Wednesday, 5 December 2012

To void or not to void?

I don't know about you, but I do not like to lose money because of injury. I don't particularly want to win money like that either. Not at the cost of losing it, that's for sure. Fortunately I've never had a bad experience in that sense. I've backed plenty of matches where my player has got injured and seen the match out to completion and vice-versa, but at least the match did reach its conclusion.

It wasn't until 2002 that I had a retirement in a match I'd backed - it was on Roger Federer to beat Tim Henman at the Miami Masters. Henman retired with a neck injury, if my memory serves me well, after losing the first set. I was unsure how my bet would be settled, as I'd never come across such a situation previously, and hadn't looked into it beforehand in the way that I should have. The bet was with William Hill, who void all retirements, and so my stake was returned to me with no winnings. Initially I felt hard done by, but my view since then has always been to back with void books.

One of the many reasons I love Tennis as a sport and as a sport to bet on, is I feel you get a true representation for the outcome. Unlike a number of other sports, Tennis is a sport where the players truly decide the match in nearly all cases. How many matches have you seen where you can truly say the umpire determined the entire outcome? If you're honest, not many. That's not to say some tournaments don't have some extraordinarily poor line crews - Stanford during the 2012 season springs to mind - but at least they had hawk-eye to rectify some of those many wrong calls. Sorana Cirstea will know what I'm talking about.

Not all tournaments have hawk-eye, but I would still maintain Tennis is right up there with sports where you are subject to less variables outside the players themselves with regards the outcome. And so as best as we can if we only back with void books we also remove the subject of sudden injury from determining our wagers.

Are there any instances I would back with a non-void book? Yes, there are a few. If the price variance is such that I feel the value is too much to give up, then I may at times back with a non-void book. The variance would have to be significant. I'd also need to take the particular match-up and any known pre-existing injuries into consideration.

There are a few books who pay out on whoever advances after the first ball is struck. I would only ever consider placing bets with such a book if I knew of a player who was going into the match who had really been struggling with injury and where there was a likelihood they may retire at some point of the match. Over the course of a season there are certainly at least a handful of occasions where such situations can be identified. Caroline Wozniacki in New Haven this year was an example of where it was highly likely she may have to pull out at some stage of her match with Maria Kirilenko. And she did exactly that after losing the first set.

During the 2013 season you will notice that most, if not all, match betting selections I tip will be with void books. If I'm going to back with a one set or one ball book, I will make a point of mentioning it at the time and explaining my reasons for doing so.

I'd be interested to know what approaches you take where it concerns retirements and why, so feel free to give me your view in the comments section on this post, or on Twitter where you can find me @JayJarrahi

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