Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Orioles Fly South After Empty Nest Syndrome

Most of you will be aware of the recent events in Baltimore, which have led to two Orioles games being postponed, and the third in the series against the Chicago White Sox will be played behind closed doors tonight, which I am pretty sure is a first for Major League Baseball.

Pinnacle Sports Tweeted:
Although the Tweet implies that home field advantage is a given, the truth is that any home field advantage in baseball is small at best. The one exception is the Colorado Rockies who benefit from playing in Denver, a mile above sea level, but for some teams home advantage is negligible.

In the ten seasons (plus this one) from 2005, the Baltimore Orioles have won 411 games at home, and lost 407, which is 50.2%. Seven of those ten seasons they lost more games at home than they won, although to be fair, the last three years have all been winning ones.

The Orioles' 'home' games this weekend (Friday thru Sunday) will now be played in St Petersburg versus the Tampa Bay Rays with the Orioles still the official home team, but in baseball, the starting pitcher holds the key to the odds rather than where the game is being played.

FTL Update 28.April

Better late than never, but here is the weekend FTL wrap-up starting with the overall loss of 18.67 points taking the grand total to 228.66 points. The big winner of the round was Draw Picks who moved into profit making 8.56 points. Next best was BettingTools.co.uk who moved back up into second place after gaining 6.70 points. Mountain Mouse reduced his losses by 3.18 points, and as I mentioned yesterday, the two Erskine Cup Finalists Gecko and Randolph tied with both making 2.13 points. Gecko continues to lead the table by a comfortable 25 points.

The entries in negative territory are:

The big loser this round was Talkies Tips, who lost 9.74 points despite his best efforts:
As usual I've spent the whole week crunching various stats and numbers, examined the in play analysis of the history of all teams involved going back 80 years, looked at the players weaknesses and strengths based on biological family history dating back to the 18th century and have come up with the following sure fire 100% nailed on picks for the weekend.
I was suitably impressed, until he cleared things up with:
Actually, I've just spent 5 mins scanning through the various odds, not that you could have guessed :)
We guessed. Next biggest loser was Sjosta, who dropped another 6.82 points, and in fact none of the bottom third made a profit. TFA Euro Draws lost 4.95 points, TFA_Raz lost 4.74 points and Rubicon 4.31 points.

April/May is the worst month overall so far, with losses totalling 96.64 points. It was mentioned on Twitter by TFA's Graeme that:
The weekend Graeme highlights marked a turning point for FTL entries overall. Going in to the weekend, the net profit was at the all-time high of 64.28 points. As mentioned above, the total net loss is now 228.66 points, quite a loss in just three months and a bit, and not everyone is following Graeme's selections.

The Bounty Boys portfolio along with their liabilities now looks like this:
With a few matches this midweek, I'll have another update before the weekend.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Replay

With a full round of La Liga matches in midweek, and a few more in the EPL, Serie A and Ligue 1, my focus has been on updating the spreadsheet and getting the selections sent out rather than a full write up on the FTL.


I'll do that tomorrow, but one amazing coincidence happened which I shall now bore you with. Having mistakenly thought that Randolph was a no-show for the final, (Randolph and Mortimer have the same owner), Randolph in fact had 8 entries, with Gecko sending in 23. It looked pretty close as the results came in, but when the official numbers were added up, Randolph and Gecko had both made a profit of exactly 2.13 points. Quite incredible. They replay next weekend.

Here are the entries in profit, with a write-up tomorrow:
I also made an error in judgement by publishing a comment (now removed) without reading it carefully. Lazy Trader wrote:
Please take down Jeremie's advert, enough people get scammed without you giving them a leg up
The comment in question was from a Jeremie Outmezguine who said...
Courtsiding is a big advantage for scalping. I do it from time to time at tennis. You can offer lay bets and cancel them when the point or the service is not going in your way. You don't need real value to be successful.
I manage wallets for customers. If somebody is interested, he/she can contact me at xxxxxxxx@gmail.com. I also have a facebook side.
P.S. Nice blog!
I'm not even sure what a "wallet manager" does, but a quick search reveals that this French tennis trader has been posting similar comments a lot in recent days. e.g.
Hello
I am a betfair trader from Paris. Mainly I work on tennis and horse markets. I manage some wallets for customers. If you are interested you can contact me at xxxxxxxxx@gmail.com.
Regards, Jerry
Be warned - not that any readers would be stupid enough to investigate I'm sure. The dead give-away is the suggestion that:
You don't need real value to be successful...
If anyone has any more information on this character, let me know.  

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Ordinary Man

On the topic of BBC's coverage of court-siding, The Fear wrote of the Betfair Forum:

I didn't think the programme acted as much of a selling point for Betfair. It all seemed a bit like the ordinary man on the street has no chance against people live at the event with automated systems. Steer clear. Disappointing they choose not to have a spokesman give an alternative view, because there must be people on here who have won a lot of money without resorting to fast pix and what an advert for Betfair that would be.
I fear The Fear is deluding himself if he believes the ordinary man in his flat does have a realistic chance of long-term success competing against others with automated systems and live data.

