Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Reading Between The Lines

Thanks to the GimmeTheDog site, it's once again an easy query that can verify the results for the NFL Small Road Dogs system on a Monday or Tuesday morning.


While the weekend just passed saw a small loss with the four selections going 2-2, the overall record for the season after ten weeks is a very solid 30-15 with the ROI over 30% and currently the highest for any season since the NFL went to a 32 team format in 2002:
As you might suspect, I track the results of each specific line, and with five and a half seasons since the extra point rule change made prior to the 2015 season, I thought some of you might be interested in how that rule change has affected the point spreads.
Prior to 2015, the profit was overall from the Road Dogs getting 3 and 3.5 points. The 'twos' were slightly profitable, while the 'fours' and 'fives' had a winning record, but not by enough to cover the vig.

Since 2015, the 'twos' have become losers, the 'threes' have become even more profitable, the 'fours' are in the 'profitable but hardly worth bothering with' category, but the biggest difference is in the 'fives' where the winning percentage is up hugely to 59.5%. 

Five has become a pivotal number given that a team scoring a touchdown to lead by five is now incentivised to go for two points and lead by seven (rather than six) while similarly a team scoring a touchdown to come within five should go for two to reduce the deficit to a field goal rather than four points. Wins by five points have jumped as shown in this graphic from covers.com:
Another comment from schnakenpopanz who pointed me to the gimmethedog site, writing:
Hello again, thx for the citation of my comment. Another part which is very interesting to me: The direct influence of officiating in the NBA this season. As mentioned here: https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nba/nba-rule-changes-2021-explained-referees-will-no-longer-reward-abnormal-moves-from-foul-hunting-stars/ar-AAPaKRa 

How does this translate to the betting market and odds/lines/totals? If the lines of gimmethedog are correct. Blindly betting unders are 120-76. 2020 over was 581-575 for Overs. 2019 575-543 for Overs. So the Market AND the bookies hasn't transformed yet to these changes. The totals are very inefficient. A 60% edge is very unusual.
At the time of writing, blindly backing Unders this season has a 125-82 (60.4%) record with two pushes, but there are signs the market / bookies are adapting. 

The NBA season has been in play for four weeks now, and the average total has steadily declined. In week one, the total was set at an average of 223.06 points, declining by week to 219.47, 216.05 and 215.4. We can be pretty certain the season will not end with Unders showing a 60.4% record! Over a 1,080 game regular season plus playoff games, a 60% edge would indeed be very unusual. 

Tesla has been in the news again this month, with CEO Elon Musk selling (so far) a mere $6.9 billion of Tesla stock. That the stock is only down 5.3% this month is perhaps a good sign for the long term, and a modest drop following its incredible 43.6% jump in October. 

There's also the small issue of the company being sued for a rather reckless Tweet from Musk back in August 2018, an event I remember well. At the time I was rather ill in hospital, although not as ill as my room neighbour who had just days to live and whose time was spent saying his farewells to friends and family, a rather depressing experience for me, as it no doubt was for him. It was all very well pulling curtains around his bed, but I couldn't help but overhear every conversation, however hushed. 

Anyway, I remember the Tweet, and in particular the frustration that I wasn't able to trade the stock that day, but in the end my indisposition was a blessing in disguise.
The price of 420 was a 33% premium on what I'd paid for them in 2017, and had I been in a position to do so, I may well have sold at that point in time. At the start of August I was in the red, but after Q2 earnings and then the infamous Tweet, they were about 20% up. They fell back over the next few days, and by the time I was in front of a computer again, the moment had passed. 

As I wrote at the time, a little crudely perhaps:
At the time of writing the gains are currently well into six figures and my illness was very well timed. Who says there is no god? 

Taking a 20% profit would have been quite upsetting to look back on given today's percentage:
Finally, I have finished reading "Trillions - How a Band of Wall Street Renegades Invented the Index Fund and Changed Finance Forever" by Robin Wigglesworth, and a very interesting read it was. It will now be passed on to my son who also likes such books. Put it on your Xmas List if you like books about finance and investment. 

