Saturday, 13 November 2010

Tout Le Brest

One of my picks for today, Brest, are the subject of a blog post on BBC Sport. Titled “Revolution on the rampage in France's Ligue 1”, the post details Stade Brestois 29’s rise to the top of the league, although to suggest there’s a ‘revolution on the rampage’ is ridiculously premature. We’re 12 games in to the season, not 32, and with Paris St Germain just two points behind, and Marseille three back (with a game in hand), to suggest that Brest are anything but a flash-in-the-pan team seems a little ridiculous. It's a good story though; the club were in the Fourth Division just 11 seasons ago. If you think the blog post isn't premature, Brest can be backed at 130. For those who like backing goalscorers, Romain Poyet is on a run with goals in the last three Brest games.

The reason the price today is so generous is no doubt because Brest have only won two of their five home games, and annoyingly for me, I picked them to easily beat hapless Arles-Avignon a couple of weeks but were held to a 0-0 draw – Arles’ only away point all season so far.

Adam (Mouldhouse) commented:

I have Inter down as a strong back and also I like Brest (boom boom) - good luck this weekend.

Do you have a spreadsheet or document with the strong draw bets on, or the home value picks? It's quite clear that there's a lot of quality in the picks by the fact you so often front-run Football Elite. Appreciate the "This is NOT a P&L blog" tagline at the top so fully aware of the possibility of being told to **** off.

Cheers :)
Right then - **** off. Ah, just kidding. Yes, I do keep a spreadsheet with all my bets on. I’d be surprised if anyone serious about making money didn’t. You have to. If you don’t keep accurate records, you’re not going to get anywhere. Apart from making it easy to see what’s working and what isn’t, it’s all part of a disciplined approach to investing. Human nature is to remember the good things in life, and erase the bad. Gamblers remember winning bets easier than losing bets.

It’s also quite a compliment to be compared with Football Elite. They are the only service I, use and have a proven track record making profits every year. It would be hard to imagine how anyone could find fault, but of course, there’s always one, although clearly, once again, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s always good to come up with my value picks and then find Football Elite have the same opinion. It’s when we differ, as we did last week on the WBA v Manchester City game, that I have a decision to make.

John had a comment / question too (my e-mail was busy yesterday):
I just wondered how often you change/tweak your ratings system? At first I thought it would be a good idea to build a basic rating system then build on it and let it grow but now I'm not so sure. At the end of the day any rating system is a measuring device and therefore changing it will give you strange results. You wouldn't start building your house one measurement then change it once you get half way through, so is it then a bad idea to start tweaking a ratings system once you have begun collecting data? More importantly, does it actually matter if a rating system is accurate? Is it not more important for it to be consistent and allow you to take a more precise measurement of what's happening. If you are consistently off the mark with a prediction system that's better than mixed bag of results because you kept moving the goalposts so to speak.

Could the most basic of ratings systems kept as-is from day one provide more details than a regularly tweaked one. Shouldn't we be looking at and studying the results compared to the ratings to try and work out 'why' rather than tweaking the system to match the past results.
He raises a good point. It’s certainly true that my forecasts from last season cannot be directly compared to my figures for this season, but I think overall, this is a small price to pay for achieving better numbers going forward.

It’s also important to be clear that the formula for calulating the ratings has not changed from day one. All that has changed is the accuracy (mathematically) to which the expected outcomes of matches is displayed.

You say that you “wouldn't start building your house one measurement then change it once you get half way through”, but I think I actually would. If something’s not working, or not working as well as it could, then I have no issue with making a change, whether it’s to a ratings system, a home improvement project, my job or my personal life. Doing something the same way because “it’s always been done that way”, is simply not a good enough reason not to make a change.

The only thing that matters is being profitable, and by making the changes I made during the close season and early this season, I have made it much easier to identify value.

The big change was to improve the accuracy of the ratings so that they now give a figure to 0.1 of a goal rather than round to a whole number as they did last season. Yes, this means I can’t directly compare the numbers, but that’s ok. The other big change was to automatically factor in form, and here – if I do say so myself – I have been rather clever. I modified the spreadsheet so that the original number is still generated, (allowing comparisons with earlier versions), alongside a new ‘with form’ value.

