Friday, 16 February 2018

NBA Systems Half-Time Report

With the NBA idle this weekend for their All-Star weekend, it's a good time to look at how the current season is playing out. 

Some of you will recall that back in September, I made a case for backing the Overs on games where the total was set at 215.5 or higher, a system I named The Beast. How many of you took action on this I don't know, but you missed out if you didn't.

I predicted a very manageable average of around two bets a day, and the 264 selections to date is very close to that number, and the results so far are very good:

The higher totals are even more profitable, for example 219.5 and higher has a similar P and L but from just 57% of the bets:
Although the BLUnders system lost money last season for the first time since 2010, I've been excluding the high total games (over 215) resulting in just 25 selections so far this season, and only one in the entire month of January, but the 9.3% ROI so far is a good reward for patience. 

Friday, 9 February 2018


Another disappointing day in the markets yesterday, as the markets move into 'correction' territory, my draw-down moves into six figures and my decision not to apply for early retirement is looking fortunate, if not prescient.   
As I said in my last post, perspective is important, and overall I'm back where I was at the end of November, which doesn't seem so bad. As Winston Churchill said:
The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see.
This tweet from a couple of days was rather bizarre:  
The sooner the market realises it is making a big mistake, the better! The trouble is, this is not how markets work. My Economics A Level was a few years ago now, but markets have never been so simplistic.

Before my last trip, I was looking at the EPL Draw, with games between the "Big 6" of particular interest after David Sumpter's observations that the:
"Draw in these big matches is value if greater than 3.2ish"
Previous posts have shown that using Pinnacle Sports closing prices, backing the Draw in matches featuring two Big 6 teams is profitable across the board.

Broken down by a number of parameters, here are the results for all qualifying matches, for Big 6 matches, for non-Big 6 matches, for a Big 6 team versus a non-Big-6 team, and for "Little 14" matches:
The edge for the Draw in Big 6 contests is clearly bigger than in other matches, (only one category sees the Big 6 returns beaten, albeit in a low sample size category) but there are some clear trends which apply to all matches.

It's unfortunate that there are only 30 Big 6 matches a season, but there are another 350 each year where the Draw still offers potential value.

Clearly it's not a smart strategy to blindly back the Draw in matches where just one of the teams is a Big 6 team for example, but certain matches between Little 14 teams show a positive ROI from a few hundred matches.

The premise that in matches between 'relatively' closely matched teams, the market underestimates the draw, appears to be backed by the evidence, at least in the EPL.     

There's one Big 6 match this weekend, Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal, with Spurs currently at 1.952 with Pinnacle, and a 'true' price of 1.98 (currently 2.0 is available on the exchanges). 

Previous Big 6 matches where the win probabilities are approximately the same as this game show a profit from backing the draw of 3.84 points from seven matches:
For all matches of a similar profile, the profit is 21.31 points from 111 matches, an ROI of 19.2%.    

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Fear Index

A little under a year ago, I wrote about the Vix trader nicknamed '50 cents' who was obsessively buying call options priced 50 cents. With barely a blip over the past year, 

the bets have been steady losers, although they were likely a hedge, but out of nowhere at the end of last week they would have been very profitable. Here's the five day chart:
After a year of trading below 20, the Vix traded at over 50 yesterday before closing at just under 30.

Who the trader worked for was revealed in May last year and this Business Insider article from last August was published after a $21 million profitable day, although not a win that made much of a dent in the estimated $150 million lost prior to that in 2017.

Personally speaking, Cassini's spreadsheet has struggled this week, with a single worst ever daily decline, a record that will hopefully last for a very long time, but with the US markets finishing strongly yesterday, I'm hoping for a big day today, although the Nikkei 225 has faded after a strong start. It always helps to maintain perspective after a market correction, and going back over the past seven years, the markets have been kind:

The biggest pull-back came in the August 2015 to February 2016 period, but after taking another six months to recover, it's been onward and upward ever since. I've talked about the benefits of buy and hold before, and an interesting tidbit on Twitter was this one from last month, which came via the excellent @bespokeinvest account: 
Traders closing out their positions every night are missing out! SPY is the exchange traded fund (ETF) designed to track the S&P 500 stock market index. It would be interesting to see the numbers for this strategy for other indexes.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

BP3 And PC3

I'm back from another (almost) two weeks of travel, which included just the one speeding ticket, and a few tweets caught my eye while I was on the road. 

