Thursday, 31 July 2014

2014-15 Fixtures Spreadie Ready

More than four thousand (4,034 to be precise) fixtures from the coming 2014-15 season are now in the spreadsheet I mentioned, after the Legacalcio finalised their schedule. The leagues included are the top 5 in England, and the top 5 in Europe - i.e. nine. 

The spreadsheet is a no-frills effort, with plenty of changes to fixtures ahead, but it's a decent starting point. Everyone has their personal preferences and needs, but in my experience entering the fixtures in the first place is the time consuming part.

As mentioned previously, if any FTL members or Cassini Service subscribers want a free copy, drop me a line. Some of you already have, and you should have received it this morning.  

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Gambler Returns, Jovial John

After going dark for several years, and by his own account coming close to death, John Tuohy, aka The Gambler is back. Some of you may remember John from years back. His blog was one of the original betting themed blogs, (though it was comprised more about food and frequent trips to the pub than anything too insightful) but if I remember rightly, he went on tilt one Saturday afternoon on Betfair, and lost enough money to cause him to self-exclude, and he then spent the next few months whining about why he couldn't re-open his account, rather than recognise that he might have a problem.

So I'm not sure if I should be pleased that he is back blogging and betting or not. I'm pleased he is alive of course, if not in the best of shape, but it's disturbing to see him repeating his former pattern of betting which seems to be to bet on whatever is on TV at the moment, with no consideration about finding value. Horse racing, cricket, pre-season football friendlies...  time will tell, but I fear we're witnessing a train wreck.

John featured in a Cigar Aficianado article back in 2004 which, unsurprisingly given that it is exactly 10 years old, looks very dated now, but might interest some of you. It includes this:

Only 20 percent of Betfair's customers are drawn to this rarefied form of wagering, [trading] and it has attracted a coterie of mathematically inclined players who've left their jobs in the city for a run at professional gambling. Such is the case with John Tuohy, a former IT consultant who's gone from being a regular day-to-day punter, with a 9-to-5 job, to gambling full-time on Betfair. He's a jovial guy, sitting on a couch in the study of his luxe waterfront high-rise apartment, watching races on TV and casually punching wagers into his computer.
I wrote a post triggered by this article more than five years ago, which is just as relevant today as it was then, and will interest all of you! The comments are particularly interesting. The article featured a “supersharp advantage player”, or a “nerdy-looking guy with a PhD in mathematics” by the name of Glenn Alcoe, (not to be confused with anywhere in Scotland) and a little Cassini research uncovered an interesting tidbit.
I suspect you're wrong... not to ruin the story, but there really IS a Glenn Alcoe who is involved with horse racing. He took part in the 2005 All Party Parliamentary Betting and Gaming Group inquiry into inside information and laying horses to lose. It’s an unusual name, so if I were a betting man, I would put money on him being the same guy. Incidentally, if you actually read that report, no one without inside information, and with an ounce of common sense, would ever bet on horses again.
Glenn still is active in the horse racing world (@rhillsisgod for those of you on Twitter)
There are still places in the FTL available - we have a quorum, but if we can fill 32 places it'll make things much more interesting. Still waiting to hear from Peter Nordsted or Skeeve regarding the sponsorship opportunity, but Football Investor Stewboss has offered to match Football Analyst Graeme's offer of a £25 bounty to anyone finishing ahead of him in the table (up to £500).  

£52.50 for the chance to pit your wits against the big boys and win their money.

Finally, a reminder that the early bird price of £129 for the Cassini Service next season expires at the end of July, and we are nearly at the end of July.

PayPal to calciocassini @ aol.com for either the FTL, Cassini Service or both, and if you haven't read my article on Betting Expert regarding updating ratings, check it out here.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Friendly Tipster League And The Erskine Cup 2014-15

As promised, here is an update for the 2014-15 Friendly Tipster League. I posted some thoughts on the 2014-15 version of the FTL back in June, and my ideas were fortunately all favourably received.

The essential details are as follows:

Cost

The cost is £52.50 per entry, with £50 going into the pot, and £2.50 covering ‘administrative costs’. No objections to this proposal were received, au contraire, I was told I was selling my time too cheap. Well, just a little, but I do quite enjoy this kind of thing.


Division of Prize Money (Overview)

Approximately 75% of the pot money will go to the League competition, 15% to a Cup competition, and 10% will go to the monthly prizes. If we reach 32 entries, and we currently have 12 paid up, with interest from at least three more, the prizes will be £1,500, £300 and £200 – a total of £2,000.

