Lee Davy sits down with the Betting Emporium co-founder, Neil Channing, to talk about the lessons learned during the first few years of his sports betting business.
Image from PokerPlayer365.com
Neil Channing was conspicuous by his absence during the 45th Annual World Series of Poker (WSOP). A regular for a quarter of a century, there must have been something special happening back home that prevented him boarding that plane.
That something special was the Betting Emporium. The sports betting site that Channing had created with his business partner, and good friend, Joe Beevers.
The Emporium started off offering free advice to any punters willing to register as a member, but in recent times a paid service has been intermingled with the offerings, and at a time where the site has had some great successes.
I sat down with Neil Channing to talk about the rise of the Betting Emporium and this is what he had to say.
Are you thinking why didn’t we do this before? Or why the hell did we get involved in this?
“I’m enjoying it, and to an extent my answer is: “why didn’t I do this before?” I knew the poker business was not going too well, a long time ago, and I should have realized it was time to do something else.
“Sometimes I think, “Why the hell did we get involved with this?” Especially before big events when I get really nervous knowing that the wins and losses of hundreds of people are going to depend on how our bets are doing. It definitely adds to the pressure that is already there from doing our own betting.”
What have been the toughest lessons for you to learn?
“I have avoided the tough lessons as Joe is great at all the things I’m crap at: like sorting out affiliate deals with bookmakers, dealing with the improvements to the site, sorting out the payment processing and looking after customer services. Running a business that doesn’t constantly lose money is new to me!”
What have been the real achievements for you?
“I think the thing I’m most proud of is our results database. We’ve been going for over 18 months and we are showing a handsome profit to anyone who followed every bet we suggested but I’m particularly proud of the fact that all the results are there for anyone to take a look at, and potential customers can see we have nothing to hide. We have backed some losers, and winners, and they are all there. If anyone had bet £10 a point on all bets suggested since we started, they would have £16,449 more than they did before. I think that’s a decent achievement.”
What are your metrics/goals?
“I’m not really sure what our goals are? I know we both thought we could attempt to start a business that could be fun, doing something we enjoy, and taking advantage of our established names within the poker world. We’ve done all that pretty well. I guess now it would be great to broaden our appeal to attract customers who have never really heard of Neil and Joe, who used to play a bit of TV poker, but who have heard of Betting Emporium. The website that keeps winning loads of money for it’s readers.”
Why are you so good at choosing your horse selections? What makes you different?
“My methods of picking horses are a little different to the average punter in the street, but not much different to a group of professional gamblers that I’ve known and worked with over the years. I would say that experience helps, as does an ability to always think of things in terms of the % chance of stuff happening. I rarely set out to pick the winner of the race, just to assess chances and decide which prices are bigger than that chance.”
What have been the most successful sports/events for you?
“We’ve done pretty well with all events that we’ve covered really. I was very happy to make two bets on the Oscars this year and to find the only winner that wasn’t a favorite during the evening. The horse meetings have all been great. We charge £99.99 for the big festivals, and at Cheltenham this year we made a lot of money for the customers, as we did at Royal Ascot and in the Grand National meeting. It’s not every year I bet the Gold Cup winner at 33/1, and the Grand National winner at 28/1, so they are the highlights I guess.”
The biggest bums?
“I was pretty depressed after day one of Royal Ascot this year. We had a lot of new customers, including a whole load that tried a discount special we offered for just day one, that was meant to encourage people to stick with us all week. Not only did I work 14 hours that day, not only did I lose a lot of money betting on my selections, and not only did we lose all bar two of the people who had taken up our special, but I also had to deal with some people writing to complain, and one or two telling me how terrible we were and how they could have easily bet two or three winners if they hadn’t listened to me. Luckily, we won on every other day including an amazing Friday when I got four winners from six races at 16/1, 16/1, 15/2 and 4/1. One of the people who had complained wrote to congratulate us and to tell us that he’d kept the faith. That was a long old week.”
You have a wider selection of tipsters now – where do you find them and what do they all have in common i.e. What are you looking for?
“The main thing we want from our tipsters is that they are gamblers and not journalists. Ideally they are betting for a living. We don’t want to run a site that does what the others all do. There are lots of places you can go to on the net to tell you who will win between West Ham and Crystal Palace. We will tell you whether a professional bettor or a team of professional bettors will be having a bet there. The emphasis must always be on the betting and finding +EV situations rather than discussing the sport. Most of the guys we use are people we’ve known for years as specialists in certain sports, and as winning punters in those sports. We get a lot of people writing to volunteer their services but generally they are either more expert in the sport, than the gambling, or more often they are expert in a sport where the betting market is just too small for us to charge people for the info. If our new expert picks a 16/1 stormer in the curling world cup, it’s no good if only two bookies offer prices and only one person can get £20 on.”
As a Betting Emporium member I hit some rough patches, lost money and then bailed out, only to see your long-term results flourish – advice for idiots like me?
“The advice is the same for everyone. We are not suggesting gambling as a get rich quick scheme. Our aim is to win in the long run. If people play consistently and follow every bet they should win in the future, I would bet anyone any amount they like at evens that following Betting Emporium will produce profits, but the fact that we have won so far doesn’t make it certain that we will always win.
“In poker, I used to play a lot of cash sessions and I had a hell of a lot of losing days, much fewer losing weeks, very few losing months and only one losing year. Sticking with us in the long run and staking amounts that keep you in the game during any losing runs is always going to be better than trying to win too quickly, betting more than you are comfortable with and having to stop because you’ve lost your roll during a small downswing that could just be minor variance.”
How was the World Cup for you guys – what did you learn?
“The World Cup was great and I’m really missing it. The best thing was that we had a group email thread of myself, Joe and the three pros that did all the work and we’d thrash out our thoughts on the markets each day. With one guy being a real football expert, one a master of team tactics/formations and sports analytics and one having an expert grasp of the worldwide football betting market, so I just felt like we had everything covered. I felt certain we would win but I was pleasantly surprised by just how much the guys won. As usual Joe and I followed every bet and we enjoyed the competition a lot.”
What does the future hold for Betting Emporium?
“The future is looking really busy for Betting Emporium. We are talking a lot about how to charge for football right now. Obviously it’s great that people can see stuff on the site for free, and even if you just followed that free stuff you’d be doing very nicely, but if we are to involve other pros we need to pay them and thus we have to charge the customers. I think we’ve found an almost perfect team of football pros; we just need to figure out how to present that offering to our customers.
“Right now I can see into my immediate future, and I can tell you I’ll be up at 5am every day from Tuesday to Saturday of next week. I’ll be attempting to find some good bets on Glorious Goodwood and I’ll then be coordinating a team of around 15 people to place my bets. If you wish me to explain exactly what bets I’ll be having, and why, you are in luck. For just £99.99 I’ll be happy to share everything I know. Just head to www.bettingemporium.com and click the button to pay.”