mostly by researchers in finance using sports betting markets as a proxy for financial markets. Although it is an expensive book the papers are written by such authorities as William Ziemba (Doctor Z) and Willian Benter (a famous bettor at the Hong Kong races).

Amazon - Efficiency of Racetrack Betting Markets

Taking Chances: Winning with Probability

Probably the most complete book on gaming and probability that you could wish to own. Written by Dr John Haigh from the University of Sussex the book takes the reader through the required amount of probability theory to understand the topics in the rest of the book. Topics covered include football,horse racing casino games and other game of chance where people may be tempted to back their opinion with cash. Also included is a thorough working of Kelly Criterion for both single and multiple bets. This book remains on my desk and never gets put on the shelf.

Amazon - Taking Chances: Winning with Probability

Sports Trading on Betfair

An excellent book that teaches aspects of market structure to beginner and intermediate traders. Wayne Bailey teaches the importance of the integer prices (2.0, 3.0, 4.0 etc.) as support and resistance points. He explains in clearly and concisely two methods for scalping that do not rely on the usual scalper hunces. The book also covers more traditional technical trading systems from the financial world, including support/resistance trading and swing trading. Also covered is Dutching, arbitrage and weight of money (or weight of movement as it is called in the book). There is a also some tentative analysis of inplay system trading.
Full review here

Amazon - Sports Trading on Betfair

Secrets of Successful Betting

This book is full of information about how horse race betting markets work. Starting with a history of bookmaking, the book teaches you how bookmakers ply their trade. Later chapters demonstrate how to perform arbitrage, Dutching, multiple bets, hedging, coupling prices, making a backer's book and deriving place prices from the win markets. A very useful book indeed and one that I know many readers of this website have bought. Although it is now out of print, the book can still be picked up secondhand, at a reasonable price, on Amazon.

Full review here

Amazon - Secrets of Successful Betting

Calculated Bets: Computers, Gambling and Mathematical Modelling

Steven Skiena of Stony Brook University has a lifelong passion for the sport of Jai Alai, a ball game from the Basque region of Spain. Akin to squash, the game is played with baskets attached to the hand rather than with racquets held by the hand. The book details Steven's building of a model for the game of Jai Alai with which he used for betting on the games. Steven builds a Monte Carlo simulation of Jai Alai so that he can test his theories about the likelihood of any one particular player in a matchup winning the event.

All-in-all this book is a fascinating read. Some find it hard going but I can appreciate all the hard work that Steven has put into mastering modelling a sport and betting on it. If you want to know what it takes to model a sport and build a bot to place bets then you need this book at hand. You won't learn how to program specifically for your requirements and this book was written before Betfair took off. However, you will learn what it takes to dedicate yourself to a related task.

Full review here

Amazon - Calculated Bets: Computers, Gambling and Mathematical Modelling


How to Find a Black Cat in a Coal Cellar has two uses. Ostensibly the book was written by Joseph Buchdahl, who owns tipster evaluation websites, to demonstrate how he goes about evaluating tipsters. Usually, to the detriment of tipsters as most of them are either rank amateurs or fraudsters. However, the book can also be used by the system builder to evaluate their own success. If you don't have time to trade then this book will help you to develop a portfolio of tipsters' systems for you to invest in.

Full review here
Amazon - How to find a Black Cat in a Coal Cellar

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