Saturday, 2 July 2016

Barrie's Revenge

Before the MLB season began, some of you may recall a suggestion from Barrie for a system based on revenge. Barrie wrote:

Again it concerns losing home teams but this time teams that have been embarrassed by a defeat by three or more runs and are playing the same team still at home in the next game, the theory is they will seek revenge and so should be backed but avoid weak teams by only betting if they are favourites. This is claimed to have shown a profit on both the money line and the run line for the last two seasons, your view would be appreciated and whether you put this on your blog for your other reader is up to you, I'm not sure systems being published makes much difference, maybe punters don't have the resolve to stick with it!.
I commented on the suggestion in the linked-to post above, basically saying that although it was a fact that the last two seasons were profitable, I felt that the system had no real merit, and had just had a fortunate couple of years.
With the end of June having arrived, and baseball (or at least my investing on it) starting to get serious, I thought I'd take another look at how Barrie's Revenge system would have played out this season so far and the results are above. So far this season, betting on both the Straight Up and Run Line options would have been loss-making, to the tune of 6.76 and 2.19 points respectively. Not huge losses, but enough to take the five season total into the red.

Sticking with baseball, and some of you may remember my post last season about backing the Unders when ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw is starting.
Some of you may also have noticed the trend towards Unders on Kershaw's games - from 30 starts this season, the profit would have been 6.40 points. Impressive, and over Kershaw's career, backing Unders would be up 20.15 points (246 games).
This is one trend that has continued into this season, admittedly after a shaky opening month when it took three losses in the first five games. The next loss was just this past weekend.
We may have to wait a while for our next winner, as Kershaw was scheduled to pitch last night, but has been ruled out for 15 days with a lower back injury. Bummer.

As for the shorties I told you about last season, including here, they have had a strong season so far. Straight Up:
...and Run Line
Maybe a few of you are taking advantage along with Fizzer and myself.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Penalties: Going Over And Missing


Unfortunately, I didn't see the above Tweet until the game was over (I wasn't watching the game anyway), but as I scrolled through my timeline and saw it, my immediate reaction was that it must have been a mistake. The price on Over was, in my opinion, wrong - and for clarification, after a little confusion, the bet was for penalties scored as opposed to taken.
My penalty shoot-out spreadsheet, yes, sad bastard that I am, I do actually have one, is fresh in my mind right now with updates from the recently concluded Copa America Centenario and ongoing Euro 2016 tournaments, so I am well aware of what the average number of penalties taken and scored in a shoot-out is. Aren't we all?

In the Euros, prior to yesterday, for penalties scored in the previous 15 shoot-outs, the mean was 7.87, but more importantly both the median and the mode were 9, and all were comfortably above seven. 

It's true that four of the last five Euro shoot-outs went Under 7 scored, but only six of the 15 in total have, but it's also true that international shoot-out penalties are being scored at a lower percentage since 2000 than they were previously (down from 75.97% to 72.71%), a trend also seen in the Euros (down from 71.64% to 69.81%) but had I been watching and seen that price, I would have jumped on. 

I'm well aware that Pinnacle have far greater analysis tools than I do, and may well have factored in the probable penalty takers and each individual's scoring probability etc., but even if we drill down to that level of detail, given that Poland scored five rather good penalties just five days ago, and that Portugal have a couple of decent players on their team, I'm struggling to see how Under 7 could possibly be favourite.

A few other pointless stats - the fewest penalties taken is 6 (Iran v China, 1988) the fewest scored is 2 (Paraguay v Brazil, 2011) while the most taken is 24 on two occasions (Ivory Coast v Ghana, 1992 and Ivory Coast v Cameroon, 2006) and the most scored was 23 in that latter game.

Across all international tournaments for which I can find the details, the average number scored is 7.71, the median is 7 and the mode is 6.

As for those missing statistics, if you have details of the following penalty shoot-outs, do share:
And on a personal note, it is ten years to the day since I took my (then) little boy to Gelsenkirchen to watch Portugal knock England out of the World Cup on penalties, England scoring one (Owen Hargreaves) out of four on that occasion. Lampard, Gerrard and Carragher all missed, and we had to endure the sight of Ronaldo taking the glory penalty.

Monday, 27 June 2016

All Over

What perfect timing for my Euro 2016 post and the profits to be had from backing Unders.

Cue a day which saw all three matches go Over, including a match where a team (France) came from losing at half-time to winning at full-time in a Euros knock-out game - something not achieved since the first ever knock-out game on July 6th, 1960.

Coincidentally, that game was also in France and also involved France, who led Yugoslavia 2:1 at half-time before losing 4:5. They actually led 4:2 with 15 minutes left before Yugoslavia scored three goals in four minutes.

Since that first knock-out game, 64 more have been played, with just six teams trailing at half-time coming back to advance - three after extra-time, two on penalties, and one via the golden goal.

France become the only team to have come from losing at half-time to advancing twice, the others accomplishing this are Yugoslavia, Soviet Union, Italy, West Germany, Spain and Portugal.

