Saturday, 21 July 2018

Reds See Red, Officially

At least one reader has proved me wrong this week on my assertion that 99% of readers simply do not have the discipline to follow some of the strategies outlined here.

Fizzer was all over my MLB strategy of following favourites in their first game back after the All-Star break, although this year was 'officially' a losing one on both the Money Line and Run Line. As mentioned in 2016:
One trend that did hold true again this season was that of favourites doing well in their first games after the break. The rationale for this is that although the better teams are likely to be better represented at the All-Star game, many of those will only put in a less than exhausting cameo performance, while the majority of their players enjoy the break and get some rest which apparently benefits better teams more than worse teams.

These once a year trends are of limited value of course - come next year and 99% of people reading this will have forgotten about it.
At least 1,034 people have read that post, so my 99% estimate should perhaps be 99.9%.

As for the 'officially' reference, I say this because both Fizzer and myself had basically the same outcome this year, which was of a small profit. 

'Officially' the Reds at -110 were the selection at home to the Pirates, but at the time I placed my bets, the Pirates were favourites at -105. 

As I've written before, sometimes these market moves work out for you, and sometimes they don't. Fizzer delved deeper and found that:
Reds opened as favourites, it flip flopped but Reds were favs again at 10:00am but after that Pirates became clear favs.)
Looks like the prices they used, checking some other games, were taken about 10:00am Eastern, so 10 hours before the game.
Yesterday the market turbulence worked out in our favour, with Fizzer writing that while the 'official' record...:
Shows a 2 point loss on the 15 games... my own records showed I made a small 0.3 points profit.
Officially then, the loss was 2.06 points this year, but since 2004 this has been a solid strategy with a close to 20% ROI, so the spreadsheet reminder for 2019 is in place. 

There will always be games like the Reds - Pirates yesterday, where teams qualify at one time in the day, but not at others. Don't worry about it.

Fizzer finished up with this line:
I’m also a big advocate of the EPL draws method you reviewed again this year. Been using that for some time now.
Good to hear. Although the trend is towards fewer Draws (in the first five seasons of the Premier League, 29% of matches ended as Draws, whereas the latest five saw this decrease to just 24.26%), eliminating consistent losers and applying a disciplined approach means that profits can be made for little effort.  

Thursday, 19 July 2018

William Hill

My recent post Draws On The International Stage caught the attention of at least one reader, specifically this sentence here:

William Hill went just 2.7 for the Draw, in a book that was over-round by 112.8%.
The email I received came as something of a surprise:
Good day,

Hope you are well. It’s xxxxxx from William Hill.

First of all, I’d like to thank you for mentioning my company in your post Draws On The International Stage. It means a lot!

I noticed that you hadn’t included details of our brand and was wondering if you would be kind to include a link pointing to our website William Hill, so your visitors would see more information about your reference.

Thanks again for the mention and have a great day!
I suspect that the writer either hadn't read the post, or perhaps hadn't understood that the sentence, while honest (as are all my posts), wan't perhaps the most flattering to the company. I responded, of course: 
Hi xxxxxx –
Thank you for your email – it’s good to know that someone is out there reading my thoughts and comments about sports investing. It can get lonely at times.

My mention of William Hill in the recent post Draws On The International Stage was in connection to the 2006 World Cup Final (Italy v France) match odds market where your company went 2.5 Italy, 2.7 Draw and 2.8 France which works out at an over-round of 112.8%.
This didn’t compare well to Pinnacle’s over-round that day of 103.4% as they offered 2.54 Italy, 2.88 Draw and 3.41 France. Is this a reference you want to be highlighted?