One was from Betfair Pro Trader @Betfairprotrade who wrote:

Unfortunately I may be missing out on the fun, since a click on the link brings up a message that "This blog is open to invited readers only" and "It doesn't look like you have been invited to read this blog. If you think that this is a mistake, you might want to contact the blog author and request an invitation."

I'll let the reader ponder why someone might start a blog and then restrict who can read it, and point them to this post from August 2016.

If the premise of the new blog is that the writer is currently a highly paid, globe-trotting, CEO but that "in exactly x weeks from now I will resign from my job and start a new life working for myself" - well, it's déjà vu.

Also complete nonsense. No actual CEO would contemplate for a moment giving up his, by definition successful, career for full-time sports trading. If this is Big Pairs again, this is at least the third time he has tried this pitch.

In addition to Betfair Pro Trade's mention, @LESSismore44 (only the essentials) bought this blog to my attention, and after responding that it was locked, added that:
At the risk of tiring you out before the Superbowl tonight, again I'll let the reader ponder why someone might lock a blog and restrict who can read it as soon as it garners some interest? Not someone with nothing to hide would be my guess.

The Big Pairs leopard needs to change his spots next time, or at least substitute "CEO" with something more realistic - unless it stands for "Cleaning Effluent Outlets".  

There have also been a couple of Betfair Premium Charge related tweets worth looking at. 

The always interesting, and certainly dedicated, @PremiumCharged wrote that:
Betfair Premium Charge is an unfair restriction by a monopoly exchange that penalises past success from over a decade ago
Have your say @GamRegGB consultation … copy in @HbfBritain by email
PremiumCharged also responded to a posting of a video link to last November's Matchbook Traders' Conference, although in typical Webbo style, he manages to get the year wrong!
No one can ever accuse Webbo of worrying about the details. The video is here, and on the topic of the Premium Charge, as PremiumCharged suggests:
My personal take on the reactions is that I suspect Webb is genuine in this regard, and was probably over the £250,000 threshold when the Super Premium Charge was introduced. 

Peter started trading in 2000, so he had a four year head start on me, and I didn't reach the threshold until September 2012. Unfortunately, if memory serves, I was close to £200,000 at the time the limit was announced, and too far down the road to implement strategies that would reduce the impact on crossing the line. 

As Premium Charged rightly states, the:
Betfair Premium Charge is an unfair restriction by a monopoly exchange that penalises past success from over a decade ago
Worth mentioning perhaps that while £250,000 might sound a lot to someone new to Betfair, but over ten years or so, it's a rather more modest amount. If you are full-time, it's an extremely modest amount, and comes with none of the usual benefits of paid holiday, pension, National Insurance, career advancement etc., but instead comes with unsociable and often long hours, and a cut in pay when you've made a certain amount!

As someone who is not interested in tennis, I have no idea about the merits of Dan Weston's claims to pay the Premium Charge, but all the indications (body language and circumstantial) are that it's not a concern for Caan Berry. 

Fortunately for the likes of him (the Badger springs to mind) who make their money from the sales of worthless pamphlets and videos, the Betfair Premium Charges does not apply to those sales. 

The Bodger's claims to avoid the Premium Charge by defying the laws of probability and choosing where his losing bets happen, are simply neither credible nor logical. 

For the third and final time this post, I'll let the reader decide for himself why someone might make such claims.

Finally, another two winners for the EPL Draws today. Not sure what the 'official' Pinny prices will be, but Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur was 4.0 on the exchanges, and for a Big 6 match with neither team odds-on, this was very good value as I'm sure Mr. Sumpter would agree.  

Monday, 22 January 2018

Crisco Cops

A profitable NFL Championship round yesterday, with only the New England Patriots failing to cover the spread v the Jacksonville Jaguars a loser. Unders was a winner continuing the sequence for the Patriots in this round.

