Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Rubicon Reigns

December is in the books, and the monthly winner is Rubicon who held off a late challenge from TFA_Raz who ended the month in second place. The "in-profit" for the month were:

Rubicon is the fourth different winner of the monthly prize, and if Scott would let me know whether to make the payment now, or hold until the end of the season, I will proceed accordingly.

As for the league proper, here are the "up by 10+" group:
Leader Fairfranco lost one point, which combined with Jamie A's profitable last round, means his lead  is trimmed to a still considerable 17.22 points. Trend to end was idle, and slipped one place, and also idle were Randolph, Club Havana and Bundeslayga (for the simple reason there are no games for a while!). The only other member of this club in profit last weekend was Fulltimebettingblog who owes a debt of gratitude to Burnley for their comeback at Manchester City. Small losses for Football Elite and Gecko, and on to the group within 10 points of the starting position:
The big movers were Drawmaster, BettingTools.co.uk and TFA Draws. I mentioned the lack of draws on Boxing Day, and while they were back on Sunday, Drawmaster and TFA Draws still took a big hit. The winners were Mountain Mouse bouncing back after a poor couple of weeks, followed by TFA_Raz and XX Draws who benefited by having only one selection on Boxing Day, but five on Sunday. Online Trader and December winner Rubicon also made profits, while OverGoalify, Draw Picks and the XX Unders took small losses. 19 of the 33 still in profit as 2014 comes to an end, which is a lot higher than I was expecting. It's worth mentioning again that the prices used mean that these numbers are very much the bottom line and are more for comparison purposes rather than as a realistic measure of achievable returns which would be higher.

The final group, those down by 10 points or more is:
Two profitable entries here, @ValueBankFooty followed by Cassini Value Selections. Five entrants were idle, and just Sjosta making a loss, albeit a small one, and no changes in position in the bottom third of the table.

The net total for the round was a loss of 2.83 points, but December as a whole was up 8.76 points. 48.98 points from 5,156 selections for an ROI of 0.95%.

The Bounty Boys have combined liabilities of £1,450 - Football Elite £125, The Football Analyst £400, Skeeve £425 and Football Investor capped at £500. It should be noted that Skeeve has so far only joined us for a warm-up lap, and is right now revving his engines and warming his tyres as he awaits his personal starting lights to turn green at midnight on New Year's Eve.

Monday, 29 December 2014

A Draw Too Far

There are still some December games to go, but with the finishing line in sight, the entries currently in profit this month, and by how much, are as follows:

Rubicon is on Liverpool tonight, but win or lose, he will remain ahead of the XX Draws who needed maybe just one more draw. Maybe, because TFA_Raz has a couple of selections for Wednesday and could still top the monthly table. TFA Draws has three selections to come, but will also come up short even if they all win, and then we're around the turn heading for home as 2015 gets under way.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Boxing Day Draw Drought

There were just five draws in the top four English divisions on Boxing Day, with none in the Premier League or League One. From 46 matches, that was a strike rate of less than 11%, and not surprisingly the draw specialists in the FTL struggled. XX Draws had just the one selection from the EPL (Crystal Palace v Southampton) so the damage was limited, although there were more serious repercussions for Neil Warnock.

Draw Picks also had the Palace match as their sole draw selection, while Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster started the weekend with seven losing selections. Bounty Boy Graeme's TFA Draws found one draw from eleven selections, and Gecko had eight draw selections included with other bets, and found two draw winners for the best strike rate for draws of the day.

A far cry from Serie A this season, where blindly backing the draw in every match would have resulted in a profit of almost 40 points (39.94 to be precise) from 160 matches, and 39.99 over the last 80 games (at Pinnacle Sports prices). At 37.5%, Home wins this season are at their lowest levels in the Big Five leagues since at least 2004, and with the Home to Away goal ratio at just 1.2 - the 10-year Serie A average is 1.37 - it's not surprising that Draw and Away win percentages are at highs, with the latter continuing the increase in Away wins seen over the past five seasons.

Most of the FTL leaders were enjoying their holidays, so no big changes at the top. I'll update the FTL table after tomorrow's and Monday's matches, partly because there are plenty of matches tomorrow and Monday, and there are no prices available yet for a couple of games in Belgium and Scotland.

With the end of December already here, I should probably give the latest state of play as the weekend winds down. As of right now, the leaders for the December prize are:

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Minute Detail

Betslayer was up late waiting for Santa, and penned another comment:

Excellent work and as usual you jump to many conclusions without actually covering the key points. 
The key point is that using goal times across teams / leagues / seasons is a waste of time. Covered. If you or anyone else can explain why it could ever be otherwise, I'd love to hear the rationale. 
Do you actually know how I use goal time data? No, so how can you jump to conclusions. 
The point is that the data is useless for reasons clearly explained, so how it is used becomes a moot point. But thanks for answering your own question. Very constructive. 
Plus you skirt around the fact any data you use is not clean, I know for a fact football data has a large number (not in reality, across all leagues) but still into 00's of incorrect scores and HT/FT's. 
I don't use HT/FT scores from Football Data, but if you let them know - link below - I'm sure they will correct any errors. [Contact Football-Data.co.uk if you believe there are any errors in the data files].
As for me talking to myself, going off that rant you make a living at it. At least I get my 5 mins of fame hey :)
The hit count suggests I have plenty of company, and blogging is very much an unpaid hobby. 