Sunday, 14 November 2021

New Balls? Please!

My trip to Chicago is over, and it appears that the country has gone betting mad. 


The Monday Night Football game while I was there was in Pittsburgh, between the Steelers and the Chicago Bears. I wandered down to the hotel bar to watch the second half and enjoy some beers and healthy chicken wings - while my wife wasn't able to monitor my calories - and fell into conversation with a rather loud American, cursing his luck for betting Overs. Since the total he'd bet was 40 and it was 14:3 with most of the third quarter to come, I wasn't quite sure why he was so certain he'd lost, but I bit my tongue.

Mr. Portland (Oregon, not Maine), informed me that his rationale had been that he'd been "wiped out" on the Sunday games, had decided that the Monday game would definitely go Under, but because he'd lost so many bets on Sunday he went against his "research" and backed Over. But he did want to make clear that he wasn't a complete idiot by telling me that he only bets $25 a time. This assertion (about being an idiot) was later found to be false, with the conversation turning to politics and references to "Sleepy Joe Biden", and the wild claim that "it's impossible to make any money from sports betting". I bit my tongue (again) on both topics. There was a lot of tongue biting that night.

Ultimately the game was comfortably Over finishing with 56 points, and with that bet a winner, he turned to his phone and started looking at betting on the outcome of the next play, soliciting opinions from the small group present. By this time we had been joined by a couple of slightly more normal people, one a German living in Brazil, the other an Angeleno, who both found the whole situation highly amusing, especially when towards the end our friend was about to back the Bears to win the game until I pointed out that the Steelers only needed a field goal to win the game. Cue total astonishment from the Portland Proud Boy, exclaiming "Oh yeah, that's right!" and a change of strategy subsequently rewarded with another winning bet when the required field goal was kicked with 26 seconds left. I was half expecting a beer for my troubles, but no that didn't happen.

I asked Mr. Portland which sportsbook he used, and his answer was Bovada, a company with a good reputation in the US but who typically post -110 lines (1.909) on 50/50 bets, a vig that would make it difficult to make money long term. 

Once the game was over, he wanted to move on to NBA betting, but with meetings the next day, I needed my beauty sleep but my parting gift to him was telling him to look at Unders in NBA games this season.

Prior to leaving, it appeared that "backing Unders when the total is greater than 212.5 is currently the best bet".

As mentioned in the last post, the "overt, abrupt and abnormal" rule change has had a significant impact on scoring, but there is one other factor that may be partly contributing which is the revelation that after 37 years of using a Spalding manufactured ball, the NBA now uses a Wilson.

Larry emailed me with this link, and worth a read if you're interested about this kind of thing. One paragraph states:
While it’s still early in the season, the league is currently experiencing a temporary shooting slump, with an approximately 2% lower overall field goal and three-point percentage compared to last year. While a short offseason and new foul call interpretations have been subject to blame, some trainers, players, and analysts are now pointing towards the new Wilson ball as a possible issue.

While I think the primary reason for the decline in points is the new rule, it is certainly possible that the change of ball is a secondary contributory factor. Some players are talking about it, although of course being able to blame the ball rather than your poor shooting could be convenient.

Paul George of the Los Angeles Clippers is quoted as saying:

"Not to make an excuse about the ball, but it’s a different basketball. It doesn’t have the same touch/softness that the Spalding ball had, and you’ll see this year. It’s gonna be a lot of bad misses”

He himself seems to have adjusted just fine, currently fourth in the points-per-game category, up from 22nd last season. 

