Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Seven Year Hitch

While researching backing the Draw, I stumbled across a blog that seems to no longer be active, called Sport DW written by Ian. It's one of the better written blogs out there, with a statistical angle which I like, but it hasn't been updated for about two years which isn't a good sign.

What caught my eye was a post from about seven years ago, which claimed that

"If we look at the past three completed seasons in the Premier League, we can see how blindly backing the draw can be particularly profitable:"
Evidence in the form of a table is then shown, with the three EPL seasons from 2010-13 shown:
Ian clarifies that:
"The figures are based on placing £10 on the draw in every Premier League match over the course of a season. As we can see, you would have won money in two out of the three seasons, with the overall profit for the three year period being an impressive £668.90, which represents a 5.87% return on your initial stakes."
Unfortunately where the odds were pulled from isn't mentioned, but I compared them with my spreadsheet which uses Bet365's numbers for 2010-12 and Pinnacle's Closing Prices for the one season they are available (2012-13). 

My numbers for the seasons are:
Still profitable over the three seasons, but nowhere near as profitable as Ian was able to find. 

Possibly the results were achieved using the idealistic "best Draw price from any of the sportsbooks", and while it doesn't really matter at this stage anyway, perhaps Ian can recall where he pulled his numbers from? Or maybe not because seven years is a long time ago! 

In practice, it's likely an investor would have called it a day in early 2012 given that this method isn't traditionally profitable and the positive spell was just noise.

In fact, these three seasons just happened to be the best three for blindly backing the Draw since Football-Data began! 

Here are the results from the EPL since 2000 with the prices adjusted to a standard 103% over-round.

As readers will know, there is no edge to be found blindly backing the Draw.

Ian does continue with looking at the return in matches where the Under 2.5 goals is favourite (profits are increased) and also finds that the EPL is something of an outlier when it comes to Draws when compared to lower divisions and the top leagues in Europe.

In the comments, Spencer asked:
Great article Ian. Could you increase the ROI by leaving out games with heavy favourite?
Also, would be interesting to delve into why the Premier League is an anomaly when it comes to draws? 

Is it just coincidence or do you feel it's likely to continue in the future?

Wheelie1977 raised the topic of the Big 6 teams, although he only considered 5 worthy of being considered Big at the time, asking:
Wonder what the stats are if you leave out the Big 5 either home or away. Surely double digit ROI?
Actually the idea was a 'wheelie' good one, and would have left us with the 182 Little 14 match-ups per season and some good returns:
For the full twenty seasons blindly backing the Draw in 'Little 14' matches is down just 3.59 points after 4139 bets, so it's actually not a terrible system and one can that easily be made profitable by focusing on close matches. 

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