Inside The Process: Betting The Open With Tom & Rufus Peabody

Tom Peabody
Golf
Professional Gambling
July 19, 2022

Rufus Peabody Process

The (British) Open, like the other three majors, is one of the biggest weeks of the year for our betting operation, and this past week was no different. We had one of our highest volume weeks of the year, though not quite as high as the other majors. As the dust settles in the wake of the last major of the year, I wanted to share a rundown of the week from my perspective as brother to Rufus Peabody and his partner in golf betting. We hope to provide some insight into our process, or at least provide a bit of entertainment. Here’s my week, in as much detail as I can realistically give.

 

Sunday Night – July 10th – Rufus Begins His Work

The Scottish Open wrapped up in the afternoon east coast time, with the final shots of the Barbasol Championship finding the cup a bit later in the day. My work largely starts once Rufus’s ends, so I unplugged for a bit Sunday night while he started his modeling (the non-underwear kind). 

While my weekends aren’t free, they are a bit lighter, and I often try to schedule gigs for Friday-Sunday. I play saxophone in a wedding band and play my own music as a singer/songwriter, so I make a point to prioritize that side of my life as much as possible.

Anyway, Rufus was up late, as he often is on Sunday nights, especially before big tournaments. My last message from him on Telegram was just after 4am, letting me know that he had run initial sims and I had the all clear to start betting. 

 

Monday – July 11th – Placing The Bigger Edge Bets

I was up early to make use of Rufus’s late night work. Especially since markets come out earlier on major weeks. On Mondays, it’s mostly just outrights posted early in the day along with some prop bets we largely ignore. Then, Top X (Top 5, 10, 20, etc.) come out later in the afternoon and evening at most books. 

I made our weekly markets doc on Google Sheets, where we paste in our true prices as well as the odds we scrape from all the books that we can. I update this document pretty frequently to reflect our latest projections and up to date odds. 

Later, I sent outright plays to a variety of betting partners (we’re always looking for more betting partners!) at a number of different books. We have some initial positions on guys like Thomas Pieters, Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey, Dean Burmester, Adri Arnaus, and Wyndham Clark. We’re mostly hitting big edges at best prices at this point since our projections aren’t as dialed in as they will be later in the day/week. There are also still a lot of unknowns we can’t yet factor in.

 

Always Looking For More Information

I spent most of the day doing as much research as I could to complement the data work that Rufus was doing. He was up and working on projections by 10am. We’re generally messaging sporadically during the day and tossing ideas back and forth, sending any news that feels relevant. Twitter is great for that, but I’m always looking for ways to be quicker on anything we might care about. 

I watched a fair portion of the coverage of the four hole “Celebration of Champions” to get a sense of how the course was playing, and to pick up any tidbits that the broadcast or players might mention. My biggest takeaway was just how fast the fairways were playing. I’d known that the narrative this week was how burned out the fairways were, but it was still jarring to see it for myself. By Sunday, of course, we all got used to seeing balls rolling forever. 

I write a course preview for EstablishTheRun each week, so my course research is useful for that as well as our own modeling. I always hit a point in the day where I realize how little, if any, time I’ve spent outside. So I blasted over to the driving range for a while to blow off some steam. Later that evening I sent out Top X plays to our betting partners and wrote my ETR article before calling it a night.

 

Tuesday – July 12th – Analyzing The Weather And Matchups

The action really seems to get started on Tuesday, since that’s when we start to see matchups widely available. This is also when tee times are released. I was at the computer again most of the day. Monitoring news, weather, and making sure we were ready to rip when tee times came out.

Weather is the biggest factor on links courses, and particularly in a place like coastal Scotland, where weather is wildly unpredictable. I looked through a number of forecasts to get a sense of what things might look like later in the week, and whether there might be a weather split. 

bad weather st andrewsEarly forecasts didn’t seem to indicate that, but the wind forecast continued to build from where it was on Sunday, predicting 10-15 mph winds with big gusts on both Thursday and Friday. Most forecasts seemed to agree that the wind was going to shift from the predominant direction out of the W/SW, where it had been all week, to an easterly at some point of Friday afternoon. The big question was when that would happen, and whether there would be a period of calm before that shift.

It would obviously be a huge benefit to players playing in the later waves on Friday to have the wind abate for a bit. However, the shift itself is another story. It would introduce a direction that players hadn’t practiced in all week. This would surely shift the strategy on a number of holes. St Andrews is an out and back course. There was the potential that some players could play against the wind going out only to have the wind shift right back into their faces coming in. We compiled a number of forecasts to make our own, and that became our working weather prediction.

