Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Football Form Labs Guest Post

My recent post in which I took a quick look at Football Form Labs triggered a response from Will Wilde, the Head Trader from that organisation. Since I have no experience of them, and my observations were based on a very quick look at a few web pages and screenshots, when Will asked for the opportunity to guest post here, I had no problems at all.

Here is Will's post, unedited and in full, and its presence here should not be taken as an endorsement of their products or trading services, merely as another opinion from the other side.

Thanks Will.

Hi Cassini

Thanks for taking the time to publish your article on Football Form Labs.

I can’t see on our logs that you have actually taken out a trial of either Form Lab MAX or Form Lab Black. Both are available on a free 14-day no-obligation trial. You can cancel the subscription at any time during the 14 days and you won’t be charge. If you haven’t you might find this reply a bit confusing and long-winded!

Form Lab Black launched in May 2011 and we have been providing Daily Report recommendations since then. You can see a list of all Daily Report recommendations that we have published on the P&L section of the Daily Reports tab in Form Lab MAX and Form Lab Black.

Form Lab MAX contains Daily Reports, Game Notes, Match Data and Pre-Match Query. In addition Form Lab Black includes In-Play Query, Players and Live Logic additionally. To avoid me droning on the two user guides are published in full here:

In short, Daily Reports are editorial recommendations, trends and identification of key players missing from that day’s matches. Match Data gives a snapshot including 20+ Form Tables for all of the 50+ leagues we cover, Game Notes are an automated selection of a strong trend or trends in a match (not necessarily signifying value), Pre-Match Query allows you to query our 50+ leagues over the past five seasons, In-Play Query (as the name suggests) does the same as Pre-Match Query but allows you to add the dimension of any match situation into your query (based on time elapsed, match position etc), Players lets you query the effect of an individual or a combination of players across nine leagues over the past five years (for example you could query the database on how Manchester United do when Rooney and Van Persie start since Van Persie joined Manchester United when away from home: W16-D6-L3 when both have started netting on average 2.16 times per match compared to W4-D2-L3 when one or both have been absent as they’ve scored just 1.67 goals per game. Obviously we have sample size issues but you get the idea), Live Logic is the smartest of all of the tools available in Form Lab Black. Live Logic is customisable in-play bet prompts every five minutes or whenever a goal is scored for all 50+ leagues that we cover.

With any software of this nature it is very easy to pick ‘holes’ and therefore some intelligence is required when deciding the query you should make and how much reliance you should put on the past results.

Onto your questions about the Pre-Match Query output, on the Pre-Match Query tab you will see you have a number of options to choose when querying a match. For example, if you toggle between CP (current position) and FP (finishing position) on Position or, the generally more useful, Opposition Position your query results if FP is selected will only bring up matches where you faced teams that ended the season in that position, regardless of where in the league they were when you played your match during the season. For example, your games against teams that finished in the top-10 would only show up in a query of Opposition Position FP Top-Half. This isn’t to say that Current Position is of no use, as that team was a top-half team at that point in the season. Naturally, you encounter issues at the early stages of any season and those games aren’t included in the algorithm that produces the automated Game Notes. You can also query on Form, Time of the year/season and under the current manager. The ability to see how other teams may have performed when in a similar run of form or league position as the team in question, and at a particular stage of the season, is also a very good indicator of whether the price on offer is value. As an aside, on any of the query tabs on Form Labs if you hover over the ‘i’ you will see Tool Tips on how to get the most out of the software.

Regarding your comment about the output page you will see that in any output query you have a Summary of the results below in the box above. The Odds Conv row is just the odds conversion of the percentage. Nothing special there, but to those less au fait with decimal odds than yourself it can provide helpful. The much more interesting row is the P&L row which is what would have happened had you backed that result in the matches you have chosen. These odds are based on the average odds across 25 bookmakers at kick-off. The four-game sample you mention isn’t interesting from an odds conversion or P&L basis however Pre-Match Query allows you to query not just on the teams in question but also the full league. So for instance if we select ‘All Teams Home’ in Pre-Match Query and ‘Seasons 08/09-13/14’ in ‘Period’ and Generate for the Premier League we can see the Summary of all 2191 Premier League games since 2008/09. You can narrow this query down again by selecting team / form type or, perhaps, a period in the season. In this example, the Odds Conv and the P&L are more interesting than a four-game sample of Swansea’s home games.

Football Form Labs was designed as a betting tool to help bettors. Both Form Lab MAX and Black give users access to our database in an easy-to-use interface where they can form their own strategies and quickly bring up relevant past results from a huge variety of domestic leagues. With the addition of a consistently profitable editorial section (Daily Reports) we feel that at £30 a month for MAX and £60 a month for Black (with discounts available for quarterly or annual subscriptions) that they offer great value to the keen bettor.

