Monday 31 March 2008

Tuesday Football Lays

My Football Lay System continues tomorrow with three selections which are Forfar (3.15), Queen of the South (2.92) and Wrexham (3.35).

To date the system has produced 92 winning lays from 113 selections ( 81.4%) - a level stakes profit of 49.77 to a 1.00 stake.

Update: I have now added Ebbsfleet to my selections at 3.45.

Football Result: Whilst others may consider the Champions’ League quarter-finals rather more important, the highlight of tonight’s football action for me is a clean sweep for my laying system, with all three selections losing, (Forfar was a postponement), and the starting bank of £1,000 increasing to £1,065.68.

MLB Opening Day

A win on the baseball last night, with the underdog Washington Nationals taking a 2-0 first inning lead at home to the Atlanta Braves. The Braves tied it up in the top of the ninth before a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth won it for the Nationals.

A full schedule of games tonight which should offer some value. Early in a season I tend to keep my stakes small and go with the underdogs pre-game with a view to laying off in running, but my bet of the night is the Los Angeles Dodgers who I feel are value at 1.55 to beat the San Francisco Giants.

MLB Update: The Dodgers scored 3 in the first and shut out the Giants 5-0.

Sunday 30 March 2008

Following Your Own Advice

On Xmas Eve last year, John "The Gambler" posted a list of 20 questions / comments when asked for advice on successful investing. You can check his full list of rules at Most of them are common sense, but I am highlighting numbers 17 and 20 which are:

17. Don't drink and bet.
20. Don't chase your losses.

It is therefore sad to read in his blog that yesterday's losses were, in his own words, down to "Mainly horse racing after one too many lagers" and on February 23rd he says "Somehow nearly 5K up on the month. Not quite sure how. Probably as I keep bringing in the tanks to get out of trouble. Not a good strategy in the long term".

...after one too many lagers? ...bringing in the tanks? (high stakes at low odds)

Now John seems a genuinely nice guy and I wish him all the best, but I have to agree with the commenter on his blog who wrote that this was an accident waiting to happen. In mitigation he has had a few 'off-field' issues lately which have no doubt been distracting, but if he returns to trading, I hope he heeds his own advice. Making money at this game is not easy, but discipline, whether it be not drinking or controlling your stakes, is absolutely vital at all times. Good luck John.

To Green Or Not To Green?

When time permits, I occasionally browse the forum for information, but sadly for the most part the threads are pointless or repetitive and not worth bothering with. Posts pointing out losing 1.01s, or nothing to do with the sport under which the post is made abound. But occasionally one catches the eye, and one such is currently in General Betting titled "Koo's Comeback Thread". Koo is an interesting character. It appears that he won a small fortune, actually a large fortune, backing a 1000-1 winner on Betfair, and then proceeded to lose most of it back. Now he's back with a little more discipline, though how his heart copes with the huge wins and losses I have no idea! (The world of horse racing is not one that I am privy too, and I leave it alone, but I can see the appeal with an abundance of opportunities each and every day).

One comment in particular caught my eye, and it was on the subject of greening-up. Someone posted: "Koo....been reading the thread with interest. Just wondered if you ever green up on these outsiders when they come close or do you tend to just let the bets ride. ta"

His post, and I hope neither he (nor the question poser for that matter), will mind me reproducing it here, was as follows:

"I tried to green up a bit there, but I think the others who backed it at big prices kept gazumping my prices. I thought it was the winner from 2 out, so wasn't gonna lay at 5's and more just to get say 4-5k out of it whatever happened. Even with a big green number on my bet - I wont give money away by laying miles over the true odds just to secure a green screen. Long term thats a bad ploy."

Essentially, as I understand it, Koo was in a position to green-up, but the cost of doing so was too much. He wouldn't green-up because it wasn't value to do so, and as he stated, long term, that is a bad ploy. One should not make a bet unless it is value, whether it be an entry bet or an exit bet.

