Saturday, 30 October 2010

Get Inter The Groove


Always nice to start the weekend off with a winner, and Internazionale were expected to win by 0.7 at Genoa. At 2.22 this was a value bet.

As some of you may have noticed, I have a tendency to focus on draws, or value home selections, but away picks at this rating (of -0.7) or above have only lost once all season from 19 selections, and of course, that one loss was in the unreliable Bundesliga. Other selections in this range this weekend are Chelsea (1.48) who are -1.35 to win at Blackburn Rovers and Real Madrid (1.35), who are -1.67 to win at Hercules.

The ratings expected Bayern Munich to beat Freiburg by two, and won by exactly that 4-2, but at 1.33 this was too short for me. Odds-on favourites in Germany are usually to be opposed.

In the NBA, the Dallas Mavericks traded at 1.05 before losing by one point at home to the Memphis Grizzlies, and the Lakers / Suns Under 218.5 traded at 1.07 - it ended up at 220 points.

Unfortunately, I have to work extra hours on the day job this weekend, and I'm expected in the office as well which seems a little unreasonable, but that's life as a part-time trader.

Full-Time Trader Ben at Sports Trading Life had a post yesterday about making gambling pay. Rather provocatively titled Is This Why 99.9% Of Sports Gamblers Lose?, he writes about the importance on giving systems time before discarding or modifying them, and this is spot on in my opinion. It's certain that any off-the-shelf 'system' is going to work for too long, and it's up to the individual to put the time and effort in to finding something that works for them. Ben writes

I firmly believe that one of the main reasons why most people fail at gambling is because they never fully expect to be successful at it which means they will never give it the full amount of time and effort required to make it work.
I have to agree. There's no website that you can go to and find a winning system, but if you have the time and a certain amount of intelligence, it is quite possible to eke out an edge, but it's important to maintain a positive approach. Beating the odds is a challenge, but Betfair's Premium Charge is proof that several people achieve this. You can either rise to the challenge, come up with ideas, modify them as needed and become profitable, or you can be half-hearted about it, which in betting, as with most challenges in life, will doom you to failure. Henry Ford's quote sums it up "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right."

Friday, 29 October 2010

Bats Heat Up


The ratings predict two strong draws, two weak draws, and six bankers in the EPL this weekend. The strong draws are Bolton Wanderers v Liverpool on Sunday, and Blackpool v West Bromwich Albion on Monday. The other major leagues all have just one strong draw each; in Germany Koln v Hamburg, en France Monaco v Bordeaux, in Serie A Brescia v Napoli and in La Liga it's Deportivo La Coruna v Espanyol.

The ratings have the following as value: Malaga (3.75) v Real Sociedad, Wolfsburg (2.25) v Stuttgart, Brest (2.7) v St Etienne, Auxerre (2.0) v Nice, Palermo (2.4) v Lazio, Catania (2.8) v Fiorentina and Aston Villa (1.88) v Birmingham City.

The NBA continues in pleasing fashion. My main focus is on trading the match odds market, but I play the handicap and over/under markets pre-game where I perceive value. The total points are 3-2 at the moment, which is nothing to get excited about, but the handicaps are currently 8-2.

I got a bit lucky on the World Series last night. The Over 6.5 runs bet did not look good with just 2 runs on the board heading to the bottom of the eighth inning, but the Giants hit 7 more to seal the game and take the total over. They've also taken a 2-0 lead in the series, and historically such teams win the World Series 78.4% of the time (1.28). I'm on at 1.43. After being one of the lower scoring teams of the year, the Giants have certainly chosen the right time to get hot with the bats.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Value Betting For Dummies


Anonymous from Romford, or perhaps it's George from Romford who just happens to share the same IP address as Anonymous, was asking about value, and yes, again I am breaking my rule, but only because I found this very informative article about value betting which is well worth reading if you are still confused about value. The only thing I would add is that only time, or your account balance, will tell if value is imaginary or real.

If the bookmaker's odds are unfair, how can a punter ever win? Given the disadvantage the overround imposes, it is no surprise that as many as 95% of gamblers fail to win at fixed odds sports betting over the long term. There is no denying that most bookmakers, particularly the well-established firms, are very good at setting prices, estimating the true chance of sporting results and locking in a profit margin.

Nevertheless, sports are not statistically quantifiable, in the sense that cards or other forms of casino gambling are, where simple laws of probability govern the outcome of games like blackjack, roulette and craps. I know that I have a 1/37 chance of landing a number 36 on a European roulette wheel (1/38 chance on an American wheel). But how can I know what the true probability is of Ronnie O'Sullivan winning the world snooker championship again? And if I think I know what his chances are, how can I be sure that my estimate is more accurate than the bookmaker's?

Unfortunately, the answers to these questions only come with time and experience, by acquiring a "knowledge" of a sport and its betting market, and a familiarity with the way bookmakers set their odds. The good news, however, is that whilst bookmakers are very good at setting odds for sporting events, they, like punters, can make mistakes, sometimes very glaring ones, which knowledgeable bettors will snap up without a moment's hesitation. William Hill, for example, astonishingly offered 200/1 on Primoz Peterka, the back-in-form Slovenian ski jumper, to win the opening ski jumping World Cup competition of the 2002/03 season at Kuusamo, Finland, despite the fact that he had won the qualifying competition the night before, and had been double world champion in previous seasons. The true odds, by contrast, were likely to be nearer to 10/1, and most other bookmakers had priced accordingly. Peterka won, and William Hill ceased offering odds for the ski jumping World Cup thereafter. Of course, such large mistakes are relatively rare, but smaller pricing errors do and must exist to account for the few per cent of gamblers who are profiting regularly from fixed odds sports betting.

Punters differ in the methods they use to acquire a sports betting "knowledge". Some like to adopt a more mathematical approach by using rating systems based on past performance to predict future outcomes. Others spend hours each week poring over sports journals and Internet sites to glean as much information as they can about a particular event, including news about the weather, and team or player injuries and morale. Still others base their judgement on a subjective feel for the forthcoming event, relying on an inkling or a hunch about what may happen. And finally there are punters who simply pay others to do the thinking for them, by subscribing to one or more sports advisory services.

There is no right or wrong approach to seeking a betting edge. Ultimately, the best one is the one that works for you, one that returns a profit. However, what each approach has in common is a shared aim of finding "value" in the odds, where the true chance of a win is greater than that estimated by the bookmaker. Many punters fail to appreciate the importance of value betting, preferring to subscribe to the "back winners, not losers" school of gambling. Betting on Liverpool at Anfield to beat Sunderland at 4/11, it might be argued, is surely preferable to betting on Sunderland to beat Liverpool at 13/2, even if the bookie has restricted Liverpool's odds but been generous with Sunderland's. Liverpool, simply, are too good, however poor the price.