Finally, not to be a smarty pants on Xmas Day, but the expression is 15 minutes of fame - one might have expect someone so obsessed with minutes to have known that, especially since the exact number is so important to you! 

Merry Xmas.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The Reality Of Naïveté

Betslayer took the plunge, and dived in to comment on yesterday’s Garbage Goal Times’ post, essentially suggesting that it’s ok to have bad data in your numbers, just so long as you don’t have too much of it.
I think that is a very naive view, so some goal times aren't accurate?? so sample size isn't key to smooth out the data then? I don't think the odd delay would have that big a difference when you are working on large margins. 
The problem is that the number of goals varies significantly from one club to another, from one league to the next, and for any individual league from season to season, so it is useless comparing goal times in such a broad manner.

Data from the 2005-06 Ligue 1 season is quite distinct from the Bundesliga last season for example, as was data from Serie A in 2009-10 when compared with the following season.

At the risk of laboring the point, any system applying the simplistic logic that a goal scored by Liverpool last season in a certain minute should be considered the same as a goal scored by Aston Villa in the same minute this season, is headed for the poor-house.

Our sample size is always going to be small. If we look at the top 38 match leagues, there are on average less than 1,000 goals in a season, but distributed (albeit unevenly) over ‘90’ recorded minutes, and with each of the 20 clubs having a unique scoring footprint, it should be obvious that meaningful data is at a premium. 

There is certainly not enough meaningful data to be able to say, with a straight face, “that sample size is the key to smoothing out the data”.

Sample size could be, but the sample size simply for this strategy isn’t there unfortunately. I’ll let the readers decide who is showing the naïveté here.

Betslayer continues:
From analysing inplay using minute by minute data I can tell you it largely fits very very accurately to bookmakers inplay pricing. 
I think that’s exactly what we would expect to see, and precisely why the humble home trader is highly unlikely to have a long term edge versus the serious players in these markets. Certainly a broad-brush strategy based on something as simplistic as goal times isn’t going to cut it. I believe I have mentioned before that I have a nephew employed by one of the big players in London, and the data obtained and analysed is far beyond the reach of individuals trading at home.
Funny you think elo ratings are accurate enough for your betting and systems but a theory with 15% ROI over hundreds of bets is deemed to be flawed.
If I have ever claimed that Elo ratings alone are the answer, it was certainly many years ago. Again, such a simplistic approach won’t work, but an Elo ratings based approach when factoring in other ‘context adjusted’ data has proven to be profitable, at least for now.

As for the suggestion that "a theory" can have an ROI% of 15%, while in theory anything is possible, in practice it is not. Although an ROI of 15% or more is quite feasible over a smaller number of bets, it is somewhat improbable over several hundred. Such a large edge would soon be identified by the thousands of other traders swarming over these markets and eroded away. It is simply not credible that such a huge edge could possibly exist for any length of time. 

The latest FTL table has just three entrants with an ROI north of 15%. One is from just 51 selections and is destined to come down. A second is from 123 entries, and only the leader Fairfranco has over 200 selections. I would be very surprised if anyone had an ROI% above 15 come the end of the season.
Betslayer later added a second comment, although it was mostly him talking to himself, which is never a good sign! One line worthy of mention was that:
The market makers have the same limitations in timings of goals and indeed data.
No, actually they don’t. As I’d already mentioned before seeing this second comment, there are companies (both trading and bookmakers) with far more resources available than the home trader has, which means that they do NOT have the same limitations as most of us. They definitely do not put a 9th minute goal scored by Real Madrid at home to Elche in the same bucket as a 9th minute goal (after a 10 minute injury stoppage) scored by Hamburg away to Eintracht Frankfurt.
I know of no database for football without errors and trust me its an area I have a large amount of experience in.
The same experience that leads to the belief that a long-term ROI of 15% based on goal times is possible? 

Anyway, continue:
I also wonder where you get this mythical data to make your elo ratings, so you clean up goals so that no incorrect ones are included? what about incorrect offsides? Goals off peoples arses? No thought not, all data and systems are flawed in nature, doesn't stop people having an edge!
A few erroneous and bizarre assumptions made there, and again he’s missing the point that an Elo rating can only ever be part of the process. That there is an element of luck in football also seems to come as a surprise to Betslayer. 

Football is played and officiated by human beings. Most human beings have emotions, and many decisions in a match are by definition, subjective – all of which means that there is a certain unpredictability about any match. It’s why football is such a popular sport of course. The best team doesn’t always win and while no method or system can account for luck in any one match, over time luck balances out. 

Value doesn’t mean winners every time, or even over a period of time, but if you are identifying value correctly, in the long run you will come out ahead. 

Unfortunately, for it means more work, football betting is very much about context, and a one-size-fits-all approach such as using past goal times to predict outcomes for an in-play game isn't going to gain you a long-term edge, especially if the data you are using is wrong.

I’d also like to touch on Betslayer’s implication that betting is a game of us versus the market makers. Who are the market makers these days? The days of the markets being ‘made’ by a few bookmakers are long gone.