It did get me thinking though, because I know that I have been in the same situation in other sports, and have laid off at poor value just to guarantee a profit. I guess my fear of a big loss outweighs my greed of going for the big win and this is something I need to work on. There is something about that big red number on my screen that allows me to take a poor value bet to exit a position and lock in green-all-over when I would never take the same bet to enter a position.

Something for me to be aware of and work on. Thanks Koo.

Baseball Begins

No system football lays today, which isn't too surprising given that there were so few games. If I had all the time in the world, I would extend my system to include some of the major European Leagues, but there is always so much to do. A surprise to see Newcastle do so well at Tottenham, but no real surprise to see Chelsea and Liverpool win at home.

So tonight sees a close finish to the PGA Tour's latest event, the Zurich Open. As I write, Woody Austin leads by one shot from Andres Romero and John Merrick (never heard of him!) and two shots ahead of another four players. Should be an interesting last few holes ahead.

Also this is the opening game on US soil of the baseball season, with the Atlanta Braves playing at the Washington Nationals. (The Boston Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics played two regular season games in Japan last week, splitting the series 1-1).

Baseball is a sport well suited to my style of trading (looking for value) with the market regularly over-reacting to runs and then correcting itself. Just watch how the prices move when the road (away) team scores in the first inning. The home team hasn't even had a bat, yet the prices have moved several points very often. The slow pace of the game also helps with trading. 

There are short breaks bewtween batters, and longer breaks in the middle and at the end of each inning when the prices settle, and extra intervals when pitching changes come along (which can be quite often late in a game). I tend not to take a position pre-game (there are far more people that understand the game better than I do), but if I were too, I would suggest that a strategy of laying the favourite with a view to trading out during the game might be a winning one.

Golf Result: Laid Andres Romero after he had completed his round, figuring that this was value due to the number of contenders not too far behind and with holes to play. Although Peter Lonard pulled level at one point, he then dropped a shot and Romero held on resulting in a loss of £121.36.

Saturday 29 March 2008

Saturday Football Lays (Result)

Of my 19 lay selections, just 3 won - Bury, Rochdale and Ayr so the bank increases by £53.06 (actually slightly more, but for simplification my spreadsheet is based on a fixed 5% commission since my discount varies from week to week). 

 I started with a bank of £1,000 laying to 1%, and after three days and 21 bets, the bank now stands at £1,062.08. Since my three losers today were all from League Two or the Scottish Second Division I may look at refining the system to exclude these divisions and lower, but for the time being I will continue to include them.

Boat Race

That quintessentially English sporting occasion, the Boat Race, takes place in a few minutes. The final this year is a repeat of last year, and features the teams from Oxford and Cambridge Universities... My strategy with this kind of event is to bank on the fact that as start time approaches, people will want to have a bet riding on the race, so I backed Oxford at 1.47 expecting the price to fall a little as the day goes on. I sold out at 1.42 for a free bet on Oxford, but as I write this, the lay price has continued to drop (to 1.39) and I should have held on. But a free bet is not to be sniffed at, though the lesson learned is to be a little more patient before laying off.

Update: 13 minutes from start time, and the lay price has dropped further to 1.31. Note to self for this event next year...

Boat Race Result: Oxford won by six lengths.

Saturday Football Lays

Flushed with excitement after a run of 2 out of 2 after going live, I continue my laying system in this afternoon's games. I have 19 today which I am laying to the same loss, and they are: Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City, Plymouth Argyle, Sheffield United, Stoke City, Watford, Bristol Rovers, Crewe, Millwall, Northampton Town, Accrington Stanley, Bury, Rochdale, Rotherham, Histon, Weymouth, Dundee United, Hibernian and Ayr United. All are away teams at an average price of 3.11 so I figure I can take six losers and still show a profit. During the trialling of this system, 94 selections from 231 qualifying matches have produced 18 losers (19.1%) so I am quietly confident.

Friday 28 March 2008

Football Research

While I am waiting for the last few minutes of the Doncaster Rovers / Nottingham Forest game to tick away, I thought I would share some observations on the Premier League so far this season. 