This analysis is confused because the punter has failed to assess Liverpool's chance of a win in probabilistic terms, but instead rather simply by whether he thinks they will or won't be victorious. "Winners" cannot win all the time, no matter how much a punter is convinced that they can. The important question a punter should instead be asking is whether the true chance of a winner is greater than that which the bookmaker has unfairly (in his mind), but potentially mistakenly (in the punter's mind), estimated it to be. In other words, is the bookmaker's price greater than that which the punter considers to be the fair price? If it is, then he has found betting value, provided he can estimate prices better than the bookmaker, of course.

A value bettor will be generally unconcerned about backing the underdog, or perhaps more relevantly backing a team which he thinks will not win (underdog or not), provided there is value in the bookmaker's odds. A value bettor estimating the likelihood for the Liverpool win to be 70%, with a 15% chance of a Sunderland win would back the away team, despite believing that Liverpool should win. According to these estimations, the fair odds for the two teams are 1.43 and 6.67 respectively. If the punter is right, and the game could be played 100 times, a 13/2 bet on Sunderland each time would, on average, return £12.50 profit from 100 £1 stakes. By contrast, backing Liverpool at 4/11 would, on average, lose him £4.55. He might believe that Liverpool should win each time, but in this case so does the bookmaker, who has cut his odds. Equally, however, the bookmaker has underestimated the chance of a Sunderland win, offering odds that the value bettor considers, in this case, to represent value.

Since odds are just probabilities, value betting offers really the only way to beat the bookmaker. A punter can back as many "winners" as he likes, but if he fails to take into account the bookmaker's prices, it may not be enough to return a profit. There will always be some losers. Really, the argument about value betting is a hypothetical one. The "back winners, not losers" philosophy is itself inherently all about finding a betting edge. If a punter is finding winners and making a profit with them, it means simply that he is winning more bets than the bookmaker believes the punter ought to be winning, according to the odds the bookmaker had set. If this is the case, the punter has found value and established a betting edge, whether he quantitatively set out to do so or just followed his hunches. Successful betting, then, is really all about understanding and managing probabilities. Know the true chances of a sporting win, and there may be profitable opportunities waiting at the bookmakers. As Geoff Harvey says in his book Successful Football Betting, "Find the value, [and] the winners will take care of themselves."

Number Of The Beast


The football over the last evenings was of little interest to me, but the start on the new NBA season was. I layed a nice sum at 1.01 in the first game fairly late on between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics, but the big win eluded me as the Heat got within three, but never closer. Still, a nice profit to start to season.

I've written before that, year after year, the price is driven too low, too early by greed, and presumably by people who don't understand basketball. Incidentally, the 1.01 lay was on BETDAQ who had this game in-running, and yet the following Lakers v Rockets game wasn't in-running. It makes no sense.

The Lakers received their Championship rings before this game, and invariably it seems the recipients take a while to settle down after all the hoopla, and so it was with the Lakers who, after starting at a ridiculous 1.29, were down by 11 points and trading at 2.68 by half-time.

Last night I was able to lay the Celtics at 1.21/1.22 before they went on to lose to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the new season is off to a good start. Some way to go to match my best season of 2008-09 but hope springs eternal, especially at the start of a new season.

Breaking my rule (again) to ignore Anonymous comments the question of why so many publications use form going back 6 matches is interesting. He wrote:

The amount of people I have seen who say they use the last 6 games form in one way or another is uncanny. Some people base whole systems around it.

There must be a sheep mentality at work. Was 6 the number of games the pools predictions used to have the WXLDXX for in the newspapers? I wonder if it's subconsciously derived from that.

To the best of my knowledge, the number six has no special significance when assessing football form.
Personally, I chose six for the reasons stated yesterday - it seems like this is a big enough number to smooth out any abnormal results, yet small enough to be meaningful. It's a manageable number, and also a number that's likely to include three home / three away games, or at least two home or two away games.

Although I agree that six has no special significance for rating teams, I'm hard-pressed to come up with a better number to use. Four isn't bad, five and seven are unbalanced and eight is getting into the realm of being too far back to be meaningless. If I did go back that far, the weighting would diminish their value so their impact would be negligible.

Besides, I like the number 6. It's the number of (old) pennies I used to get for my pocket money. It's the smallest perfect number. It's the only even perfect number that is not the sum of successive odd cubes. It's the only number that is both the sum and the product of three consecutive positive numbers. It's a triangular number (as is its square) and England won the World Cup in 66. Six is a great number, and the devil in me likes 666 - Here is wisdom, let him that hath understanding... Well, it is nearly Halloween.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Personal Touch


Geoff at full-time betting asked

Hi- fascinating reading as always- what are you basing the "strong draws" research on? is it your own stats or something that is widely available?
I also had an e-mail from Steve who wrote
Thanks for the reply below my system is still going although the last week has seen a slight drop in the strike rate. On the blog you mention that you consider past form etc. Are you able to give any advice on how you incorporate past form into the ratings? Do you also consider past meetings between two teams?
Since the questions overlap a little, I'll address them together.

The answer is that strong draws, along with all my football picks, are generated from my own statistics. The main component is each team's basic rating from an Elo based but personalised system, modified by recent form and historical home / away record.

As for how to incorporate form, to me it seems logical to put more weighting on the most recent result and reduce the weighting as you go back. I use the most recent six games for this. Why six? - it seems like this is a big enough number to smooth out any abnormal results, yet small enough to be meaningful. Besides, the ratings themselves are a record of long-term form.

Also, I don't just use the result, but I use the result relative to the expected result, so for example, Crystal Palace losing at Chelsea would penalise Palace a lot less than Palace losing at home to Brighton. When I see form shown in the manner of WwLDdl, to me, it's almost meaningless. I use the difference in ratings after each result so that I have something like +6, -3, +3, -5, +12, -9 and then weight them.

As for whether or not I consider previous meetings between the two teams, the answer is no. I don't believe that this adds anything to the ratings. Teams usually play each other just twice a season, (excluding the Scottish Leagues), and while it's mildly interesting to know that it's been x years since team A beat team B, with teams changing year by year, it really means nothing. There might be a case for a 'derby game' adjustment though.

Another nice winner last night with Real Sociedad (-1.1) comfortably beating Deportiva La Coruna at 2.14. Football Elite were on this one also, and as he commented in his update, the price on this game plunged late to around 2.0 at kick-off. 2.0 would have been close to taking this one off the value list, but getting on a couple of days ago at 2.14 meant this was comfortably value.

It was a good weekend for Matt's Football Elite picks. The three Recommended Bets all won with clean sheets. In addition to Real Sociedad's 3-0 win last night, Villareal won 2-0 on Sunday, and Sunderland beat Aston Villa 1-0 on Saturday.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Over Staking


I mentioned a few posts ago that there are some odd things that happen when trading in-play on BETDAQ.

A week ago, I wrote:

Aside from the generally low liquidity, there's another strange thing on BETDAQ which is that one minute it looks like a liquid market, with prices three deep, but the next instant, all the bids and offers vanish, and it's a ghost market.
Apparently this is nothing new to longer-time users of BETDAQ, and it has been complained about as far back as November 2007.

