Sunday, 30 September 2012

Polling Ahead

More good news on the US Presidential bet from the New York Times who report that:

Mr. Obama’s forecast rose slightly, to an 83.8 percent chance of winning the Electoral College, from 82.7 percent on Friday.
As low as 1.22 might seem, there is some value there now, given that Obama's chances should be at 1.19.  To keep Scott happy, his pollster of choice also gets a mention, although for Romney supporters, it is more bad news.
Mr. Obama also pulled ahead to take a two-point lead in the Rasmussen Reports tracking poll, which had differed from other polling firms by previously showing a tie.
The Monday night game between Queens Park Rangers and West Ham United is still to come before the weekend numbers are wrapped up, but here are some observations.

Every weekend sees one or two EPL fixtures at the centre of activity. The world and his auntie thought that the price on Liverpool to beat Norwich City away was crazy. Football Elite selected Norwich City (Draw No Bet), Griff selected this as a draw, Premier Edge went for Over 2.5 goals, Tony and Neil were laying Liverpool, and the XX Draws had this as a Classic selection. In addition, someone called Sports Gambling Ace, I suspect the name is not meant to be taken literally, Tweeted
"Liverpool are due a win and at 8/11 that's worthwhile". 
"Due a win" is hardly a convincing argument, (Gambler's Fallacy), but in the event, Liverpool were the most comfortable of winners scoring in the 2' and never looking back. Of course, it is to be expected that the result is used to justify the selection, but it really is hard to justify that Liverpool were value at odds on. Even my ratings, which arguably flatter Liverpool right now, only had them at 2.24. Football Elite had a great write up on this game too, and I hope I won't get in trouble for repeating part of it here:
I cannot understand anyone who is serious about their betting backing Liverpool in this one (although many seem to be). If you are saying Liverpool are a value bet in this game at these odds then you are basically saying they should be priced in the same bracket as Man Utd and Man City which is just nonsense.
This game was an XX Draw (Classic) selection too, but not one of the best. This weekend saw six Classic selections, with none finishing as draws, with only Fulham v Manchester City coming close with an 87' draw breaker. That's the bad news. The good news is that the Extended selections more than made up for the Classic losses, with four draws from seven selections. The Extended Half-Time 0-0 bet is proving to be quite a gem. With an average price of 2.94, the strike rate on these is currently 28 of 57, and a profit of 25.76 points. 24 of those 28 went on to finish Under 2.5.

Another quirk of backing the five markets in every game is that a 1-0 result after a HT 0-0 is usually a better overall result for me than the 1-1.

The Bundesliga selections continue to hold their own, with one draw from two this weekend - Friday night's 'fluked' 2-2 which of course does nothing for the Under bets.

The Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur game showed just how unpredictable football is. Three goals in three minutes did a lot of damage / made a lot of money for several wallets one would imagine, but after that little outburst, nothing for the last 40 minutes. A lay of Manchester United was big value (I had them at 1.99) but did I lay them? Did I 'eck. This was one of those games where my numbers appeared so far off that it seemed prudent to leave well alone.

Sunderland v Wigan Athletic drew some attention too. Premier Edge had both teams to score at 1.96, but my numbers had this priced at 2.17. Peter Nordsted's Premier Betting had this as an Over 2.25 bet, but also came up short as the game finished 1-0.

In other news, from College Football comes another reminder of why handicap betting can be treacherous. Florida State were giving 17 points yesterday against South Florida, and were up by 13 late, when they had a chance to score a touchdown, but chose to go down untouched to run the clock down instead.

The Ryder Cup continues as I post this. Not a great day for me, losing money on the Ian Poulter v Webb Simpson game, but winning (smaller) on Rory McIlroy. I have the USA to win outright, but the evening has been a little more 'interesting' than I would have liked. This is the last week of regular Premium Charges, but the scorer may not be troubled if Europe keeps this up!

And for Al's benefit, here are just a few jokes about Romney. The sad thing is that while his Obama 'joke' was first seen circa 1929, and can be applied to any President, most of the below jokes have more than a grain of truth in them. And they're funny. Enjoy:
"Mitt Romney is worth half a billion dollars and he's saying he pays 13 percent annually in taxes. Al Capone paid more than 13 percent in taxes, ladies and gentlemen." –David Letterman
"Mitt Romney says he's never paid less than 13% in taxes, which I think is fair because only 13% of his money is in this country." –Jay Leno
"A hurricane is scheduled to hit Tampa during the Republican Convention. These winds are so strong they could actually blow some of Mitt Romney's money back in the United States." –Jay Leno
"Paul Ryan just released his tax returns for the last two years, and it turns out he and his wife had a combined income of over $323,000 last year. To which Mitt Romney said, 'See, I do reach out to poor people." –Jay Leno
"Republicans like Paul Ryan because they say he's a fiscal conservative, and that's a perfect balance for Romney who's a guy that has an elevator for his Cadillacs." –David Letterman
"Paul Ryan is full of excitement, he's drawing big crowds. The only thing holding Paul Ryan back now according to political experts is Mitt Romney." –David Letterman
"Speaking of Paul Ryan, a new poll actually found that 42 percent of Americans do not approve of Mitt Romney's running mate, which isn't too bad considering most Americans don't approve of Paul Ryan's running mate." –Jimmy Fallon
"In college Paul Ryan drove the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. So he and Romney have something in common. Both have the experience of driving a car with a dog on the roof." –David Letterman
"Mitt Romney is hoping to energize Republicans by announcing Paul Ryan as his running mate. Seriously? That's like trying to spice up a bowl of oatmeal with more oatmeal." –Jimmy Fallon
"They say that Paul Ryan will humanize Romney. And I thought, hell, an amoeba could humanize Romney." – David Letterman
"Mitt Romney has picked Paul Ryan as his running mate. Experts say Ryan can add something vital to this campaign that Mitt Romney lacks: a personality." –Jay Leno
"It is crucial that Romney pick a running mate who will help him with the groups he's weak with: women, Hispanics, African Americans, Evangelical Christians – and Republicans." –Stephen Colbert
"Mitt Romney is claiming he’s going to create 12 million jobs in his first term. But he hasn’t said yet if he’ll create them in China or India.” –Conan O'Brien
"Mitt Romney annoyed the British by saying that London seemed unprepared for the Olympics. You know, putting his foot in his mouth like that is not very presidential. Vice presidential, sure. Yeah, but not presidential." –Jay Leno
"Mitt Romney's search for a vice president continues As you know, one of Mitt Romney's problems is that he's never hired an American for a job before, so this is new." –Jay Leno
"Mitt Romney has been giving his volunteers a free sweatshirt for making phone calls on his behalf. The sweatshirts are just like Romney, 100 percent reversible." -Jimmy Fallon
"This Facebook fiasco is one of the biggest clusterf**ks ever on Wall Street. Regular people got screwed and the banks and the insiders did okay. Or as Mitt Romney calls it, 'The American Dream.'" –Bill Maherl


"Mitt Romney was attacking Obama about our failing education system. He has a point. We are graduating millions of people in this country who are so lacking in basic analytical skills, they are considering voting for Mitt Romney." –Bill Maherl


