Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Stoking The Fire

First item on the agenda is an apology to Peter Nordsted, and his Drawmaster followers, for my publication of this weekend's selections on Saturday morning. I was under the wrong impression that these were published on goal.com and were freely available, but Peter has advised that they are in fact paid for by subscription, so I apologise for this error. As it happened, it wasn't the best of weekends for last week's FTL leaders, with one winner from seven selections.

As Peter, and no doubt others, noticed from my Portfolio Strategy post, a couple of entrants were on Stoke City to win at Manchester City which has seen them soar up the FTL table. The lucky (or shrewd) entries were Fulltimebettingblog and BettingTools.co.uk - basically if your entry was a website name, you had a winner! As Geoff said in his email with the selection:

Stoke to beat Man City (and if that one comes in I’m sure the odds will be long enough to put me top of the table!)
That would certainly have been the case if Geoff hadn't selected Newcastle United to beat Crystal Palace in what many pundits were describing as the battle to join the Super Seven and form an Elite Eight. Zaha's late (first of many in the EPL) goal bought joy to most of us, but despair to not only Geoff, but also a few others as well and none more so than Marc Owen Banks who saw his four team Home win accumulator come unstuck because of this result (although Villa didn't win until Sunday). He had NEWCASTLE, ASTON VILLA, MILLWALL, MK DONS, an acca that "would" have paid 12.54 had it come in.

Marc had a comment on the accumulator versus singles debate:
I will jump in on the accumulator debate here - As the representative of @ValueBankFooty
It is not easy, nor fair on you Cassini, for me to throw over the full Valuebank ratings, which do actually rate every single game in the four English divisions - The time for you to go through them would be ridiculous - This may even work against me as the full ratings are proving profitable - For instance, this weekend, with four games to go, there is a 5pt profit to single point level stakes in backing every prediction!
Valuebank is about every game, but my entry is my interference of those ratings in trying to pick out the wheat from the chaff; so far not so good.
But also, the quench the thirst of a big win for my followers on Twitter I try to pull, Home and away accas, a weekly Jackpot and some other bits and pieces.
Back to the acca, I am indeed one entrant who is making acca predictions, albeit not ridiculous ones - and can guarantee that should one land, I will not shut up acca shop and concentrate on defending a lead (should it gain one) as that is not what I am about,(as anonymous would attest to I am sure!) albeit not against the rules. Really my aim is to prove that you CAN play accas and make use of the value in the prices within to BEAT the increased over-round by actually taking advantage of the value in a price, not once but twice,three or more times by having that value in an acca. Indeed, in my first week, prior to joining FTL, I landed a 30/1 away win treble, which is almost sufficient to keep that particular angle going for most of the season. I was unaware of FTL at that time which might be just as well,as to land one that early could have caused some ruptions!
In fact, anonymous introduced me to the FTL and may even have been thinking that my tactic was good enough to ensure another £50 dropped in the pot to his advantage at the end of the competition (Cheeky anonymous!)
So that's my take on the accas, never ridiculously speculative 3 figure to one odds or anything and something I will employ season long, whilst trying to slowly build from selected valuebank ratings predictions.
It's been fun thus far,and whilst I may have missed the away treble that I will get for the season, watch out, I've still to hit the home win acca yet!
All the best
I must say I am happy that I'm not being asked to sum up profits and losses from 46 games each week, and as mentioned earlier, Marc came within a whisker of hitting the home win acca this weekend. At 12.54, it would still have been a little short of the 17.95 that Stoke City were to win as a single. As one might expect, that result shook things up at the top of the table, and the current FTL looks like this:
Ten entrants have still to make a selection, although I imagine most will be in action after this upcoming international weekend. As always, if you see anything wrong with your numbers, let me know. I found a couple of errors including with my own XX Draws / Unders but I believe everything is now correct.

Although Drawmaster had a disappointing weekend, they are still in profit , as are Draw Picks who opened with two losing weeks, but have found 9 draws from the last 19 for a 13.02 point profit over the last two weeks. Draws are certainly back in the top leagues so far this season - 38 in 118 matches (32.2%) while Home wins are down - a trend I mentioned that I expected to continue in my Betting Expert article here.

