Friday, 21 September 2018

Golden Browns, Never a Frown

After 19 games without a win, and just one win in their last 37 , the Cleveland Browns finally won again last night beating the New York Jets 21-17. A loss for the Small Road 'Dogs, but a win for the Vanilla Thursday Unders.  

Looking ahead to the weekend and the opening line for the Minnesota Vikings v Buffalo Bills game has the home team favoured by 16.5 points, an unusually high spread for a Week 3 game, only the fifth at this level in the first three weeks of a season in the last 29 years. 

As a general rule, oddsmakers tend to wait until around Week 5 to really start setting these huge lines. It makes sense: Five weeks is a pretty fair point in the season to begin trusting a team’s results to tell us what they truly are. Before that, though, it’s difficult to filter out which performances are real and which are just early season flukes. That’s why, on average, the NFL sees a game with a 15-point spread in the first three weeks of the season only once every five or so years.
Written in 2013, Quartz.com had this to say about favourites struggling to cover big lines in the NFL:
No favourite has lost a game straight up when favoured by 16 points or more since 1995, and while overall the underdogs getting 16 points or more cover the spread 51.4% of the time (37-35-1), when the line is from 16 to 17 points, the favourites cover 57.7% of the time. 

And when the big line appears in the first three weeks of the season, favourites cover 80% of the time. Go Vikings.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Weekend Wrap

There were just the two +3.0 selections from the College Road 'Dog System last Saturday, with one winner and one loser. With a 3-8 weekend overall, this was not its finest hour. 14-18-1 for the season to date.

One UK based reader was asking for suggestions on where to place these bets, and the obvious answer is to have Pinnacle available to you. Pinnacle restrict by country, not by nationality, so while this blog would never encourage anyone to do anything dodgy, gaining access to a Pinnacle account shouldn't be an insurmountable challenge for anyone serious about investing on sports. 

Somewhat related, and it's pleasing, but perhaps a little surprising, that only about one third of hits on this blog come from the UK. The USA is always high on the list, with Sweden, Italy and Australia making up the top five. I guess the UK percentage would be higher if I were to touch on horse racing, but that's not going to happen. 

Back to sports, and the NFL Road 'Dogs did better than the College ones with five winners from eight selections. 

Only the one draw in the English Premier League this weekend, another winner for the Little 14 category, but a losing weekend overall. It's still early days, but with just nine draws from the opening five rounds, the record low EPL draw percentage of 2005-06 (20.26%) could be challenged.  

Serie B has seen a much higher nine draws from just 27 matches, but chaos reigns in Italy now as a court has today suspended the league!  

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Big 6 X Overdue

The fourth 'Big 6' match of the season in the EPL today, as Tottenham Hotspur host Liverpool. 

Backing the Draw in these contests since 2012-13 is profitable as readers will know, but the current losing sequence is the longest ever, dating back to February's 2:2 result between today's contestants in the reverse fixture at Anfield. 

Ten losses followed that game to close out the 2017-18 season, and no luck yet in the first three games of this season. 

The previous longest sequence without a Draw was eight in the 2014-15 season. 

If you sensibly ignore matches where the Draw price was 4.0 or higher, the losing sequence is 'only' nine.  

At least the 'Little 14' system is in profit so far, with an ROI of 24.5%. Seven of the eight draws so far this season have come from this category. Five more qualifiers this weekend. With the Champions League next week, all six big boys are in action today.


Friday, 14 September 2018

Weighting Seasons

Another win for the Overs in last night's Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens game makes it 5-0 in Divisional games this season, something of a surprise given the historical record in such games, especially when played on a Thursday:

While the new rule changes have led some to believe games will be higher scoring, I'm not so sure, but it's something to be aware of. 

There are another seven Divisional games this weekend. As I write this, small 'dogs on the road this weekend are the Colts, Chiefs, Seahawks, Panthers, Giants and Dolphins, with the latter three playing in Divisional matches. Be aware though, that lines move.

Another thing to be aware of with these systems is that it is important to keep an open mind on what parameters you use for your selections. 

A case in point is the +2.5 line for NFL Road teams. Here are the data from 2002, a season chosen because this is when the current NFL format was first established:
    
As a result of last season's 4-6 record, backing qualifiers at the +2.5 points line now has a losing record overall, with a total loss of 0.17 points. 

However, not all seasons are equal. Most readers should agree that results from 2002 are less important than results from 2017, so I apply weights to the numbers. 

This shows that the +2.5 line is currently even more problematic. 

Over the last four seasons, the record is 15-21, and the weighted record comes out to 35-42. 

If you stake using fractional Kelly and use the weighted ROI percentage as your edge to calculate the recommended stake, then the recommended stake size on these selections is of course zero. At least for now. Keep tracking these results, and at some point they may again offer value.

Another thing about monitoring lines outside of what appears at one time to be the optimal range, is that new opportunities can show up.

Here are the weighted numbers for the +1 and +1.5 lines which led to two winners last weekend, the Redskins and the Bengals both winning straight up:
Bottom line is that while backing Small Road 'Dogs in the 2.5 to the 5.5 point range has been overall profitable since 2002, the basic system can be improved upon with a little effort. 

Dr. Richard Jarecki

A recent obituary from the New York Times by Daniel E Slotnik which might be of interest to some of you who like stories which show that original thinking and a little obfuscation can be lucrative, even if the edges don't persist for ever. 

Many gamblers see roulette as a game of pure chance — a wheel is spun, a ball is released and winners and losers are determined by luck.

Richard Jarecki refused to believe it was that simple.