"A new biography came out that says that in high school Obama was a huge pothead … Mitt Romney had to respond to this and said, ‘It is appalling that Obama spent his teenage years goofing around and smoking pot when he should have been pinning down gay kids and cutting their hair." –Bill Maherl
"Mitt Romney believes that marriage should be between one man and one woman. Which is better than his grandfather, who believed that it should be between one man and five women." -Jimmy Kimmel
"Today Mitt Romney visited a firehouse here in New York City. Of course, he was disappointed when he learned that the firehouse is not where you get to fire people." –Jimmy Fallon
"Mitt Romney, who is on record saying that he would not waste money going after bin Laden, on record saying he would not violate Pakistan's border to get bin Laden, this week said, 'Of course I would have gotten bin Laden.' Even his Etch-A-Sketch went, seriously?" –Bill Maher
"Republicans are now starting to accept the fact that Mitt Romney will be their nominee for president. But you know, they're not that excited about it. It's kind of like starting to accept that you're going to prom with your sister." –Jay Leno
"That Mitt Romney, he is a master campaigner. This week he was introducing his wife, and he said, ‘She is the heavyweight champion of my life.” Which may explain why on the ride home, he was strapped to the roof of the car." –Bill Maher
"Mitt Romney just barely won the Republican primary in Ohio by 1%. Then Romney made the mistake of saying, 'Ladies and gentlemen, tonight is a victory for the 1%!'" –Conan O'Brien

"First Mitt won Iowa, then he lost Iowa? That's a classic Romney flip-flop." –Stephen Colbert
"Congratulations to Mitt Romney. He won the New Hampshire primary last night. See, this is proof that even the multimillionaire son of a multimillionaire can beat the odds and run for president of the United States." –Jay Leno
"Mitt Romney is saying his comments about liking to fire people were taken out of context. Yeah, what he actually said was he likes to set poor people on fire." –Conan O'Brien
"Mitt Romney says he understands the middle class, and that he knows it's not easy keeping a roof over your family's heads — as well as vacation roofs in San Diego, New Hampshire, and Park City, Utah." –Jay Leno
"How about Mitt Romney? Now there's a guy who looks like you would see his picture on a package of men's briefs." –David Letterman
"I'm having trouble warming up to Mitt Romney. He looks like the guy in the restaurant that comes to your table to make sure everything's all right." –David Letterman
"Apparently a large branch of Mitt Romney’s family lives in Mexico. ... His grandfather in the late 1800s moved his whole family to Mexico to avoid being prosecuted for polygamy. ... Mitt can use that to show that he’s tough on immigration. His family kicked themselves out of the country." –Jimmy Kimmel
"Mitt Romney says President Obama's promises are like Kim Kardashian's wedding vows. President Obama shot back. He said Romney's positions last about half as long as a Kim Kardashian wedding." –Jay Leno
"Mitt Romney has come under fire for his pledge to eliminate federal funding for PBS. Romney said, 'When I'm president, the only operated puppet speaking to kids will be me." –Conan O'Brien

"Political analysts are saying that Mitt Romney is having trouble generating enthusiasm among Iowa voters. Now, ladies and gentlemen, you know you have a problem when people in Iowa find you dull." –Conan O'Brien
"Mitt Romney’s wife says her husband loves caffeine free Diet Coke. Or as it's known in the Mormon community, the ultimate gateway drug." –Conan O'Brien
"Mitt Romney tried to make a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry during a presidential debate. Well, who says the Republicans are rich snobs out of touch with the common man?" –Jay Leno
"Many voters feel that Mitt Romney is out of touch with real Americans after he tried to make a bet with Rick Perry for $10,000. When asked to comment, Mitt said, 'I'm sorry, but that's all I had in my pocket at the time.'" –Conan O'Brien

"Mitt Romney admitted in an interview, 'I tasted a beer and tried a cigarette once as a wayward teenager and never did it again. This has the makings of the lamest 'Behind the Music' special yet." –Jimmy Kimmel

"Most analysts agree the big debate winner last night was Mitt Romney, who stuck closely to his strategy of not being any of the other candidates." –Jimmy Kimmel
"Hookers in Times Square, God bless 'em, are offering a Mitt Romney Special. For an extra $20 they'll change positions." –David Letterman
"In an interview last night, Rick Perry criticized Mitt Romney for flip-flopping on the issues. Romney said that Perry has no idea what he's talking about. Then he added, 'But he does know what he's talking about.'" –Jimmy Fallon
‎"Almost all of Rick Perry's support appears to have gone to Herman Cain because, again, and I cannot stress this enough, nobody likes Mitt Romney." –Jon Stewart
"You got to feel bad for poor Mitt Romney. He's in their plugging every week, and every week somebody gets ahead of him. The people who have led Mitt so far: Donal Trump, then Michele Bachmann, then Rick Perry, now Herman Cain. He's been led by a reality show star, a crazy lady, a stuttering cowboy, and the guy who brings the pizza. That's gotta hurt a little." –Bill Maher
"The founder of Home Depot announced that he is supporting Mitt Romney for president. It's kind of a nice story, because Mitt Romney was actually assembled with parts from Home Depot." –Jimmy Fallon

"As the Republicans continue checking underneath every available flag pin and Bible for viable candidates, presumed de facto frontrunner candidate Mitt Romney has gotta be thinking, ‘What the fudge? This is starting to hurt where my feelings should be.'" –Jon Stewart
"According to a poll, over 50 percent of viewers thought Mitt Romney won this week's presidential debate. They thought Mitt Romney won, yeah. Romney credits the win to his grasp of the issues and the good people at Mattel, who built him." —Conan O'Brien

"Mitt Romney was sitting down with some unemployed workers the other day. Mitt is worth a quarter of a billion dollars, and he said, 'Hey, I'm unemployed too.' That is the famous Mormon sense of humor. A little tip Mitt, your people are only funny when the 'South Park' guys write your jokes. " —Bill Maher

"Mitt Romney has announced he's running for president in 2012. At the same time, he's announced he'll try again in 2016." —Stephen Colbert

"Experts are predicting that in the first Republican debate, Mitt Romney will face his fiercest ideological opponent: himself from four years ago." —Conan O'Brien

"Mitt Romney was on the 'Today Show' and admitted he likes to read the 'Twilight' books and watch 'American Idol.' If elected, he would be the 1st Mormon and the 1st 13-year-old girl to be President." —Jimmy Kimmel

"I think Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin would be the perfect ticket. She can't answer basic questions, and he has two answers for every question." —Jay Leno

"Well, the presidential race is getting interesting. In an effort to clear up his reputation as a flip-flopper, Mitt Romney will give a speech on health care. And then, right afterward, he'll give a five-minute rebuttal." —Jay Leno

"No! Not Captain Buzzkill! Not the guy who looks like everyone who ever fired your dad! He's gonna suck all the fun right out of this crazy thing. Just look at the online video announcing his run. It looks like it could double as an ad for erectile dysfunction pills. 'Mitt Romney: for when the moment's right.'" —Jon Stewart on Mitt Romney running for president

"Mitt Romney looks like a guy modeling briefs on a package of underwear ... He looks like a guy who goes to the restroom when the check comes ... He looks like a guy who would run a seminar on condo flipping ... He looks like he is the closer at a Cadillac dealership.... He looks like that guy on the golf course in the Levitra commercial." —David Letterman

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Romney's Real Problem

My old friend Scott writes:
Hi Cassini
The polling numbers you cited in your most recent post are sheer nonsense - beware!
Rasmussen have a solid record of being the most reliable political polling organisation in the US, and they give Obama only a slight lead at best, all of course well within the margin of error.
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/daily_presidential_tracking_poll
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/daily_swing_state_tracking_poll
The liberal MSM want people to think the election is over and many of the polls giving Obama double digit leads are simply not credible and independent.
Romney is far from an ideal candidate and his campaign has been lackluster and confused at best. One has to ask one's self: if Republicans cannot win in this economic environment, is there any hope for the future of the party?
I'm not saying that Obama should not be a strong favourite for re-election - defeating any sitting President is never easy - but 1.22 offers absolutely no value.
Opposing Obama at this price does.
Based on other posts over the years, I can only surmise that your disdain for Romney derives in large part from his faith.
I have often wondered how a betting man of your high intelligence reconciles his presumed religious views with the notion of Pascal's Wager.
But most importantly, what does Mrs Cassini think about all this? :-)
As the Chicago Tribune explains:
It has become the new battle cry for Republicans: All the polls showing Mitt Romney trailing by big margins are just wrong because pollsters are interviewing too many Democrats.
Surveys showing President Barack Obama leading nationally by 5 to 7 points, and even more in swing states, have come under fire from the Romney campaign and conservatives who accuse polling companies of misjudging their data at best, and deliberately skewing it against Romney at worst.
While pollsters say the Republicans are griping because they are losing, the kernel of the conservatives' complaints - that pollsters frequently survey more Democrats than Republicans - is true.
But poll companies do not go out of their way to find Democrats - it is just that there are more of them on voter registers than there are Republicans and independents.
Thirty-five percent of registered voters identify with Democrats, 28 percent with Republicans, and 33 percent are independents, according to a Pew study in August.
Liberal MSM? Perhaps the media are simply a reflection of the general population? Fox News is entertainment, not 'news'. 