Also in that article, and if you haven't read it, there's some interesting things in there, is this table on the rise of away wins in the English top division over the years:
Home wins across the top five leagues are currently below 40% this season. It won't last, and neither will the 50% draw strike rate in Germany! A number of matches that would have previously been official XX Draw Selections have been dropped this season - matches involving newly promoted teams are unofficial mentions until 2015 while selections in France at sub 3.15 are also no longer official selections. Backing the draw at such short prices is not profitable as I may have mentioned before. 
Backing selections at 3.15 and over would have made +8.80 points using Pinnacle Sports' prices, while backing draws priced under 3.15 lost us 13.78 points.

I will also not be including newly promoted teams as official draw selections until the second half of the season, i.e. January 2015. Last season these selections were profitable from January (a whopping 0.82 points) but they lost 26.16 points prior to that. I will still track them and include them each week, but they will not be Official.
Early days still, but omitting newly promoted teams has actually cost 2.71 points this season. 0.91 points on the Draws and 1.80 on the Unders, while omitting Ligue 1 draws priced by Pinnacle at sub 3.15 has saved 5.26 points (5 on the Draws, 0.26 on the Unders).

Saturday, 30 August 2014

FTL Porfolio Strategy

Skeeve asked via a comment on this post

What do you think about Steve’s strategy for the Friendly Tipster League?If his strategy isn’t against the rules, can the rest of us use other tipsters/systems’ selections as well? 
Steve's proposed strategy was outlined in his post here, but the key section was this:
So what’s my strategy? Well as I have mentioned copious times before on this blog, I couldn’t pick a winner if it smashed me across the face. But I am more then happy to pay other people to do the hard work for me. I pay a few tipsters that have bets in the same league, we know how well multiple bets did for me last season, but what I will be doing is selecting bets if TFA, Winabob, FB investor, or FB Elite agree. I think if 3 of them have chosen the same bet then that’s a pretty good indicator. A friend (Edwin) did some analysis using WIN,TFA and FBI last season and these bets produced a 13% ROI.
I wish the other entrants luck as they vie for second place.
Love the confidence. Steve’s strategy isn’t against the rules. It would be impossible to enforce a rule that disallowed selections from other tipsters or systems, simply because I have no idea where selections are coming from. Well, I might have an idea – UK_TFA makes no secret of the fact that his selections will be based on Graeme’s TFA selections, but Graeme has no problem with this, actively encouraging the entry name to be UK_TFA.

I noticed last season that while the EPL was the primary source of selections, it wouldn’t be unusual for some seeming random match from elsewhere to feature in more than one entry. Whether this was because two people independently identified value or because one was using a selection from someone else is hard to tell.

It sounds like Steve is planning to put together a portfolio based on the best of the best, and it will be interesting to see how this works out. It sounds good in theory, but in practice nothing is guaranteed.

One only needs to revisit last season to see how following the big names is no guarantee of success. Skeeve did very nicely (if you stayed away from his accumulators), Cassini overall was basically a wash, but a modified Football Elite struggled, and Peter Nordsted’s Premier Betting dropped 42.66 points.

Assuming that each individual service has a long-term positive EV, and that selections are diverse, one of the advantages of combining them into one portfolio is that short-term lows (and highs) are smoothed out. Unfortunately the initial assumption isn’t always correct. Success in the past is no guarantee of future success, and one rotten egg in your portfolio can soon spoil your omelette.

The best performing entry last season showed an ROI of 20.47% but Steve's 13% would have comfortable secured third place last season.
Stewboss added:
I was thinking the same thing as Skeeve. We could get mugged by our own subscribers!
Another week or so, and we'll find out if this is likely to be a problem for the bounty boys!

On the topic of accumulators, Marty commented on my post on the subject:
Doesn't this over-round argument miss the point that if you have an edge, then this increases by more than the over-round, so betting multiples can be a very effective way to generate EV.
This is true, but the 'if' is a big one. Accumulators are a fun way for a casual punter to shoot for a 'lottery' type win, but there's a reason most serious bettors generally avoid them, or at least much past four or five-folds. Admittedly it was a small sample, but Skeeve last season showed how big a difference betting in just doubles and trebles rather than singles, can make.  Steve M also mentioned the poor outcome of multiple bets in the excerpt at the start of this post. (I hope he meant 'multiple' as in accumulator rather than as 'many'). 
The problem unfortunately, is that probability is very simple – the more links you have in a chain, the more places it can break. 

