Barry From The Blog - Bags of fun for the ‘Templeton One’
Punting, procrastinating and pontificating. Also known as 'The Templeton One'. The Smiths, spread betting, scooping and socialism #justiceforsnidetats
It's been an eventful couple of months for Mr Snidetats. Today on the blog Barry updates us on his betting success in Scottish 3rd division goal scorer markets and his campaign for justice with William Hill.
It's been a funny few weeks. My latest betting saga starts with a punt on a Scottish Third Division game and ends with an interview on Radio Ulster from a hotel in Malta (paid for by William Hill).
I'll start with a confession: I am, for all my considerable sins, a Rangers fan. Indeed my very name was coined in homage to our former captain and his love of rather dubious body art.
Over the years our club has had many highs but our recent travails have been both painful and tawdry, the nadir our recent demotion to the third tier of Scottish football. In the SPL we were a big fish in a small pond; in SFL3 we better resemble a big blue whale swimming in a spoon of spittle. But just like Becky Adlington looking in the mirror, that spoon can throw up some interesting angles – especially on the punting front.
Our current situation, where we can spend considerably more than our part-time rivals, reminds me of Gretna, who once powered through the divisions and made punters a fair few pennies in the process. The bookies aren't quite as green this time, with match prices on the Gers pretty much unbackable, yet they have been sloppy elsewhere. And this is where the fun begins...
In our recent home match against Elgin I liked the look of Lee McCulloch to net at any time. The big utility man had been employed as a striker for most of the season, a position he played for Motherwell earlier in his career, and his season strike rate of 85.75% indicated he was worth a bet. The 11/8 on offer (an implied chance of 42.1%) looked like superb value, so I duly lumped on and waited in anticipation. Lovely Lee didn’t let me down and a scrappy tap-in was enough to seal the cash in first-half stoppage time. But the real drama had started well before then.
Twitter is a vital weapon in the punter’s armoury, providing up-to-the-second odds changes and team news, and in this match it put me on to an even more interesting price. I follow my timeline closely on a match day and noticed Hills offering 33/1 about Rangers’ new signing David Templeton bagging the next goal in-play.
Templeton had caused a considerable stir in Scotland with his move from the SPL to SFL3 and as an attacking wideman was always going to be an interesting proposition. I stuck £20 on him to score the second goal and when this failed I continued with the same bet on the third goal, concluding that the maths were on my side. And that proved a shrewd move as young David rolled in a beauty on 29 minutes. £660 to the good guys, or so I thought...
When I checked my Hills account I noticed that they had settled the first bet, correctly, as a loser, but had settled my winning bet at only 4/1, not the agreed 33/1 (some £580 short). I was getting that sinking feeling and my concerns were confirmed when a rather abrupt customer services rep told me they had made a ‘palpable error’ and that I would only be paid at 4s.
For punters unfamiliar with the dreaded ‘palp’ rule, let me quickly explain. It effectively allows bookmakers to advertise a price, take a bet on that price, and retrospectively reduce that price if they deem it was made in ‘genuine error’.
Intriguingly in this case Hills happily took my £20 on the first bet at 33/1 and settled it as a loser with no claims of a ‘palpable error’. They continued to offer the price and only when the bet won did the palp raise its ugly scalp.
But how is the punter intuitively supposed to know which markets offer true value and which have been priced in ‘error’? And should it even matter? Why is the onus on the punter to identify the bookie’s mistake? Surely it’s up to the bookie to honour their original agreement. Can you imagine if I took a losing slip into the betting shop and claimed I wanted a refund because I made a ‘palpable error’ when writing it (... citing six pints of cider in my defence)?
Unhappy with the proposed settlement I decide to launch a full-blown media campaign to shame Hills into doing the honourable thing. After all, I’d seen the power of social media in the Arab Spring... surely this was no less noble a cause? And so I took to Twitter, using the #justiceforsnidetats hashtag to campaign for the ‘Templeton One’.
The response was overwhelming. There was support from inside the industry, among the sports press, and from football and punting fans nationwide. BBC Radio Ulster contacted me and I was interviewed for the Stephen Nolan show, betting sites re-tweeted rampantly and supporters galvanised their ultras to further the cause.
My offer to pay 20% of the winnings to charity seemed to be a tipping point and things slowly started to change. Perhaps they didn’t like the bad PR, perhaps they just made a mistake, perhaps they feared an Egyptian-style revolution... in any case some hours later I was contacted and Hills confirmed they would pay all punters at 33/1 and also credit a £10 free bet. Justice for Snidetats!
I have to give some credit to the firm for eventually coughing up, but it did take all my wily powers of endeavour. In the end, I fought them on the beaches and the betting shops, but the coup was bloodless.
And so it’s in Malta that this tale ends, exiled, poolside, where I’m currently writing this missive with cocktail in hand. Times as a punter can be lean but when things go in your favour there’s only one real tip to follow. Enjoy it...
Barry Snidetats is the founder and author of WagonBetting.com
You can follow him on Twitter: @BarrySnidetats
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Thanks guys. The palp rule is certainly controversial and has stung me a few times. I remember Bet Victor incorrectly pricing up the Saltman brothers in a golf tournament a while back and claiming a palp...
Thomas, I donated £150 split between three charities: Age UK, National Aids Trust and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research (http://www.justgiving.com/salema_khanum). The last is in memory of my late friend Wongun Choi who passed away two years ago aged just 26.
I wonder how many of our readers have had similar experiences with their bookmaker.
If you have, let us know by posting a comment. We'd like to end the casual exploitation of this ruling by bookies.
Excellent read, Barry. It's a shame it takes revolutionary means to get a bookmaker to pay out what they are supposed to. Happy your social media campaign helped you and other punters.
Which charity did you end up supporting?
A very nice article