He became the scourge of European casinos in the 1960s and early ′70s by developing a system to win at roulette. And win he did, by many accounts accumulating more than $1.2 million, or more than $8 million in today’s money — until, that is, the casinos finally found a way to eliminate his edge.

But no matter. By then he had filled his pockets and achieved a level of celebrity and was on his way to carving out a career in another arena of risk-laden wagering back in the United States — as a commodities futures trader.

He died on July 25 at his home in Manila. He was 86. His wife, Carol Jarecki, said the cause was pneumonia.

Richard Wilhelm Jarecki was not the sort of rakish bon vivant that might come to mind as the epitome of a successful gambler. He was a married medical doctor and researcher at Heidelberg University in Germany. The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia described him in 1969 as “rather tall and slim and reedy — looking just like a professor should, complete with a rumpled suit and a bewildered look.”

That look concealed a keen eye for detail and a sharp mathematical mind, which Dr. Jarecki first turned to the problem of roulette in Germany in the early 1960s.

He and his wife honed his technique at dozens of casinos, including in Monte Carlo; Divonne-les-Bains, France; Baden-Baden, Germany; San Remo, on the Italian Riviera; and, briefly, Las Vegas. He became a regular in San Remo, where he had lucrative runs over several years.

By 1969 he had become “a menace to every casino in Europe,” Robert Lardera, the San Remo casino’s managing director, told The Morning Herald.

“I don’t know how he does it exactly, but if he never returned to my casino I would be a very happy man,” Mr. Lardera said.

At the time, Dr. Jarecki told reporters that he had cracked roulette with the help of a powerful computer at the University of London. But the truth was more prosaic. He accomplished his improbable lucky streak through painstaking observation, with no electronic assistance.

Ms. Jarecki said in a telephone interview on Monday that she, Dr. Jarecki and a handful of other people helping them would record the results of every turn of a given roulette wheel to discover its biases, or tendency to land on some numbers more frequently than others, usually because of a minute mechanical defect caused by shoddy manufacturing or wear and tear.


“There was nothing original in his method — only in the successful way he employed his fanciful computer explanation to delude the managements of European casinos, the gaming police and the general public,” the gaming writer Russell T. Barnhart said in a chapter about Dr. Jarecki in his book “Beating the Wheel: Winning Strategies at Roulette” (1992).

Ms. Jarecki said that watching, or “clocking,” a wheel, as Mr. Barnhart described it, could mean observing more than 10,000 spins over as long as a month. Sometimes a wheel would yield no observable advantage. But when Dr. Jarecki and company did find a wheel with a discernible bias, he would have an edge over the house.

“It isn’t something he invented,” Ms. Jarecki said. “It’s something he perfected.”

Choosing the right casino was as important as finding the right roulette wheel. Roulette in European casinos offered better odds than in American casinos because wheels in Europe have 37 numbered slots on which the ball can land, while American wheels have 38. Dr. Jarecki also found that European casinos were more accommodating to players on hot streaks than their American counterparts.

Some European casinos tried to end Dr. Jarecki’s streaks by switching wheels from table to table, but his memory could thwart them. He had memorized nicks, scratches and other telltale identifiers on individual wheels and thus could still recognize the ones he should play.

News media reports at the time said that some casinos had barred Dr. Jarecki outright, but Ms. Jarecki said that rarely happened, in part because he had befriended casino officials and employees.

Still, steady losses came to torment the San Remo casino, especially as others began betting along with Dr. Jarecki. Ms. Jarecki said that at one point Italian officials tried to keep them from entering the country, at the municipality of San Remo’s request. But they successfully appealed the decision, she said, and were back at the casino in a few months.

“If casino managers don’t like to lose, they should sell vegetables,” Dr. Jarecki told The New York Times in an article about his win streak in 1969.

When he returned to San Remo he ran the table again until management replaced some two dozen roulette wheels, negating his advantage. Moreover, roulette wheels came to be manufactured more carefully, offering fewer biases to exploit, and Dr. Jarecki’s edge began to ebb.

He returned to the United States in 1974 and began trading commodities futures on his own, specializing in silver and gold. In the 1980s he was named a governor of Comex, a commodities futures exchange.

He also continued to play roulette, as well as blackjack, in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Ms. Jarecki said that casino owners sometimes asked him if he would like to partner with them, but that he always turned them down.

“He likes to take money from the casinos, not give it to them,” she said.

Dr. Jarecki was born to Jewish parents, Dr. Max and Gerda (Kunstmann) Jarecki, on Dec. 1, 1931, in Stettin, Germany. His father was a dermatologist, and his mother’s family owned a major shipping company. But with the rise of the Nazis and the growing persecution of Jews, Hitler’s regime took control of the family’s shipping fortune, and they fled Germany in the late 1930s, ultimately settling in the United States.

He grew up in Asbury Park, N.J., where he graduated from high school and then studied at Duke University before returning to Germany to earn his medical degree at the University of Heidelberg in 1958.

Dr. Jarecki met Carol Fuhse, an anesthetist, during a medical residency at a hospital in New Jersey. They married in 1964, and Dr. Jarecki worked as a medical researcher in New Jersey until 1967, when they moved to Germany. He studied electrophoresis at the University of Heidelberg when he was not at the casino.

In addition to his wife, with whom he also had a home in Las Vegas, he is survived by a brother, Henry, a billionaire psychiatrist, commodities trader and entrepreneur; two daughters, Divonne Holmes a Court and Lianna Jarecki; a son, John, a chess prodigy who became a master at 12; and six grandchildren.

