Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Whyteleafe Woes

Not to depress anyone, but less than a week until the days start to shorten again, and 2021-22 pre season fixtures start to be announced. Unfortunately for my club, there is again no pre-season tour of Queensland and even more unfortunately for my local non-league club, any season at all is now in doubt. 

Many years back, I trained pre-season with Whyteleafe but surprisingly they never called me back, (presumably they mislaid my number). 

More recently my son went further and played a few matches for the first team there, but yesterday the club confirmed rumours that have been circulating for a while that they will not be playing in next season’s Isthmian South Central League.
The club has been forced to give up its Step 4 status after new owners of the Church Road ground refused to negotiate a new lease or licence agreement with the club for the 2021-22 season.

So that's a bit disappointing, but hopefully the club will continue, albeit in a lower tier. Depending on how much lower a tier, I may try out for the team again, although after the broken leg this year, I'm not sure my chances of first team action are any higher than they were 40 years ago! 

The new owners of the ground are Irama Sports, a Singapore based company which has "close links" to former Liverpool and Wales player Ian Rush. Not sure how true their claim to love grass roots sports is though.

Sports investing has gone a little quiet this month so far with few qualifiers in either the NHL or NBA systems as both these sports are well into the playoffs. It's fortunate there have been few, as most have been losers. 

The NHL ROI has fallen to 13.4% for the season, and the NBA Overs ROI to 22.5%. The MLB Hot Favourites continue to generate money though, with a 22-5 record and an ROI for the month of 16.8% and 11.7% for the season. June is usually a good month for hot favourites, though not quite up to May's high standards, but 2021 is on track to beat the June record set two seasons ago.  

Friday, 11 June 2021

Sticky Situation in MLB

Last month, I wrote this in regard to the MLB: 

The Totals Systems combined are comfortably in profit after 179 games (29.96 units) but interestingly all the profit is from Unders with Overs slightly down, although making up ground after a slow start to the season.

Overall, Unders is the winner in 51.7% of matches, but in our subset of selections, the strike rate is currently 62.9%.

It appears that we may now have an explanation for why the Unders is performing so well. The latest Sports Illustrated magazine has an article titled "The inside story of how rampant pitch-doctoring in MLB is pumping pitchers up and deflating offenses" reporting that:

Over the past two or three years, pitchers’ illegal application to the ball of what they call “sticky stuff”—at first a mixture of sunscreen and rosin, now various forms of glue—has become so pervasive that one recently retired hurler estimates “80 to 90%” of pitchers are using it in some capacity. The sticky stuff helps increase spin on pitches, which in turn increases their movement, making them more difficult to hit. That’s contributed to an offensive crisis that has seen the league-wide batting average plummet to a historically inept .236.

The current World Series champions Los Angeles Dodgers are called out specifically:

According to the data, L.A. has by a large margin the highest year-to-year increase of any club in spin rate on four-seam fastballs, which are considered a bellwether pitch. In fact, the Dodgers’ four-seam spin rate is higher than that of any other team in the Statcast era. There is no proof the Dodgers are doctoring baseballs, but nearly across the board, their hurlers’ spin rates on that pitch have increased this season from last.

The Dodgers declined to comment.

However, the Dodgers have been one of the non-profitable teams for this strategy this season, and along with the Padres and Giants have made this a non-starter in games involving NL West teams. In NL East matches however, the Under is winning 68.4% of the time. 

In the AL, where the Designated Hitter rule applies, matches involving an American League team, system matches are going Under 66.2% of the time.

Now that the issue of tampering with the ball has been exposed, it will be interesting to see how the Totals markets, as well as the leagues, react. We may not always immediately know why an edge exists, but if you wait until an explanation is found, you'll have missed the boat. 

The T-Bone System is firing on all cylinders this season too, with a 100% record this month and a season ROI of 5.6%, while the hot favourites are up 11.1% on the season. After losing 6.7 units in April, the system is now up 26.9 units.  

