Sunday, 21 December 2014

Inedible And Inaccurate


There may be a proof-reader position open at A1 Sporting Memorabilia, based on the evidence above. I came across it while looking for a pair of goalkeeping gloves for Mrs Cassini's Xmas present (she's a keeper).

For one thing, I'm pretty sure Gascoigne would have been suspended for the final, even if England had progressed, and I'm almost as certain that his mark on the football world was meant to be described as indelible, not inedible. Incredible.    

Royal Marines Football

A rather unusual post this one, the result of a Saturday evening spent researching some family history, and nothing to do with investing.

One of the more interesting of my ancestors, at least from a research perspective, is my paternal grandfather, who took two years off his birth year to allow him to sign up in November 1915 with the Royal Marines Light Infantry (RMLI) Division. While looking for his commanding officer, I found this football match report from 1905:

Royal Marines Legation 4 v US Marines Legation 0 played at Seoul, Korea on 13th March 1905

The Majority of our esteemed Corps will no doubt be pleased to hear of the success of their representitives in the Far East against our American Cousins. The Match in question, which was very attractive (as the Coreans are learning the rudiments of the game), was largely attended. Although the Britishers had the wind against them in the first half of the game, their superior play secured for them two goals to nil.
The Game - The Americans won the toss, and, from the kick off, the play was very exciting for the first ten minutes, as both teams played hard for an opening. But, thanks to the superior play of Allen (Capt), the first goal was scored, which was followed by another before the whistle blew for half time. Nothing of note happened in the second half, as the Britishers had it all their own way, and managed to add another two goals to their credit. The game finished Royal Marines 4 US Marines 0.
Bravo the Britishers! It may be just me, but details about the goals seem a little light. "Nothing of note happened in the second half", well, except for the two goals of course.

The RMLI (Gosport) team were actually rather good it seems. In 1910, they not only won the Army Cup in front of a crowd of 20,000 in Aldershot, but also won the rather more prestigious FA Amateur Cup that year beating the now defunct South Bank. Accompanying the team photo for the Army Cup win was an asterisk next to a Cpl Exford noting:
*Cpl Exford received a telegram on the morning of the game informing him that his only brother had died in an accident, he bravely put this distressing bad news aside and played in the match.
Stiff upper lip - that's the spirit. We're Britishers after all. Now to need to find out why my great great grandfather (John Dominicus Cassini) was in Holloway Prison in 1881. 

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Crossed Wires

Another 'on-off' reader of this blog, Signora Cassini - who really should take more interest in my opinion - suggested after reading recent posts, that Asperger's Syndrome (AS) might make for an interesting post topic. I'm not sure why she thought the topic relevant, though I have written about the brain before. Some facts:
Asperger's Syndrome isn't a mental health problem. It's a difference in brain wiring that a person is born with.

People with Asperger's Syndrome will have one or two areas that they are intensely interested in and spend a lot of time pursuing. They don't just dabble in their interests either, they go full out.

Researchers have noted that people with AS often pursue their interests with a focus on accumulating facts, not necessarily understanding the big picture.

People with AS often offend people or are accused of being insensitive because they seem to have no mental filter.

As adults they can wind up socially isolated and have a very hard time making friends or getting into a relationship. Because so many jobs require at least some element of people skills, it's not rare for them to have trouble finding and holding down a position, or be underemployed.

One characteristic is an encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus.

People with Asperger's can think in an overly rigid way. They can also sometimes become 'stuck' on a topic and have trouble moving on.

They don’t 'get' socializing on an intuitive level.

They have difficulties with putting themselves in another person's shoes.

They show an ignorance of social rules.
Aspergers appears to be hereditary, and perhaps the social awkwardness and relationship issues that are part of it are nature's way of saying 'don't have kids'.

One tends to initially assume when engaging with others through social media or in person that they are at least somewhat like you, but more often than you might think, this assumption is wrong. We are all different, and some of us are very different.

Without the visual cues, it's not so easy to tell via social media when someone is 'different' or just being irritating, but having realised that another party has issues, it would be cruel and inappropriate to continue the, albeit dysfunctional and often one-sided, conversation.