Two nephews of Dr. Jarecki are the award-winning documentarians Andrew Jarecki (“Capturing the Friedmans” and the HBO series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst”) and Eugene Jarecki (“Why We Fight” and “The House I Live In).”

Dr. Jarecki moved to Manila about 20 years ago, his wife said, because he liked the lifestyle there and preferred the city’s casinos to those run by Americans.

His touch at the roulette wheel endured until nearly the end. Ms. Jarecki said he last played in December, at a tournament in Manila. He came in first.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

WNBA 2018 Review

The WNBA season ended last night with the Seattle Storm easily beating the Washington Mystics to sweep the series. 

As with the men, there is value backing smaller favourites on the road, and while the paragraph below was written about the NBA, it applies equally to the WNBA:

The other (almost) perennially profitable system is backing Road Favourites coming off a loss when playing an opponent coming off a win. While not quite reaching the heights of 2013, an ROI of 33.75%, albeit from a small bet total of 54, was solid enough.
There are not enough matches in the WNBA season to make a relevant comparison, but for qualifying road favourites coming off a loss, the numbers are good. The ROI for the 2018 regular WNBA season was 27.3%, a big improvement on 2017's pretty decent 8.4%
As in other US sports, with their Conference and Divisional arrangements, it often pays to look at the type of game. For example, here are the results of backing smaller Road Favourites in Conference games 
98.5% of the profits came from 30 Conference games this season. 

No guarantee of course that these trends will continue in 2019, but something to watch for next May.   

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

NBA 2018 - Points To Success

For regular readers of this blog, the increase in three point shooting in the NBA is nothing new. Last season followers of the Beast system backing Overs in games where the total was 215.5 or greater were rewarded with an ROI of 8.1% 

Why Pinnacle Sports have published an article on three point shooting in the NBA now, rather than closer to the start of the season is a little strange, (and now I am doing the exact same thing), but the article is one of their better ones. I don't agree with the writer's conclusion that:
With more and more positionless players in the league the mid-range shot or “long-two” could make a comeback whilst the effectiveness of the “and-one” will gradually come to light.
As I wrote in my season summary in April:
I'm sure I'll be looking at these numbers in more detail closer to the start of next season, but the trend to more three point shots and average number of possessions doesn't show any signs of slowing down.
The trend is your friend. 
I would be surprised if the 2018 season numbers don't see the average climb still further. March and April saw the average at 214.6 points, which would seem a reasonable number. The real question is whether your average bettor, with whom you are in competition, will understand that higher points totals do not mean the value shifts to the Unders bet. 

It's quite remarkable that in the 2011 season, just one game had a points Total line greater than 215.5. Fast forward to 2017 when there were 431. 

At the 225.5 and greater level, since 2005 the Overs has a 58.1% record, and since 2011 a 61.3% record.

Backing 'Small 'Road Favourites in the NBA has been perennially profitable with just one losing season since 2006 as the season summary post illustrated, and after the WNBA last season had a 58% record on these games, this season went even better with 59.7%, an ROI of 16.5%. The season could end tonight as Seattle Storm lead the best of five finals 2-0 over the Washington Mystics, although the Mystics are 5.5 point favourites. Under 167.5 points at 2.02 is the value bet here. In WNBA playoff games, where the home team is favoured by five points or greater, Unders come in 57.1% of the time.  

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Back On The Road

I mentioned the advantages of looking at US sports in my last post, and there were a record number of qualifiers for the College Football Small Road Dogs system yesterday, with 8 winners and 6 losers. This system has had just two losing seasons this millennium, both by less than two points, and with an ROI of 7.24% it is well worth following. 

The similar NFL version, although with different parameters, has its first qualifiers of the 2018 season today, with the Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks the selections. The ROI in this sport is lower than in the College game, and be warned that last season was a loser:

If you stick to Divisional games for this system, the ROI since 2002 (when the league expanded to 32 teams) is over 8% - and there is one such qualifier (Chiefs) today.
 
In both College and the NFL, road teams receiving exactly a field goal are to be backed. In College games since 1996, these win 57.1% of games ATS, while in the NFL since 2002 the number is 55.9%. 

Contrast this with road teams receiving four points, where College is 50% and the NFL 48.5%.    

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Another Hot August

August was again a great month for backing hot favourites in MLB. For the seventh successive season this was a profitable strategy, and with the largest profit ever, this trend shows no sign of slowing down. The Money Line results are:


Add in the Run Line results, and the profits since 2012 climb to 110.76 points. 2012 was a turning point for MLB favourites as I have mentioned before. Here from 2016:
The average profit updated to today is now at 28.67 points, with 113.70 points in the last two seasons. 

Bossman Megarain writes in his latest post that:
I am focusing more and more of my time on USA opportunities
For anyone serious about finding edges, it's a logical decision. It won't last for ever, but for now finding edges in American sports markets is far easier than in the more popular (from a UK perspective) sports, unless you have access to inside information, a topic Joseph Buchdahl discussed just yesterday, tweeting:
Indeed, a topic I wrote about as far back as January 2009. The EPL Draw System has started the 2018/2018 season profitably, up 2.69 points so far from 17 matches. I was expecting the season to continue through 2019, but Joseph doesn't make mistakes. 


Sunday, 12 August 2018

It's Over, For Overs

Some of you may recall the T-Bone System, and I'm aware that at least one astute reader is following me on it, but there was some excitement a couple of seasons about the Overs in such matches.