On the losing side are Yugoslavia (3 times), plus France, Denmark, Portugal, England and now the Republic of Ireland.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

BLUnders Wrap Up 2015

Now that the 2015-16 NBA season is over, we can take a look at the final BLUnders numbers. For the fifth consecutive season, the system returned a profit, albeit lower than the previous four seasons.

Most qualifying matches are, as might be expected, home games, but on the rare occasions (less rare over the past two seasons) when it is the Away team favoured, the results are:
The second system I play alongside the BLUnders mentioned previously meant that the combined totals for the season ended up as below:
Not the sexiest of profits perhaps, but as I have said before, their value lies in the churn volume and the ease with which selections are determined. Roll on NBA 2016, where Luke Walton might find wins a little harder to come by in his new position.

Euro Expansion - And Contraction

Since the Euros expanded to 16 teams in 1996, now up to 24 of course, the 38 knock-out stage games have gone Under 2.5 goals 26 times (implied odds 1.46). Fewer goals means more draws, and 18 matches have ended even (2.11) with eleven have been 'perfect draws' at 0:0 (3.45) and seven have finished 1:1 (5.43). 21 matches (1.81) have been 0:0 at half-time.

Being aware of such statistics certainly eased the pain of watching the Wales v Northern Ireland and Portugal v Croatia games yesterday. I know 0:0 draws are not everyone's cup of tea, but I rather like them. I can tell you that with a little money on one or more of the above outcomes, your whole perspective on the game changes.
The table above includes the 23 all Euro match-ups in World Cup knock-out games over the same time-frame. Arguably perhaps I should have only included match-ups on European soil, so I have broken those out in case anyone is interested.

** A couple of comments on my previous post have been removed at the commenter's request, and this is an updated post. We all say things that we sometimes regret, and many people vote one way and instantly regret it afterwards, which brings me to the EU Brexit referendum result.

I can't say I am delighted at the result. Quite the opposite in fact. I think it's a disaster for the United Kingdom, although there might not be much of that left after Scotland depart (and who can blame them) and the case for a united Ireland becomes more of an issue once again. Referenda are terrible ideas, and this is what happens when you let average people vote. As Sir Winston Chuchill said:
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
The average voter (embarrassingly including my old parents) apparently believed the lies of the Leave campaign, the £350 million a week to the NHS (oh, that was a mistake we heard the day after the vote), the reduction of immigration into the tens of thousands (oh, we never said that) and so it goes on. Add in the large numbers of people calling the electoral commission to change their "protest" votes because "I didn't think we'd really be leaving" and you can see why giving people votes that actually count, is not a good idea.
Oops - Mistake. Sorry About That
Still, the last time nationalism was on the rise in Europe back in the 1930s, and austerity policies were in place, everything turned out OK - didn't it? An increase in overt racism has already been reported in the UK.

Fortunately, the referendum isn't legally binding, so write to your MP and tell them we want another one! There's a precedent - the Irish referendum to ratify the Lisbon treaty failed in 2008, but passed with a big majority the following year. And yes, I'm aware that Cameron (who could well go down in history as the man who destroyed not only the EU but also the UK - what a legacy!) said there would not be a second referendum, but he's lied before (quite often in fact) and this is far too consequential an issue to be decided by people who don't have many years to live with the consequences. Votes should be weighted for age - if old people are allowed to vote at all. If under 18s can't vote, I think there's a good case for not allowing over 70s to vote either. And not to say I told you so, but, well, I did warn against Cameron more than six years ago. Does no one read this blog? It sometimes feels like the Daily Mail has more readers!

Friday, 24 June 2016

Cod Peace

If we exclude the meaningless friendlies, as we should, of 1982 (1:1) and 2004 (6:1 to England), we are left with just three relatively recent contests between England and Iceland which those of a certain vintage may recall.

Iceland went with a simple 2 – 4 formation (two large and four small patrol vessels) in the First Cod War of 1958 to 1961, while England (OK, technically the UK) went with a rather more complicated 17 – 19 – 1 – 1 – 10 formation (17 destroyers, 19 frigates, 1 fast minelayer, 1 minesweeper and 10 Royal Fleet Auxiliary supply vessels). The outcome was a victory for Iceland; England were smited as Reykjavík Grapevine ‏( @rvkgrapevine ) might say.

The Second Cod War (1972-1973) saw Iceland switch to a 3 – 2 – 1 formation. It would appear that they combined two of their small patrol vessels into one large one - which is riveting stuff. A one armed whaler was added to the team, although whether this was a whaler with one arm (Captain Boomer perhaps?) or a whaling ship armed with a solitary gun, is unclear. I suspect the latter, since Boomer lost his right arm to Moby Dick in a novel written over a hundred years previously.

CW2 saw England made drastic changes, setting a record that held until Roy Hodgson’s team selection for the recent Slovakia game. The 17 destroyers from the First Cod War were reduced to just one, while the 19 frigates were increased to 30. The number of RFA supply vessels stayed about the same at 11, but dropped after receiving just the one cap each, were the fast minelayer and the minesweeper. I’m not terribly surprised. Is it just me who finds it a bit odd that one ship would be laying mines while the second one would be following along behind, sweeping them up? There may well be a good reason, but it’s not obvious to me, although I should clarify that my naval commanding experience is somewhat limited. Anyway, fearing this new formation left the Royal Navy a little open at the back, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food chipped in with 5 defence tugs. That was very nice of them, but again the result was an Icelandic victory, and another smiting.

