Thursday, 19 March 2015

FTL Update 18.March

Are midweek rounds tougher to predict than weekend? It certainly feels that way, and something to look at after the season perhaps, but this midweek round cost the FTL as a whole another 23.74 points, and with only eleven entries active, that was relatively high. There were only two winners - the big winner was Mortimer, who recovered from a slide into the red at the weekend with a strong rebound back into the green after gaining 3.87 points and five places, and the other was @ValueBankFooty with a more modest gain of 0.66 points.

Less successful were TFA_Raz who replaced Mortimer in the red after losing 5.92 points and dropping seven places, Graeme's TFA Bounty Entry Draws which lost 5.00 points and Sjosta who fell to last place after losing 6.46 points. lost 2.41 points, but hangs on to the lead, while Fairfranco and Football Elite both lost 3.00 points. Talkies Tips lost 2.00 points, while Mountain Mouse and Drawmaster lost peanuts.

The 16 entries remaining in profit are:

The bottom half of the table looks like this:
With an international break coming up, the March monthly competition is closer to wrapping up than you might think. The leaders are:
No one has yet won two monthly prizes, but Mortimer and can both so just that if they can pass Gecko who may be distracted by the Erskine Cup, because this weekend the semi-finals are here. The two ties are:
With three of the top six competing, the line-up is stronger than at one time appeared likely, and Talkies Tips is everyone's favourite as a big underdog representing England against Australia. 

Tictac left a comment, asking:
Hi, what are the rules for the FTL, for e.g. which bookmakers are/aren't allowed, and what is the time range in which you can take odds (e.g. are opening lines allowed)?
I would possibly be interested in joining next season, who is/isn't allowed to enter?
The basic rules are detailed here, but we're getting ahead of ourselves since I'm not sure what my plans are for next season yet and Tictac's planning his tactics already. With most weeks having action at the weekend and in midweek, there's a lot of work involved. Five or six hours a week is probably not too far off, and although I quite enjoy this kind of thing, it does take up a lot of time.

My impression is that at least some people have enjoyed it. The top four were not household names before, and that certainly hasn't changed! From those who run services, feelings are probably mixed. For myself, the current success of the XX Draws and the disappointment of the Value Selections is a complete 180 from last season, when the Value Selections topped the table and the Draws lost nearly 33 points. I can't speak for Matt, Stewboss, Graeme, Skeeve or Peter, but I'm guessing they were hoping to be a little higher by this stage of the season. Still a few weeks to go, but unless things change quite a bit, I'm not sure the Bounty offers will be as generous next season if there is one.

Other changes that might go before the Rules Committee could include a bonus for the top places so that the incentive to place higher is greater, and whether to continue to use Pinnacle's prices given their exit in mid season from the UK market.

Whether or not to accept Lay bets, or how to settle them will also be looked at. While the formula for settling odds-on selections was based on the real prices attainable on Betfair (recent examples from the weekend are lays of Moenchengladbach at 1.74 on Pinnacle laid at 1.79 on Betfair, Eintracht Frankfurt (1.73 and 1.74) and Augsburg (2.0 and 2.0). 0.025 has been a reasonable average over the years, but using a flat average obviously isn't ideal.

The much respected Joseph Buchdahl, author of the excellent Fixed Odds Sports Betting - Statistical Forecasting And Risk Management commented:
"a winning lay at 2.00 will be recorded as a profit of 0.98 points."
Pinnacle Sports don't offer margins of 0.5%. If -0.5 is 2.000, a typical price for +0.5 will be 1.9 to 1.92 for a high volume market.

You could never make a profit of 0.98 from a 1 unit stake betting on a football market where one option is priced at 2.000 at Pinnacle.
Saturday's timely example of Augsburg at exactly 2.0 shows that there is no right or wrong answer here. Augsburg were a Bundeslayga selection (just) priced at evens with Pinnacle as a back, yet also layed at exactly 2.0 on Betfair:
I think Joseph may think I am in the business of verifying systems, but the FTL is more concerned about relative results than actual results, although the closer to actual that they are, the better. The other issue with Lays is that they are only possible on exchanges and we should really allow for commission if we were looking for actual returns, but for FTL purposes, the Lay is an abstract calculation.
To give you some context and background here, the calculation you are referencing is from the Friendly Tipster League – it’s a season long private (28 individuals), friendly contest and is not, and is not intended to be, a verification service of any kind reporting precise numbers. I leave that kind of thing up to you!
Several established tipster services are participants, but the expectation is not that their official returns will match those of the FTL. Rather it affords them the opportunity to show-piece their talents and the merits of their selections relative to others.
You refer to the settlement of a Lay bet, and unfortunately as you know, because Lays are only available on exchanges, Lay prices can only ever be approximations derived from the published back prices.
There is thus no “correct” number, but the formulae proposed (based on empirical evidence) were accepted by everyone entering at the start of the season - although following one nightmare of a weekend when one entrant submitted close to 100 bets, many of them higher priced Lays, I realised that simply adding 0.05 to the back price for these wasn’t adequate, and the rule for these was updated, published and implemented moving forward.
Again, the Profit and Loss numbers are used solely for comparison purposes within the FTL rather than intended to reflect accurately what returns could be expected in the real world.
Indeed, Pinnacle’s prices can often be beaten, and perhaps shouldn’t be used given their exit from the UK market in mid-season, but my opinion is that they are a decent benchmark and the fewer changes that are made once a competition starts, the better.
The settlement rules are not, and never can be, perfect if we are allowing for abstract bets other than Backs to be included. Unfortunately there is no industry standard for recording bets, even for traditional Backs, never-mind artificially derived Lays. However, the demand to allow Lay selections in the competition was apparent, and a simple (if imperfect formula) was proposed and accepted for use in the FTL. The same rules apply to everyone, and are certainly (at least in my opinion), an improvement on earlier seasons, and I’m sure they will continue to be improved upon if the FTL continues in future seasons.
If anyone has any other constructive suggestions for a returning FTL let me know. I'd also like to know if the Erskine Cup idea should be continued, and also the monthly prizes. Perhaps four quarterly prizes would be better? Any sponsors interested? This season, Ian Erskine and Betcast generously chipped in but then went very quiet early on.

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