As to my comment regarding the 212.5 line, the record now for the season at this entry point is 98-57-1 which is 63%, and in November is so far 40-30 (57.1%). I am indebted to schnakenpopanz for pointing me to gimmethedog.com in his comment:

Hello, long time reader, but only my first comment. Thx for all the work you put in, I learnt a lot from your experiences.
I have been working together with the killersports platform a while ago and been active in several subgroups and worked with a lot of people from the core group.
So I think this will be quite interesting for you. killersports as you know it may not exist, but there is a subsite formed by other members which continues the SDQL format.
So far it is in beta testing and hopefully will catch up to the painful emptiness that killersports aka sportsdatabase left us with.
http://gimmethedog.com/
I have used it for test purposes a lot right now and it looks solid, but shortcuts we are familiar with may not work from the get go. It looks promising.
If there are other things I may help with, feel free to ask.
Cheers.

Cheers indeed as beta testing or not, this is looking to be a hugely useful site. Many thanks to schnakenpopanz for sharing this.

Some of you may recall that AT asked about Small College Dogs recently, and while the Gimme The Dog site doesn't recognise the "Division" parameter, the numbers for all matches this season shows a less than exciting record of 44-45.

Dr Tsouts commented that:

I am tracking most of Cassini's systems for almost 2 months and I am slightly negative on NCAAF handicaps with a record of 26 wins, 28 losses and 2 void. But numbers are better when following straight wins with 9 wins and 13 losses and a 8.3% ROI. The picture in NFL is great and I am waiting a correction but now I have 7 wins and 4 losses in straight wins (money line) and 27-11 in handicap with the extraordinary 27-11 record!

The record is now 28-13 record with four selections this week.  

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Overt, Abrupt and Abnormal

The subject isn't about my personality, although I've been described as all three at some time or other, but was triggered by an interesting observation from Larry regarding the NBA Points Total System this season. He noted:

Numbers definitely down and here's some stats after 2 weeks into new season which may interest you.

Fewest number free throws per game in modern era of NBA

Lowest offensive efficiency number since 2014

Lowest 3 point % since 2003

Lowest field goal % since 2000
I can't say I am totally surprised at these numbers because as I wrote in an email on October 21st regarding the season:
One area to keep an eye on, and which may slow - or even reverse - the steady increase in points scored, is the NBA's rule change concerning fouls on shots.

The rule change I was referring to was the one implemented ahead of this season to:

discourage offensive players from making "overt, abrupt or abnormal non-basketball moves"
Essentially, NBA referees will no longer reward offensive players who launch themselves into defenders. 

While we are only a few days into the season, the rule appears to be having more of an impact than I was expecting.
Nine points fewer per game than last season. Almost half of those are from 'lost' free-throws and the reduced 3-point percentages Larry mentioned easily explain the rest. 

Rather than adding 10 points to the previous season's average, it seems this season we will need to subtract a few, but the whole premise behind this strategy over the years has been that the public is slow to adapt to changes in the game, and shy away from previously unseen totals. Now that points are in decline, that edge isn't there, since the public is by now used to totals in the 220's. 

Of the 10 matches so far this season with the highest Totals, eight have gone Under. Until the market catches up to the impact of this new rule, it would seem logical that Unders will be value. Sadly without Killer Sports, it's not easy to verify this but this blog is about giving you ideas and doing your own research, so good luck if you run with this one.  

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Totally Out of Reach

A few comments on recent posts, which makes the task of writing a new post much easier. Working backwards, and on the most recent post, my old friend "babyduck" took a break from Chipstead pond and the White Hart to say:
Good effort, with the weight loss. I need to do the same!

Losing weight really isn't difficult, although it's not as easy as gaining it, but it's just so boring! I do find it motivating and critical to keep records but basically it simply requires self-discipline, and for one's social life to grind to a complete halt. Fortunately, when I set my mind to something, self-control isn't an issue, and so far as social life is concerned, it helps that I'm not very popular.

Diego commented about my NBA Killer Sports comment that it was "Early days, and the unavailability of Killer Sports for the NBA this season is certainly an inconvenience" writing:
I don't know what you miss about KillerSports, but at

https://s3.sportsdatabase.com/NBA/query.html

you can do basically the same queries. For example:

date, team, o:team, total@total>=230 and site=home and date>=today

By the way, thank you for the blog, I enjoy it a lot :)

This does work for selecting the matches, although I'm struggling to see how to get the game results to display. The SDQL is certainly different from the very easy to use Killer Sports version, but if there's a manual somewhere this could be a useful resource. Anyway, thanks for the lead Diego and the 'official' results so far from the NBA Overs System are now 0-0! The 234.5 mark may be a tad high. 