S Club 7 And Clive Dunn

The Wisdom of the Crowd last week gave us just three winners from the 10 EPL matches, and a 1.54 point loss at Pinnacle Sports' prices. Two draws, Everton v Arsenal and Hull City v Stoke City, and Manchester City's Monday night win were the only winners if backing the most popular crowd choice in each game. The Hull v Stoke draw price with Pinnacle was a rather low 3.18, exactly the same as for this fixture one year ago which finished 0:0. Not much has changed since December apparently.

Here's the table for this week's games:

Only two Home teams are reckoned to represent value, Newcastle United v Neil Warnock's Crystal Palace in a mid-table clash and the Everton v Chelsea.

There has been some discussion this week on what to name the top seven clubs in England, a group that seem to be rather boringly cemented unfortunately, and the other 13. Super Seven or Superior Seven were suggested, although I liked the proposed shortened version of S Club 7. A little catchier than any of the latter's songs. Threatened Thirteen had a nice ring about it too.

FTL leader Drawmaster (Peter Nordsted +5.47) is going for the following draws this weekend in his bid to extend his lead:
And finally, congratulations to FTL sponsor Graeme (TFA), who now has another mouth to feed after giving birth to a 9lb girl this week.

Steve (Daily 25) M is also expecting, which all makes me feel rather old as the next baby in the Cassini line (due early November) will make me either a granddad or a grandma - not sure yet, as the gender is going to be a surprise.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Friendly Banter

Scott forwarded me a link to an article in The Telegraph regarding the text messages of Malky Mackay and Iain Moody. You can read it here, but crux of it is that the writer, Brendan O’Neill, was critical of the fact that the two men are being publicly judged on comments made in ‘private conversations’.

His opening paragraph sets the tone:

Last week, two men in the world of football lost their jobs and suffered widespread public ridicule for things they said in private conversations. I can’t be the only person who finds this outrageous. I don’t particularly care what was in Malky Mackay and Iain Moody’s text messages; I care about the Enlightenment-era principle that, in the words of the great 17th century jurist Edward Coke, “No man shall be examined upon the secret thoughts of his heart, or of his secret opinion”. In other words, we should never be punished in public for what we think or say or believe in private. That principle, that central ideal of civilised society, has now been breached, and we should be very worried that this has happened.
O’Neill’s logic goes astray when he confuses secret with private, and his "in other words" is incorrect. They are not the same, and much of what follows is based on his failure to understand this. A secret opinion is just that, a secret. Once you express that opinion to someone else, it is no longer a secret, and in expressing that opinion, you will be judged by whomever you reveal that opinion to and if you reveal your opinions via technology or by social media, you risk the whole world knowing.

Now for most of us, that doesn’t present a problem as the world is not interested in what we think, but Mackay, and to a lesser extent Moody, are public personalities. The fact that their text messages were examined in the first place may be because they were sent on devices owned and paid for by their employers, Cardiff City FC. On the very rare occasion that I use my employer’s equipment or network for personal use, it is with no expectation of privacy. It’s part of the agreement. Even if they were sent on privately owned equipment, no one with an ounce of intelligence should consider their texts private. Phones get hacked, and messages are usually stored long after they are "deleted".

Unfortunately, Mr. O’Neill has a history of trivialising racism in football.
He considers efforts to combat racism in football to be "a class war" driven by "elites' utter incomprehension of the mass passions that get aired at football matches”. Referring to high-profile cases of racial abuse and alleged racial abuse, he argued, "these incidents and alleged incidents are not racism at all, in the true meaning of the word", due to the levels of passion involved, describing anti-racism efforts as "a pretty poisonous desire to police the ... working classes"
Presumably Mr. O’Neill subscribes to the point of view that this is all just ‘friendly text message banter’, a position adopted by the League Managers Association in their initial statement (later modified) which did nothing to dispel concerns that racism is not something it takes seriously.

