Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Lab Work

Sunday was not the best of days, but while out riding my bike, I belatedly thought of another benefit to being advised a selection and a 'true' price rather than being told a subjective recommendation and a 'target' price.

As we all know, the target price is quite often quoted from a sports-book known for closing sharp accounts, and while technically the price might be available, for anyone with half a clue, it's probably not.

The problem with being told that 5.0 or whatever is available is what do we do in the not improbable event that it is not available. How much buffer is in that 5.0 price? Is 4.5 still value? Tell me the selection and the 'true' price, and I can make an informed decision on what price available to me is acceptable to take.

Mark asked for my opinion of Football Form Labs, a name with which I was not previously familiar, and as I always do as I am asked, I took a quick look at their web site.

This Twitter conversation below caught my eye:

Apparently the 'game notes' (presumably trivia curiosities) can be misleading, but I liked the comment that head-to-head records shouldn't be taken seriously. That was a plus, but there are plenty of negatives. The reference to league table positions is concerning for a start. As I have written before, for betting, the league table is often useless. Aston Villa are a top half team. So are Manchester City. Mainz '05 may be 6 points ahead of Hannover '96, but that may be just noise. Have they played six games more? We need signals, and unless you are smart with how you use your input, you generate garbage for output.

Back to league tables - early in a season they are too volatile, and being bottom with 0 points after five games against Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Crystal Palace is quite possibly better than being top after wins over Cardiff City, Fulham, Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City. 

Late in the season, they don't reflect current form. A club (see previous post) may be quite a different entity in March or April than it was in August. Have any teams changed manager this season?

The vagaries of scheduling is also the reason why looking at a team's previous n games without any adjustment for who those opponents were, is useless. And placing teams into tiers is also flawed, because while some teams you can be pretty sure belong in Tier A, for most teams it is only at season end that you can look back and say where teams belonged.

From the screenshots here, it appears Football Form Labs not only use league position, but also without any accounting for strength, make simplistic calculations of odds based on a sample size of 4. (See left). So the draw is value at anything over 1.33 then? 

I may be misreading this - without paying £30 a month it's hard to get a full picture - but it does all look rather basic and simplistic from what I can tell.

The statistics being used are all very interesting as curiosities, but using data in this way is not useful for predicting future outcomes. The web site looks professional enough, and 'labs' in the name suggests something rather clever is going on behind the facade, but I don't it, nor do I see anything that would justify paying money for 'interesting but ultimately useless' information.

The same people also operate a tax-free proprietary managed betting syndicate called Fidens - a fund willing to take your money and trade "on your behalf".

Minimum investment is £20,000. Performance fees are charged though, before you rush in, but only 50% of profit quarterly. "A minimum of 50% of performance fees are re-invested in Research and Development to maintain our proven edge". 
We use a combination of high-powered algorithms sitting on top of our vast and bespoke database of historical results
With over £1million under management and 3,000+ trades placed turnover in 2014 will exceed £18milllion"
With numbers like that, I really hope their algorithms use more than the simple stats the web site shows.

Unfortunately 'historical' (what other kind of results are there?) results are not enough, in my opinion. Anyone have first-hand knowledge of this group?

They do have one endorsement on the main page though:

"I am very impressed with the results you are having, and there is no doubt that Form Lab Black is definitely the best commercial product out there" 

Pete Nordsted - Subscriber

but Peter has yet to get back to me with his prices on Manchester United or the Over 2.5 goals in the North London Derby on Sunday. Both bets were value based on Peter's prices, so it will be interesting to see how large that edge was in Peter's estimation.

Nor has there been a clarification yet on the rationale of recommending Heads to subscribers, and Tails to Matchbook readers. The October statement was more obfuscation than clarification.


Hejik said...

Good post Cassini and as usual I'd agree with much of it.

I find Peter's methods of operation astonishing to be quite honest and am extremely confused as to why he is so widely respected as a 'Tipster' and 'Betting Writer'.

I must stress this is merely my opinion but I've found his level of knowledge regards all things betting somewhat wanting and most of his ideas are just back-fitted nonsense and apparent guesswork (rigidly banding teams) and the sort of thing I was trying to make work in my first 6 months of betting.

The evident lack of progress and knowledge development over such a long period of time is quite startling and his approach to self-improvement, in a betting context, would appear to be denial of the very need for it.

I stress there's no personal ill-will as Peter actually seems a real gent on the face of things, but when you put yourself up as some kind of expert yet it's apparent to experienced people that you're anything but, you must be prepared to accept an amount of criticism of your ideas.

As I've said elsewhere, recent events would suggest that people need to "wise the hell up" and start questioning things a bit more.

Danny Murphy said...

I am not a fan of using current form for a couple of reasons.

One is that it's something punters put too much emphasis on and it tends to drive the price on a team too low as a result. And it's even worse if the team has a big following, try getting value on Leeds for example if they have won their last four matches.

Another reason is if you are talking about the last six games you are looking at a very small sample and luck may well have played some part. Also home and away form are very different animals so is there much point in lumping them both together?

Market theory would suggest teams in good recent form could get over backed so I would argue price action is a better way to find value than form.

Every team has it's price!