Thursday, 30 October 2014

MadBum's Series

Well done to all of you who followed me on the San Francisco Giants to win their third World Series in five years. 2010, 2012 and now 2014. One of the more exciting finishes, with the Giants clinging on to win 3-2 on the road, after starting the game as underdogs. Home teams had won every Game 7 (nine) since 1979.

As I have written before, with the advent of replays and challenges this season, home advantage isn't what it used to be. A call in the bottom of the third inning, that prior to this season would have favoured the Kansas City Royals, was challenged by the Giants and overturned, and changed the momentum in my opinion. Having said that, the standard of officiating was very good, and this was only the second challenge, and the first to be successful. Although I don't have the full season totals for overturned calls, I do know that at the mid-season All Star break, 52% of the 606 challenges were successful. It would be interesting to see the numbers for home and road teams.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

FTL Weekend Update 28.Oct.2014

Apologies for being a day late, but the Cassini Service took priority yesterday and I ran out of time.

So here is the FTL as it stood after the weekend (Fri thru Mon) games. There were a few in action last night, but I'll update them in one go after Thursday's matches, which will also complete the October monthly prize, more on that later.

First, the big boys, and Trend to end  moves up to second place trading places with Randolph while Fairfranco stays third. Trend to end made 10.35 points to lead the weekend and October, courtesy of Hannover '96's win in Dortmund. Fairfranco made 8.39 points and as a result just 1.47 points separates the top three. Randolph managed to end on exactly zero from 11 bets, Mountain Mouse and Draw Picks swapped places while XX Unders moved up four places:

In the "Up By Less than 10 points" section, the big movers were Abromo (up five places) and XX Draws (up four). Losers were and Football Elite, both dropped four places, while Jamie A dropped three and Bundeslayga dropped two.
Down by less than 10 points, and TFA_Raz was up four places, with TFA Draws, Betcast and the idle Daily 25 all moving up three spots. Biggest loser here was Sjosta who dropped four places. 
And in the Down by more than 10 points section, we have:
TFA's Euro Draws had a 0-12 weekend which is hard to do, and dropped 10 places. @ValueBankFooty lost three places and not much else changed. Paul Watson did hit one treble making 12.53 points, (Queens Park Rangers, Millwall, Inverness Caledonian Thistle) but had ten losing accumulators to go with it which took some of the shine off it.

16 entries in profit and fighting over the League Prize Money, while the four bounty boys are all close together in mid-table in 14th, 15th, 17th and 18th places. Oversll profit is 51.76, an ROI% of 1.76%.

October's prize, with just a few matches in midweek to come, looks to be heading to Trend to end:
And finally for this FTL round-up, it is Round 2 of the Erskine Cup Group games, with the following matches brightening up our weekends:
Perhaps we will see Skeeve finally make an appearance. A reminder to get those bets for Saturday thru Monday in by midnight on Friday, and for any Friday games before kick-off.

Saturday, 25 October 2014


The crowd may not be getting any wiser, with another loss last week, but it is getting larger. No less than 74 FTL opinions on the EPL this weekend, and relatively evenly spread across all ten matches, with a lean towards Home wins. Here are the Wisdom of the Crowd selections for this week.

Last week saw a loss of 0.6 points, and for the season these selections are up 1.8 points from 76 selections. So don't go too crazy.

Swansea City (1.869) are the Nap selection, with West Bromwich Albion favoured at 1.909 obviously a mistake...

I do like QPR at 2.34. They are a Cassini Value Mention rather than Selection because of their 'newly promoted' status, and were 2.4 at the time of my email, and it's not surprising to me that they have shortened to 2.34.  I have the 'true' price on QPR at 1.853.

The success of @ValueBankFooty's treble last week has spurred some copy-cat acca-tivity this week. Last placed Paul Watson has apparently decided that desperate times call for desperate measures, and has fired off a barrage of accumulators ranging from doubles to five-folds. The five-fold is SWANSEA CITY -WEST BROMWICH ALBION - PRESTON NORTH END - SWINDON TOWN - ARSENAL and the kilt-wearing, saintly four-fold is DUNDEE v HAMILTON ACCA-DEMICAL (see what I did there?) Draw - PARTICK THISTLE v ST JOHNSTONE Draw - ST MIRREN - CELTIC. The Scottish Premier league certainly looks a lot different these days with Hamilton on top!