Scott might consider individual poll numbers to be ‘nonsense’, but that is a personal opinion. Poll numbers are always going to differ, whether it’s because they are conducted in different states, on different days (people are very influenced by ‘recency’) or because of to be expected differences in the sampled population. The thing is though, when poll after poll give one candidate the lead, it’s hard to dismiss them all.

It’s also hard to see this election as anything but decided. Complacency could be a concern, but voters in the key swing states are very much aware of this, and it shouldn’t be a concern.

Scott is certainly correct in saying that “Romney is far from an ideal candidate and his campaign has been lackluster and confused at best”. In fact, that’s quite an understatement.

Romney’s religious beliefs are, of course, nuts, and the most alarming thing is that while it is accepted and understood that any US Presidential candidate has to claim to have faith to be electable, Romney actually believes his cult’s tenets.

Romney does not just pay lip service to his religion (almost always inherited incidentally), but embraced it as an adult, and is a high-ranking bishop. He believes, among other things, in magic underwear – sorry, “temple garments” (for protection from the evils of the world), gold plates, the planet Kolob, Jesus visiting the American continent and more.

Prior to 1978 the Mormons discriminated against African-Americans, and as an active adult in the church prior to that, one can assume Romney was ok with it. In 1978 a revelation determined that racial discrimination was wrong. Mormons also had no problem owning slaves, with Utah passing a law in 1852 allowing this, and it’s a religion with strange views on marriage. Active against California’s Proposition 8, in favour of gay marriage, the Mormons actively campaigned for ‘traditional marriage’ somehow forgetting that polygamy was their idea of ‘traditional marriage’ until it came to Utah’s statehood being on the line, when another ‘revelation’ conveniently decided that, too, was wrong. Fundamentalist Mormons to this day have multiple wives, often involving underage girls.

So this is the man-made club that Romney is proud to be a member of. Proud, except when it comes to looking for votes, when such odd beliefs (and yes, all religious beliefs are irrational, and the sooner we all view them as a form of mental illness, the better), drive sane people away.

Scott mentions the economy, saying “if Republicans cannot win in this economic environment, is there any hope for the future of the party?”.

Let’s hope not, it's an uncaring philosophy at best, and let’s not forget the state of the economy four years ago under George W Bush’s watch. A crash such as that triggered by the Bush administration’s carelessness takes several years to turn around, and my feeling is that most Americans understand that. Obama acted decisively to first stop the decline getting any worse, and then to start building the economy again. The Republican argument that they are "sorry they messed up last time, but we promise it won’t happen again", isn’t going to work. The economy under Clinton (Bill) was a boom time for most Americans, under Bush it was a disaster. Blaming Obabma for the state of the economy is like destroying a house, and then blaming the builder for not restoring it fast enough.

Voters might also remember that when Obama took office, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 7949 points, the NASDAQ at 1476. Today they stand at 13,437 and 3116 respectively. 69% or 111% gains, and the housing market is coming off the bottom. The Republicans have been asking if the country is better off than they were four years ago, and the answer is yes.

Obama is popular, while Romney commits gaffe after gaffe. In just the past few Following shortly after his 47% are losers speech:
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. ... My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
 came his “aircraft windows not opening is a problem” comment, 
When you have a fire in an aircraft, there's no place to go, exactly, there's no -- and you can't find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don't open. I don't know why they don't do that. It's a real problem." 
Electioneering at its best. Romney is hardly showing the good judgement that might be expected of their President, and he has quite rightly been much ridiculed for his stupid comments.

With less than 40 days to go, pretty much all Obama needs to do to win is avoid being caught up in a sex scandal. Having backed at 1.47 on September 11th, the current 1.22 is not tempting enough to add to my position. As Scott suggests, the news now is probably as good for Obama as can be expected two weeks on, and if I were to make another move, it would be to lay at this price. I'm not in a hurry to do so though - call this price a hold. 

Pascal's Wager? But there are so many gods to choose from! 330 million Hindu deities for a start! The "one true" Christian god is pretty recent, so I would feel more comfortable believing in all of them - Odin, Zeus, Mars, Thor and all. One would hate to choose the wrong god merely because we happen to be born in a certain country at a certain time. Santa Claus, Easter Bunnies and the Tooth Fairy are harmless enough for kids, but for some reason the god fairy tale persists for many into adulthood. To quote David Feherty:
If god wanted people to believe in him, why'd he invent logic then?

Earlay Days

Earlier today, I posted up Tony's Lays for the weekend, and Tony adds some more thoughts on how to play these:

As well as laying these teams, I also started to get involved in my two matches in running this week. Both Borussia Dortmund (Tuesday) and Schalke '04 (Friday) took early 2-0 leads and went to 1.1 and 1.07, so I took a position on both these matches and backed when the scores went 1-2 and 2-2. I know you have mentioned a similar approach in American Football before, albeit in a game that has many more swings in prices, but I thought I would have a go on my away lays too. Maybe I got lucky but looking back over the results there seems to be an opportunity in quite a few of the games so far - both Manchester teams came from behind against Southampton, two late goals for Barcelona to win 2-1. Worth a further look?
The strategy of laying the leader at short prices is an attractive one. It's certainly my experience in the sports of basketball and American Football, that prices drop into the 1.0x range too early. Fear and greed drive the markets, and as I have written before, the market gets caught up in the frenzy of a team taking a lead, and wants to be on a winner. Greed rules for a while, and the price is driven too low. The bounce happens when the fear element comes back into play, and the market collectively reassesses its position, and the reality hits that maybe the win isn't quite so assured as it seemed earlier. As is well documented, I prefer the US sports for this strategy, because they are simply better suited to trading than football (soccer), and basketball is preferable to American Football because with so many points in total, and any one possession rarely adding more than three to any one team's score, it's a trading dream. 

Trading football (soccer) is a different ball game (pun intended) altogether. Possessions rarely result in a score, and prices move in a pre-determined direction. My feeling is that if you feel the market has priced a game wrongly pre-game, e.g. Schalke are too short, then the market is likely to continue offering value, even after a goal or two. You certainly can't go far wrong laying at 1.07 after 20 minutes in the Bundesliga. All you need for a decent return is for the next goal to be scored by Fortuna Dusseldorf, and this may well be more value than the pre-game 1.97, with greed driving that price down too far. 

Perhaps I shouldn't have trumpeted these lays. Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Manchester City all won this afternoon!  

Identical Differences

One area that is becoming more and more intriguing is that of the relationship between prices in different markets for a match.