As I pointed out on the thread:
How could he? Any time he gets matched, it is at a price others with more information know is poor value. It's possible that the court-sider is stupid and doesn't know how to use his advantage, and this may have been true in the past, but today these groups are all a lot more efficient.
DStyle (a former commenter here) suggested that:
being first is just one part of in play betting.
but I fear he too is not thinking this through. What they are suggesting just doesn't make sense if we assume the court-siding operation knows what they are doing (and it seems reasonable to assume they do, or they will soon be out of business) and are able to accurately price an in-play event.

To make money from trading long-term, you need to be able to get matched at a price greater than the true price - i.e you need value on your side. When several people are ahead of you on game state information, why would there be any value for you to pick up? In an inefficient market, this may be possible, but the presence of organised, professional court-sider groups, means that such markets are now very efficient.

This is not to say that a skilled (knowledgeable) trader can't get close to value during breaks in games, but to do so does mean that they need to be as good at identifying value as the court-sider people, and since they are doing this full-time and will see more live than the man in his flat can see on TV, the probability of that seems somewhat unlikely.

If anyone thinks that a few seconds disadvantage can be easily overcome, the point may be easier understood by thinking of the delay as minutes rather than seconds. Value doesn't wait around for long - it gets snapped up by the first person with funds available to recognise it.

Being first may be "just one part of in-play betting", but it's a very big part. Overcoming such a disadvantage seems as likely as dropping a £20 note at the bus stop on your way to work, and it still being there for you to pick up on your way home from work later that day.

Short-term, of course it is possible to win without value, but over the long-term it is not.

Erskine Cup Final 'Half'-Time Update

The Erskine Cup Final this weekend is pretty close going into the last day (today) with the two entrants taking different approaches. It's not often that a cup finalist fails to show up, but Randolph took that approach, presumably hoping that in-form Gecko's winning run will come to an abrupt end, while the latter has 23 entries this weekend. After Saturday and 18 bets, Gecko looks to be provisionally close to break even, which means the (virtual) Cup (and a very real £150) will be decided by his remaining five selections (with current prices):
Arsenal v Chelsea DRAW (3.26)
Atalanta v Empoli HOME (2.54)
Parma v Palermo DRAW (3.41)
Groningen v Feyenoord HOME (4.66)
Zwolle v Ajax DRAW (4.76)
Gecko is, of course, going for the Double, which would be quite an impressive feat, and he is actually winning the final monthly competition of the season as well, just to rub it in.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

FTL Update 22.April

Not much interest in the handful of midweek matches - all those in action are below, along with the leaders.

BettingTools.co.uk struggled again, and slip to third in the table after losing 6.00 points, while Mortimer and TFA_Raz both had small losses. All the Bounty Boys were idle.

On an old, but still ongoing, topic, I see the BBC has an article on court-siding, and Sporting Data's Daniel Dobson specifically.

Former Betfair Senior Product Manager Steve High is also featured:
This has led many other syndicates to employ courtsiders. Steve High says he has been told reliably that 75 people were at last year's Wimbledon final, "sending information back or betting on their own".
Remember that, next time you think you have an edge trading tennis in-play, and be aware that court-siders are now present at more events than tennis.  

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Pitch, Click, Strike

One of my better baseball photographs, with a 90+mph fastball captured between batter and catcher.

Something I hadn't noticed before, because you can only see it from a certain angle, is the close relationship between the catcher and the plate umpire, who actually uses the former's shoulder to balance himself as he calls the balls and strikes.

FTL Update 20.April

Rounding the final turn of this season long marathon now, and sprinting clear of the field is Australia's Gecko who added another 8.02 points to his total at the weekend and now leads second placed BettingTools.co.uk by more than 24 points after the latter's 13.42 point loss at the weekend. Quite a turnaround for Gecko in the last two months, picking up 48.63 points since mid-February.

Overall the total loss was a modest 5.53 points. TFA Graeme was the big winner of the round, with his Bounty Draw entry making 7.02 points and importantly for him three places, while his European division fared almost as well making 5.71 points and while not moving him up any places, the gap between 32nd and 33rd (last) increases to close to 30 points with Sjosta dropping another 3.25 points.

First and last places look set, but there's still plenty to play for. Here are the fifteen entries currently in profit:

Jamie A was another big winner, picking up 6.21 points, and in a poor round for the leaders, XX Draws was the only other entry in profit by a meagre 1.54 points. Mortimer dropped 2.05 points, Bounty Boy Football Elite 2.00 points (one place), and there were smaller losses for XX Unders (-1.57), OverGoalify (-1.00), Bundeslyaga (-0.74) and Fairfranco (-0.57).

The group down by less than ten points, and who also happen to be currently in line for at least one bounty payment, are:
Skeeve is a Bounty Boy himself, and dropped 1.12 points and out of the green, while Fulltimebettingblog lost 3.24 points, Draw Picks made 0.22 points which brings us to those down by more than ten points and currently looking at leaving empty handed, although three have picked up Erskine Cup money (Talkies Tips / @ValueBankFooty) or a monthly prize (Rubicon) along the way. As it stands, 23 of the 33 entrants will receive some money from this venture.
Drawmaster recovered 2.41 points and Cassini Value 0.42 points. Further (very small) losses were incurred by TFA_Raz (-0.20) and Talkies Tips (-0.60), but Bounty Boy Football Investor dropped 7.32 points and five places. I refunded the previous week's losses because, as Stewboss pointed out, the selections had not been entered by him that week and it is not fair to include them. The Bounty Boys portfolio and current liabilities are shown below:
Leaders in the monthly (April / May) competition are:
Not too much FTL eligible action in midweek, but there are a few so there will be a midweek update. 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

NBA Play-Offs 2015

The NBA play-offs begin today, with "my" long-time favourite NBA team finishing the season with the best record (67:15) but with 'only' a 29.4% implied probability of winning the title.