Fidens exists as a separate entity to Form Labs. I won’t regurgitate everything that is written in our prospectus: but Fidens has many great selling points:

1) Is completely transparent. Investors can see every bet that has been placed on their account through a simple online login.

2) We don’t hold any of the investor’s money. We use an independent broker to place all of our bets. It is all held in the investor’s broker account and they can withdraw their investment without penalty at any time.

3) All profits for UK investors (and investors in many other countries) are completely tax-free.

4) We are extremely low-risk placing less than 0.50% of FUM on each trade.

5) We are extremely high-turnover. We bet in 27 leagues around the world and place over 3000 bets per year.

6) Our average edge per bet over 9,400 bets is 3.76%.

Fidens is unique. Syndicates of the past have tended to be secret, unscalable and unsustainable but Fidens is completely different. We currently have 28 investors with just under £1.5m under management. I’m happy to provide referees (away from here) if you wish. Fidens, in its current format, is scalable to approximately £15m under management and we hope to be at that level within 18 months.

Thanks again,

Will Wilde

Head Trader, Football Form Labs


Anonymous said...

Great stuff Will > high turnover and low margin is the only way to win in the long run which is what every betting syndicate around the globe is doing.

Pointless having 4/5 bets a weekend . It will not work. You need a big rod in a big sea.

Danny Murphy said...

It's on Wiki that Louis Van Gaal lost €6m in the Bernie Madoff scandal, smart people regularly get taken in by these type of offers.

The obvious flaw with a scheme like this is that the broker goes bust, highly risky using a broker. That or the bookie the broker is using doesn't pay.

If you really are returning 3.76% with a track record there would be no need to adverise publicly.

A successful betting syndicate wanting new investors is a contradiction in terms.

Anonymous said...

I’m a subscriber to Formlab (Max version)n midway through my second season with them so feel qualified to comment on the good and bad points of the software.

Initially I got for the Daily Reports but I quickly noticed that they were in the main fairly mediocre and I found myself fairly regularly disagreeing with the analysis. As I have stopped following them I cant give an update as to how they have done this season but from the last update (mid January) the return since inception over almost 2,700 bets is a profit of just over 90 units. That’s assuming you made all the fancy prices so in reality I think that you would have been extremly fortunate to make this. If this was a tipster I would have left a long time ago. 2 new strategies were advised this year – a Head to Head strategy up 3.8% over 155 bets and an “overperforming” strategy that is now up 0.1 points over 23 bets. Again best prices assumed and again low single figure ROI. I think it is fair to say that if you were getting for tips only you’d be fairly nonplussed.

With the above in mind I would still feel like I have gotten my value out of the package although this may be coloured by the fact I got for this season at a heavily discounted £150. The query function is fast, responsive and limited to a large extent only by your own creativity in putting questions to it. Garbage in and garbage out is what to bear in mind here. The bandings of the queries is I agree unsatisfactory – the EPL has the splits of “Big 6”, “Top half”, “Middle Third”, “Bottom Half”, “Bottom 6” with all the generality that implies although there is some flexibility in allowing queries with plus and minus league positions. I would rarely if ever use these queries for matchday queries. They are simply too blunt.

Where the software and the queries do much better is in two areas – firstly long term reviews of teams side by side – you can go back literally hundreds of games and the visual presentation is good and you can focus in one some interesting niches - a particular area I have done well on is half time betting as I have found certain trends repeating themselves with certain types of teams. I remember Kevin Puellin’s book saying he looks at almost a season’s worth of data when deciding on an indivuidual game and it is something I have tried to do and Formlab is great for this.

A second area of strength is general queries for specfic leagues which I have found to be very useful – for example what happens to over and unders in the last 6 games of the season in Germany? Does the draw rise as the season goes on in France? Sample sizes are relatively large and hence fairly trustworthy and I’ve made some interesting and useful discoveries from such queries. You have to know what you’re asking and any evidence needs to be taken as a guideline rather than something set in stone but I’d rather be with historical long term trends rather than against them.

There are some very annoying omissions in the software – the worst is the total lack of any odds with the historical results from queries. I’m sure the Formlab guys would reasonably point to odds movements and the variety of prices and there is no football equivalent of racing’s SP but even odds from a single source such as Pinnacle immediately pre kick off would be very useful. There’s no way to test a strategy for historical profitability using Formlab which is a huge omission. The lack of regular updates for their own bets is also pretty disappointing. If you were trialling the updates tend to be months behind the current bets and the breakdown of past bets doesn't identify winners and losers so you have no idea where the winners and losers come from.

In summary it’s a reasonable product but no more – its trotting (no pun intended) after products such for the horses although I would note it is a fraction of the cost of these products. For £150 per annum I would recommend with caveats. Much above this I would tread with care.