There are two games in the EPL this afternoon that are remarkably similar. While the prices are constantly changing, at the time of writing the prices on some of the more liquid markets for the Norwich City v Liverpool and Fulham v Manchester City games are as follows:

Home: 1.8 / 1.81, Draw: 4.05, Away: 5.0 Half-Time 0-0: 3.325

All but identical, but when we look at the Under / Over markets, there are some differences. More goals are expected in London as the four Overs markets are priced (1.5 to 4.5) 1.275, 1.795, 3.05, 6.4 compared with NOR v LIV at 1.31, 1.905, 3.325 and 7.0 respectively. And the Full-Time 0-0 is only 14.25 at Norwich, but 15.5 at Fulham.

The market seems to be confused, or at least inconsistent, and where there is confusion, there is opportunity. The HT 0-0 is presumably better value at Fulham than at Norwich. Or is the market so sophisticated that it expects more second half goals at Fulham than at Norwich, with the probability of first half goals the same at both games?

More on this subject later in the year, meanwhile my own ratings have historically rated Liverpool as a better team than they are, based in no small part to their ability last season to create chances, but not convert them. The theory is that sooner or later, the luck will change, and those shots that hit the woodwork and stay out, will start to go in, but even so, Liverpool look very short at 1.8. I still have Liverpool rated fourth in my ratings, generous to say the least.

I mentioned last week that Tony's Lays were bearing fruit, and for those following, here are his lays for this weekend, including one winner already:






Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Endless Wisdom

The news from the US just gets better and better. The latest poll in the key state of Ohio has Obama with a 53% to 43% lead, and in Florida it is 53% to 44%. As a result, the 1.47 of 11 September is now down to 1.24.   

To link political betting with sports, Mormon Bishop Mitt Romney rolled out Ohio native Jack Nicklaus in a desperate attempt to garner support for his lost cause. Presumably Nicklaus embodies Romney's idea of a typical middle class working man. 

Romney's move is not unlike SoccerDude's latest attempt to bolster his attempt to challenge the world's number one sports trading (and so much more) blog. Desperate. Lost cause. 

A post over at Average Guy's Betfair Trading Challenge neatly summarises the thought of many of you I suspect, (except for the 'somewhat annoying' part where he is clearly on his own) as he writes:   
It never ceases to amaze me how Cassini manages to post every day and still find something relevant and interesting to share with us earthlings.
How does he even get time to work on his successful trades and still manage to educate those of us in obvious need of an education in this, and many related fields ?
To remain interesting and relevant with his level of profligacy is truly a wonder and all should bow before him. I used to find his posts somewhat annoying because of their pedantic and acerbic nature, but now, I realise this superiority complex is well founded.
Poor SoccerDude blurted out
Oh dear - Considering how much ridiculous arse-licking you're doing here, it would have been wise to check your spelling.
Profligacy means to be recklessly wasteful!
Which, of course, is exactly what Average Guy meant. And the spelling of profligacy looks good to me. As AG clarified:
That's what I meant, recklessly wasteful with his endless wisdom.
Endless wisdom. I like that - almost as much as I like AG's blog - one of the best out there! Far better than this one...

Right, more seriously, many of you will be aware that there was a somewhat controversial ending to the Green Bay Packers @ Seatlle Seahawks game on Tuesday morning, which was won by the hosts on the final play of the game, assisted by a missed call by the replacement referees. Another example of decisions going the way of home teams. Had the game been in Green Bay, it's my opinion that they would have got the call right, but we shall never know. Another observation is that no less than 9 big (more than a field goal)  underdogs actually won (not covered, but won) last week - the most in over 20 years. It appears that the NFL and the real referees are getting closer to resolving their dispute, (even Obama is talking about it), but if the replacements continue, there are some interesting angles to play.

Spinning Top

As September, and the Summer, fade into history, a reminder from Paul Makin:

“Don’t count your winnings by the day. The reality is that it doesn’t really matter what you do by the day, it matters what you take home at the end of the year. You’ve got to think long-term and the only way is value. The price must be right. You just keep taking value. You won’t back all the winners but you’ll end up with money. Winning is a long-term project. If you just want to go and enjoy yourself and knock off a hundred or two, that’s all very good, but if you want to win you’ve got to have a professional approach.” 
I'm looking at including some more selections in the Friendly Tipster League, and came across a blog called Football Formbook which sounded promising with its mission in life being "Providing winners from the top football leagues". The funny thing is that we have yet to have either a winner or a selection from the 'top football leagues'. There was a dip into Europe's 26th rated league last weekend, but Dundee United were demolished by Hearts for a loss, and there are two more from Scotland this week, but I feel the promise of selections from the 'top football leagues' is one that (so far) could be challenged in court. His results last season were decent though, (see below), although I prefer the one point risk per bet as a measure (easier to compare) but anyway, recruited against his will is entry number 28 into the FTL is Football Formbook. We wish him well.


Sunk Costs


Simon enjoyed the read of Ranjit Bolt's gambling problems, and had a comment which is worth repeating here:
Excellent piece of writing from Mr Bolt and well worth a read.
Personally I liked the quote: "Regaining a recent loss brings a special pleasure of its own, as any gambler will tell you: a weird, warped sense of redemption."

For a long time I felt losses much harder than I did wins. Losing a fiver was much more profound than winning a ton. Perhaps like with repeated usage of any drug over time, I've become numb to the highs and lows of individual wins and losses. This could probably be seen as both a good and a bad thing. I do however still get the odd buzz from pulling a losing position back to break-even or, even better, a profit. There is possibly no feeling quite as satisfying.

The idea of blowing 250K over any period of time though makes me a feel a little sick, but I guess it is all relative. I don't have a 5K overdraft and I don't have massive royalties from my literary works (yet).
It's certainly true that the pain of a loss is not outweighed by the joy of a win of the same amount. Losses hurt, and several studies have found this, but to be successful as a trader, or perhaps I should say to be the best trader you can be, you need to overcome this, at least to some extent. Simon says that over time, he has become numb to the highs and lows of individual wins and losses, and this is certainly true for me. After a while, wins become nothing more than green numbers on a spreadsheet, while losses are the red ones! Recovering from a loss to break-even feels better than a win of the same amount, because the loss that would have been painful, has been avoided.

Many traders find it difficult to 'red-up' even if it is the logical play, although most are happy to 'green-up' even if it is illogical to do so. 

Sunk costs are "retrospective costs that have already been incurred and cannot be recovered", but they influence our behaviour in trading, as in other areas of life. In English: "There is no use crying over spilled milk".
Robert Frank in his book Microeconomics and Behavior describes the case of two tennis courts at Cornell University, one indoor and the other outdoor. The indoor court has fees of $15 per hour and the outdoor court has no charge. Suppose you have already paid to play on the indoor court. You arrive to play on a warm, sunny afternoon and find that the outdoor court is free. Frank asks, "Where should you play, indoors or out?"
Frank reports that in surprisingly many cases people balk at playing on the outdoor court saying that they have already paid to play indoors. Even when he points out that the $15 fee is payable no matter which court they play on, it is a sunk cost, many still feel uncomfortable about ‘wasting’ the indoor court.

But something has to be wasted; either the $15 or the opportunity to play outdoors in the sunshine. In the end, both courts cost the same since $15 will be paid no matter which court is used. So if it is more pleasant to play outside in the sunshine, that is the rational choice.

