Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Simple Rules

Always nice to come back from a trip and find more money in your account than when you left. Thanks to a 90' goal for Stade Rennais v Lille on Sunday, this was the case after the XX Draw Selections had another good weekend.

Saturday's Koln v Bayer Leverkusen wasn't quite so good as Sunday's 1-1 in France, but a result of 0-2 meant a winning Under at 2.12 for a small profit. The ROI on the Draws stands at 10.5% from 106 bets, with the Unders at 15.8% - excluding commission. The Unders are on a hot streak right now, with 14 of the last 16 winning. That strike rate won't last of course, but it's a good sign that we are finding matches where we want fewer goals than the market expects.

I'm still catching up with blog posts from the weekend, but I did read a couple mentioning the draw. One was titled Does The "Lay The Draw" Football Trading Strategy still work? with the conclusion that "Lay the draw still works but its not the holy grail!" A little misleading, because if it still works, then it is a Holy Grail. The truth is that it works on some matches, it doesn't work on others, and if you tried it on all matches, you would lose. Laying the draw is no more magical than backing home teams or laying 0-0. If you pick the right matches, any system will be profitable.

There seems to be the idea in football betting that the more complicated you make the system, the better it is. Redimp's blog linked me to this:

Clever score strategy is a low risk method, which covers many different scores in a football match and gives you flexibility of approach to an individual football match. Let's see the method below:

The method:

Choose a football match with a clear favourite with odds about 1.3-1.6
Go to Under 2.5 goals market and make sure the odds are above 2.50
Go to Correct Score market and look for scores 3-0 and 2-1 to the favourite
Choose your stakes to BACK Under 2.5 goals and scores 3-0 and 2-1.

Please note, that for this strategy you don't want a favourite that is in a deadly form. In other words, you don't want them to score 2 or 3 goals very early in the match.
First, a low-risk method means low profits as well. Second, whatever 'flexibility of approach to an individual football match' means, to me the approach detailed is anything BUT flexible.

We're backing the Under (scores of 0-0, 1-0, 0-1, 2-0, 0-2 and 1-1) and then hedging by also backing 3-0 and 2-1 (which makes no sense because the Unders back price includes a lay of the 3-0 and 2-1 scores) but we're 'hoping' that any goals don't come early. "We don't want a favourite that is in deadly form?"

Crikey! Do we want goals or not? I like to know whether a goal is a good thing or not when I'm betting, without having to check my watch and curse my luck that the goal is six minutes early, or be in a state of confusion if a penalty is awarded - do I want it scored, or missed / saved? (Not that my 'wanting' is going to make the slightest difference to the outcome).

Seriously, wouldn't it just be easier to find games where the Under or the Over was value and simply go with that? And if you are finding value on the Unders, you should be finding value on the draw too. And if you notice the Under price moving pre-game but the draw price staying steady, there is value there too.

I believe the Tipster Table is now caught up. The highlight from the weekend is Football Elite's climb back to profit and up to fourth place from seventh after finding three winners from five selections. There is a three-way battle for fourth spot, and currently in third, Geoff's Draws seem to have gone dormant. Modesty prevents me from saying too much about the current top two.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Box Clever

Off to the snow very shortly, but I had to find time to address the comment from Swearbox relating to my last post: He wrote:
I see I'm headlining again though it appears for all the wrong reasons. I could write a novel in response but alas there's not enough room in the comment buffer. One thing I can say with confidence though is that I'm definitely not John O'Dwyer.

Some comments...

1. "For the umpteenth time, if you have an edge, you do not need a large bank. You can build up slowly from a relatively small deposit, but you need to be disciplined about it."

I don't claim to have an edge.
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2. "but to have any chance at making a long-term profit, you need to be very selective about your betting"

I agree wholeheartedly.
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3. "Deposit whatever money you can afford to lose into your account, and leave it alone. Let it grow."

I assume this means you have another stream of income with which to pay bills etc...so that would mean you aren't betting for a living.
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4. "If there was no edge, the 'winning' run was false"

For three years ?
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5. "but either the edge went away, or 'luck' ran out."

Neither. Read my post again. I mismanaged my account leaving me with a much smaller bank but I still attempted to play to the same daily targets. I fkd up.
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5. "And yes, edges do most definitely exist over the longer term, although they may not last for ever"

Nailed it. Refer to comment #4
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I'm not sure if you thought I was having a go at you on my blog but I can assure you I wasn't. I'm guilty as charged of breaking most of the rules that I used to follow rigorously in the past. I just get the feeling though that you're nailing me to the cross here which is a little unfair as I don't claim to be anything that I'm not.
To which I would say that the John O'Dwyer reference was a joke, although your stories have some similarities, but also:

1. If you don't have an edge, forget about betting. Give your money to charity, and feel good about it.

2. You say you agree wholeheartedly, but betting on obscure games in Argentina and horse-races in Australia suggest otherwise.

3. Betting for a living starting with nothing, and no safety-net or primary income doesn't work. See previous posts. I know for a fact that you can build up to six figures starting with two figures - with an edge. (Seven might be difficult with new hurdles being introduced every few months). Find an edge, and the smallest bank will grow given time.

4/5. If the edge is still there, you have it made. Deposit £100 that you don't need, and build up slowly again. I suspect the edge is no longer there - an edge isn't having a large bank. It is in finding bets that are value.

My intention in pointing these things out to you is not to 'nail you to the cross', but to make you realise that your mindset (which is the subject that triggered these posts and comments) is wrong, and that you need to look closely at your betting habits if you seriously want to be profitable.

Long-term profits are not to be found in middle of the night Argentinian Second Division or on the Australian race tracks, betting with money you need.

Find yourself an edge, play with money you don't need for anything else, and the bank will look after itself.

Back in a few days.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Imagining Edges

I knew I had heard of Swearbox (see previous post) before this week. He’s the author of The Expat Punter blog, which I believe I used to have on my blog roll, (and has now been re-added), but which may well have been dropped after three months of inactivity as he speculates. Here is a link to the post he wrote in response to mine, but it's a long one so I'll just pick out some of the highlights.
Cassini writes: “I am puzzled why it is not possible for him to build up from a small bank once again. The original bank was blown due to a lack of discipline, i.e. not following the system correctly, but if there is an edge, then a fresh bank and correctly proportioned stakes would see the bank build up once more.”

Quite simply I don’t have a significant enough amount of extra cash to just dump into an account and start again. Not sure whether I ever will but I remain optimistic and in the meantime I’m exploring some avenues that will take a fair while to assess to see if they are worth pursuing over the longer term.