Some people, through no fault of their own, simply can’t understand logic or what is acceptable social behaviour or civilised debate, and the right thing to do once you recognise someone has such a disability, is to go gently into the good night and politely ignore them.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Comfortably Dumb

Some of you may have read the story published in New York Magazine about 17 year old Mohammed Islam who, from a starting bank of close to nothing, had supposedly made $72 million since the age of 10 by trading stocks.

As the Yahoo!Finance web site pointed out almost immediately, the story was clearly bogus. A simple check of the returns needed to generate such an end total would have shown the impossibility, or at least the very remoteness of the possibility for such an achievement, and the reporter’s fact checking appeared to be limited to seeing a statement showing an eight figure sum. These days, it is not the hardest of tasks to fake a statement to back up a story, but when a little common sense is applied to such tales, the reality is usually apparent.

This story brings me to our old friend the Sultan, whose blog was long ago dropped from my blogroll, but whose latest adventures are brought to my attention by an “on/off” reader of this blog. On-Off was happy to confirm that the Sultan was indeed one of the traders funded by a court-siding syndicate some time ago, and with the advantage of speed, it is hardly surprising that the Sultan’s results were greatly improved during this period.

What would be really interesting to know is why the Sultan was dropped after a short time, but it is unlikely we shall ever know the full story there.

It wasn't that I was worried about losing the money because the deal was that I was not liable for any losses. In theory, that should've made trading easier and more relaxed (and that was indeed the case once I'd got a few wins on the board) but it was the strain of knowing that if I failed to make enough profit to impress the syndicate, I would be dropped and lose out on a fantastic opportunity, that was the real pressure.
Reading between the lines, the pressure was too much. 

On-Off’s concerns were that comments to his blog have been disabled for anyone who is not a member – either someone who has bought his trading guide, or of his ‘academy’ I assume – and perhaps more importantly, that the Sultan appears to be following a well-worm path with his blog or sales strategy.

With assistance from On-Off, his method appears to be to:

Tell everyone how well you are doing.

Announce that you are tiring of all the winning, the fame and fortune, and that you feel you have more to offer the world than being just a humble, albeit hugely successful, and quite possibly the greatest the world has known, tennis trader.
I know I have a lot to offer the world in some capacity but at the same time, I'd be stupid to throw away the incredible income stream I have fought so hard to generate. It's a real conundrum.
Offer a time-sensitive, last chance to enroll in the “Academy” or buy the Sultan’s High Intensity Trading manual. Avoid specifics on P&L figures, but refer to the one £10k month as often as possible. Emphasise that you are more of a mentoring guru than anything else, that there can be no guarantees, and that help will be available via email only.
What he couldn't understand, was the mentoring aspect that I was offering as part of my Academy.
Announce that you are now “financially comfortable” in your rented accommodation, exhausted from all the success, and are now retiring into the sunset. Make sure the “final” blog post is poignant, if possible more poignant than the previous “final” blog post, or the “final” blog post prior to that one. Try to avoid copying and pasting from pevious “final” blog posts, and end with a forlorn “bye bye”. This is it, I’m leaving now. Bye. Farewell. Really, this is it. I’m going. Goodbye. For ever. Never see you again. Byeeee…..

Wait a few weeks.

Re-appear on the blog, and tell everyone that there is / will be a life-changing event (first ever girlfriend / first sexual encounter (at least one with someone else present in the room) / marriage / pregnancy / medical crisis / divorce / upset stomach / broken fingernail etc.) and that you are considering a return. If this can be timed for some time towards the end of the year and a new tennis season, then so much the better.

Announce your return, and repeat.

Indeed, this does sound familiar and On-Off points out that the new season is just around the corner, and surely the door will soon be opened for new “Academy” members. Perhaps. Time will tell, but as I wrote previously, and as with the tale of Mohammed Islam, the Sultan’s claim to be “financially comfortable” is simply not credible.

