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  • Writer's pictureDavid

Why Do We Have Odds Without Songs?

Updated: Jan 13, 2022

One aspect of Eurovision betting that may confuse Eurovision fans is why we already have odds and bets on the contest when many of the songs have not been released.

As I write this there has already been £25k traded on the 2021 Eurovision final market on the Betfair Exchange and we have only heard one confirmed entry. Indeed only £19 of this money was matched on the song that we know (Albania, which was last matched at 979/1), while countries that we have not even heard the song options for, such as Sweden and Italy, have traded over £1k.

The odds on a country may seem meaningless when we haven’t heard the song yet, and while there may be credence to this from an artistic point of view, from a prediction and betting point of view the song can be considered as just another piece in the puzzle (albeit a very important piece).

Really, we have three questions that I will answer in turn to give a full understanding of this:

  • Why are there odds?

  • Do the odds mean anything?

  • How can we get value?

If you are new to betting it may also help to check out out introduction to betting articles.

Why are there odds?

This question is the easy one. Betting markets are driven by two things: opinion and money. So long as people are willing to stake their money and a platform is provided, betting will happen, and odds will inevitably arise.

Due to this the Betfair Exchange normally puts a Eurovision final market up around November with other betting exchanges soon following, and bookmakers waiting until February/March (you can read more about exchange betting here).

Do the odds mean anything?

The short answer is Yes. Although we don’t have songs there is always enough information around for bettors to create an assessment of a country’s chances (In many cases we already know the artists or the song contenders). Obviously, the chances will change over time as more information is revealed, and may make early assessments look silly, but that does not mean that the early assessment was wrong, or that we cannot create our best assessment at each point in time.

In general, an exchange market can be seen as a proxy for the probability of an outcome. Sometimes a market is not an accurate proxy, most commonly for a couple of reasons:

  • The market may be too illiquid (i.e. there is not enough money involved). This very common when a market is new or unpopular.

  • Popular bias may be skewing the opinion (i.e. there is not enough diversity of thought). This can often happen in niche or emotive markets such as politics or Eurovision.

In the early Eurovision exchange markets, both of these shortcomings are generally present to a certain extent, but the more money that is put down and the tighter the pricing*, the more confident you can be that the probabilities are being reflected. This means that the early Eurovision odds can be thought of as a rough proxy for chances of success, but should be taken with a big pinch of salt.

* tight pricing is indicated by the back and lay prices being close together and the over-round being small – more about over-rounds here)

How can we get value?

In our winning principles article, we outline that betting value is gained from accurately estimating probabilities. In order to assess the probabilities, we need to do two things: gather information, and interpret that information.

To an onlooker it may seem that we have to at least know the songs before we can give an accurate prediction of their chances at Eurovision, but this is not the case. We can always use the latest information available to create the best prediction for the current point in time. Indeed, even once we know the songs there is still more vital information to be gathered: staging, rehearsals etc. We will never have the full picture; the whole season is just a journey of increasing information.

Obviously if one person knows the songs, and others do not, that person is at a big advantage, but in general (though not always) information is equally available to all those betting on the contest.

Counterintuitively, the less information that is available, the easier it is to assess the probabilities, because there is less scope for misinterpretation. Though conversely the more information that is available, the more opportunity there is for potential value (if you are shrewd), as there is more scope for others to misinterpret it. The early Eurovision market provides an interesting mid-point where there is not a lot of information available, but still a lot of scope for misinterpretation.

Hopefully this was an insightful explanation of why we get odds before songs. This can be a difficult concept, so if you have any questions please get in touch.

Happy Betting!

Gamble responsibly: BeGambleAware

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