Sunday, 13 October 2019

The Sophisticated Punter

The infamous Spanky has been calling out touts on Twitter again, writing:
To anybody that gives advice on who to bet and why you like this team or that team: anybody with half a brain doesn’t give a shit what you think unless you bet your own money.
I know I just insulted 99.99% of gambling twitter but I gotta keep it real.
Too many know-it-alls.
One reply, from an individual who is clearly confused, replied:
Anyone whose "bet sizes are larger" (relative to what? one might ask) and who only bets a game "every few weeks" is certainly not a recreational bettor. 

Having looked at some of his other views about the world, I suspect that he's not the sharpest of individuals, and what being "sophisticated" has to do with being a professional bettor, I have no idea.

As for betting every day, also false. If you're a pro or serious about betting, you bet when you have an edge, and only when you have an edge. That might be several times on a certain day, and no times on other days. 

At the time of writing, we are 2-1 on the NFL picks today, with the San Francisco 49ers looking good in their current game (up 20-7 in the 4th quarter) in Los Angeles versus the Rams. 

The Detroit Lions are playing in the Monday night game at the Green Bay Packers. 

Not a great day yesterday for the College 'Road Dogs which look like they will officially be recorded at 3-6-1 for the week. 

Ahead 26-21-3 on the season though, as the system looks for a 19th consecutive winning season. 

In the baseball play-offs, the Houston Astros have drifted out to third favourites behind the New York Yankees (to who they trail 0-1 in the ALCS) and Washington Nationals who lead the St Louis Cardinals 2-0 after winning the first two games in St Louis. 

Justin Verlander pitches for the Astros tonight, and they are around -161 (1.62). Verlander is by no means a shoo-in at this price, losing at -185 last season in Game 5 of their series against the Boston Red Sox last season, which saw the Astros eliminated. 

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Better Late Than Never

Twitter has been around since 2006, coincidentally the same year as Skeeve started his tipping service, and after 13 years, Skeeve has finally decide to embrace this new-fangled social media platform. You can, and should, follow him here @SkeevePicks.

A pioneer indeed, and with a long record of profitability, the account might be worth a follow based on the promise of "an occasional free tip, probably even an occasional free weekend pass." Here was today's freebie, which was a nice winner:

It's looking like we will have fewer qualifiers than usual this weekend in Week 6 on the NFL with just four Small Road 'Dogs. Here are the results for the season to date:
It's a Divisional game in London this weekend, but the London Losers streak continues after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost last week. They play the Carolina Panthers who are 2.5 point favourites, with favourites having a 22-11-1 record for regular season games at neutral venues.

We do have a Home 'Dog in the MLB NLCS game today, with the St Louis Cardinals currently at 2.22 for the second game versus the Washington Nationals, and a handful of College Football selections for those following the Small Road 'Dogs in that sport.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Braves and Kershaw Crash

Hopefully no one was deterred by, and by some distance, the longest price in MLB playoff history for a Home 'Dog on Tuesday night.

The Tampa Bay Rays extended the profits of this simple system defeating the Houston Astros 4-1 at 3.20. 

This season's results now look like this: 

Prior to Tuesday, the biggest price on a Home team in the play-offs was 2.6 back in 2009, and the average price is around 2.18.

Last night's loser was the Atlanta Braves who gave up a playoff record 10 runs in the first inning. At odds-on, some of you may have excluded this loser from selection, but six of the eight that have previously been in this category have been winners.

With a small sample size of just 134 matches and a 11.7% ROI, this isn't one of the strongest systems I've shared, but nevertheless Joseph Buchdahl's calculator gives the results a 1 in 11 chance of being by chance.

The final game of the Division Series is tonight, and at -280 the Houston Astros are certainly not a Home Underdog v Tampa Bay Rays. All three previous Home playoff favourites at this price or shorter have won. Not a large sample, and none were in the final game of a series.

As previously mentioned in this blog, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw has a problem in the playoffs, and it repeated again this season. He lost his only start in the Washington Nationals series, making it three playoff losses on the trot, and gave up a 3-1 lead last night after allowing back-to-back solo home runs as a relief pitcher. The Nationals won the game in the tenth inning to advance.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

October: Playoffs and Beginnings

October is always an interesting and busy month, with the baseball play-offs and World Series bringing the MLB season to an end, while at the same time the NHL and NBA seasons both get underway. 

With American Football already in-play, the possibility of a Sports Equinox is alive, and some of you may recall the unique occurrence in Los Angeles last year when the city hosted all four major US sports on the same day, with an MLS game as an added bonus.