AT commented:

Do you not play Small College Dogs anymore? I've read most of your blog and never saw where those dropped out of the regular rotation

I stopped publishing the College Football Small Dogs when Killer Sports stopped tracking them. I like the results of my systems to be verifiable, and identifying qualifying matches (I focused on Division 1A colleges) went from a few seconds to, well, much longer. With, I believe, 254 colleges in Division One football, it's no small task doing this manually and I like an easy life.

Referring to the NBA totals, Annis asked: 

So what was last year’s average total

The table below shows the total used for backing Overs since we noted that the points being scored were steadily increasing:

If the question is asking what was the average total points per game last season, the answer is 224.2, i.e. ten fewer points than the 234.2 we are looking for this season. 

And I think that is it for comments, but there was an interesting Tweet that @statsbet looped me into.

I do like things like this, so thank you Statsbet. The Tweet was this:
Aside from the missing apostrophe, the last sentence is absolutely correct. I'm pretty sure no sane person would ever have their entire retirement savings fully invested in stocks, because as this example shows, that's a recipe for disaster. A couple of bad years early on, and you're out looking for a janitorial position to boost your income! 

A lot of this was actually covered recently in my Diving Into Retirement post where the conclusion was that even a 4% withdrawal from an S&P 500 Index Fund would have resulted in running out of money on 13 occasions since the Index's inception, so 5% would be bordering on reckless. 

The story of DFA (Dimensional Fund Advisors) is covered in the "Trillions" book mentioned in my last post. Chapter 9, "New Dimensions" if you're interested.

Monday, 1 November 2021

Perfect Storm, Indexes and Eating Pies

As disappointing as September was, October more than made up for it with what might be called a perfect storm. My concerns raised in September's review turned out to be unfounded:

Fortunately it's [September] the only such month, although a little concerning that October is the next worst month.

Of the stocks I've mentioned here previously, Tesla, Boeing and Lloyds Bank were all up on the month, while Bitcoin, Pfeizer and Berkshire Hathaway were down.
Looking at those stocks a month later and in October, Tesla was up 44%, Lloyds was up 11%, Bitcoin was up 47%, Pfeizer was up 1.7% and Berkshire Hathaway was up 5%. All returns that wouldn't look out of place for a year! 

Only Boeing spoiled the party down almost 6%, but more than compensated by the company fortunate enough to currently have my services at their disposal gaining 18%, with my options and RSUs consequently moving nicely into the money, while the S&P 500 Index was up close to 7%

Some of you longer term readers will know my love for Index Funds since I've mentioned them since at least 2014, especially the S&P 500, and I'm currently reading Trillions, by Robin Wigglesworth, which is an excellent book about their creation - "How a Band of Wall Street Renegades Invented the Index Fund and Changed Finance Forever". 

The FTSE 100 was up 2.13% on the month and for the 24th time in the past 28 years - and 12th of the last 13 - looks likely to again have a lower return than the S&P 500 this year.
On the topic of indexes, one much followed one is the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which being comprised of just 30 stocks, isn't representative of the overall US market, but it is old, even if only one company (Procter and Gamble) was in the index prior to 1976.  