The excitement wasn't shared by either myself or fellow baseball investor Tony, writing at the time:

The creator of the original T-Bone System, I'll call it T-Bone Raw, was very excited about the outcome of backing Overs as an additional revenue stream alongside the Money Line and Run Line returns. Whilst both the Money Line and Run Line profits are steady enough in the last five seasons, the profitability of the Overs component is something new this season, and rather a mystery.
Tony emailed me on this topic to say:
I always like a situation where both the SU and the RL are pretty much in synch - think it adds strength to the finding.
Personally, not keen on the Overs here - all the profit seems, I think a bit strangely, to come from when the total has been set high - in direct contrast to the earlier years when overs did better on low total lines. Quite a change round that I cannot get my head around.
The 2016 season ended with the Overs winning 62% of the T-Bone games, which was certainly interesting, but there was no apparent reason to get too excited, but it was something to keep an eye on perhaps.

I'm sure I returned to the topic in 2017, pretty sure I haven't in 2018, but I will today as it appears the pendulum has fully swung the other way with Unders now the order of the day. As an indicator for how tough the Run Lines in baseball are to beat long term, of the 1,359 T-Bone qualifiers from 2007, the Overs have won 646, the Unders 648 with the other 65 resulting in Pushes.

Unders this season are currently at 59.8%. The Totals bet was never part of the T-Bone system, but if you're tracking results, it never hurts to look at other markets.

The good news is that the T-Bone continues to perform after a less than exciting 2017 season.

The bad news is that this is a system that loses its efficacy after the All-Star break, as I mentioned last month, which is actually perfect timing with football and American football kicking in (pun intended).

The EPL Draws got off to a winning start this season with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton coming in yesterday. I hope at least some of you were with me.


And now the really bad news. 

I am off again for work tomorrow on a short notice trip, but at least I'm clocking up the miles and points for trips and car rentals on my own time. After updating them yesterday, I realised they actually have value which should be included in my net-worth spreadsheet. 

After that, I will be spending two weeks with my son and youngest grand-daughter, followed quite possibly by a surgery and its associated downtime the following week or two, so I may be gone from a while. 

Read up on Small 'Dogs in American Football if you're bored, need money, or both. Actually, if you need money, the last thing you should be is bored. Enjoy the rest of summer. If the surgery doesn't work, enjoy the rest of your lives. It's shorter than you think. 

Saturday, 11 August 2018

August Ramblings

Perhaps I shouldn't have had the words 'disaster' and 'trip' so close together in my last post...

...because while the spreadsheet did indeed end the month in profit as expected, the work trip ended in a small disaster as I was taken ill with a recurrence of March's issues, and consequently spent my first three days back 'home' in hospital. The one silver lining is that any doubt about whether a surgery is really needed to fix the issue permanently has been made clear, and I'll be out of action yet again for maybe another couple of weeks, fairly soon, probably next month.

There aren't so many blogs on my blogroll being updated regularly these days, but one that had received an update was perennially successful Skeeve's Betting With Skeeve which kindly mentioned one of my earlier posts, even going so far as to call it hilarious. I have to agree, and also have to say that I have still not received a reply from the William Hill representative who was so keen to reach out to me initially, and while I'm tempted to follow up, I'm not sure any response would be triggered. Feel free to comment on Skeeve's blog - he's using a lack of comments as a somewhat feeble excuse for not posting more often. 

I also received an email (I'll maintain anonymity) with the Subject "Excited" which said:
Hi Cassini

I'm glad to have stumbled on your blog green allover and I have to say as someone starting out who have always wondered if there was a way to edge it or win really decent profit from betting meeting your email in your blog was such a relief, I can imagine you're getting tons of this email on a daily, please I'll like to ask what are the steps you'll recommend for a start for a newbie if I want to become a professional bettor??? I'll be glad to read your responses as they will surely be highly valuable. Thank you
I'm not sure my blog intends to make betting sound exciting, in fact the byline rather non-excitedly states:
Established in 2008, this blog is an independent, common sense, look at challenges and opportunities in sports and financial investing, with occasional diversions as my mood takes me. I am not a tipster, nor is this a Profit and Loss report either. They are boring.
I think that there is a huge disconnect between the reality and the fantasy of what a professional bettor or gambler is. A jet-setting lifestyle it is not, at least for most who call themselves professionals, and many so-called professionals aren't professional gamblers at all, but make their money from selling betting related products.
Hi there - I'm glad you enjoy the blog, which makes clear that with discipline, it is indeed possible to be profitable over the long term from betting. However, it does not encourage anyone to rely on these profits as their sole or main source of income.

In this regard, my advice to you would be to gamble in your spare time, while you build your career. Full-time betting isn't the dream life some people think it is, either in terms of profits or lifestyle. It is actually quite boring, and comes with none of the benefits of a career - paid time off, national insurance / retirement pension contributions, share options, life insurance, and a steady increase in pay as you become more senior and climb the ladder. It's also a very lonely activity. There are no promotions in full-time gambling, no increases in benefits, just a constant battle to find new edges as the ones you find are inevitably found by others. For the most part, the claim to be a full-time professional gambler is simply someone putting a more positive spin on being unemployed and spending their dole money on gambling.

A small amount of research reveals that so-called successful gamblers are, in reality, to be found living very ordinary lives on housing estates in less than glamorous locations, often still living at home with parents (if not in a caravan parked out front), or in rented accommodation and relying on charity for their children's health needs. It's not something to strive for. And try getting a mortgage without a steady and verifiable income.

There are rare exceptions of course, but in my opinion it is far better to pursue an income from gambling by making it a hobby. There are plenty of opportunities at all times of the day, and you have none of the pressure of having to win to pay the bills, which leads to bad decisions. The skills you need to be a successful gambler are skills that are valued in the workplace. Why not apply them there, receive a steady and increasing income, and gamble in your spare time?