I’ve long banged on about having a reasonable bank if you are in any way serious about punting for a living. £40-50k is be the figure I would come up with….anything less and it’s just a hobby. I’ve funded my Betfair account on several occasions since the crash in 2005 but I know that it’s just play money and ultimately it ends up in someone else’s account. I think my mindset is to blame again as I find myself so desperate to build the bank up quickly I end up getting involved in all sorts of nonsense, particularly when it comes to football bets. There’s so much cheating going on especially in South America. And another beef I have is the absolute dirge that Betfair serves up on their in play markets. Unbelievable crap like the Serbian Women’s Potato Picking League 3rd Division (you get my drift)…this garbage has no place on any exchange market, in play or otherwise. But I’m off on a tangent now so back to the topic…
Swearbox and O'Dwyer could be one and the same. For the umpteenth time, if you have an edge, you do not need a large bank. You can build up slowly from a relatively small deposit, but you need to be disciplined about it.

Swearbox mentions South America, and indeed, here is an example why, with his current mindset, he will only lose. It always amazes me how people get involved in the most obscure matches. Of course, there is nothing wrong with betting on Argentinian Second Division matches if that is one of your leagues of expertise, but it is senseless to get involved in games simply because they happen to be the only ones going on at that time. Where is the discipline? Simply because you CAN bet on a Serbian Women’s Potato Picking League 3rd Division game doesn't mean you have to. Turn the PC off. It's like complaining that the TV show you are watching is rubbish. Who's making you watch it? Turn the TV off and read a book. You are in control, or you should be. Betfair can be very tempting, with few hours in the day where there is nothing in-play to seduce you, but to have any chance at making a long-term profit, you need to be very selective about your betting. Swearbox had a post bemoaning Betfair’s suspension of an in-play game after they lost their primary feed. The game in question was Defensa y Justicia v Ferro Carril Oeste, two teams that most readers will never have heard of, although some men of a certain age may have heard of the latter, who were a decent team around the time of the Falklands Conflict, winning a couple of league titles in Argentina. Regardless, my point is that the likelihood of Swearbox having any edge whatsoever in a game such as this is zero to none, so the best he can hope for is to lose slowly by breaking even and losing the commission. Not a winning strategy.

There was another post that caught my eye because of the title “Done 80% Of My Bank Today” from a year ago – the game in question? Panama v El Salvador. Bad enough, but then he writes “Following the football I progressed (or should that be regressed?) to Aussie racing and all four picks have lost…”. I would say that ‘regressed’ would be the more accurate term of the two, but even that is too polite. Desperately chasing losses in the next available market is futile, and losing 80% of a betting bank in one day suggests that more than a minor tweak of the bank management strategy is needed.
The situation I now find myself in means that any money I do put into my betting bank that grows beyond a few quid into something a little more substantial ends up getting taken out again. In other words I simply have to sweep some out to help pay for bills and what not so the betting bank never really gets a chance to build up to much. I agree wholeheartedly with the point that I could start off from scratch and build up slowly but that would require an initial sum of money that I can absolutely do without and in the area that I live jobs that pay enough to facilitate this are few and far between.
Deposit whatever money you can afford to lose into your account, and leave it alone. Let it grow. My hands are tired of writing that you can't be betting with money that is ear-marked for another purpose.
Cassini again: “Without knowing the details of Swearbox’s horse-racing edge, I have doubts that even if there was a genuine edge there for a time, that in this sport such an edge could be expected to last for too long. If the edge was mathematical, it would be found out sooner or later, or too many members in the syndicate would drive the edge down to zero or negative, and if the edge was knowledge based, then this is clearly a weakness. Swearbox states that “my info was emailed every day and there was a set strategy to follow” but it is this total reliance on others which makes the decision to go full-time even more risky than having a self-developed edge, or preferably edges. It’s easy with hindsight to say that Swearbox should have waited until he had built up more funds, or given the system longer, but there are other factors that go into making a decision of this kind that only Swearbox knows in full.”

I’m not really sure that we had an edge to speak of. Do such things exist over the longer term? As I pointed out in my earlier post my info came direct via email. A team of private handicappers assessed the races each day and came up with a list of horses that they considered value lays at the price. What they based their decisions on I don’t know though my spreadsheets show some really solid long term profitable performances so they had to be doing something right.

As Cassini says it’s all very well having an edge but if your staking plan is no good it’s next to useless. I think our staking strategy was very good and if I were to go back to the period when I was punting full time (2003, 2004, 2005) I would only change one thing and that would be NOT to bet every day even though there would be info every day.

This is gambling after all and there is always the danger of a day when all the horses marked as lays will win and it happened twice in quick succession back in 2005 and ultimately led to an end to my pro punting. Yes we had stop losses but if you hit a bad day where 75% or more of the results went against you it would cost you a weeks profits. If you believe in fate those two days were always just sitting there waiting to happen and ready to bust your bank. By tweaking the system slightly and maybe limiting bets to two or three times a week you would be lessening the chances of being in front of your pc when those fateful days came around and therefore in better shape to avoid those guaranteed losses. But that’s all in the past and hindsight is a wonderful thing.
If there was no edge, the 'winning' run was false, down to progressive staking, and then it is indeed only a matter of time until probability catches up with you. Whether or not this is what happened here I don't know, but either the edge went away, or 'luck' ran out. It's hard to understand how a system with an edge could result in such big losses in a short while if the "staking strategy was very good". I would suggest that it really wasn't.

I also do not understand the logic of a stop loss or of limiting bets IF your system has an edge. If you have an edge, you want as many opportunities as possible. You don't know which of your individual bets will generate the profits, but you know that (for example) for every 100 units you bet, you will get back 113.5 (excluding commission). Stake sensibly, and take advantage of every opportunity. Some days you may have no bets, other days you may have twenty, and you need to be able to maximise all those opportunities however they fall.

And yes, edges do most definitely exist over the longer term, although they may not last for ever. Check out "Betfair Premium Charges". These players are not on a 'lucky' run.

Accidents Will Happen

A lucky break last night thanks to yet another Betfair site issue. With about three minutes left of the Minnesota Timberwolves v Utah Jazz game, the SUSPENDED banner appeared as I was trying to lock in around £250 green on both sides. (That's some of my money sitting there at 2.12). This occasionally happens close to the end of a game when some inexperienced junior working the night shift thinks the game is over, when there is still 0.8 of a second left (a long time in the NBA), but rarely with three minutes left. At the time, the Utah Jazz were up by one, but after taking a lead, then giving it up in what was probably a very exciting final few minutes (I missed it due to chest pains, dizziness, nausea etc.) the game was tied 98-98 with 7 seconds left, and still SUSPENDED.

