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25/04/2008 No.43
Kevin Pullein
Friday April 25, 2008
Value for money is most likely to be found in the betting markets that sound the most outlandish - such as the time of the first corner. In the major, result-related markets, there are now so many bookmakers taking so much money that prices are usually very accurate. It is in the minor markets that they more often make mistakes and the odds about an early corner are sometimes too big.

To explain why this happens we need to consider the relationship between the total number of corners awarded during a game and the times at which they occur. The more there are likely to be, the earlier the first one is likely to arrive.

The bookmaker Paddy Power, which pioneered fixed-odds betting on the time of the first corner, quotes prices for most televised matches about an early first corner, a late first corner and no corners at all. Never bet on no corners occurring, even though it is always offered at 100-1. The true odds are much larger. More than 22,000 Premier and Football League games have been played during the past 11 seasons and none of them finished without a single corner having been taken.

Paddy Power usually defines an early first corner as one taken within 1-8 minutes. In 53% of Premier League games played during the past two seasons, the first corner was taken within that timeframe. To get a better idea of how the prospects of an early first corner vary, divide Premier League teams into three groups - those whose games averaged no more than 10.5 corners, those whose games averaged 10.6 to 11.5 and those whose games averaged more than 11.5.

In the lowest group only 48% of games saw a corner taken within eight minutes. This rose to 53% in the middle group and 56% in the high group. In this market, the secret is to estimate how many corners there are likely to be and bet if similar games in the past have produced an early first corner more often than any bookmaker's odds imply.
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