Something similar can occur when we buy a stock that drops in price. Many people hesitate to sell such a stock even though they believe that they could get a better return with a different company. They hang on to the stock rather than ‘waste’ the money that is the difference between their purchase price and the current price. But, just as in the case of the fee for the tennis court, that money is a sunk cost. All that counts is what the stocks are worth now and how to get the best return on this money. (With stocks it is a little bit more complicated due to taxes and transaction costs.)
Another factor that can influence stock purchases is the effect of irrelevant information. In an experiment, groups of people were asked to choose between two apartments: the first is near the city but has a high rental, the second is further away but has a low rental. The experiment is set up in such a way that the split between the choices is roughly 50-50.
Then a third apartment is added to the list that is both further away than the second apartment and more expensive. Clearly this apartment is less attractive than the second one so you might expect that the outcome remains at 50-50 between the first and second apartments with none choosing the third. This is not the case. It turns out that the majority of people choose the second apartment.
The explanation is that people veer towards situations where there is a clear choice and away from more difficult choices. So they focus on the choice between apartments two and three and away from the choice between one and two.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Behind Schedule

A rare post from Mark Davies' blog contained an unexpectedly amusing line. Writing about the possibility of FOBT stakes being reduced to £2 as reported in the Daily Mail today Mark writes:
Equally, the biggest head-scratcher of the day is that both Ladbrokes’ and William Hill’s shares have risen, which can only suggest that no-one in the City wants to admit that they read the Mail.
 Very droll. Not quite so amusing is the frankly awful gross profit and loss total seen in the latest Friendly Tipster Table over at Gold All Over. I may have to rename that blog Lead All Under. The individual 'contenders' for want of a better word are broken out into 27 individual categories, but they fall into distinct categories.

My own XX Draws take up 15 of the categories, and then there are the professional services offered by Football Elite and Peter Nordsted's Premier Betting.

Of the remaining 10, nine are comprised of two from Griff (Draws and Under/Over), one from Tony, Little Al, Neil, Premier Edge, Jon (Talkbet), Free Under / Over Selections and Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster. The final entrant is that of the 'Lay the Draw' selections. Added against their will and true intent, and which might well be expected to be a loser, these anti-selections actually proved very profitable last season when they were introduced.

The first group are currently in profit by 28.38 points, but the second show a loss to date of a massive 46.13 points, with only Tony's Tips in profit. Poor old Talkbet props up the table and talks about his losses (11.15 points) to date in his blog today. Griff takes up two of the next three places with a combined loss of 17.94 points. Five draws from 29 shows how elusive the draw can be at times. Also struggling to find draws, is Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster picks, with just one from 14 to date. The life of a Draw Hunter is not always glamorous.

Only twelve of the 27 are in profit, and two of those by a whisker. Those categories focused on the Under / Over markets are down 9.58 points. While these totals all sound rather bad, and they are certainly not good, it's important to keep the numbers in perspective. A loss of 17.75 points from 536 selections is 'only' a loss of 3.31% - a loss, but as soon as Griff and Talkbet turn into profit we'll be fine. No pressure boys.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Predictable Individual Numbers

Top To Bottom
For numbers people, courtesy of Yahoo!Finance

If you lost your ATM card on the street, how easy would it be for someone to correctly guess your PIN and proceed to clean out your savings account? Quite easy, according to data scientist Nick Berry, founder of Data Genetics, a Seattle technology consultancy.

Berry analyzed passwords from previously released and exposed tables and security breaches, filtering the results to just those that were exactly four digits long [0-9]. There are 10,000 possible combinations that the digits 0-9 can be arranged into to form a four-digit code. Berry analyzed those to find which are the least and most predictable. He speculates that, if users select a four-digit password for an online account or other web site, it's not a stretch to use the same number for their four-digit bank PIN codes.

What he found, he says, was a "staggering lack of imagination" when it comes to selecting passwords. Nearly 11% of the 3.4 million four-digit passwords he analyzed were 1234. The second most popular PIN in is 1111 (6% of passwords), followed by 0000 (2%). (Last year SplashData compiled a list of the most common numerical and word-based passwords and found that "password" and "123456" topped the list.)

Berry says a whopping 26.83% of all passwords could be guessed by attempting just 20 combinations of four-digit numbers (see first table). "It's amazing how predictable people are," he says.

We don't like hard-to-remember numbers and "no one thinks their wallet will get stolen," Berry says.

Days, Months, Years

Many of the commonly used passwords are, of course, dates: birthdays, anniversaries, year of birth, etc. Indeed, using a year, starting with 19__, helps people remember their code, but it also increases its predictability, Berry says. His analysis shows that every single 19__ combination be found in the top 20% of the dataset.

"People use years, date of birth — it's a monumentally stupid thing to do because, if you lose your wallet, your driver's license is in there. If someone finds it, they've got the date of birth on there. At least use a parent's date of birth [as a password]," says Berry.

Somewhat intriguing was #22 on the most common password list: 2580. It seems random, but if you look at a telephone keypad (or ATM keypad), you'll see those numbers are straight down the middle — yet another sign that we're uncreative and lazy password makers.

The Least Predictable Password

The least-used PIN is 8068, Berry found, with just 25 occurrences in the 3.4 million set, which equates to 0.000744%. (See the second table for the least popular passwords.) Why this set of numbers? Berry guesses, "It's not a repeating pattern, it's not a birthday, it's not the year Columbus discovered America, it's not 1776." At a certain point, these numbers at the bottom of the list are all kind of "the lowest of the low, they're all noise," he says.

A few other interesting tidbits from Berry:

-The most popular PIN code (1234) is used more than the lowest 4,200 codes combined.
- People have even less imagination in choosing five-digit passwords — 28% use 12345.
- The fourth most popular seven-digit password is 8675309, inspired by the Tommy Tutone song.
-People love using couplets for their PINs: 4545, 1313, etc. And for some reason, they don't like using pairs of numbers that have larger numerical gaps between them. Combinations like 45 and 67 occur much more frequently than 29 and 37.
- The 17th most common 10-digit password is 3141592654 (for those of you who are not math nerds, those are the first digits of Pi).

Sunday, 23 September 2012

King In The Toilet

From today's Observer, a well written article by playwright Ranjit Bolt on the topic of gambling addiction. I liked this quote:
I even managed to convince myself that I was earning a living from the game. It took many weeks of steady, daily losses before a nagging suspicion was born that something might be amiss. A subsequent check of bank and credit card statements revealed a £4,000 net loss in a matter of weeks. How?
Here's the article in full:
What began as fun evenings of poker led to a serious gambling addiction for playwright Ranjit Bolt. Here, he describes the lure of the game – and the devastating effects on his life
It is nine o'clock on a Saturday night and I should be at an old friend's party. There are likely to be nice people there, artistic, talented; and the hostess is a wizard cook. It was seven for seven thirty, dress smart but "not too smart"...
I am not at the party however. Nor is my dress remotely smart, consisting as it does of a fisherman's sweater, more holes than wool, and a pair of frayed tracksuit pants smelling faintly of urine. This is my usual garb – my uniform, if you will – when I visit my betting shop of choice in north London.
There is one other punter in the place – a nicotine-stained old guy in a raincoat who is operating a strange roulette system consisting of a plethora of tiny stakes that more or less cancel each another out.
I used to watch small-scale punters like this with contempt. I've always been a big-bet man myself, usually staking the maximum allowable sum in all the major chains (£100) on my preferred game – blackjack. Then one day I found myself in a Ladbrokes shop on a Saturday afternoon with every station occupied. I waited a quarter of an hour for a seat to come vacant. It was then that I realised that the size of the bet didn't count for anything: I was just as desperate and sleazy as the rest of them.
That convinced me of the true nature of my predicament, though sadly it didn't do anything to curtail it. So I would find myself, at 9.50am, hovering on the threshold of William Hill in South End Green, waiting for the joint to open. Hard to retain much self-respect after that. No less pitiful, you might say, than an alcoholic outside the off licence at 9.50am on a winter morning, slapping his cirrhotic sides against the cold.
After wishing my confrere an unacknowledged "Good luck", I make my way to a terminal and park my backside on the sticky black leather seat.
I've gambled online, and in live casinos, but neither has the same, uniquely sordid appeal as the betting shop. It's the tackiness of the betting shop that, for me, puts it without peer as a means of wrecking your life. And among the charms of the betting shop, blackjack has the greatest appeal.
This has something to do, I assume, with the structure of the game: the ability to stand or take another card creates an irresistible illusion of control. With roulette, you spin the wheel, and that's it; horses: once they're off, ditto. Whereas with blackjack, few things can match the adrenaline rush you get when that third card takes you to 20 or, incredibly, to 21.
If you're not familiar with gaming machines, they are, in appearance and construction, not unlike the automatic ticket vendors at railway stations. Though, in this case, in return for the money you feed in, you mostly get nothing back.
The soulless strip lighting of the shop creates a curiously appealing, dismal ambience – a kind of physical equivalent to my own spiritual landscape. I'm starting to think the north London artistes I ought to be rubbing shoulders with at this moment don't know what they're missing as they chew on their boeuf bourguignon and mashed potato canapés and sip Rioja. So, why am I here? Well, clearly because I'm a schmuck, but that's not what I mean; I mean biographically speaking …

