Thursday, 4 September 2014

Les Paris Conditionnels Et Les Prix Carte Blanche

A French title for a French themed post. I had an email from a subscriber which touches on the 'bet at any price' topic mentioned yesterday, as well as the challenge of what price should be used when recording bets. The email is below:
Thanks Cassini. It seems I backed 4 selections that were sent out in your initial email which then shortened at Pinnacle which meant they were no longer official picks. I have a bit of an issue with this. You send out your emails Wednesday or Thursday, I therefore act as quickly as possible to secure decent odds. Am I supposed to check Pinnacle again on Friday afternoon to see if any of the draws have gone below 3.15, and trade out of any that have dropped? I don't feel it's a fair reflection to remove initial picks from your results even if they have dropped in price because the majority of your subscribers would have already backed these selections.
First clarification is that whether or not a selection is official is, in the case of Ligue 1, only known when Football Data extract the prices from Pinnacle Sports on a Friday afternoon. I replied as follows, but it is such an important topic that I thought it was too good not to share more widely. Looking at my notes from Week One, there were four selections - all from Ligue 1 because no one else was playing - priced at 3.35, 3.19, 3.17 and 3.16. All four shortened to 3.34, 3.12, 3.08 and 3.09 respectively so the idea of backing early and laying off may have some merit. The one winner was the 3.34 match Bastia v Olympique Marseille. 

Anyway, here is the basis of my reply:

I think what is being missed here is that the selections sent out are, in the case of Ligue 1, “conditional” – the price backed at needs to be at least 3.15. Most selections are Official Selections, but there are also a number of Unofficial Selections involving newly promoted teams for who the ratings are yet to settle down. When 2015 arrives, these will all be Official Selections, but until then they are included for interest only. If someone wants to back or track them, they can.

And then there is the third category which is comprised of lower priced draws in Ligue 1. These could be classified as "Conditional Selections" – they will be recorded as Official if the price on Friday afternoon is 3.15 or higher, and will be Unofficial if the price is below 3.15 at this time. (With hindsight, I should probably have emphasised the 'conditional' nature of the selection rather than simply mention the 3.15 limit).

You say “I don’t feel it’s a fair reflection to remove initial picks from your results even if they have dropped in price because the majority of your subscribers would have already backed these selections” – but at what price have they backed them at?

The word ‘remove’ is misleading here. Nothing has been removed since the selection was conditional in the first place. Depending on the recorded price on Friday, it either becomes official or unofficial, but either way, anyone on at sub 3.15 is on at their own risk.

I will continue to track Official Results along with the Unofficial for Promoted Teams and Short Priced French Teams and I shall also make it more obvious when a selection is ‘Conditional’ in the newsletters (although that probably means any selection from Ligue 1 since it is always theoretically possible that any draw price could shorten to sub 3.15!)

If the Pinnacle Sports draw price at the time of the email is say 3.25, most subscribers will be looking for at least 3.3 and possibly up to 3.45 / 3.5 on the exchanges (with the commission to be accounted for). I don’t expect anyone to be backing Ligue 1 selections at less than 3.15 because I have made it clear that these are probably not profitable long-term.

As I mentioned in my blog post yesterday, and contrary to what some appear to think, the price of a selection is actually rather crucial, and while the price on draws is usually fairly robust, it hardly seems reasonable for a service to be saddled with being accountable for a bet recorded at a price below the minimum specified, when no one would actually be on at that low a price.

If the majority of subscribers have already backed at a higher price, then that is all well and good. Long-term, their results will show a positive return.

The problem with the way I am recording my bets and prices is that they err, quite significantly, on the low side, and I doubt that any subscriber, or indeed myself, has actual results that are worse than the official results. Most should be significantly better.

Using Pinnacle Sports prices as extracted at a certain time by an independent third-party has the one big advantage of opaqueness. If I send out an email on Wednesday and take the price at that time, or use the price from 30 minutes later, there’s always going to be a concern about the fact that the prices are being recorded by myself – an interested party.

I guess what I am saying is that while I want the recorded prices to be indubitable, there’s a pre-defined limit to my openness, which to me seems reasonable. Unlike Steve M’s friend for whom the “line doesn’t really matter that much”, my response is that the price does matter, and I’ve pre-defined where that tipping point is.

I don’t know of any services that send out selections and then are happy to record carte blanche the price as recorded two days later. The only reason this is not usually a problem is because the draw price has a certain robustness to it. For now at least, the low-price issue is only a problem in France. The EPL had no matches last season where the draw was recorded at < 3.15, but Ligue 1 had 40 such matches last season.

Looking at those 40 matches, it's worth mentioning that the best draw price available according to Football Data's numbers was an average of 4.8% higher than Pinnacle Sports - 16 of the 40 by more than 5%. 

NFL 2014

For those of you excited about the NFL season which starts tonight, there's an excellent article here which looks at how the pre-season has revealed more than usual about the regular season. It could be a profitable edge, if only a few of you read it. 


Finally, on a US Open Tennis thread on the Betfair Forum, George Bailey wrote that there is:
no market like tennis for having so many ops in running
I'm not sure about that, but a Jim Duncan replied correctly that:
can be very hard to judge it right and get matched though George with all the courtsiders
If we assume that courtsiders know what they are doing, then if you are matched on in-running tennis, it's because you are not getting value. Yes, you can still win short-term, but long-term you have some long odds to beat. George Bailey, perhaps realising that when it comes to trading tennis, it's not a wonderful life, returns to claim:
Lost £100k on Williams...thought she would come back but she buckled under the pressure 

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