In 1999, a book was published titled "Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting From the Coming Rise in the Stock Market" in which the authors predicted that the index would reach the "titular milestone" by 2002 or 2004. In the event, that didn't happen, but the number was finally reached today, almost two decades later! 
In the January 2000 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, Glassman and Hassett replied to a critic of their theory that "if the Dow is closer to 10,000 than to 36,000 ten years from now, we will each give $1,000 to the charity of your choice." For the Dow to be closer to 10,000 than to 36,000, it would have to be below 23,000. As things turned out, the index was not even at half that figure ten years after Glassman and Hassett's prediction (the Dow's highest close in January 2010 was 10,725, reached on 19 January). In early 2010, Glassman and Hassett conceded they lost the bet and they each donated $1,000 to the Salvation Army. It wasn't until 18 October 2017, coincidentally the day before the 30th anniversary of Black Monday, that the Dow closed above 23,000, thus finally reaching more than halfway from 10,000 to 36,000. Following multiple downturns, including the 2020 stock market crash, the Dow continued rising toward the titular milestone, finally reaching 36,000 on 1 November 2021 (but has not closed above it).
The Sports Investment bank grew by 3.9% which didn't really impact the big picture, but it's always nice to make some beer money, for those months when beer is allowed of course.

October saw nine Draw selections for the EPL "Close" System and a 13% ROI from the three winners, although we're on a losing run which happens quite often with Draw betting:
Interesting that for the second consecutive season, Away wins in the EPL are currently more frequent than Home wins, even with crowds back. 

The NFL Small Road 'Dogs System had a good month with a 14-9 'official' record looking likely. Killer Sports haven't updated the past weekend yet, but my results show these went 5-2 on a busy Sunday. 

The NBA Overs System has so far been very quiet as mentioned previously and in the MLB playoffs two of the three 'Hot Favourites' lost (all Los Angeles Dodgers), there have been no Overs qualifiers, but six of the eight Unders bets have been winners. At most, there are two more games before the 2021 season concludes.

In summary, October was the best month ever in real terms, and at 7.64% the third best ever in percentage terms, at least since 2011. The 48.93% year-on-year number was slightly disappointing, as it failed to beat the high of 48.94% set at the end of March! 

October also marked a 100% climb from the March 23rd, 2020 pandemic nadir, and it was also a good month for the Sober October and weight loss challenge I set myself.
Target is 20lbs and, unlike some of my financial targets, this one is all up to me.

After a month with an average daily intake of just 1,095 calories, 196 miles covered on foot - mostly walking, but with a little running, 166 miles ridden on the bike, no alcohol and no meat - I did eat a lot of fish though - the final tally for pounds lost was 20.8, which is my best ever 31 day total beating the 19.8 pounds lost in January 2016, another "dry" month. Losing weight gets tougher the older you get and although I suggested "this one is all up to me", there's only so much one can do, and it was very pleasing to hit that 20 pounds number this morning.

With a work trip to the Windy City this month and the Xmas festivities in December I shall no doubt be doing "Dry January" again in a couple of months in an effort to lose the probable 'gains' between now and then. This health stuff never ends! As the Daily Mash reported in 2015:

If you want to be fit you have to keep doing exercise forever, it has emerged.

Healthy eating and sport have been condemned as a scam after it was revealed that they only lead to more healthy eating and more sport.

Carolyn Ryan of Cardiff said: “After two months of going to the gym I asked my personal trainer when I’d be fit enough to stop all this and eat the fuck out of some pies.

“The look on her face. She said that if I relaxed my diet regime even for a week then the fat would pile on again even faster than before, and if anything I should be stepping it up.

“I thought it’d be like A-levels where once you’ve passed you never think about history ever again, but it’s more like revising history five nights a week for the rest of your life.

“She says after a while I won’t even want a Toblerone any more. That made me cry.”

Personal trainer Donna Sheridan said: “Getting healthy isn’t a sprint, it’s an endless marathon through featureless terrain pretending that chips and sitting around watching telly don’t exist.

“However I do have the warm glow of knowing that I’m better than everyone else.

“Unless they’re right and I’m the moron. Which I occasionally think, but I get that out of my system with a nice eight-mile run.”

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Stock Crashes and Squirrels

Two more winners, and one loss, for the Small Road 'Dogs this past weekend (Week 7), taking the season's record to 22-10, and a less impressive - but still profitable - 7-5 for the Divisional matches. This week was actually the first of the season when Home teams were in the majority for winners against the spread, covering in 10 of the 13 games.

