The trading rooms are lively and full of banter. The traders cheer on good results for the company and emotions run high when a bad result hits their figures. Market-makers take it personally if they lose money on a game, even if they later admit they traded the game exactly as they should have done. Most of the traders will have their specialized sport or sports where they are the specific market-maker—whether it is Premiership football, greyhound racing or the latest series of TV reality game show Big Brother.


In that area, they will have responsibility for researching their specific sport, creating markets, setting prices and trading the game in running when live television coverage permits. While it will be one senior trader’s decision to set the prices for a match, there will often be great discussion among executives at the firms before they are put out to the public. The vast majority of markets are of course statistically based. The number of corners in a match, the winning distance of a horse race, the number of runs in a cricket Test series that a particular batsman scores.


All can be estimated from a mix of previous results and knowledge of the current circumstances. The saying may be ‘Lies, damn lies and statistics’, but the spread betting firms swear by them because their facts and figures are nearly always going to be more accurate and more up to date than anything the average gambler can lay their hands on.