Friday, 26 August 2016

Achtung Bundeslayga Followers

The Bundesliga starts tonight, with Champions Bayern Munich at 1.1 to beat Werder Bremen. In the past four seasons, Bayern Munich have Closed at 1.11 or shorter (90%+ Implied Probability) 15 times, and won every match. At the 80%+ IP level, backing Bayern Munich would have resulted in a 1.65 profit from 52 bets, an ROI of 3.2%.

For anyone wondering if Away Steamers are also profitable in the Bundesliga, the answer is historically, yes. Again looking at the past four seasons, and Pinnacle's Closing Prices courtesy of Football Data, backing the 154 Away teams whose price shortened by 10% or more would have won you 9.42 points (ROI of 6.1%).

Home Steamers of the same 10% are value lays, backing the 77 at Closing odds would have lost 17.01 points, an ROI of -22%.

Many of you will be familiar with the Bundeslayga System. A review of this System's performance using Closing Odds shows a theoretical profit of 4.47 from 361 selections from 2012-2016, an ROI of 1.2%. This compares to the 8.12 point profit at the earlier scrape prices, and evidence that Closing Odds are more accurate.

The numbers show that historically home favourites are not value backs beyond the 50% range, and that laying home favourites in the 40% to 75% implied probability range would be a better strategy, and I am following this for the 2016-17 season.

Bundeslayga has been a steady profit maker for several seasons now, but in Bundesliga.1 last season, it made its first loss, although Bundeslayga.2 made up for it. Time for a change - markets adapt, and this one may finally have caught up with us.

The selections should almost double to around 166 a season.

Related to yesterday's post, and for Peter and Jimmy's 'even money shots', a fair and balanced range from 1.91 to 2.1 would have lost 5.69 points from 173 selections (ROI -3.3%).

SmithLondon commented on my previous post:

"At kick off? Admittedly, it is possible that Jimmy has access to kick-off (Closing) prices from several bookmakers, but I am not aware that this data is readily available."
This is a bugbear of mine with Betfair. Since 2014 they have had SPs on Premier League games but unlike all their other SP prices they do not publish them. I have asked in vain. I have taken to recording them this season myself. Would be interested if you know of anyone who has recorded them since they started and would be willing to make them available.
I do not know of anyone who has Betfair SPs, but unless you have good reason to suspect that Pinnacle's Closing Odds are not accurate, I would simply use those. Recording them yourself sounds like a big commitment for little gain. Betfair's decision not to make them available, but make racing and other SPs available suggests to me that there is value in the former, and not in the latter.    

Thursday, 25 August 2016

An Odd Look At Even Money Shots

Some rather sloppy 'research' (I use the term loosely) over at Pete Nordsted's site, looking at "even money shots" in football's top leagues.

The first error was in expanding the "even money" definition and:

Classifying teams priced between 1.9 and 2.1 seemed very enough as it included teams at the 9/10 level through to 11/10.
What "seemed very enough" means I'm not sure, but I'm guessing the writer (Jimmy) means "seemed good enough" but it really isn't.

1.9 (or 9 to 10) means the selection has an implied probability of 52.63%, with the inverse of that bet being 2.11.

2.1 (or 11 to 10) means the selection has an implied probability of 47.62%, with the inverse of that bet being 1.91.

So presuming you want your range to be fair and balanced, it should either be from 1.9 to 2.11 or from 1.91 to 2.1.

Unless you are into your statistics, this may seem picky, but by using a range of 1.9 to 2.1, you are including more odds-on selections in your sample than you are odds-against.

To clarify, by Jimmy's logic, and by extension, more expansive ranges would then be those from 1.8 to 2.2, from 1.6 to 2.4, from 1.2 to 2.8, and ultimately from 1.01 to 2.99. But the average is still evens... No it isn't.

You can see this logic is clearly flawed, so it is hardly a surprise that the findings would be:
If we use Pinnacle's Closing Prices to determine selections, a balanced range of 1.91 to 2.1, over the last four seasons in the EPL, gives numbers that are a little different -
  • Home wins 60 of 134,
  • Away wins 26 of 55
  • A win ratio of 45.5% overall - and a loss of 16.13 points from the 189 matches.

Missing from Jimmy's post is any mention of profits or losses, which is quite an oversight. I would hope this isn't intentional, with the reader expected to assume that the odds average out at evens and backing "even money shots" is thus profitable, because they don't and the strike rate at 1.9 is quite different to that at 2.1.

"But Cassini, that's a big difference", I hear you say, and you're quite right - it certainly is.