To get started, I'd say find a sport you are interested in, ideally not a major sport where your competition is well financed and resourced, and try to think why the market might not be efficient in certain areas. Research and test those ideas with small stakes and build from there. You don't need a lot of money to get rich, but you do need a lot of time and an edge. The bigger the edge, the less time you need, but edges will erode over time so you will constantly need to come up with new ideas. Which isn't easy.

Good luck, but don't give up your day job.
Possibly not the answer my friend wanted to hear. It is certainly possible to win a decent amount of money from investing on sports, but once you have some money behind you, there are far easier ways of making money. 

Some of you may recall a fairly recent post about Tesla. The stock has certainly had an interesting month. On the 1st of the month I almost peed my trousers when the Q2 results were announced and shares shot up by 16%, while on Tuesday I almost peed my hospital nightgown when I read CEO Elon Musk's Tweet about taking the company private at $420, which triggered an 11% gain. This is not a stock for our parents perhaps, but the squeeze on shorts this month must have given Mr. Musk much pleasure. 

And finally, the EPL is back, and for anyone looking for draws, the likely lads this opening weekend feature two of the promoted teams. First today's big London derby between Fulham and Crystal Palace, followed by the rather less anticipated (at least in my house) Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton game tonight. The system generating these selections has been profitable in each of the last six seasons with a total ROI of over 20% from an average of 58 games a season. While there has been at least one draw in every one of the last six opening EPL weekends, the better value is to go for the surprises, which is not surprising given the number of personnel changes teams have made over the summer. Backing the least likely outcome in those 60 games is +30.36 points (an ROI of 50.6%).

Personally I am hoping Crystal Palace both score, and pick up a point, before game eight of the season this time around. Playing a 31 game season doesn't work for me too well when everyone else gets 38. 

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Favourites, Football and Fantasy

There was a subsequent 'clarification' Tweet from RJ Bell this morning on the subject of 'big' favourites in the MLB and 'big' favourites in the NFL, although RJ has now changed 'big' to 'biggest':

Unfortunately the comparison is still false, because as I explained in my earlier post, the biggest favourites in MLB have around an 80% win probability, nowhere near the 95% win probability of the biggest NFL favourites.
There are no PW = 0.95 in baseball - we all know -1500s will win more than -400s. Doesn’t mean they are more profitable.
-400 favourites should win approximately 80% of the time. -1500 favourites should win approximately 93.75% of the time. Essentially getting excited over the fact that 93.75 is greater than 80 isn't helpful. Yes, we all understand that there will be more winners at evens than at 2/1 than at 3/1 than at 4/1 and so on - it's how probability (usually) works.

I say 'usually' because there's one mathematical genius claiming the ability to consistently find 2.8 winners 60% of the time out there. He blocked me, which is easier to do than provide a logical reason why this freak of probability might make any sense, but Jason gets his nonsense, calling our friend out on his 'mumbo-jumbo', his lack of understanding about independent events, the 'cost of doing business', what an equity curve is, and just basic probability really. It should shock me that so many people think that using big words can give someone an edge, but I've been here a while and there are a lot of gullible people out there lacking the ability to see through bullshit. 


Small Road 'Dogs
Back to our 'favourite' subject, and big favourites do also lose in the NFL - since 1989, there have only been fifteen teams favoured by 17 or 17.5 points, and three of those lost, but as RJ might well point out at some point, the "biggest" favourites - those giving 18 points or more - haven't, at least not yet, with a 17-0 record in the 29 seasons from 1989. Seventeen selections is a small sample size, and the value is actually with the underdog on these lines, with a 12-5 record against the spread.

It's a little early to be talking about American Football but it's getting close. The College season opens on August 25th and the NFL on September 6th.

Readers will no doubt be all over the College Small Road 'Dogs strategy which has been profitable in all but two seasons this millennium, with very small losses in those two losing seasons (see left). The number of bets averages a very manageable 94 a season, with the busiest weekend of 2017 at 11 bets.

The 2017 season had 92 bets and went 53-37-2 ending with an ROI of 14.1%. The long-term ROI on 1,600 bets is 7.24%
Something to keep an eye on, if you are so inclined, is the fortune of the Big Road 'Dogs which have turned around in the past couple of seasons after years of futility. Most College Football matches have Big Road 'Dogs so there can be a lot of selections. The ROI in each of the past two seasons is 3.6%, but 887 selections isn't practical.

This weekend I completed a list of strategies for the EFL and National Leagues, the criteria requested being an ROI of at least 10% and profitable in each of the last three seasons. With 48 matches per round, it was important to make sure that the number of bets is practical. I included this one after much debate:
+94.72 points from 536 selections, ROI 17.7%
It's a great ROI%, but is close to four selections each round in that division.

And on the subject of football, Betty Blogger asked me to send interested Fantasy Football people his way. It's not my thing, but he's running a Fantasy Mini league and paying the winner £100 sterling, which seems very generous. 

And finally, I am on another work trip for the next week and a half, which is terrible timing as I shall be away for my month-end spreadsheet update, and miss the start of the new football season.  

Barring a disaster, the spreadsheet will be up for the 27th month out of the last 29 which is quite incredible, and one of those losses was a small one of double digits which just made it all the more irritating. When the loss is five figures, it's out of my hands, when it is less than £100, it's not.  

Bell Sounds Off

The biggest upset in MLB in 14 years last night, as the Kansas City Royals defeated the New York Yankees who were a -410 favourite in US odds.

This equates to 1.2439 in decimal odds, so an implied losing probability of 19.6% coming to fruition isn't usually exactly earth shattering, but the nature of baseball means that this was only the tenth -400 or shorter selection since 2004.

