Special bets provide an opportunity to beat the bookies if you have knowledge about the real world. That's pretty much everyone. When I say special bets, I mean novelty and TV bets mainly. The place to have these is PaddyPower. Other bookies have novelty sections but find Paddy offers more bets than anyone else.
By offering loads of bets though, they open up themselves to people that know their stuff to clean up. Remember that, they price up many markets, the punter only has to bet on those when he thinks he's got an edge. With mainstream sports this is hard but with special bets, you can often find obvious judgement errors.
The other thing is that Paddypower are Irish and most specials are about the UK. Sometimes they haven't got the knowledge that someone living in the UK would have. A glaring one is the bets involving the BBC and football. It was years ago and I can't see it in my account but the bet was something like, most viewers for the World Cup Final (must have been in 2010 South Africa). BBC 1 was something like 1/4 and ITV about 7/2. Anyone from the UK knows that people watch football on BBC due to the lack of adverts plus Gary Lineker, Shearer and Hanson are better than Adrian Chiles. So betting on BBC 1 was just buying money effectively.
Other things, they just have little knowledge in. They had a special bet on the top grossing film in 2012. Avengers had been released earlier in the year and was the 3rd highest grossing film of all time (only Avatar and Titanic grossed more). Still Paddypower were offering 3.25 on Avengers being the top grossing film of the year. They had the Hobbit as the favourite. Absolutely crazy. So I hit the bet max button and put £91.59 on it.
Later that year, Dark Knight Rises came out. They got caught up in the hype and were offering 1.83 on Avengers beating Dark Knight Rises. I said thank you very much and put another £100 on. I would have put bet max again but it just seemed too good to bet true and I still had my other bet running.
That came in too. Both the Hobbit and Dark Knight Rises both grossed around $1.1 billion but Avengers did $1.5 billion, so not even close.
I tried the same trick in 2013 and got burnt though. Iron Man 3 had grossed $1.2 billion and was at the time the 5th highest grossing film of all time. I thought that was buying money too but ‘Frozen' pipped it at the end of year grossing $1.274 billion vs $1.215 billion. That was a bit of bad luck and not enough research. How was I suppose to know that a Disney cartoon released at the end of the year would come to be the 5th highest grossing film of all time? All the rest have been your summer blockbusters, when kids are off school and need things to do.
Other good markets are the current affairs ones. Paddy's traders only have a few minutes to think about the bets whereas we can analyse them. A good one from last year was how many more nuclear tests would North Korea perform. They had just done one. Paddy had 1 as the favourite. As I have an interest in North Korea I thought the answer would be zero. They don't have much nuclear fuel so they aren't going to waste it on a test. They only did the test to get more money off South Korea and America. That came in.
I like the politics ones too. I remember one bet at Hills on tuition fees. They had a bet on whether Vince Cable would vote for his own bill (for the introduction of tuition fees). I just heard it on the news that he'd confirmed the he would be voting for his own bill and William Hill had ‘yes' at 1.4. Sometimes the traders are a bit behind.
Buzzword bingo is a good bet if you follow politics. You know the themes of the speeches so you can have a good idea of what the speeches are going to contain. I don't have as much time for politics nowadays but when I did, I used to bet on that too. Ladbrokes put “One nation” as a buzzword when that's what Cameron had been talking about leading up to his speech.
Then there are the PR bets. PaddyPower were offering money back if Oscar Pistorius was found not guilty. (They actually made a joke on it, “Money back if he walks”). Odds on him being guilty were 1.25. Max bet was £20. So basically, Paddypower were offering £5 if he was found guilty or zero if he was not guilty. Pretty much a no brainer. They got a lot of stick for being distasteful so took it down but I got on.
Reality TV is good but that's not my thing. If you watch it though, you have the same idea as a bookie has about who is going to win. I got a friend who makes of reality TV regularly. Its not as easy as in the early days but its still possible. Just get on early and trade out on betfair for those ones.
My absolute favourite special bet is on WWE. Yes, I mean World Wrestling Entertainment. Its not even a sport. Its more like a soap opera. Anyways for a bit of fun, some bookies price up the odds. I don't even watch it but as its fixed the favourite is going to win. The key here is to bet on the favourite but get out if the odds drift. Someone knows the outcome already so if the price isn't getting hammered something is wrong. I managed to get £100 on this at Corals. Price it up but letting someone have £100 on effectively a rigged event is ridiculous.
I have been burnt a few times too. Don't think its easy. As I said earlier, even nailed on dead certs can lose but thats true with any sport. With special bets, they just happen far less if you do your research and bet on the right markets. So there you have it. You can beat the bookies at novelty bets if you look for an edge. They generally won't let you bet big and do limit you quite quick too.