Friday, 10 October 2014

Top Drawer Results

I came across an old (2009) Kevin Pullein piece from the Guardian yesterday while I should have been working. Nothing there that readers of this blog shouldn't already know, and the article shows its age, and the suggestion that the draw is rarely quoted sub 3.4 suggests the draw receives more attention today than may have previously been the case:
• Low-scoring teams are involved in more drawn matches
• Odds offered on draws often represent better value for money
Two factors, above all others, influence the result of a football match – the difference in ability between the two teams and whether they are likely to become involved in a high-scoring or low-scoring contest. The first has been discussed here before. The second is overlooked by some bookmakers and one consequence of their omission is that there is yet another category of games in which the draw is sometimes offered at bigger odds than it should be.
The fewer goals there are likely to be in a match the more likely it becomes that both teams will score the same number. A good way of illustrating this point is with some figures from Premier and Football League games played during the past 10 seasons. The average number of goals scored in those games was 2.55. Overall, 27% of games were drawn. However, low-scoring teams were involved in more stalemates than high-scoring teams.
Teams whose games averaged between 2.5 and 2.6 goals drew 27% of the time. Teams whose games averaged between 2.9 and 3.0 goals drew only 25% of the time. But teams whose games averaged between 2.1 and 2.2 goals drew as much as 31% of the time. You can see that across this range the incidence of draws varied by 6%, depending on whether teams tended to become involved in open or tight contests.
Bookmakers generally ignore the style of a team's play, taking into account only the strength of their play. Consequently, some bookmakers rarely quote a draw at shorter than 12–5 (3.4).
However, there are occasions when the odds should really be shorter – namely, when one or both of the teams has a history of low scores.
Fulham's games this season have averaged only 1.8 goals, less than any other team in the Premier League. It is no coincidence that Fulham have drawn a higher proportion of their games than any other team in the Premier League – 39%. Wycombe's games have averaged 2.0 goals, fewer than any other team in League Two. And they have drawn 39% of their games, the second highest proportion in League Two. When one or both teams have a tendency to become involved in low scores, the draw can sometimes represent value for money.
After a much discussed drought of draws in the top leagues last season, in particular the EPL, Serie A and the Bundeslayga, they are back (with a vengeance) this season - except in Ligue 1. There's always un, as they say in Paris.
It won't last, so don't try this at home, but if you had backed the draw in every EPL game (using Pinnacle's prices) this season, you would be +11.52 points after 70 bets.

If you had been a little smarter and backed only in matches where the draw probability was > 20%, you'd be up a whopping 32.34 points on the season from just 45 bets. Only one draw has come from the 25 longer priced matches - favourite-longshot bias at work, although like gravity, the effect is a little weaker at the outer limits where draw prices are found than it is close to the centre where the hot favourites are merrily orbiting away.

This return is significantly better than the XX Draws' return from this league it must be said, which is looking rather languid at just 3.32 points from 14 matches.  

While the EPL strike rate for draws of 32.9% is at least within the bounds of being reasonable, in the Bundesliga, it is not. Only 63 matches have been played, but the draw percentage is a ridiculous 38.1% (implied price 2.62). Unlike in the EPL, a large number of draws have come from games where you would least expect them. The 22 matches where the draw is priced at 4.0+ would have made 18.28 points, while a benchmark of 'sensible' matches would have made 16.76 points. The XX Draws in this league? Up 7.55 points on 11 selections. This is a league where the draw price is traditionally a lot longer than the other top leagues due to the higher goals per game, (the lowest this season is 3.34) but if that number stays close to 2.60 goals a game (lower than the EPL and La Liga) this season, the carried over draw prices will be rather generous until it starts coming down. 

As for Ligue 1, the draws after 90 games are at a ten tear low. The 10 year average is 30.2%. This season? 23.3%. The strange thing is that goals are not up on previous seasons, so   Backing all draws would have lost 11.02 points. Backing all sensible draws (sub 4.0) would have lost 24.61, so as in Germany, the unlikelier draws are hitting. 6 of the 15 priced over 4.0 came in, for a profit of 13.59 points. 

France has the additional challenge of a lot of too low prices. My XX Draws exclude any price under 3.15, and backing the 14 matches in this range would have lost 7.81 points. The XX Draws are -3.93 in this league from 11 selections.

A lot of ifs, would haves, could haves etc. above, because no one knew at the start of the season that such a set of results would occur and the fact is that the draws will regress to more realistic numbers as the season progresses. That the XX Draws are under-performing the "draws under 4.0 benchmark" is disappointing, but the currently high numbers in the EPL, the Bundesliga and La Liga will come down and likely Ligue 1's will come up.

La Liga isn't one of my favourite leagues, with the perennial overpowering duo of Real Madrid and Barcelona complicating things, but it's interesting that with these two removed, backing every draw in Spain would have made 10.89 points.

I dare say I shall revisit this topic later in the season, because I do like my draws.

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