In the MLB playoffs, the strategy of backing Home 'Dogs got off to a winning start on Friday when the Atlanta Braves defeated the St Louis Cardinals 3-0 at +115 (2.15) to tie their series at 1-1. The second game of a series, with the home team coming off  loss, is a particularly strong bias for this idea, as it is in the sixth game of a seven game series, which is the format for the Championship Series and World Series.

It was another winning weekend for the College Football Road 'Dogs with six winners from nine selections, and we're in good shape to see this trend be a winner for the 19th consecutive season.

Since 2000, the overall win percentage is 55.5% and after 1697 matches, if you're not convinced there's an edge here, I'm not sure what would convince you. Cue a terrible Week 7.

The NHL season started this week, and this is another sport where the public appear to put too much trust in the Home team when they are the underdog. 

The 2012 season was shortened by a strike, and the league was re-organised in 2013, so I use the data from 2013 on and blindly backing Road Favourites in the Regular season has an ROI of 3.2% from 2091 matches. 

Excluding weak favourites increases the ROI, and unlike baseball, when backing hot favourites is a good strategy, in ice hockey it is not. Road favourites lose their appeal at around the -170 line so it helps to exclude these. 

There's also a noticeable difference between conferences (the Eastern, comprised of the Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions, is far more concentrated geographically than the Western Conference, which is made up of the Central and Pacific Divisions). Time zones are also a factor, as I have written about previously.

There appears to be a bias to be taken advantage of here, and the number of bets is easily managed over a six month season. 

Friday, 4 October 2019

London Losers and Wednesday Winners

Week 5 of the NFL features the first games in London for the season, and Axios points out the interesting curiosity that none of the 25 games in the capital so far have been between two teams with winning records. 

Contrast this with the games played in Mexico City, where one of the two was between winning teams, and the third scheduled game last season was to be between two 9-1 teams except that the field wasn't fit to play on, and the game moved to Los Angeles. Ouch.

After the Carolina Panthers play in London next week, only one NFL team will have never played in London, and unless both the Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers win this weekend, the streak will move to 26 games.

Regular season games played outside of the USA are fairly rare and consequently have a small sample size, but of the 32 matches played to date, the favourite has covered 67.7% of the time and 85.7% of the time when the 'dog is coming off a win. The logic here is that a combination of the recent win and the effect of a neutral site is given too much credit by the betting public, and the line is lower than it should be.

Based on current lines, we should have seven Small Road 'Dogs this weekend, looking to maintain their 73.9% record so far this season.

We should have about the same number of selections in the College version of the game looks likely as we hope to improve on the current 17-12-2 record (left). 

As a reminder, this market inefficiency has persisted with more winners than losers in every season throughout the third millennium.

Regarding the end of regular season baseball summary and some of the systems I mentioned therein, Spot On Parts had this to say:
I've covered this before, but having a logical premise or rationale for why a market might be inefficient and then looking at data to either confirm or disprove the theory is quite different to data mining, an example of which is this one from a few minutes ago:
'Less' should of course be 'fewer' but regardless, one should never be too hasty in saying that such a finding has no predictive value - just because you don't recognise a cause, doesn't mean that there isn't one (Sumo Round 15 anyone?) - but it seems highly unlikely that a combination of fouls, being on the road, and a recent win at such specific values and only for the Detroit Pistons, and it all started after January 15th 2015, has any predictive value at all. It's random nonsense, the product of some great data mining (change the 20 fouls to 19 for example and 11 wins vanish) and it's not helpful nor all that interesting. There must be thousands of such nuggets (not Denver, the golden kind) hidden in the database, but the key is there has to be some rationale behind it. 

Spot On Parts then tweeted the below before rushing to the hospital to have his sides stitched back together:
He's referring to the fact that in Wednesday games, the New York Yankees have a Money Line ROI of 8.4% over the 408 games in the database. 

Now this is an example of something that could be chance, but in baseball, because of the way games are scheduled, Wednesdays (and Sundays for that matter) see more games of a certain category than other days, so Wednesday results would be expected to differ from say those on a Monday. 

The Yankees ROI is actually 90.9% on the road in day games against teams they have more wins than, and following an extra inning game. 

On the flip side, the Los Angeles Dodgers have a -12.8% ROI on Wednesday games and they are scheduled to play the Washington Nationals next Wednesday if a deciding game is required.  

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Basic Baseball and Mattress Mack

Pinnacle tweeted out a link to a year old article on baseball betting, and as is often the case, statements are casually thrown out that really aren't helpful or true.

The articled is titled "Why basic data isn't enough when betting on MLB" which is neither snappy nor accurate. 

In fact, as readers will know, basic publicly available data is quite enough to make a decent profit from this sport as my 2019 season summary showed.