The reason may be partly that Jimmy is looking at the past five seasons, (versus my four), and rather than use the Closing Prices at kick-off to determine selections, his 'analysis' (I use the term loosely) uses the "Best" price to determine qualifiers:
Please see below for a breakdown of the four major leagues with a home and away split of results for teams with a best price between 1.9 and 2.1 at kick off.
At kick off? Admittedly, it is possible that Jimmy has access to kick-off (Closing) prices from several bookmakers, but I am not aware that this data is readily available. Hence my excitement when Football Data updated the past four seasons with this data.

Anyway, including matches where one "best" bookmaker is offering a generous (but probably unavailable in practice) price of 1.9 is another reason why this 'study' (I use the term loosely) is worthless rubbish.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Marginal Propensity To Consume

A little over a week ago, with tongue firmly in cheek, I wrote:
This all but guarantees that by November, Leicester City will be a top three team, Crystal Palace will be relegated, Alan Pardew will be the first managerial casualty of the EPL season, Donald Trump will win the Presidential Election by a landslide and Article 50 will have been triggered.
Unfortunately, the Crystal Palace related predictions are not looking as amusing as they once were. No goals and no points after two games, and if it wasn't for AFC Bournemouth, last place. Next weekend's fixtures see the first six-point relegation clash of the new season between the two clubs, with Crystal Palace a very generous 2.38 on the Exchanges for the home win, although not as generous as the frankly crazy 2.54 that was available earlier. 

There was a paucity of Draws in round two of the EPL, with just the Leicester City v Arsenal match providing a winner. The basic Draw-4 System (back the draw at 4.0 or shorter) is now up 0.25 points from 14 selections. With 5.25%+ of the EPL season already complete, Draws are at 20% with Aways looking to continue their improvement of recent seasons currently at (an unsustainable) 45%. 

As for Away Steamers this weekend, again the system was profitable with Hull City's 11.11% increase in implied probability a winner at 4.95 (@ Swansea City) more than compensating for the first loser of the season at the Olympic Stadium where AFC Bournemouth failed to beat West Ham United despite steaming in by a massive 27%. Since 2012, Away Steamers of 25% or more have been few and far between, but the 16 selections (including this weekend) are in profit by 11.59 points. Three of those 16 were AFC Bournemouth, (all lost), and three more were Aston Villa (all lost). 

After 5 selections, Away Steamers are up by 9.38 points this season.

The (anti-) Brexit bets are looking good, with the triggering of Article 50 becoming less and less likely as reality and referendum 'time decay' sets in. "Not triggered before July 2017" has traded as low as 1.31 on Betfair, and not being triggered in 2016 at 1.03. We should have more of these advisory referenda.

In the 'you learn something new everyday' category, one item from this weekend was that in 1933:
...a state referendum saw 68% of West Australians in support of leaving the Commonwealth, but the application was knocked back by the British parliament.
The Independent had an interesting article last Friday, although the title wasn't too snappy - "We won't issue Article 50 until after 2017 – and that means Brexit may never happen at all":
Farage, Johnson and Fox have won their 15 year-long battle to obtain a vote for Brexit. But Britain is not out of Europe. And as the UK public realises the damage to their future that isolation represents, there will be a re-think.
May is no Europhile, but she does not want to lead a Britain that become poorer and weaker in wealth and status, with the ever-present shadow of Scotland leaving the UK too. The Europhobes who brought us Brexit may not have the last laugh.
Although what will finally eventuate as a result of the advisory and non-legally binding, referendum is yet to be known for sure, the "win" for the 'Lying Leavers' looks more and more meaningless by the day. 

It's rather schadenfreudey, but discussing Brexit these days with a Leaver is a little like watching an opponent's fans celebrating a goal before they belatedly realise that it has been disallowed. I really should rise above it, but I happened to come across one of my local's more vociferous Leavers (a Charlton Athletic fan for the record) on an alleged WikiLeaks list of BNP members last week.       

Moving on, and there are some crap articles on the Yahoo! Finance site (and many other sites) these days.
Don’t bother clicking on the click-baity link for this one, (I should have known better) which led with the bogus headline "How one couple saved $1 million in 4 years to retire by age 43"

The headline is nonsense, and yes the numbers are in $s, but the principles are the same. 

The couple started with $570k, so they never ‘saved’ $1million in four years.

They committed to putting $2,000 a month toward their investments, which stood at $570,000 when they started, in order to build their portfolio up to $1 million in 1,500 days.

With a decent amount invested, the bulk of an increase in savings is going to come from your return on that investment. 

