Saturday, 4 January 2020

EPL Draw - Under Consideration

A Happy New Year to everyone reading this, and 2020 is the 13th year in which this blog will have active. This will be post number 1,660 with the current posting rate for the past two years somewhere around two a week, which is probably sustainable for a little while longer. 

While the pedant in me knows that the 202nd decade of the Common Era doesn't end for another year, I'm reasonably comfortable with going along with the masses and thinking of the 'twenties' as a new decade, and the last one was certainly interesting from a betting and investment perspective.

Betting is too individual to draw any sweeping generalised conclusions about, but personally the big change, to use investing terms, has been from active (in-play) betting to passive (bet-and-forget) betting. 

The first investment anyone makes is time. You must do this prudently before you can be successful investing money.
Some of the free time gained from not betting in-play at all hours of the night has been spent researching ideas for the bet-and-forget approach, but the importance of sleep should not be underestimated.

At my advanced age, betting returns are a small percentage of income, with net worth changes hugely dependent on what the financial markets are doing, and long time readers will know my thoughts on low cost index funds and investing in the US:
In more traditional financial markets, once again the main US benchmark index outperformed the UK's FTSE100. Only 4 times in the last 24 years has the FTSE prevailed, and the disaster that is Brexit means the US and Overseas markets are where most of my investments will again be in 2018.
Here are the updated numbers for the last 'decade', and with 9 out of 10 'wins' for the S&P 500 and an overall 189.7% gain over the period, I have no plans to change this strategy in the near future.

Anyway, most of you are here for betting and I've not written about the EPL Draw since the summer, but as the 2019-20 season is now in its second half, it seems like a post on the topic is overdue. 

One of the more popular posts of 2019, at least in terms of views, was this one detailing my history with the Draw, and the importance of selecting matches where the difference in win probabilities is relatively small. While this isn't the most complicated of calculations, it does require a little effort, but here is an idea that requires literally no effort at all.

Long time readers, and followers of the XX Draws from several years ago, will know that there is a correlation between the Unders (under 2.5 goals) and the Draw: 
These selections are also profitable when the Under 2.5 goal selection is backed. I first noticed this early in the 2011-12 season, and I started recording these prices at that time.
When you are looking for draws, you obviously want matches where the probability of goals is low, and as I have written on my blog, in a way, it is more satisfying to select a match that ends 1-0 than it is to fluke a 5-5 draw as I did on the last game of the 2012-13 English Premier League season.
Prior to this season, I didn't have access to an accurate closing price for the Under 2.5 goals markets. Joseph Buchdahl's Football Data web site included Maximum and Average prices from several sportsbooks, but the numbers were all over the place.

However, starting this season, Joseph has added the Under closing price from Pinnacle, and the simple strategy of backing the Draw in matches where the implied probability of Unders is above 0.5 has so far proven to be profitable.

As a benchmark, backing the Draw in every EPL game this season (never a good idea, so don't try this at home) would have cost you 10.34 units, an ROI of -4.95%.

Forget matches where the Draw is priced at 4.0 and the ROI becomes positive at 3.91% and if you only back the Draw in matches where no side is odds-on, the ROI is up to 7.11%.

Looking at matches where the Under 2.5 goals is sub 2.0 and the ROI is a very nice 24.4% (15.89 units from 65 bets). 

And the return is even higher as the probability of goals declines:

If you combine the strategies mentioned above with matches where the difference in win probabilities is less than 20%, the ROI is currently at 62% but half a season isn't the largest of samples.
Dionysios tweeted the following recently:

I'm not so sure this necessarily makes sense. My character restricted reply was that: 

The point is that the betting markets of today, like the underlying sport, are not the same as those in the past. The sports themselves change as do the markets, so comparing the results of a concept or an idea which may be profitable today with results from the past is somewhat limited in value. 

While there are obvious exceptions where markets continue to be inefficient because biases can be extremely stubborn, it seems logical that inefficiencies will, in general, be recognised, and self-correct as money comes in to take advantage, often resulting in an over-correction!

Dionysios' idea seems to revolve around in-play football, which seems optimistic to say the least given the level of competition that is analyzing and investing profitably in this sport's markets. 

As I've written before, tracking the number of minutes elapsed in a game from your bedroom isn't going to cut it. 

Speaking of wild optimism in in-play football, is my old friend Mel (Scientia Trading) still raking in the profits? Things seem to have gone very quiet, although it is quite possible that I've been blocked and am missing out on the continued success of his claimed 60% strike rate at 2.8...   

The NFL play-offs get underway today with the Wild Card games where historically the value is on Unders. Only twice in the last fifteen seasons has Overs 'won' more than two of the four games, the last time being the 2011 season. Of the other thirteen, three were split for an overall 40-27-1 record.

The totals market is most inefficient for matches played on grass, but only one of the weekend's games (Philadelphia Eagles v Seattle Seahawks) is being played on this surface and it's the one game that sees the road team as favourite - despite having lost three of their last four games. I suspect the market is giving too much weight to the Seahawks 17-9 win in Philadelphia at the end of November although a road record of 7-1 is impressive.  

Road 'Dogs are generally under-rated at this stage also, with a 28-22-2 record ATS, and in the last two season are 7-0-1.  

Finally, the NHL system which struggled early on this season has bounced back with a seven game win streak and currently has an ROI much more in line with expectations at 22.4%.

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