Fortunately the markets are more competitive these days and I am pleased to see that for the 2018 World Cup Final, your company offered a much improved over-round of 104.8%, but this is still more than double that of Pinnacle’s 102.1% and still not as good a deal for punters as Pinnacle were 12 years ago.
And again, whatever selection was desired in the Final, the price was better value with Pinnacle – France were 2.2 compared to your 2.15, the Draw was 3.02 compared to your 3.0 and Croatia were 4.25 compared to your 4.0.
The William Hill over-round on the English Premier League last season also left a lot to be desired, averaging 104.9%. You did beat Ladbrokes who averaged an horrific 106.2%, but Bet365 came in at 103.1%, BetVictor were at 102.8% and Pinnacle at 102.1%.
So in regard to your request that I include a link to William Hill, and provide visitors with more information about my reference to your company, who would benefit from this?
My target audience is the more sophisticated bettor, who understands over-rounds, and the importance of getting the best prices possible when making an investment. These investors are thus also those who find their accounts quickly restricted or closed with ‘soft’ books such as William Hill and thus use Exchanges or ‘sharp’ books.
I’m sure you are aware that ‘soft’ bookmakers operate with high margins - as evidenced above -, and they do not welcome sports traders preferring to target mostly casual and unsophisticated punters and gamblers and encouraging them to use products such as Casinos, Poker, Bingo etc. which of course they can never win at over the long term.

‘Sharp’ bookmakers on the other hand, do not ban or restrict customers, operating on a lower margin, but benefiting from higher turnover. In my opinion, this is the way forward, and why I make frequent references to Pinnacle, using their prices as an achievable, but also often beatable, benchmark.

I’m confident that almost all visitors to my blog have heard of, and are capable of finding, William Hill on the Internet should they be looking for a ‘soft’ book, but have my doubts that this would be in either their interests or in yours.

I look forward to hearing your comments.
Perhaps it's not surprising that, to paraphrase (Arthur) Neville Chamberlain, I have to tell you now that no such response has been received. Should this situation change, I will of course provide an update. Should any readers be in need of a link to William Hill, please let me know and I will provide one.  

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

After The Break

With the brief, but glamorous, World Cup now over and the more mundane MLB season enjoying its annual All-Star break, it's the perfect time to look at how the baseball strategies I've previously discussed are working out this season so far. It may not be as exciting, but with the MLB season running from early Spring to October, the number of opportunities make it potentially far more lucrative overall.

The profitability of backing shorties in MLB noted back in 2015 continues unabated. For the season to date, Money Line and Run Line combined are up 51.00 points in profit.

The Money Line is up 38.00 points, while the Run Line is up 13.00 points. It's interesting to note that the Money Line is the more profitable strategy before the All-Star Break, while the Run Line becomes the preferred option after the All-Star Break. 

From 2012, the Run Line prior to the break is +30.54 points, while after the break is +70.21. The Money Line shows a much smaller advantage before the break.

The Home Improvement strategy is also in profit again this season, Money Line and Run Line combining for 37.23 points in total: 
Historically, this strategy is only profitable after the All-Star Break, but last season it was profitable every single month.

The third and final strategy readers might be following, although I highly doubt it, is the deliciously named T-Bone strategy, but this method is one that sizzles before the All-Star Break rather than after. 

From 2007 to 2017, 76.5% of profits were in the first part of the season.
As previously explained, all returns are calculated using the US method of risking the line to win one unit when playing favourites and risking one unit to win the line when playing dogs.

Monday, 16 July 2018

England, Erskine And Southgate

My old friend Ian Erskine is on his soap box again, offering his views on the World Cup in general and on England's World Cup.

Despite all the hype surrounding England's performance, my thoughts on Twitter, somewhat tongue in cheek were that:

As is often the case, England started this tournament slowly, needing a stoppage time goal to get past Tunisia in a match England were 1.5 to win. The win at 1.23 over Panama was as comfortable as they come, and then there was the almost meaningless match against Belgium in which a loss guaranteed an easier bracket. 

Ian commented that "the Belgium game (only team England played ranked above them and priced shorter than them) was a non-match". To be clear, while Belgium were a shorter price than England to win the World Cup overall, England were clear favourites to beat Belgium in the final group game. Pinnacle's prices were England 2.43, Draw 2.85, Belgium 3.86, the result highlighting the challenges with betting on games where motivation is a factor.