Gecko has one double from the continent, doubling up CAEN and MALAGA, while the original acca-man @ValueBankFooty goes for a domestic home treble of MIDDLESBROUGH - CARLISLE UNITED - CAMBRIDGE UNITED.

Once again, no entry from Skeeve or Daily 25, and Fulltimebetting blog appears to be missing this week too. Talkies Tips made it in time this week, and actually saved himself about a point by missing the midnight deadline last week. Most surprising perhaps is leader Club Havana having no selections this week. 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Tempest

"Full fathom five thy father lies,

Of his bones are coral made,
Those are pearls that were his eyes,
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change,
into something rich and strange,
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell,
Hark! now I hear them, ding-dong, bell."
I am indebted to Football Investor Stewboss for drawing my attention to how a service evolves, or perhaps should evolve, over just a couple of seasons. Clarifying that his question regarding the recording of prices on the XX Draws actually related to the 2012-13 season, he added:
“the current policy is quite a sea change!”
Although this may have been said with a slight hint of sarcasm (as in I should have made the change earlier) I'll take it as a compliment, the point being that the change needed to be made and better late than never.

If a service doesn't evolve over the years, there's probably something wrong, but either way it was a good observation to highlight one of the more important changes. It's easy to get so wrapped up in the present that you forget even the relatively recent past. In my opinion, it’s a necessary sea-change that any credible service would be well served to follow, although I understand that is unlikely to happen.

A little history for perspective. Anyone serious about investing on sports keeps accurate records, and so when my service began, without giving the subject too much thought, I simply continued recording the prices I was achieving or being matched at myself. I imagine many others take this approach initially also, for the simple reason that keeping one set of records is easier than keeping two.

Another reason was that working with Draws in the top leagues, the prices tended to be relatively stable, and the need for a more transparent price recording process was not readily apparent.

However, as a service expands, whether in terms of scope (i.e. more than just draws) and/or subscriber base, recording your own prices, however you go about it, is always going to be a less than satisfactory arrangement.

When the FTL started, it was also rather more informal, with me taking entrants at their word on the prices claimed, but as this too evolved, in the interest of fairness, a standard needed to be adopted and adhered to, and I have yet to hear of a better solution than that of using independently recorded prices from a book that doesn’t restrict accounts, and which is generally competitive.

Outsourcing price recording may be a sea change philosophically, but for any service recording fair and attainable prices, it shouldn’t make too much of a difference to the actual numbers, certainly not in liquid markets.

In the unregulated and wild world of sports investing services, there is not yet anything along the lines of an industry standard, but even in the financial industry, this has its problems:
Although past performance is certainly not an indication of future results, there are some clues to be found about the quality of a fund by correctly measuring its past performance. Usually, what will be discerned through a careful study of past performance is that not many mutual funds actually deliver anything close to what their advertisements claim.
If these are problems potential investors in established and audited mutual funds face in correctly measuring past performance, I suspect that a new world order in sports betting is some way off.

What is not some way off is the October monthly FTL prize, which will be decided after Thursday 30th's Serie A game. There is a full round of matches midweek in Italy. Friday 31st will be included in November 1st's round which will also be the second round of Erskine Cup Group games.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Giants, Yunus and Bounties

Before we get to the FTL updates, I hope some of you read my preview of the World Series which started last night. Having suggested value in the San Francisco Giants to win both Game 1 and the Series, it was pleasing to see them win the opening game with ease at around 2.0, with the longer lay-off not helping the Kansas City Royals starting pitcher as I'd suggested would be the case, and the 2.06 on the Giants for the Series will be a lot shorter when prices settle in the 1.55 - 1.65 range. 
The Royals have had a tremendous run so far this post-season, but with the experience the Giants have, the concern for the Royals is that once the bubble is burst, their season could come to a quick end.
Comparisons could be made to the Rockies of 2007 who swept both their Division Series and Championship series, but after eight days off, were themselves swept in the World Series.
We shall see, but that prediction is off to a good start.