Money moves the markets. Pinnacle Sports’ prices are determined by punters opinions and the money they are prepared to put where their mouths are. They open with a soft price, with lower limits, and allow smaller sized bets to come in, and constantly adjust their prices to reflect the money being bet. As the prices firm up, the limits are increased. Exchanges work in a similar way, although rather than profit from volume and tight margins, they of course take commission.

Traditional bookmakers do not change their prices so often, but you will soon have your account limited or closed if you only take their prices when they are either market leading or close to it.

The advantage an individual has is that he can be very selective. Most of the time, any edge will be very small, but a disciplined approach and patiently waiting for the right opportunities can be rewarding.

Garbage Goal Times

A few days ago, I mentioned some comments by my best friend Shapeshifter (according to one strange individual, if you mention someone's name in a blog post, you are immediately their best friend and scheming to take over the world of betting together). The rather more boring truth is that I don't know Shapie, or any other Betfair Forum blogger for that matter, and don't need to. Betting is a solitary activity, as ultimately we are all competing against everyone else, but occasionally someone writes something mildly interesting.


Shapeshifter mentioned that at least one person is pursuing a strategy based on the times of goals. As anyone who has ever considered this idea for more than five minutes will be aware, this idea won't work in a sport like football.

Here's what Shapie wrote:
In a nutshell, he looks at time of the goals and, by half time of a football match, has percentages of outcomes.
An interesting hypothesis but upon reading it, it falls into a couple of theories I have about data:
- As mentioned, context needs to be attached to the data
- Regardless of the context, sometimes too much information can actually make you ‘blind’ when compared to using ‘some’ of the information.
- (in relation to betting) A mistake that can be done is taking data and “molding” it to look like it offers an edge when, in fact, it is either one of two extremes: too general OR overthought.
One of the problems with football betting is that the timing of incidents is imprecise. I don't mean that sun-dials are being used, rather that the clock counts up from zero to 90, and doesn't stop for breaks in play.

Imagine a game where a serious injury occurs in the first few seconds, and the game is delayed for fifteen minutes while the player is attended to and removed from the field. A goal is scored immediately from the restart, and it goes down in the record books as a 16th minute goal and the first half lasts for 60 elapsed minutes. See the problem? Clearly this is an unlikely situation, but it makes the point, and long stoppages do occur. The Liverpool v Arsenal game last weekend saw nine minutes of time added on as a recent example.

What might be more useful would be if goal times were recorded against the time remaining in the game or the half, as they do in ice-hockey or in sports such as basketball, but the time remaining isn't known until after the game is over in football. The clock doesn't countdown in football, nor stop until the end. Thus data comparing goals scored in the 16th minute is useless, because as illustrated in my imaginary game above, 16th minute goals are not all the same.

The idea that you can have meaningful percentages for outcomes based on goal times from the first half is clearly nonsensical. You might have percentages, but they aren't meaningful. Garbage data can't generate an edge, however much you may wish that to be the case.  

And on that seasonal note of friendly betting cooperation, friendly advice and friendly constructive commenting  (not actually that generous, as I don't bet football in-play) I bid you all a Merry Xmas.  

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Mundane Is Good

A resurrected post on the Betfair Forum suggests that one should quit "if you don't feel anything after a win. This is indeed the best advice I received when starting on Betfair. If they just become numbers on a screen take no less than a month off or leave."

Complete nonsense of course, as taking the emotion out of betting is one of the key ingredients for anyone hoping to be successful in the long term. The author of those words of dumbdom was Footsoldiers, who never did understand that value is key to long-term success, and whose sporting investment life inevitably came to a sorry end, as some of you may remember.

Trading and investing shouldn't be exciting. A feeling of mild satisfaction at a well executed trade or considered bet is fair enough, but if there is an element of excitement there, then you are probably guilty of over-staking.

On the other side of the coin, it's reasonable to not be the happiest of campers following a loss, but if you are doing this full-time or at least long-term, it's rather silly unless you have a real concern that your edge may be on the way out:

To get worked up over individual bets, is as unproductive as a casino manager worrying over the outcomes of individual pulls of the slot machines.

FTL Update 22.Dec

At the approximate half-way stage of the season, it's rather neat that the number of selections to date in the FTL is close to 5,000. Chelsea's win at Stoke City last night wrapped up the weekend round, and the big winner was Draw Picks who picked up six draws from nine selections for a profit of 11.17 points. The silver medallist for the round was Rubicon who made 10.47 points, and Jamie A completed the podium with a 9.23 point profit, and propelled himself into third place. Rubicon leads the monthly December competition up 14.19 points, followed by TFA Draws up 10.29.

The profitable December entries are:

The big losers were Mountain Mouse with nine losers from nine selections, but who remains (just) in profit overall. Next worst was Sjosta who dropped another 5.87 points while Bounty Boy Football Elite dropped from second place to 8th with a loss of 5.08 points.

Of the remaining Bounty Boys, only TFA Draws made a profit, picking up 1.87 points. Football Investor lost 1.03 points, while Skeeve lost 1.97. The combined bounty liability is currently £1,275.

Overall the selections combined were up 2.50 points on the weekend, and the number in profit is still an impressive 20. Fairfranco extended his lead, despite dropping another 1.66 points as his December losses climb to 14.61.