In the NBA, followers of my Overs strategy could be in for a quiet season, since after one week we have had just two selections. 

On Opening Night, the Brooklyn Nets - Milwaukee Bucks game was half a point shy of qualifying and finished Under. The following day saw the first qualifying bet with the Sacramento Kings - Portland Trail Blazers starting us off with a winner, but on Sunday, the Golden State Warriors - Portland game took us back to square one with an Under. Early days, and the unavailability of Killer Sports for the NBA this season is certainly an inconvenience.  

In the Premier League we had one "Toss-Up" selection this weekend, with Leeds United and Wolverhampton Wanderers delivering a winner with a 1:1 Draw albeit thanks to a 94th minute penalty. Here are the results for these selections since 2010:
Brentford v Leicester City was a "Close" selection, and was a lot closer than the other "Close" selection which was the Big 6 game (or rather rout) of Manchester United by Liverpool. The ROI on "Close" selections over the same period is now 5.28% from 746 selections.

Not to spoil the month end update, but with Tesla currently setting record highs as if the year was 2020, and incidentally joining Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook in the trillion dollar company club, and with Bitcoin having a strong month, it's looking like it will be a good month overall, (famous last words). 

Still two trading days to get through, and October has historically been an exciting, to put it mildly, month for stock markets with today (27th) the anniversary of 1997's Asian Contagion crash, and 10 years earlier, October was the month of the Black Monday crash which I remember well, following as it did, the Great Storm which closed the Stock Exchange on the preceding Friday. A loss of 23% in two days wasn't pleasant, but it was an important lesson fortunately learned at a time when, in real money terms, I didn't have too much!  

Finally, from Wikipedia, an unexpected final detail to Aaron Zang's personal life page:
Zang played Magic: The Gathering during high school and won a Chinese championship in the card game. He graduated from university in 2005. In 2013, he founded a company specializing in Bitcoin in Shenzhen. In 2019 he got a pet squirrel.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

NBA 2021-22

The NBA regular season returns this week (on Tuesday) with the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks hosting the Brooklyn Nets, who are favourites to win the championship this season. The Nets were ousted from the playoffs last season by the Bucks in overtime in game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-final. The Los Angeles Lakers are second favourite, the Bucks third, and the Golden State Warriors, who haven't made the playoffs for the last two seasons, fourth favourite along with the Utah Jazz.


As some of you will know, the strategy of backing the Overs in games where the Total is "high" has been a profitable one since the average points per game started climbing after 2012. For no reason other than I ran out of fingers, I've been adding ten to the previous season's average points totals and backing Over for matches where the total is set higher. 
There were 150 fewer games in 2020-21 with each team playing 72 games rather than the usual 82, but enough games were played to allay any concerns. Other than total points scored, a couple of other metrics I keep an eye on are the pace of the game, and the number of three-point shots being taken and scored. In line with the increase in points scored, the pace of the game has also been steadily increasing since 2012, although last season it fell slightly, but only by 1.1%.

As well as the faster pace of the game, the other key metric driving more points being scored is the increase in three-point shots being taken and also being scored. 

When the three-point line was introduced in 1979, it's an understatement to say that teams were slow to recognise its potential. In the 1980-81 season, teams attempted an average of two three-point attempts per game, scoring from 25% of those shots, i.e. the grand sum of one and a half points was the average in a game from shooting a three!  

Forty years on and the numbers are a record high of 34.6 attempts per game with a near record high 36.7% conversion rate. At the height of the Chicago Bulls success, the 1996-96 season was a 36.9% conversion rate, but last season was the next highest and from more than twice as many attempts. 

The bottom line is that the expected number of points per game from threes has climbed from 1.5 in 1980-81 to more than 38 last season. With change comes opportunity. 

One other number that helped last season was the number of turnovers which at 13.8 per game is the fewest since this stat was first recorded back in 1973. Since 2000, this number has stayed in the 14 to 15.1 range so it will be interesting to see whether this turns out to be a trend or a blip.