From the Bookmakers Review :
Multiple Betdaq customers complained about the exchange using fake amounts to make its markets look more active and attract bettors. The large amounts available on minor markets regularly disappear as soon as a real bettor tries to match a bet.
It's definitely odd, although another possible explanation could be this -
We all know BETDAQ allow bookmakers to put their prices up on the exchange - sometimes through Betdaq tools, and I honestly think some of them are quite clunky in the way the do it. If they change a price I think they remove their offers, do some kind of recalculation - and pop them back up a few minutes later.
We all know this? I can't say that I knew it, but BETDAQ's very much a secondary exchange for me although I do find myself using it more and more these days, and the balance after Sunday's NFL reached a new high, so it's fast becoming my 'lucky' exchange.

The weekend was one of my better ones, but it should have been much more. I layed the Philadelphia Phillies at 1.24 in their NLCS game v the San Francisco Giants but went in for an amount that was above my comfort level with the result that I traded out too soon at a price that was less than value. They were 2-0 up at the time, but it was far too early in the game to be backing at that kind of a price, but a four figure red does things to the brain, and the urge to protect the bank proved stronger than making the correct decision to hold on to it. Of course the Giants rallied, and won 3-2. One day I'll get the hang of this trading game.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Strength In Numbers


The draws keep coming. The three strong draws predicted here for today were Parma v AS Roma, Bologna v Juventus and Udinese v Palermo. It says something about these picks when I am actually disappointed when one of them fails to come in. The games at Parma and Bologna both delivered at 3.35 and 3.75 respectively, but the shortest priced of the trio ended 2-1 to Udinese. So four winners from six picks this weekend at an average price of 3.45.

In the EPL, there were further signs that the ratings are clicking with Manchester United -1.2 @ Stoke City, and Liverpool -1.1 v Blackburn Rovers both winning by the expected margin (or as close to it as the scoring system in football allows).

Manchester City blotted the EPL copybook by slumping to a 0-3 defeat when they were rated higher by 0.5, and playing an intra-group rival. The early red-card is one of those things that happen, and no ratings system in the world is going to help when something like that happens.

In Serie A, Chievo were -1.2 v Cesena (won 2-1), Lazio were -0.9 v Cagliari (won 2-1), Lecce were -0.6 v Brescia (won 2-1) and in the late game Internazionale are a full -2 v Sampdoria. It doesn't get much better than that.

La Liga wasn't bad either. Almeria v Hercules was a weaker draw prediction which finished 1-1 at 3.4. Espanyol were -1 v Levante and won 2-1. Getafe were -1.3 v Sporting de Gijon and won 3-0, and Sevilla were -1.2 and won 4-3.

In the late game I have Villareal at -0.8 at 2.34 v Atletico Madrid.

Ligue 1 wasn't so good. Lyon were -1 to win at Arles, but could only draw, and Paris St Germain were -0.9 v Auxerre, yet lost 2-3. Lille are -0.6 at 2.56 in the late game.

And then there's the Bundesliga - the problem child of the Majors. Laying the odds-on favourite continues to pay the bills with Borussua Dortmund failing to beat Hoffenheim and Bayer Leverkusen losing to Mainz 05 although Stuttgart did beat St Pauli. The ROI on this system now stands at a solid enough 17.26%, and while a profitable method shouldn't be knocked, I much prefer the finesse of using the ratings for my picks. The Bundesliga seems to be as good as any other league when it comes to strong draws, hitting at over 40%, but very weak when it comes to teams with an expected superiority in the 0.5 range. In fact more than 56% of such games result in an Away win, compared with 20% in the EPL or La Liga. But this is good information to know. All leagues have their own personalities as has been noted here before. The trick is to use the ratings to their strengths and if this means using the numbers in different way for certain leagues, then so be it.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Einstein


As tipped up here earlier, Freiburg won at 2.32 and Hannover 96 at 2.16 for a nice profit, although 'long-shot' Eintracht Frankfurt could only draw with Schalke 04

Another winner from the 'strong-draw' stable in Wigan Athletic v Bolton Wanderers at 3.35, making it 2 from 3 for these so far this weekend. Three more games tomorrow, but already in profit.

A major drift in price in the imminent Fiorentina v Bari game. Bottom of the table La Viola were 1.78 two days ago, but have now drifted to 2.0.

The intra-group matches are also ahead, with Tottenham Hotspur drawing 1-1 with Everton, although West Ham United lost to Newcastle United 1-2.

In baseball, the Texas Rangers eliminated the New York Yankees in 6 games, while the San Francisco Giants try to do the same later today in Philadelphia.

Texas play in their first ever World Series after winning the American league after 50 years of trying. If it wasn't for the George W Bush connection, I'd almost be pleased for them. I had the misfortune to spend a year living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area several years back, and Texans are strange people. I did have fun telling the following joke while I was there, and seeing how many people completely missed it and joined me in a high-five before it finally sank in.

Albert Einstein's at this party. He goes up to the first man and says "Hi, I'm Albert Einstein, what's your IQ?" and the guy answers "240".

"That's great", says Einstein, "We can talk about pulsars, quasars, black holes, inter-stellare space travel. We can have a great conversation".

So they chat for a while before Einstein says "Well, it's a party, so I'd better go and circulate", and walks up to a second guy, He says "Hi, I'm Albert Einstein, what's your IQ?" and the guy answers "140".

"I guess that's OK", says Einstein, "We can talk about politics or religion". So they chat for a while before Einstein says "Well, it's a party, so I'd better go and circulate", and walks up to a third guy. He says "Hi, I'm Albert Einstein, what's your IQ?" and the guy answers "40".

Albert Einstein looks at him for a few seconds, before raising his right hand, and saying "How 'bout them Cowboys!".
Back to baseball, and the Giants may find it hard to join the Rangers in the World Series today with Jonathan Sanchez matching up against Roy Oswalt who pitched very well in game two against the Giants, although Oswalt's appearance as a relief pitcher in Game 4 was a disaster. I'm hoping some doubt has crept in. The Phillies are 1.63 and, while I think they will win, I don't like beacking at those prices in baseball. The value for me is on laying with a view to trading out early if Oswalt looks sharp.

In the NFL tomorrow, Betting at Betfair pick the New England Patriots +2.5 at 2.02. I'm not convinced. The Chargers have a 2-4 record, but all four defeats have come on the road, with the home games being easy wins, by 25 points and 31 points.

There's also a major mismatch with the Patriots defense (American spelling) ranked 29th in the league against the pass facing the Chargers who are first in the league in total offense, first in passing yards averaging 315 per game in the air.

Spaghetti Boltonaise


Always nice to start the weekend off with a winner, and the Hamburg v Bayern Munich match finished a draw as predicted here yesterday, and priced at a generous 3.5.

The precise expectation on this game was 0.04, for those who think that one decimal place is not enough. I found another problem with the codes assigned to each team, with Bologna v Juventus throwing up a surprising price until I realised that BOL was assigned to Bolton. After the correction, this game is now rated a strong draw.