The article contains the suggestion to "always consider the importance of the individual game" which would seem to be superfluous to anyone who takes betting seriously, and this paragraph is problematic:

Baseball is a rotation heavy sport. An MLB team has a 40-man roster from which to select their players (this comes from the active 25-man roster). Those new to betting may note that the starting pitcher is often listed alongside the odds for the game and (while some argue it is no longer as important as it once was) this shows the value that can be placed on specific individuals playing in a given game.
To be clear, it is the 25-man active roster that comes from the 40-man roster, not the other way round, but less pedantically, the suggestion that starting pitcher "is no longer as important as it once was" is palpable nonsense. 

A look at the number of sub -400 lines this season and the names of the starting pitchers will show that the starting pitcher is as important to the win probability, and thus starting prices, as ever.

The very next paragraph is this:
If the game you are looking to bet on doesn’t mean that much to one of the teams, it is likely that this will be reflected in the starting line-up - betting without having an in-depth look at each teams' line-up will cost you dearly.
I'd caution anyone serious about betting not to go looking for a game to bet on, rather the process should be to develop strategies and bet on games, and in markets, that are qualifiers.

The article contains some over-complicated and time consuming filler such as this:
Another factor that bettors need to think about when trying to analyse the two teams competing in a single game is day vs. night. Using the Blue Jays as a point of reference again, they have a sOPS+ (day/night split OPS relative to the league, with 100 being average) of 97/109 for night/day. Again, this is far from an in-depth analysis but just goes to show how spending the time to delve a bit deeper into data can benefit bettors.
Perhaps it's not surprising that no evidence is presented that anything in the article actually led to profits. 

To be fair, when I replied to the Tweet and suggested that over-complication wasn't helpful, and linked my Season Summary post, the author Benjamin Cronin replied positively:
Completely agree. The intention of the article is not to suggest more complex data is required, but that the analysis of the data you use is just as important (which you've done a great job of showing in your article).
Hopefully the constructive criticism above will be taken in good faith also.

There were a couple of other comments regarding the Season Summary, with my old friend A Lucky A Day asking:
The numbers for all my baseball systems come from Killer Sports, and although they do update the lines suggesting they are near to closing prices, I don't believe they are claimed as closing prices. I'm not aware of any sites offering closing prices so Killer Sports may not be perfect, but as perfect is the enemy of good, they are more than acceptable. If anyone has closing prices, feel free to send them my way.  

Barrakuda had this to say:

Other than the All-Star Break adjustment to the Overs Total System which is detailed in the post, the systems were all unchanged. 

Regarding whether all the systems I have ever conceived are shown, the answer is no. When I first first started betting on baseball in 2005, the focus was on in-play trading, and looking at edges from such things as starting prices sticking even after the starting pitcher was out of the game.

After hitting the Premium Charge Threshold in September 2012, it was hard to justify spending the time needed for in-play, and I started looking at a more systematic approach that would only take a few minutes each day. The Premium Charge also had a negative impact on liquidity, so the transition was a no-brainer.

Obviously some ideas were discarded almost straight away after some initial research, and others are proprietary and haven't been discussed on the blog, but the simple Totals Systems, T-Bone, Home Improvement and Rhenium etc. have all been around for a while. And of course I'm always open to new ideas.

Some of the more calendar specific systems for opening week, first week after the All-Star Break etc. were not included in the season summary.

Two systems that I no longer bet are the Mountain High System which after six winning seasons had a losing season in 2016 and was abandoned in 2017 after the poor results continued, i.e. the markets corrected themselves, and the UMPO system for the playoffs which proved to be too volatile and not worth pursuing with such a small sample size (around 30 games) each season. Apparently I didn't even update the numbers for 2018 yet. 

It's important to understand that market inefficiencies shouldn't persist for long, and any system should become worthless sooner or later. One needs to stay on top of systems and trends, one good example being the trend towards more runs meaning that the Overs System needed to be adjusted. Games change and markets change, but with change comes opportunity. 

There may be other examples of ideas in this blog, but honestly after 11 years it's hard to recall every system I may have put out there for consideration. No posts are ever deleted so there's a record of the systems out there.    

The playoffs continued last night with the American League Wild Card game in which the Oakland Athletics were, as they were last season, eliminated - this time by the Tampa Bay Rays.

For the first time in MLB history, four 100-win teams are in the playoffs, including the 107 wins Houston Astros who the Rays now have the pleasure of facing in the ALDS. 

Some of you may have seen articles about the Houston businessman 'Mattress Mack' who is looking to hedge his company's exposure to an Astros win by backing them to win the World Series. 