Hang on a minute, I hear you mathematical whizzes say. 32 * £50 is only £1,600 - where is this huge total of £2,000 coming from. Well the good news I mentioned on Friday is that Ian Erskine, the FTS Income man, has come up with an extremely generous donation to the pot, which after his own entry fee and subscription to the Cassini Service are accounted for comes to a little over £400. I propose that the Cup will be named the Erskine Cup in recognition of this fine and very generous gesture.

If any other service provider would like to donate anything to the pot in return for the good publicity of frequent mentions, please don’t be shy. While Ian has set the bar very high, every little helps. Stewboss, aka Football Investor, has said he will chip in something, and perhaps other services such as Premier Betting or Skeeve would like to get their names out there all season for a few quid.

Graeme Dand (The Football Analyst) is repeating his offer from last year of a £25 per head bounty to anyone finishing ahead of his best entry, capped with a maximum liability of £500 and again, this is a very generous offer. Last year, five qualifying entries beat his ‘Barcelona in the Conference’. Perhaps Pinnacle Sports would be interested in chipping in a few hundred as their prices will be used and referenced each week?

Selection Requirements

The FTL will run from Friday 1st August 2014 to the final match of the Serie A season, which I believe will be Sunday 31st May 2015.

Qualifying Leagues

As I use the Pinnacle Sports quoted prices from the Football Data.co.uk web site to record the results, selections are restricted to the leagues they cover, which are in England (top 5 leagues), Scotland (top 4), the top two in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, plus the top league in the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Turkey and Greece.

Unfortunately Cup and European games are not included and are therefore ineligible. Bets on correct scores are also not allowed as the prices are not recorded.

Entry Deadline

Because the prices recorded are taken on Friday afternoons for weekend matches, and Tuesday afternoons for midweek matches, entries will need to be received by midnight on those days. Obviously if you have a Friday evening or a Tuesday evening selection, you will need to submit it before kick-off time, but otherwise so long as the entry is in by midnight Friday (for weekend games) or midnight Tuesday (for midweek games) the prices shouldn’t have moved too much. Most activity is on the English games, so this will give you all Friday night to fine tune your selections. 

This will also give me time to publish some of the selections ahead of time which will make the Cup weekends in particular rather more interesting to everyone. Out of respect for the paid services out there, or rather to their subscribers, those selections will have to remain private unless they say otherwise.

Selection Types

Single / Multiple Selections

All selections will be bet risking one point, whether a back or a lay. Unlike last season, accumulators will be accepted. However, a selection can only be included once. If an entry is for example a double of Team A and Team B, and a second entry is Team A and Team C, the second bet will be treated as a single on Team C.

Match Odds

Selections will be recorded against the Pinnacle Sports Match Odds prices. For back bets, this is self-explanatory. For lay selections, the price used will be Pinnacle’s +0.025 (for odds-on or evens selections) and +0.05 for others. Thus for example, a winning lay at 2.00 will be recorded as a profit of 0.98 points.

Under / Overs

The price used to determine Under / Over bets will be that of the 2.5 goal markets. If the selection is under 1.5, 3.5 or whatever, it will be considered a bet on Under 2.5, and same on the Overs. The prices used will be an average of Football Data’s Average (BbAv) and Maximum (BbMx) prices.

Draw No Bet (DNB)

Football Data do not record prices on these bets. A selection of Team A (DNB) will therefore be treated as a lay selection of opponents Team B, in other words you have the Draw on your side, but stand to win less. Bear that in mind before choosing this market.

Handicap

Similarly, a bet on a team to win + goals (e.g. +0.5) will be treated as a lay of the opposing team. A bet of a team to win – goals (e.g. -0.5) will be a back of that team to win.

Entry Format

There is no set format required for entries. I tend to reformat them into a Word document and play with them there, so simple text is preferred, but I will let you know if anyone’s format is problematic.

League Details

League prize money will be divided among all the profitable entries in the ratio of the profits. Thus if four entries are in profit, e.g. by 6 points, 4 points, 3 points and 2 points, the pot will be split 6/15ths to the winner, 4/15ths to second and so on. This will ensure that anyone in profit will win something. As a reminder, this was how the league ended last season:
Seven entries would have shared the prize money, with the prize money being distributed from 30% to the Cassini Value Selections down to about 2% for the XX Draws (Under) entry.

Of course, with the bounty in place, it is quite possible to be in the red but win £25 if you beat The Football Analyst.

Entries must make at least 76 selections to be eligible for prizes, which should be no problem for the likes of Neil who submit that many each week. I exaggerate. Slightly.