The entries up by double figures are:
Behind the leader, the next seven are very close with just 2.26 points separating 2nd from 8th. Idle were Trend to end, Randolph and Club Havana. Rather surprising, to me anyway, is that the Bundeslayga system leads the table based on ROI%.

In the group within ten points of zero either way, we have:
The XX Draws and XX Unders converged as the former gained 7.77 points, while the latter dropped 3.40 points. The only other profitable entry here was TFA_Raz, up 3.66 points, while the others all lost points or were idle (Betcast and Abromo).

The remaining nine entries down by 10 or more points is comprised of the following:
As mentioned earlier, Rubicon had a stellar week, his best of the season, while Cassini Value finally found some success picking up 3.59 points. These were the only profitable entries in this group, with the others all losing points or idle (Daily 25, Ian Erskine and Paul Watson).
With many leagues taking a break over Xmas and the New Year, things may be relatively quiet in the FTL for a couple of weeks, but England has a very full schedule over the holiday, so perhaps not.

I did have one request last week to include a 'lost' entry from the weekend of November 15th in the results, and initially agreed as I thought it was an error on my part, but as I was looking at the schedule for the holidays, it dawned on me that the reason they were not included in the first place was because they arrived long after the Friday midnight deadline. While the entrant in question is trustworthy, and I have no doubt that no trickery was afoot, in the interests of fairness, the rules need to be applied the same for everyone.

For the holidays, there will need to be a slight change to the normal schedule, so for games tonight, entries must be in before kick-off.

For the Boxing Day games (Friday, 26th December), entries must be in by 12:30am that day.

For games on Saturday, 27th December, entries must be in by 12:30am that day.

For games on Sunday, 28th December, or Monday 29th December, entries must be in by 12:30am on Sunday.

For games on Tuesday, 30th December, entries must be in before kick-off.

For games on New Year's Day, entries must be in by 12:30am that day.

And finally, for games on the weekend of January 2nd thru 5th, entries must be in by 12:30am on the Saturday (3rd) or by kick-off as normal.

After that, life returns to normal.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Inedible And Inaccurate


There may be a proof-reader position open at A1 Sporting Memorabilia, based on the evidence above. I came across it while looking for a pair of goalkeeping gloves for Mrs Cassini's Xmas present (she's a keeper).

For one thing, I'm pretty sure Gascoigne would have been suspended for the final, even if England had progressed, and I'm almost as certain that his mark on the football world was meant to be described as indelible, not inedible. Incredible.    

Royal Marines Football

A rather unusual post this one, the result of a Saturday evening spent researching some family history, and nothing to do with investing.

One of the more interesting of my ancestors, at least from a research perspective, is my paternal grandfather, who took two years off his birth year to allow him to sign up in November 1915 with the Royal Marines Light Infantry (RMLI) Division. While looking for his commanding officer, I found this football match report from 1905:

Royal Marines Legation 4 v US Marines Legation 0 played at Seoul, Korea on 13th March 1905

The Majority of our esteemed Corps will no doubt be pleased to hear of the success of their representitives in the Far East against our American Cousins. The Match in question, which was very attractive (as the Coreans are learning the rudiments of the game), was largely attended. Although the Britishers had the wind against them in the first half of the game, their superior play secured for them two goals to nil.
The Game - The Americans won the toss, and, from the kick off, the play was very exciting for the first ten minutes, as both teams played hard for an opening. But, thanks to the superior play of Allen (Capt), the first goal was scored, which was followed by another before the whistle blew for half time. Nothing of note happened in the second half, as the Britishers had it all their own way, and managed to add another two goals to their credit. The game finished Royal Marines 4 US Marines 0.
Bravo the Britishers! It may be just me, but details about the goals seem a little light. "Nothing of note happened in the second half", well, except for the two goals of course.

The RMLI (Gosport) team were actually rather good it seems. In 1910, they not only won the Army Cup in front of a crowd of 20,000 in Aldershot, but also won the rather more prestigious FA Amateur Cup that year beating the now defunct South Bank. Accompanying the team photo for the Army Cup win was an asterisk next to a Cpl Exford noting:
*Cpl Exford received a telegram on the morning of the game informing him that his only brother had died in an accident, he bravely put this distressing bad news aside and played in the match.
Stiff upper lip - that's the spirit. We're Britishers after all. Now to need to find out why my great great grandfather (John Dominicus Cassini) was in Holloway Prison in 1881. 

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Crossed Wires

Another 'on-off' reader of this blog, Signora Cassini - who really should take more interest in my opinion - suggested after reading recent posts, that Asperger's Syndrome (AS) might make for an interesting post topic. I'm not sure why she thought the topic relevant, though I have written about the brain before. Some facts:
Asperger's Syndrome isn't a mental health problem. It's a difference in brain wiring that a person is born with.

People with Asperger's Syndrome will have one or two areas that they are intensely interested in and spend a lot of time pursuing. They don't just dabble in their interests either, they go full out.

Researchers have noted that people with AS often pursue their interests with a focus on accumulating facts, not necessarily understanding the big picture.

People with AS often offend people or are accused of being insensitive because they seem to have no mental filter.