In the second game, the Home Philadelphia Eagles made the +3 look silly, winning the game v the Minnesota Vikings by 31 points and an easy win for the Overs.

The Eagles win means another trip for me to that city, for Superbowl LII weekend. 

During a moderate to heavy session in the city of brotherly love last November, I recklessly promised to return should the Eagles make it to the Superbowl. 

I'm a man of my word, so I plan to be there. It should be a great experience, and the Crispo Cops will doubtless be out in force that weekend.

As I already have a work trip starting today until January 31st, it will be a while I'm home for any length of time. My wife will not be happy.

I leave you with some numbers from a system that backs the EPL Draw on a simple weighted scale of 0 to 5 points.

Since the Pinnacle Closing Era, the results of this method are:

I did also go back to the six seasons prior to Pinnacle, and using Bet365 prices and their 105%+ books, this strategy is still profitable. 

Remember that Pinnacle's prices can often be beaten, so these figures represent an 'at least' amount.

The first column shows the percentage of matches resulting in a Draw for each season, while the selections is the number of matches, and the staked column is the amount staked, between 1 and 5, although 5's are rare. Returns by staking level are here:
This past weekend's Draw selections were 3 points on the Everton v West Bromwich Albion game, and a point each on Stoke City v Huddersfield Town and West Ham United v AFC Bournemouth which resulted in a profit of 7.28 points. 

Back in February.  

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Championship Weekend and More on the Draw

The Home team and Overs is the trendy play in the NFL Championship round. From the 2001 season, Home teams are 17-15 ATS (against the spread) while Overs has a 19-12-1 record.

The first game is the AFC's Championship game between the New England Patriots and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The line is currently 7 points, and of the 11 previous Championship games with a spread in the 5 - 9 point range, the home team is 7-4. When New England are hosting the game, the Unders has a 5-1 record, the one Overs being last season's rout of the Pittsburgh Steelers. While this type of team stat is generally useless, it's a little more relevant here given that the head coach (Bill Belichick) has been there since 2000, the same year current quarterback Tom Brady was drafted. 

The second game is the NFC title game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings. The Road Vikings are favourites, giving three points, only the sixth time the road team has been favoured in a Championship game.

In 2016, the Patriots were three point favourites at Denver Broncos and lost the game.

In 2012, the San Francisco 49ers won and covered against the Atlanta Falcons when getting 3.5 points, and in 2010, the Green Bay Packers were also 3.5 point favourites at the Chicago Bears, and both won and covered.

In 2008, the Eagles were 3.5 point favourites to win at the Arizona Cardinals but lost by seven and in 2005, the Patriots were three point favourites in Pittsburgh and won by 14 points.

In the last four seasons, all eight home teams have won, and by some big margins. The average line for the home team has been 4.5 points, while the average margin of victory has been by 17.25 points.

While looking at the numbers this week, I discovered that the Week 18 for Wild Card games, Week 19 for Divisional and Week 20 for Championship wasn't actually the case in the 2001 season, which was extended by a week following the 9/11 attacks. The spreadsheet has been corrected.

I was also corrected by the esteemed Jospeh Buchdahl on my numbers for the EPL Draws for 2013-14 in my post on the EPL Draw last week. The problem was that I had resurrected a spreadsheet that only had results up to February of that season. The numbers by season are tabulated below, although the 2011-12 season was a more exclusive XX-Draws sub-set of the selections from 2012-14. Also worth mentioning that we did not have Pinnacle prices in 2011-12, so I have used those from Bet365. I've also used those for a couple of matches in Serie A where there were also no Pinnacle prices, presumably due to the Dodgy Draw in those games. 

The table shows the XXDraws by league and by season, and for comparison also the results of blindly backing the Draw (not a good idea) and of backing it in matches where neither team is odds-on, which in the EPL at least is a good starting point.

Regarding the numbers for 2013-14, this was a very poor season for Draws across the big leagues: 

Joseph's thoughts on this season were that:
This show that with other European leagues included XX Draws failed to make a profit that year. Does this not illustrate my original point about data dredging?
For me, this is not what "dredging" is about, and in the same way that a managed mutual fund will tend to go down if the indexes go down, and up in an up year, the measure of its worth is how that fund compares with a benchmark.