He 'only' wants $10 million on them, but sports books do not take sides, at least to any significant extent, even if the odds are hugely in their favour:
Sportsbooks maintain a much bigger house edge on futures markets, like the odds to win the World Series, than on single-game wagers. Even so, Curtis said multiple bookmakers have declined to take their action on the Astros. And the other shops willing to take their action so far took much less than they wanted to bet.
The Las Vegas Advisor has an article on this topic from someone with inside knowledge on the efforts to place these bets:
Mack had a standing offer from FanDuel to bet up to $10 million at +220, meaning that every $1 million wagered would return $2,200,000 if the Astros win. At the time, that offer was slightly below the market, and Frank and I set out to do better, at least for a portion of whatever was ultimately bet. What sounded like an easy enough task turned out to be anything but, as the books were a lot more timid to take the action than we expected. Why would the books be reticent? This is a futures bet with a 20%+ house edge cooked into the line. But this is also corporate Las Vegas and department heads are loath to take a chance on putting red ink on the balance sheets. Taking this bet, this good bet, still put them at risk and many weren’t having it.
After a whole lot of haggling, several bets have now been made in Las Vegas at +250, led by South Point, which booked it for $200K. That’s good old-fashioned bookmaking from the likes of Jimmy Vaccaro and Michael Gaughan. Four other Vegas sports books took bets at varying amounts: Caesars, MGM, TI, and Circa. Also, one monster $3.5 million wager at +220 was accepted by DraftKings and placed in Mississippi at the Scarlet Pearl. That’s where things stand right now, with close to $4 million in action. But using a hold ’em poker analogy, this is only pre-flop action; there’s much more to come.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

NFL: The Road, Low Totals and Big Spreads

After the Small Road 'Dogs went a perfect 7 for 7 in the NFL's Week 3, Week 4 was almost certainly going to be a relative disappointment but I'll take the 5 winners out of 8 selections that it produced any time.

Going into Week 4, road teams overall had a winning record, which has only happened once (in 2006) since at least 1989, when records began. No season has seen road teams end the season with a winning record since the 1970s, so this early trend was something worth keeping an eye on. The ATS percentage was 69.6%.   

After road teams this weekend went 11-4, expect to see more conversation about this in the next few days. Overall, road teams now have a 56.5% record straight up and are 67.2% ATS. 

Readers of this blog will know from my thoughts on the Away win in football (soccer) and its slow and steady increase in the English Premier League, something I expect to only continue with VAR, but the NFL, along with MLB, has long had challenges and reviews meaning that the (subconscious) referee bias favouring home teams is reduced:

In recent years, in basketball and elsewhere, the home advantage has been evaporating. The decline has been slow and steady in English soccer over the past century. In baseball, where home-field advantage has been at some of its weakest levels in recent years, it’s thought that closer supervision of umpires may be to thank.
Readers will also be aware that the long-term success of the Small Road 'Dogs Systems in both the NFL and College Football, works because the public overestimate home advantage. Long may they continue to do so, but pre-season articles pointing out that this advantage isn't actually as big as thought, don't help. 
...but for the most part, if you have two even teams, you'll see the home team favored by three points. It probably won't shock you to know that smart bettors don't take this three-point rule at face value, and those that dig into the numbers know that home-field advantage has actually been worth far less than three points on average around the league.
Fortunately some biases appear to be so well established that facts don't change opinions. It helps when people post misleading statements on social media platforms such as this:
Home Dog Division game always a good play.
Well, not always since the Home Dog in Division games since 1989 has a 499-511-35 record. Since the league re-organisation in 2002, the record is 259-285-18, and for the last three full seasons the win percentage is just 47.6%. When I pointed out this small, but significant, detail, the response was this:
I actually do go back to the 50s although I lie about my age and no one is any the wiser, but I don't think that's what he meant. No doubt most readers can come up with a good answer to this question, but that there are people out there with these mindsets is good news for the rest of us! 

Some of you may have also noticed that the average total this season through four weeks is at an all-time high 46 points. 

Unders had a 26-20-2 record, so this was another trend I thought I'd follow with a small interest in Week 4 and that went well with a 9-6 outcome for a nice bonus. 

Backing the Under when the total is 46.5 or fewer is 21-8-2 so far, 72.4%. As with baseball and basketball, it's another example of the public being afraid of the Under when it is a relatively low total. Backing Under 46.5 since 2014 has been profitable every season, with an overall 54.9% record. 

As with the NBA and MLB, the average number of points is also increasing in the NFL due to rules changes, and perhaps the public haven't shifted their long established biases here yet either. 

Between 1989 and 1994, the average total was 38.7, and in every five year period since, the average has increased.

The average total for this week is 46.07 points. 

Next weekend, for the first time in almost 10 years, there will be a game between a 4-0 team (New England Patriots) and an 0-4 team (Washington Redskins). Examples are rare, but all six have been won by the favourite, and four have been won ATS. The line is currently 15.5. 