As adults they can wind up socially isolated and have a very hard time making friends or getting into a relationship. Because so many jobs require at least some element of people skills, it's not rare for them to have trouble finding and holding down a position, or be underemployed.

One characteristic is an encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus.

People with Asperger's can think in an overly rigid way. They can also sometimes become 'stuck' on a topic and have trouble moving on.

They don’t 'get' socializing on an intuitive level.

They have difficulties with putting themselves in another person's shoes.

They show an ignorance of social rules.
Aspergers appears to be hereditary, and perhaps the social awkwardness and relationship issues that are part of it are nature's way of saying 'don't have kids'.

One tends to initially assume when engaging with others through social media or in person that they are at least somewhat like you, but more often than you might think, this assumption is wrong. We are all different, and some of us are very different.

Without the visual cues, it's not so easy to tell via social media when someone is 'different' or just being irritating, but having realised that another party has issues, it would be cruel and inappropriate to continue the, albeit dysfunctional and often one-sided, conversation.

Some people, through no fault of their own, simply can’t understand logic or what is acceptable social behaviour or civilised debate, and the right thing to do once you recognise someone has such a disability, is to go gently into the good night and politely ignore them.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Comfortably Dumb

Some of you may have read the story published in New York Magazine about 17 year old Mohammed Islam who, from a starting bank of close to nothing, had supposedly made $72 million since the age of 10 by trading stocks.

As the Yahoo!Finance web site pointed out almost immediately, the story was clearly bogus. A simple check of the returns needed to generate such an end total would have shown the impossibility, or at least the very remoteness of the possibility for such an achievement, and the reporter’s fact checking appeared to be limited to seeing a statement showing an eight figure sum. These days, it is not the hardest of tasks to fake a statement to back up a story, but when a little common sense is applied to such tales, the reality is usually apparent.

This story brings me to our old friend the Sultan, whose blog was long ago dropped from my blogroll, but whose latest adventures are brought to my attention by an “on/off” reader of this blog. On-Off was happy to confirm that the Sultan was indeed one of the traders funded by a court-siding syndicate some time ago, and with the advantage of speed, it is hardly surprising that the Sultan’s results were greatly improved during this period.

What would be really interesting to know is why the Sultan was dropped after a short time, but it is unlikely we shall ever know the full story there.

It wasn't that I was worried about losing the money because the deal was that I was not liable for any losses. In theory, that should've made trading easier and more relaxed (and that was indeed the case once I'd got a few wins on the board) but it was the strain of knowing that if I failed to make enough profit to impress the syndicate, I would be dropped and lose out on a fantastic opportunity, that was the real pressure.
Reading between the lines, the pressure was too much. 

On-Off’s concerns were that comments to his blog have been disabled for anyone who is not a member – either someone who has bought his trading guide, or of his ‘academy’ I assume – and perhaps more importantly, that the Sultan appears to be following a well-worm path with his blog or sales strategy.

With assistance from On-Off, his method appears to be to:

Tell everyone how well you are doing.

Announce that you are tiring of all the winning, the fame and fortune, and that you feel you have more to offer the world than being just a humble, albeit hugely successful, and quite possibly the greatest the world has known, tennis trader.
I know I have a lot to offer the world in some capacity but at the same time, I'd be stupid to throw away the incredible income stream I have fought so hard to generate. It's a real conundrum.
Offer a time-sensitive, last chance to enroll in the “Academy” or buy the Sultan’s High Intensity Trading manual. Avoid specifics on P&L figures, but refer to the one £10k month as often as possible. Emphasise that you are more of a mentoring guru than anything else, that there can be no guarantees, and that help will be available via email only.
What he couldn't understand, was the mentoring aspect that I was offering as part of my Academy.
Announce that you are now “financially comfortable” in your rented accommodation, exhausted from all the success, and are now retiring into the sunset. Make sure the “final” blog post is poignant, if possible more poignant than the previous “final” blog post, or the “final” blog post prior to that one. Try to avoid copying and pasting from pevious “final” blog posts, and end with a forlorn “bye bye”. This is it, I’m leaving now. Bye. Farewell. Really, this is it. I’m going. Goodbye. For ever. Never see you again. Byeeee…..

Wait a few weeks.

Re-appear on the blog, and tell everyone that there is / will be a life-changing event (first ever girlfriend / first sexual encounter (at least one with someone else present in the room) / marriage / pregnancy / medical crisis / divorce / upset stomach / broken fingernail etc.) and that you are considering a return. If this can be timed for some time towards the end of the year and a new tennis season, then so much the better.

Announce your return, and repeat.

Indeed, this does sound familiar and On-Off points out that the new season is just around the corner, and surely the door will soon be opened for new “Academy” members. Perhaps. Time will tell, but as I wrote previously, and as with the tale of Mohammed Islam, the Sultan’s claim to be “financially comfortable” is simply not credible.

This link will take you to a previous post on this subject, but one £10k month for a full-time trader is nowhere near enough to take someone from zero to comfortable in the time-frame claimed, at least not any reasonable definition of “comfortable”. On-Off also points out that results are not detailed on his blog, which is a red-flag to anyone thinking of joining the “Academy”.
“All in all combined with the fact you can no longer comment on his blog freely like in the past, it just seems rather fishy”.
Indeed it does. I think we can safely take with a grain of salt that he is financially comfortable, so with credibility already an issue, any potential ‘Academy’ member needs to ask themselves why would a (albeit self-proclaimed) “successful” trader (not paying the Premium Charge mind you) give (sell) away his Golden Goose secret to success, rather than build on it himself?

