Betfair launches a new API version

Betfair has released a new version of its API called API-NG (next generation). Also it has announced that previous versions of API (5.0 and 6.0) will retire on 1st Nov 2014. Therefore all software using old API will stop working on 1st Nov 2014. If you have one you need to start thinking how to move it to the new API-NG.

Difference between API 6.0 and API-NG.

API-NG is whole different comparing to 6.0 version. It uses a light weight data format (JSON) which allows faster communication with Betfair servers than previous XML format. Considering this Betfair servers will have less loading issues. There are also new functions available, for example, generic market search. User can enter a search text like in Google and find related markets.

Why to use API-NG.

First of all you should use API-NG because previous versions will expire in 2014. Second, but very important, API-NG does not charge user for excessive data requests, like it used to be with previous versions. Currently Betfair API-NG is free to trial for non commercial use that ends on 30 April 2014.

Useful resources

API-NG documentation

Official release notes

The Bet Plan Betting Bot

Not sure if you know, but TheBetPlan is a leading tips service, that has been running for several years. It is a backing system that bets with level stakes. It is important because this guarantees it won’t bust your bank after several consecutive loses, like many martingale systems do. You can see it’s results on their website: http://thebetplan.com/results/

One other nice thing is that you can bet on auto pilot using TheBetPlan bot. The bot will load all tips every day and get your bets on automatically. The betting bot is available for Betfair and Betdaq. If you install it on VPS (virtual private server), it can run even without your touch and you can check results from a mobile device such as iPad or Android enabled system. You can find out more on their site: http://thebetplan.com/bettingbots/

Betfair stops operating in Germany

Unfortunately after German government introduced new taxes for online betting exchanges, Betfair has decided to stop it’s business in Germany. This means that all users from Germany will not be able to use exchange part of Betfair, but only fixed odds betting. Germany is next in series of countries where Betfair stopped operating. Before this Spain and Portugal have been banned Betfair. Good news is that Betdaq still provides it’s online betting exchange services for German users.

Betfair Minimum Bet Size for SP Lay Bets

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One thing about Betfair starting price (BSP or Betfair SP) which is not widely known is the minimum Betfair liability for lay bets. For example, when placing a normal lay bet at available odds, you are not limited to a liability. The only restriction is the minimum bet size which must be at least 2 pounds for UK customers. You can place 2 pounds even at 1.01 producing liability of only 2 * 0.01 = 2p. However if you are laying at Betfair SP the rules are completely different and it’s important to know them. It turns out that Betfair has a minimum LIABILITY for lay bets placed at SP. For UK customers it’s 10 pounds. For customers with other currencies it’s now well known, I was able find a clear size only for Australian dollars, which is $30. For all other currencies there is no information, Betfair only states that it’s “equivalent of 10 pounds in your local currency”. So if you want to know the limit in euros you probably have to use exchange rates to convert pounds to euros. If you try to place a lay bet at SP which gives a liability less than the minimum amount, the Betfair will not accept it with error “Bet is below the minimum permitted bet size.” (MINIMUM_PERMITTED_BET_SIZE). There is also a minimum liability for BACK bets at SP, but it’s the same as minimum permitted bet size of bets at regular odds i.e. 2 pounds for GBP. I wish there was more information on this topic because it’s hard to figure out why some bets are not being accepted.

Greyhound Racing

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Greyhound racing or dogs racing is one of the most popular sports to bet on Betfair. There are many betting systems specializing in greyhounds. So what are features of greyhound racing?

Greyhound races are common in UK, so most of Betfair listed races are UK based. Unlike horse racing these markets don’t go inplay, but results are available quickly, usually in few minutes. All races have six number of runners. There are WIN and PLACE markets like in horse racing. Two dogs to be placed. All bets are being placed on trap numbers, not names of dogs. Each races has a class, showing the level of runners. It grades from A9 (lowest) to A1 (highest).