As the clock went to 0:00, Luke Ridnour hit the game winner, and instead of winning £250 I was left holding close to an extra £400 (excluding commission). Whatever the issue was, and however fortunate the outcome on this occasion, it is not the way I want to be playing this game. In this case, the worst that could have happened was not too bad, although I would have been justifiably seething, but it is not unusual to have significant four figure sums at risk, although I have no intention of losing that amount. When something like this happens, it does shake your confidence in the platform though. Our Premium Charge money at work.

Anyway, the £2k loss is now recovered, ahead of schedule, and the green is once again bold on the spreadsheet. Onward and upward, or it would be were I not headed to the slippery slopes this weekend, where it'll be all downhill. White all over in fact.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Second Guessing

I have done Football Elite a disservice, and omitted their winner at 2.52 in the Hannover ’96 v Stuttgart match on Sunday afternoon. The updated table is below (commission not included):

Some of you may have read the wonderfully honest comment posted by Swearbox on the recent Mind Games post. The comment was triggered by Peter Webb’s remark that “it’s curious how you can show two people a very clear strategy, and yet while one person executes flawlessly, the other just can’t do it” and here is Swearbox’s comment in full.
Read the FT article with interest and it got me thinking whether or not such a thing as 'performance anxiety' exists within the field of professional sports betting.

Seriously though, bear with me...consider this taken from Peter's blog...

"It’s curious how you can show two people a very clear strategy and yet while one person executes flawlessly, the other just can’t do it"

Several years ago I found myself in the some would say enviable position whereby I didn't have to go out to work. My betting related situation had evolved to the point where it became my sole income provider. My info was emailed every day and there was a set strategy to follow. It paid for nice things. Life was good.

I felt confident enough with the way things were going to make a life change and move to Canada. Naturally there were expenses associated with this move but not lifestyle threatening ones. Shortly after arriving in Canada I made a few financial decisions that with hindsight were foolish. They resulted in my leaving myself with a much lower capital base from which to carry out my usual betting related activities.

Then, all of us, as a betting syndicate, suffered a really bad week. Shit happens. I lost more that I would have liked resulting in an even lower available bank. That's when things started to go very wrong.

Instead of blindly following the rules of the strategy I made my own rules up. I questioned prices. I stepped back when I should have stepped forward. I didn't lay when the price was in my mind too high regardless of what the info in the email said about the horse's chances of winning. In the case of shorties I layed when the price was slightly higher than the price advised in the mail. I was losing when I shouldn't and not winning when I should have been. A complete mess.

The more I tried to tweak an already proven system the worse it got...and the driver behind all of this was not so much my ever dwindling bank but my mindset. The result was I ended up with no bank left. I had completely screwed up what was a simple monkey see monkey do system that worked.

I don't mind telling you that I've never recovered those days of old before the meltdown and every day I regret not having the mental smarts at the time to be able to calm down and take a deep breath and stick to the plan.

As always, your blog is a great source of interesting articles...keep on keeping on.
I don’t think anyone with any trading experience can doubt that the psychological aspect of trading is hugely important. If you read through this blog from the beginning, I have mentioned several times the importance of being in the right frame of mind when trading. You need to be free from outside distractions, able to totally focus on the market in hand, and the ability to clear the mind after a setback is vital. It's all too easy to let a reverse get to you, and for your ability to think logically seemingly vanish without trace.

Clearly, there is no one type of trader – we all have our unique styles, our favourite sports and our favoured strategies. Some like to invest hoping the status quo will be maintained. Others invest hoping for the opposite. Some like to back at low odds and have mostly winners with the occasional big loss, while others prefer lots of smaller losses, but the occasional home run. One trader may just not be comfortable with a strategy, even if it is proven to be a profitable one long term.

And you can have an edge, but unless you execute correctly, your edge is worthless. This is probably best illustrated by the ‘on-tilt’ phenomenon, which is typically the result of an ‘unlucky’ loss which the trader doesn’t handle correctly. This ‘unlucky’ loss – which isn’t bad luck at all, just a ‘random fluctuation of probability’ – gets to the trader, who in a frustrated state of mind, (some might say unbalanced), then makes an ill-disciplined bet (either over-staking or taking poor value, or both) in an attempt to win back the loss right away. Perhaps the trader sees an odds-on shot that looks like an easy way to buy money, and without too much thought, he puts a big bet on thinking the chances of losing two bets in a row are small. Wrong. The second bet is independent of the first bet, except in the trader’s mind, and on its own was poor value, and thus goes on to lose more often than the price taken would suggest it should. Essentially, discipline goes out of the window, and chasing like this is a recipe for disaster. Perhaps the worst thing that can happen is that the chaser gets away with it once or twice, and starts to feel that this is a valid strategy. It’s not. Taking poor value will catch up with you.

Reading through Swearbox’s cautionary tale, I am puzzled why it is not possible for him to build up from a small bank once again. The original bank was blown due to a lack of discipline, i.e. not following the system correctly, but if there is an edge, then a fresh bank and correctly proportioned stakes would see the bank build up once more. This knowledge is what you need to enable you to keep a clear head and stay focused on the big picture after a large loss, or a long losing run. I wrote a week ago about a £2,000 loss on the NBA, which was mildly annoying, but when you are confident in your long-term edge, it’s really no big deal in the whole scheme of things because it is simply a matter of time before that money comes back. As I have quoted before, to get upset about an individual loss makes as much sense as a casino owner crying over a large payout from one of his slot machines.

Without knowing the details of Swearbox’s horse-racing edge, I have doubts that even if there was a genuine edge there for a time, that in this sport such an edge could be expected to last for too long. If the edge was mathematical, it would be found out sooner or later, or too many members in the syndicate would drive the edge down to zero or negative, and if the edge was knowledge based, then this is clearly a weakness. Swearbox states that “my info was emailed every day and there was a set strategy to follow” but it is this total reliance on others which makes the decision to go full-time even more risky than having a self-developed edge, or preferably edges. It’s easy with hindsight to say that Swearbox should have waited until he had built up more funds, or given the system longer, but there are other factors that go into making a decision of this kind that only Swearbox knows in full.

Ultimately the pressure of trying to generate an income from a bank that was of an inadequate size for this purpose was the downfall. When you have to generate an income like this, you effectively have set yourself a target, and the problem with targets is that they lead to forcing bets and taking borderline value as opposed to having the luxury of waiting until value comes along. Your betting bank has to be money that you will never need. Otherwise it is not a betting bank.

It makes no difference to me or my life if the £2,000 loss last Sunday is recouped the next day or over the next month. It will be recouped, (right now I am about £343.75 short), but regardless, life goes on and the loss shows on my spreadsheet but nowhere else. Bills are paid on time, and there is food on the table, but most importantly there is no stress. When stressed, it’s hard to make smart decisions. I am also fortunate in that Mrs. Cassini simply doesn't care whether I win or lose. She knows I come out ahead in the long run, and leaves me alone to get on with it. She doesn't ask if I have won, nor does she ask if I have lost, which suits me fine, because after a loss, the last thing you want is to talk about it!

