Sunday, 29 November 2020

Denver QBs Zero, Observers Nonzero

Apparently the decline in output from this prestigious blog has resulted in formerly regular readers forming new, and bad, habits including not checking in on a daily basis. As unacceptable as this is, I must take some responsibility because with most of my favourite (from a betting perspective) sports in their close season, and NFL teams playing weekly at the most, there's not been a huge amount to write about. 

Add in a work trip this month, which looks likely to be the last one for at least a couple of months, a couple of side projects which I have found myself pursuing, and the result is fewer posts.

In my defence, the decline is more perceived than actual with the number of posts this year already at 125, including this one, which surpasses the totals of both 2018 and 2019. Nevertheless, I shall try todo better.

Some of you may have seen the line move in the Denver Broncos v New Orleans Saints game. The opening line favoured the Saints by 6 points, but the news that all four Broncos Quarterbacks are out has meant that line has now moved to -14.5 making them the fourth biggest road favourite in the last 15 seasons. The other three all covered the spread in case you were wondering. Some sportsbooks have circled this game, but at the time of writing Pinnacle are still accepting bets. 

How, you may ask, did Denver end up in this predicament? Per Adam Schefter of ESPN:

QB Jeff Driskel tested positive for COVID on Thursday.
Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles did not wear masks, per a source, and were deemed high-risk close contacts today. They now are out Sunday.

Here is where I would normally take the opportunity to point out that John Elway (President of Football Operations) is a well known Republican which may have been a factor in the mask debacle here, but Elway has shown a positive attitude towards understanding the racial injustices in the US so I'll be kind:

"I've spent the last week listening and learning from the players and coaches on our team.

"What I've heard from the players in particular—and watching the way they lead during this time of need—has been moving. I always thought that since I grew up in a locker room, I knew everything there was to know about understanding teammates from different backgrounds and walks of life. What I've realized is that I could not have been more wrong. Listening to the players and reading their social media, the strength they have shown and the experiences they have shared has been powerful. It has impacted me. I realize I have a long way to go, but I will keep listening and learning. That is the only way to grow. I truly believe a lot of good will come from the many difficult conversations that are taking place around our team, league and country.

The Betfair Forum has some long threads on the subject of when the US Election markets, notably the "Next President" market might be settled, and in particular plenty of people who are not happy with Betfair making up new rules as previously, and specifically, excluded "subsequent events" unfold.

One user suggested:

It's like backing the winner of a horserace and then being told by the bookie that you cannot be paid until the vets have examined the horses, and confirmed that as no doping or other fraud took place the result can stand, subject of course to any subsequent legal objections to the winner.

He's not far wrong. It's as if the horse race rules said:

"This bet will be settled with the winner the first horse past the post. Subsequent events such as an objection or positive doping test will have no effect on the settlement of this market" 

Biden's My Boy wins by 20 lengths, but the owner of runner-up Racist Donny doesn't like losing and immediately signals his intention to form a crack legal team to be led by Rudy Giuliani and files an objection. Betfair consult with their own crack team of lawyers and announce that they have decided to wait until the objection is heard. The objection is over-ruled. The horses never came close to each other, at least not within six feet, but another objection is filed. Giuliani, tucking in his shirt, says they have heard about a massive fraud that needs to be fully investigated. No evidence of course, but it possibly involves 5G technology, pyramids and men from Mars. 

No, wait! None of my horse's fans were allowed in to see the race!

Status: Denied. The Trump campaign later admitted that there were a "nonzero number of people in the room" observing the vote count, including some affiliated with the campaign. Judge Paul S. Diamond shot back, "I'm sorry, then what's your problem?"

The problem is that he can't handle losing, and it's not even as if it is close.

From the Washington Post:

The facts were indisputable: President Trump had lost.

But Trump refused to see it that way. Sequestered in the White House and brooding out of public view after his election defeat, rageful and at times delirious in a torrent of private conversations, Trump was, in the telling of one close adviser, like “Mad King George, muttering, ‘I won. I won. I won.’ ”

However cleareyed Trump’s aides may have been about his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, many of them nonetheless indulged their boss and encouraged him to keep fighting with legal appeals. They were “happy to scratch his itch,” this adviser said. “If he thinks he won, it’s like, ‘Shh . . . we won’t tell him.’ ”

Only on Nov. 23 did Trump reluctantly agree to initiate a peaceful transfer of power by permitting the federal government to officially begin Biden’s transition — yet still he protested that he was the true victor.

