Wednesday 24 July 2013

FTL 2013-14 Draft Rules

With just a few days left in July, the 2013-14 European football season is almost upon us, so this is probably a good time to start putting some thoughts and ideas out there for both the XX Draws and the Friendly Tipster League (FTL).

Many of you will be aware that one criticism of the table last year was the inherent unfairness of using bookmaker prices for some entries, and exchange prices for others (notably my own XX Draw family of bets). As was pointed out, backing at 3.6 on the exchange and paying 5% commission is no better than betting at 3.47 with the books, and the point is taken. The FTL took off a little more than I was expecting, so this issue wasn't given too much consideration a year ago, as the intent was really to have a little fun and give a general idea of how various individuals or services were doing.

Levelling the playing field is something of a challenge though. Several entries last season sent in their selections along with a price and a bookmaker - e.g QPR v Stoke: Stoke +0.25 Asian Handicap (2.04 at 188bet), while Football Elite lists the best prices - often led by bookmakers I have never heard of, e.g.

Best Prices
3.26 with 5Dimes
3.25 with Panbet, Expekt, Unibet, 888
3.2 with Coral, Betway, Betsson, Betclic
3.16 with 12bet, Dafabet
3.1 with Pinnacle, PaddyPower, StanJames, BetFred, Totesport, Bet-at-home, Sportingbet, Skybet, Youwin
Jon (Talkbet) uses the format:
Ein Frankfurt 2.0 3.0Schalke 04 1.67 2.3
Draw -10.0 3.4
*** Back Away at odds in excess of 2.3
and others send in a selection and a price without saying where the price is available.

Since the FTL was for entertainment purposes only, there was no verification that the prices (where included) were available last season. For Football Elite, I usually took the price that was listed next to a bookmaker that I have first hand knowledge of so for the above I would use 3.2 from Corals, but this isn't a satisfactory arrangement.

Take Your Pick
As you can see, the above variations make it hard to be fair to everyone. It wasn't unusual for the same selection to be measured against multiple prices. For my XX Draws I used the exchange price that I was matched at (usually Betfair), but while this is reasonable enough for my personal records, I accept that there needs to be more transparency moving forward. I don't have the time to collect screenshots of every bet (there were over 517 XX Selections last season), so what I am planning on doing is establishing some ground rules which will doubtless reduce the profits all around, but will provide a fairer way of comparing the underlying performance rather than rewarding identifying a top price at some exotic sportsbook where no one can actually get on.

Rule 1: Selections will be from the top leagues covered by the FootballData web site (no affiliation, but it is an excellent resource). I don't think this will be an issue for most people.

Rule 2: The prices recorded in the 'official' table for backs will be the Pinnacle price as recorded at Football Data. Not only does this mean that all selections get the same price rather than depend on timing or an ability to find a top price in New Caledonia, but I consider this to be a reasonable compromise between using the average price and the best price. Pinnacle's price is usually competitive and while I don't want to penalise services such as Football Elite, or Premier Betting, or even my XX Draws, the returns listed may well be lower than subscribers can expect to find. Basically if you are a subscriber, finding the top price is up to you, but as a measure of the quality of each service's selections, there needs to be a standard in place.

Rule 3: Same formula for Under / Over (UO) or Asian Handicap (AH) bets, but UO bets will be measured against Football Data's 2.5 goal market, and the AH bet will be measured against the Betbrain handicap. This may not be popular, but as I have written before, if Under is value, then in the long run it should matter little whether you back the under in the 1.5, 2.5, 3.5 or 4.5 goal markets. Similarly some people like to go for a specific handicap, but if Stoke City +0.25 is value, then Stoke City +0.5 and +0.75 are value too. Both Teams To Score will be treated as a bet on Overs, but other speciality bets like 'more goals in the second half' or 'a total of 2 or 3 goals will be scored', correct score etc. will be excluded as the prices are not easily verifiable after the fact.

Rule 4: For Lay bets, I will use use the Average price from Football Data, plus 0.04, which as I explained in my Bundeslayga review of last season, is what can be achieved on average, on these odds-on selections. I should probably scale this 0.04 up as prices get longer, but to keep things simple I'll use a flat 0.04 for all lays at odds-on and 0.05 for evens or greater.

The rules above are only draft for now, and if anyone has any constructive comments I would be interested as always. The goal is transparency and fairness, not to necessarily reflect the returns that can be achieved, and there will be no adjustments for commission, taxes, fees or whatever.

I know that Matt at Football Elite is raring to go in the new season, and I presume Peter Nordsted is too, and Neil and a few others have expressed interest in another season of the FTL. Neil has a new blog too.

My spreadsheet is updated with the promoted teams, (still pinching myself at the sight of Crystal Palace featuring) and poised to send out a steady flow of winners from the opening August 9-11 weekend in France and Germany. England and Spain start a week later of course and the Italians start the weekend after that, fashionably late.

XX Draw subscribers will receive the first email in early August, and if you are interested in signing up for either the XX Draws or the FTL, let me know.

The XX Draws should again be around 500 selections, which works out at less than 30p each.

I am still pondering the idea of an entry fee for the FTL this season, to deter any time wasters who send in their picks until things go wrong and then go silent. The fees would be awarded to the top tipster (or tipsters) at the end of the season. Again, any comments on this idea are welcome, and if you are interested, but not if it costs, let me know that too. Any fee will be minimal, perhaps £25.


gundulf said...

Hi Cassini, I mailed you about this but received no reply. Maybe it made its way to your spam filter?

Punters Friend said...

Hi Cassini.

I am more than happy to pay an entry fee for the FTL and cannot wait until we can get going again, it feels like a lifetime ago!



Cassini said...

Gundulf - never received your email and I checked my dustbin too. Would you please resend.

gundulf said...

Cass, Sent another mail yesterday to - have you receieved it? Dave