Similar to how the sub -400 price used to be a rarity in baseball, a line greater than two converted touchdowns used to be relatively rare in the NFL, but parity seems to be declining here also with five already this season, and a sixth likely in Week 8.

Since 2002, there have been 69 such occurrences, with 21 being the the New England Patriots, seven of which were in 2007 when they almost went unbeaten for the season. Only twice has the hot favourite lost and ATS the record is 38-31 although in the AFC it is 50/50. Road teams are 6-1. 

Another interesting tidbit is that in games following a big handicap that went Over, the public expects an immediate reversion to the mean and backs Under.

Unfortunately for the public, Over is 63.6% in these games. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

MLB 2019 Season Summary and Playoffs Preview

The 2019 MLB Regular Season is in the books, 2429 matches instead of the expected 2430, which nevertheless makes it by far the best popular sport for data analysis. By way of comparison, the NFL is much studied, but analysis can be problematic with its low sample size each season as well as lop-sided schedules and the impact of losing one key player etc. 

So how did our baseball systems do in 2019? 

The well established T-Bone System relies on the market underestimating a team coming off a loss - aka recency bias, and there are no signs that this edge has been eroded. 

The Money Line and Run Line bets combined for 42.8 points of profit, the best season since 2012, although once again as expected, September wasn't profitable

July was the "hottest" month with 18 winners from 20, and the steady increase in selections continued with a new high of 180 matches. 

The average line was also a new record, the shortest ever at -177.3 (1.564) and the strategy of not backing the Run Line bet when it is an American League day game continued to benefit the bottom line, although that is getting into a little too much detail.

The Home Improvement System from 2016 had a strange season, with the Money Line up by 23.45 points (an ROI of 19.3%) but the Run Line down by 4.2 points (an ROI of -4.7%).
As has been mentioned several times, backing hot favourites (defined as -200 and shorter) continues to be profitable:
For the Totals Systems, the Overs System started the season including 9.5 run games and finished with a 56.1% record. 

After seeing an issue with the 9.5 run total, I adjusted the system after the All-Star Break to exclude these, and the season total for the new Overs system finished with a 65.9% record.

To be fully transparent, the numbers before the All-Star Break were 98-65-8 (60.1%) and after the break were 72-49-4 (59.5%) for a total of 170-114-12 (59.9%) which are very strong numbers for such a simple system.

The Unders System wasn't modified during the season, and finished with a record of 83-60-4 (58.0%). 

Here is a summary using the Overs System we started the season with, as we stay fully transparent:

Using the new Overs parameters for the whole season would have been wonderful, but hindsight isn't something most of us possess. 

At the risk of turning this post into something of an eye chart, here are the results of the Extra Innings System:

The Doubleheader System failed miserably this year, with only three wins from the six opportunities, but ROI percentages of 23.9% on the Money Line and 21.8% on the Run Line aren't going to be discarded after just six bets. At least the more profitable away selections had a winning record. 

Plenty to look at in the close season, and whether you followed one or all of the systems and ideas from this blog, you would have struggled to lose money this season. 

Results for all the systems combined in 2019 are below:

310 points profit, systems all verifiable, and all disclosed in this blog.

Meanwhile the season goes on with the playoffs starting tonight with the National League Wild Card game - Milwaukee Brewers @ Washington Nationals.

The Wild Card games started in 2012 and so it's a small sample size, but for what it's worth the road team in National League games have the edge in these games. It's a winner take all game so worth watching if you enjoy watching meaningful sports. 

The database goes back to 2004 and contains 503 games. Overall the table below might help you identify where the market weaknesses have historically occurred in playoff games:

The 12% / 8.1% ROIs on Home 'Dogs is what jumps out, and over the past five years the returns hold up at 11.4% and 5.5% but the low number of selections means any one season may well end in a loss, although only 2016 has done so since 2010, but don't go crazy and lose too many of those 310 points.

Should any playoff games go to extra innings, forget the Home 'Dog next time out, and go with the favourite.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Week 4 Inefficiencies

There are seven NFL teams who have lost their opening three games of the season, and in Week 4 since 2002, such teams have a 33-20-2 winning record (62.3%) ATS when playing teams with at least one loss and one win. 

In Divisional games, their record is even stronger at 15-7-1 (68.2%), and the Washington Redskins (+3.0) at the New York Giants tomorrow are such a qualifier. They are also a qualifier for the Small Road 'Dogs system.

The New York Jets are on a Bye week, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals play each other, and the other three worth considering - if you agree that the public underestimate 0-3 teams - are the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins.

In College Football, the Small Road 'Dogs are already 2-0 up on the weekend after Duke and Arizona State both won straight up on Friday night. Another five likely selections from today's matches hoping to improve the current 15-9-2 record.