I have to mention one another detail. Taking into account that there are so many daily races on Betfair and usually with intervals less than 10 minutes, money comes in the market only around 2-3 minutes before the start. Even 2 minutes before the start there is no much liquidity (not like in horse races) so it’s worth to wait till 15-20 seconds before the off to place your bet.

Custom Betfair Software

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betsender

Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation when no Betfair software available on the market fits your requirement. You may have some very specific logic to select horses. Maybe you need to check prices on both Win and Place markets, limit matched volumes and so on. The best way might be to get a custom made Betfair software. You don’t have to be a software programmer but you can hire someone to develop the software for you.

There are several ways to get this done. You may request new features for a particular Betfair software for sale. For example, Betsender team offers free custom staking plans for anyone who has purchased the software.

The other way is to find a company which offers their services making custom Betfair software. There are a lot of them, just to mention few: Betgrail and Betsuit.

At last you might want to hire an individual programmer who has experience in Betfair software design. Some good sites to find freelancers are: vworker.com, getafreelancer.com, guru.com.

Also Betfair has it’s own directory of companies that offer their services.

Betfair Invests in Mobile Software

Recently Betfair has announced their support program for mobile software developers. To encourage developing of mobile bots, Betfair offers a share in it’s commission revenue.

Any vendor who sells mobile software for Betfair will receive 5% of Betfair commission generated by all users betting with the software. The group of mobile platforms consist of Apple OS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone 7. The software has to use Betfair API and pass certification process.

The offer is valid until 30th April 2012.

At the moment there is not many Betfair programs developed for mobile devices, so hopefully this new initiative will change the things.

Betfair API

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From Wikipedia: “An application programming interface (API) is a particular set of rules and specifications that a software program can follow to access and make use of the services and resources provided by another particular software program that implements that API.” In other words API is a kind of protocol which a software developer can use to create software that works with a particular service (API provider).

Betfair has it’s own API to allow software developing companies make software which access Betfair’s data. In this case Betfair is service provider and other companies are clients to it’s services. The API can be used in different programming languages which support web services. It can be utulised even in Excel.

The API has been designed for two purposes. First is to give vendors a unified, not html-dependent way to make Betfair software. Second is to control increasing number of software and minimize security risks for users who use the software. The second purpose is achieved by requirement to pass certification process to access API for every redistributable software.

There are Free API (personal) and Vendor API (commercial). Commercial API is dedicated for software vendors who want to distribute their software to other users. Usually it’s a trading software or software for tipsters. It’s goals are speed and manageability. You have a vendor control panel where it’s possible to manage Betfair users who can use your software. However Vendor API costs 200 GBP per month to a vendor. Free API doesn’t have any charges, but the number of requests is limited. For instance, it’s not allowed to request market prices more than 60 times per minute. Here is the official Betfair page comparing these two APIs.

Free API can be easily accessed by anyone who has some programming knowledge. There are free samples which demonstrate how to utilise the Betfair API.

Betfair vs Betdaq

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Betfair and Betdaq have been the most popular online betting exchanges. Which one is better? Here are my pros and cons for both.

Liquidity.

Well, Betfair still holds the first position in regards to traded volumes. You will find that amounts of money available on Betfair are higher then on Betdaq. It’s not a critical difference unless you bet thousands of pounds in a single bet though. Medium traders will not have any problems with liquidity on Betdaq.

Software and Bots.

Before, when Betdaq was not so popular, Betfair has got leadership in it’s API development and there were much more bots for Betfair than for Betdaq. Nowadays this difference is not so big, Betdaq API is well designed and many companies offer their software in two versions – for Betfair and Betdaq, like Betsender. Some vendors even provide their Betdaq software for free. But I have to admit that because of Betfair’s popularity, vendors still develop more bots for Betfair than Betdaq. You still can find a good Betdaq bot though.

Fees and Charges.