Since 1984, when the NBA expanded to a 16-team play-off system, 14 best regular season teams have gone on to win, i.e. 45%. The Golden State Warriors are also a better than average best team, and of the nine teams finishing with a record of between 65 and 69 wins, seven have gone on to win it all.

I suspect the relatively easy route to the final for LeBron James and his Cavaliers in the weaker Eastern Conference is a factor, as is the late season form of the current champion San Antonio Spurs - 11 consecutive wins before dropping the final (meaningless) game of the season. 

The Spurs may also have a psychological edge having won in Oakland and taking the season series 2-1. San Antonio also has the edge on experience,  although arguably their most valuable player is the young Kawhi Leonard. I think there is value on San Antonio right now - I have them at 1.47 to beat the Los Angeles Clippers in the First Round and 1.6+ is available, or you can back them to win the Championship with a view to trading out later of course.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

FTL Update 15.April

A fairly quiet midweek, but the losses took the overall season total below the -200 point level. This total does include the weekend results from Football Investor and TFA Draws which were included belatedly after Graeme had forwarded them on. Why they both were lost is a mystery for now, but as services with clients I have no doubt as to the veracity of the selections.

So to midweek, and most of the action was in the bottom half of the table. The big losers contributing to a loss on the round of 2.94 points were Sjosta who lost 11.00 points, @ValueBankFooty who lost 8.50 points and TFA_Raz who lost 7.00 points.


Those three are having a bad month:
Other losers were Drawmaster (-2.63) and Talkies Tips (-2.92) who included his favourite team along with some words of advice:
 Portsmouth (No really, stop laughing)
They lost unfortunately, and while it is funny watching someone fall over, it's not quite so funny when they fall into the path of a train, lose both legs, and are on life-support in a financially induced coma with barely a pulse. There's always next season, although Talky will probably be watching Premier League football at local rivals AFC Bournemouth by then. I have fond memories of trips to Dean Court, although since the last one involved the police and subsequent (mistaken identity I might add) ejections and arrests, I shall say no more.
Why Portsmouth are absent that list, I've no idea.

At the top end of the table, there were no changes in position as BettingTools.co.uk dropped 0.63 points and Mortimer 0.91 points. BettingTools was on the wrong end of Burton Albion's 99th minute equaliser v Carlisle United.

Midweek rounds are statistically proven ;) to be tougher than weekend, and conclusive proof was provided by the fact that only two entries were profitable - Mountain Mouse added 2.22 points and keeping with the 2s moved up 2 places, while TFA Draws made 1.43 points but remains in 21st place.

The table in full is:
At -78.85, this month is already the worst of the season, and we're only half-way through.

August thru December +48.98; January on -259.85

Statistical proof ;) that it is easier to beat the market in the first half of the season than the second, although Skeeve would probably disagree!

The April/May monthly leaders (i.e. the handful in profit) includes thee of the Bounty Boys:

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Hollymeoak Road

Some of my Cassini ancestors hail from North London. My grandfather lived in Romilly Road in Finsbury Park, not too far from Highbury, and was a lifelong Arsenal fan, always referring to them as "The" Arsenal as they were known for a time.  Perhaps Cass is an anglicised version of Cassini? I came across the above "Letter to the Editor" while doing some research, and another coincidence is that my grandfather later lived in a road called Hollymeoak Road! Very similar - life is full of strange coincidences.

Monday, 13 April 2015

FTL Update 12.April And Bye Brulati

Rather unusually, there is no FTL interest in the Monday night games, so we can wrap up the weekend round a little earlier than usual. Once again, the entrants overall were down on the round, but only by 9.89 points, and more entries were actually  in profit than deficit. Conclusive proof that weekends are easier than the midweek rounds :)


The biggest loser by a long way was TFA_Raz who dropped 15.77 points and ten places, a loss that dwarfed the losses for the XX Unders (-5.85 points) and XX Draws (-4.68 points). The avalanche of goals (16) in the four Bundesliga selections was responsible for eight points. Talkies Tips lost 4.19 points, and in his own words was already "losing the will to live with these now" so I hope we see him back with more later. The final loser was Jamie A who lost 3.30 points.    

The big winner was Gecko who made 7.23 points and moved ahead of BettingTools.co.uk in first place. BettingTools made 3.84 points, slightly less than Mortimer (+4.06 points) and Drawmaster (+3.89).

Here are the 16 entries currently in profit:
Bounty Boys Football Elite and Skeeve were the only ones active this week, with FE adding 2.42 and climbing three places and Skeeve moving into profit after making 3.08 points and moving up two places.