The 20 days between the election on Nov. 3 and the greenlighting of Biden’s transition exemplified some of the hallmarks of life in Trump’s White House: a government paralyzed by the president’s fragile emotional state; advisers nourishing his fables; expletive-laden feuds between factions of aides and advisers; and a pernicious blurring of truth and fantasy.

Though Trump ultimately failed in his quest to steal the election, his weeks-long jeremiad succeeded in undermining faith in elections and the legitimacy of Biden’s victory.

As I've said before, it's the principle that Betfair are establishing here that is worrisome. Having funds tied up for a few more days is slightly annoying but it isn't a big deal.

What's the worst that could happen? Say there are enough faithless electors to give Trump another term. In this event, Betfair would have three options

1. Settle the market as a win for Trump. Not going to happen since millions were put into the market where the rules clearly stated that "Any subsequent events such as a ‘faithless elector’ will have no effect on the settlement of this market". I imagine some fairly large bets were placed and a lot of unhappy customers would take legal action.

2. Settle the market as a win for Biden. That wouldn't be a viable option having refused to do just that when they should have, and with Trump heading for another term.

3. Void the market. A billion pound market? Maybe, but that would be a PR disaster as well as costing Betfair some money.

The most likely outcome is that Trump's legal efforts continue to be denied, thrown out, withdrawn etc. (you'd think they'd have fired their best shots by now, if they had any), and the Electoral College process sees Biden elected on December 14th with close to 306 EC votes, and Betfair settle the markets breathing a huge sigh of relief in the process.

I think they chose to milk the uninformed Trump supporter for a few more weeks at the expense of the integrity of the market, and having waited too long (unlike other sites who settled much quicker) painted themselves into a corner. Very poor from Betfair, and I'm usually one of their biggest fans.   

Anyway, following my established accounting process, the profits will now be booked in December with November's numbers including the worst case scenario, which is a four figure loss. We still have one trading day to go in the month, and I'd hate to jinx it but as things stand, this month has been the single most profitable one of my life. 

The continued gains in Tesla, (first mentioned in this 2018 post) have of course helped significantly, with the stock soaring another 50.95% just this month, in part at least on the news that the company will be joining the S&P 500 Index. 

Readers will be aware that I first mentioned this possibility back in July when $TSLA was trading at (price adjusted to account for the split) $308.93 and hopefully someone saw what I did and took advantage of the opportunity as it is up 89.6% since that post. 

Aside from Tesla, which closed at $585.76 on Friday, the stock market overall has been good this month. Hopefully some of you took my advice in 2018 and invested in US funds.
A quick calculation shows that an investment of £100 in each Index Fund at the end of 1999 would now be worth just £91.88 for the FTSE100 and £247.63 for the S&P500. These are quite shocking numbers actually, as is the fact that the FTSE100 is on track for its worst year since the market crash of 2008. 

A solid December, and it'll be a record year, which is not something that looked likely on March 23rd when I was 20.4% off my all-time high. 

Finally, a word of caution about small sample sizes. Just because a "big favourite" (in this case we are talking about the EPL where "big" is under 1.5) has a few losses in the opening 14 matches of a season, doesn't mean the markets are suddenly offering you value to lay them. The favourite-longshot bias means you'll lose your money more slowly by backing such selections.

It's true that seven of the first nine teams priced shorter than 1.5 this season failed to win, but since then, there have been six consecutive winners.

In the Pinnacle era (2012-date) your ROI would be -0.3%

When presented with some statistics pointing out the nonsense of this idea, the response was:

On the other hand, I am sure -6% ROI for the last 10 seasons is better than many of of us had.

I did point out that an ROI of -6% in a 103% overround market was actually pretty bad and hopefully the idea that laying favourites in the EPL is profitable is being reconsidered.


Unknown said...

Didn't realise the 'lay the favourite clown' actually responeded and took a degree of pride in losing at a rate of 6%! :-)

Each to their own I guess and a consolation point for his honesty!

Thyseo said...

So, did you bet the hous on Denver -14.5?