Another huge favourite in the MLB today with the Houston Astros yet again (for the 11th time, Justin Verlander for the 6th time) starting at sub -400. The Astros are the only club to start this short on the road since at least 2004, and do so for the third time this season. The Astros lead the Los Angeles Dodgers by one game (and hold the tiebreaker) in the race for home field advantage in the World Series should both teams advance that far for a repeat of the 2017 finale.


Doubleheader Delay

For those of you hoping to cash in on the September Sweep System yesterday, you're going to have to wait for 24 hours after both games between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox were washed out.

Game One was called in the fourth inning with the Tigers 4-2 ahead, but a game needs at least five innings to count.  

With only two days remaining in the regular season, and four games still to play, MLB have decided that we will have only the one traditional doubleheader today, and both teams will end the season on 161 games rather than the full 162. 

Since neither team can move up or down in the AL Central Division, it's understandable, but two doubleheaders each day would have been fun. 

We did have a couple of T-Bone winners yesterday from three selections, and the only totals selection was a comfortable winner with 21 runs scored. 

At the start of this season, there was an article published by the Action Network which included this system:

This is the simplest system you’ll find for betting baseball. Take a bad team (won 40% or less of games) after a win. Why does this work? Recreational bettors think it’s unlikely that a poor team will win two games in a row, which leads to inflated lines.
The problem is that it actually doesn't work these days. This season's Money Line ROI is -16.4% following last season's -8.9%.

Another system was to back the Under when two winning teams play each other: 
Winning teams score runs, and the public likes to bet the over. So, if you have a pair of winning teams on the field, the oddsmakers will inflate the total expecting casual bettors to get down on the over.
Again, this would have not been a profitable strategy, with the loss at 3.8% this season although to be fair it was profitable in 2018 at 1.5%.  

Perhaps too many people read the article and took all the value out of the systems, but they don't seem to have identified market inefficiencies. I do find such articles interesting though, as they sometimes trigger ideas that do lead to finding inefficiencies, which after all, is what it is all about.

Friday, 27 September 2019

MLB Regular Season Finale

There are now only three more days of the regular MLB season remaining, and once again, it has been a very profitable one. I'll update the final numbers next week, when the focus will be on the post-season.

The September Sweep System came up with another winner on Tuesday when the Washington Nationals swept the Philadelphia Phillies with the second win at -220 (1.45).  

The Houston Astros also won on Tuesday beating the Seattle Mariners at -480 (1.21) and another shorty won at the same price on Wednesday when the New York Mets defeated the Miami Marlins. Neither winner game up a run. 

In the NFL, things are going rather nicely too. After seven winners from seven selections on Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles made it eight from eight for the Small Road 'Dogs System beating the Green Bay Packers last night. Another five likely selections from the remaining Week 4 matches, two of which are Divisional games.

The 2019 ROI is meaningless after so few matches, but an ROI of 7.5% over the past five seasons (plus the current one) should draw some attention.
The biggest favourites of the weekend are likely to be the Los Angeles Chargers (-16.5) who visit the Miami Dolphins who have lost their first three games by a total of 117 points. This is the shortest price the Chargers have ever been in an away game, and historically road teams against the spread are 16-11-1 when favoured by two touchdowns or more.

Currently eight games are in scope for the College Football equivalent, which currently boasts a 13-9-2 record. 

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Cole On Fire

For anyone still backing red hot MLB favourites, there's yet another sub -400 selection today, once again the Houston Astros and starting pitcher Gerrit Cole's fourth such outing having won all three previous opportunities and who recently got his 300th K of the season. Justin Verlander is just 12 strikeouts short of 300, and if he does make that number, it'll be only the second time ever that two pitchers from one club have reached this in the same season. 

For some historical perspective and to show how times are changing, from 2004 to 2015 there were just three favourites in this range. In 2016 there was one, and in both 2017 and 2018 there were three in each season. 

Tonight's Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners game is the 13th of the 2019 season, ten of which have been the Astros. Of the 22 matches, only 17 have been won for a loss of 5.1% while backing the favourite on the Run Line has a disastrous return of -21.5%

The edge in these games would appear to favour the underdog, but we're looking at a very small sample size. Tonight's game is a Divisional one, and here favourites do have an edge.  

The Extra Innings system came up with a winner last night (St Louis Cardinals) with another selection today, which along with four probable T-Bone selections, one Overs and the doubleheader game makes for a busy day.