The entries currently in the red are:
Draw Picks made 1.57 points, @ValueBankFooty made 1.41 points, and Cassini Value added 2.41 points which was enough to hold the lead in the April/May monthly competition:
The portfolio totals are:
There were 11 draws in the 45 Big Five leagues (24.4%) and 14 from 48 in the Lower Four (29.2%) - mostly in League One where 7 of the 12 matches finished level. 

A full slate of domestic matches on the midweek schedule, although with these statistically proven to be tougher than the weekend rounds, I may have a quiet week :)

The other day I mentioned longevity and blogging, and we have another casualty in Brulati (Bruce Lay Trading) who has decided to call it quits after 127 posts and an attempt at trading professionally. I've strongly advised in the past against anyone quitting a job to trade full-time, and Brulati's comments only reinforce that opinion:
I was lucky or let's better say hard working to get again a great job. For me it's clear that not even the best sportstrader can earn that much money in the long term. Beside I will have less stress, pension fund, more holidays and a social life. Now I know why Sultan was irritated when I told him that I quited a great job to be a sportstrader... Honestly it was one of the most stupid decisions I made. At least I could correct this mistake. The life as trader is everything, but not easy (99% are not successful!) and not well paid neither (when you consider the stress, the missed holidays and so on). The lesson I made was hard, but helpful.
Great news that Brulati has got back onto the career ladder. It's not something to be thrown away lightly, although I can understand why people would have been tempted in the pre-Premium Charge days.

The introduction of the PC has clearly made a difference, and I know from my own experience that the markets are a lot more efficient these days than they were ten years ago. Brulati also wrote:
In the end only platforms like Betfair or betting companies make profit. There is no added value in trading sportsmarkets. If two people make a bet, one will win and the other one will lose. Over long term both will lose, because Betfair (and the other companies) takes the margin. In the beginning "only" 6.5%, later when you are lucky and a bit successful more and more. Perhaps there are small exceptions (for example Sultan?!) which can be successful for a short time period. Latest with a premium charge of 60% also these people have no realistic chance to make a decent income. I think this is the main reason why Sultan will quit...
Unfortunately, as I wrote yesterday, markets change and edges can vanish overnight. While there are still opportunities when trading true trading sports in-play, they are fewer and farther between now. An edge that existed for several years can vanish overnight, for example if court/pitch-siders decide to show up.

It doesn't mean that there was never an edge - it simply means that the markets adapted. It's highly improbable that the Super Premium threshold would be reached if one didn't have an edge, certainly not from a starting deposit of less than £100!

Mark Iverson exploited inefficiencies in certainly the cricket and NFL markets, (we both had different strategies for the latter, but both made money), but Mark, like many others, has found it harder / slower going once the Super PC is hit. Slow is fine if you are part-time though, but at some point your time should have more value.

Betting is a fun hobby, albeit frustrating and challenging at times, but I can only imagine how stressful it must be if you are relying on it to generate an income. Even if you have the skill to identify an edge, you know that someone else will sooner or later come along with the same strategy. Make hay (in your spare time) while the sun shines, and the best of luck to Brulati in his future endeavours.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Peaks And Troughs, Crystal Palace Style

Although the Daily Mail is not a newspaper I admire, I found this quote from the delightful Rebecca Lowe, NBC'S football (soccer) presenter and Crystal Palace fan, amusing:

Lowe herself is a lifelong Crystal Palace fan, and had one eye on their stunning 4-1 win at Sunderland. As she told the LA Times recently, tongue in cheek, her support of Palace is not a sign that she can’t recognise good football.
'I hope that people look at me and say she actually knows football because to be a Crystal Palace fan, you have to really want to be in football,’ she said. ‘It’s not easy being a Crystal Palace fan. I could pick United or City or Chelsea or Arsenal and I probably would have had a much happier childhood.’
In typical Daily Mail style, they didn't publish the entire quote which continued in the LA Times article with:
But it wouldn't have had the color, the peaks and the troughs that I've enjoyed as a Crystal Palace fan. It just gives you a better perspective on success and failure.
Regular readers will know that Crystal Palace have been my club since 1967 when neighbour Bernard Ingham (now a Sir) took me to see them play Birmingham City, and what Rebecca Lowe says about perspective is very true. Not to get too flowery about it, but life isn't usually one long story of success (or failure) and to fully appreciate the better moments in life, you need to have experienced some disappointments.

It's the same with football. For supporters of the bigger teams, failing to win trophies is failure. For supporters of clubs like Crystal Palace, success is finishing 17th or higher. The manner in which Palace have progressed since the dark days of 2010 is nothing short of remarkable. 

Four Palace supporting co-owners rescue the club, and admittedly with a little good fortune perhaps, find the club qualifying for the play-offs in 2013. Beating rivals Brighton and Hove Albion on the way to the Premier League was a nice touch, and while it was a great day out at Wembley for the final versus Watford, promotion felt a little lucky, and the stay in the Premier League likely to be brief, as Palace's visits had always been up to that time.

Some great decisions from Steve Parish and the board on managerial changes have been crucial. When Dougie Freedman chose to head towards the wealth of Bolton Wanderers (how times change) there was no panic. Ian Holloway's appointment was perfect at the time, and when things didn't work out in the Premier League for him, he [Ian Holloway] held up his hands and walked, and deserves a lot of credit for doing so early enough in the season for a new manager to have the opportunity to turn things around.  He did.