The answer is that without the edge offered by court-siders, the probability of success for someone on the outside is greatly reduced. Although speed isn’t everything, it is the biggest thing (assuming even a modest amount of market knowledge), and any crumbs left for the home-trader are left for a reason - which is that they are probably not value.

With the profits from actually trading matches thus reduced or eliminated, how else can someone like the Sultan garner an income?

Oh wait! I think I know the answer to this!

On a different topic, I see via Twitter courtesy of Online Trader, that another old friend Jonny Grossmark, is making noises about a few rather innocuous comments posted by Shapeshifter.
Lawyers now! Last time it was the police, for whom incidentally, I am still waiting. From what Jonny said several months ago, it is illegal to post on a blog. I really hope my fears are unfounded, as this time of year would be a particularly upsetting time to be incarcerated in a cold and dark cell.

As is his wont, Jonny takes any comments, however reasoned and polite they are, about his ramblings as an ‘attack’, but unfortunately for him and his persecution complex, disagreeing with someone is not considered the same as attacking them. I thought Shapeshifter’s words were quite mild in tone actually, and more respectful than was warranted, and the appropriate response from any reasonable person would be to offer a counter argument, ideally with some logic behind it, and further the debate.

Sadly, Jonny is not a reasonable person, nor is logic, or law for that matter, his strong suit. Running around shouting and screaming about lawyers and calling the police when the discussion is about something ultimately as trivial as football betting, is frankly ridiculous, but we have seen this from Jonny before. He seems to be unable to dwell on a point long enough to comprehend it, before racing on in his own world to some other imagined slight. His Tweet count must be close to 100k now, if not more. Still some way to go before catching these guys – now closed down:
In just 106 days @Market_JP blasted out 1,560,781 tweets for a ridiculous 14,724 tweets per day. Not sure why they stopped – maybe Twitter closed ‘em down – but how those 156 followers coped is anyone’s guess. That’s a tweet every six seconds, for Dorsey’s sake. In terms of any kind of average you can think of, @Market_JP was the tweet beast of Twitter.
Good heavens! Jonny can’t be far behind. Unfortunately, quality necessarily goes out of the window with such quantity, and what ends up happening is that everything gets ignored.
If anyone has any problems with this individual, I was provided the following:
If you need to get the police or lawyers involved then the following may be helpful:
Jonathan Simon Grossmark lives with Deborah Anne Cass at 16 Holyoake Walk, East Finchley, London N2 0JX. Tel No: 02084449432

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Top Drawers

As most readers know, there is a special place in my heart for draws, and the lower scoring they are, the better. There are five entries in the FTL specialising in draws, my XX Draws (which select from the top five European Leagues), Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster and Paul's Draw Picks (which pick from both the Football League and a wide array of European Leagues), plus The Football Analyst Graeme's two Draw systems, one domestic, the other European.

At the last update, and not quite half-way through the season, the results are:

Overall down, but recorded using the prices of one sportsbook (Pinnacle) means that this is very much a bottom line number which should be beatable without too much effort by any serious bettors.

Hitting at 35%, Peter's Drawmaster selections are performing very strongly, and given that none of the top five European Leagues, Football League or Conference Premier are hitting at above 29.1%, Graeme's Football League Draws are also doing well. The average across the five English leagues is 27.1%, but Graeme is finding almost 32%.

Not spectacular, but ahead of the averages across those nine leagues are Draw Picks and XX Draws, but TFA Euro Draws are a little behind the curve. All three have struggled since mid October, with the former dropping 17.04 points, the XX Draws 5.45 points and TFA Euro Draws 34.71 points.

Compared with the five year league averages, six leagues are showing an increase in draws, while three are lower - two significantly. In Ligue 1, where they are hitting at 21.8% versus their five year average of 29.1%, while in League Two they are hitting at 22.7% versus a five year average of 27.9%. The full numbers are:
Graeme wrote an (as always) lengthy post on his Draw Selections which some of you might enjoy. Backing draws is certainly not for the faint of heart, but as Graeme says:
I really buy into the idea that few punters back draws and they are more interested in backing a team to win (same idea as why no one backs 0-0 when watching a game as they want to see goals!)

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

15.Dec FTL Update

Fairfranco remains in first place with a solid lead of 22.18 points, but after monthly profits of 13.04, 16.42 and 28.21 is currently down by 12.95 this month after dropping another 4.11 points this weekend. There is a ray of hope for the rest of us in that last season, Fairfranco fell away badly late in the season.


Behind Fairfranco, there was some dramatic moves. It was a big weekend for Football Elite, who surged eight places up the table on the back of a 12.18 point profit helped by Barcelona’s failure to beat Getafe, plus long priced wins for Hertha Berlin and Burnley. Gecko moved up four places, and is making a strong run after a quiet start. At the end of October, Gecko was in the red,  but five winning rounds in a row has added 22.36 points. 
Trend to end was a little unlucky not to have a winning weekend, with Feyenoord scoring in the 90th minute to deny Tore a winner that would have been worth 6.93 points. He drops two places to 4th.