This is where Betdaq is better than Betfair. Although, both exchanges have the same base commission of 5%, Betfair have additional commissions which may be hidden and not too clear to all traders. First, is Betfair’s transactions and data charges. You will not not be charged if you bet on Betfair’s website, but you can be badly surprised if you decide to bet or trade with Betfair bots. Betfair will charge you for excessive data requests and this can turn out in a considerable amount of money. Second, is Betfair’s premium charges. Successful traders who make consistent profits are liable for these premium charges which Betfair takes out from winnings. Although, most of people are not about for this, many top traders have big concerns for this rule. Both Betfair and Betdaq have a system of discounts depending on your betting activity. Betdaq sometimes run special promotions, for example, at the moment all UK and Irish in-play horse racing events have 2% commission.

Deposits and Withdrawals.

Both exchanges have similar rules for deposits and withdrawals. You can deposit with PayPal, debit and credit cards, bank transfers and other electronic methods. One rule applying here is that you must withdraw to the same source that you used for deposit. Almost all deposits and withdrawals are free or have a small commission around 1.5%.

Look and Features.

Personally I prefer Betdaq for it’s professional look and less aggressive ads campaigns. One other Betdaq’s advantage is more options and features available through the web interface. For instance, you can choose odds format (decimal, fractions or american), back or lay all selections at particular price, single click betting, trading history, free tips and many others. Also the minimum stake on Betdaq is £0.5 against £2 on Betfair.

Other thoughts.

I remember Betfair crashing several times. Markets were suspended and traders were unable to trade in-play. There were problems with long delays, Betfair freezed and worked slow because of high volume of requests at times of big events like Cheltenham festival. Hopefully it’s all fixed and will not be a problem in future. I don’t know if such problems were on Betdaq though, because I spent most time with Betfair.

My conclusion.

I think if liquidity is not critical, you should seriously consider Betdaq as your betting exchange. There is a lot of trading software for Betdaq at the moment and many of them are free.  Betdaq does not charges hidden fees and is more friendly to users. If you can’t find a software with required features or liquidity on your 1st place, you should look at Betfair.

Betfair Odds

Everything I know about Betfair odds.

1. Betfair displays odds in decimal format, i.e. 2.00, 4.20, 10.5.

2. Betfair odds can be anything between 1.01 and 1000.

3. Winnings for BACK bet are equal to Stake * (Odds – 1).

4. Your bet will be matched at best available odds. For example, if you place BACK bet at 1.80 and there is money at 2.00, your bet will be matched at 2.00 instead 1.80.

5. Odds are often called “prices” on Betfair betting exchange.

6. On Betfair there are specific odds ranges with own minimum increments. These minimum increments usually called “ticks”.

From 1.01 to 2.00 one tick is equal to 0.01.

From 2.02 to 3.00 one tick is equal to 0.02.

From 3.05 to 4.00 one tick is equal to 0.05.

From 4.1 to 6.0 one tick is equal to 0.1.

From 6.2 to 10.0 one tick is equal to 0.2.

From 10.5 to 20.0 one tick is equal to 0.5.

From 21 to 30 one tick is equal to 1.

From 32 to 50 one tick is equal to 2.

From 55 to 100 one tick is equal to 5.

From 110 to 1000 one tick is equal to 10.

So there are no 2.21 odds on Betfair, instead there are 2.20 and 2.22 odds. Odds like 4.15, 6.7, 22.5, 57, 995 are all invalid on Betfair. If you try to place a bet at these odds it will be rejected.

7. You can see the latest prices on Betfair only if you have an “active funded account”. Otherwise Betfair will show prices with small latency and they will be outdated. Here is what Betfair writes about this on it’s site:

Only customers logged into an active funded account will be able to view the latest Betfair prices. We do this to discourage extreme usage of Betfair website data by software programs that don’t use Betfair to bet. Your account becomes an ‘active funded account’ the first time you make a deposit.

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