Tony Pulis's appointment was again perfect at the time, but so was the Chairman's decision not to give in to Pulis's demands and jeopardise the club's future on the eve of this season. 

We'll overlook Neil Warnock's appointment. When a manager departs less than 48 hours before a new season, it's not easy to find the right man. Warnock was a former Palace manager, but the move didn't work out. Decisions don't always work out on life. Today we have another former Palace man - the legendary Alan 'Super Al' Pardew - taking the club from strength to strength. 
The Elite
When you have lived through the unfulfilled hopes of  being the 'Team of the Eighties', and seen the promise of the early 90s evaporate with a couple of decades of yo-yoing and relative mediocrity, it's easy to stay grounded, but it's getting harder. 

The club is being very well run, with the owners building a solid foundation and not being reckless with the riches of the Premier League and the success (relative, we've yet to win anything), is all the more delicious when considered along with the sour taste of previous disappointments.

Some of my best memories have come from following Palace. Promotion to Division One in 1969, FA Cup run to the semi-final  as a Third Division side in 1975-76, a 4:2 win at Wrexham in 1977 with two injury time goals and a third-choice keeper making his debut, promotions galore (often soon followed by relegation), crammed in to the main stand with 50,000+ other fans for the promotion game v Burnley in 1979, the Cup Semi-Final 4:3 win versus Liverpool in 1990 (25 years ago this week), winning the Zenith Data Systems Cup in 1991 at Wembley, plus play-off successes and big wins along the way. 

The disappointments fade faster from the memory, but they are still there, part of the rich tapestry of life and all part of supporting a real team like Crystal Palace.

Nibbling Headlands

A certain Zooot (possibly not his real name) had this comment on the Betfair Forum, which includes a rather eloquently phrased final sentence: 
Identifying value with confidence and consistently is very hard. The market punishes you if you step outside the value zone and all the while commission is leaking away your profits. Plus the market is continually shifting and adjusting for a host of reasons so just as you pin something down it shifts.
I once had a system working for thousands of bets and it all seemed logical and predictable and riches beckoned. Then it shifted for no reason I can pin down and became loss making. Even a large sample size is no guarantee. You need thousands of bets to know if you have a genuine edge. Analysing past data with sample sizes of say 1000 races, will show up apparent patterns all over the place that will slowly disappear as the sample size grows. Some were real and changed over time, some were just wrinkles in the randomness.
By the time your sample size is large enough it is quite possible the market has shifted or adapted and your edge is gone before you were ready to scale up to target it.
The market has a quite amazing ability to adjust itself to remove any advantage someone(s) may spot. Just like the ocean likes straight and slightly curved beaches and works away at headlands and outcrops to create these, the market nibbles away at the value points to remove them to move towards accuracy.
The key here is that third paragraph. By the time your sample size is large enough to 'prove' an edge, paradoxically, the edge will no longer exist. The fact that markets are ever-changing is exactly why a purely statistical approach can't work. You're not competing against the market. You, and all those you are competing against, ARE the market.

Returning to the argument about passive versus active funds, I recently found the below quote:
As Scott Adams famously said:
I can think of many cases in which I would recommend active money managers over index funds. For example, I might be giving the advice to someone I hate or—and this happens a lot—someone I expect to hate later. I would also recommend active money managers if I were accepting bribes to do so, if I were an active money manager myself, or if it were April Fools' Day. And let's also consider the possibility that I might be drunk, stupid or forced to say things at gunpoint. I've also heard good things about a German emotion called schadenfreude, so that could be a factor too.
It's a topic much discussed here previously, but the spin on the 'long term' seemed apt in regard to finding an edge in betting.

I think the cognoscenti among us, those in Super Premium Charge territory or with a proven track record of success, would agree that the 'blink' aspect of betting is under-estimated. If not a 'blink' component, certainly there's an element of a bet 'feeling' right. I've written before that I know I'm in trouble when I place a bet and my body reacts:
While I don't consciously have an amount that I am comfortable betting, my body soon lets me know if I've over committed - and my wife can hear my breathing pattern change to heavy, so she knows as well and stays away! A side benefit of this is that I am able to watch hours of "When Girls Go Wild" videos without fear of interruption, although they are nowhere near as exciting as "When Bots Go Wild". So I'm told.
Another thought is that the perfect is the enemy of the good, an issue previously discussed here. In my experience, it's better to jump on a trend (staking sensibly) and ride it until the (almost) inevitable end than sit around waiting for the 'proof' that never comes. Good is still good, and lots of good adds up. If the trend appears to be fading or gone overnight, move on. Better to have bet and made something, than waited and made nothing.

Finally, I had an email from Flash, who wrote:
Hi, I tried contacting you on Twitter but you may have missed it.
I have started a sports betting blog: http://winnerswinonsports.com/
I was hoping that we could exchange blogroll links?
I had indeed missed the request as I seldom use Twitter other than for announcing the latest newsletter or for sending out an occasional brilliant or witty observation. Several Twitter users seem to have too much time on their hands, and with nothing positive to say, it's best to simply ignore a lot of the rather repetitive and boring Tweeters out there. Block and mute works well too!

