The man behind Matchday Profits is Paul Ruffy and this month he talks to On Course Profits and fills us in on current ventures and future plans and why he decided to hang his race tipping hat up in favour of the game of two halves.
Tell us a little about Paul Ruffy, what is your background? Where does your interest in Football and Horse Racing come from?
My interest in betting goes way back to my early twenties, a time when you had to pay tax on your bets and the idea for Betfair was way off! I was always entrepreneurial minded and comfortable with numbers so I was attracted to betting as a medium for an extra income.
I’ve always been fairly risk averse which is I suppose odd, but that’s led me to find some of the best ways of making long term profits. Racing was where the money and information was so I concentrated on that, I was very much into staking plans and racing systems and eventually tips and indeed my own tips service. I dabbled with sports betting and football but it was totally different back then.
We know that you decided to call time on your successful Winning Racing Tips service. Have you fallen out of love with horse racing and if so why?
Well the game has changed so much, as has the industry and as have I.
10 years is a long time and although my approach was still a winning one, the signs overall weren’t favourable. There’s been a general “dumbing” down of betting from bookmakers who prefer to take money from addicts on FOBT machines in their shops than employ people with brains to take on the best form analysts. Whatever way you look at it, racing as a sport is in decline and personally I don’t see it making a comeback. Also there was a general feeling of lack of control about results as I was very much dependent on the right races coming along, which seemed to be coming along at wider intervals, so overall I was going through the motions and that’s not good if you want to provide people with good value.
Also I think it’s good to challenge yourself or you get stuck in a rut and life becomes monotonous, there was never going to be an ideal time but it felt the right time to call it a day and move on.
So, is football now your preferred game? What is your attraction to football generally? What alternative punting opportunities does it offer?
Yes, football is now my preferred game. It can be frustrating, I’ve experienced that in the past and will again in the future, but overall taking the animals out of the equation is good thing I think. Footballers may on occasion not be brightest of individuals but I certainly think understanding the mentality and betting on humans not animals offers up an inherent advantage!
The attraction though is down to several factors. It’s a massive growth area and the number of markets and type of bets you can have has sky rocketed over the last decade.
It's constantly changing too as the bookies think up different ways to tempt people into a bet. It might just be my perspective on things, but I also believe that there’s a tendency to label football punters as mug punters, now I don’t know about that, but certainly I think there are people that are unlikely to understand that the vast swathes of extra markets on offer generally have very poor value due to the large margins built in.
Likewise I think in an attempt to offer so many markets sometimes the bookies can negate to put in the proper research and leave themselves open. For the astute punter I think football betting now, with so much information available, and with so many options, not to mention the specials (which I’ll come back to), is a good hunting ground for value betting.
Is there anything you would like to see changed in the sport of football? Why?
I love the sport, I used to enjoy playing it, but was pretty rubbish if truth be told. I’ve always enjoyed watching it and wouldn’t change much.
I’m glad they’ve brought in goal line technology, that was long overdue. I’d probably introduce slightly more technology, such as an option for a ref to see a replay in certain instances. Maybe teams to be able to ask for a replay once or twice per match to be viewed kinda like “Hawkeye” in tennis!
The money has gone a little mad, there’s not a lot that can be done there, but I don’t like the culture of 18 year olds in their Bentley’s earning more in a week than many lower league professional players earn in a year. But I think that’s a reflection of our culture on the whole.
What about within the gambling industry as a whole? There is many a critic of bookmakers and there treatment of their customers? Is this something that you have any strong opinions on?
I can see both sides of the story here. But I certainly think a lot of firms are a bit of a joke. I think it’s just an issue of fairness that gets most people. I think you’ve got to accept as a company that if you offer up a certain deal or prices that you’re going to lose to some people that know what they are doing and make money from those that do not.
But often they’ll take all the “mugs” and just cut n run from anyone that even smells like they might know that they are doing.
Bookmakers essentially want punters that bet for fun and just like to have a bet to follow at the weekend. If I go on a night out at a casino, then I’m just a social punter I’m going to lose money more often than not. But when I strike a bet with a bookmaker I do so because I’m taking them on, with an aim to make a profit. There seems to be more of a reluctance to keep people on their books that take this approach, whereas in the past they’d be more willing to take you on long term, nowadays not so much. I don’t think there’s anything we as punters can say or do that’ll change the business decisions going on and so I’ll just get on with it the best I can.
What does Matchday Profits have to offer potential customers that other services may not? Why is it different to other football services? What style of approach to betting do you take on a personal level, i.e. singles, multiples, exchange trading etc.?
MatchdayProfits essentially is my own approach to football betting. I looked at the markets and what value was on offer and then this approach grew organically. It wasn’t by design but more something that just seemed obvious to me.
Whereas some services concentrate on specific leagues, countries or types of bets, MDP is far more flexible, it’s about making a profit wherever and however that might come about. I looked at the odds the same way I was doing with my racing previously; looking for angles where there was an obvious edge to the punter.
The most obvious place was with the bookie specials. These are enhanced prices, concessions or enhanced terms. I made a lot of easy profits from these and continue to do so.
What I do, that I think makes MatchdayProfits so unique, is to place a mixture of bets using these specials alongside both regular bets with bookies and exchanges to set up winning positions and reduce risk.
That might sound complicated but in practice it’s not.
One typical weekend I might have a few single fixed odds bets, some may be at enhanced odds, alongside one or two multiples (accumulators) taking advantage of special terms applicable to those, and also one or two existing customer “free bet or risk free” promotions that might pop up.
I carefully look at the terms of all the “specials” and concessions and decide if a bet can be sculpted that will put the odds in our favour. I think I’ve done this quite successfully thus far. I’m also trying to view things from a bookmaker’s perspective and trying to keep things below the radar as much as possible.
I don’t pretend to offer a high level of in depth insight, I run no special ratings software and am not down the training grounds taking notes. But I do put in the form and statistical analysis that enables me to find value bets both in the regular and enhanced prices that are on offer.
In addition to that, what I’m doing is going through all the “risk-free” type offers, checking all the terms and advising the best way to make a profit from them. This side of the service isn’t rocket science and punters could do what I do themselves with similar results I’m sure, but by following me they don’t have to put the time in and also I’m happy to help and explain things to them.
It’s a personal service that is essentially just following my own football bets, taking full advantage of all the chinks in the armour of the bookmakers and taking the nuggets they lay out as bait.
I advise my exact stakes and my results are shown to these stakes which are realistic for every punter, typically between £2 and £20. They are also within the staking limits for the specific offers I’m targeting where applicable.
It’s not an expensive service and I’ve no plans to charge the earth, the idea being that those that follow all the advice and those that follow only some of it will still be in profit either way.
Do you have any future plans you can tell us about for services which should look out for?
Not right now, I’m really looking forward to seeing how MDP goes this season and will develop and improve it as much as I can.
How do you deal with inevitable losing runs and do you have any advice for aspiring punters who may be starting out on their journey in to the gambling world?
My advice is straightforward, put in your research and then stand by it.
Whether that’s due diligence analysing a tipster, your own trading or even a system you’ve designed yourself. Make a plan and write everything down then be obsessive with your record keeping. You should have a point where you review things and decide if you need to change your approach. This point should be something you decide upon at the outset; otherwise you may be tempted to make a rash decision based on short term results.
What do you do to relax and unwind? Do you have any interests outside of the sporting world?
I walk my dog and cycle a lot. My other passions are running and triathlon, I’ve spent the last few years focusing on Iron distance events which take a fair amount of commitment. I’ve reached a fair standard and can just enjoy my fitness and health now which I think I’m lucky to have.