Many thanks to Swearbox for his openness and honesty, and for making this post possible. It's rare to find someone willing to open up like this when things go wrong, and he deserves a lot of credit in my opinion.

The above was all written before I read Rob the Builder’s post which offers an opinion on many of the points I have raised, as well as on the well-worn ‘should I go full-time’ debate. Well worth a read.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Mind Games

Another weekend over, and the results are included in the updated Friendly Tipster Table above. The lack of English Premier League games meant less activity than normal, but for those in action today, the highlights were another win for the XX Draws as Sporting de Gijon drew 1-1 with Atletico Madrid for a small profit on the weekend.
Backing the Lay The Draw selection is doing poorly right now, with that method falling into the red and dropping from third to sixth in the table, although Ian will be delighted. Other than that, there were no positional changes. Mark J had one winner from three selections for a small loss, while Football Elite had one more loser to finish 0 for 3 on the weekend. The Green Pullover had two draws from six, for a small profit, and that's about it for the weekend's football. I am off to the snow for a short break next weekend, so expect a delay in blog updates, although XX Draw Selections will be sent out as usual. The fact that next weekend is the NBA all-star break is merely a fortunate coincidence.

Finally, a great link posted by Peter Webb for a Financial Times piece on loss of form, which is well worth a read. As Peter mentions, this is something to take note of in sports like golf, where players can go cold in a hurry. As I write this, Phil Mickelson, after trading at 1.36, is now at 7.6+ as he appears to have lost confidence in his putting which was such a strength last week. Peter suggests that 'performance anxiety' is less of a factor in team sports, but for me, it is definitely a factor in sports where the team is small, such as basketball or ice-hockey. Poor Scott Gomez of the Montreal Canadiens only recently ended a 53 game goal scoring drought which lasted for more than a calendar year. It makes Fernando Torres' 5 goals in 47 matches look like a sharp run of form.

Judges Rule

There was the usual drama in the NBA last night when the Los Angeles Clippers rallied from 15 points back to lead the San Antonio Spurs by 3 with 9.5 seconds left, and possession of the ball. They turned it over on the in-bounds pass, Gary Neal hit a 3, and just like that the game was tied. Thousands traded at 1.01 and loose change at 1000 on the Spurs, who went on to win in overtime. Later, the Golden State Warriors (after a tough night in Oklahoma) looked dead and buried in the first quarter at the Memphis Grizzlies, trailing by 18 points and trading as low as 1.1. As you have read here many times, this is too early in a game for that sort of a price, and by half-time, the Warriors had the lead. After falling 11 points behind, the Grizzlies then rallied to win a close one.


An interesting case in Canada that some of you may have read about recently.
A Toronto man trying to write off casino and racetrack losses against his income tax bill has gambled and lost at Canada's Federal Court of Appeal.

Giuseppe Tarascio claims that gambling is how he earns the bulk of his income. He filed tax returns for several years, claiming both his wins and losses.

By day, Tarascio is a technician with Bell Canada. But on evenings and weekends, he responds to what he claims is his true calling: horses, slot machines, casino games and lotteries.

He claims to have won tens of thousands of dollars. For years he claimed those winnings as income, but he also deducted his losses and expenses.

In his income tax returns for 2002 and 2003, he deducted from his gambling winnings his losses and associated expenses: $40,933 in 2002 and $56,000 in 2003.

But Tarascio’s luck ran out when the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) stepped in and disallowed those deductions.

Tarascio objected and went to tax court. He presented his books and records, but lost there too.

Hoping his courtroom losing streak would end, Tarascio pushed his luck further, taking his case to the Court of Appeal.

He claimed that his degree in mathematics — coupled with his experience in probability theory — gave him the expertise to register his gambling as a business.

But the court turned him down, saying Tarascio had no "systematic method" for gambling and had spent no time practising his skills. He was also required to pay court costs of $1,000.

It didn't help that Tarascio admitted that win or lose, it was really the thrill that drove him to the tables.

Colin Campbell, who teaches tax law at the University of Western Ontario, said the test of whether or not gambling losses are a legitimate writeoff depends on whether it’s a personal or commercial activity.

“That's the dividing line,” said Campbell. “And in the case of gambling, the courts have generally found that gambling is predominately a personal activity.”

Tarascio didn't want to talk about the decision when contacted by CBC News.

Asked if he planned to appeal to the Supreme Court, he said no. That would require a lawyer, but Tarascio said he can’t afford one.
And from south of Canada comes the story of a Virginia man who made "about $355,000 from a lucrative online sports betting operation" and as part of his punishment, has "to attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings."

Maybe it's just me, but I'm not sure the judge fully understood this case.

"I was an accountant from the age of 20 to the age of 30, before I was sacked for no apparent reason . . . What a waste of 14 years that was"

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Commissiongate

Commissiongate goes on. BigAl concedes that:

There are no rules.

But as someone who has previously taken delight in savaging tipster services, I thought you might actually be interested in presenting figures for your subscription service in an honest fashion with a true reflection of ROI.

Quite simply, the ROI you present it not achievable by following your bets.

A question for you re: football elite.

If they suggest 3.50 as a mimimum price for a bet, would you take 12-5 with a fixed odds firm?
I don't recall savaging tipster services other than the ridiculous Sports Betting Professor which simply didn't work, and which I had actually forgotten about. It is another service that I have first-hand experience of, even if short-lived (and I didn't pay for) and I don't recall any commission being included in the results. I'm certainly not aware that I have 'savaged' any services on the basis of their not including a commission deduction from their numbers. Anyway, as I wrote yesterday,
The intent of a Tipster Table is not to show a precise return but rather to illustrate the relative merits of each contestant.
The ROI will of course vary from one individual to another, in fact my numbers may be on the low side for some. As Webbo says:
Many bookmakers are offering better prices than Betfair these days especially on shorter selections so your prices might well be achievable with no commission.
Indeed, and aside from the varying commission rates punters face, there is also the question of what prices can be achieved and which should be used. In the interests of time and convenience, I use what I am matched at myself, although this is unlikely to always be the best price available - although I hope it's not too far off! Laidback added:
Webbo is right about better prices being available other than Betfair. I've just checked and I used Betfair for less than a third of my football bets this weekend and that's mainly on the long-priced selections. Even if leaving a reasonable asking price on Betfair, better has been available elsewhere on the shorties,after commission is factored in.
Quite simply, the Friendly Tipster Table is a tool for comparing selections and should not be the only basis for an investment decision, which brings me nicely to the last part of BigAl's comment which is
If they [Football Elite] suggest 3.50 as a mimimum price for a bet, would you take 12-5 with a fixed odds firm?
As I wrote in my post yesterday (which it appears BigAl may not have read, or understood)
A disappointing start to the weekend for Football Elite, with Fiorentina losing heavily at home to Napoli 0-3. I had Fiorentina at 2.71 for this game, and the 2.4 available did not appeal.
Football Elite gave bookmakers and prices in the range of 2.38 to 2.42, but even if 2.71 had been available, this would not have been a value bet for me. Whether or not I would take 3.4 on a selection tipped at 3.5 would depend entirely on my price for the game in question.