I have data from 433 games and the theory that I was trying to prove was that in the first few minutes after half-time, the probability of a goal being scored is lower than during the rest of the game. I suspect that at half-time, teams get to rest and recover, and make strategic changes to counter what the other team is doing. 

Dividing the game up into 5 minute periods, what I actually found is that the period with the lowest probability of a goal is actually between 36 and 40 minutes, but very closely followed by the 46 to 50 minute period. I sometimes back the under at half-time and wait a few minutes before laying off, and I have had some success with this, and the statistics so far do seem to back this idea up.

I did also find it interesting that there have been 86 goals in the 90th minute so far this season - much higher than I intuitively would have suspected, but stats don't lie do they?

Full-time result is in and Doncaster Rovers have won 1-0. Maybe I should just back the opposition of my lay selections to win 1-0?

Onward and upward.

Doncaster v Nottingham Forest

Tonight's football system lay is Nottingham Forest at 3.4. I am going to spend some time today researching the famous Maria's Laying System to see if I can pick up any ideas on improving the staking system. I shall also be looking at whether the system works better in top level matches or lower level. Watch this space.

Thursday 27 March 2008

Salisbury v Stevenage (Result)

A 90th minute winner for Salisbury confirmed that my lay of Stevenage would pay off. I seem to have better luck trawling the depths of the footballing world for value than I do trying to find value in the Premier League. I'm sure this is because the market is so efficient at the top level whilst the lesser leagues receive less attention, so I shall probably be focusing my football efforts in the basement.

I am going to use progressive staking for this system, so the risk next time increases to a whopping £10.05. Slow and steady wins the race. Stay tuned.

Salisbury v Stevenage

For a few weeks now, I have been paper trading a football lay system, and the results look promising. I do need to spend some more time analysing the results, but I am going to go-live today with a small lay of Stevenage (2.88) playing away at Salisbury.

Tuesday 25 March 2008

Warriors - Lakers

Warriors up by 4 after a 7-0 run, ahead 22-18 with 2:44 left in Q1 and Lakers trading at 2.02. I'm greened-up and off for some sleep. Be lucky.

Celtics - Sixers

I'm not sure it's too cool to talk about the size of profits once they are over and above a certain amount, so I'll just say that I have tonight had one of my better wins on the NBA.

The game in question was the Boston Celtics v Philadelphia '76ers. Pre-game, I believe Boston were pretty short favourites, around 1.15 (give or take a point). So with 5:01 remaining, I see that the game is tied at 80. Now my thinking is that if the teams are tied with 7/8ths of the game gone, then the teams are pretty evenly matched, and the odds should be a lot closer to evens than the 1.25 / 1.3 that the Celtics were trading at. 

I took the 1.3. Mild panic sets in as I think I'm missing something - the Sixers have had a player sent-off perhaps, so I sit back ready for the Celtics to go on a late run, but happily watch the Sixers take a 5 point lead. Finally the market wakes up to the fact that the Sixers might actually really win the game, they see-saw to favourites, and I lay off locking in £200 should the Celtics come back, and significantly more if the Sixers should hold on.

They held on. And I was joking about the Sixers having a player sent-off. I'm in the mood for jokes right now!

Monday 24 March 2008

Repetitive and Nonsensical Post

After almost three days, I am once again able to add posts to my blog. I tried on Saturday, and received the following message:

"This blog is under review due to possible Blogger Terms of Service violations and is currently unpublished. You can view your blog's posts here in Blogger, but you may not make any changes.

As with many powerful tools, blogging services can be both used and abused. 
The ease of creating and updating webpages with Blogger has made it particularly prone to a form of behavior known as link spamming.
Blogs engaged in this behavior are called spam blogs, and can be recognized by their irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links, usually all pointing to a single site."
Irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text? Give me a break, I only started this exercise a few days ago!

Anyway, I'm not quite sure what triggered the freeze, but I am back, my blog having passed scrutiny by a human eye.

Briefly, to catch up on the weekend, (and not to after-time too much) I learned not to dabble in Formula One because apparently I have no idea what I am doing. 

Golf was mildly profitable after a weather affected tournament, and football was kind to me for once. 

