Nick Goff is a gamekeeper turned poacher, after giving up the day job of head of football trading at Coral for a life as a professional sports bettor. He focuses on football and the NFL where he takes a modern-day, analytical approach to his gambling, and will be giving his thoughts on NFL betting in our panel at the Matchbook Traders Conference. We spoke to Nick to get a bit of a preview and some tips on getting the most out of the day.
Tell us briefly how you ended up in the gambling world?
Nick Goff: My Dad took me racing from earlier than I can remember, and I was taught to bet and play cards not long after learning to walk, but it never struck me that gambling might be a career rather than a hobby until I lived with two other people obsessed with betting at university. All three of us ended up either as traders for bookmakers or professional bettors and I ended up as head of football and head of trading respectively at two of the bigger firms before going it alone.
Setting up as a pro bettor is something I should have done much earlier in hindsight, but everything’s easier with hindsight.
What has been the biggest change in your approach to betting/trading over the past 12 months?
I’ve branched out and have invested in some other people this season. It’s not something I’ve done before, or even really wanted to do before, but I want more turnover and can’t really invest any more time than I’m already doing. It seemed like the right time to try backing a couple of young, hungry grads trying to make their way, doing some good modern analytical work but currently without much of a bankroll of their own. It’s far too early to know whether that’s going to turn out to be a smart move or not.
What would you recommend people do to get the most out of the conference?
Talk to as many new people as you can. You’re bound to get on well with some of them.
The chance to have conversations with people who do the same type of thing that we do ourselves is pretty rare. This can be a lonely way to make a living if you let it be.
So don’t. Many of us say things like “this game is only getting harder” so what if you come out of today with a couple of new contacts? People you can swap ideas with and run things by?
What is your favorite sport to bet on and why?
This is a dead-heat between football and NFL. They’re the two sports I enjoy watching most and both lend themselves to a modern-day, analytical approach to betting.
There’s a mountain of information and statistics available within both sports, and it’s my job to work out which ones are relevant and which are just noise, which ones are fully factored into the market and which may currently be undervalued? Figuring out some of those things is what makes day to day life sat at a desk interesting.
In your opinion what has been the biggest sporting moment in 2017 so far?
Superbowl 51. It was very early in the year but it won’t be beaten for edge-of-seat drama. For the Patriots to come back from 28-3 midway through the 3rd quarter in the biggest game of the season is one of those things anyone who watched it won’t forget. Brady and Belichick’s refusal to panic while all around them could only see disaster unfolding was a lesson to players and coaches in any sport. They’re all-time sporting greats and although both have already had plenty of all-time sporting moments, none will define them like this one.
What is your favorite event on the sporting calendar and why?
The World Cup is unsurpassable, both as a fan who just enjoys watching football and as a bettor. There’s no such thing as a World Cup match that it’s acceptable to miss.
You have to watch every single one, it’s the rules. And in that first couple of weeks where there are three games a day, just waking up and knowing there’s a full day of action ahead is the best thing in betting for me. It’s great that we have one to look forward to next summer.