RJ Bell, a name covered in this blog on a couple of occasions back in 2016 took to Twitter to make a highly dubious comparison with the NFL:

At -410, this was indeed the biggest favourite to lose in the MLB since 2004, although it should be noted that this loss was only 13 days after the Houston Astros lost as -400 favourites versus the Detroit Tigers. July can be a tricky month with the All-Star game disrupting routines as I've mentioned before.

But the attempted comparison with NFL favourites at -15 or more is a strange one. There really is no comparison. I replied:
The nature of the sport (MLB) means that it is very rare to find a team with a win probability greater than 0.8. With 2,430 regular season games per season, and not even including the post season, 15 bets out of 35,545 plus opportunities is less than 0.0004.  

NFL games where a team is favoured by 15 points or more? 48 from 'just' 4,005 games, i.e 0.012, or approximately 28 times as frequent. 

As for the -15 handicap being considered equivalent to -400 on the Money Line, I have the -8.5 handicap as closer. Teams at -15 win around 95% of the time, not around 80%.   

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Finn Pickings

By special request, here's a look at the Draw in Finland's Veikkausliiga. I can't say Finland's ever been a league that has interested me, with its teams with strange names (usually just initials), and the only traditionally named club (Tampere United), at least by English standards, a major part of the match fixing scandal there of 2008-2011. 

I think I've seem just one Finnish team play live - Lahden Reipas at West Ham United in the Cup Winners Cup 1975. I probably still have the programme somewhere, and of course, Finn Aki Riihilahti was lucky enough to play for Crystal Palace but anyway, Helsinki based Frenchman Frederic J, a man with whom I appear to have a lot in common based on his timeline, and who thus seems like a decent and intelligent chap, wrote or rather Tweeted:

Recently found it? Well, better late than never I guess. Indeed the data is available, as always courtesy of Joseph Buchdahl's Football Data web site, with the price data supplied by Pinnacle.

My first observation was a general one regarding the over-round. After averaging 102.5% in the six seasons 2012 to 2017, it has edged up this season to 103.2%, not a negligible increase and something to be aware of if this league is of a betting interest to you. 

Blindly backing the Draw in the 1,308 matches with prices since 2012 would have lost you 2.2% and the best 'blind' strategy here is laying Away teams, with an ROI of 3.4%

Backing all home teams priced at greater than 3.0 would have generated an ROI of over 21%, and backing all Away teams when the Home team is 1.5 or shorter has an ROI of over 34%.

For the Draw, the market appears to be inefficient when the implied probability is in the 28% to 30% range, or 3.35 to 3.57.  A 14% ROI here from 384 bets, or back the Draw when the Away team is odds-on for an ROI of 24%, but only 113 selections over the six and a half seasons. 

The local derby factor is alive and well in Finland though - for games between teams based in and around Helsinki the 27 matches since 2012 have generated 18.73 points in profit, an ROI of 69%

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Really Close, Close And The Difference

I almost got a speeding ticket today. After seeing the below Tweet from A Lucky A Day, I spun my car around and raced home to open an account with Marathonbet:

Of course, all was not what it seemed, and a request for clarification revealed that the reference was actually not to draw odds, but to the odds on a 'tie' in gold 2 ball betting, a bet I haven't paid much attention to. I was under the impression that these bets were usually TNB, as in tie no bet, but apparently some books offer the tie.

Such a move would increase the over-round by a full percentage point, so I'm not sure whether the move has been balanced by improved prices on the individuals.

Unlike the golf 2 ball bet, the Draw in football, when the two teams are close, is something I do pay attention to. My reviews of the Draw in various leagues over the summer, looking at the six completed seasons from 2012-18, made frequent references to the 'differences' between teams. In fact, my current 
all-time most popular post looked at this topic in some detail back in January 2018, while a follow up post on the topic was published in June, and included this:
I mentioned in the January post the idea of calculating the difference between the teams by simply using the odds (Pinnacle's Closing Prices), and using that as your selection criteria.

For example, in matches where the teams win probabilities are close, i.e. the difference is less than 25%, backing the Draw is +78.91 points from 393 matches which is an ROI of 20.1%.
Note that these probabilities are after I have removed Pinnacle's over-round to come up with the 'true' probabilities for each outcome.

The definition of 'close' is subjective, but in the English Premier League, most matches are not close. More than half (51%) of matches see one team with a win probability 60% or higher than their opponent. 73% of these are a Big 6 v Little 14 match, and are best avoided from a Draw backing perspective.

For 'really close' EPL games, again subjectively those where the difference is less than 5%, Pinnacle's Draw price ranged from 2.92 to 3.75, two numbers which are most definitely not close.

Overall the ROIs at this level are great for the Draw, 32.3% for all matches, and 36% for Little 14 matches, but when a price of over 3.5 is available, the ROI is 180%. That is not a typo, although you'll need patience as these opportunities are few and far between with just nine qualifiers in six seasons. 

What you can do is set up your spreadsheet to adjust your stake for such opportunities, as rare as they might be.

Incidentally, the Championship has more such 'really close' matches (28) and the ROI for Draws offered at this seemingly generous level is 40%.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Reds See Red, Officially

At least one reader has proved me wrong this week on my assertion that 99% of readers simply do not have the discipline to follow some of the strategies outlined here.

Fizzer was all over my MLB strategy of following favourites in their first game back after the All-Star break, although this year was 'officially' a losing one on both the Money Line and Run Line. As mentioned in 2016:
One trend that did hold true again this season was that of favourites doing well in their first games after the break. The rationale for this is that although the better teams are likely to be better represented at the All-Star game, many of those will only put in a less than exhausting cameo performance, while the majority of their players enjoy the break and get some rest which apparently benefits better teams more than worse teams.