Erskine Cup Competition Details

The Erskine Cup format will depend on the number of entries received. If we reach our target of 32 entries, there will be cup match-ups on the following weekends:

September 27th,
November 1st,
November 29th,
January 31st,
February 28th,
March 21st,
April 25th

The dates have been chosen because all the major leagues are in action on those weekends. The last weekend in October would have made it more symmetrical but the Conference National have no matches scheduled due to the Fourth Qualifying Round of some other cup competition, but it's nicely spread out as it is and misses the FA Cup's scheduled rounds.

If we have less than 32 entries, then some of the earlier 2014 dates will be skipped. For the Cup, there will be a public and open draw, and entries will be paired together. The Cup results will simply be the profit or loss for that weekend's matches and would also count in the FTL. You could lose 3 points, but advance if your 'opponent' loses 4 points, or you could be up 10 points and be eliminated if your 'opponent' makes 11 points. Cup winnings will be 50% for the winner, 25% for the runner-up and 12.5% each for the losing semi-finalists.

Monthly Winner

Eight monthly prizes will be awarded to the most profitable entry In each month. August and September will be combined into one month, as will April and May. If we reach 32 entries, this monthly prize will be at least £25.

Places will be awarded on a first come, first served basis as fees are received - PayPal to calciocassini @ aol.com and if anyone wants to top up the kitty with a sponsorship, and a mention each week, please feel free.

Finally, please remember this is a friendly competition. The rules are intended to make it as fair as possible to everyone, so if you don't like the entry deadlines, or have any other issues, don't enter.  I try to be as accurate as possible with the updates, but it the entrant's responsibility to check their results and let me know within a week if I have made an error. Contrary to rumour, I am not perfect. The final decision on any grievances will be made by the League Commissioner - which is me. I just voted myself in. Any questions on the above, please let me know.

The bottom line is that for just £52.50, you get season long (10 months) entertainment, and an opportunity to show your skill and win some decent prize money. The pot odds are already good. What's stopping you?

My offer of the spreadsheet containing the 2014-15 fixtures has been eagerly snapped up by a few FTL entrants and Cassini Service subscribers, and I am pleased to say that this will now include the Championship, League One, League Two and Conference National fixtures making a grand total of 4,034 matches. Still awaiting Italy to schedule Serie A but that should be done on Monday, so some time next week it should be ready to go.  

Friday, 25 July 2014

Fixtures, Schedules and Erskine Delivers

I’m putting together my spreadsheet with all the fixtures from the top leagues for 2014-15, and although the draw for the Serie A schedule isn’t until Monday, the differences between the leagues are always interesting to see.

The French are the first to start their season, kicking things off on Friday 8th August. Two midweek rounds are on the schedule, with a three week break at the half-way point over Xmas and the New Year sees the season finish on the weekend of May 23rd 2015.

The English Premier League starts a week later on the weekend of August 16th, and has three rounds of (non-holiday) midweek matches scheduled. No winter break for the EPL of course, in fact quite the contrary with two matches in three days over Boxing Day and the adjoining weekend. New Year’s Day (a Thursday) marks the start of the second half of the season, and there are a couple of blank league weekends for the FA Cup. Unlike other leagues, the history behind our primary cup competition means it still has a prominent place in the calendar.

The Germans have fewer matches to schedule, so they return to action full of World Cup pride a week later, on Friday August 22nd, take a six week long winter / half-term break, yet still conclude their activity on the weekend of May 23rd 2015. How very organized.

La Liga starts the same weekend as Germany, but they are happy with scheduling just 16 matches by the end of the year, and fitting 22 in after the New Year. The BBC site from where I pulled the fixtures may not be completely accurate on these games – they have Almeria ending the season with four consecutive home games which seemed a bit odd, and it looks like they have the matches versus Sevilla reversed.

Finally, Italy’s Serie A gets underway on August 31st, "a later start then usual because of the World Cup". It was a decision made last December, presumably by an optimist at the Legacalcio - or do a lot of Germans play in Serie A? The league will consequently wrap up a week after the other top leagues on May 31st 2015.

Once the Serie A fixtures are scheduled and incorporated into my spreadsheet, if any Cassini Service subscribers or FTL entrants would like a free copy, drop me a line. It took quite a bit of time, and will need to be updated as matches are rescheduled for various reasons, but the baseline rounds will all be there and it might save some of you several hours of work.

Finally, as mentioned earlier this week, I'll finalise the rules, terms, conditions etc. for the 2014-15 FTL, but I did hear from Ian Erskine (of FTS Income fame and fortune) and have some great news regarding his offer to sponsor this season's competition. Let's just say Ian's fortune is slightly less than it was!
 