Ben @ Sports Trading Life had a few words to say about value in the draw, essentially confirming that blindly backing the draw will, to the surprise of no one, not work. However, the key as with everything in betting, is to be selective. When I was in my teens, I was told that the one big advantage punters had over bookies is that they can choose when to bet. While bookies have to price up every race (in those days betting WAS racing), we don't; we can cherry-pick.

In the Bundesliga today, Freiburg look over-priced at 2.32 v FC Kaiserslautern, as do Hannover 96 at 2.16 v Koln, and Eintracht Frankfurt at 2.96 v Schalke 04.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Adjusting The Scale


I have been tweaking the Elo ratings spreadsheet, reducing the scale from 0.25 of a goal to 0.1 goal. I was finding too many games where there was a superiority of 0.5 of a goal, a best-fit which was including anything in the range 0.38 to 0.62.

This will slightly impact my 'strong draw' statistics as they will now include anything that was previously 0.13 or 0.14, but this shouldn't be significant.

So I will now have a 0.0 strong draw, a 0.1 fairly strong draw, a 0.2 middling draw, a 0.3 soft draw and a 0.4 slushy draw! It's a good thing I enjoy numbers.

I've also enhanced the sheet so that I now just have to enter each team's code, and the rating and current form figures automatically populate and spit out the projected final margin.

I had a slight surprise when Schalke '04 came out forecast as big winners at Eintracht Frankfurt, but closer inspection showed that the code of EF was shared by the not quite so strong East Fife.

Just five strong draws from the 49 top games this weekend, and they are Hamburg v Bayern Munich, Nuremberg v Wolfsburg, Wigan Athletic v Bolton Wanderers, Parma v AS Roma and Udinese v Palermo are the picks.

Weaker draw predictions are Borussia Moenchengladbach v Werder Bremen, Sunderland v Aston Villa, West Ham United v Newcastle United, Lens v Nice and Nancy v Lorient.

Also worthy of mention are Sochaux v Toulouse, Bologna v Juventus, Genoa v Catania, Almeria v Hercules, Osasuna v Malaga, Manchester City v Arsenal and Napoli v AC Milan.

A couple of intra-group matches listed above - the games at West Ham and Manchester City, plus the Tottenham Hotspur v Everton game.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Cool Summer


Less than a week to go now before the new NBA season starts. While last season fell short of 2008-09, profits from trading this sport still make up the lion's share of my annual profits.

I've looked in on a couple of the pre-season games, and the liquidity seems to be reasonable again. This has been a tough summer, with baseball hardly worth the time and effort, and my balance has still not recovered fully from April's disaster. The longest drawdown in my trading history was from 1.Jan.07 to 5.Aug.07, 216 days, before the balance was again onward and upward, and today is 216 days since the last 'high' in March, so I'll be breaking an unwanted record there. Still, always looking on the bright side, if I have an 'average' November, (my third best calendar month historically) I'll be there or thereabouts. Unfortunately, May was the last month where I beat the average, so confidence is not high.

I don't, but should I ever have any inclinations towards trading full-time, all I would need to do is remind myself of these tougher times to lay that idea firmly to rest. I can only imagine how stressful such periods would be. As I've written berfore, it's one thing doing this as a hobby to make a little extra cash, and quite another to do this as your only source of income.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Value Required


One of the intentions of this blog is to promote intelligent debate about various aspects of betting. My last post prompted a sensible comment, or more accurately a few questions, from Sam, which were these:

Hi. I am working on my own ratings at the moment, and then turning it into what I see should be correct odds. However, If possible, please could you explain the following to me:

1. What should be the minimum value that I should look for, i.e. 10%, 20% etc.
Assuming commission at 5%, on a bet with a probability of .5, you need to be backing at 2.06 or more to be profitable so your edge has to be 3% at least. The problem is that you are unlikely to be certain about the precise size of your edge until you have had a large number or trials, and so it is prudent to err on the side of caution. 10% seems a reasonable figure to me, at least for a relatively new system, but once an edge is firmly established, this can be reduced. Any profit after commission is good, and where you draw the line on what is worth the time and effort is a personal choice.
2. The bookies and Betfair markets are more or less very efficient. If I see too much value to be had, i.e. 30%+ then should I disregard my bet as I can't see the market being that wrong most of the time.
Absolutely. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you will know that on one occasion I found what appeared to be huge value on a Weymouth v Rushden and Diamonds Conference fixture. What I didn’t know was that Weymouth’s first team had quit, en masse, and that their team for the match would essentially consist of the youth team. Weymouth lost 0-8 I believe. The rule in investing that “if something appears too good to be true, it probably is”, is very pertinent here.
3. In your opinion, would it be better to concentrate on one aspect, i.e. Home win, Away Win or Draw only. Or should this not matter. All help and advice will be greatly appreciated.
It shouldn’t matter, but if your ratings are anything like mine, you will probably find that they turn out to have their strengths and weaknesses. I started off looking at home winners, but as I collected more data, the biggest edge turned out to be on the draw. You may also notice that some match-ups show value on other markets than Match Odds, e.g. the under or over markets. I would play with your ratings for small stakes until you determine where they are finding value, and then you can focus your efforts on improving that edge even more. My ratings have evolved over time, from a very basic Elo system, to one that now ‘predicts’ goal supremacy, prices up matches, and that takes into account form and home / away strength. It can be improved further, but I have a job and there’s only so much available time.

Those are just some of my thoughts on the subject, though others may well have their own ideas.

Of course, pleasant comments only would be too much to ask for, and sure enough there's the seemingly obligatory nonsensical comment from 'you know who' - yesterday's was this gem:
think you've pretty much nailed why your systems won't work.
Nothing about when they will stop working or why. Just a pointless remark, followed by
And your last sentence pretty much nails why you thought they might work.
Eh? My last sentence was this
Still, even a broken clock shows the correct time twice a day.
Apparently Anonymous didn't get the memo - I am not using the SBP's systems. Never have, never will. They don't work.

I'm trying to ignore Anonymous' comments, but every once in a while they are ridiculous enough that I rise to the bait.

In tonight's football, Real Madrid were -1.75 v AC Milan and won 2-0 in the only game between teams from leagues that I follow.

Top-rated Luton Town were -2 favourites v bottom-rated Forest Green Rovers, and covered the spread handily winning 6-1.

Decisions


A good finish to the 'weekend' with the strong draw predicted between Hercules and Villareal winning at 3.4. Hercules were 2-1 up, but a sending off allowed the Yellow Submarine to tie the game up. They then torpedoed themselves with two late dismissals, (for diving perhaps?) and Hercules held on for the 2-2 draw.

Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland (an intra-group game) also finished level, at 3.35.

Now that the early season period appears to be over, and the ratings are somewhat settled, I am going to run into games where various systems contradict each other.

The Newcastle United v Wigan Athletic game on Saturday is an extreme example. The ratings had Newcastle to win by 1.25 goals, but they were priced at 1.88 which qualified them as an odds-on favourite to lay. And just to confuse matters still further, the match qualified as a draw based on the 'intra-group' method.

I am leaning towards going with the longer priced option, since I believe there's more value to be found here, than there is backing at odds-on. Not that I don't believe that value can exist at short prices, just that it is harder to find and tends to be compressed.