The Third Cod War (1975-1976) again saw Iceland make minor changes, going with a of 4 – 2 – 2 formation (four large patrol vessels, two small patrol vessels and two armed trawlers, while the Royal Navy dropped the destroyers completely, going with a paltry 22 frigates and 7 RFA supply vessels. Once again the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food helped out at the back by providing 6 defence tugs, but the ‘net’ (pun intended) outcome of all this tinkering was yet another Icelandic victory and a third smiting.

So Iceland does have some form, winning all three encounters despite being seriously, and literally, out-gunned. Interesting to note that subs were not used in any of the three previous contests, but I expect that to change on Monday.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

D E F Advantage

There have only been four major finals tournaments with 24 teams competing, which were the World Cups of 1982 to 1994.

In 1982 the format was six groups of four, with the top two in each qualifying for a second group stage comprised of four groups of three, with the winners making the semi-final. It was all rather unsatisfactory, with the so-called “Disgrace of Gijón” at the forefront, the event which resulted in the final two games in each group subsequently being played simultaneously. 


Also unsatisfactory was the three-team Second Round group format, with one team by necessity completing its schedule before the other two teams played each other. Not surprisingly, this format has never been used again. England were eliminated without losing and conceding just one goal, as were Cameroon.

The 1986, 1990 and 1994 World Cups featured the six four-team group format with the four best third-placed teams joining the top two from each group in a round of sixteen. One problem with this format is that it favours the later groups who have the advantage of knowing what the records are of the earlier groups’ third-placed teams. Groups D, E and F have seen their third place teams advance eight times out of a possible nine, (Groups E and F have a 100% record), while the earlier Groups A, B and C have seen third-place advancement just four times from nine.

Interestingly, two of the third-placed teams in these events went on to reach the Final – Argentina in 1990 and Italy in 1994. Belgium reached the semi-final as a third-placed team in 1986. The other nine advancers all lost in the Round of 16.

With Euro 2016 following the same format, in Group E Belgium know that a draw will suffice versus Sweden, while the Swedes and Republic of Ireland (v Italy) know they need to win.

In Group F, Iceland and Portugal both know that draws today will see them advance, while Austria have to win against Iceland to progress.

It certainly looks like the knock-out phase will see two halves that are anything but equal. The bottom half looks far stronger, with five of the top six seeded teams plus host already there - Germany (seeded 1), Spain (2), England (3), Portugal (4), Belgium (5), Italy (6) plus hosts France. Portugal and Belgium are yet to have their position in the next phase decided.

Winning Group F would be well worth Hungary's efforts. 

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

On The Spot

In my haste to finish the last post, I rather rushed the penalty kick observation from Peter Webb, notably as someone kindly pointed out, that all penalty kicks are not equal. In the same way that Peter erred by including an opening match that was an elimination game with opening matches that were group games, his analysis of penalty shoot-outs is flawed. Peter wrote:
According to data I’ve collected over the years there is an 84.62% chance of scoring a penalty. (Sample taken from 1794 penalties taken in the Premier League). Forgoing complexity, you would expect the chance of winning a penalty shoot out to be fairly random at that scoring rate. However England’s record is way below 50% waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay below.
It should be clear that a penalty kick in a Premier League game is not the same as a penalty kick in a major tournament penalty shoot out. Not only do penalty shoot-outs force second and third choice players to take kicks, and sometimes fourth, fifth and more, but the pressure is ratcheted up enormously. Even penalties in the Premier League are not equal. Compare a first minute penalty at home for a top team versus a lower team with a 94th minute penalty in a drawn game in which a win keeps the team up / qualifies them for the Champions league / wins the Premier League. There's not too much pressure on the penalty taker when their side is 5:0 up etc.

In World Cup and Euro shoot-outs, I have the strike rate at 73.2% (271 scored from 370 kicks). Not surprising that percentage is considerably lower than that of Peter's Premier League sample. We're comparing apples and oranges here. Also worth noting is that (since 1998) the pre-match favourites have won 78.5% of World Cup shoot-outs, while the team shooting first has won 57.7%.

The country that has taken the most shoot-out penalty kicks is, as you might have guessed, England, who have converted 23 of their 35 winning just once (v Spain).

England and Italy are pretty close in terms of strike rate, with the Azzurri just ahead with 22 out off 33, but they have managed to win 3 of their 7 shoot-outs, while England have lost 6.

Germany, as you might have guessed, have the highest percentage for countries taking more than ten penalties, with 23 of 24 being scored, while England are the worst.

Of all teams, 100% scoring records are owned by the Czech Republic, Belgium, Paraguay, South Korea and Turkey, while Switzerland have a 0% record missing all three attempts - but their flag is a big plus...