I disagree with this position, and think that the topic is all the more relevant given the racial diversity of football these days. It’s not an abstract or hypothetical issue - Mackay and Moody work, or worked, in an industry with many people from different races and cultures on a daily basis. Once you make your true views known, whether intentionally or not, it makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for you to work with those you have insulted or expressed a prejudice against.
It emerged that Palace had given Moody time off following the raid on his home and that players at the club had been aware of allegations about him for some time.
Henry Winter wrote a far more intelligent piece on this topic which far more closely resembles my own opinion.

Incidentally, Mr. O’Neill is also on record as being opposed to same-sex marriage. Why the right for two people to marry bothers him is another issue, and while his “article” doesn’t give his opinion on the homophobic text messages that were reported, which may have been intentional, it wouldn’t be an unreasonable inference that he has no problem with those texts either.

What a nice boy Brendan O’Neill appears to be. What was that Henry Winter said about 'bumbling dinosaurs"? 

"Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts" [Proverbs 4:23]

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Threat Of The Big One

Still eleven entries yet to wet their feet, but the table is starting to take shape with no less than 12 entries in profit right now, and all separated by less than 5 points. A great improvement on last weeks total of two in profit. Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster now leads the way, followed by Draw Picks. Peter found four winners from seven selections, while Draw Picks found five from nine. The XX Draws found a mere three from ten for a meagre profit, but eight unders moved the XX Unders into profit.

I received an email from one entrant, I'll keep it anonymous as it came by email rather than a comment, with the subject FTL Accumulators:
A quick thought and concern regarding the above.

By allowing these it is possible for somebody to hit a "big one" and then sit back all season just picking a few singles each week.

It goes completely against the discipline that I have maintained for many years now by not getting involved in lining the bookmakers bottom line by backing accumulators and I feel that there is no place for it in such a prestigious league such as the FTL.

Just my thoughts of course but I remain concerned...............
I do understand the concern, and share the writer's opinion on accumulators myself. As I wrote last season when only one odds-on favourite out of 19 in the top four English leagues failed to win:
The mathematical fact is that on 110% over-round markets, the over-round on an eight-fold accumulator grows to 214.4%. [Fixed Odds Sports Betting by Joseph Buchdahl]
Most people in the FTL understand this, or should do, and the accumulators that have been submitted have been few and far between, and gentle in nature. The biggest was a five-fold that was all odds-on home teams that, had it hit, wouldn't have been that much bigger (20.54) a payout than Leicester City were to win at Chelsea (17.7) on Saturday.  

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Wisdom Of The FTL Crowd

With only two of 33 (yes, 33, more on that later) FTL entrants currently in profit, it might be a good idea not to go too mad on the table below, but it summarises the opinions of the entrants as to where the value lies this weekend in the EPL.

Note I wrote "where the value lies", which is quite different from predicting who will win. For example, most people are avoiding Chelsea v Leicester City this weekend, but the two who are playing both see the value on the Away team. Not much interest in Tottenham Hotspur v Queens Park Rangers either.

The match with the most interest is the Southampton v West Bromwich Albion game where eight people have found value, but not all on the same outcome.

As for the 33, this came about because the final two both entered on the same day, and the one that was 33rd to show interest (Betcast) was the 32nd to pay, and offered a sponsorship. The 32nd to show interest (Gecko) paid soon after, so I will be recording one more set of results than planned. Not a big deal, and the total guaranteed prize fund closes at £2,250. The other adjustment I need to make with 33 entries is that whoever is in 33rd (i.e) last place after the selection weekend of September 20th will miss out on a place in the Erskine Cup. I hope it's not Ian Erskine!

Entries from 21 of the 33 this weekend, so the pace is picking up.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Exit Stock Pickers

It seems longer ago than a mere two months, but time flies when there's a World Cup. Back in June, I wrote about my long-term financial investing philosophy of investing in a bunch of low-cost index funds rather than try to pick higher cost managed funds or even individual stocks. For the record, I do have some individual stocks, but most of my investments are in index tracking funds.