 

Getting The Jump On Matchups

I started betting matchups before tee times came out. We always want to get opening numbers even though things were liable to change a lot with tee time splits. I also sent tournament Three Balls and Groups to our betting partners. 

Rufus was still working on updated projections. He pretty much doesn’t stop tinkering Monday-Wednesday, especially on major weeks. He’ll let me know when he’s re-running sims, and I’ll know to stop betting until those are done and use the updated numbers. 

Later in the day/evening I started hitting round matchups. I also was betting Round One Three Balls at a variety of places when tee times were out. We were trying to get the best prices we can early on. By this time I had a sense of where our exposure was, and I kept an eye on where we might be a bit over-leveraged. For the most part we weren’t too stacked against any one player, though we did have a few big matchups against Cam Smith and Scottie Scheffler.

 

Wednesday – July 13th – Media Appearances And Car Problems

I spent the day much like I spent the previous two, trying to stay up on the latest news. I updated our weather forecasts and cleaned up some bets. The goal is to squeeze all the value we could out of the market. I also stay on my phone all day in case we get crosses sent to us, which we typically do on Wednesdays. 

We got a bit into the weeds on weather this week, which isn’t usually the case. In the process, we learned a lot about different forecast models and which were better for an area like St Andrews. How much that helped us I don’t really know, but it’s fun to go down a rabbit hole every now and again. We did the weekly ETR livestream around midday. Then Rufus, who was up at our family’s place in Downeast Maine, found out that our parents both had Covid. He left to come stay at my place in Portland, Maine. 

 

Bet The Process Calcutta

Rufus Peabody Car Trouble TweetUnfortunately it was not the usual Wednesday for ol’ Ruf, as his car (the dogmobile) overheated and he was stuck in limbo for 8 hours waiting on a tow truck. The Bet The Process Calcutta was also Wednesday night. Luckily Rufus had already been replaced as our representative due to a questionable poker face and a concerning habit of drinking during the auction.

I didn’t actually watch the calcutta to be honest. Even as someone who is pretty invested in the outcome I have a hard time getting all the way through it sometimes. It’s a solid chunk of money for us. However, it probably only makes up a few percent of our overall portfolio. As a result, I don’t sweat it too too much. We don’t worry about buying guys we already like. Although sometimes we get some nice diversification in guys we rarely own. This week that was Louis Oosthuizen, though that didn’t turn out so well.

Rufus finally made it down to Portland at 11 pm. After I picked him up from the dealership we grabbed a late bite from my local dive bar. We did a final push before play started at 1:30 am EDT, looking through our portfolio and making some last minute bets. We got to bed at 2 am, just as the action was getting going across the pond.

 

The Tournament

 

Thursday – July 14th – The Peabody Cup Over The Claret Jug

Claret JugI didn’t actually watch too much coverage during the first couple days of the tournament. When you have a significant portion of your net worth on the line it makes it a little more exciting but just a wee bit stressful. It’s not all that productive in a meaningful way either. So I figured why not do something that’s just as unproductive and play some golf.

For those that don’t already know, Rufus and I love golf, and rarely shut up about it. Our year long competition for the prestigious Peabody Cup (one point for an 18 hole win, half a point for a 9 hole win) has become so serious in recent years that we now have an engraved trophy that changes hands. Rufus beat me in a humiliating rout this time out, if you must know. But the Peabody Cup trophy is still sitting in my bedroom, so I’m not too worried about it.

The first day was a bit of a wash for us. We made some money on round bets, but we were down a fair number of strokes on our tournament matchups and had no one up at the top of the leaderboard. We’re notorious faders of Cam Young these days, and had no Rory exposure outside of a few matchups. Some guys we liked (DJ, Talor Gooch, Bryson DeChambeau, Si-Woo Kim, Thomas Detry) were lurking under par. However, it seemed like a slightly below average day in terms of expectations going forward. 

We took some Rory +330 after the round. We also continued the ill-fated Cam fade with some matchups against both Cam Young and Cam Smith, plus a number of others and some Round 2 Three Balls.

 

Friday – July 15th – The Cut Line Helps Us

We golfed again on Friday, and managed to not check scores until the 14th hole (I shot a 78 and got some revenge on Rufus). We thought that the morning rain would soften things up for the later tee times and negatively impact the guys playing in it. However, that didn’t end up being the case. 