Incidentally Ian, I did reply to you, but received an Undelivered Mail Returned To Sender message back.
<ian@ftsincome.co.uk>: host mail.ftsincome.co.uk[81.4.108.91] said: 554 5.7.1 Service unavailable; Client host [64.12.222.129] blocked using dnsbl.sorbs.net; Currently Sending Spam See:
If anyone else would like to sponsor the competition, please let me know. We also still have several places available at a cost of just £52.50 and after the news of Ian's donation, there might be a small stampede.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Ratings For Anoraks

I received a couple of comments on my recent post which compared my ratings with Statto's ratings. As I mentioned, I used Stattos' ratings as the starting point for my rather ambitious plan to track the lower English leagues down to the Conference in addition to the top five European leagues.

Fairfranco asked:
Out of interest do you know if Statto's ratings have been of any use over time?
Would be good to see historical results with ratings at the time alongside them to get a grasp on some accuracy.
Matthew T added:
I would also be interested Padrino if you had any experience regarding the validity of the Statto ratings. Once upon a time I used to paper trade a range of ratings system while betting my own but it became too time consuming. If I remember correctly I found the Statto ratings were very weighted to long term quality over short term form and I never could devise a method for incorporating their trend rating in to a betting system. They seem very similar in style to the Racing Football Outlook newspaper football ratings and both seem to have their origin in Elo. They seemed lackluster in the divisions where more complex models were rife e.g. EPL and better in the lower class European leagues. For top leagues a good free option remains Dectech for Poisson style goals for and against ratings.
The short answer is that I do not know if Statto's ratings have been of any use over time. They claim a pretty good record for them, writing:
The Science Behind Statto Index 
The Index has been developed and tested over many years, starting in the 1980s before the World Wide Web era. Our testing uses around 25 years worth of results and approximately 10 years of bookmakers odds to test the accuracy and profitability of the system. Naturally, no system is perfect and we continuously monitor its performance. For the mathematically minded, the correlation between our forecasts and actual results is just over 0.9, which means that approximately 90% of the final outcomes are explained by the prior forecasts.

Naturally, no system is perfect, but 90% isn't too shabby, although I think we need a more detailed explanation of what exactly "final outcomes explained by the prior forecasts means"!  
Forecasts
The forecast odds on this site are produced by our Forecasting Engine using our unique Statto Index ratings. The Index currently covers 29 leagues together with all International teams - a total of over 750 teams. Our forecasted odds are based on a true 100% book and therefore do not take account of any commission or projected profit margin - this is left to you based on personal preference. Odds are forecasted for both match and outright markets. I agree with Matthew that their ratings do appear to move rather slowly, and their focus appears to be more targeted at the anorak / weatherman types rather than someone looking to make money from them.
Having said that, I have to admit that I have a little 'anorak' in me myself. (A recent DNA analysis threw up some surprises in my ancestry - along with the alarmingly high Neanderthal percentage shown above, and the less surprising majority British and Irish percentage shown below, there was a small percentage of 'train-spotter' DNA detected. Where that came from is something of a mystery, although a great-great-grandad - in other words a "really fantastic" grandad - did work with the trains on Ryde Pier, Isle of Wight circa 1850).

Anyway, it's my excuse for finding the Historical Ratings from 1888 quite interesting.
 

The best (highest rated) English team of all-time is Chelsea (2006) who reached 995 points, just 35 points ahead of Aston Villa's historic best, which unfortunately for them was not last season, but came in 1897. Just two League clubs reached a new high in 2014 - Manchester City (960) and Burton Albion (706). At 958, City are in with a good chance of setting a new high this season - they don't face Crystal Palace until December - but whether it is possible to make money from such ratings seems unlikely.


Matthew mentioned Dectech as a good free option, but I remember questioning their sanity when I saw they had Norwich City predicted to finish fifth in the EPL last season with 68 points. They got 33, and were relegated of course.
Admittedly I had Norwich City avoiding relegation at the start of last season too, but didn't go so far as a top half finish, never mind chasing a Champions League spot. Perhaps Dectech reacted too much to Norwich's meaningless last day 3-2 win at Manchester City the previous season?


I mentioned earlier that I agreed with Matthew's observation that Statto's ratings move too slowly, at least from a betting perspective, but the other side of the coin is to be careful not to overreact to a result such as the one just mentioned. Norwich were never contenders for a European spot of any type based on league performance.