The other comments yesterday in full were this one from Webbo:
Hi Cassini, I have been caclulating my results based on 5% commission but I agree that it's a better comparison not to include it. Many bookmakers are offering better prices than betfair these days especially on shorter selections so your prices might well be achievable with no commission.

Is your friendly tipster league limited to draws and unders? I wondered if you could include my premier league selections if not please? I have been pricing up every premier league game and currently showing 17.73% ROI after 49 bets. If I take off commision it's 26.1%. There's also a Kelly stake comparison. Here's a link to my sheet in case you're interested. Premier League Selections
When you are trialling a system, presumably with the intent to invest money if it proves successful, you do of course need to include the commission that you will be paying. Similarly when reporting a win of a certain amount, it is assumed that this is including commission. The Friendly Tipster League is not limited to Draws and Unders. If you send me the selections you want included ahead of the match, I will start including these. I'm assuming that not every match offers a value selection. Then laidback wrote:
Just a little word for my Green Pullover blog if that's ok. Though unfortunately it's not reflected by the draws which sit 8th in your table, the blog as a whole has an roi of 5.4% to last weekend over 599 bets. That's after commission, but that's because I wanted my blog to represent my actual profit (or loss!). Webbo is right about better prices being available other than Betfair. I've just checked and I used Betfair for less than a third of my football bets this weekend and that's mainly on the long-priced selections. Even if leaving a reasonable asking price on Betfair, better has been available elsewhere on the shorties,after commission is factored in. By the way,only had a break-even mid week on my blog but got both matches right last night including Inter losing again at long odds on, so that should help the roi. That said, I still have 29 bets to go this weekend so plenty of time for carnage yet!
The original intent of the Friendly Tipster Table was just to compare other draw selections with my own, and as a subscriber to Football Elite, thought I would throw their results in there too. I would love to have the time to include all your categories, especially as it seems the draws are about the worst performing of them all, but 30+ bets a weekend is just too many.

Speaking of results, not such a good day for the XX Selections, with Kaiserslautern losing 1-2 to Borussia Moenchengladbach, and Lille 0-1 to Lorient, with the smallest of comfort crumbs in a winning Under bet. Football Elite's Ajaccio selection failed to beat Brest, and Mark J's two selections of Getafe and Nancy both failed to win. A full update of the Friendly Tipster Table tomorrow, commission excluded.

Tipping The Tables

A disappointing start to the weekend for Football Elite, with Fiorentina losing heavily at home to Napoli 0-3. I had Fiorentina at 2.71 for this game, and the 2.4 available did not appeal. Excluding commission, this drops Football Elite's ROI to -3.08% on the season. 

On the subject of commission, so far as I am aware, the de facto ‘industry standard’ is to exclude commission, rather than include a random value when tracking results which seems to be BigAl’s assertion. My experience is admittedly limited, as I have only ever subscribed to one service, Football Elite, but I have not seen any returns from anywhere else that include commission. Does the Racing Post deduct commission from their horse racing Tips Tables? 

As I mentioned yesterday, the advantage of not including a commission is to allow readers to directly compare different systems and services with each other. If this changes, and the standard becomes to include 2%, 5% or whatever number is arbitrarily agreed upon, then I shall happily incorporate this standard amount into my numbers, but until that time I’ll continue to record the results by the same rules as everyone else. 

The intent of a Tipster Table is not to show a precise return but rather to illustrate the relative merits of each contestant. When it comes to entering the results into my P&L spreadsheet, commission is, of course, included. For the XX selections, for me, the interesting part of it is how a purely mathematical (objective) approach compares with the more subjective approach of others. Having said that, I have no idea how Geoff comes up with some of his draw selections: Alfreton! Bath City! Brainree! Fascinating.

Gundulf had a post on the topic of commission too.

Also, thanks to Cloppa for pointing out, albeit with a wink, that the ROI on the Unders is actually only 13.38%, not the inflated figure of 13.4% as stated in my post - excluding commission of course. Jeez. I forget when it was, (found it - last March), but Mouldhouse pulled me up at that time for using too many decimal places relative to the number of bets. I’ll stick to my compromise idea of having two places in the records and screenshots, and one place in any text.

No selections from Geoff for this weekend. He may still be looking at the Rymans Isthmian League South for his selections this week - with Corinthian Casuals v Chipstead looking promising. Mark J has three selections:

I do agree that Nancy are a value selection, but Getafe for me are a lay. Palermo are priced about right.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Roman Lesson

I had an e-mail, and a couple of comments on my last post, that rather neatly tie together. Ian Erskine, of ‘Lay the Draw’ fame and fortune, was touting his new £1,000 a member, poor man’s version of the ill fated Centaur Trading’s Index Fund – invest, sit back and relax as the money rolls in and you pay Ian a monthly fee, but the part of the e-mail that was of more interest to me was his comment up front that:
Gamblers are negative, they make me negative, the forum is negative. In fact I look at things daily and wonder why almost any of you bother putting yourself through it and I am sure you would be better elsewhere with your time and money.
Shortly before reading this, I saw a comment on the blog from BigAl regarding the XX Draw Selections and the Selections Century post of yesterday. BigAl wrote:
You can probably knock about 7 units off the draws’ profit.

What I mean by this is a) take commission into account b) not upping the price of selections by using the price which is available to lay.
a comment which rather illustrates Ian’s assertion about negativity. It speaks volumes that this is a trait you tend not to see among the more successful of traders.
A silent struggle with our money is raging. Everyone wants to keep up with the Joneses, regardless of income, occupation, or net worth. Our contentment is based not on the size of our bank account but on how we measure up to those around us.
As I am sure BigAl is well aware, the reason that most, if not all, services do not include commission is that this cost varies for each individual, depending on where they bet and the commission structure in place. Similarly the starting cost of any services is usually excluded from the figures, as is any mention of the time it takes to operate the bets, which allows for Service A to be directly compared with Service B. If you are thinking of using a service, then you of course need to factor in your initial costs, your commission, the time it will take to manage your bet (an in-play system taking more time than a punt for example) to decide whether or not it is worth it. The numbers are a guide, and a way of comparing different systems on as level a playing field as possible.

