Big Brother Betting
These days there are dozens of bookmakers offering all manner of markets on the show, from who will win to who will be the next evictee to who will go on to marry whom.
But does the programme represent a credible opportunity for profit or is it just a random contest that only a fool would dream of wagering hard cash on?
Bookmakers are now as likely to issue prices on the Cheltenham Gold Cup as they are on which member of a popular boy band will be the next to release a solo single.
I firmly believe it is a potential money-spinner for the shrewd punter, especially now that Betfair has so much liquidity in its outright winner market.
There are some important rules when betting on the show, not least of which is that it is vital to keep tabs on what is happening. This does not mean quitting your job and watching live feeds 24 hours a day (although this obviously helps!).
What is does mean is that you should not leave money up to trade on Betfair unless you are happy that the price you are asking for or offering is still attractive to you if circumstances suddenly change.
The most seismic market move in Big Brother history remains the shortening of Craig in the very first series when the Scouse carpenter confronted 'Nasty' Nick Bateman over his scheming, cheating ways.
All of a sudden the muscly Craig went from a peripheral, some might say boring, figure to a national hero who had bravely stood up to a man of greater intellect and exposed him as a cad and a rotter.
His price tumbled from 33-1 to around 4-1 in next to no time and he went on to win the title hands down.
Another key thing to remember is that it is the great British public that decides who is slung out and who ultimately emerges from the house tens of thousands of pounds richer as fireworks explode in celebration.
Thus, it is pointless betting on someone to win just because you happen to like them unless you consider yourself to be the most average Briton in the country.
I quite warmed to quirky boffin Jon Tickle in Big Brother 4, but there was no point having a penny on him. The average man or woman in the street was always going to get rid of him because they did not relate to his outlook on life.
And then there is the golden rule about avoiding backing people from ethnic minorities. For whatever reason - perhaps Britain is a more racially-intolerant nation than it lets on - non-white contestants rarely prosper and that goes for every form of reality TV show, not just Big Brother.
It is also unwise to back or lay a housemate on the simple basis that they remind you of someone who failed or succeeded in a previous series.
This may sound obvious but it is amazing how many punters I have heard say things like: 'Stuart won't win Big Brother 5. He is just like Alex in Big Brother 3.'
Their definition of 'just like' will consist of nothing more substantial than the fact that both went to university and both are considered good-looking.
Finally, always remember to look for someone who possesses the kind of basic human virtues we all admire deep down. Modesty, self-deprecation, humility, authenticity and kindness are always likely to stand a contestant in good stead.
Above all, though, remember that every time you bet on a reality TV show or, for that matter, a novelty market of any description, you are always at the mercy of the god of Bad Luck.
The purpose of these shows is to generate viewers and, by consequence, revenue from advertising and telephone votes. They may have also become fascinating betting events, but that is not their primary reason for being on our screens.
Thus, the scope for chaos and confusion is far higher than for an event specifically designed as a betting medium.
Using Big Brother as an example, you might find the 50-1 chance you backed on the first night has shortened to 2-1 favourite as the public and housemates alike have warmed to their charms. But you may then find that the customary nomination process is replaced by a game of spin the bottle, which results in your fancy being evicted.
Unlucky yes, but impossible no. There is no point crying to the host broadcaster, your bookmaker or anyone else in such instances. You just have to accept it as an occupational hazard of novelty betting. That is not to say, however, that you should not complain if you feel your bookmaker has responded to an unscheduled and chaotic twist in the plot in an unfair manner.
If a firm seeks to exact profit out of a novelty event by pricing it up, it has an obligation to deal with unforeseen events fairly and responsibly.
Remember, too, that some novelties are simply headline-grabbers and should not be touched with a bargepole.
Anything to do with Elvis, Lord Lucan, Shergar and suchlike are devised with the intention of getting the bookmaker's name mentioned in the national press and never offer value simply because they cannot happen.