A fairly busy midweek for the FTL, but no games remain, so here are the latest standings. 

Up by 10 or more points:
Up, by less than 10 points:
Down, by less than 10 points:
Down by more than 10 points:
The Top ten in the race for October's monthly prize are:
Given the recent batch of posts on the topic of how prices should be or are recorded, it was rather odd to receive the following question from Bounty Boy Stewboss (Football Investor). He asks:
Are you still quoting XX Draw results at Betfair GROSS prices Cassini?
Every entry in the FTL is, as last season, recorded using the prices from Pinnacle Sports, as recorded independently on Football Data's excellent web site.

Self-recording prices is really not a good idea in my opinion, something that finally sunk in at the end of the 2012-13 season. Even if you are scrupulously honest and fair, there is the even more important detail that you need to be SEEN to be honest and fair. As was said about the Supreme Court ruling on the Gore / Bush 2000 election:
Even a scrupulously honest person who is trying hard to be fair to his political opponents is never quite as fair as he is to the folks on his own side.
None of this is meant to imply that any service I am familiar with is dishonest, but then I only have knowledge of the more reputable ones. Self-regulation doesn't work, as many examples in history have shown, and Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus said:
Self-regulation doesn't really work, because if you are in the same business, you are doing things in your favour. So you need some external body to look at what you do.
None of us are likely to be calling in the auditors any time soon, but using independent prices seems like a step in the right direction. Recording against a bottom line that anyone can match, and that most can beat, is far better than recording your own numbers that may or may not be achievable.

I mentioned the Bounty Boys earlier, and while Skeeve has yet to make a selection, here's how they stand right now:
TFA Draws had a good day yesterday, with all four draw selections in the Championship ending as draws. Unfortunately the League 1 and League 2 selections all lost, but it was a winning round, and Graeme is only just in the red. Football Elite has just 9 entries ahead of him, while Football Investor has 13.

For anyone wondering where the Cassini Newsletter is, it awaits the completion of the Champions League game tonight between Liverpool and Real Madrid. There are a couple of Europa League games on Thursday which may impact bets on a couple of teams, but I plan on sending out the newsletter with the details of these on Thursday. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

FTL Update - 21.October.2014

With several matches in midweek, I'll make this brief and simply update the table as it stands after the weekend.

No change in the top four, with Club Havana extending his lead slightly. Draw Picks moved up four places, Mountain Mouse up two, Betting Tools up five, and Abromo up six.

Overall, 20 in profit for a total of 81.35 points (3.3% ROI) and a much higher standard than last year.

@ValueBankFooty won his Home treble to move up two places, and has another one in play  SWINDON - BLACKBURN - CARDIFF. He's actually running second for October (+12.15) behind Club Havana who currently leads with +12.88.

Up by 10 points or more:

Up by less than 10 points:
Down by less than 10 points:
The cellar:

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Price Pain

My approach to 'Conditional' bets prompted an email from one subscriber, who wrote:

Hope you are well. I've got another point to raise on your conditional selections, just an argument you might want to address. I must stress, I have no issues with the way you already do things and am happy with the service.
You say subscribers should be profitable on the conditional selections and if 3.15 can be obtained, then that is value. That may be true, but quite possibly, 3.15 would not be high enough to yield a profit on conditional picks long term. I'm sure you've got some evidence to back up that 3.15 is sufficient, though. It's quite possible for a subscriber of yours to look at your conditional picks, go out and secure prices of 3.15+, and end up with a lot worse P+L than your official results show. If I managed to back all your conditional picks at 3.15 this season, or even 3.2, along with your official picks, how different would my P+L be to your official results? These conditional picks could make a big loss, possibly due to variance. If a potential subscriber looked at your official results for the season, which are so much better than one of your subscribers who managed to secure 3.15 on conditional picks that made a loss, is that possibly misleading?
I am not sure if the conditional picks should be included in the email at all, that's just my opinion, not that it matters either way to me. I check Pinny on Friday afternoon and if the conditional picks are not at least 3.15, I don't back them at any price.
The subscriber is quite correct in saying that 3.15 may not be value. No price can ever guarantee a profit since as in a season such as the last (2013-14), draws were simply short in supply, so it is true that 3.15 is a best estimate of likely profitability based on historical results.