After narrowly getting past a James-less Colombia in the Round of 16, a game we were 2.15 to win in 90 minutes) and arguably getting the "can't win on penalties" monkey off our back might well be the best positive from this tournament, we played a dull, efficient, dare I say boring, German-like performance against Sweden (1.85 to win in 90) to reach the Semi-Final, where we were outplayed by an individually talented, but very average Croatia side. England were 2.33 to win in 90 minutes here.

Is Southgate the manager for England moving forward? I can't see the FA dumping him after what most people view as a successful World Cup, and personally would like to see him given another tournament, but I'm admittedly biased on this given his Crystal Palace links.

However, Ian's assertion that regarding Southgate - "Problem is, he is tactically naive and not a f****** winner" needs to be corrected.

The man has a solid record of being a winner - who can forget Crystal Palace's Championship winning season of 1993-94 with Southgate as captain?

He also, far less importantly I admit, won the League Cup with both Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, and played in an FA Cup Final and a UEFA Cup Final.

He also played for England in the summer tournaments of 1996, 1998 and 2000 although most people will unfortunately remember him for his decisive penalty miss in the 1996 Semi-Final.

Finally, Ian strangely fails to mention Southgate's co-written book "Woody & Nord: A Football Friendship" which won the Sports Book of the Year award for 2004 from the National Sporting Club (now the British Sports Book Awards).

Not a f****** winner!  

Draws On The International Stage

A low-scoring third-place play-off and a high scoring final match were not what was expected based on history, but for those who understand the value of the Draw in knock-out games, World Cup 2018 was another success.

The 'official' profit from the fifteen matches using Pinnacle prices where available was 1.61 points, an ROI of 10.7%, which is completely meaningless given the small sample size of any one individual tournament, but we have now had five World Cups this millennium, a sample size of 75 matches, and the total profit from this strategy is 22.35 points, an ROI of close to 30%.

Only one World Cup, South Africa 2010, showed a loss (-1.99 points), and only one round (the Semi-Finals) shows an overall, but small, loss. With matches never overlapping, the number of consecutive losses is useful to know, and is just four. 

Fortunately, with next next World Cup four years and four months away, the success of a Draw backing strategy in international tournaments isn't just limited to the World Cup.

Euros from 2000 have an ROI of 19.4%, Copa America tournaments from 2007 (I have no price data for prior tournaments) have an ROI of 12.8%, and the three Confederation Cup tournaments from 2009 (again, no price data before that) have an ROI of 56%

Overall, these four tournaments combined have a basic ROI of 22%, 36.52 points from 167 matches, but as other studies of the Draw in 'big' matches have shown, applying a simple filter improves these numbers still further. 

For example, ignore matches where one team has an implied probability greater than .667 and the ROI climbs to over 35%, with 50.12 points from 143 matches.

There are also some matches where the confidence in the edge is much higher - for example when the Draw is priced at 3.0 or shorter, the ROI is 55%. As the image above shows, the true price on the Draw from 2002-2018 was 2.68, but the lowest Draw price with Pinnacle in that time was 2.88 (and a winner too, I might add). William Hill went just 2.7 for the Draw, in a book that was over-round by 112.8%. 

Risking a conservative 4% of the bank on each bet, a 1,000 point bank would now be a 5,377.4 point bank. With the longest losing streak so far not exceeding five, a less conservative 10% stake of the bank (ratcheted) would now be worth 93,682 points, off a peak of 117,103.15 reached with the England v Croatia semi-final.  

It's worth noting that pre-Euro 2008, the over-round averaged 106% and so these returns should be easily beatable. For subsequent tournaments, the over-round is a more reasonable 102%.

Roll on Copa America 2019, by which time 99% of you will have completely forgotten about this post. 