For many years an old friend of mine and I have been devotees of poker. It began with evenings of spontaneous, anarchic, life-enhancing mayhem at his flat, escalating from there, by insidious steps, into a serious fortnightly home game complete with league table and annual trophy. Now, if all poker – all gambling games, in fact – are potentially addictive and obsessional, Texas Holdem is both of those things to the power of 10.
Being endowed with just the right, catastrophic psychic make-up, I was pretty soon hooked. One day in February 2005 I asked the old pal in question if there was anywhere you could play Holdem online. He chortled and gave me the name of a "reputable" site. That night I opened an account and began to play.
I started in a restrained way – five or six hours a day – maybe a bit more if I had no work on. Soon I was convinced I'd struck gold. Here, at last, was the steady, reliable source of income I'd been dreaming of ever since giving up a well-paid job in the City to concentrate on, of all things, translating 17th-century French verse comedies.
I couldn't keep this goldmine I'd hit on to myself. I announced arrogantly at dinner parties that I had discovered a new string to my bow, a sure-fire revenue stream. The "fish" (poker speak for bad players) out there had to be seen to be believed. I even managed to convince myself that I was earning a living from the game. It took many weeks of steady, daily losses before a nagging suspicion was born that something might be amiss. A subsequent check of bank and credit card statements revealed a £4,000 net loss in a matter of weeks. How?
I was an addict by now, of course, and that kind of self-delusion is standard addict practice. Worse still, because of the peculiar nature of gambling addiction – many experts reckon it's the hardest of all addictions to cure – once it dawned on me that I was in fact losing, I figured the only way to recoup the money was to play more and then yet more.
One time, after playing non-stop for three days, so that the index finger of my right hand had started to tingle from repeatedly clicking the mouse to bet on or fold a hand, I woke to find that somebody had broken into my flat during the night and festooned it with playing cards. They were all over the walls, they were dangling from the curtains. Wherever I went – bathroom to wash, kitchen to make breakfast – they kept popping up.
I dismissed this (despite having once suffered from a bout of manic depression that included delusions) as some sort of short-term optical glitch that was only to be expected in the circumstances, and soon hurried back to my laptop to resume playing.
Then, around lunchtime, I was in the loo, when I looked down and saw that there was a playing card lying in the bottom of the bowl. This was no vague optical effect, either, but a perfectly formed, shiny new king of hearts.
I called my GP, fixed an emergency appointment and got myself straight down there. "You're mad," she said, perhaps more accurately than she'd intended, when I had described the situation. "You have a history of mental problems. You should not be doing this. Go home, switch off your computer, or better still, chuck it in the bin and take this pill and get some sleep."
She placed a large white tablet in my hand. Feeling a whole lot better, I reckoned I would just get a couple more hours' play in, take the tablet and turn in.
Unfortunately, I drifted off in the middle of a hand, without having taken the pill, and when I woke up a couple of hours later I was dying...
Well, perhaps not quite. In the ambulance they informed me that I was having a massive atrial fibrillation, brought on by four days and nights without sleep, sprayed something on the roof of my mouth, and asked for my next of kin. On reaching A&E I was attended to with worrying promptness and a drip was inserted in my neck. I was in there all the next day, my pulse returning to normal just 20 minutes before I was scheduled to be medically "rebooted".
All this makes gambling seem a dark and destructive business, and, of course, it can be. But that's pretty obviously not the whole story. Like all addictive activities, it offers astonishing highs – highs as high as the lows are low. If it didn't, who on earth would take it up in the first place? During a lucky streak, for instance, I get a sense of quite astonishing and implausibly sustained wellbeing. There was the time, to cite one of many, when I turned my last £2,000 in the world into £82,000 over a spell of about three weeks. (The fact that I went on to blow the lot in 10 minutes and was suicidal for a fortnight thereafter is another matter.) Regaining a recent loss brings a special pleasure of its own, as any gambler will tell you: a weird, warped sense of redemption.
Equally true, on the other hand, is an observation by Casanova, who had a sideline in gambling and noted that inside every serious gambler lurks a miser. Or, to put it another way, a greedy klutz wanting something for nothing.
But, yes, the highs. Perhaps even more exhilarating than that 80 grand streak was the day when I had gambled everything away except a £5,000 overdraft facility. By this stage I had had to remortgage my flat to the tune of £20,000. I spent the day debating with myself whether or not I should try my luck and see what I could do with that 5k.
What had I got to lose? It wasn't even my money, but the bank's.
As usual, the inner demons (the shrinks, the addiction experts, call it this "permission thought") won the argument, and at midnight, came the start of a new 24-hour period, which meant that I was allowed to deposit fresh funds. I transferred the overdraft money to my William Hill account and sat down to a hand of blackjack, staking the maximum allowable amount on one hand of £5,000.
I hit 20 with that hand, won, 20 with the next, won again, won again with the third bet. In the space of two minutes I had not merely quadrupled my 5k overdraft, but could now pay off my mortgage and be, once more, to some degree at least, a free man.
I collapsed on the sofa, numb with joy, sandbagged by bliss. But the demons were of the opinion that I shouldn't stop there. In their judgment this was clearly a streak, and there was at least one more win out there – possibly even blackjack, which pays 150%. I went back to my laptop, put another 5k on and hit blackjack. In 10 minutes, from four consecutive hands, I had made £22,500, and changed my life. I remember sitting in the dark for half an hour with such joy and relief washing over me.