The SBP had a good weekend on the NFL - four out of four. Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers. Still, even a broken clock shows the correct time twice a day.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Getting Serious


A losing day overall on the football, although the results in Serie A kept it close. The four one goal predicted winners for the weekend there all won, AC Milan (1.5), Roma (1.96), Palermo (1.67) and Sampdoria (2.26). Juventus were favoured by 1.25 and won at 1.39. Four weak draws in Serie A resulted in winners at Catania v Napoli (3.2) and Cesena v Parma (3.2).

The results in Italy pretty much went as expected, a sign perhaps that the early season period for extra care is at an end. More evidence is that all four odds-on favourites won in Germany this weekend, bringing the ROI on the Bundeslayga System down to 13.26%, and all four in Spain also won. Only in England were there surprises, and not really any big ones except for Manchester United giving up a 2-0 lead at home. A weakened Chelsea drawing at Aston Villa wasn't exactly an upset, and while Arsenal struggled to beat Birmingham, they did prevail in the end.

Anonymous commented "I like the way you have subtly shifted the Mainz loser on to Football Elite!". This isn't my intent, but I do have something of a dilemma when it comes to FE's recommendations. I can obviously not post Matt's selections up ahead of time, but often his picks are already on my list of value selections, and therefore it seems reasonable for me to mention them. I typically report on the Football Elite results after each weekend, win or lose, and if I have mentioned those teams ahead of time, it is because I identified those picks as value as well.

While we're talking about FE, this weekend was not the best they have had, with Mallorca today joining Mainz as a 0-1 home losers. On the short-list, Matt had Sampdoria mentioned above, but Fulham and Brescia lost, while Cesena drew.

Of the 11 weak draw predictions today, there were 4 winners, for a slender 1.46 point profit.

Tony Pulis was whining that Stoke City don't get awarded penalties, and he might have a point. I did a little digging, and last season Stoke City, along with Wolves, were awarded just two penalies in the Premier League. The most awarded was 12 to Chelsea, and of the total of 106 awarded, 80% were scored. Only Wigan missed more than they scored!

I traded the Phillies - Giants baseball on BETDAQ, and came away, somewhat fortunately perhaps, with another decent win on that site. The Phillies were 1.5 to lay over there early in the game, while a quick check on Betfair showed the price at closer to 1.6, so I layed it. But then BETDAQ being BETDAQ, I could not trade out due to very low liquidity, but it all ended well as the Giants took the game.

Aside from the generally low liquidity, there's another strange thing on BETDAQ which is that one minute it looks like a liquid market, with prices three deep, but the next instant, all the bids and offers vanish, and it's a ghost market.

Game Two of the baseball tonight, and I'll stick to trading rather than identifying pre-game value on the over / under!

A small profit on the just ended Minnesota Vikings - Dallas Cowboys NFL game, and always pleasing to see the Dallas Cowboys having a bad season. Not that I care for Drama Queen Brett Favre too much either.

The NBA regular season is getting closer, and already some decent liquidity on some of the pre-season games. A promising sign for the season ahead.

Back home, and Blackburn Rovers are -0.5 v Sunderland tomorrow night, and after that it's more European action.

Malcolm Allison


Sad news this weekend, which I've been dwelling on. Malcolm Allison has died at the age of 83.

Not much to do with betting, but regular readers of this blog will know that fate made me a fan of Crystal Palace Football Club. They were my local professional side, and when Bernard Ingham, later Sir Bernard Ingham, took me to my first match at Easter 1967 v Birmingham City along with his son John, from that moment I was hooked. For better, for worse, (ok, mostly worse), Crystal Palace was my team.

Malcolm Allison was appointed manager in March 1973, and while I had nothing against Bert Head who had served the club well taking 'us' up to the First Division for the first time in 'our' history in 1969, Mr Head was not exactly charismatic. Big Mal was, and his period in charge at the club gave me some of my best memories, even though those years were not exactly hugely successful on the field.

Far from it. It started off well, with Palace beating another London team for the first time in Division One (Chelsea 2-0) giving a young Jimmy Cannon his debut (he scored), but we were ultimately relegated a month after his appointment. But not to worry.

The next season saw the introduction of three-up / three-down, and Allison promised that we would not be in Division Two for long. He was true to his word.

With a new nickname (Glaziers was never that cool, But Eagles, taken from Benfica, was more like it) and new colours (although I'm a traditionalist preferring the old claret and blue) and the sash shirts, Palace started the new season with high hopes. A 1-4 loss to Notts County on opening day soon put paid to those.

We were relegated in 1974 too, (in the 'new' third relegation spot) after starting off the season without a win in, I think, 18 games before we won at Bristol City in November - after almost half the season had gone by! But it was exciting stuff as he had us playing entertaining football in front of big crowds, and we almost saved ourselves before a failure to win the last game at Cardiff put us down.

So we were back to the third level, where we will be again if we don't start to win some games this season, and after coming close to promotion in 1975, it was the 1975-76 season that was most memorable. We started off winning the first five league games, and looked to have promotion within reach before we started the FA Cup in November with a game against Walton and Hersham. Then came a trip to Millwall. I remember the event rather vividly, though not much of the game, as I went in the wrong end and watched the game in a rather uncomfortable manner. We won the replay, won at Scarborough in Round Three, and then drew Leeds away in the fourth round. Leeds at this time were of course one of, if not the, strongest sides in the country, but Third Division Palace went to Elland Road, and not only won, but outplayed the opposition.

On the Monday I placed my first ever football bet - £2 on Palace to win the Cup at 66/1 with Corals in Oxted. It nearly paid off. At some point, Malcolm Allison started wearing a lucky fedora, and he was wearing it in Round Five when we went to Chelsea and won 3-2 although again there some scary moments in the crowd, later highlighteed by Jimmy Hill on MOTD with a slow motion replay of a 'kung-fu' kick.

Before the game, Allison walked across the pitch in his fedora and sheepskin coat and raised three fingers to The Shed. And we won 3-2!

Quarter-Final day, and I was on one of four special trains for the trip to Sunderland, who were unbeaten at home all season, and we won 1-0 (amid more crowd trouble) and were into the semi-final.

In those days the draw was at noon on the Monday, and I listened at work hoping to avoid First Division Derby County and Manchester United, and be drawn with Southampton. My wish was granted, and Palace were actually favourites to win, but we played terribly at Stamford Bridge, losing 0-2 to two late goals, on Grand National day (Rag Trade won) and the dream was over, but I was a teenager at the time, and those vivid memories will stay with me forever. Well, until Alzheimer's kicks-in.

Palace were distracted by the Cup run, and missed out on promotion, and Allison left at the end of the season, to be replaced by Terry Venables who had gained some valuable experience as coach. Allison had also put in place a strong youth system, which saw Palace win the FA Youth Cup two consecutive years and the players formed the nucleus of the side that became known as the Team of the Eighties.