Thursday, 3 June 2021

The Betting Bees - Benham's Brentford, and Bloom's Brighton

Other than fans of their promotion rivals, I suspect that most neutral football fans were happy to see Brentford promoted to the Premier League last Saturday. 

One club chairman who wouldn't have been so thrilled would have been Brighton's Tony Bloom, as it is well known that he and Brentford chairman Matthew Benham had a major falling out in the early 2000s when they worked together at Premier Bet. The two clubs did agree on the transfer of Neal Maupay in 2019, so maybe things have cooled off a little but the boardroom could be an interesting place when the two teams play each other next season.

I've previously written on this blog about Benham in February 2015 when Brentford were playing in the second tier after spending 59 of the previous 60 seasons in the third or fourth. I wrote about Bloom a year later in February 2016. It's worth reading the Benham article again, given that the post ended with:
None of us know what will happen next. But we can say this. Brentford and Midtjylland are clearly going the right way and their stories over the next few years will make fascinating viewing. And while Benham has taken some flak in recent days, history teaches us that in the long run it is unwise to bet against him.
Back in February 2015, FC Midtjylland had never won the Danish League or Cup, but since then have won the league three times, finished runners-up twice, and also won the Danish Cup. With Brentford now reaching the Premier League, it's pretty clear that Benham's methods work.

His betting strategy - "to exploit inefficiencies and errors in bookmaker prices" - should be what everyone strives for, and speaking of which, here are the results from May.
A couple of red areas, but in a short time period such as a month, results are always going to be skewed by randomness and luck, and worrying about wins and losses is rather silly if we have confidence in our strategies. Focus on the process, not the results.
"Bad bets sometimes win and good bets sometimes lose. Long-term it will work." - Mark Langdon (Racing Post)

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Keeping Score

I mentioned Morgan Housel a couple of times late last year, and his book "The Psychology of Money" which is well worth reading if you are interested in finance. 

One of the main takeaways from the book is that investing is quite unlike any other field. In the opening chapter he writes:
In what other industry does someone with no college degree, no training, no background, no formal experience, and no connections massively outperform someone with the best education, the best training and the best connections? 
The 'outperform' in this instance is the often heard story of someone like a janitor or librarian who dies at a good old age and leaves several million in their will, and Housel includes the story of Ronald James Read who:
"was an American philanthropist, investor, janitor, and gas station attendant."
All that Read and others like him have done is typically invest what they can from their average salaries in stocks / index funds and let time do the rest.

Fewer than 4,000 of the 2.8 million Americans who died in 2014 left more than $8m and Read was in this group.

The Washington Post praised Read, writing, "How a man of modest means accumulated so much wealth contains exemplary lessons for saving that apply to all of us.

The writer, Barry Ritholtz, noted that lessons could be learned from Read's experience adding: 
"But there is also a cautionary tale about recognizing the value of your finite time here on Earth. Perhaps learning to enjoy life while you can is part of that equation."

This subject was also touched on by Morgan Housel in a recent podcast interview I listened to, when the name of Warren Buffett was brought up, as it often is in these conversations. 

Early on, Housel is asked about Buffett and essentially the primary reason that he has become so well known and wealthy is because he started investing at age 10, and in his 90s is still going. The formula for getting rich is "be patient and wait for 75 years."  

Housel points out that 99% of Buffett's net worth was achieved after age 50, and 97% after he turned 65 and that his obsession with business and investing has come at a cost to his family and social life.

Most of us want wealth so that we can be independent and focus on other things in our lives, but for Buffett and I suspect some other billionaires, wealth is simply their scorecard in a game they can't quit. 

If you're into podcasts, check out "We Study Billionaires" Episode 378 - The Psychology of Money. It's 75 minutes of fascinating conversation and great to listen to while you're out for a walk or run. 

Back to the book and Housel declares that:

financial success is not a hard science. It's a soft skill where how you behave is more important than what you know.

This applies to sports investing too, as do some of the podcast discussion relating to Benjamin Graham and his evolving formulas!  

While not in the same league as Warren Buffett of course, not many of us are, I do like to track my investments and May was another solid month overall (+3.52%) although most of the gains were from property which is unusual. Seven consecutive months in profit and +33% since the end of October.