As for the prices recorded, these are all matched prices. BigAl may be a subscriber, and getting a little confused here. When the XX Draw Selections e-mail is sent out, oftentimes the market is immature, and I suggest a price that ‘should be attainable’. It is not the price that is readily available, because in my experience, if the back / lay prices are 3.5 / 3.55 respectively on a Wednesday or Thursday, you will be matched at 3.55 more often than not for a weekend game (especially if the match is a Lay The Draw pick!). Ask, and you shall often receive, and it is best practice not to take what is readily on offer. Those 0.05s can add up over time. The draw price rarely moves significantly, and so getting in early and being patient usually works. If the 3.55 is not matched by kick-off, then I will take the 3.5 available and use this price in my records. The price sent out in the e-mail (suggested) is not necessarily the price used in the records, which is the price that I am myself matched at. If others are matched at higher, then great, but using the prices that I get makes sense to me. Incidentally, it can be worth putting in a back at 3.6 (using the earlier example), as the market does occasionally mean these get matched.

Anyway, apart from being mathematically incorrect (even if we assume 5% commission on winners, and take .05 less than the matched price, this does not amount to 7 points), the negative tone of the comment is typical of many who, even when presented with a profitable set of results, prefer to nit-pick rather than use the information to their advantage. It would seem that this is something that Ian Erskine is also seeing. Whether or not his claims to have won £168,436 in 2011 are true or not, and I have no reason to doubt the claim, it would appear that many people are simply unsuited to gambling. They lack the ability to see long-term, the discipline to keep making the necessary bets, and the patience to see the task through. As a side note here, according to a lecture I was listening to recently, the three great strengths of the Romans back in the day were their determination, organisation and discipline. Seems like some of us can learn from history, as those strengths are all very relevant to profitable gambling.

And yes, as Mark Iverson commented, depending on when you start following these selections, returns will vary, although Mark is teasing with his numbers. He claims to have 8 points to make up, yet even if he had started at the worst time, he would be down only 7.3 points - not including commission of course! The Draws had a poor run for the two months of late November to late January with just one winner in 24 bets, but anyone following the suggestion to back the Unders in these games would have at least have had their losses cushioned. Had Mark been betting the Unders, his loss of 7.3 points would only be less than 2 points - 1.96.

The success of the Unders is interesting, in that they were the by-product of my attempt to find draws, whereas it is arguably more logical to look for low-scoring games, knowing that if you can find those, the draws will come. With the price closer to evens, (average is 1.92), losing runs on these bets are also much lower, although the current record of four is unlikely to remain the longest sequence for too long. An ROI of 13.4% (excluding commission) is really quite a bonus, or perhaps the selections should be the XX Under Selections with backing the draw as the bonus?

I make no claims that the XX Draw Selections, or their sister Unders bets, will forever continue to perform as they have done over 300+ events, but with a strike rate that represents an average price of 3.04, and bets matched at an average price of 3.58, that seems to be far more of a positive to comment on rather than complaining that commission isn’t included.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Selections Century

A quick update following last night's games, which saw the one XX Draw Selection, Parma v Juventus, finish another perfect draw. That is 100 selections for the season to date, with an ROI% on the Draws standing at 10% and the Under ROI at an even more impressive 13.4%.

For the record, this season's strike rate is 31%, close to the overall strike rate of 32.9% from 304 selections. After 80 games, the strike rate was as low as 27.5%, with a negative ROI of -3.3%, but when the average price is 3.58, long runs are inevitable. 100 bets is not many, but with few selections a week, even a modest losing run can last for a long time! The selections from 81 to 100 are shown below:
Omega Betting commented on my comment on his post about the Wolves Next Manager Market that basically questioned whether the time to get involved was early, or after the dust has settled. No link or reference was included since my remark wasn't exactly flattering, but Pete's a big boy and here is what he wrote:
My strategy regarding Next Manager Market is simple, Lay the whoever is flavour of the week, before that's viable, you need a clear picture of who that is, and as of last night there were two at around 4/1 which was the wrong time to get stuck in. Alan Curbishley is now 1.86/1.91 which is a much more attractive lay price than it was when I posted last night.
He followed up with a post tooL
A Comment on my previous post from Internet God Cassini sadly sans link (take note, I could do with the hits…)Surely when there ‘is a clearer picture’ any advantage is gone? Isn’t the time to strike early on in these markets, and lay all day as Borisranting has been suggesting? Buy the rumour, sell the fact. Makes sense to me. Not that I am a fan of Next Manager markets myself, but if there’s a time to be involved it is surely early rather than late.

For backing? Then definitely, however when it comes to Next manager markets, I prefer to lay. When I made my last post Curbishley was around 4.5, when I replied to Cassini’s post her was about 1.9, He traded as low as 1.42 in the end before bouncing back to 1.65 as of writing.
I'm not sure I understand why it makes sense to get involved early for backing, yet not for laying, since both are bets, and you need to have an idea of the true probability which ever way you want to make your bet. If you don't know what the true price is, as I suggest is the case for most of us with these markets, any involvement in these markets is a gamble. Laying Curbishley at 1.86/1.91 or 1.42 or any number in between, is fine only if that price is value to lay at, but unless you are Alan Curbishley or close to someone at the club, you really have no idea. Why is Curbishley a value lay (or back) at 1.42? That was the lowest traded price, so anyone backing there would have been hoping for the momentum to continue and allow him to sell to a bigger fool, and anyone laying there was taking a gamble that the price wouldn't drop too much more. Admittedly, the sums traded were very small, but it seems to me a waste of time and ultimately money, to get involved in markets that others have significant inside information about, and we (or at least I) don't.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Volatility

A few more matches to round off the weekend's schedule, with one XX Draw Selection, Nice v Paris St. Germain, finishing a perfect 0-0, the other - Siena v AS Roma finishing 1-0. I also got involved with Sunday's Internazionale v Novara game, with my price on Inter (1.39) making a lay at 1.29 value. It was also encouraging that one of Novara's two wins this season was in the home match against Inter, which finished 3-1, but an away win was certainly unlikely - Novara's first in my lifetime at the top level, and when you are as old as me, that's a long time! Then there was the Aston Villa v Manchester City match where both teams seemed to be wearing the same colour shirts and shorts, but I twittered that the Under and a lay of City were value based on my numbers. The Under was never seriously in doubt, but City did win for a wash on this game. The latest results for the Tipster League are over at Gold All Over, with a good idea from George to be added as time permits. He wrote:

I suggest you add a passive benchmark strategy to your league table. Something along the lines of: back draw in every match (in the leagues, which you scan for selections). Logic: A fund manager might be profitable because of his stock selection or because the broad market is going up (or both). Alpha or beta etc. It is always illuminating to separate the passive benchmark effect from the active match selection effect. IMO, the real tipster value added is the selection effect i.e. ROI(yourstrategy)-ROI(sensiblebenchmark) is what one should be looking at.
The Random Draw selections were supposed to act as a benchmark, but selecting three games from a full schedule of 49 each week is really not 'benchmarky' enough.