Drawmaster continued his good season with another 1.26 points, while Club Havana lost 3.83 points and dropped four places, as did BettingTools.co.uk who lost 2.62 points.

Fulltimebettingblog would be in first place if the placings were determined by ROI%, but they are not, so he drops one place to 9th despite adding 2.88 points.

Mountain Mouse also dropped one spot despite a profit of 0.42 points.

Jamie A and XX Unders round out the double digit gainers, with respective gains of 1.94 and 5.53 points. 

Fifth placed Randolph was inactive.

The middle order comprising of those up or down by less than teen points looks like this:
Bounty Boy Graeme’s TFA Draws have performed well of late, up 8.42 points this month (and leading the race for December) and adding another 7.79 points this weekend. 

The Bundelsayga system had three winners from four selections for a winning week (+3.79) while OverGoalify made a small profit of 0.21 points. 

TFA_Raz gained 1.28 points, and made the move into profit, thus earning a share of the prize money.

Conversely, Draw Picks dropped out of profit losing 1.57 points, while Talkies Tips continued his good run picking up 0.83 points. XX Draws made 6.48 points while Online Trader's recovery had a setback with four points lost. 

Skeeve, Betcast, Abromo and Football Investor were all inactive this week.

Only one of the remaining nine made a loss this weekend, and that was the TFA's Euro Draws entry which lost 6.83 points. 
Cassini Value made 0.25 points, Sjosta ended a poor run making 4.01 points, @ValueBankFooty added 2.45 points and Rubicon made 1.02 points.

Mortimer, Daily 25, Ian Erskine and Paul Watson were inactive.

Overall on the week the selections were up by some 30 points. 

For the Bounty Boys, Football Elite’s liability is trimmed to just £25, while the others are looking at liabilities of £300 (TFA Draws), £350 (Skeeve), and £500 (Football Investor).

The December Monthly prize race looks like this:

I have some entries in for the midweek round of Bundesliga matches, and there are also a couple of Serie A matches on Thursday. 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Context Blindness

Although the thread has now been removed from the Betfair Forum, Shapeshifter posted some thoughts on our old friend Jonny Grossmark.

I know some excellent sports data analysts, some who have worked with firms both here and america.  It is a whole different head-space.One I have known since high school, originally he dove heavily into the stock market then taking his love of numbers and incorporating it into sports.Conversations with him have taught me the one thing that is of utmost importance: each piece of information has to be put into context.
Six months ago, I came across a blog by Jonny Grossmark.  His name had come up in other circles that he had an approach he wanted to bring on-line
Always open-minded, I followed what he was up to, reading his blogs.  I passed this on to a couple of people I know (all published) at the same time.
In a nutshell, he looks at time of the goals and, by half time of a football match, has percentages of outcomes.
An interesting hypothesis but upon reading it, it falls into a couple of theories I have about data:
- As mentioned, context needs to be attached to the data
- Regardless of the context, sometimes too much information can actually make you ‘blind’ when compared to using ‘some’ of the information.
- (in relation to betting) A mistake that can be done is taking data and “molding” it to look like it offers an edge when, in fact, it is either one of two extremes: too general OR overthought.
I am not singling out Jonny Grossmark.  In fact, there are others who have not taken it as far as he has with their blogs (Someone named Peter Nordsted is offering a “click and win” approach based on the odds (i.e. Lay if between X and X in Y league).
But Jonny Grossmark’s approach ticks all the boxes that I think actually hinder research. That’s not to say that it won’t return a profit.  But:
- because he has focused in such a way, by “tightening the criteria”, it will find few opportunities.
- The relationships between some of the support data is unconnectible (leagues, team quality, and, as mentioned context (there is a huge difference between a team in a critical H2H versus two teams where one is already relegated while the other is resting players after securing top 4.  Yet they appear in the same data).
- and the fixation that once in the dressing room at HT, a team trailing 0-1 that was scored against at 9 minutes is different than a team that was scored on at 23 minutes.
Now the information has been incorporated into a web site that does “minute by minute” analysis of a teams performance.
As one that trades in-running, minute by minute can make you “slave” to the data.
I can’t let historical results over three years be factored into my decisions on value, pre-kick off or in-running.
You have to deal with the moment. The data might say otherwise IF YOU BET ON EVERY MATCH THAT FALLS UNDER THAT CATEGORY, but it is about being selective rather than being guided by numbers. I’ll take context within a moment in time any day of the week.
Subsequent comments suggested that Jonny G is banned from the Betfair Forum, an assertion which, based on my own brief experience with him, sounds entirely credible, but unfortunately after adding some thoughts of my own, the update failed due to the thread apparently being removed.

Context is a topic which many people overlook. Statistics such as Team x have won their last y games are, out of context, useless. Who were the opponents? What were the competitions? What was the criticality of the match to both teams? 

One recent example from football is Southampton, who recently won four EPL games on the trot without conceding a goal. That could be an impressive statistic, but unfortunately for anyone falling in love with Southampton's strength, the teams they had beaten were not Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Crystal Palace but Sunderland, Stoke City, Hull City and Leicester City. 