Thanks to all of you who have renewed or subscribed for the first time to the Cassini Service. The early-bird special offer of £129 (or £99 for renewals) is good through the end of this month. PayPal to calciocassini @ aol.com

I'll re-focus on the Friendly Tipster League this weekend, and see if we get get some prizes / bonuses from the likes of Ian Erskine. Watch this space.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Emotional Discipline

Thanks to those of you who offered suggestions and ideas on obtaining closing prices on football matches, specifically Jamie A, Sheva Wigwam (quite possibly not his real name) and Marco Mattes. 

Steve, of Daily25 fame and fortune, wrote in a comment on following certain tipsters, specifically when to drop them:
But also it is a psychological issue too, once we decide to invest real money (and in my case, big money), into something, our brains then tell us that we must have made the right decision. To then go back on this and admit you were wrong and therefore stupid is a hard thing to do. There is a saying in the start-up world which goes "Hire slowly, fire quickly". It may be a mantra I need to follow in regards to tipsters too.
This is very similar to the error that many traders make, of emotionally attaching themselves to a selection, and being unwilling to admit that they were wrong and cut their losses quickly enough. As I have written before, cutting winners short and letting losers run too long, is probably the biggest trading mistake. 
The reason a trade is entered, or a tipster service is subscribed to, is because you are looking to make a profit, so it is human nature that this is the part you are most focused on. However, neither trading nor following tipsters is ever going to be all smooth sailing, and you need to have a plan in place in the not unlikely event that things don't go perfectly. 
Most traders don’t want to acknowledge that a trade could turn against them. They enter the market assuming they’ll be successful, refusing to look in the rearview mirror. It’s also common for emerging traders to use a calculator to predict how much they’ll make and how they’ll spend the unrealized profits!
Losses are part of the game but especially beginners have difficulties in accepting this. A loss creates frustration and you become “upset” on the market. You have the feeling that “the market” took something which you feel belongs to you: your money. You are determined to get your money back and you put on a position three times your normal position size in order to make the loss back. You do not stick to your trading plan, you are upset and want to take revenge for the previous loss. These kinds of trades are called “revenge trades” and can lead to huge draw-down’s as you can easily imagine.
Another mention for the fact that finding value doesn't mean that all decisions are profitable. Trading is about making money overall, not every time, and the lesson that profitable betting is about finding value, not winners, continues to elude some people.

Betfair Forum member Zazu who, after three years should have learned, responded recently to the wisdom that "When betting you try to find value, not pick winners" with:
Losing bets don't pay any bills
Needing to win bets to pay bills, or staking too high, leads to emotionally driven, less than optimal decisions. Bet (staking 'sensibly'), with money you don't need, and your trading / betting will be all the better for the removal of the emotional element. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Books And Ratings Compared EPL 2014-15

I have spent most of this weekend building a new spreadsheet (although model sounds better) for the lower leagues in England. It may well prove to be too much work to maintain this, but others have success in the lower leagues, and I thought I would give it a try. The initial ratings are based on those on the Statto.com website, but mine will soon diverge and take their own shape as the results start coming in.

The close season is always disruptive to ratings but after a handful of games they correct themselves. Unless your club rating is based on individual player ratings, there is no objective way of incorporating dramatic changes at clubs. In the EPL, the activity at some of the top clubs this summer has impacted last season's closing ratings.

Liverpool finished 2013-14 in second place, not only in the EPL, but also in the Cassini Ratings, and were joint second in Statto's ratings too. Currently, based on Pinnacle Sports and Betfair's prices, they are rated fifth, behind favourites Chelsea and followed by Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal, and my current rating of second is likely to soon be adjusted down.

Southampton are another club where significant changes have taken place. Currently rated 7th by Cassin and 8th by Statto, they are ranked 11th on Betfair.

Assessing new (promoted) teams is also problematic. For their initial Cassini ratings, I use the performance of promoted teams over the last ten seasons as a guide. The last 30 teams promoted to the EPL have averaged a finishing place the following season of 15.2, and in 9 of the last 10 seasons, at least one promoted side has been relegated.

One odd fact is that the promoted Champions actually fare worse on average than the runners-up and play-off winners. Five Champions have been immediately relegated, including the last two of Reading and Cardiff City, while only two runners-up have suffered the same fate, and none since 2007. Five play-off winners have also dropped immediately, but the last three all finished highest of the promoted teams in the following season.

So it's a little surprising that the sportsbooks have the three promoted teams to fill all three relegation places. Here are the predicted finishing positions based on the bookies, along with the Statto and Cassini ratings.

Statto's rating of Leicester City in 10th place seems a little high to me, and both our ratings for Newcastle United are probably a little low. They certainly ended the season in poor form, but then they had nothing to realistically play for over the last few games. I seem to be a little high on West Bromwich Albion where the expectation seems to be of just about avoiding relegation.


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