This link will take you to a previous post on this subject, but one £10k month for a full-time trader is nowhere near enough to take someone from zero to comfortable in the time-frame claimed, at least not any reasonable definition of “comfortable”. On-Off also points out that results are not detailed on his blog, which is a red-flag to anyone thinking of joining the “Academy”.
“All in all combined with the fact you can no longer comment on his blog freely like in the past, it just seems rather fishy”.
Indeed it does. I think we can safely take with a grain of salt that he is financially comfortable, so with credibility already an issue, any potential ‘Academy’ member needs to ask themselves why would a (albeit self-proclaimed) “successful” trader (not paying the Premium Charge mind you) give (sell) away his Golden Goose secret to success, rather than build on it himself?

The answer is that without the edge offered by court-siders, the probability of success for someone on the outside is greatly reduced. Although speed isn’t everything, it is the biggest thing (assuming even a modest amount of market knowledge), and any crumbs left for the home-trader are left for a reason - which is that they are probably not value.

With the profits from actually trading matches thus reduced or eliminated, how else can someone like the Sultan garner an income?

Oh wait! I think I know the answer to this!

On a different topic, I see via Twitter courtesy of Online Trader, that another old friend Jonny Grossmark, is making noises about a few rather innocuous comments posted by Shapeshifter.
Lawyers now! Last time it was the police, for whom incidentally, I am still waiting. From what Jonny said several months ago, it is illegal to post on a blog. I really hope my fears are unfounded, as this time of year would be a particularly upsetting time to be incarcerated in a cold and dark cell.

As is his wont, Jonny takes any comments, however reasoned and polite they are, about his ramblings as an ‘attack’, but unfortunately for him and his persecution complex, disagreeing with someone is not considered the same as attacking them. I thought Shapeshifter’s words were quite mild in tone actually, and more respectful than was warranted, and the appropriate response from any reasonable person would be to offer a counter argument, ideally with some logic behind it, and further the debate.

Sadly, Jonny is not a reasonable person, nor is logic, or law for that matter, his strong suit. Running around shouting and screaming about lawyers and calling the police when the discussion is about something ultimately as trivial as football betting, is frankly ridiculous, but we have seen this from Jonny before. He seems to be unable to dwell on a point long enough to comprehend it, before racing on in his own world to some other imagined slight. His Tweet count must be close to 100k now, if not more. Still some way to go before catching these guys – now closed down:
In just 106 days @Market_JP blasted out 1,560,781 tweets for a ridiculous 14,724 tweets per day. Not sure why they stopped – maybe Twitter closed ‘em down – but how those 156 followers coped is anyone’s guess. That’s a tweet every six seconds, for Dorsey’s sake. In terms of any kind of average you can think of, @Market_JP was the tweet beast of Twitter.
Good heavens! Jonny can’t be far behind. Unfortunately, quality necessarily goes out of the window with such quantity, and what ends up happening is that everything gets ignored.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Top Drawers

As most readers know, there is a special place in my heart for draws, and the lower scoring they are, the better. There are five entries in the FTL specialising in draws, my XX Draws (which select from the top five European Leagues), Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster and Paul's Draw Picks (which pick from both the Football League and a wide array of European Leagues), plus The Football Analyst Graeme's two Draw systems, one domestic, the other European.

At the last update, and not quite half-way through the season, the results are:

Overall down, but recorded using the prices of one sportsbook (Pinnacle) means that this is very much a bottom line number which should be beatable without too much effort by any serious bettors.

Hitting at 35%, Peter's Drawmaster selections are performing very strongly, and given that none of the top five European Leagues, Football League or Conference Premier are hitting at above 29.1%, Graeme's Football League Draws are also doing well. The average across the five English leagues is 27.1%, but Graeme is finding almost 32%.

Not spectacular, but ahead of the averages across those nine leagues are Draw Picks and XX Draws, but TFA Euro Draws are a little behind the curve. All three have struggled since mid October, with the former dropping 17.04 points, the XX Draws 5.45 points and TFA Euro Draws 34.71 points.