Tesla slumped 11.9% last month while my birthday Bitcoin purchase has now lost 40%, not one of my smarter investment decisions but at least I only put in a relatively small amount. Overall my play trading account lost 4.2% last month, and 0.6% year to date. 

I probably shouldn't mention the streak of profitable months because as soon as I mentioned the winning streak (of 19) for hot MLB favourites in the last post, we hit two consecutive losers on Friday. Normal service has since resumed with two more winners at the weekend, but I'll review the MLB, NHL and NBA systems for May in a couple of days. I'll also be publishing some results from the Europa and Champions League this season, now that those competitions are both finished. 

Friday, 28 May 2021

MLB Streaking, Chelsea's CL Final Form and More

A work trip took me away from betting and blogging for a few days, but a couple of people left comments or sent me emails while I was away. 

David asked for clarification on this comment from my "Never Say Never" post of a couple of weeks back:
The lesson for bettors is that any sporting outcome can be value if the price is high enough. Bet for value, not for who you think will win, and you will be a long term winner. In other words, bet numbers not teams.

What I meant by this is that you shouldn't bet an outcome because you "think" it'll win. You back an outcome because the probability of a win is greater than that implied by the price (odds).

If you are finding value, the profits will come. If you are backing who you think will win with no regard to value, then the losses will come. It's counterintuitive to back an outcome that you don't think will be a winner, but it is often the right thing to do if your goal is to make money rather than provide entertainment. The key to successful betting is to take advantage of those betting for entertainment as well as the uninformed, because it is their money that ultimately tips the scales and offers value to the sharper minded. 

Stewboss commented on the NBA Overs System results for the regular season, writing:

The NBA overs figures are good on the face of it but I feel that results based on the closing line would be a more useful measure. The figures polled from your data source are posted at arbitrary times with no consistency. There are threads on their forum confirming this.

As Voltaire said, "perfect is the enemy of good." As I've written here before, the prices in the Killer Sports database aren't necessarily closing prices, but are:

a representation of the line at which most people bet the game. The Lakers closed at -1, pick and +1 in some places, but they were -2, -1.5 and -1 for most of the day. The closing line, in many cases, is not the line at which most people bet the game.

They will generally be close to the closing prices, and in many markets will be the same, but as Killer Sports point out, even if the total or line moves in the last few minutes before a game starts, not many people will be on at that price since betting has been taking place for some time before, and for events like the Superbowl for a full two weeks. 

They're also the best totals and lines we have, or at least that I know of that are available for free, and they are certainly good enough to use as a basis for identifying areas of market weakness. We can never find mathematical proof for a system since prices / odds are dynamic and if we hesitate too long, we miss the boat altogether.  

Anyone who has followed the NBA Overs system will know that totals sometimes move during the hours prior to a game and if you bet early, sometimes the move will be in your favour, sometimes it'll be against you. Sometimes you can get better than the dime line (1.952) and other times you may get worse, but even if you only got 1.806 on the 1,000+ matches since 2013, you would still be in profit. 

The intent isn't to say that if you follow this system, you will have an ROI of 7.9% - you almost certainly won't - but it is to show where the market is inefficient and it's up to each individual to work out for themselves the best way to take advantage of this since we don't all have access to the same sportsbooks and prices. And if anyone has solid closing totals for NBA games, please let me know where they are available and I'll see if the inefficiency is consistent on these. 

The NBA playoffs are currently in progress following the new play-in games, but only one game so far has been a qualifier, but it was another winner at least. 

In the NHL, the playoffs are also moving along, but a small loss so far post season has meant the overall records have taken a slight hit:

There is one Game 7 tonight (Vegas Golden Knights v Minnesota Wild) and possibly another on Monday night if the Montreal Canadiens beat Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow. 

Since 2012, backing Home teams in Game 7 matches after a loss in Game 6 has an ROI of 23.1% but from just 18 matches so don't get too carried away. 