Geoff's selections went missing this week, but he re-sent them, and from the four games left after postponements, he had found two winners, both in Scotland, for a profit. There are a few updates still to be made once the weekend schedule is complete, but for now the standing are as shown here:
Unfortunately, the profits from football were more than wiped out by losses elsewhere, most notably in the NBA where the Chicago Bulls, after a week where they had never been behind in a game, lost to the Boston Celtics, in a game they never once led in. It happens, but it rounds off a volatile couple of weeks as you can see from the past 14 days below.

Once again, the PC will not be a problem this week. It did occur to me on Monday that another benefit of having a 'proper' job is that the day after a bad loss, you are not afforded the luxury of moping around feeling sorry for yourself. There is also the forced break from trading, and a chance to clear your head and get things in perspective. My trading seems to follow a familiar pattern. After taking a big loss, I go back to basics, with smaller stakes and baby steps, slowly increasing until the loss has been erased and once again the green in my running total is bold. My bets also become bold, until I hit the next big loss, and the cycle begins again. One of the ways I handle a loss is to break down what is needed to recover, e.g. a loss of £2,000 is unlikely to be won back the next day, but it should be won back over the amount lost divided by the long-term daily average - e.g. 20 days if your average is £100 a day. Twenty days isn't so bad. However, it also occurred to me today that after the Super Premium Charge becomes effective, that mental strategy won't work quite so well, knowing that the long-term daily average needs to be reduced significantly to be appropriate. Losses continue in full - wins are halved basically.

Post along the same lines as this always puzzle me:
This week sees the return of the Champions League however, and this should provide a good few opportunities for some trading.
How does a Champions League game offer 'a good few opportunities' for trading that any other game doesn't offer? I just don't see it. I also don't get this:
In other news Wolves have split from manager Mick McCarthy however I will wait until there is a clearer picture before getting involved.
Surely when there 'is a clearer picture' any advantage is gone? Isn't the time to strike early on in these markets, and lay all day as Borisranting has been suggesting? Buy the rumour, sell the fact. Makes sense to me. Not that I am a fan of Next Manager markets myself, but if there's a time to be involved it is surely early rather than late.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Kitchen Up

Not a single draw in the EPL today, and only one Under, which just happened to be the Everton v Chelsea XX Draw selection, so a small return there on a challenging day for many. The second XX Draw selection was Udinese v AC Milan where we had a winner until 85' when the visitors made it 2-1. There were two 'near' XX Draw Selections, Sunderland v Arsenal, which lost to a 91', and the much better Racing Santander v Atletico Madrid game that finished a perfect 0-0. Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster came up empty, (the games at Everton, Sunderland and Swansea City) as did Griff's single selection of Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United, a game that looked to me to be a value under pick at 2.3, but two goals in the first six minutes soon scuppered that. The Green Pullover also had the Sunderland game, but found a winner in the Championship as Blackpool drew with Portsmouth. Football Elite went for wins for Everton and Sunderland, with Draw No Bet, and split them for a small profit. No joy for backing the Lay The Draw picks either, as Lyon v Caen finished 1-2 and Galatasaray v Kayserispor 1-0. Their place atop the Tipster Table is in jeopardy. Mark J had an easy winner in Stuttgart, who won 5-0 over Hertha Berlin. No selections from Geoff this week.

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Profitable Sports Betting

The last post on how many winners there are, received a couple of comments with SJ feeling
that the goalposts have changed somewhat between my comment and your post. Your blog is primarily focused on value based sports betting not picking lottery numbers or how to cheat fruit machines. It was sports betting I was referring to and I still think it unlikely that within that category the figure is less than 5%. You're probably not going to have anyone argue your original point but it would be interesting to see someone argue less than 5% of sports bettors.
Indeed, I gave the goal posts a good shaking just to make the point that in a debate of this nature, it is important to know what we are actually debating. Not that I ever said anything about cheating fruit machines - not my thing, but from what I understand you put 100 units in and get back 90 or so - or at least less than you put in. But even if we limit the debate to sports bettors, I still think 5% is far too optimistic a number. Maybe it's because I think of myself as being more special than just a 1 in 20, but over a lifetime of betting on sports, I doubt that 5% end up ahead.

BF, an accountant, wrote a very interesting comment on the subject which is repeated here in full - thanks for taking the time -
The simple answer is neither of you know the answer to what % of gamblers is profitable is and any figures tossed out here are at best educated guesswork. I will try and give the worms eye view from someone who worked in the shop of a high street bookmakers chain here in Ireland. I freely admit extrapolation is dangerous but I suspect my experience is fairly typical notwithstanding that. I can say of the core clientele of 150 to 200 that only a handful who hit a fluky trixie or Goliath made a profit of any sort for a year. By handful I mean 5 or less. There was however a hit list circulated around shops of people who we were under no circumstances to be allowed more than X on any particular horse. These were players, faces or the known commission agents of the same. This list had at any particular time no more than 10 names on it. Allow for the fact that some of these were commission agents acting for the same person and there might be 5 to 10 people in Dublin so profitable on the nags that the online route was shut to them and that needed to get the best of the early prices. This list was incidentally one shared between chains at least unofficially so it is not like there were many of these guys not going to our chain. There was at this time around 45 shops in the 2 square miles of the central Dublin area (all chains or independents flying under the same flag of convenience) so say a core group of between 6,500 and 9,000 regulars of which if my experience is representative maybe 2 or 3 on average made an annual profit in each shop. That’s 1%.

As for the casual big meeting trade it strangely probably did better than the regulars as the odd freak year could see the lucky punter make a nice packet. A local teacher who plays Cheltenham only walked out with a 200/1 double+ 1 year and while exceptional there were always winners who you’d know to see but who saved their money, put some thought into their bets and played. The casual players probably did better than the regulars as if they won they were actually less likely to hand it all back in the coming days weeks and months. I would class most internet gamblers as regulars with all the bad habits of regulars – they give their money back eventually. An added difficulty for those not on the exchanges is showing any profitability will get you shut down double quick time necessitating all sorts of subterfuge and skulduggery to get on.

You need to make a distinction between gambling at its purest (lottery, roulette) where you and the lottery / house are playing honestly you will eventually be ground down by the house edge and gambling where some degree of skill and application will turn your edge into constant profitability. The point Cassini makes about 3.7 million being profitable is surely playing devil’s advocate for the sake of it. It’s a straw man argument.