The benchmark in 2013-14 for Draws performed rather poorly, which isn't surprising given that compared with the previous ten years, Serie A was at its fewest ever, the EPL was at its second fewest ever, one Draw more than in 2005-06, the Bundesliga was also at its second fewest ever, one Draw more than 2010-11, La Liga was at its third fewest ever, and only in Ligue 1 were they close to average, albeit still below average.

There were 47 more draws the following season, a number repeated in 2015-16. 

To me, data dredging is more along the lines of 'discovering' a pattern in data, and trying to back-fit a system for it. For finding value in Draws, there's a logic to it, first mentioned by McGovern, and later expanded upon by David Sumpter. It makes perfect sense logically that closely rated teams should draw more frequently. The trick is whether this is profitable or not, i.e. is the market inefficient here? since Draws by themselves are meaningless. If the percentage of drawn matches shoots up to 50%, and the price in general plunges to odds-on, not a lot of good! 

Joseph's response was that:
It depends how you developed the system. If it was via back-testing a load of data there is always the risk that this is exactly what it is. How did the earlier seasons for the other European leagues perform? Have you got those figures?
There was no back-testing at all. I tried to explain how I stumbled across the draws being (relatively) good value in last week's post. Back testing wasn't even possible because the results were based on constantly changing Elo ratings and goal expectancies.

After the 2013-14 season, I realised that the time necessary to perform the updates each week and determine the selections wasn't worth it. A simple system based on the prices, and the differences between the teams, worked well enough. It works even better if the stakes are additionally weighted by Big 6 as well. 

Incidentally, yesterday's three selections by this basic (exclude odds-ons) method threw up two more winners in the games at Everton and West Ham United, with a loser at Stoke City. 

Joseph also made a comment on Derek McGovern’s book “On Sports Betting …And How To Make It Pay“ which I had mentioned had planted the seed of the idea that the draw might potentially offer value.
Joseph tweeted
It was actually a rather disappointing book which has not aged well as betting has evolved, and as I replied to Joseph, I very much doubt that he is paying Premium Charges to Betfair. We could ask him! He does have an account there, posting on the Forum under the name charwell as recently as Friday. I suspect a lot of self-published authors are better at selling books than they are making actual money. It used to be said that Those Who Can, Do; Those Who Can't, Teach. In the world of betting and trading, it's more along the lines of Those Who Can, Do; Those Who Can't, Sell Books About It.

** 21 January: The table was updated to reflect correct percentages on the All Draws column. Thanks to Joseph Buchdahl for pointing that out.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Beloved Draws and Wives

Prompted by Richard's above reply, I did look at the 0:0 and indeed the number of goals scored in matches sorted by the difference in the teams, using their implied win probabilities. I even threw in the Under 2.5 totals for you all.

The expectation would be that in games between evenly matched teams, there would be fewer goals and a higher frequency of the beloved, or hated, 0:0.

With 2130 games since the Pinnacle Closing Era, one quick way of seeing if this idea has merit is to sort the games by difference into deciles of 213 matches each.

The average number of goals per game is 2.72. By decile, with the first decile between the most closely ranked teams, the numbers are:
The results are as expected, with 45% of the 0:0 scores in the 'closest' 30% of matches. As I cautioned yesterday, without the 0:0 prices, whether this is a profitable strategy or not remains uncertain.

Fifteen 'Big 6' matches (of 168) ended 0:0, ten of those in either October, November or December. 

Marty left a comment on yesterday's post, perhaps thinking I am an LDS member, offering some marital advice:
If you get made redundant please don't forget to spend some of that spare time with your older wife.
Very droll Marty. When you get to my age, there aren't too many women older than me around, and talking of age, and multiple wives, I did like this tweet from legendary financier T Boone Pickens, who was recently in the news for calling it a day for his "energy-focused hedge fund he has run for the last two decades as his health declines". 

I guess at his age, energy starts to run out, but perhaps not his sense of humour. Asked his opinion on cryptocurrency, he replied:
For the record, he's currently on his fifth marriage. He can afford those divorces.