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A second-year Bristol student has published a book revealing the secret methods of the gambling consultancy that he worked for on his gap year. The Football Code, written by 20 year-old James Tippett, has broken into the top 250 best-selling books on Amazon, and peaked at #3 best-seller in the category of ‘Football’.

It can be bought here:

Epigram’s Felix Rusby caught up with James to find out a bit more about his book:

FR: Can you give us a bit of background about yourself? 

JT: On my gap year I worked for a company called Smartodds as a football analyst. They are one of the most profitable (but secretive) gambling syndicates in the UK. The company turn over hundreds of millions of pounds each year. I basically got paid to collect match data, which was then used by “quants” (quantitative analysts) to work out which teams were performing at the highest level. The company founds its success on the ability to accurately predict the outcome of matches. They also sell the data to professional gamblers, in the same way that companies like Opta sell stats to the media.

FR: What was your role at Smartodds? 

JT: I was part of the data collection team. Essentially, I watched football matches and logged data on those games. I got paid £20 for each match I analysed. I watched some high quality matches in leagues like the Premier League, but a lot of what I watched was complete rubbish. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the Azerbaijan Third Division, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The company would analyse the data that my team collected in order to generate their own odds for matches, and placed bets when they thought that the bookmakers had made a mistake.

FR: What inspired you to write The Football Code? 

JT: I just saw all this really cool, innovative stuff happening and thought there was a huge market for it. Lots of people like gambling, but not many people know how to do it well.

FR: Will your book allow its readers to win millions? 

I’m not going to say that the book will enable you to consistently win money. Gambling is hard and requires a combination of skill and luck. What The Football Code will do is give you the best chance of succeeding. It aims to teach ordinary punters how to bet like a professional gambler, and give an insight into the secret world of professional sports betting.

FR: What’s being a professional gambler like? 

People tend to think of professional gambling as a dream job. They see it as a vocation which allows you to make loads of money through watching sport. In my experience, it really isn’t that great. I’m not a professional bettor, but I worked in the same offices as some at Smartodds. They spend all their time staring at screens, analysing data and watching hours upon hours of press conferences. They try to collect as much information as they can to inform their decision-making. As such, many are social recluses who don’t spend much time with friends or family. Gambling for a living isn’t as glamorous as its made out to be.

FR: What specific methods do the company use to win bets?

JT: One of the main revelations of the book is that Smartodds have used the Expected Goals method (xG) to find great success. Expected Goals is a metric that allows analysts to accurately gauge the ability of teams and players. Put simply, it measures how many good chances each team are creating. The teams who are creating the most dangerous scoring opportunities are clearly the best teams regardless of how many goals they are scoring. It’s essentially a way of removing the damaging effects of randomness from the sport, revealing a clear image of what is happening on the field of play. xG is now slowly being embraced by the media as well (Match of the Day have started using it).

Being a student is difficult. For me, there are three areas you have to find a balance between: work, play and sleep.

FR: How much money have you made from the book? 

JT: I knew that question was coming. Amazon don’t like their authors disclosing how many copies they’ve sold or how much they’ve made. What I can say is that I didn’t think the book would be as successful as it has been. The best thing for me is that it ranked above Joey Barton’s autobiography on Amazon’s best-sellers.

FR: Have you got any advice for students trying to publish their work and how can they manage writing with studies and student life?

JT: Being a student is difficult. For me, there are three areas you have to find a balance between: work, play and sleep. You have to study as hard as possible whilst also maintaining a social life and getting enough sleep to function. Often you can only fulfill two of the three sectors. Last year my “work” segment was taken up with the book, meaning my grades took a bit of a hit. You have to make a choice about what will make you happy.

What is your opinion on gambling? Have you got a message for James?
Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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