The broad S&P 500 index has performed well under Obama (Democratic Presidents are historically much better for the US stock market than Republicans) - Go Bernie, I mean Hillary - 2011 was actually a down year (by 0.003%) and 2015's loss wasn't too serious either. 

The couple featured in the article "decided to get serious about their savings goals" in 2013, so if they caught that 29.6% leap of that year, that's a tidy $169k right there.  

The size of someone’s salary is also a rather relevant piece of information which was not revealed, the only reference being:

Carl noted that his programming job paid well, but did not share specifics.

Savings is simply your income less your outgoings, and the larger your discretionary income is, the greater your savings potential, assuming your expenses are the same (which they are often not due to lifestyle creep). If the couple in question were earning $240k a year between them, what’s the big deal about saving 10%?

Financial advice I gave my kids from a very early age was to put at least 10% of everything earned into an index fund and forget about it. 

Keeping that MPC under control as your income increases, helps. I wish I’d had a Dad like me! 

The article does suggest keeping records and analysing your spending habits, which is an excellent idea, but for most of us, saving money is slow and steady and very much constrained by income.  

Monday, 15 August 2016


I made an error in my calculations on EPL Steamers and Drifters. Very embarrassing, but the numbers in the original post have been updated as leaving them there incorrectly would have been misleading.

Fortunately the main discovery, that Away steamers are profitable, is still true, although 87 selections steaming by 10% or more in four seasons isn't much of a sample size. For what it's worth, the revised ROI% for these is now 18.5%, although it will have climbed following the weekend's results.

As shown, three Away teams shortened by 10% or more, and all three won which would have been a 29-1 treble for those who do these things.

For those tracking the Draw in the EPL this season, the basic 4.0 or less draw price meant eight qualifiers, and three of those ended 1:1 for a 2.75 point profit.

Leicester City's opening day loss has also moved my Top 10, Top 4, Top 3 Lays into the money already. At somewhere in the ~1.6s for a top 10 finish, they are still too short in my opinion. Several of those top ten places are all but filled already, and with the distraction of the Champions League, I can see Leicester City struggling to finish above the likes of Everton, Southampton and West Ham United (although the latter may experience a slump in form as they settle in to a new stadium). I was hoping my Crystal Palace would be in contention for a top 10 finish too, but an opening day home less to a bottom half team wasn't the most promising of starts (unless you are following the Away Steamers system I guess).        

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Best Bookies, Bones, Bursting Bubbles, And Baldrick

Following up on the EPL Draw systems, Smithlondon writes:

Fair points about the bookies selected. Finding the right price is obviously the key to all/any strategy. As requested if you take the best of those 5 prices over the ten years, you get an 8.65 profit from 2808 selections.
Profit results from some big swing years (10/11, 12/13 & 15/16) all of which had (unsurprisingly) above avg draw % in those respective years.
I put Smithlondon's numbers into the table above, and added the averages and totals for the past five and ten seasons. As I had suspected, using the best of five price makes this strategy profitable over the past ten seasons, although not from 2006-10. It's probably no coincidence that the Home team won 47.6% of matches in this time, and just 44.9% in the six seasons since, while the Draw numbers remained fairly steady at 25.7% and 25.9% respectively.

Interesting that the two seasons 2011-12 and 2014-15 saw exactly the same number of draws overall (93) yet the later season would have produced a profit while the earlier won lost a little.

I mentioned a while ago that I had forwarded the details of some of my portfolio systems to Geoff, As I know that losing runs can and do occur, I put in my email that "Of course, Past Performance is no Guarantee of Future Results." Geoff wrote to me yesterday, saying "I have a bone to pick with you".
I was just wondering how you are getting on with the TBone in recent weeks as I'm wondering if I have chosen to get involved at completely the wrong time?
He didn't actually sau that he had a bone to pick with me, a strange expression that only a mother would use, but T-Bone did have a poor July, with the straight up bets losing 16.44 points and ending the month with a 3-11 record, but August's 10 selections have produced 7 winners so far and are +2.04 points so far. On the season overall, the system is up 9.28 points, but that's of little comfort since we only found this system last month! I say give it time.

Back to football, and while I'm not a big fan of tying my money up for a full season, I have had a few bets matched laying Leicester City in the Premier League this season, including for a top 10 finish at 1.46.  I suspect that Leicester City's bubble has burst, and with the added distraction of Champions League football and a key player departing, can see them struggling rather like Ipswich Town did in their first season (17th of 22 teams) after surprisingly winning the League.