I'll add Flash's blog if it survives the test of time, as I don't add blogs to my blog roll until they have been around for a while. I find that a lot of people start blogs full of enthusiasm and then after a few losses, give it all up. The link is in this post if you wish to check it out, although the latest post doesn't bode well for longevity, opening with:
A couple posts ago I wrote the best post this blog has ever seen; about my NBA bets. I mentioned that basketball is my favourite sport to watch, and to bet on. Unfortunately my recent basketball bets haven’t been very good. I’ll be honest with you, they’ve been ball-breakingly bad. I’m currently in the mist of my worst losing streak betting on hoops. I’ve gone 4-22, which includes a losing streak of 10.
"The best post this blog has ever seen" sounds good enough, until you see that there have been precisely FOUR previous posts. Well, there's that enthusiasm. Let's hope the profits come. There was also a typo mist by the proof-reader.

Another new blog is Bet Catalyst which covers many sports (Golf, MLBaseball, Football, Rugby Union, Cricket, NBA Basketball) as well as Horse Racing.

Friday, 10 April 2015

March Review Review

I was reading TFA Graeme's March 2015 review, and a couple of things grabbed my attention. As FTL followers will know, Draw based entries in general this season are down:

On his domestic (UK) Draws Systems, Graeme writes:
Difficult to explain what has happened apart from blame it on the underlying results. The draw strike rate is the lowest it has been since I started betting on footie and therefore, I would expect the Draw systems to make a loss over the season when the strike rate is so low but maybe not to this extent.
The Draw strike rate in England this season is indeed down on the previous 5 and 10 year averages:
The EPL numbers are in line with the averages, but Draws in the 'Lower Four' divisions are significantly fewer than the historical averages.

For the Euro Draws, Graeme uses the same top leagues that I follow, i.e. those in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
One piece of work I’m going to do in the Summer is calculate the returns from laying the draw (I’ll look at ditching the H/A or staking 0.5pts on H/A) in these systems this season. Of course, it could just be the case that these systems have suffered from enormous variance and we’ll see a correction next season but I’m obviously not going to have these systems in the service next season in their present guise.
I wonder what formula Graeme will be using to calculate the returns for the Lays?

For the top leagues, overall the Draws are hitting at their long-term (10 year) average, but there are some wild swings on the individual leagues.
As mentioned, the EPL is steady, but Serie A is having a very unusual season. Home wins are at their lowest, while Draws are at a high with the trend towards more Away wins in recent years also continuing.

Conversely in Ligue 1, the Draws are at a record low, the result of Away wins being at a high, and Home wins close to a High. Something has to give!

In La Liga, Away wins are also at a record high, with Draws slightly down, while in the always contrary Bundesliga, Away wins are at their lowest since 2005-06, with Draws benefiting.

Speaking of Germany, I had a nice (positive) email from Konfus: 
Thank you for your blog. I really enjoy reading your posts. I like the mixture of your writing style and the betting insights, both of which I (German betting newbie) can profit from.
Your last posts made me write this EMail (, together with the endorphines from my biggest - lic - daily profit of 55.55% from twelve league one and two bets today. Sometimes I love variance).
So thank you for your battle with statistics. Thank you for pointing out that a successful bettor has to be a generalist.
By generalist, Konfus means that to be successful in betting, you need to have several modest competencies rather than one area of specialist expertise.  

FTL Update 9.April

The Easter round is complete after the midweek round of La Liga matches is over, and the next one begins tonight. Another 18.06 points lost overall, with no changes at the top, although once again things have tightened up a little. BettingTools.co.uk's lead is now just 1.10 points after he dropped 3.59 points.

The big winners were FA_Raz (up 4.45 points and five places) and Football Investor, who made 2.26 points but also climbed five places and as a Bounty Boy (BB), each position counts.

XX Unders made 2.20 points from the Big Five midweek games and moved up one place into sixth place while smaller profits (i.e. less than one point) were made by Mortimer, Skeeve (BB) and XX Draws.

The big losers were @ValueBankFooty who lost 7.00 points, Drawmaster who lost 6.00 points (and four places) and Sjosta who lost 5.00 points.

TFA Draws (BB) loss of 3.13 points meant a four place drop, while Talkies Tips lost 3.12 points.

Football Elite (BB) lost 2.00 points and two places while Mountain Mouse lost 1.00 point.

OverGoalify had a couple of winners, but they were both late unfortunately. A reminder that to be fair to everyone, entries need to be in on time.

There are still 16 entries in profit, and they are:

The 17 in deficit are:
The Totals and Portfolio Totals are:
The Draw Portfolio continues to decline with only one of the five showing a profit currently, and the Bounty Boys likewise have just one member in profit.
Early days for the April / May final monthly prize, but the entries in profit to date are:
The Final of the Erskine Cup is just two weeks away with third placed Randolph competing against second placed Gecko for the £150 prize.
As for the FTL, the season is rapidly nearing its end. In Europe's Big Five there are just 63 games remaining in the Bundesliga, 70 in the EPL and Ligue 1, 80 in La Liga and 91 in Serie A.

In England, the Championship has 62 games remaining, League One 66, League Two 61 and the Conference just 41.