While the wind did subside in the afternoon like we thought, the morning rain actually helped the guys playing in it. It softened up the greens just a bit and wasn’t heavy enough to affect balls in the air much at all. The greens dried back up much faster than we thought. As a result, the afternoon played tougher than anticipated, with a split of only .01 strokes between morning and afternoon groups. 

Rufus thought we were going to get smoked based on the way the weather played out. Yet despite the bad break, we had some luck with the cut line staying at even par. That helped sneak a few guys through to the weekend. It also clinched some matchups for us by one stroke. 

We needed Lowry and Finau and a few other guys to make the cut and things broke our way there. It was the opposite of the U.S. Open cut line massacre, where we lost a bunch of matchups by one stroke on the cut line and got absolutely battered. It was a pretty good day for round bets and three balls, but we didn’t have many guys up near the top. Rory was a few back and those cursed Cams out front. DJ and Patrick Cantlay were still our best hope. Unfortunately, it was beginning to look like we wouldn’t be binking an outright this week.

 

Saturday – July 16th – Pivoting To Round Matchups

We had some guys make pushes on Saturday, with Pieters and Lowry looking like they’d go super low. However, it ended up being the Viktor Hovland show and a bunch of our guys faded late. We were on Vikky in a bunch of matchups, but we didn’t have any outright exposure on him at all. 

Bad Cam Smith showed up on Saturday, as he occasionally does, and couldn’t seem to do much of anything right. I, as a morally bankrupt gambler, took a sick joy in that. It seems like Cam either shoots -8 or +5, with no middle ground. Granted, that’s purely anecdotal, but doesn’t that seem to be the case? Anyhow, we added some more Rory at -110 and hit round matchups like usual. We don’t generally use round matchups to actively hedge against positions unless they’re plus-ev on their own. This week we didn’t really have anything that could have amounted to a hedge anyway.

 

Sunday – July 17th – The Final Round

The day started seeming like it would be a wash of a week after a pretty decent high water mark after round 2. Our remaining matchups were mostly losing. We were also getting shellacked at the Barracuda Championship in Truckee, California. As the day went on, though, we had some real sweats, and ended up catching a few breaks to end the week in the black by a good margin. 

Cam Smith Claret JugThomas Pieters birdied 18 after bogeying 17 to push with Harold Varner. Scheffler struggled enough to get us pushes in two matchups that seemed doomed from the start. Lastly, Dechambeau finished birdie-birdie to beat Ancer by one. While we held out hope most of the day that DJ would put something together, he just didn’t have it going with the putter. Rory ended up being our last hope to bink an outright. 

It was painful to watch Rory lose, but it’s hard to say he gave it away. He putted well, he just couldn’t sink anything. Cam Smith played lights out. Hard to say Rory deserved it more than Cam. I didn’t end up being too upset about how it all turned out. I just fear that this means we’ll fade Cam Smith even harder in the weeks to come, which terrifies me.

 

Post-Mortem – Looking Back On Our Tournament

We got some things right this past week, and we got some wrong, too. We took stands on the weather. That ended up being more wrong than right, but it wasn’t a disaster by any means. Two of our biggest fades ended up finishing 1-2. When you have a winning week despite those outcomes it’s hard to be too upset. 

We were on the right side of things with our fades of Tiger, Im Sung-jae, and Max Homa. We survived fading Jordan Spieth as well, as we had Rory against him. Shockingly, we weren’t heavy on Jon Rahm, which saved us from our usual torture. Lastly, we ran pretty hot on round bets, which ended up accounting for most of the profits on the week. 

Major weeks are so high variance because of the increased volume. Winning or losing a small amount always feels okay to me. It can certainly break in the wrong direction and be much worse. I’m not saying I don’t hope to win big. However, when it’s clear that isn’t going to happen I’ll gladly take a breakeven week. Some of our best weeks ever have been during majors, but also some of our worst. I’m always a bit nervous going into these weeks.

The beauty of golf betting is that no matter how high or low you get. No matter how much money you win or lose. Come Monday morning you forget it all and move on to the next week. As of this writing that’s what we’re doing. The 3M Open is going to be a bit of a letdown after such an exciting Open week. However, to me that’s just fine. Rufus is grinding away on projections, I’m back at the research after doing the accounting, and away we go again.

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