Also using the Premium charge to assess the % of profitable is almost as facetious as hauling in all the Bingo playing grannies to support your argument. You are profitable if you make €1 more than you put into the business. Everything else is just degree. I’d be inclined to think that whatever figure is profitable that the Pareto principle is well and truly in operation when seeing where the bulk of the profitability lies.

My own personal view which has as much pinsticking in it as anyone elses and should be viewed as such is that 5% is at the very upper edge of profitability and of that the numbers making more than the industrial wage are insignificant. Betfair has definitely increased the numbers making a profit but it hasn't but it hasn't changed the game to the extent SJ thinks.
I would agree with that last paragraph.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Under / Over 5%

Regular readers will know that I never, ever, seek to be provocative with any of my posts, but yesterday's did bring a few comments, and hopefully a few extra hits to SoccerDude Eddie's post, which I did, indeed, cherry-pick for the juicy bits, and who responded with this:

Hmm, a little bit of cherry-picking to make your point? Surely not.

The last part of my post that you quote does conveniently leave out the important next sentence. I said what I said about the past - not to say that you can just dismiss it all with a majestic sweep of your hand, but rather to point out that it does not necessarily mean things will continue to be like that in the future.

A leopard doesn't change its spots, it is said - but I know from my own experience that I have changed the course and the methodology of my betting over time. So change is indeed possible.

That's the point I was making. Not that your lifetime P&L is unimportant.
SJ added:
As I conveniently inferred in my post a few minutes ago, previous lifetime losses can actually be of benefit if/when you do finally crack it not only as a commission generated buffer as I mentioned but also because you will (hopefully) have previously had a lot of bad habits that you’ve learnt to avoid.

If I were a betting man I’d say that overall winners, i.e net lifetime profit >= £0.01 was significantly higher than 5%. I’d also agree with the both of you, firstly with Cassini in that net profit has to be framed in a long-term context (not sure that lifetime is suitable in all cases). Also with Eddie in that people and their habits can and do change. There are probably very, very few people who win their first bet and go on to never drop below that starting figure.
Agreed that it is certainly possible to learn from mistakes, make changes, and turn things around, and if those earlier losses were on Betfair, they would indeed be helpful in the battle against the Premium Charge (at least until the noose tightens again) but I disagree that overall winners, defined as "net lifetime profit >= £0.01" is significantly higher than 5%. Since gamblers, as defined by the Gambling Commission, includes activities such as lottery, scratch cards, bingo, fruit machines, casino games FOBTs and football pools, I would be surprised if the figure were even 0.5%. There's the occasional big winner of course, but for most people gambling is entertainment, not a serious attempt at making money, and most lose.
The Gambling Commission's 2010 report stated that:
Overall, 73% of the adult population (aged 16 and over) participated in some form of gambling in the past year. This equates to around 35.5 million adults
5% of that number is 1.775 million. Is the suggestion that this number, or anywhere close are "net lifetime profit" serious? That number defies logic, and I would love to hear a counter-argument in support of that suggestion.

LayThatDraw, of the defunct Novice Football Trader blog, who perhaps learned that his very optimistic goal of 30% to 40% a month wasn't at all realistic:
I'm a 22 year old who has just discovered the world of sports trading, and is keen to make it work as a part time money spinner! I will be concentrating on in-play football markets only, with a general target of making 30 - 40% per month
(we're all keen, it's just not that easy, especially in the in-play football markets where value is incredibly hard to find) asks
Cassini, where can one watch live NBA on uk tv? cheers!
On UK TV, not often - but NBA has an online League Pass service, there is firstrow.tv or a search on Google for "watch nba online free stream" or similar will give some other options. Some pictures can be delayed, but there are good live score sites, e.g. http://scores.espn.go.com/nba/scoreboard and on the drop down menu "Scoreboard Tools" select the "Launch RealTime Scores".

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Thunder Roll

A perfect illustration of something I have mentioned here before in the NBA happened again last night in the Golden State Warriors v Oklahoma City Thunder game. The Thunder were favourites, at tip-off around 1.8, and the Warriors (2.26) go on an 8-0 run in less than two minutes. In basketball, this is nothing unusual, (it's not football) and when it happens, the team getting a beating invariably call a time-out, regroup, and come out with the momentum stilled. Meanwhile, the Warriors price plunges to 1.72 - over-reaction anybody? Does no one read this blog? Within a minute, after the Thunder had scored out of the time-out (as teams often do) with an 'and one', and the prices were already as below:

The Thunder went on to win by three, and I had my best result since last May.

A Football Traders Path had a post today on statistics, and yes, they can often be misleading, but is SoccerDude right in saying
I was reminded of another well-known "fact": that 95% of all gamblers lose money.
I'm not sure where that number actually comes from, (I've seen 90%) and the term 'gambler' is anyway problematic. The definition of a gambler is "a person who wagers money on the outcome of games or sporting events". OK, so I'm a gambler, but I don't like that term at all. It has all kinds of negative connotations, and doesn't differentiate between the degenerate gambler for whom a trip to the bookies is part of a daily routine, and who has no clue about value or probabilities, and the sophisticated 'advantage gambler' who selectively bets from his home only when there is value. Yes, I "take a risk in the hope of gaining an advantage or a benefit" but the word doesn't seem appropriate if it used to describe someone who is consistently profitable. I would actually suggest that 95% is too low a number. I know from personal experience that bookmakers close profitable accounts, so long term winners at the bookies would be very few and far between. SoccerDude writes:
Alright you get the point. I'm not saying this "95% losers" notion is false and I'm not saying it's true - I've never seen any definitive proof either way. But what purpose does it serve knowing it? Does it help you as a gambler/trader? I personally know a lot more winners in the gambling world than I know losers.
That last sentence there, I seriously question. Far more likely that the author knows a lot more people who claim to be winners than admit to being losers. As as been mentioned before, human nature is to have selective memory when it comes to these things. If the figure of 1 in 20 gamblers are profitable is true, then the likelihood of knowing more winners than losers is rather a long shot. If you have just three friends, the probability of that statement being true is pretty small.

SoccerDude continues with:
If you have a negative P&L or you have lost money continually over the last few years, well at this precise moment in time that doesn't really matter.... We are all losers at a particular snapshot in time, just as we are all winners.
Yes, we all have winning bets, and we all have losing bets, but whether we are winners or losers is a long-term / lifetime thing, not something based on a brief period of time, and the past does really matter. You can't just reset your P&L and claim to be a winner and write off previous losses as if they had never occurred. Profitable gambling is not easy. You not only have to find value, but beat commission and expenses too. I doubt that 1 in 20 can do that.

Consider - ~500 Super Premium Charge payers on Betfair, ~3.8 million users...

Betfair Premium Charge payers - less than 0.5%...

Where do these 1 in 20 winners place their bets?