Compared with the five year league averages, six leagues are showing an increase in draws, while three are lower - two significantly. In Ligue 1, where they are hitting at 21.8% versus their five year average of 29.1%, while in League Two they are hitting at 22.7% versus a five year average of 27.9%. The full numbers are:
Graeme wrote an (as always) lengthy post on his Draw Selections which some of you might enjoy. Backing draws is certainly not for the faint of heart, but as Graeme says:
I really buy into the idea that few punters back draws and they are more interested in backing a team to win (same idea as why no one backs 0-0 when watching a game as they want to see goals!)

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

15.Dec FTL Update

Fairfranco remains in first place with a solid lead of 22.18 points, but after monthly profits of 13.04, 16.42 and 28.21 is currently down by 12.95 this month after dropping another 4.11 points this weekend. There is a ray of hope for the rest of us in that last season, Fairfranco fell away badly late in the season.


Behind Fairfranco, there was some dramatic moves. It was a big weekend for Football Elite, who surged eight places up the table on the back of a 12.18 point profit helped by Barcelona’s failure to beat Getafe, plus long priced wins for Hertha Berlin and Burnley. Gecko moved up four places, and is making a strong run after a quiet start. At the end of October, Gecko was in the red,  but five winning rounds in a row has added 22.36 points. 
Trend to end was a little unlucky not to have a winning weekend, with Feyenoord scoring in the 90th minute to deny Tore a winner that would have been worth 6.93 points. He drops two places to 4th.

Drawmaster continued his good season with another 1.26 points, while Club Havana lost 3.83 points and dropped four places, as did BettingTools.co.uk who lost 2.62 points.

Fulltimebettingblog would be in first place if the placings were determined by ROI%, but they are not, so he drops one place to 9th despite adding 2.88 points.

Mountain Mouse also dropped one spot despite a profit of 0.42 points.

Jamie A and XX Unders round out the double digit gainers, with respective gains of 1.94 and 5.53 points. 

Fifth placed Randolph was inactive.

The middle order comprising of those up or down by less than teen points looks like this:
Bounty Boy Graeme’s TFA Draws have performed well of late, up 8.42 points this month (and leading the race for December) and adding another 7.79 points this weekend. 

The Bundelsayga system had three winners from four selections for a winning week (+3.79) while OverGoalify made a small profit of 0.21 points. 

TFA_Raz gained 1.28 points, and made the move into profit, thus earning a share of the prize money.

Conversely, Draw Picks dropped out of profit losing 1.57 points, while Talkies Tips continued his good run picking up 0.83 points. XX Draws made 6.48 points while Online Trader's recovery had a setback with four points lost. 

Skeeve, Betcast, Abromo and Football Investor were all inactive this week.

Only one of the remaining nine made a loss this weekend, and that was the TFA's Euro Draws entry which lost 6.83 points. 
Cassini Value made 0.25 points, Sjosta ended a poor run making 4.01 points, @ValueBankFooty added 2.45 points and Rubicon made 1.02 points.

Mortimer, Daily 25, Ian Erskine and Paul Watson were inactive.

Overall on the week the selections were up by some 30 points. 

For the Bounty Boys, Football Elite’s liability is trimmed to just £25, while the others are looking at liabilities of £300 (TFA Draws), £350 (Skeeve), and £500 (Football Investor).

The December Monthly prize race looks like this:

I have some entries in for the midweek round of Bundesliga matches, and there are also a couple of Serie A matches on Thursday. 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Context Blindness

Although the thread has now been removed from the Betfair Forum, Shapeshifter posted some thoughts on our old friend Jonny Grossmark.