Three bets, Leeds United to beat Walsall at 2.0 on Saturday, and then on Sunday more success with Manchester United at 2.16 and Chelsea at 2.34 to beat Arsenal. 

In all three games, I felt that the home team should have been odds-on, (Leeds United did actually go odds-on after I'd placed my bet), and Manchester United and Chelsea have been playing well of late.

I also traded the Newcastle United v Fulham game for ten minutes. My method was to back the Under 2.5 goals at half-time and then lay off at the 55 minute mark. 

My logic is that at half-time, teams refresh and re-group and tend to start the second-half somewhat conservatively. Feeling each other out if you'll excuse the expression. I need to review my stats to see if this theory actually holds water, but on this occasion I was able to back at 1.74, and lay off at 1.49 so I was happy.

In a few hours, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors play each other. These two teams played yesterday, and the Warriors won against the odds. I'm expecting the Lakers to do better 24 hours later, even though they are on the road, but at 1.8 I think the value is in laying them and backing them back when the Warriors go on one of their runs. Well, here's hoping anyway.

Saturday 22 March 2008

Warriors - Rockets In-Play

After less than 6 minutes, and a 9-0 run from the Warriors, the price on the Warriors has dropped to 1.3, and since basketball is very much a game of momentum, I am now calling it a day. I expect the Warriors to win, but they have a habit of letting the other team back into games so I am happy with a profit.

Golden State Warriors

The NBA game between Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets is about to begin, and I have taken a position on the Warriors at 1.67. 

Two reasons for this. 

1) The Rockets' winning run has ended, and I suspect that they expended a lot of emotional energy keeping that run going for as long as they did. 

2) The Warriors are an explosive team. 

I don't usually hold my positions to the end, and I expect that they will afford me the opportunity to green-up later in the game.

Friday 21 March 2008

You Cannot Be Serious!

While I was looking around at other blogs to get a feel for what is out there, I came across this web site:

Now admittedly I'm probably one of the more sceptical of people in this world, but really - would ANYONE buy a product that sells itself as a system based on "statistics and psychic ability"?

In response to a Frequently Asked Question posed as "So why isn’t the system 100%?" the answer given is:

"Firstly, it is based upon a statistical system which isn’t 100% accurate. And, neither is anyone else’s for that matter! If you find one – please let me know! Secondly, sometimes my powers don’t ‘switch on’ at all or they ‘switch on’ too late for them to be of any practical use."
My powers don't switch on?!!

If anyone knows anyone who has bought this system, please direct them my way. I have a great deal for them.

Opening Thoughts

What is "Green All Over?"

The title is a reference to 'Greening-up', a term used by Betfair users to describe the ideal scenario whereby every possible outcome on an event will result in a profit. (The 'what-if' figure shows on the screen in green.)

I have been active on Betfair for almost four years now, and have had some moderate success. Some good wins, some small wins, some small losses and some frightening losses, but overall I have made a steady profit.

I have recently starting reading a number of blogs themed on Betfair, hoping to pick up some ideas, but sadly most seem to be a diatribe of eating and drinking habits, interspersed with less than informative betting related comments like "Lost £2.67 on the cricket today".

So, as arrogant as ever, I am hoping to fill this gap with a blog that goes a little deeper into the reasons why I made or lost money, my thoughts and emotions as the win / loss was happening, and perhaps filled with other observations from the world of betting.

If horse-racing is your thing, then this blog is probably not for you. Racing is just not for me. Rather like the stock-exchange, there are far too many insiders with access to a lot more information than I have and I find that the world of sports offers a more even playing field.

My investing style, and I prefer the term 'investing' over 'betting', is to trade fast moving sports in-running, looking for value. The markets are driven by two factors, fear and greed, and in the heat of battle, these factors drive people to make bad decisions and take or offer poor value bets. This is what I look for. I don't always win, but like I explained to my old Mum, if I can get 2-1 on a coin toss, I'll lose some but win a lot more. Sadly I don't often find 2-1 on evens chances, but in Betfair terms if I can get 2.1 on a 2.0 chance, I'm happy.