These once a year trends are of limited value of course - come next year and 99% of people reading this will have forgotten about it.
At least 1,034 people have read that post, so my 99% estimate should perhaps be 99.9%.

As for the 'officially' reference, I say this because both Fizzer and myself had basically the same outcome this year, which was of a small profit. 

'Officially' the Reds at -110 were the selection at home to the Pirates, but at the time I placed my bets, the Pirates were favourites at -105. 

As I've written before, sometimes these market moves work out for you, and sometimes they don't. Fizzer delved deeper and found that:
Reds opened as favourites, it flip flopped but Reds were favs again at 10:00am but after that Pirates became clear favs.)
Looks like the prices they used, checking some other games, were taken about 10:00am Eastern, so 10 hours before the game.
Yesterday the market turbulence worked out in our favour, with Fizzer writing that while the 'official' record...:
Shows a 2 point loss on the 15 games... my own records showed I made a small 0.3 points profit.
Officially then, the loss was 2.06 points this year, but since 2004 this has been a solid strategy with a close to 20% ROI, so the spreadsheet reminder for 2019 is in place. 

There will always be games like the Reds - Pirates yesterday, where teams qualify at one time in the day, but not at others. Don't worry about it.

Fizzer finished up with this line:
I’m also a big advocate of the EPL draws method you reviewed again this year. Been using that for some time now.
Good to hear. Although the trend is towards fewer Draws (in the first five seasons of the Premier League, 29% of matches ended as Draws, whereas the latest five saw this decrease to just 24.26%), eliminating consistent losers and applying a disciplined approach means that profits can be made for little effort.  

Thursday, 19 July 2018

William Hill

My recent post Draws On The International Stage caught the attention of at least one reader, specifically this sentence here:

William Hill went just 2.7 for the Draw, in a book that was over-round by 112.8%.
The email I received came as something of a surprise:
Good day,

Hope you are well. It’s xxxxxx from William Hill.

First of all, I’d like to thank you for mentioning my company in your post Draws On The International Stage. It means a lot!

I noticed that you hadn’t included details of our brand and was wondering if you would be kind to include a link pointing to our website William Hill, so your visitors would see more information about your reference.

Thanks again for the mention and have a great day!
I suspect that the writer either hadn't read the post, or perhaps hadn't understood that the sentence, while honest (as are all my posts), wan't perhaps the most flattering to the company. I responded, of course: 
Hi xxxxxx –
Thank you for your email – it’s good to know that someone is out there reading my thoughts and comments about sports investing. It can get lonely at times.

My mention of William Hill in the recent post Draws On The International Stage was in connection to the 2006 World Cup Final (Italy v France) match odds market where your company went 2.5 Italy, 2.7 Draw and 2.8 France which works out at an over-round of 112.8%.
This didn’t compare well to Pinnacle’s over-round that day of 103.4% as they offered 2.54 Italy, 2.88 Draw and 3.41 France. Is this a reference you want to be highlighted?

Fortunately the markets are more competitive these days and I am pleased to see that for the 2018 World Cup Final, your company offered a much improved over-round of 104.8%, but this is still more than double that of Pinnacle’s 102.1% and still not as good a deal for punters as Pinnacle were 12 years ago.
And again, whatever selection was desired in the Final, the price was better value with Pinnacle – France were 2.2 compared to your 2.15, the Draw was 3.02 compared to your 3.0 and Croatia were 4.25 compared to your 4.0.
The William Hill over-round on the English Premier League last season also left a lot to be desired, averaging 104.9%. You did beat Ladbrokes who averaged an horrific 106.2%, but Bet365 came in at 103.1%, BetVictor were at 102.8% and Pinnacle at 102.1%.
So in regard to your request that I include a link to William Hill, and provide visitors with more information about my reference to your company, who would benefit from this?
My target audience is the more sophisticated bettor, who understands over-rounds, and the importance of getting the best prices possible when making an investment. These investors are thus also those who find their accounts quickly restricted or closed with ‘soft’ books such as William Hill and thus use Exchanges or ‘sharp’ books.
I’m sure you are aware that ‘soft’ bookmakers operate with high margins - as evidenced above -, and they do not welcome sports traders preferring to target mostly casual and unsophisticated punters and gamblers and encouraging them to use products such as Casinos, Poker, Bingo etc. which of course they can never win at over the long term.

‘Sharp’ bookmakers on the other hand, do not ban or restrict customers, operating on a lower margin, but benefiting from higher turnover. In my opinion, this is the way forward, and why I make frequent references to Pinnacle, using their prices as an achievable, but also often beatable, benchmark.

I’m confident that almost all visitors to my blog have heard of, and are capable of finding, William Hill on the Internet should they be looking for a ‘soft’ book, but have my doubts that this would be in either their interests or in yours.

I look forward to hearing your comments.
Perhaps it's not surprising that, to paraphrase (Arthur) Neville Chamberlain, I have to tell you now that no such response has been received. Should this situation change, I will of course provide an update. Should any readers be in need of a link to William Hill, please let me know and I will provide one.  

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

After The Break

With the brief, but glamorous, World Cup now over and the more mundane MLB season enjoying its annual All-Star break, it's the perfect time to look at how the baseball strategies I've previously discussed are working out this season so far. It may not be as exciting, but with the MLB season running from early Spring to October, the number of opportunities make it potentially far more lucrative overall.

