Saturday, 21 March 2015

Down And Out

It's been a tough start to my Spring Break. The weather may be sunny and warm (in the 20Cs) but my mood is anything but.

My inbox was bursting at the seams on arrival, and buried among them was an FTL entry from Randolph, the Erskine Cup semi-finalist matched up against the XX Unders. On closer inspection, all Randolph's selections were Friday night games, twelve of them. 'Let me have a look', I thought - big mistake, holiday ruined -

All twelve won!

My Erskine Cup hopes are all but over, and my holiday may have to be cut short. This will probably be Randolph's biggest win of the season too! Seriously, hard to beat a 100% strike rate. For the record, the selections included six lays, including a lay of the draw.

On this topic, (calculating Lay wins), the esteemed Joseph Buchdahl commented that:
I think there is a correct number. It's the +0.5 Pinnacle handicap. That is backable in the real world.
I just don't see the point in showcasing impossibilities. You don't need to use a special formula, just the +0.5 handicap odds.
That would indeed be the perfect and correct number for laying either of the two teams, assuming the price was extracted at the same time as the others. Unfortunately, the +/- 0.5 Pinnacle Handicap prices are not included in the Football Data spreadsheets, or at least not that I have seen, so where is this correct number to be found on a Monday when the results are updated? 

The other problem is that there would still be the issue of laying the draw, as Randolph (lucky devil) wanted to do in last night's Troyes v Creteil match.

Joseph continues:
I just don't see the point of applying artificial formulae when real world odds are available to do the job. 
The problem is that real world odds are not (to the best of my knowledge) available anywhere. The point of an artificial formula is to allow entrants who like the Lay option to be able to join in the FTL. For some, having a formula to allow Lay bets was a pre-requisite for entering. 

Referring to the Bundeslayga system, Joseph writes:
Your Bundeslayga also appears to use some sort of formula (the same one?). This is a subscription service. Results for 13/14 are quoted as 4.34% from 96 selections. But applying real world prices (I've assumed a Pinnacle's typical Bundesliga Asian handicap market would be a shade over 1.02 margin) I get a yield of 2.1%.
The formula is the same - I run the FTL and track the Bundeslayga. The Bundeslayga is not a subscription service. It is a (now) well known 'system' first identified and written about in this blog in 2010. It's been mentioned many times since, and it's a great Premium Charge mitigation system which shouldn't continue to be profitable year after year, but somehow is. There is no model generating the selections, although I have started looking at adding a filter with the goal of improving results, and while I do include the selections and update the results as part of the XX Draws / latterly Cassini service, no one (at least no one in their right mind) pays for Bundeslayga selections since all they need to do is look for Home, odds-on favourites in the Bundesliga. No one buys a system that has already been given away. The results from the individual 'Cassini' systems are also clearly broken down, week by week and by season to date. Any subscriber can attest to that.

I do document the Bundeslayga selections and results because I bet on these matches myself, I noticed the opportunity, and I'm interested in seeing how long it will keep giving.

It's a freebie and I have no idea if anyone (subscribers or others) bets on these or not. My members are incredibly quiet, which is usually a good sign. People join the service for the XX Draw selections which have been around almost as long as I have, starting in 2010 with the 'strong draw' idea.

As I showed in my screenshots from last weekend's actual bets, (and what could be more real world than these?) for the Bundeslayga an average of 0.025 has been close to real world experience, which is why that formula was chosen. (I used to use +0.04 and found that was shorting my results). [I admit here that I have no if this average is reasonably realistic for Lays in other leagues]. Here they are again:

The four differences were 0, +0.1, +0.4 and +0.5, which (purely by chance) averages out at... +0.25. The number was based on empirical evidence rather than plucked out of the sky. I suppose I should include the 50% Super Premium Charge too. Joseph continues:
You just set yourself up for criticism that you are deliberately trying to inflate your returns (even if that is not what you are doing), which is why I've ended up commenting here.
Since the FTL formula applies to everyone the same, I have to presume this comment refers to the Bundeslayga, in which case I'd ask why on earth would I bother, when the system is publicly known, generates a lowly maybe 40 to 50 winners a season, and selections going back several seasons can be verified by anyone using whatever formula they want to apply? One person has criticised this calculation in nearly two years. There are 750 Cassini selections to date this season, of which just 32 are Bundeslayga winners. If we deflate those 32 by making the average adjustment a less real-life (see screenshots) +0.04 instead, the return drops by less than 0.04 points per winner. Seriously? I think the way my bets are recorded is scrupulously fair. Many services choose a far more arbitrary way of deciding their official prices. Every one of mine is verifiable, and has been since 2013-14.   

If the Bundeslayga interests anyone, they can run their own numbers using whatever formula suits them and see if it is worthwhile. 

Choosing  a simple system generating just 46 winners a season for 'inflation' would be a very strange thing for me to do. The Bundeslayaga is not claimed to be a big money-spinner, (if I thought it was, I'd have kept quiet about it!) but it does have extra 'churn' value if you are paying either the Premium Charge, Super Premium Charge, or may be doing so at some point. 

Having said all that, I know an average spanning 1.3 to 2.0 is not ideal. I'm open to better ideas, bearing in mind the limitations of not having +/- 0.5 Pinnacle Handicap prices available.

For what it's worth, the Bundeslayawayga is more profitable this season, (+11.09 from 13 winners due mostly to Borussia Dortmund's troubles) but I am, of course, inflating the numbers (kidding) - here they are using the same +0.025 average adjustment:
I'm expecting the profits on both systems to descend towards zero as the season winds down anyway.

One subscriber wrote:
You should probably just take lays out of the FTL altogether, it will save you a load of grief
A 'load' of grief? One person has complained, although out of 28, that's a high percentage I guess! I'm not even sure why the complainant complained since they are not impartial to using the Lay option themselves.
For official recording of the Bundeslayga, if you can't get the price from Betfair that the game goes off at KO, then maybe ask your members what price they took and take an average and assume 5% comm.
Or maybe proof to the SBC and get them to do it!
Even if I could get the price from Betfair at KO, can you imagine the outrage that would ensue for matches where the price movement between Friday afternoon and kick-off (sometimes more than 72 hours later) meant the Lay price was lower than the Back price? The scandals of Profumo, Watergate and er, Hillary Clinton's emails would all be mere footnotes in history in comparison.

Also, the formula applies to all FTL eligible leagues, not just Gerrmany, so asking for input on Bundeliga Lays would be of limited value for the other leagues. I imagine lays in less popular leagues would need a larger average adjustment. 

The SBC (Secret Betting Club) I have little knowledge of (the 'Secret' always puts me in mind of Enid Blyton for some reason, and seems a bit silly when they promote themselves so actively on Twitter) but asking them how they proof Lay bets in general isn't a bad idea. And as mentioned earlier, the selections are not the product of a model so they can proof at will - the only variable would be how they decide which selections around the evens point are qualifiers. I personally have lays that are unofficial because the Pinnacle price is above 2.0.

The negativity floating around was alleviated somewhat by a positive comment from an Erskine Cup semi-finalist (Gecko - not his real name - is it?) still in with a chance of winning, unlike me - he wrote:
ps read your comments and hope you do continue this, I appreciate the amount of work (I was a mod on OLBG for many years and scored a number of comps on there, took huge amount of time and often wondered why I bothered!) but some people really do appreciate it and I'm in that category so thanks very much for all the hard work

hope I can carry on my decent spell and if I manage to win anything I will hopefully be able to donate some back to next season's pot

anyway, good luck to you and others this w/end and I'm very wary of the pommie underdog lol
I'll decide on next season later. I suspect this season's bonus contributions from Ian Erskine and Betcast, and the bounty offers from Football Elite, Football Investor, Skeeve and The Football Analyst may be a one-off, but I appreciate the comment.