Well, that didn't quite pan out, but I have very fond memories of Malcolm Allison, and still have his autograph somewhere. It's probably valuable now! Great days, and a great coach. I think every Palace fan of a certain age can have nothing but fond memories from those days.

He drinks champagne and smokes cigars...

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Platooning


There's probably a word to describe it, but every so often you hear a term, or about something of which you were previously unaware, and then within days, you come across the same thing from again another source.

A few days ago, I was reading a book about baseball, and it mentioned the idea of platooning. I'd not heard the term before, although I was familiar with the idea behind it so perhaps I had and it simply hadn't registered, but the definition is "to use alternate players at the same position".

In the context I was reading, the discussion was on whether teams should lead off with a right-handed batter if the opposing pitcher was a left-hander, and vice-versa, and then in my mailbox today, I am recommended a web site on the NFL (together with a very nice compliment on the blog, which is much appreciated) and I stumble across an article discussing the merits of platooning quarterbacks in certain situations. Spooky, and with Halloween approaching too...

The web site has a lot of good content, so thanks for that.

Anyway, today's football wasn't great. Football Elite's recommended bet on Mainz 05 v Hamburg was a 0-1 loser, although laying the odds-on favourites in England was a winner with Manchester United, Newcastle United and Chelsea all failing to win. I had layed Man U at 1.3 pre-game, and over a quarter of a million was traded at sub 1.03 after United went 2-0 up against West Bromwich Albion. Only Arsenal spoiled the Grand Slam and they had to come from behind assisted by a generous penalty.

No joy with the same strategy in Germany this weekend, and the ROI since I started now stands at 19.55%. In the EPL, it is an incredible 63.31% right now. For the record, France is 8.7%, Italy 33.21% and just Spain showing a loss, at -11.45%.

Plenty of draws in the EPL, but not at Craven Cottage unfortunately. The intra-group matches went 2 out of 2 though. Of the 13 soft draws, 11 matches are tomorrow. The two already in the books are Bolton v Stoke and last night's Koln v Borussia Dortmund game, so we're due a winner! (That IS how betting works, isn't it?) In the top leagues, the strong draw strike rate is 35.6%.

I was bitten by tipping unders on the baseball last weekend, but not being too shy, I'm putting another one out there on the San Francisco Giants @ Philadelphia Philles game. One pitcher (the Phillies' Roy Halladay) is coming off a no-hitter, and the Giants' Tim Lincecum is coming off a two-hit shutout. The line on BETDAQ is 6 at 1.89, while Betfair have the Under 6.5 at around 1.74. One note of caution is that Halladay gave up 10 hits and five runs in seven innings against the Giants back in April. There's no such thing as a dead-cert in baseball, but there are statistics. Lots of them!

Brest Value


Peter Nordsted's system of picking three EPL draws per weekend continues this weekend with Bolton v Stoke, Newcastle v Wigan and Aston Villa v Chelsea. I do have the Bolton - Stoke game as a weak draw, but Newcastle are the third strongest win of the day and Chelsea the fourth.

He does raise an interesting point when he comments on the HT draw.

Also of interest is the Half Time draw. Bolton have drawn their last four of eight home fixtures against teams of Stoke's grading and Stoke have been tied at half time in seven of their last eight away matches to teams of Bolton's stature.
It might be worth looking at this market too.

Based on the ratings, Newcastle are actually good value to beat Wigan at 1.88, as are Everton at 2.54 to beat Liverpool.

Another value pick is in France, where Brest are 1.61 v Arles-Avignon. This is good value in my opinion. Newly promoted Arles-Avignon are pointless in 8 games, while newly promoted Brest are in 5th place, with clean sheets in their last five games.

In Spain, Mallorca are priced at 2.02 to beat Espanyol, yet my ratings have them favoured by 1, a rating which more typically is in the 1.88 range.

In Serie A, four teams are favoured to win by 1, most generously priced are Sampdoria at 2.26 to beat Fiorentina.

In Germany, Mainz 05 are 0.75 favourites v Hamburg, and priced at a generous 2.35. I have Mainz at 2.11.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Sea Of Green


A veritable dearth of strong draws in the top leagues this weekend. Whereas there are typically half a dozen or so each weekend, this weekend has just two - the afore-mentioned Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur and also the Monday night game between Hercules and Villareal in La Liga. Betting Betfair go for the Yellow Submarine in this one, but at 3.5, the draw is value for me.

No less than 13 matches are rated as weak draws however, and for the reader who is laying the Bundesliga odds-on selections, rest easy. There was no error in those calculations, and again, they are showing a profit for this season.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Recalculating


The first order of business is to correct my mistakes from yesterday. First, I wrote that the percentage of draws in the EPL last season was 33.8%, but the true figure was 25.8% (the 33.8% was the HT draw). Over the past ten years, the draws have averaged 25.8%, so last season was pretty average, although 2009-10 did start off with a distinct lack of draws.

But there was also a more serious error in my P/L calculations, as pointed out by Simon M, which meant that the profits, and ROI, were nowhere near as high as I had reported for most categories.

The revised numbers show that backing the draw in every game at the average odds would have resulted in a loss of 47.5 points over the season, an ROI of -12.5%, but there was one class of match which returned a profit of 9.11 points (ROI 38%) and that was where the home team was in the Strugglers group, and the away team was a Top 4 team. Just 24 matches, so a small sample and more research needed here.

Backing the draw in intra-group matches at average odds showed a small loss of just. 1.87 points, ROI of 2.23%, but if you hunted around for the best odds, this becomes profitable at 0.24 points and 0.28%.

Matches where the away team was two grades higher resulted in a small loss of 0.15 points from 48 matches, an ROI of -0.32%.

What does all this mean? For a start, it means that finding the value by backing the draw isn't as easy as it appeared to be yesterday, but when I think about it, those numbers really were a little unlikely!

However, given that I am working with average prices and assuming a 5% commission, both of which can be easily bettered, by being selective, we are still coming out ahead.

Prior to a month ago, I don't have a record of what the strong draws predicted in the EPL were, but it's almost certain that none were from the higher grade v lower grade category.

The four draws in the EPL that I do have a record of are all in the -1 category, i.e. the home team was one grade worse than the away team, for example this weekend's Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur, or between teams of the same grade. The Elo ratings don't recognise grades though, just ratings, so if Liverpool's and Everton's troubles continue, it is quite probable that Liverpool v Blackburn Rovers will become a candidate.

Coming up this weekend, there are five intra-group matches, but the ratings have only one of these as a draw, and one as a strong home win. We do have a -3 contest which would have been profitable last season, (Blackpool v Manchester City) and the ratings have this as a weak draw.

Fulham are currently unbeaten incidentally, a fact that hasn't received too much publicity, with 6 draws from 7 matches so far.

The ratings should prove to be better than the grades as a selection method, because they are more fluid. Assigning a grade at the start of the season is problematic, not for the top teams, but for the bottom half of the table where fortunes can change rapidly from one season to the next. It's not too long ago that Middlesbrough and Portsmouth, for example, were solid teams.