As of today, the win percentage for Home teams in these nine leagues is at a 10 year low (43.2%), while that for Away teams is at a 10 year high (31%).

In an article I wrote for Betting Expert almost a year ago, I wrote:
Last season’s [2013-14] low draw percentage of 20.5% is unlikely to be matched again, and the expectation is that the draws will fall somewhere close to 25.5% [97 draws]
With 70 matches remaining, the Draws percentage is currently sitting at 25.48% with 79 draws from 310 matches. I might actually get one prediction close to right.

Monday, 6 April 2015

FTL Interim Update 5.April

A quick update before the Bank Holiday matches later today.

No changes in position at the top, although BettingTools.co.uk extended his league by 1.94 points over Gecko who was doubly unfortunate. His disqualified entries which arrived after kick-off cost him 1.90 points while BettingTools one late and disqualified entry saved him one point as it was a loser.

The Friday thru Sunday matches saw losses of 11.92 points, the largest being the 7.02 points lost by TFA_Raz which dropped him seven places.

The biggest winner was the Cassini Value Selections which made 5.18 points. Jamie A made 3.38 points to move back into the green, as did Online Trader with a profit of 2.56 points.

Fulltimebettingblog made 3.14 points while Bounty Boys TFA Draws made 1.78 points and Football Elite made 0.54 points.

The 16 entries with their heads above water are:

Under water, we have:
Bounty Boys Skeeve and Football Investor lost 1.22 points and 3.70 points respectively, and Draw Picks lost another 3.49 points. After the February 10th round, Draw Picks was up a very healthy 20.94 points, but has since lost 27.47 points. Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster (also up more than 20 points at one time) had a small loss, as did TFA's Euro Draws.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Positivity And The Google Bot

I drew the attention of the always positive Ian Erskine to my last post, and he had this to say:

Firstly apologies re FTL, it was just a time issue with me for the bets on a Friday and then got out out of the routine as was busy elsewhere, be honest hadn't ready GAO for a good couple of months. Certainly wasn’t aimed at XX I know you use it for smaller ROI and to offset PC. I had two websites (I think the same owner) sending me bets daily on the draw asking FTS to promote none of which made any sense and of course lost heavily so it was a barbed dig at them.
Hope you're well and good to see Palace strong second half of the season!
The FTL was kick-started by Ian's generous £400 donation so I think we can excuse his failure to complete the season. I've had a rethink on the deadline for Football League / Conference FTL entries for the Bank Holiday Monday and decided to allow them up to kick-off. I'm not sure when the prices are going to be recorded anyway, and it gives people a little more time to process the results and data from Friday and Saturday's matches.

As for his Palace comments, not so fast please. I well remember Crystal Palace completing a lap of honour to celebrate Premier League survival in 1993 after beating Ipswich Town 3:1 on 1st May. That put Palace on 48 points, 8 clear of Oldham Athletic who had three games left.

Unfortunately Palace picked up just on point from their two remaining games, while Oldham somehow managed to win all three of theirs, sending Palace down on goal difference!

Palace do have a good chance of staying up, but they still have games against the Manchester teams as well as Chelsea and when you have followed Palace for as long as I have, you never take anything for granted.

A lot has changed in 22 years - fully half of the Premier League that season are no longer members, and five of the top seven teams were Aston Villa, Norwich City, Blackburn Rovers, Queens Park Rangers and Sheffield Wednesday. Ian's Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea were 8th thru 11th respectively.
 
It's very concerning that Ian hadn't read GAO for a 'good couple of months'. Some people check back several times a day, so whatever it is that Ian finds more fascinating than this blog, I think we should be told!

Seriously, I know Ian is busy planning some changes for his service which you can read about here.

On the subject of multiple visits, Marty wrote:
I suspect Denmark has google now installed so it keeps polling your site to see if it has changed.
There is actually a Google bot that does stop by occasionally:

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Rant And Response

FTL sponsor Ian Erskine is a hugely successful punter, and is a shining example of what can be achieved with a positive mindset and disciplined approach. To the best of my knowledge, he is not a qualified statistician, but he knows his way around a spreadsheet, understands value, and likes to go on the occasional rant.

His latest ranting is in full here, but this paragraph caught my attention:
Those services that back the draw need to overturn a deficit of -341 points, I don't care what they say they are not going to do it with any success. Backing home and away teams in every game again encounters losses both actually almost the same again betting the home team or away team on Betfair in every game. Now that is how hard football is and that is the starting point. To profit you need to select games that can overturn that negative start and then of course find enough of them to make it worthwhile.
The proof-reader may have skipped over the second sentence there, but what Ian is saying is that in the long-term, backing or laying all home, draw or away selections isn't going to be profitable. This should not come as a surprise to anyone of course, and with the draws generally priced with an implied probability of 33% or less, draw backers are on the wrong side of the favourite-longshot bias.

With not too many services backing the draw, Ian may well have had the XX Draws in mind when he wrote that, but looking at the Big Five leagues (EPL, Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga) for the two full seasons from 2012-14 using Pinnacle Sports prices, backing every draw would have resulted in a loss of 253.66 points from 3,652 matches (five matches did not have Pinnacle prices, so the average prices were used).