Graeme, proprietor of TFA, was bemoaning the general misfortunes for services right now:
Hard to keep updating the ratings at the moment if I'm honest but I've been here a few times before. No doubt we're due an upturn again. If the other main ratings services were coining it in at the moment, I'd be seriously worried about my ratings. From what I'm seeing from blogs and via emails, the other ratings services are having an identical run to TFA. Not much good for anyone following all of us in a portfolio unfortunately but it shows it's a wider issue here than just my ratings. It's always hard to explain losing runs like this and I'm not sure anyone can.
I know how he feels, since the Cassini Value Selections are having a poor season after a strong performance last season. The strange thing about last season was that the low number of draws meant a loss on the XX Draws, while it was Away wins that appeared to make up the numbers. This season it's the reverse as the draws are back, but Homes are vanishing! Yet another reminder not to read too much into small samples. 
As for the question of where are the draws going, and in support of my “diminishing home advantage at the top level” theory, the answer is that they are almost all becoming Away wins.
Of the 63 Draws ‘lost’ this (2013-14) season (based on 9 year averages because Serie A changed increased its membership in 2004-05), only one of them became a Home win, while a massive, and almost unbelievable, 62 (98.4%) became Away wins.
As Danny suggested a few weeks ago, Jamie also, not unreasonably, suggests that the Cassini Value Selections may have been beneficiaries of the draw drought. I accepted this possibility at the time, (obviously fewer draws means more homes and aways) but having looked at the numbers, since these value selections are almost always home selections in the 2.0 to 2.6 price range, it is obvious that if they have benefited at all from the dearth of draws, it is only by the minutest of margins.
The fact is that this season, anyone selecting anything other than away teams, would have struggled to meet expectations. The decline in draws is only one piece of the puzzle. The other side of this is why the Away win numbers are so high this season?
For those who like numbers, here are the 9-year averages across Europe, followed by 2013-14's results:
Away wins were at record (10 year) highs in England, France, Italy and Spain. Only Germany failed to set a new high, although they were still 8 wins above their 10-year average of 89.
With still a little over 25% of the season to go, (818 played) the Homes, Draws and Aways are on course for the following totals:
The recurrence of 818 is a coincidence. Homes are down again (spectacularly in Serie A), Draws are returning to their long-term average, and Aways are down on last season's high, but continue to push the average higher each season.
It's Happy Birthday blog today, in case any of you missed it. Seven years, 1960 posts, 3463 comments, and over a million page views. I must be doing something right, even if the last year has been rather dominated by FTL updates. Apart from the time it takes, one other downside of running the FTL is that time that might have been spent on general blog posts is now taken up with posts on the FTL. While this may be fascinating to the 28 entrants, I’m told by friends that it doesn’t make for a particularly riveting read for the vast majority of viewers.

Although I've not used them for many years, at one time I did have funds invested with WBX )World Bet Exchange) and they featured in the banner for this blog. This week saw their demise however,
A note from the CEO, Malcolm Gray:
To our loyal members and affiliates,
I have always taken a long view with WBX and believed that we'd become a genuine alternative to Betfair on the strengths of our great platform and commitment to putting every exchange player back in control. Unfortunately the business strategy is no longer viable due to the rising costs of regulatory compliance and levies in the United Kingdom, along with the increasingly prohibitive stance of various betting jurisdictions.
Though I am of course disappointed that WBX is closing, I am proud of my team and the fairness in which the exchange has operated for almost 10 years.
Please rest assured that WBX will continue to service its Members and affiliates in the same spirit during the wind-down period.
Thank you for your support.
And finally get well soon wishes to Football Investor Stewboss.
I am currently taking a break from the service as I have been certified unfit to work by a doctor. I hope to return on the 24th March and the next update will be 26th March.

Sorry for any inconvenience caused.
Stew's ailment doesn't sound too serious fortunately, but it explains his inactivity this weekend.  

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