Emp disagreed at the time, but it seems I am not alone. After Warren Buffett wrote earlier this year that he had advised his trustee to "put 10% of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90% in a very low-cost S&P 500 index fund. (I suggest Vanguard's.)", investors poured $5.5 billion into the Vanguard fund over the next five months, "or about three times more than during the same period the previous year".

An article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal is worth reading.
The public during this bull market are overwhelmingly favouring low-cost, index-tracking mutual funds rather than those that try to beat the market averages.
The company [Vanguard] is a pioneer in the accelerating shift toward so-called passively managed products like index funds and exchange-traded funds that track baskets of stocks or other assets. These funds typically promise diversification and are relatively inexpensive compared to traditional mutual funds.
It is "a trend that I see continuing on, probably forever," said David Barse, chief executive officer at New York-based Third Avenue Management, which manages $13.5 billion. He said the challenge for active managers, like his firm, is to identify overlooked investments that don't merely track the broad market.
But he acknowledged that is increasingly a tougher sell, particularly to retail investors.
While investors hang on every word that the Sage of Omaha comes out with, it would have been nice for the WSJ to have given this blog a mention.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Betcast, Late But Worth The Wait

The FTL is now full - 32 entries, and a total guaranteed prize fund of £2,200, a total boosted by a £200 sponsorship from #32 - Betcast.

Another Australian based entrant, David runs bettingwebsites.org and has a number of trading Betcast Podcasts which you should all check out immediately.

The prize money will be split as follows: League £1,600, Erskine Cup £400 and Betcast Monthly Prizes £200. This works out rather neatly so that the two sponsors who donated money up front get name recognition on their respective sub-competitions, while the league is comprised of the entry fees plus the possibility (probability?) of at least some bounty payments being added.

The Bounty Boys, lest we forget, are:

All will be paying out £25 to every entrant finishing ahead of them (up to a cap of £500).

The first monthly prize (of £25) will be for the table leader at the end of September, by which time the Erskine Cup will be in progress. With 32 entries, some of you may have guessed that the format will be the same as that used for the FIFA World Cup. I could have made it a straight knock-out tournament, but this way seemed like a fun idea.

Eight groups of four will see entrants play at least three 'matches' against another, with the top two in each advancing to a knock-out phase. With £400 to play for, the winner will get £150, the runner-up £75, losing semi-finalists £37.50 and losing quarter-finalists £25. With the cup and monthly prizes to compete for, the hope is that interest is maintained, as even someone out of the running for a league prize can always get lucky on a weekend or a month.

The Erskine Cup schedule will be:

September 27th, Group Stage Match 1
November 1st, Group Stage Match 2
November 29th, Group stage Match 3
January 31st, Round of 16
February 28th, Quarter-Finals
March 21st, Semi-Finals
April 25th - Final

The date refers to the Saturday of the weekend, but entries from all four days will make up the round. For the group phase, the winner will get three points, and the winner will be the more successful (or least unsuccessful) of the match up. In the event of a draw, one point each. 

The 'draw' will be seeded, with positions based on the FTL table as it stands after the weekend of September 20th. And I don't want to see anyone tanking to give themselves an easier draw!
Skeeve's Croatia Football Bets had another winner, and were they eligible, would be running away with the FTL already:

Three more selections in-play tonight, but that ROI is looking impressive.

On a completely different topic, the Crystal Palace manager saga, I am seeing Cardiff city owner Vincent Tan in a whole new light. Like most outsiders at the time, I felt that Malky Mackay was rather hard done by, but check out this video where he hints at some problems when Malky's transfer dealings, and also gets in a dig that in his two years at Watford, Mackay didn't do too well. The incredibly stupid text messages that he and Iain Moody are accused of exchanging should make it very hard for either of them to work at a top football club again. They sound like two immature schoolboys from a century ago, and I think Palace had a lucky 1.01 escape. The video also reinforces my opinion that, regardless of who the manager is, the owners or board need to monitor what is going on with spending, one reason reportedly why Steve Parish quite rightly refused to give in to Pulis' demands.

Of course, that Pulis had already been tapped up for the West Ham United manager's job, and was looking for an excuse to walk, is just pure speculation.

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