But, for the MOST PART, the order of the day has, inevitably, been self-destruction. I have lost, at a conservative estimate, a quarter of a million pounds over the past seven years. And I am once again remortgaged, for 30k this time.
I do not complain about any of this – not the debt, the near-death experience, not even the huge and horribly dark spells of despair and self-loathing. Nor am I especially plagued when I remember that, but for gambling, I would now be living on a comfortable income from royalties scrimped and saved over 15 years of hard showbiz slog.
There is nothing worse in this world than a sore loser, and nowhere is that more true than in gambling. The tax revenues from the big gaming companies help build schools and hospitals, pay for teachers, doctors and nurses. This is something, I tell myself.
I do sometimes wonder quietly why walking down any major street in London has to be, for me and my fellow gambling addicts, rather like negotiating Scylla and Charybdis – Paddy Power or Betfred here, William Hill or Ladbrokes there. But the resentment doesn't last. I have swallowed my pride, sought professional help, attended GA meetings. At the time of writing I haven't gambled, in any shape or form, for several months.
The other day, for instance, as I approached Finchley Road, near where I live – a thoroughfare positively festooned with betting shops – I conceived a strong urge to have a flutter on the betting machines. What harm could it do, now that I was cured?
I found myself walking, like a zombie, towards the nearest of the outlets. I must have forgotten the time I once lost £6,000 trying to win £2 to cover the cost of a piece of broccoli I'd deemed overpriced.
Suddenly, like young Stephen Dedalus in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, as he walks down Lott's Lane in search of stimulus, then suddenly spins round and heads for home, I turned. The pull on me as I headed back toward the bus stop, and home, was astonishingly powerful. The feeling of triumph as I boarded a bus and headed for Hampstead (where any betting shop manager worth his salt will, at my own request, eject me from the premises on sight) was one that, to anybody who hasn't been there, might seem pathetic.
The gambler in me is still looking to recoup, needless to say. But now he does it in different ways. It's a truism to say that no very disastrous experience is without its compensatory positives – its winnings, in other words. What I have gained from gambling is twofold. Firstly, there is a much-needed sense of one's own fallibility that I suspect was lacking in me before the debacle began. Secondly, and perhaps more usefully, I have acquired a measure of immunity to disaster.
Misfortune of sundry kinds, and especially financial, can easily be put into perspective by the mere recollection of the mayhem one has been through. That is a perhaps not inconsiderable boon in these days of, for many of us, unwonted austerity and ongoing financial uncertainty. I am, if you like, a mini Greece, only a stop or two ahead, with a viable reconstruction package already in place, and working. Whether this is all bunkum, and I turn out to be another De Quincy – bragging about how he'd beaten his addiction to opium when he was taking the stuff till the day he died – only time will tell.

Trouble At Home

An unusual reason for a postponement hit one of the XX Draw selections today, as Cagliari v AS Roma was called off after Cagliari president encouraged fans to show up for a game that Serie A had decided would be played in an empty stadium due to safety / security concerns with their new home.

I don't have too much data on empty stadium fixtures, so perhaps it was for the best. It's probably reasonable to assume that home advantage is somewhat diluted in such circumstances. Cagliari were the first Italian side I saw live, (with the great Gigi Riva playing), so I've always had them as my Italian team. It certainly wasn't the best of weekends for the XX Draws with just three draws from eleven selections with the best being the perfect results of Catania v Napoli and Athletic Bilbao v Malaga from the Extended category.

The second Classic selection of the weekend was another victim to a late(ish) penalty, as Udinese beat AC Milan 2-1, and the other Extended selections today were Mallorca v Valencia (2-0) and Liverpool v Manchester United (1-2) (and another late penalty victim).

The surprisingly impressive Bundesliga selections had a profitable day on the draws, as I fluked a 2-2 draw in the Werder Bremen v Stuttgart match, but Hoffenheim beat Hannover '96 3-1. A lot of goals, which is never good.

Other tipsters had mixed results over the weekend too. In profit were Football Elite, who had Mallorca v Valencia (DNB) and a 2-0 win, and while Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster selections might be struggling, his Premier Betting service is very solid with two more winners from three this weekend. Tony's Tips I mentioned yesterday, and they remained in profit on the weekend with Real Madrid's game being postponed.

Little Al had one profitable selection - the Manchester City v Arsenal draw, and after 9 bets is +0.00 (ROI 0.00%).

In the loss column on the weekend were Drawmaster, Griff's Selections, Griff's Over / Unders, Jon (Talkbet), Neil's Selections, and Premier Edge.

Backing Ian Erskine's Lay the Draw selection found it's first winner this weekend, RKC Waalwijk v VVV finishing 1-1. Although we are down on these to date, the selections are 7 of 8 on the Under 2.5 which suggests we have been a little unlucky. 

I shall publish the table after the weekend's fixtures complete tomorrow night.

There were a few more comments on Rick Ford's vanishing posts, with SoccerDude reminding us that:
As I pointed out when I first (indirectly) mentioned Rick's blog, its "where the magic happens". And indeed, all his posts have "magically" disappeared.
Very droll. Little Al kindly offers anyone who might be interested, which is likely no one, that he has copies of all the posts. I hesitate to ask why Al might have these, but he does, should you desire them.

Rob the Builder, stops by for a rare visit to say:
I'm afraid that, if my ageing memory is holding up, Rick is a bit of a serial offender. I recall that he was in my first blogroll back in 2008 and his posting at that time did tend towards a 'distorted reality' - words of a pro, actions of an amateur.
Use of the word 'amateur' suggests Rob has a career in diplomacy should the building thing doesn't work out.

I hope some of you followed my NFL Under 42.5 selection of Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolos Colts (2.02) which was a winner, albeit a little close at the end finishing 22-17. The result of the Houston Texans @ Denver Broncos tip has yet to be determined.

Back to the XX Draws for a moment, and I wasn't aware until yesterday that one of my subscribers is Daily 25. He has some good things to say about this blog, and the XX Draws, although after this weekend's setbacks, his next review may not be quite so flattering! While stakes are relative, Daily25 bets in pretty big numbers by my standards, but he clearly has the right mindset to see the big picture and ride out the lows until the inevitable highs come along. 
XX draws is a system I have a lot of trust in. It has been developed by Cassini of the very good Green All Over blog. A highly recommended read as he not only gives out some great advice once in a while, but the best part about cassini is that he doesn’t hold back and likes to start arguments with those he feels are doing the wrong thing, or who he feels are just plain idiots (Why he hasn’t had a dig at me as of yet I’m not sure, we’ll I am fairly sure it’s because I get about 50 people reading this blog compared to his many thousands and he has no time for us little meaningless fish). The reason I like this system is simple, people hate draws and no one ever bets on them, but they happen a hell of a lot, this means for a lot of games the prices available are great value. This is something that has been noted by Jonno at Sportpunter a number of times, people hate to back the unders in most sports as they want to see lots of goals/points. This makes backing unders very profitable in the right circumstances.
I am following the XX Draws and the Extended draws as well as Under 2.5 for each system at $500 per bet. Going off the only stats I can (last years results – I know, I know) I am hoping to make a bit over 100 points of profit. So anything over $50,000 will be amazing. These picks come out very early in the week and allow me to place the bets whenever I like, and as I have a hell of a lot to do on Saturdays I usually finish these on a Friday night. They are all bets in Top flight leagues so getting on is a non issue. Long losing runs are to be expected with the draws, but the Under 2.5 should see some stability.
Blimey! The pressure is on. Why I haven't had a go at Daily25 is because I admire the sensible approach the author demonstrates. In fact, some of his thoughts there could have been written by me. Unfortunately the Under 2.5 Classic plus Extended are down 0.43 points so far this season, with the draws up just 1.15 points, with the most profitable markets I am following currently being the HT0-0. I expect these differences to close as the season continues, but meanwhile, the portfolio approach seems to work well for Mr Daily. Check his blog out. After two plus years, he has some sound advice - and I suspect his posts will not vanish when a setback is experienced! His mission statement is to "Make $250 per day with sports betting" (Australian dollars) which is about £160 a day. This isn't a goal as such, but for anyone doing this full-time, that total should be achievable as a long-term daily average.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Distorting Reality

Lay Away observed:

Oh dear Rick appears to have taken hum bridge [sic] and deleted all of his blog posts
While it is Rick's blog to do with as he wishes, it is a little petulant, and pointless, to remove everything after a result goes against you. Burying your head in the sand is one way of dealing with setbacks I suppose, but it might be a little more positive to look at what went wrong, find why it went wrong, (although in this case it's fairly obvious), and make some changes. Before deleting the posts, Rick blamed the loss on the surprise of Liverpool scoring five at Berner Sport Club Young Boys 1898, and while eight goals was an unusual result, the Europa League, and matches between two teams with little in the way of form lines, are always something of an unknown quantity and hard to accurately estimate the risk.