In the MLB, a couple of wins this week have moved the T-Bone System into green, but it's the hot favourites system which is really paying the bills this season so far, currently on a winning streak of 19 and with just one loss in the last 35 matches. It's not often you get a run this hot in baseball.

Three more selections tonight, and this month is currently the best since August of 2019.  

The Totals Systems combined are comfortably in profit after 179 games (29.96 units) but interestingly all the profit is from Unders with Overs slightly down, although making up ground after a slow start to the season. 

Overall, Unders is the winner in 51.7% of matches, but in our subset of selections, the strike rate is currently 62.9%. 

Looking at the past 17 seasons of Champions League football, the Final has not been profitable for backers of the underdog, which tomorrow means Chelsea. 

The favourite has won 11 of the 17 Finals, with five Draws and only Barcelona's win over Manchester United in 2009 seeing a return for 'dog backers. This game was also the one with the narrowest of differences between finalists. 
A couple of curiousities are that the only Final where an odds-on favourite didn't win was 2012 when Chelsea were again the underdog and held Bayern Munich to a Draw while Chelsea were 
also underdogs in 2008 with another Draw the result. 

Monday, 17 May 2021

Into The Playoffs With Page-McIntyre

Both the NHL and NBA regular seasons are now ended with the playoffs underway for the former. For the NBA, this season sees a new play-in format (similar to the first two rounds of the Page-McIntyre System for a four-team playoff) to determine the seventh and eighth seeds in both conferences.

Typically the teams with the seventh and eight best regular season records are allocated these spots, but this season the teams finishing seventh through tenth play a mini single elimination tournament for the two spots. The ninth and tenth placed teams play each other first, with the loser eliminated and the winner playing the loser of the match between seventh and eight placed teams for the final playoff spot. The winner of the seventh v eighth game becomes the seventh seed, which in the Western Conference sees the Los Angeles Lakers (second favourites to win the championship) host the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers finished tied for 5th place with the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers but dropped to 7th based on the tie-breaker rules. 

The idea of a play-in tournament was, as with the Football League playoffs, to keep interest going for longer for more teams in the regular season and a single elimination game in the NBA is new, with best of 5 or 7 game series typical. 

Those of you following the Overs System this season will doubtless be thrilled with the results yet again. 
A more manageable number of bets than in 2018 and the highest ROI since the totals started to climb so dramatically in this league. Totals are in italics as there will likely be a few more qualifiers from the playoffs. 

In the NHL, the results were also excellent despite the realignment of teams due to the pandemic:
Hopefully the markets will continue to be inefficient through the playoffs. The Boston Bruins lost in overtime on Saturday, but we had two winners yesterday to put the post season results into profit. 


Thursday, 13 May 2021

What A Drag

They are still favourites to win the World Series, but the Los Angeles Dodgers have fallen to third in their Division behind the San Francisco Giants and the San Diego Padres. After starting the season with 13 wins from the first 15 games, they lost 15 of the next 20, despite not being the underdog once. 

When the starting pitcher is right handed, there is an ROI of 93.5% when opposing the Dodgers in non-Divisional matches, but in Divisional games where the sides typically are more familiar with each other, right handed starters mean it is profitable to back the Dodgers, but the season is still fairly young so don't get too excited. It's just another angle to keep an eye on.

The familiar T-Bone System is in positive territory this season, with National League matches boasting an ROI of 11%. Backing 'Hot Favourites' got off to a slow start, but with a current streak of seven wins the ROI is down just 1.1%

For the Totals Systems, results are mixed so far. Overs are struggling, overall down 4.53 units but mostly in the National League, while Unders are up 22.22 units so at least the Combined Totals are in profit once again. 
I wasn't sure how Totals would play out this year with the introduction of a new baseball but experts had determined that:
the new baseball is bouncier, yielding higher exit velocities than in years past, and also possesses more drag, as it is not traveling as far.
The key is that the early numbers seem to back up the theory that the baseball isn't traveling as far. Fewer Home Runs in April than in 2019 (no April games in 2020), and home run totals are at their lowest since April 2017. It does appear that the betting markets haven't yet adjusted to account for this.