Friday, 15 March 2019

Dispersion Of Skill

One of the longer running blogs linked to by the longest running of all sports investing blogs is that of Simple Soccer Stats where Leon Pidgeon has this week decided to hang up his keyboard after ten and a half years and return to his loft:

So much has changed in those years but right now I don’t have the time or dedication to continue with the site. I was a keen bettor with plenty of time on my hands staying up late and studying everything. I’m now 10 years older with a family and no spare time on my hands. I also don’t even bet on matches anymore so I am keeping the site going more out of a duty to the people who use it.
Leon certainly published a lot of stats, but as I have written previously, you're not going to find it very easy gaining an edge over the big players when trading top flight football. In his defence, he does refer to them as 'simple' stats, and looking at an edge from early goals, bogey teams, half-time scores etc. is unlikely to lead to riches. Leon doesn't mention how much he made in those ten years, but I hope it was worth the time invested and I wish him well in the future.

I'll leave the link up for a few months, before taking it down, but to compensate, I've added a couple of well-written and researched horse racing blogs from Gareth, one focused on the Grand National and one on Trainer Profiles. If horse racing is your thing, then check them out. 

I'm traveling to Texas this weekend hoping to catch a Golden State Warriors game there on Monday night, and there's an interesting article on the progress of sports betting legalisation in the US at Axios. Actually, it's not really an article but more of a list of bullet points, but a couple are interesting, if not news to readers of this blog.

The writer, Kendall Baker, writes that:
...too many of us equate sports betting to playing roulette (a game of luck), when in reality, it's much more like investing in a stock (a game of skill).
As I've written before, when someone writes or talks about 'bashing the bookie', they are showing their ignorance about how the industry works.
"Bookmakers operate in a manner strikingly similar to that of stockbrokers.The customers of each try to predict the outcome of events. The sports bettor thinks, feels, or relies on someone else's opinion that a specific team will win a game. An investor in securities also thinks, feels, or relies on someone else's opinion that a specific stock's price will increase or decrease. As more money is bet on a team than its opponent, the money odds, or point spread, will increase. As the demand for a certain stock increases, the price of the stock increases." - Jack Moore
Mr. Baker also quotes Ted Leonsis, owner of Washington D.C.'s Capital One Arena as well as the four teams who play there (Wizards, Capitals, Mystics, Valor), about this disconnect between how sports betting and stock trading are viewed:
"It's a generational thing. When someone my age closes their eyes and thinks of sports betting, they imagine some back room with cigarette smoke and cocktail waitresses and a mafia guy walking in with a paper bag full of cash."
"For the younger generation. what conjures up in their minds is playing daily fantasy sports. Rather than thinking of sports betting as this criminal activity, they associate it with the idea of 'how much smarter am I than you because I did my research.'"
Fortunately for those of us with an at least somewhat functioning brain, sports betting attracts not only those who understand what is required to gain an edge, but seemingly many more, almost always uneducated and almost illiterate, who think it is an easy way to get rich. It isn't, despite what you might read on social media, but this dispersion of skill is what we need to be profitable. 

Back in the US and the NHL regular season has just 23 days to go, with one team already guaranteed a play-off place. I'll update the numbers next month, but the basic system currently has an ROI of 12.2% while the more exclusive selections (only 36 bets) have an ROI of 22.1%. The Vegas Golden Knights play tonight and I'm hoping for 12 wins from the last 14. 

The NBA is also in the final stages of the regular season, and March has so far not been kind to the Overs on High Totals backers. It all depends on your entry point of course, and which sportsbook you use for your line, but if you are backing when the line is 225 and over, March has probably not been a pleasant time so far.

Some perspective though - the last full month when backing Overs in the regular season when the Total was 225 and higher was under 50% was December 2009.
Finally, MLB is poised to return. Will the famous T-Bone System be profitable for the 8th time in 9 seasons?  Last season certainly showed no signs of a slowdown and weaknesses in American sports markets certainly seem to persist a lot longer than in say European top-class football. 

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