The Favourite-Longshot bias holds true with 254.44 points lost in matches where the implied probability is 28% or less. A simple filter thus puts the blind draw backer into profit already.

Pinnacle's prices have only been with us (at least on Football-Data) since 2012, so two seasons is a small sample, but as I have mentioned before, matches priced at around 3.15 or below are borderline value at best, and XX Draw qualifiers in this range have been 'unofficial' this season. If we filter out matches where the implied (Pinnacle) draw probability is less that 29%, we are left with 1,279 matches and a profit to Pinnacle prices of 32.30 points (an ROI of 2.52%).

Using Joseph Buchdahl's idea of then looking at the returns when taking the best prices, and the ROI% climbs above 4%. There are those who sneer at such 'meagre' returns, but as Ian says, winning at football betting is not easy, and I suspect not many could beat that return over 1,000 bets.

Once the current season is over, I'll take a look at the numbers for 2014-15. I might also find the time to look at the Lower Four leagues in England. I know Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster is 'band' based between 3.3 (30.3%) and 3.56 (28.1%) in the English Leagues.

This post is is no way meant to suggest that one should blindly back every draw priced in the ranges specified, but it does show that there might be a sweet spot between the under-priced outsiders (longshots) and the under-priced shorties where additional filters can improve an edge. There can be value at any price.

FTL Holiday Schedule

With the Bank Holiday schedule messing up the usual routine this weekend, I'm not sure when Joseph will be updating the Football-Data.co.uk prices.

With several games on Monday, and the same teams playing on Saturday, I'll allow any Football League and Conference selections up to kick-off time on Monday*. Note that the Crystal Palace v Manchester City game isn't included and nor are any overseas games including Espanyol v Elche. Selections on those will still need to be in by tonight (Friday) at midnight, i.e. now - or at least in the next couple of hours.

Heathen Gecko was caught out by the early Good Friday kick-offs, and submitted a handful of bets after kick-off, but their exclusion may actually have helped him.

There was a distinct lack of interest in tweaking the formula for settling Lay bets, with the only vote going towards maintaining the current formula, so the Rules will remain unchanged.

* Initially I said by midnight on Sunday, but because this schedule is a little tight for some, and I'm not sure when the prices will be recorded anyway, I have changed this.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Books, Bias And Popularity

A couple of comments on recent posts, one which I meant to publish earlier but forgot about. It happens when you get old. Both are from FTL entrant Jamie A who made an excellent comment on my suggestion that:

"I would have expected the opposite [better results later in the season] with models absorbing promoted teams and improving as the season goes on, but that appears not to be the case. A reminder if anyone needs it, that profits can turn into losses, and vice versa, and even a season is a small sample size."
Jamie's comment was:
The models might well be absorbing promoted teams and improving as the season goes on but not as fast as the bookmakers and that is the key!
A very valid point, and somewhat related to his next comment on the "Midweek" v "Weekend" topic triggered by Graeme's TFA observations:
Are the bookmakers more or less accurate for weekend v midweek?
That is in the "something to look at in the Summer methinks" I mentioned.

As I made it clear (or so I thought), I'm not a statistician, and the post did not claim any findings of statistical significance, but given that midweek results have previously been identified as being less predictable (by at least Skeeve) it's an interesting topic, but it can wait for the season's end.

As I have mentioned recently, if we all wait for our possible / probable edges to be statistically confirmed we'd never place a bet. Successful betting is about much more than statistics, as the (relative) success of non-statisticians shows.

Personally, I find it useful to know that, for example, backing all home favourites in the implied 70%-79% probability range in certain leagues has an ROI of 7.2% (at Pinnacle's beatable prices, and thus a bottom line) over the past two seasons (347 selections).

It may not be statistically significant, (I'm  a non-statistician, and I'm generally not a fan of 'bands' - although Queen are pretty good), but the favourite-longshot bias is well established and studied and if we sit and watch it for another ten years before placing a bet, well, in the long run we are all dead.

As Joseph Buchdahl has commented previously:
Incredibly, had a punter backed every favourite at the best available price over this 2-year period, his return on investment would have been nearly 102% from almost 8,000 matches. At £100 per bet that translates into almost £13,000 profit in a little over 2 years, simply from using an odds comparison, considerably better than many who claim to be "sports tipsters". One could not, of course, rely on such profit being replicated time and time again.
Some might call that data-mining, but I don't agree when you are confirming an observation that was proposed before the period in question. As with my own Bundeslayga observations, Joseph is simply confirming that the bias has continued, and the key is the last sentence.
One could not, of course, rely on such profit being replicated time and time again.
Joseph's use of 'best available' is problematic for me though, since I don't think this paints a realistic picture for most of us. In theory yes, the point is made, but what is the reality for most people? I like to use Pinnacle Sports' prices, not only because their lines are sharp, but also because they don't limit winners and are thus a useful minimum.

Moving on, and there's been something of an up-tick (not a statistically significant one I hasten to add, but an up-tick nonetheless) in hits recently, with many coming from a country now in second place:
A little further drilling finds a huge number coming from one IP address, which is a little surprising given the owner's previous comments.
423 visits! I'm flattered. Perhaps I'm not that stupid after all? I should start charging.