As I have mentioned before, I doubt that at the end of a season, any two subscribers will have exactly the same results. Having warned that 3.15 is borderline, I imagine that many people either omit selections anywhere near this price, or reduce their stakes. The idea of including them as Conditional picks is to let subscribers know that these matches historically are value draw selections, but historically draw prices have not been in the 3.0x range. Any subscriber backing at exactly, or close to, 3.15 does so in the knowledge that they are in a sense, on their own on this one, if Pinnacle's price doesn't meet that threshold.

As for "I am not sure if the conditional picks should be included in the email at all" my answer is really as simple as 'what harm does it do'? For Premium Charge payers, those 3.15 or close bets might be useful; for other more risk averse subscribers they may not be. at least by including them, the subscriber has a choice, which is generally a good thing!

Dmitri had some observations regarding the recording of prices, noting that some "use fair prices collected just BEFORE the email is sent". As he says, using old prices is not a fair way of recording prices, especially if they are in relatively illiquid markets. Dmitri writes:
To see the effect of using your method of recording (Pin prices on Friday) compare for example Combo’s official result of 9.84% with the 6.04% for Pin prices. Or Graeme's best system 31 with 8.40% down to 4.59%.

You are betting on the top divisions and are not influenced by odds movement, down from 11.95% to 11.46%.

I can see the problem from both sides, but as a punter I prefer your recording method.
Just a clarification here, that Dmitri is comparing my prices at the time of the email, versus my official price which is the independently taken Football Data Pinnacle price. My email price is given as a courtesy, along with my Cassini price and the current edge, but the recorded price is the minimum price that subscribers should be expected to be able to obtain, and is usually beatable. For example, this weekend the Newsletter was sent out on Tuesday morning, and gave the following for the Value Selections:
The official prices are yet to be published as I write, but subscribers have what I considered to be the 'true' price for the selections, and have several days to shop around for a price at which they are comfortable. The Pinny price was from Tuesday morning, and prices do move, even in the deep waters of the top leagues. It is mildly annoying when a (winning) selection is recorded at a significantly lower price than at the email time, but it's a small price to pay for the benefit of using an independently recorded price.

On the subject of the timing of releasing bets, my thoughts are that for a number of reasons, it is surely better to release them sooner rather than later. The more time subscribers have to place, or not place, bets the better. For anyone who is not full-time, it's also not always convenient to send out an email at a pre-determined time. Unless selections are based on individual player metrics and need to wait for injury / team selection news there is simply no need to wait. Send the bets out, with the price that is considered 'true' and give subscribers as much time as possible to find a price that they are comfortable with. Releasing selections at a set time late in the week, especially in soft markets, simply leads to crashes in price and little time for them to bounce back.

On the subject of 'true' prices, Dmitri observes:
If you as many punters do always use level staking this number is irrelevant. Then you are only interested in beating the bookie.

But if you are more advanced and use some sort of variable staking like fractional Kelly, then value is very important. On average these services are overestimating the value on their selections and this in turn will influence a bettor using variable staking negatively.
I do record my selections using level staking, but as a Kelly man, my real-world bets are not level. Dmitri continues, with a rather depressing conclusion:
Regarding minimum odds I would never consider signing up for a service that did not provide these prices. They represent the models estimate of fair prices.
Of course no model can get it right, but on a very large sample the profit of proofing to min odds should be about a round zero.
This is actually not the case. The profit ranges from -3.43% to -7.15%.

I can’t remember any service with a positive profit!
 We're all useless!  The true price hurts!

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