The profitability of backing shorties in MLB noted back in 2015 continues unabated. For the season to date, Money Line and Run Line combined are up 51.00 points in profit.

The Money Line is up 38.00 points, while the Run Line is up 13.00 points. It's interesting to note that the Money Line is the more profitable strategy before the All-Star Break, while the Run Line becomes the preferred option after the All-Star Break. 

From 2012, the Run Line prior to the break is +30.54 points, while after the break is +70.21. The Money Line shows a much smaller advantage before the break.

The Home Improvement strategy is also in profit again this season, Money Line and Run Line combining for 37.23 points in total: 
Historically, this strategy is only profitable after the All-Star Break, but last season it was profitable every single month.

The third and final strategy readers might be following, although I highly doubt it, is the deliciously named T-Bone strategy, but this method is one that sizzles before the All-Star Break rather than after. 

From 2007 to 2017, 76.5% of profits were in the first part of the season.
As previously explained, all returns are calculated using the US method of risking the line to win one unit when playing favourites and risking one unit to win the line when playing dogs.

Monday, 16 July 2018

England, Erskine And Southgate

My old friend Ian Erskine is on his soap box again, offering his views on the World Cup in general and on England's World Cup.

Despite all the hype surrounding England's performance, my thoughts on Twitter, somewhat tongue in cheek were that:

As is often the case, England started this tournament slowly, needing a stoppage time goal to get past Tunisia in a match England were 1.5 to win. The win at 1.23 over Panama was as comfortable as they come, and then there was the almost meaningless match against Belgium in which a loss guaranteed an easier bracket. 

Ian commented that "the Belgium game (only team England played ranked above them and priced shorter than them) was a non-match". To be clear, while Belgium were a shorter price than England to win the World Cup overall, England were clear favourites to beat Belgium in the final group game. Pinnacle's prices were England 2.43, Draw 2.85, Belgium 3.86, the result highlighting the challenges with betting on games where motivation is a factor.

After narrowly getting past a James-less Colombia in the Round of 16, a game we were 2.15 to win in 90 minutes) and arguably getting the "can't win on penalties" monkey off our back might well be the best positive from this tournament, we played a dull, efficient, dare I say boring, German-like performance against Sweden (1.85 to win in 90) to reach the Semi-Final, where we were outplayed by an individually talented, but very average Croatia side. England were 2.33 to win in 90 minutes here.

Is Southgate the manager for England moving forward? I can't see the FA dumping him after what most people view as a successful World Cup, and personally would like to see him given another tournament, but I'm admittedly biased on this given his Crystal Palace links.

However, Ian's assertion that regarding Southgate - "Problem is, he is tactically naive and not a f****** winner" needs to be corrected.

The man has a solid record of being a winner - who can forget Crystal Palace's Championship winning season of 1993-94 with Southgate as captain?

He also, far less importantly I admit, won the League Cup with both Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, and played in an FA Cup Final and a UEFA Cup Final.

He also played for England in the summer tournaments of 1996, 1998 and 2000 although most people will unfortunately remember him for his decisive penalty miss in the 1996 Semi-Final.

Finally, Ian strangely fails to mention Southgate's co-written book "Woody & Nord: A Football Friendship" which won the Sports Book of the Year award for 2004 from the National Sporting Club (now the British Sports Book Awards).

Not a f****** winner!  

Draws On The International Stage

A low-scoring third-place play-off and a high scoring final match were not what was expected based on history, but for those who understand the value of the Draw in knock-out games, World Cup 2018 was another success.

The 'official' profit from the fifteen matches using Pinnacle prices where available was 1.61 points, an ROI of 10.7%, which is completely meaningless given the small sample size of any one individual tournament, but we have now had five World Cups this millennium, a sample size of 75 matches, and the total profit from this strategy is 22.35 points, an ROI of close to 30%.

Only one World Cup, South Africa 2010, showed a loss (-1.99 points), and only one round (the Semi-Finals) shows an overall, but small, loss. With matches never overlapping, the number of consecutive losses is useful to know, and is just four. 

Fortunately, with next next World Cup four years and four months away, the success of a Draw backing strategy in international tournaments isn't just limited to the World Cup.

Euros from 2000 have an ROI of 19.4%, Copa America tournaments from 2007 (I have no price data for prior tournaments) have an ROI of 12.8%, and the three Confederation Cup tournaments from 2009 (again, no price data before that) have an ROI of 56%

Overall, these four tournaments combined have a basic ROI of 22%, 36.52 points from 167 matches, but as other studies of the Draw in 'big' matches have shown, applying a simple filter improves these numbers still further. 

For example, ignore matches where one team has an implied probability greater than .667 and the ROI climbs to over 35%, with 50.12 points from 143 matches.

There are also some matches where the confidence in the edge is much higher - for example when the Draw is priced at 3.0 or shorter, the ROI is 55%. As the image above shows, the true price on the Draw from 2002-2018 was 2.68, but the lowest Draw price with Pinnacle in that time was 2.88 (and a winner too, I might add). William Hill went just 2.7 for the Draw, in a book that was over-round by 112.8%. 

Risking a conservative 4% of the bank on each bet, a 1,000 point bank would now be a 5,377.4 point bank. With the longest losing streak so far not exceeding five, a less conservative 10% stake of the bank (ratcheted) would now be worth 93,682 points, off a peak of 117,103.15 reached with the England v Croatia semi-final.  

It's worth noting that pre-Euro 2008, the over-round averaged 106% and so these returns should be easily beatable. For subsequent tournaments, the over-round is a more reasonable 102%.

Roll on Copa America 2019, by which time 99% of you will have completely forgotten about this post.