I may well adjust the form weightings if I see that form is more or less important than I have estimated, but again, the important thing is that the ratings formula has been the same since inception. I do agree that changing this would not likely be useful.

Think of it like the game of football. The rules change very infrequently, but the data that is collected on matches is far more, and used quite differently, than was the case just a few years ago. Similarly, my ratings calculations stay the same, but the way I use them changes.

Appreciate the comment and the question though, and here’s a final comment from Greece:
You have maybe the best blog out there right now for all of us BF addicts, and soccer maniacs - keep up the good work!
Thank you, although I would take out the ‘maybe’ and the ‘right now’, but other than that I have to say I totally agree with you.

And finally, the Utah Jazzz won their fourth game in a row, all on the road, after trailing by double digits beating the Atlanta Hawks. Don't say I didn't tell you. They were available +4.5 at 1.82 pre-game.


Anonymous said...

Great blog and love the articles. I do think the fact you come up with similar selections to Football Elite is that anyone who does value betting will generally come up with the same selections. That is surely logical. Every week I spend a few hours looking at the Soccer Stats at Statto website, compare the last 8 for the matches in each league and then look at the currently available prices. Guess what?, almost without fail the selections I make are very similar to yourself and Football Elite. I don't keep a spreadsheet with stats or anything and it takes up very little of my time. If anyone is reading the blog just and have a look and see what I mean. Bologna are unbeaten at home, Brescia haven't won in 8, Bologna are 2.22. It took me 2 mins, no fancy spreadsheet or ratings, very simple. I keep a record or my results and I'm doing very nicely. Trust me, the stats on Soccer Stats and Statto along with team news are all you need to gauge form and value. I implore everyone to do it and see what I mean. More importantly if you compare your home value picks for this weekend to the Statto website, all but one (Cagliari which has their price about right) are down as value picks, so basically anyone could just go on there, run down the match odds list in 1 min and they would have the same selections as you. People out there are trying to sell it to us as rocket science but it really isn't.

I do think it's great that you do post up your selections though so don't get wrong. It's very generous and you come across as someone who knows a hell of a lot about trading, write great articles and I'm sure put plenty of work in to get where you have got. I just wanted to point out to people that it's a lot easier than you think to find value. Most of Football Elite's selections and yours are unsurprisingly the same as the value selections on Statto. I dare say that because when you put the stats together in a spreadsheet they all come out pretty much the same if it's yours, Statto's, Football Elites etc. There can only be so many variables.

Anonymous said...

I like the way this chap who clearly doesn't know what he's talking about is the one who suggested you make the ratings more precise. Which you are proudly showing off as your big change this season.

I'd love an explanation as to why the points on Football Elite are incorrect.

Matt (Football Elite) said...

Hi Anonymous, if that is your real name :-)

If I thought I could make a good return betting in 1000 games a season then of course I would do it. I dont think there are that many games that have those opportunities though.

The type of bets that I dropped 2 and a half years ago were all making losses or only very, very slight profits (or in the case of lays would have been more profitable if I had backed to win instead of taking insurance on the draw)

My personal opinion is that it's better to focus on the one area that obviously has the significant edge rather than pad it out with other less strong or even loss making bets.

Regarding odds-on betting, it's not a case of 2.0 yes, 1.99 no. I just found that over the years I couldn't make a profit on short priced favourites in top class football. Thats not me saying there isn't value for anyone else just that I am rubbish at finding it at that end of the market.

I'm guessing the reason why is there is more "mug" money on short priced faves in top class football than any other betting markets so odds in general are artificially lower.

The sort of side I focus on (my niche I guess) is home sides in games where there isn't a strong favourite so there arnt going to be odds-on bets by the very nature of the games I focus on.

Obviously though I wouldn't rule out a bet because it was 1.95 and not 2.0. It's just the principle of not backing short priced faves rather than not backing odds-ons.

At the end of the day its just my approach. You might be right I might be going wrong somewhere but it works for me which is all that matters really!