There's a big difference, and when Southampton did play three of those former teams, they lost all three. I'm hoping it'll be all four come Boxing Day. I jest a little, but the point I am making is a serious one. 

Points or goals scored always need to be weighted before they can be used in any meaningful way. I've written before that League Tables are, from a betting perspective, useless. In fact, worse than useless, and the same goes for form. L-L-L-L can be better than W-W-W-W because all Ls and all Ws are not the same. 

My Elo based ratings sometimes reward a losing team with a higher post-match rating and 'award' a lower rating for a winning team.

Caught Up

Almost there, with just a very thin midweek left to update, and overall it was another tough weekend judging by he results. The overall profit is now down to 21.17 points, but an impressive 19 (of 33) entries are currently above water.

Here are the standings after last weekend:

Fairfranco still leads by a large margin, but he is not having a good December - in fact he is currently following his November first place with a December last place! Talkies Tips still leads in the monthly competition, closely followed by TFA_Raz whose selection of Newcastle United to beat Chelsea accounts for much of that profit.

TFA_Raz and TFA Draws were the only ones playing in midweek, and both dropped one point, so the (finally) up to date table is as above with the afore-mentioned both dropping down a place. This weekend's updates, and those thereafter, will be a little more in-depth.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Dec 2 FTL Update

The finishing line is in sight, as the midweek matches of December 2nd thru 4th are updated. Not too many entrants were involved, but a mention for Talkies Tips who takes the early lead in the race for December's monthly prize. While on the subject, if Fairfranco would like to let me know if he would like his monthly prize for November now, or added to his likely end of season winnings, I will proceed as necessary. No changes at the top, although Fairfranco's magic cape blew off as he dropped 1.71 points and shows he may actually be human after all. The overall profit now down to +34.01 points. 

I should have the table caught up in the next couple of hours.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Erskine Cup Drama

The November 29th weekend was not only the final round of the November monthly prize, but also the final round of Erskine Cup group matches, and thus a lot riding on the games.

The monthly prize was won by a mile by Fairfranco whose profit of 28.21 points was almost twice that of the nearest rival Gecko, who made 14.57 points. Fairfranco is absolutely dominating the FTL leading by almost 31 points. Here are the entries up by 10 points or more:

The remaining entries in profit are:
The entries in the red are:
Overall, it was a tough weekend, with entries overall dropping 18.90 points. I blame the Erskine Cup. The three weekend's when theses matches have taken place have netted a total loss of 41.69 points.

The top two from each group advance to the knock-out stage, and Group A ended thus:
The deciding match was between Sjosta and Mortimer, and despite making no selections, Mortimer advanced as Sjosta had a losing round. This was by far the weakest group with an average league placing of 28.25, and the two advancers are currently 29th and 25th.
Talkies Tips won Group B on points difference and faces Mortimer in the round of 16. With the top two in 24th and 23rd places in the league, the four teams so far through are rather a surprise.

Football Elite easily won Group C, with the improving Online Trader taking second spot:
Based on average league placing, Group D was the toughest, and 17th placed Abromo beat three higher placed entries to win, with XX Unders joining him in the next round.
Group E had three Draw specialists and was won by Drawmaster, accompanied by the only non-draw entrant TFA_Raz. Every entry here ended up in the red. 
Group F went to form, with Club Havana qualifying ahead of Randolph. 
Group G followed suit, with Golden Boy Fairfranco winning the group at a stroll of course, followed by Gecko:
Mountain Mouse was a little unlucky making a profit in all three rounds, yet being eliminated, aswas Rubicon who ended up on points. The luck of the Cup.

Finally Group H which saw Betcast advance followed by Jamie A.
The Round of 16 will take place on the weekend of January 31st (Jan 30th to Feb 2nd) and the matchups will be:
I'll update the FTL midweek results for December 2nd thru 4th shortly. Please let me know ASAP if there are any errors and note that the above is all conditional on my not having made any major errors. Catching up these numbers is a lot more work than I had envisaged!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Nov 25 FTL Update

There were a handful of midweek games during the week of November 25th, and I have also updated the table with Skeeve's FTL entries updated, and a good start to his season he is making too.

The next update will be as soon as possible, an important and slightly more time-consuming one as it includes the Erskine Cup updates. 

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Nov 22nd FTL Update

I am slowly catching up with my numbers, and here is the FTL table as it stands with the results of the November 22nd weekend updated. Fairfranco extended his lead at the top to a whopping 23 points and leads the race for the November prize also. The big winner of this round was TFA's Euro Draws, up 8.56 points, while the big loser was my XX Draws which found no winners from nine selections.

I'll try to have the next round updated by tomorrow. 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Nov 15th FTL Update

It'll probably be easiest if I update the FTL by weeks, and the table below is after the matches of the November 15th weekend which seems like an eternity ago now. To jog your memories, there were no top flight matches that weekend, as yet another International break arrived, so entries were fewer than normal. The update also includes a correction on Rubicon's entry on Nov 8th, about whom I wrote:

poor Rubicon managed the unlikely feat of finding 15 losers out of 15.
In fact he didn't, as Chelsea were a winning selection, so Rubicon's total is adjusted accordingly.