Pension Building - Fixing at the Australian Open?

I was alerted to an article in the New York Times about possible match fixing in this year's Australian Open. In the mixed doubles tournament, Lara Arruabarrena and David Marrero were up against Andrea Hlavackova and Lukasz Kubot. For an unseeded tie in the first round the heavy betting for this match looked suspicious to Pinnacle on whose website the betting was taking place.

Pinnacle suspended the market for this match because most money was going on Andrea Hlavackova and Lukasz Kubot. I assume they had priced up the match to be close-run and would lose heavily if most money went on to the eventual winners. Hlavackova and Kubot went on to win. Arruabarrena said she was injured to  account for her team's loss.

It is almost impossible to prove any fixing in this case. If some "insiders" (people at the tennis complex; employees, coaches, friends and family in addition to bettors) realise that one team is suffering from injuries then that is enough information to move a market. That could be just as valid a reason for the betting seen as much as one team being paid to lose.

As in horse racing, insider money can move a market and in a market of two it is either going on one runner or the other. Insider betting is more obvious in tennis than in horse racing. In a horse race if you see the favourite acting up or doing something else that suggests it has no chance then you either lay that horse to lose or spread your money around a few of the other horses to win. In tennis the money can only go on one other competitor.

The case mentioned in this article appears to me to be a case of insider trading rather than a fixed match. As we know from horse racing, insider trading in sports is not illegal. It's just that bookmakers don't like being cleaned out by people who know more about an event than they do. If the shoe had been on the other foot you can be sure that Pinnacle would have kept their book open.

Liam Broady (UK tennis player) in Match fixing: Liam Broady says authorities face 'losing battle' said that stamping down on fixing/insiders was a losing battle. The prize money is very lop-sided in tennis. You can plod along and become a coach when you retire. That might be the only money you ever make from tennis because anything you made as a player went on expenses. The temptation to accept a bribe or to throw a game of your own volition, whilst getting friends to bet against you when you know you are going to lose, is very tempting as it guarantees part of your pension. A pension is very important in a person's life and is something that is often in my thoughts.

These days young people have no idea how to make provision for their retirement with most of them not having any savings at all. They spend a lot of their money on micro-payments and subscriptions for instant gratification with no care for the future. Older people too are beginning to worry that their government might have squandered their soft landing by the time they retire. A pension, no matter how far into the future, should never be too far from your mind.

Not for one moment have I considered that I am going to continue making money (in whatever form) from now on until the day I die. Judging by the deterioration in my father's health, and that a lot of predisposition to illness is passed on genetically by ones parents, then there are many dangers ahead of me. If I am not careful and/or unlucky then diabetes, failing eyesight and heart problems will mean that I will be unable to do anything to earn a living. Already, I have noticed that I am not as physically able as I once was. The memory of sitting on a road bike and effortlessly cycling up a mountain pass whilst other team members gave up is very distant indeed.

To all those younger sports traders who are starting out on their sports trading careers I issue these words of advice;

  1. You are probably not going to make as much money as you imagine you will.
  2. You will probably not even make any profit at all (90% is often quoted as a figure for the proportion of losing traders).
  3. Until you have proven without doubt that you are in the top 10% of traders, you should consider sports trading as a hobby with which to lose a little money each time for the fun of it and never to chase your losses.
  4. You are not going to be as fit and strong when you are older as you are now. Incapacity is common amongst older people. Mental and physical incapacity impairs your ability to earn money.
  5. "Gambling" related activities are not looked on by many women as a positive trait for a future husband. Many gamblers and traders live a solitary life and there will be nobody to look after you in old age other than whomever you pay to look after you.
  6. You will need a lot of money to retire on in the form of public and private pensions, in addition to savings.

I have a friend whom I introduced to poker in London's casinos when he reached 18 years of age. He became a very good player. So good that he is has made around £1 million in career winnings. In his twenties he would think nothing of living the high-life in a London apartment. Now, he is in his thirties, married, has a child on the way and without asking him I know that he has his head screwed on and will do all in his power to make sure the life that he has is one that will be there until his dying days.

Be careful when sports trading and consider worst case scenarios if life does not go to plan.