I've also backed Crystal Palace in this market at a massive 4.0 with the cunning plan (thank you Baldrick) to lay off at 1.01 when their relatively easy start (no top 4 teams in the first 11 matches) comes to an end in November, by which time 33 points will have accrued, Alan Pardew will have been knighted for services to dancing, Hillary Clinton will be the President-elect in the United States and the UK will still be in the European Union. **

Finally, for those who haven't yet seen it, a post from Steve M on why he won't be following any football tipsters this season. Click on the link for the full post, but some of Steve's numbers are interesting.
Over the last 6 years I have placed 16,666 bets, that averages out to 7.6 bets every single day for 6 years straight.As mentioned earlier, with 16,666 bets, that means months worth of data entry, months worth of finding and/or waiting for the best odds, months worth of placing bets and months worth of recording results. Not to mention the fact I would sit up and watch all the games.
Each week I would spend at least 4-5 hours on soccer betting (just placing and recording bets). Let’s say the season runs for 8 months. That means I would spend 160 hours a year or a total of 960 hours over the past 6 years. We can double that number to 1920 hours when we include all the watching and other activities. That works out to waking up at 6 am and working non stop till 10 pm every day for 4 months straight.
That is a lot of hours! For me, the best part of betting with a portfolio is that you are punting, not trading, and so you don't actually need to watch the games. Being based in Australia, it's even worse for Steve with many matches in the middle of the night. I suspect many sports bettors conveniently forget to include the hours spent when calculating their profits.

** This all but guarantees that by November, Leicester City will be a top three team, Crystal Palace will be relegated, Alan Pardew will be the first managerial casualty of the EPL season, Donald Trump will win the Presidential Election by a landslide and Article 50 will have been triggered.  

Friday, 12 August 2016

Best Of Five, Certainly

Smithlondon had a comment on my findings regarding backing the Draw in the EPL, and has gone further by conducting further research looking back further than four seasons.

To clarify, the reason I chose the past four seasons is that these are the only seasons for which Pinnacle’s data is available, and now with the added bonus of the closing prices.

The reasons Pinnacle are the sportsbook of choice are that they have the most favourable over-round at ~102%, and they do not restrict or close winning accounts.

Here is Smithlondon’s comment:

"Backing the draw in the (conveniently exactly) 1,000 matches where the implied probability of the Draw was 0.25 or greater at kick-off would have boosted your account by 49.22 points, and you can all work out the ROI% on that. (+50.33 from 1,017 selections if you bet early)."
As always your blog is an interesting read. The above caught my attention. I don't currently bet on football but I'm always looking for new systems to add to my portfolio. I believe diversity is important, so naturally those numbers piqued my interest, and with the season starting I decided it was worth a few hours of my time to have a look at. Even if it was more in hope than expectation. So I data dumped the sheets from football-data (excellent website) and went to work. I took the odds of five of the bookies listed (B365, BWIN, Lads, Hills, VC) for the last 10 seasons. I used those as they seemed to be the only ones listed for the complete 10 years. Averaging the odds and then applying your criteria (Back the Draw when implied prob > 0.25) gave me a return of 7.73 points from 1134 for the last four seasons, but a loss over the 10 seasons of -96.16 from 2937. I got closer to your four year results when I adjusted the average odds to represent a 100% book (my proxy for exchange odds). In that case I got a 39.81 point profit off 1005 (while applying a 5% commission) but I still registered a loss of -26.35 over the 10 seasons(2689). While I'm not suggesting your approach or numbers are wrong, a longer term view dampens the enthusiasm somewhat although I'm still searching for your filter.
The over-rounds on B365, BWIN, Lads, Hills and VC are all higher - VC (selected at random) is 103.22% - so you are always up against it with these books, and if you look like you have anything resembling a clue as to what you are doing, your account will be closed or restricted to peanuts anyway. Bottom line is that these books don't bring a lot to the party for the serious bettor so I try to ignore them.

Just how bad are the non-Pinnacle books?  Of the 1,520 EPL matches over the past four seasons, Pinnacle (outnumbered 5 to 1 remember) were beaten for best price on the Draw 604 times, less than 40% of the time. Of course, if you can get on with the sportsbook offering the top price, you should do so - using Pinnacle's prices here are for record keeping, and returns given are always the least you can expect.

So I’m not sure that AVERAGING the (already poor) odds on these five books makes any sense. Pinnacle may not always be the best price, but they are rarely too far off, so to get anything like a meaningful comparison going back an additional six seasons, a better approach would be to use the best (MAXIMUM) available price. 