Rick has a habit of removing old blogs / posts. He sent me an email in 2011 touting www.premierfootballtipster.com which is now, you guessed it, no longer with us. One can reasonably assume that this venture was similarly unsuccessful. 500 to 5000 has also commented on this, and posted on the subject on his blog.

It would be nice, in betting as well as in life, if we could simply remove our mistakes. How much better the XX Draw Classic results would look for this season:

The Perfect World
In the real world, there was no luck on today's selection which was Bastia v Paris St Germain. This was one of those selections which I really wish the spreadsheet hadn't generated. One problem with objective ratings early in the season is that the ratings for newly promoted teams haven't settled down yet, and a second problem is that big changes in team line-ups also take time to be absorbed. With Bastia newly promoted, and PSG in transition, this was not an ideal selection, but we play the numbers as they fall knowing that sometimes things won't work out.

Bastia only recently lost their 42 match unbeaten run at home, but a 6' goal from PSG pretty much killed this bet off, and Bastia have already concede 16 goals, by far the worst in Ligue 1. There were also three Extended selections, with the two from the EPL going down to 0-3 and 1-2 away wins, as Everton beat Swansea City and Fulham beat Wigan Athletic. These two were also in Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster list, along with Southampton v Aston Villa, and Griff and Jon (Talkbet) also fancied the draw at Swansea. The final selection of a disappointing day was Brest v Valenciennes, which was tied after 76' before a penalty won the game for Brest. 

One tipster I want to comment on is Tony, who has recently shown good form with a strategy of laying odds-on away teams. Here are his results for this month (including losing selections):

The Real World - and not too shabby
He is opposing Real Madrid (at Rayo Vallecano) tomorrow at 1.34 - this was a close game last season, with  Real winning 1-0. As things stand right now, Tony tops the table. One to watch. 

Left Bank Under Train

An interesting couple of posts on the topic of luck, the original posted at High Class Equine with a follow up at Centre Court Trading. Both worth a read, but in summary, this is from the latter post:

'The Luck Factor' shows how people who thought they were either lucky or unlucky in life, were in fact, neither. The 'lucky' people were just more positive, open, friendly and pro-active, which in turn, presented them with greater opportunities to succeed in life - which they grabbed gratefully. The 'unlucky' people, believed they didn't have a great life because nothing seemed to go right for them and as such, had given up - a self fulfilling prophecy. 'Unlucky' people are just negative towards life, which in turn, means they shut themselves off from other people and opportunities - sometimes deliberately, sometimes subconsciously.
Very true. In my experience, many people find it very easy to find reasons why an idea won't work. The idea of change is unsettling to many, and having come out against something, they would rather stubbornly keep saying "It can't be done" than admit they were wrong, and make changes.

Someone I know quite well is an expert at this. I won't name and shame her since she gave birth to me, but the person in question is in a league of her own on this.

Thinking of leaving the security of NatWest bank for a career in computers? "Computers might not catch on! The bank is a job for life. You're taking a big risk".

Thinking of going to the beach? "It'll be ever so crowded" or "They said it might rain".

Thinking of driving home from North Devon via Exmoor? Forget it. "Poor Uncle Jack got caught in dreadful fog there in 1953". 

Thinking of taking a bus? "Be careful. Mrs Neighbour had a terrible fall on one". OK, then I'll take the car "Good luck parking. It's terrible now". Oh for crying out loud, I'll get the train then. "Not sure that's a good idea.. They cancelled one last month."
24.Oct.1947

My poor old Mum The person in question actually does have a good reason not to be too keen on trains. She was on the train from Tattenham Corner that slammed into the back of the Haywards Heath to London Victoria train in thick fog almost 65 years ago near South Croydon, killing 32 and injuring 183. Just think, if she'd been sat in the front carriage, you'd all be reading a blank page! [In a state of shock, she actually walked down the tracks to South Croydon station, and caught the next train to London, worrying about being late for work. And didn't think to call her parents to tell them she was OK! Someone at her work told her it might be a good idea, and then sent her home. She would have gone to the beach, but she'd heard there might be rain.]

Thinking of having a bet? Don't even mention it. You name it, and this lady has a reason why nothing should ever be done and no one should ever do anything outside their daily routine.

I've tried explaining the art of trading to her, but while I can tell her of ten four figure wins, and one similar loss, she instantly focuses on the loss and says something like "Well don't you be silly and go and lose it all" rather than see the whole picture. I mean, do I look silly? On second thoughts, don't answer that.

It's good to challenge new ideas, but not to be totally resistant to them. When opportunity knocks, it's best to open the door and give them a chance than keep it closed.

For the most part, comments on this blog are generally positive in tone, hopefully a reflection of the tone of the blog, but there are inevitably the occasional negative comments, some from those who take me too seriously perhaps. I may not be perfect, although you are all free to beg to differ, but I am open to constructive criticism if anyone has a different opinion - even if I know I'm right :)

I mentioned earlier in the week that the NFLs use of replacement officials might be a possible reason for some unusual observations, for example the previously mentioned record of home teams in week two (14-2) and the increase in pass-interference calls. When the record of home teams is looked at against the spread (ATS) the record was 11-4-1, and while this is not statistically significant, "numbers that support logical theories carry more weight". 

As one Vegas expert says "Pro bettors have long believed inexperienced refs are more influenced by home crowds". There is also a theory that coaches are changing tactics to play to the inexperience of the referees. It seems a very reasonable suggestion to me. Football coaches play the odds - they seldom 'go for it' on 4th and short, (unless it's fourth down territory, as they say), but opt to punt instead. Coaches weigh the risk to reward ratio, and these are well known, but we now have a situation where the percentages may well have changed due to the presence of inexperienced officials. If the likelihood of a pass interference call is seen to have increased, then the risk to reward ratio has also changed. 

Of course, just as we think we might be gaining an edge, the flip side of the argument is that the referees and the league will be well aware of this perception, and have discussed it so that the pendulum swings the other way. After their chats with the league, and seeing in the media how they are being accused of favouring home teams and calling too many penalties, it wouldn't surprise me to see the opposite happen this week. The Vegas books are expecting a record high points total this week, but I'll be looking for games where the Under looks value. Houston @ Denver (46.5, 1.9) and Jacksonville @ Indianapolis (42.5, 2.02) look to be the best right now.

Rick Ford's Sports Betting and Trading Blog was recently added to the blog roll, and a little over a month ago, Rick started a 'challenge' with this post:
Another betting strategy I'm going to use for the season is back 1 in 20-25 selections (1.04-1.05) and compound the stakes from £100 until I acheive fair sum of money. I've attempted this on the blog before with moderate success so please refer to my posts earlier in the year to have a feel of what I'm trying to achieve.
What is certain with all these challenges is that sooner or later, it will end. While the probability of any single bet losing is small, it is not infinitesimally small, and so it is sooner, rather than later, that 'luck' runs out.

Assuming the 1.04 is a true price, the bet has a losing probability of 0.03846 - almost 4%. For 1.05 the chance of losing is 0.04762 , close to 5%, so there is a between 1 in 20 and 25. If we take a mid-point of 1.045 (0.043), the odds are against you getting to 17 wins. That Rick made it to 25 before losing on Bet 26 was actually quite good - as there was a 65% chance of failing at or before that point.

A bet at 1.04 might look a certainty, but it is far from it. Rick's opening post mentioned he has tried this strategy before "with moderate success". That's a very vague term, but I've yet to see any of these challenges have any real success. For that, you need to be finding value, and you need to have a sensible staking strategy. A strategy that doesn't allow for a losing run of one is fatally flawed.