Wednesday 9 April 2014


It’s a curious (and mildly annoying) anomaly that the draw averages are down across all five leagues in the same season without an obvious common cause, and I find myself in a similar boat to Matt from Football Elite who, in his weekend summary email, which this week is actually more of a season-to-date summary than a weekly one, writes:

Obviously I totally understand that people don’t subscribe to a service to break-even but sometimes as a tipster things are out of your hands. This season when my kind of sides just didn’t start winning until February there’s not really much I can do.
He adds later:
I will defend my performance this season though as I think I’ve pretty much made the best of a bad situation and got the max possible in the circumstances.
I agree with much of this, although not all. For a start, I know that several subscribers to my XX Draws and More are using the draw selections to mitigate either current or potential Premium Charges on Betfair rather than to make their fortune. A low ROI on a large number of selections is what several people are looking for. It’s a paradox that if they are too successful, the Premium Charge issues are compounded rather than alleviated, but obviously making losses isn’t the form of relief we are looking for. Unlike Matt, who seems to have several Mr. Angrys among his clientele, I have yet to have one. 
My thoughts on this are that subscribers to a draw service understand that the nature of draws is such that long losing runs are inevitable, and that as the prospectus makes clear, they are not a ‘get rich quick’ scheme by any means. The limited feedback I have had, and my own experience, is that even in a disappointing season such as this one where the draws are mysteriously absent, relatively small losses at the official (but usually beatable) Pinnacle prices are even more modest if you use the exchanges or cherry pick the best prices with other sports-books, even if that is ultimately likely to be a short-lived opportunity.
As for Matt’s comment that “sometimes things are out of your hands”, this is true up to a point. Matt’s selections fall into a certain sub-set of matches, and as appears to be happening again this season, that sub-set is not proving to be profitable. A tipster can either ride out the storm, technically a drought I suppose, the keep calm and carry on approach, or he either change his selection strategy or abandon it altogether. One can become irrationally attached to stock selections, and I suspect that letting go of a previously profitable system is similarly harder than it should be, especially if you are selling them.

Whether selections are private or sold advice, a losing run doesn’t necessarily mean that the system no longer works. It’s why I have recently started talking about having a bench mark to compare your selections against, and why I think there is still some life in the XX Draws yet. The evidence (France excepted) suggests there is value still being found, and the below average number of draws across all five leagues in the same season is, I hope, a mere coincidence.

Matt could come up with a similar benchmark using the leagues and price ranges he typically picks from, and can tell whether he has been unlucky for almost two seasons, (i.e. his selections are beating the benchmark) or has the market adjusted to erode an edge that formerly existed? Are Matt’s selections beating the benchmark in certain leagues, but not others, or has the profitable target price ranges changed?

One problem when developing a model is that it can be discarded too soon. Two seasons of losses across all leagues and all prices is probably enough evidence that the edge has gone, but throwing everything away after a poor month would be a mistake.

Peter Nordsted’s Premier Account service is in a similar situation. As my post yesterday mentioned, assuming the official prices claimed are achievable, and with some of the books quoted, that would be quite a stretch for a winning account, a loss of 20.4% ROI over 265 matches is frankly terrible. Someone joked a few weeks ago that Premier Betting had two members, but that estimate will be two more than next season I imagine. The problem for Peter is that having taken in subscriptions, it’s hard to later admit that your methods have no merit.

Graeme, aka The Football Analyst, who after three winning seasons also finds himself struggling, is in a similar position to Matt, although his poor season is his first increasing the chances that it is just a blip. 

Without knowing how Graeme makes his selections, it’s hard to say if a benchmark could be created, and as has been much discussed already, simply finding out how his selections perform to a single unit stake isn’t easy.

One tipster who doesn’t have these problems, at least with selections this season, is Skeeve. Sure, his variable staking and multiples haven’t helped, but measured at Pinnacle prices as one unit singles, the results are impressive.

For myself, and the XX Draws, I shall ride the drought out (doesn’t sound quite right, but you get my drift), for this season and then take a look in even more detail. The pattern in Ligue 1 is bizarre.

Danny, showing a wry sense of humour as well as an impressive knowledge of my reputed ancestor’s work in France, (although I prefer to claim the Italian heritage rather than the French - they adopted him on 14.July.1673) and had this to say:
For a man whose illustrious ancestor Giovanni Domenico Cassini famously had the measure of France, your troubles in Ligue 1 do indeed disappoint.
Could it be that much like when British Rail had the wrong kind of snow, you are currently suffering the wrong kind of draw in France??? 
Very droll, but clearly the draw selections are falling in the wrong places across the Channel. The XX Draws in France have won 28 of the 93 draws available (30%), and those 93 came from 320 matches (29%). So far so good, but here is where it gets ugly. The average price of the XX Draw selections is 3.23, and the 28 XX Draw winners were priced at an average of 3.28, but the average for draws in Ligue 1 is 3.475. Too many XX Draw winners at the low end. I've written in my email to subscribers that the draw on some selections in France is too low. Over exactly 500 XX Draw selections in France, 155 (31%) have been draws, implied odds of 3.23. Backing only XX Draws at this 3.23 or above would have meant a profit of 8.98 this season still well below the benchmark of 29.02 for all draws 3.23 to 3.99. At the risk of sounding like Pete the Weatherman, 3.23 would appear to have some significance this season.   