Curiosity, of course, got the better of me, and I tried this approach using Smithlondon’s choice of books for the past four seasons, and here are my findings:

2012-16 Best of Five 1,069 bets, +47.65, ROI 4.46%

2012-16 Pinnacle Early 1,017 bets, +47.18, ROI  4.64%

2012-16 Pinnacle Closing 1,000 bets, +49.22, ROI 4.92%

Unfortunately I don't have the time to go back six more seasons and run the numbers, but the Best of Five are comparable to Pinnacle's profits, and the Draw hit rate between 2012-16 was 25.4%, while for the six seasons 2006-12 it was 26.1%. Perhaps Smithlondon can re-run the numbers using the best prices?

It's quite possible that the six seasons up to 2012 were not profitable with this strategy, because both the EPL and the markets are constantly evolving. How many seasons to look at when evaluating a strategy or a system is up to the individual. I personally think results from ten years ago in the EPL are totally meaningless, although some 'experts' have no problem using data from past match-ups, despite the fact that the players, managers and possibly venue have all changed since previous encounters, e.g. "Twelve of the last thirteen EPL meetings between these two sides have seen at least two goals", as if a match six or seven seasons ago has any relevance today.

I will spare the below preview "writer's" blushes by not linking to his site, but count the 'certainly' references in just two sentences!  
Someone is certainly certain...
Nothing is certain in betting, and it’s a paradox of profitable betting that if you wait until you have a statistically proven edge, the edge will be gone. In my opinion, the trick is to spot a trend (and an edge) early, act on it while maintaining a healthy scepticism that the trend may be fleeting and evaporate at any moment, and stop when you determine the edge is no longer there. Right now, the Draw in the EPL appears to offer value in matches of a specific profile. Was value there in 1985? Will it be there in 2020?

Mixing metaphors I know, but no one should be a one-trick pony, nor have all their eggs in one basket. Smithlondon mentions he has a portfolio, and this is the best approach. Track the performance of each system appropriately, constantly develop new systems, and add / remove them from your portfolio as the results dictate. The benefit of a portfolio with diverse systems is that the variance of any one individual system is moderated. It’s an approach that works well with financial investments too. Putting all your money in one stock is a recipe for disaster – use mutual funds, preferably passive Index Funds!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Très Basique

A couple of comments on recent posts, first up being Webbo, aka Betting Tools Brian, who wrote:

Interesting post Cassini and this along with my recent reasonable amount of early success following the money with my horse racing market movers
( has prompted me to trial something similar in English Football, again using Betfair's exchange.

I previously thought that the odds movements for football would be far less significant than in horse racing but your post, albeit analysing Pinnacle's closing prices, gives me hope. Findings from our football betting so far have shown that selections priced 2/1 and above are where the majority of value can be found and mostly in away selections.
So to begin with I'll be looking at homes and aways that have come in by 1% or more (with significant enough liquidity) that are priced over 2/1. Odds will be collected every 30 minutes in the lead up to kick off. I'm not sure something that moved by just 1 percent is necessarily a steamer though and will go with the tres basique name of 'Footy Movers' for this profile.
I actually think 1% might be too low and trigger too many bets and so will increase this number if necessary. The profile will be here if anyone is interested:

I can easily amend to set a similar profile up for the draw if you or anyone else has any ideas for criteria that you think could be of interest.
Check out that last link as the season progresses, and let Brian know if you have any requests.

Stewboss asked:
What's the filter? Have I missed something?
while Baz, aka Barrie, asked:
As draws are low scoring can additional profit be made by betting the unders or correct score1 1-1 and/or 0-0 ? 
Unfortunately we, or at least I, don't have any Correct Score prices, nor do I have closing prices on the Unders, but running the numbers based on the early scrape, backing the Unders where the Draw price is 4.0 or less would have lost you 52.08 points over the past four EPL seasons, and that is generously using the maximum Under 2.5 price from Football Data.

Applying the filter I mentioned (but didn't reveal, as I give far too much information away for free as it is) and the Under does move into profit, although a minuscule one at 0.19 points. Looking at the four other top leagues (La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1) the total profit here is potentially 32.98 points.

While it is true that if the Under is a value bet, then the Draw is always a value bet, it isn't necessarily true that value on the Draw means the Under is value.

Essentially this 'anything-but-subtle' très basique system, takes advantage of an inefficient market consistently underestimating the probability of the Draw, which is not a popular outcome for some reason, and long may it continue to be ignored.

Overall in the EPL (since the 20 team format was introduced in 1995), Under Draws (0:0 and 1:1) make up 75.8% of Draws (and 19.8% of all matches). Blindly backing every Draw priced at a 0.25+ probability results in 71.3% of the Draws being Unders.