Sunday 14 October 2012

Silver Lining

While pondering whether the right move in the US Presidential Election market is to top up or lay off at 1.55/1.56, or do nothing, I came across a reference to a book called "The Signal And The Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail - But Some Don't". Written by Nate Silver, author of the respected fivethirtyeight blog, and first mentioned on this blog in November 2009 in a post on Benford's Number, Nate made his start in baseball statistics before moving on to politics.

Reviews of his latest book include that it "is easily the best book about statistical forecasting yet written for the average reader" - at least according to Walter Hickey of One for the Xmas list perhaps.

One review mentioned "how desperately we seek data that confirms our predilections - and how easy it is to find" - something that may be more relevant in politics than sports. While the dangers of backing our favourite sports teams is well known, it seems more than likely that this is perhaps overlooked in politics. It's certainly far easier to make sound trading decisions on a game between two teams you care nothing about that it is on politics, or 'our' football team.

Perhaps it is fortunate that opportunities to back our personal favourites in politics come along far less often than our sports teams.

The New York Yankees v Detroit Tigers game has just wrapped up, and it was another ninth inning thriller. Actually it went into twelve innings, but the bottom of the ninth was where the Yankees pulled back a four run deficit. Earlier, the Yankees had left the bases loaded three times, a first for that team in post-season history, but the key statistic to know going into this game is that during the regular season, the last three innings of the teams' 10 meetings were not good for the Tigers, who were outscored 24-10. Pre-game I'd posted on the Betfair Forum that I was:

Backing the Tigers in this - no rest day for the Yankees, and they had to use CC Sabathia last night. They're too short at ~1.72.
...but while I would have done better financially to let the bet run, the lay after six innings made the win a little less stressful. 

The NLCS starts tonight, (St Louis Cardinals v San Francisco Giants - the last two winners of the World Series) but on an NFL day it'll be hard to choose which game to trade. Liquidity in post-season baseball is pretty decent. On Betfair anyway. BETDAQ? Not so much.

This is a season for the established franchises, with the four remaining teams all in the top eight all-time list of World Series appearances, as Nate Silver could have told you.   

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