As my model evolves with ever more data, and my ‘true’ odds calculations improve, the Cassini Value Selections will likely play a bigger role. The more recent subscribers have been more interested in the Cassini Value Selections than the draws (not surprisingly), but as I said earlier, I think those draws still have some mileage, perhaps with some adjustments here and there.
One final comment is that in 2012-13 I offered a money-back guarantee (well, 50%), if the XX Draws failed to reach a certain percentage ROI. It seemed a good idea at the time, and luckily for me the target was exceeded, and although I didn’t offer the same in 2013-14, it is something I think I will do again next season if I continue the service. 
Whether the trigger is falling below the pre-defined benchmark (has the word ‘benchmark’ ever appeared so many times in one post?) or a set points total or ROI% is to be determined, but I think anyone selling selections should be accountable, at least to some extent. A full refund is probably too much, since there is a lot of effort that goes in, for most of us anyway, and some pros might not approve of this idea, but for someone like myself for whom this is a semi-professional activity, I’d rather take a hit than feel like I was offering a sub-par service. As I said at the time, I'm not doing this for the money. I also think that picking the top price from Oddschecker is unscrupulous. I'd rather take a small loss at a verifiable but beatable price than inflate my numbers by using books that will restrict anyone who appears to know what they are doing.


Graeme Dand said...

Hi Cassini.

It’s interesting to see some of us scurrying around trying to look at underlying results and benchmarks after a poor season of results! As I’ve admitted a few times now on my blog, I’ve never really paid close attention to underlying results over the first 3 seasons as I had no reason to. With hindsight, even when you are making money betting, it’s probably not a bad idea to check that you just haven’t been operating in very favourable conditions but I guess it’s human nature to ignore these sort of things when things are going well. :)

I’ve actually been working on a blog post which is now on the blog which is on a similar topic as this blog post you’ve written.

I think the key learning for me and everyone else following my systems this season is that a season isn’t as long as any of us thought. Before this season, I would never have contemplated a losing season happening to my systems as it would have taken such a massive drop in profitability to go from the returns over the last 3 seasons to actually making a loss over a season. I struggled to imagine having a losing system at football, never mind a losing season for all system results combined but I’m now starting to face up to this reality this season unfortunately.

I think my blog post on the underlying results shows how fickle this game can be and ultimately, if you experience quite small % differences in the long-term averages of Homes/Aways/Draws in any league or any sample of bets (like backing all teams priced 2.50+), then it has a huge impact on the results you can achieve. You can escape in a month or a few months but if you are against the bias the whole season, it is difficult. You are finding this yourself as is Matt at FE I think…….TBC

Graeme Dand said...

Of course, there are ways around this and spreading the risk to ensure you aren’t too exposed to a particular group of bets is very obvious with hindsight but ultimately, I didn’t think about this during the first 3 seasons! Having 70%+ bets on longer priced aways seemed like a great idea based on the first 3 seasons and although it’s a rollercoaster due to the average odds you are backing at, over a course of a season, I thought things would always level out and a sample of 1,000+ bets was big enough to cover any variance. As my results show this season, that isn’t the case!

I don’t really believe my edge has vanished overnight and ultimately, I think there are a number of reasons my ratings have struggled this season but I’m sure I’ll learn more from this season than I learnt over the last 3 seasons. My only issue is that I need to decide whether I can start again basically and build something new based on what I’ve learnt over the last 4 seasons as what I have now isn’t fit for purpose in my opinion. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with all my systems but quite simply, the Barcelona of football systems should not be fighting relegation in your tipster league! End of. :)

In terms of your comment about tracking my results, I’ve said this before I think but my results are the easiest to monitor! Every system I have is proofed to 1pt level stakes and therefore, if anyone wants to see how the systems are doing, they only have to read my blog. What I can’t cater for is people cherry picking systems and creating their own portfolio of systems and creating profits/losses that look nothing like what others have experienced but that’s the beauty of TFA. Until this season, the returns varied for everyone but everyone had to make a profit as every system was profitable. This season, with a mix of profitable and (more predominantly) losing systems, the range of returns is as wide as it has always been for subscribers but unfortunately, some will be winning and some will be losing. That’s life I’m afraid.

I thought I’d be smart ass this season and create a unique system to go into the tipster league as I honestly thought it was impossible for me to build a losing system at football betting over the season but I no longer believe this is the case. My ego is back in check! With hindsight, I should have plucked one of my high turnover systems and just sent you the bets along with the rest of the subscribers each time but I wanted to possibly proof a new system. Instead, I’ve proofed and proven I can build a losing system and a really bad one at that!

If I give this another go next season, I will try to cater for the people who may only want to follow a traditional tipster service and just place bets on teams my ratings think offer value! A little bit different to how I’ve worked until now but it was easy when people were winning all the time, much trickier when some are losing I’m finding! It was impossible to lose for 3 seasons following my systems….too easy this season though!

As always, an interesting post.