I know some excellent sports data analysts, some who have worked with firms both here and america.  It is a whole different head-space.One I have known since high school, originally he dove heavily into the stock market then taking his love of numbers and incorporating it into sports.Conversations with him have taught me the one thing that is of utmost importance: each piece of information has to be put into context.
Six months ago, I came across a blog by Jonny Grossmark.  His name had come up in other circles that he had an approach he wanted to bring on-line
Always open-minded, I followed what he was up to, reading his blogs.  I passed this on to a couple of people I know (all published) at the same time.
In a nutshell, he looks at time of the goals and, by half time of a football match, has percentages of outcomes.
An interesting hypothesis but upon reading it, it falls into a couple of theories I have about data:
- As mentioned, context needs to be attached to the data
- Regardless of the context, sometimes too much information can actually make you ‘blind’ when compared to using ‘some’ of the information.
- (in relation to betting) A mistake that can be done is taking data and “molding” it to look like it offers an edge when, in fact, it is either one of two extremes: too general OR overthought.
I am not singling out Jonny Grossmark.  In fact, there are others who have not taken it as far as he has with their blogs (Someone named Peter Nordsted is offering a “click and win” approach based on the odds (i.e. Lay if between X and X in Y league).
But Jonny Grossmark’s approach ticks all the boxes that I think actually hinder research. That’s not to say that it won’t return a profit.  But:
- because he has focused in such a way, by “tightening the criteria”, it will find few opportunities.
- The relationships between some of the support data is unconnectible (leagues, team quality, and, as mentioned context (there is a huge difference between a team in a critical H2H versus two teams where one is already relegated while the other is resting players after securing top 4.  Yet they appear in the same data).
- and the fixation that once in the dressing room at HT, a team trailing 0-1 that was scored against at 9 minutes is different than a team that was scored on at 23 minutes.
Now the information has been incorporated into a web site that does “minute by minute” analysis of a teams performance.
As one that trades in-running, minute by minute can make you “slave” to the data.
I can’t let historical results over three years be factored into my decisions on value, pre-kick off or in-running.
You have to deal with the moment. The data might say otherwise IF YOU BET ON EVERY MATCH THAT FALLS UNDER THAT CATEGORY, but it is about being selective rather than being guided by numbers. I’ll take context within a moment in time any day of the week.
Subsequent comments suggested that Jonny G is banned from the Betfair Forum, an assertion which, based on my own brief experience with him, sounds entirely credible, but unfortunately after adding some thoughts of my own, the update failed due to the thread apparently being removed.

Context is a topic which many people overlook. Statistics such as Team x have won their last y games are, out of context, useless. Who were the opponents? What were the competitions? What was the criticality of the match to both teams? One recent example from football is Southampton, who recently won four EPL games on the trot without conceding a goal. That could be an impressive statistic, but unfortunately for anyone falling in love with Southampton's strength, the teams they had beaten were not Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Crystal Palace but Sunderland, Stoke City, Hull City and Leicester City. There's a big difference, and when Southampton did play three of those former teams, they lost all three. I'm hoping it'll be all four come Boxing Day. I jest a little, but the point I am making is a serious one. Points or goals scored always need to be weighted before they can be used in any meaningful way. I've written before that League Tables are, from a betting perspective, useless. In fact, worse than useless, and the same goes for form. L-L-L-L can be better than W-W-W-W because all Ls and all Ws are not the same. My Elo based ratings sometimes reward a losing team with a higher post-match rating and 'award' a lower rating for a winning team.

Caught Up

Almost there, with just a very thin midweek left to update, and overall it was another tough weekend judging by he results. The overall profit is now down to 21.17 points, but an impressive 19 (of 33) entries are currently above water.

Here are the standings after last weekend:

Fairfranco still leads by a large margin, but he is not having a good December - in fact he is currently following his November first place with a December last place! Talkies Tips still leads in the monthly competition, closely followed by TFA_Raz whose selection of Newcastle United to beat Chelsea accounts for much of that profit.

TFA_Raz and TFA Draws were the only ones playing in midweek, and both dropped one point, so the (finally) up to date table is as above with the afore-mentioned both dropping down a place. This weekend's updates, and those thereafter, will be a little more in-depth.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Dec 2 FTL Update

The finishing line is in sight, as the midweek matches of December 2nd thru 4th are updated. Not too many entrants were involved, but a mention for Talkies Tips who takes the early lead in the race for December's monthly prize. While on the subject, if Fairfranco would like to let me know if he would like his monthly prize for November now, or added to his likely end of season winnings, I will proceed as necessary. No changes at the top, although Fairfranco's magic cape blew off as he dropped 1.71 points and shows he may actually be human after all. The overall profit now down to +34.01 points. 

I should have the table caught up in the next couple of hours.

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