Saturday, 14 July 2018

England Rare Underdogs

Today's match is England's 69th in a World Cup Finals, the outcomes of the previous 68 being as follows:

For the first time in more than sixteen years, a run of 18 matches, England start a World Cup match as underdogs, a little piece of trivia pointed out by @MarkOHaire this morning. Here are the prices (using Pinnacle where available) from England's loss against Brazil in 2002 for Finals matches:
The England v Italy game of 2014 did see Italy as favourites on Betfair at 2.77, with England and the Draw both 2.95, but the average odds from 22 non-exchange bookmakers that day were England 2.5, Draw 3.0 and Italy 3.22.

The other surprise to readers might be the 2010 match against Germany, and here the Austrian based sports-book Interwetten and well known in Germany, had Germany and England joint favourites at 2.7 with the Draw at 2.9, a sure sign that even as late as 2010, local books adjusted for local biases. All other books had England as favourites that day, and had VAR been in place, we might well have won it!  

Friday, 13 July 2018

Collovati Calamity

Just like that, it's not coming home after all, and England have a second match against Belgium in which neither country really cares who wins. Sure, there's an extra $2 million in prize money, but that's not likely to make a difference to how the match is played.

All but the inaugural World Cup has featured this third-place play off, while six Euros played this game before it was abandoned after 1980 when 18 penalties were needed to separate Czechoslovakia from Italy, and tournament organisers were beginning to get concerned that next day's final might have to be delayed.  At sometime around 3:27am, Fulvio Collovati's kick was saved, and the remaining crowd of 37 mostly friends and families of the players, trudged out into the shortest Neapolitan night of the year.

The 24 matches have an average number of goals of exactly 3.5, and consequently only four matches went to Extra-Time, with only the aforementioned 1980 game going to penalties. 10 of the last 12 third place matches saw goals for both teams. 

Since this game is not considered a knockout game, it's perhaps not surprising that the trends of fewer goals in recent seasons seen in knockout games is completely reversed in this oddity. The first 12 games averaged 3.25 goals per game, while the most recent 12 have seen an average of 3.75 goals per game.

Contrast these numbers with the Final match, which tends to be taken a little more seriously. Of 35 World Cup and Euro Finals, 13 went to Extra-Time, while four went to either a replay or penalties. Over half the matches were level at Half-Time, and the average goals per game was a more modest 2.74. 

From 1994, i.e. the last 12 Final matched, the average per game is 1.42 goals with seven games going to Extra-Time, and nine level at Half-Time. 13 of the last 17 losers failed to score. 

If you backed the Draw in the Semi-Finals you would again be in profit after a Half-Time Draw on Tuesday and a Full-Time Draw on Wednesday. 

No 0:0 scores at 90 minutes in this year's knockout rounds so far, the last time that happened in World Cups without second group stages was 1966, but plenty of 1:1s at an implied price of 2.8. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Adding In The Euros

As you were told in the last post, at least one quarter-final in every World Cup from 1986 has had at least one match go to penalties. I hope some of you cashed in. I suspected it might be the Sweden v England game, but in the end this was a rather dull game and an efficient German-like performance from England.

It had been 16 years since we last had a two goal lead in a knockout game but unfortunately, I am old enough to remember Leon 1970, so it was only at 90+4 that I felt totally relaxed.

Not such a big sample size of course, but from 1986 the 16 World Cup semi-finals have produced 11 Half-Time Draws and 5 Full-Time Draws, of which four went to penalties. 

With an all-UEFA line-up, it's not unreasonable to include Euro Semi-Finals for a larger sample, and of the last 11 combined tournaments which featured Semi-Finals, 19 matches have gone to Extra-Time, an implied price of 2.32 while 27 matches were Half-Time Draws, an implied price of 1.63. 

From 1990, 24 of the 28 matches were decided by one goal or Drawn after 90 minutes, but the four that were comfortable wins includes three of the last four matches played.