For the record, this weekend's intra-group matches are:

Bolton Wanderers v Stoke City
Newcastle United v Wigan Athletic
Wolverhampton Wanderers v West Ham United
Everton v Liverpool
Blackburn Rovers v Sunderland

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Drawing Blood

As I promised a dew days ago, I spent some time looking at the results of backing the draw in the English Premier League last season. Blindly backing every game to be a draw would have returned (after 5% commission) 43.7 points, and ROI of 11.5%.

When I looked at the results based on the teams gradings (A to D), for games between teams of the same grade, the results were 29.21 points with an ROI of 33.97%. For the record, these were the gradings assigned at the start of last season:

A. Big 4 (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United)
B. Europa (Aston Villa, Everton, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur)
C. Middlers (Blackburn, Bolton Wanderers, Fulham, Sunderland, West Ham, Wigan)
D. Strugglers (Birmingham City, Burnley, Hull City, Portsmouth, Stoke City, Wolves)

I have used the average draw prices from ten bookmakers so with a little shopping around, these returns could easily be bettered.

Backing the draw when the home team is in a higher group isn't a profitable strategy with an ROI of -8.12%, suggesting that the draw is not value in this class of match.

For this season my groups are:

A. Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United
B. Aston Villa, Everton, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur
C. Birmingham, Blackburn, Bolton Wanderers, Fulham, Stoke City, Sunderland
D. Blackpool, Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham, Wigan, Wolves

33.8%* of EPL games finished drawn last season, higher than the long-term average, and as time permits I'll take a look at previous seasons and other leagues.

* Correction: The percentage of drawn games last season was 25.26%, very slightly below the ten year average of 25.8% which makes the results even more promising.

Crazy Results!

It's not the SBP's fault after all - it's the crazy results! From his latest unsolicited e-mail, some extracts:

Before that I just want to take a second to discuss how crazy an early season it has been for both NCAA and NFL Football.

It's really incredible, teams that were supposed to be good are not. Teams that were supposed to be terrible are atop the standings. I mean look at the top of the standings: Tampa Bay? Kansas City? Really. And the bottom: Dallas? San Diego? And it's not just the NFL either, it's the same in college.

That being said, with all the craziness we're still hanging in there and we had a big win with the Eagles Sunday night. Hopefully that gives us the kick in the pants we're looking for. [Yeah, sports betting works like that].

My systems have a proven track record. [Proven where?] I have hundreds of testimonials from people telling me they bought a new car, put a down payment on a house, took an exotic vacation - all by using winnings they generated from following my picks. [Following, or opposing?]
No word on why he wouldn't just be quietly amassing his wealth with these great systems rather than doing everything he can to sell them. Oh wait, perhaps he can make more from selling them than from using them? Hmmm. How could that be?

If you're interested, Wednesday's NCAA Pick is Marshall +6.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Name That Price


The odds on England to win were pushed down to around 1.22 tonight, but they, and the other Home Nations all failed to win. Unfortunately for me, although I was tempted to lay England, I had no involvement at all, not even bothering to watch the match. Resting before the real big game of the day, the Tampa Bay Rays v Texas Rangers who are currently the only MLB team to have never won a play-off series. That looked set to change a few days ago when they had a 2-0 (in a best-of-five) lead heading back to Texas, but the Rays rebounded to win both games there so it's all to play for tonight. Again, all the sign are for a low scoring game tonight, but in baseball, anything can happen. Tampa Bays' last 6 play-off home games have all been unders. The Rangers are surprisingly underdogs at 2.16 to win this one, and with Cliff Lee pitching against David Price - who was a very poor loser in Game 1 of this series - that looks like value to me. Incidentally, this is not the same David Price from Caterham who I had the pleasure of knowing during his Crystal Palace days.

I lost both on Saturday and Sunday this weekend, the first time both days of a weekend have been losing days since May of 2009. The baseball cost me on Saturday (I knew I was in trouble when Rich Allen, aka SBP, tipped the Texas Rangers too), and then on Sunday had a losing day on the NFL. Things picked up yesterday though, with a win for the San Francisco Giants in Atlanta, and a New York Jets victory over Brett Favre's Minnesota Vikings.

A full schedule on the football this weekend thank goodness, with a strong draw predicted for Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur. A couple of weaker draws too, but I haven't yet looked at the other top leagues. If the baseball's boring, I'll do it tonight!

Back to the SBP, and the Best Betfair Football Trader is upset he's being missing out on the NFL and NCAAF picks. The expression "be careful what you wish for" comes to mind.

$100 Million Problem


Once in a while, well, actually almost every day, someone on the Betfair forum comes up with a simple strategy of starting with a small bank and compounding it at the rate of 1% a day until he is a millionaire in next to no time. It would actually take about 925 days starting with a bank of £100, but you get the idea. Any fool can make 1% a day on Betfair, so all that's needed is a little patience and presto! You're soon a millionaire.

There's one thing that these challenges all have in common, and that is that they all fail.

Back in 1999, super-investor Warren Buffett said he could generate 50% returns on small sums of money. At that year's BRK shareholder meeting, he was asked:

Shareholder: Recently, at Wharton, Mr. Buffett, you talked about the problems of compounding large sums of money. You were quoted in the local paper as saying that you're confident that if you were working with a small sum closer to $1 million, you could compounded at a 50% rate. For those of us not saddled with a $100 million problem, could you talk about what types of investments you'd be looking at and where in today's market, you think significant inefficiencies exist?

Buffett: I may have been very slightly misquoted, but I certainly said something to that effect. I talked about how I polled this group of 60 or so people I get together with every couple of years as to what rate they think they can compound money at if they were investing small sums: $100,000, $1million, $100 million, $1 billion, etc. And I pointed out how the return expectations of the members of this group go very rapidly down the slope.
He continued explaining his reasoning from a financial market perspective, describing how with smaller sums of money you can look at everything in your area of expertise and find opportunities, but as the money involved increases, opportunities diminish. The same principle applies to the sports markets.
As the money goes from $1 million to $10 million, I'd say it would fall off dramatically in terms of the expected return -- because you find very, very small things you're almost certain to make high returns on. But you don't find very big things in that category today.
Same with the sports markets, although you can take off a few zeroes from Mr. Buffett's numbers. At least until I get that 1% a day system perfected...

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Purging History


I had to empty my bookcase the other day - Mrs Cassini wanted some new windows installed - and so my books and other publications are currently on the dining room table awaiting, what Mrs C likes to call "purging".

I'm not very good at "purging".

Among the treasures I found were a free booklet from Ladbrokes circa 1975, and following on from my post about the relatively recent rise of sports betting, it was interesting that of the 36 pages, all but half of a page are dedicated to horse racing or greyhound racing. Clues to its age are references to the Home International Championship and the John Player Sunday League. The introduction begins:

In a survey that Ladbrokes carried out recently among the sporting public, we asked a straight question. What would you most like from your bookmaker that you are not now getting? And the answer came back loud and clear: MORE INFORMATION.