While I was researching the doubleheader sweep / split post, I came across this related idea:
If a team has lost back-to-back games as a road favorite, there is a good chance they will break through with a win if they are favored in the next game. For example, if the Chicago Cubs are visiting the Cincinnati Reds and they drop the first two of a three-game set, there is a good chance they will bounce back and avoid the sweep. This system is harder to execute than the previous one because there are fewer instances where a road team loses twice in a row as the favorite and then enters the third game as a favorite as well. However, there are situations where it happens so it makes sense to track them and capitalize with the road favorites split.
This is certainly profitable with returns of 3.6% / 1.2% (ML/RL) but it's excellent in American League Divisional night games with returns of 23.9% and 29.8% respectively.   


Not as rare as the tripleheader, the last one being in 1920, the doubleheader is a relatively rare feature of MLB and is traditionally defined as two games played between the same teams on the same day in front of the same crowd, but which is more generally used these days to refer to two games played by a team in a single day, but in front of different crowds and not in immediate succession.

They typically occur later in the season, as they are no longer scheduled, but are the result of games being called off, most often due to bad weather.

In 1969, Michael L Goodman published an article in The American Statistician titled On the Incidence of Swept Double-Headers in which the author claimed that contrary to popular opinion, doubleheaders are more often swept than split: 
1969 was a long time ago, but over the last ten seasons, including the current one, I make it pretty much 50/50, with 130 sweeps to 134 splits, but there's an interesting, and perhaps not totally unexpected, tendency for teams to sweep in the later months of the regular season.

If the public perception is that it's difficult for a team to sweep, you might ask yourself how does backing the winner of doubleheader game one in game two work out?

Turns out overall, not too well, with a negative ROI of around 3.4%.

In September and October though, when for many teams the season is effectively over, and for others, they are fighting for a post-season place, it's a different story. 

Here, backing the game one winner in game two has an ROI of 25.7% (ML) and 24.8% (RL). 

When the team is the underdog, the returns increase to 46.8% and 27%, and when the 'dog has fewer wins in the season than their opponent, we're up to 82.9% and 40.5%. 

And when the 'dog is at home, the ROIs are a ridiculous 151.9% and 82.2% respectively, but we're also down to a very small sample size! 

There have been 31 doubleheaders this season so far, with another one today (Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies) and one on Friday (Chicago White Sox v Detroit Tigers).  

Monday, 23 September 2019

Seven Heaven

A perfect Sunday for followers of the NFL Small Road 'Dogs System, with all seven selections winning. 

Three of the seven covered by half a point - the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers were both getting 4.5 and both lost by 4, while the Baltimore Ravens were getting 5.5 and lost by 5 (after being down by 17 at one point). 

The New York Giants, Houston Texans, Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints all won straight up to complete the sweep. 

The season record is now 12-3, with the record in Divisional games 3-1. 

Somehow I suspect the 56.2% ROI number may slip a little as the season continues, but hopefully at least some of you made a decent amount this weekend.  

Not quite such a good day in MLB, with the Extra Innings idea losing two bets from three but a winner on the T-Bone System (New York Mets). No action for either of the Totals systems.  

After six rounds, the EPL is starting to take shape, and a new Draw system I am following is so far looking very good, although I would have preferred a loss on yesterday's winner:
Only one losing round out of the six, but another ROI (62%) that is unsustainable.  

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Extra Innings and More

Back from a week in humid Orlando, home of the University of Central Florida (more on that later), and to a rare, but much appreciated, donation to my retirement fund. Thank you Justin. Putting a monetary value on my invaluable advice is not an easy task of course, but either my retirement has been brought forward by at least 15 minutes, or I may take the donor up on his suggestion to have a few beers this weekend instead. 

Another area where the markets might be inefficient came to my attention  during the week. 

As always, these systems work because the public (and thus the market) reacts inappropriately to recent events, either under-reacting or over-reacting based on long established biases.

With the MLB season almost over, there's probably not much point in going into too much detail at this time, but the off-season will allow time to look into it further. 

A basic implementation of the idea, which is based on the premise that the impact of extra innings isn't always accurately accounted for, looks promising with the following results from the past three seasons:

The ROIs are even better at 21.0% and 17.6% over the same period when being selective about the type of match, and the one qualifier today is the Washington Nationals, with the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles worth considering. 

The more established T-Bone System continues to be a winner in September, not usually its best month, adding another 22.65 points to the season total, which is now the highest ever.
It's hard for me to understand why such an inefficiency persists in the market for so long, but I'm not complaining. There's a 1 in 3452 probability that these results are by chance but anyone following will be doing very nicely.

The Totals systems have had an unexciting month so far, with Overs having a 15-14-3 record, and Unders a 3-2 record.

In College Football, the perennially successful Small Road 'Dogs system (no losing records this millennium) went 5-1-1 yesterday and 13-9-2 for the season. 
Not everyone had a good Saturday:

Pittsburgh led 21-0 before UCF scored 31 points straight, before giving up a last minute touchdown and losing 34-35. While it is true that Central Florida has a great record ATS overall as a favourite, (22-9-2 since 2015) I'm not sure 1.21 was the best value.    

