Saturday, 18 October 2014

Pinning The Price

Hopefully you have all had a chance to read the comments on recording prices from Football Elite’s Matt.

For services, and especially for full-time services, the subject is very sensitive. Their livelihood depends on having subscribers, and having subscribers is heavily influenced by previous results. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the service thus has a vested interest in making those results as attractive as possible, while the potential subscriber wants the results to realistically reflect the results he or she might obtain themselves were they to sign up. Anyway, here is Matt’s comment in full, with my responses:

Hi Cassini,
The ideal scenario would be if an independent party could provide a standard Football SP a la the racing SP.
How the SP is calculated and whether it is based on prices just before kick-off or at a specified point of the weekend doesn't particularly matter. Whatever it was it would be the same for every service and would provide an easy comparison between each services results.

Until that happens, in my opinion the only fair way of recording is to record at the general price that is available when the bets are sent out.
I’m not sure what ‘independent party’ would benefit from a standard football SP. There is no need for an industry SP in football (or other sports betting), because nobody bets on an outcome without knowing their potential return. That people still do this on horses in off-course betting shops says much about the social nature of the activity rather than as a serious attempt to make money. The only beneficiary of an ‘official’ football price would be punters, for whom the data would be useful in trialling systems, and potential subscribers to betting services. The solitary nature of these activities means that an official price will not happen. Matt continues:
No standout prices, no soft/dodgy books, ignore the top few prices, record at the price that is widely available with a good amount of firms and to decent liquidity on the exchanges after commission.

With all due respect Cassini, proofing to Pinnacle prices is one of those things that sounds better than it actually is. Pinnacle are generally among the top prices on most top flight football bets, in particular on the draw and the outsider. On occasions they will be the very best. Hence most of the time you will be recording at higher than the general odds and on occasions at the very top price in the market.
The first problem I have with Matt’s comments here is that the suggestion to exclude standout prices, soft or dodgy books, is vague and subjective, as is the term "widely available". Who decides if a book is "soft or dodgy"? What is a “good amount of firms”? What is "widely available"? When it comes to betting, not all firms are created equal. Not all members have accounts with all books, and if the service is any good, several accounts will soon be closed or limited. The idea of “general odds” or “good amount of firms” to me is nonsense. 

Firms need to be weighted based on accessibility and reputation. To suggest that a firm such as GoBetGo (established 2013, arguable reputation) should be considered the same as Pinnacle Sports (1998, excellent reputation) makes no sense. 

No standout prices”? "Ignore the top few prices"? It rather depends on who is offering the standout / top few prices. If it is Pinnacle Sports, Coral (1926), William Hill (1934), Bet365 (1974) or any established and known book, why should that price be excluded? A service can’t cater for every individual’s situation, but there aren’t many subscribers serious about making money who do not have access to Pinnacle’s prices. The fact that they are generally among the top prices is one reason why they are my book of choice for prices recording, but more important is their accessibility for the majority of punters, with no accounts closed or limited, and no concerns about their reputation.

Matt again:

My results in your FTL table are better than my official results as Pinnacle prices will almost always beat general prices. I would guess you could improve (or at the very least not harm) most reputable football services official results if they recorded purely at Pinnacle prices instead of their current recording.
I doubt that, because if that were the case, why would not all services be recording the way I do? It's a lot easier than most methods, but the service loses control, and most won't want to do that.

Pinnacle’s prices may be competitive and above average (which isn’t hard to achieve when you are averaged in with books who are working to a large over-round) but they can usually be beaten. A quick look at last season shows that Pinnacle Sports were the top price 23 times in the EL last season for odds-on selections, from 211 opportunities – 10.9%. At odds against, they were indeed the top price a little more often, 17% of the time. For me that reinforces my claim that Pinnacle’s prices can usually be beaten, and the Pinnacle line is the minimum a serious investor could expect to achieve. Matt:
E.g. if we take tonight's Lens v PSG game on oddsportal. Odds for the draw are:-
5.2 with GoBetGo 5.13 with Pinnacle 5.1 with 5Dimes, Marathon 5.0 with quite a few firms and after commission 5.0 - 5.05 is roughly the price at the exchanges
In reality if you are talking about a fair price then 5.0 is the price you should be recording at. Yet in reality by recording at Pinn prices you would be recording at 5.13, the very top of the market if you ignore GoBetGo as an unestablished firm.
In reality, we’re not talking about a fair price of 5.0. The reality is that no one should have an issue with recording Pinnacle’s price, which is a lot sharper than most books. The reality is that anyone offering 5.0 is not competitive. Pinnacle Sports is a reputable company, and there are no issues getting on and my thoughts would be that Pinnacle have a better handle on the true probability than the other books. And yes, I wouldn’t even mention GoBetGo - I'd never even heard of them before!  

Whether or not 5.13 should be the price actually recorded is another issue. The price recorded should be by an independent source such as Football Data, or a certain amount of time after the bet has been released. Especially in thinner markets, or at softer (longer) prices, the recorded price needs to reflect what most subscribers can expect to get. Hence my suggestion that the service actually record the price they themselves obtain 30 minutes or whatever after releasing the selections. Matt:
Don't get me wrong, recording to Pinnacle is certainly not a bad way to record. There's far, far worse ways. But to almost insinuate that you are in some way leading a bright new future in how services should record their bets is a little OTT to be honest.
I think, as services, we do ourselves no favours by obfuscating how our numbers are recorded.
There's plenty of services that record their bets very fairly and leave plenty of room for subscribers to beat stated figures. Suggesting otherwise (and insinuating that only you record fairly) just further perpetuates the idea that all/most tipster services are dodgy firms run by shady characters. You've no need to go down that road. Enthuse the positives of your own service by all means (and it is a good service) but slightly off to do it by insinuating other services are not playing it straight.
I am familiar with very few services, so I am not in a position to suggest or insinuate anything about most services or the people who run them. If subscribers are happy with the service, then the retention rate will be high. If they are not, then they may complain or leave unfavourable comments. All I am advocating is that the subjective nature of recording prices should be removed. Either use an independent resource for prices or show evidence that the prices claimed are achievable. It won't happen, but it's important to put the idea out there.
Appreciate you probably were not deliberately doing this, and I'm probably being too precious, but kind of annoys me when most folk seem to think tipster services are dodgy so when a fellow service operator perpetuates that myth it winds me up a bit.
No personal offence intended, keep up the good work with the blog and the service.
No offence taken. I appreciate that as a part-timer, I have more freedom to advocate for such changes, but ultimately it is the subscribers who matter, and if they are happy with the status quo, then so be it. 

I appreciate Matt's input on this topic, and as most of you know, because Football Elite deal mostly in the top leagues, price recording isn't a huge issue for him and as mentioned above, his official prices hold up well against his FTL numbers based on the independently recorded Pinnacle prices from Tuesday and Friday afternoons. Not quite the same longevity as Coral, but Football Elite has also been around for a while, which in itself speaks volumes. 

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