Despite the fact that Ladbrokes' customers are generally agreed to be the best-informed in the business, we decided to lead the way in meeting this demand. Our reply to your request is in your hands now...everything you want to know about racing and betting, all in one easy-to-understand booklet.
And then there is a booklet which cost me all of £1, (actually, that was quite a lot at the time), called "A Fortune For Little Money" by Robert Edwards. I remember reading this and having trouble getting to sleep because it all just seemed so easy. A fortune was just a few weeks away, but I guess the system that had 45 selections and just 18 losers with a longest losing sequence of 3, that turned £40 into £33,417.03 after 8.5% tax really was a little too good to be true.

I also came across a 1987 book called "The Punter's Revenge - Computers In The World Of Gambling" by Tony Drapkin and Richard Forsyth. It was the 'dawning of the age of microcomputers' and contains BASIC code for those interested in writing their own programs to run on their "Amstrad CPC 6128". This book actually gave me the basic idea for the Elo ratings I keep, and is mentioned on several web sites concerned with rating teams.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Forever Young, And Happy, Probably


I get some strange comments from time to time, but one unusual one on my last post was an analysis of my writing style, from the web tool UrlAi which "can look at any blog and tell you the gender of the person that writes and his/her age based solely on the person’s writing style. It can also tell you what the predominant mood of the blog is."

For a web tool that is designed to analyse writing styles, it has an appalling understanding of grammar if it thinks it is correct to say "a person THAT writes". It should be "a person WHO writes". Or in London, "a person WHAT writes..." - I'm tempted to leave a dangling modifier in this post, just for fun.

Anyway, the analysis for me is...?

green-all-over.blogspot.com is probably written by a male somewhere between 26-35 years old. The writing style is personal and happy most of the time.
It could have been worse.

What couldn't have been much worse were the League One / Two and Conference predictions this weekend. Well, they could always be worse, but they weren't that good. The one strong draw in League One was a 2-1 home win for Walsall, and none of the four candidates in League Two finished drawn either. Barrow v Crawley Town was the one strong draw that worked out, and oddly, was at the best price (4.0) of the day. Football Elite had just one short-list selection which I fortunately left alone as the Republic of Ireland lost to Russia. I don't care for internationals.

Anonymous is still upset with the advice given out from Peter Nordsted's service. I've not read the book, but if the comment is true, and I have no reason to doubt that it is, it would appear that some of the advice being given, or rather sold, is of less than stellar value. The comment was:
Can't be bothered to bring back the previous debate on Pete Nordstedt's methodology but a good example this weekend in his and his partner's newsletter.

Firstly, their ratings make the price of a Brighton win 2.00

Then they go on to say "If you fancy the Brighton win then dutching the 1 or 2 goal margin pays 2.17 and should be high on your consideration as this offers more than their rating price of 2.00."

Well now, it's hardly a surprise that the dutched price for a win of up to two goals is better than the straight win price is it. Last time I looked, it was possible for a team to win a match by more than two goals. Is that still the case?

Incidentally, the true price for Brighton to win by one or two goal, off the top of my head, should be around 6-4. 2.17 doesn't see like much value there lads (regardless of what occurs)

Like I said before. These guys have so many flaws in their thinking, it's unreal. Do people really pay for their services?
For the record, I had Brighton to win this myself, by 1, but I was looking for a Match Odds price in excess of 2.07 which wasn't matched, so I left them alone. Do people pay for his service? Presumably some do. People signed up in their droves for Adam Heathcote's advice service a little over a year ago - whatever happened to him or the service? How many people subscribed to both?

The baseball was bad and good last night. The Under picks were both losers, both games had scores in the first innings, which is never good for an Under bet), but the good news was that both winners came from behind, including the Atlanta Braves who were 0-4 down to the Giants who I layed at 1.08 while up 4-0. At the top of the third inning, the probability of the Giants winning (per The Book) was 0.85 (1.17), but they could be, and were, layed at 1.08. Once again, I locked in my Green-All-Over too early, but a profitable day, and hindsight's a gift I don't have. Not yet, but then I'm only betweeen 26 and 35.

The Texas Rangers are the only team in MLB that have never won a play-off series, but that piece of trivia could become history today as they play the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 3 with a 2-0 lead in a best-of-five series. The other ALCS game is the New York Yankees, also with a 2-0 lead, looking to eliminate the Minnesota Twins. The Twins have lost 11 consecutive play-off games, and one suspects confidence for the Twins and the Rays will be low. The Rangers are 1.87 and the Yankees are 1.6. Unfortunately, the Sports Betting Professor has tipped the Texas Rangers too.

For anyone interested in his NFL picks for tomorrow, here they are: St. Louis Rams +3.5; New York Giants +3.5; Baltimore Ravens -6.5; Dallas Cowboys -6.5; New Orleans Saints -6.5; Philadelphia Eagles +3.5.

Here are his remaining NCAAF selections for today too: Colorado +12; Iowa St. +6; East Carolina +8; Oregon St. +9; Kentucky +7; Purdue +9; Houston +6; USC +10; Rice +10; Hawaii +11. These should be accompanied by a public wealth warning!

New York Times


Online Betting Venue Betfair to IPO Punters: We’re Worth $2.4B
By RILEY MCDERMID of VentureBeat

The world’s largest online betting exchange, Betfair Group, today set a price range for its upcoming initial public offering and listing on the London Stock Exchange that would value the company at as much as $2.4 billion.

The British company, which allows bettors to skip the age-old process of going through a bookie to make bets or give odds on everything from soccer to horseracing online, said it would sell a stake to public investors at £11 to £14, or $17.50 to $22.30, a share.

Betfair also owns a nascent financial exchange, LMAX, whose early successes—or failures—may eventually weigh on any final IPO price.

Betfair was founded a decade ago by JP Morgan trader Edward Wray, Internet entrepreneur Josh Hannah and well-known professional gambler Andrew Black. Hannah left the company in 2004 and is now a venture capitalist at Matrix Partners in Silicon Valley. Betfair has since seen revenues climb a steady 10 percent year-over-year, with the Wray and Black now owning 23 percent of the company.

As of April 30, Betfair had seen a 13 percent gain in 2010 and listed its revenue at $543 billion. The company earns a 2 to 5 percent commission on any bets placed through the site.

As part of the new IPO, Black and Wray have said they will sell at least 10 percent of Betfair, while selling an undisclosed amount of existing shares.

Betfair said in a statement it would not issue any new shares in the public offering, although a group of 600 smaller investors, who hold a quarter of the company’s existing shares, will have the option to sell when the firm lists on the LSE.

The company’s 14 largest shareholders (including Wray and Black) currently hold about 75 percent of Betfair’s stock, with its biggest investor being Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank Corp. Betfair said that Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs will act as bookrunners and joint sponsors for the IPO, while Numis and Barclays Capital will help solicit investors as co-managers.
And from The Scotsman
Online betting company Betfair has attracted enough orders from investors to cover all the shares offered for its London listing, banking sources yesterday said.
The offer of about 10 per cent of Betfair was oversubscribed after the first day of bookbuilding which launched on Thursday, the sources said. The company is set to be worth up to £1.48 billion.