Sunday, 6 September 2009

The Isner Bet

A triumph for John Isner last night, taking out Andy Roddick with a 38 ace performance in Flushing Meadow. The 6‘9” youngster from North Carolina came to my attention a couple of years ago, when he was a lowly ranked wild card in Washington but reached the final ( losing to Roddick ), firing huge quantities of aces whilst beating Henman, Haas and Monfils.

When I saw the result this morning, two things sprang immediately to mind.

· Isner added to my general knowledge this year when he had a spell out of the game suffering from ‘mononucleosis’, or ‘mono’ as it is known to Americans. Plenty of articles referred to this supposedly well-known illness. It meant nothing to me. Was I medically ignorant? A little searching came up with the answer – in England we know the illness as Glandular Fever.

· Mr Isner was involved in my lowest point whilst using Betfair. Anyone involved will remember the incident clearly, and I was on the wrong (red) end of it. In July '08, at Newport, Rhode Island, Isner was involved in a grass-court match against fellow American Jesse Levine. Isner was favourite, and the match progressed unmemorably for those using the official ATP scoreboards, my own bet of £1050 went on at circa 1.07. Only in the last couple of games of the match did the markets start to separate from the scoreboard. As the boards showed a 6-3, 6-1 Isner win, money was still available on Isner and the markets showed plenty of activity. Today, in this situation, I’d get my liabilities out quickly. But, one year ago, I mentally took my £70 profit, which was backed up by Betfair adding that sum to my account. An hour later, £1120 had gone from my account. Levine had won. The official scoreboard had transposed the scores throughout the match, and clearly 99% of those trading the game were following those scoreboards. Big kick in the nuts. I’m sure Betfair received plenty of complaints that night, but settled up on Levine pretty quickly.

I think I was more irritated a couple of weeks later when I spotted Katerina Srebotnik’s game in Portoroz, where Bet365’s scoreboard showed the game, but the official WTA board had no scores available, and odds were available on Srebotnik from layers clearly without score updates. Made a few quid, then Betfair suspend the market and void it. I shrugged my shoulders, and then thought I’d ask Betfair for their justification of the voiding. Betfair noted that they hadn’t turned the match in-play. Fair enough. What pissed me off was the line ‘we want to be fair to all our customers’ in their reply. I sent a response back to say they weren’t fair to the many who got stuffed during the Isner game. Their crap response – ‘…we accept there were issues with the result of the Isner match, but….’. Basically, as many have pointed out on blogs this year, it’s nothing to do with fairness, it’s all about Betfair making commission, and there was bugger all to be made on the Srebotnik match.

Learning outcome – keep away from iffy odds. If you’ve got liabilities, get out. Trying to be clever is a road to nowhere.

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