Early days still in the NFL, but the similar Small Road 'Dogs system here is 5-3 after two weeks, with five possible selections today. The record in Divisional matches is 3-1 but there are no qualifiers today unless the line on the Patriots v Jets game shortens considerably from its current 21 points! 

Lines of 20 points and over are rare occurrences in the NFL with just six such instances since the league re-organised in 2002, but today may well see two more with the Miami Dolphins getting 22.5 points at the Dallas Cowboys. 

Notable that on all six previous occasions, the 'dog covered the spread, but also notable that the Dolphins have lost their opening two games by 49 and 43 points.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Dogs and Hotties by the Numbers

The (American) Football seasons are underway with a winner in the opening game of the 100th NFL season on Thursday night as the Green Pay Packers easily covered the spread against the Chicago Bears, and as it was also a Divisional game.

Selections for the basic Road 'Dogs system today were the Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills (in a Divisional game).

The Week One 'Dogs System was also profitable with an 8-6-1 record.

We had our first Division 1A Conference game in the College version of the sport on Saturday, although it was a loss with Stanford being thrashed at USC. 

In Conference games overall the Small 'Dogs system is 3-2 to the good after two weeks, and in all NCAAF games is 9-6-2. 

Overall a small profit on the weekend, but they all add up.

In my last post, I wrote about the over-reaction to a high score in baseball:
A similar over-reaction by the less sophisticated is seen when a team gives up a high (15 or more) number of runs. If the next game is a day game, the Money Line ROI is 14.5%.
Some of you are no doubt wondering if this inefficiency applies to the NFL, and are busily poring over the records. Well, more likely none of you are, and it's never crossed your minds, but I'll here to tell you the numbers anyway. 

When a team covers by 14 points (i.e. two converted touchdowns) or more in Week One, they are 18-29 in their next game ATS, and we have four qualifiers for next week.

As with baseball, in recent season it pays to back big favourites in the NFL, and while there were no double digit favourites in Week One, there are likely to be two next weekend. Over the last ten seasons, such favourites are 164-130-4 ATS. For teams favoured by more than two converted touchdown, the win percentage is 62.9%, and the New England Patriots are 7-1 in these games, with a loss in 2011. They could be the biggest favourites in a game since 2013 after opening at -17.  

The MLB regular season continues to wind down, and those who said the T-Bone was overdone are being treated to an unexpected bonus with a 6-0 September record.

Unfortunately Overs is just 2-4 while Unders is 1-2 this month. 

Two more wins for the Houston Astros this weekend at -430 (a narrow 2-1 win) and at -450 (a slightly wider 21-1 win), and backing at -300 or hotter in divisional games and you'd be up 12.4% this season on the Money Line, 15.9% on the Run Line.   

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Rare and Publicised

By some measures, Houston Astro's Justin Verlander hasn't had the best of seasons, managing to lose two games in the space of eleven days as a -430 or shorter favourite, but he did come through on Sunday with the third no-hitter of his career, and the second one in Toronto while playing for the road team.

Only five other pitchers in baseball history (since 1876) have managed to throw three or more although Verlander has some way to go to match Nolan Ryan and his seven.

Well publicised and rare events do offer an opportunity to the more sophisticated bettor, as the public overreacts to the news and goes into a collective recency reaction. 

For example, when a team holds an opponent hit-less, in the following game they have a 28.8% ROI on the Money Line when playing the same team again. 

If the no-hitter was the last game of a series, then the play next day is to fade them, currently with an ROI of 34.1% but a losing bet yesterday, albeit after extra innings.

A similar over-reaction by the less sophisticated is seen when a team gives up a high (15 or more) number of runs. If the next game is a day game, the Money Line ROI is 14.5%

I mentioned here the possible new record for the line in baseball on the 22nd, and sure enough a new record was set with a line at -530, Gerrit Cole becoming the third Astros pitcher of the season to start a game at -400 or shorter in August. Not surprising that with a starting rotation this strong, the Astros are as short as 3.15 to win the World Series this year. Currently they are tied with the New York Yankees for the best record in MLB and the American League, with the National League's Los Angeles Dodgers close behind, A repeat of the 2017 World Series looks possible. 

For some perspective on the history of red-hot favourites in baseball, since 2004 there have been just 16 matches where the line was sub -400 and six of those occurred last month, with five being with Astros pitchers. 

“Here's the essence of risk management: Risk no more than you can afford to lose, and also risk enough so that a win is meaningful. If there is no such amount, don't play.” – Ed Seykota