Watching the odds on the next ABC

You can not only see the current line the bookmakers have on who might be the next Archbishop of Canterbury but you can look at the history of those odds.

Here is the site that shows the current odds on nominees considered to have a chance to be in the running.

Here is the history of the odds for Bishop Graham. Click on a name on the main page to see the history for that person.

Being a neophyte on these things–everything I know about bookmaking I’ve learned from The Sting–it’s hard for me to parse exactly what the numbers mean. So I turned to the Cafe’s resident economist, John B. Chilton, for an explanation:

The default is sort by favorite (FAV). You can toggle to sort by NAME (although it’s not very handy since this ain’t horses, and it’s not sorting by last name but first).

As to the meaning of the numbers, let’s take the example of the Paddy Power column.

Christopher Cocksworth is listed as 6/4. That means if you bet a pound on him and he’s chosen you’ll get your pound back plus 6/4 of a pound.

Richard Chartres is listed as 12, meaning 12/1 or 12 to 1. That means if you bet a pound on him and he’s chosen you’ll get your pound back plus 12 more pounds. (See this.)

Another thing, the bookmakers aren’t oddsmakers so much as they are adjusting the odds so that those who bet against Cocksworth (by choosing someone else) would pay off those bet on Cocksworth.

Bookmakers aren’t taking risks. They’re setting the odds so they have no risk and yet guarantee themselves something left over essentially by attaching odds so they don’t add up to 100%.

It’s really no different from an insurance making money figuring out the actuarially fair odds and then offering odds that are slightly unfair. Why only slightly? — competition.

It appears that right now it’s Christopher Cocksworth to win, Graham James to place, and John Sentamu to show.

Do the movement in the odds history match with any events that you are aware of? Is there information that punters (bettors) seem to have reacted to?

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