Sunday 31 May 2009

Golden State Lakers v Sunshine State Magic

Not sure why the Lakers are such big favourites (1.43) to win this series. Orlando swept the Lakers in the regular season, thanks to hitting 12 3-pointers in each game. They won in Orlando back in December by 3 points (106-103) and in Los Angeles in January, this time by 6 points (109-103). The bad news for the Magic is that their top scorer in both games was the currently injured Jameer Nelson, who scored 27 and 28 points in the two games. Not surprisingly, Kobe Bryant was the top scorer for the Lakers with 41 and 28 points. Dwight Howard was the top rebounder in both games, the Magic winning on the boards 54-40 at home, on the road it was tied at 40.

While stats can be twisted to mean what you want them to mean, they don’t suggest to me that the finals will be the walk in the park that the odds suggest. The Lakers can be a very good team, but they can be very average also. Similarly when Orlando are good, they are very good, but when their 3-point shooting is off, they can be quite average also. I think the value is with the Magic here. If they can split the first two games in LA, this series could be very interesting indeed. I expect the line on the Total Points to start at around the 212.5 that it was in January for these teams, and if it is, then I’ll be on the Overs at anything close to evens.

The just ended conference championship series both had some very exciting games, with a lot of volatility in many of them which, of course, is great for trading. Both the Lakers and Magic are streaky teams, so here’s hoping the 1.01 train stays in the engine shed, and we have more of the same in the Finals.

Saturday 30 May 2009

In-Play Over

In-play football betting is a thing of the past for me. I can't do a thing right!

Take the FA Cup Final this afternoon: I fancy overs, but decide to wait until 10 minutes or so to get a feel for the game. First minute - a goal. Slightly annoyed, I wait the game out until 20' and just as I am preparing to back the overs, goal number two goes in.

Second half, and it appears the game is closing up, extra time is a possibility, and I see overs moving from 1.7 to 2.0 in about two minutes. What do I do? I decide to take a gamble by laying overs at 2.04. Literally 20 seconds later...

My football betting is profitable when I have punts, but downright unprofitable when I play in-running. Oh well, end of the season and next season the rule is no in-play football betting. My ratings have had a year to settle down, and fared well towards the end of the season.

May has been a good month until today. I finally managed to claw back April's disastrous loss and get into Premium Charge territory again (it was almost a pleasure to have to pay it again this week).

One of the ideas I was considering for reducing this tax was to have a punt at approximately evens each week, with the stake being the week's profit to that point. A loss would reduce the week's profit to zero, so there would be no Premium Charge. A win would double the week's profit, and the Premium Charge would be more than covered by the extra win. Assuming the odds are value, I should win as often as I lose.

However, assuming evens is value and an average weekly profit of £100,
I can either pay (all figures approximate) £20 for a weekly net profit of £80, or win nothing 50% of the time, but £160 (£200 - £40) every other week. My plan is flawed, but the extra losses would help in reducing my liability I guess.

At least the Bulls are looking good in the Super 14 as predicted here a couple of weeks back.

Blues Double

FA Cup Finals in both England and Scotland. In England, my value choice is the Blues. I think they will beat the other Blues even if it takes extra-time or penalties. In Scotland, Rangers, courtesy of my exclusive ratings, are value to win the trophy at anything over 1.33. Good luck finding that price. Which means of course that Falkirk are the value bet, but I won’t be backing them for the simple reason that Rangers rating is at an all-time high, and thus they are probably underrated. 1.14 may well be value, but I won’t be going near them at that price.

Back to the FA Cup in England and being serious for a moment, Everton are the value bet at 3.5 to win the FA Cup. I hope and believe that Chelsea will win the trophy, but at 1.4 are too short for me to back. I shall limit my financial involvement to trading the 2.5 goals market. The Overs at 2.56 looks tempting but I’ll wait until I see how the game goes before dabbling.

Tuesday 26 May 2009

10-man Sheffield United Beaten

Does anyone else find that this by-line is not only totally misleading, but also diminishes the achievement of the winning team? For crying out loud, the player was sent off in the 80th minute, and his team was already losing. The sending-off had very little to do with the final result. There should be a rule that you can’t write this headline unless the sending off was in the first half.

Back in my youth, it wasn’t unusual for me to turn up on a Saturday and play a match for (or against) a team that was a player (or two) short. The headline in the Croydon Advertiser would read something like “9-man Croydon West End beat 8-man Addington Villa“, and it would be a fair and accurate headline. 

The match report may not have been quite so far and accurate though. For some reason, the Croydon Advertiser didn’t bother sending a reporter to our games, which was a pity because he would have doubled the attendance, (trebled it, if he’d brought along his dog), and so the report had to be submitted by a representative of the club. This, as might be expected, resulted in some rather biased reporting, with the Press Officer often receiving a quite astonishing amount of praise. But my Mum was impressed.

Monday 25 May 2009

Eagles To Soar

The richest club game in world football later today is between two closely rated teams; Burnley have a very slight edge in my ratings, but on current form, they have a somewhat larger advantage. For what it's worth (probably not much), Burnley also did the double over Sheffield United this season. There just seems to be a buzz about Burnley right now, especially surrounding star Chris Eagles and boss Owen Coyle. Sheffield United have a poor record in these play-offs, losing to 0-3 to Wolves in 2003, and 0-1 to Crystal Palace in 1997.

So after all this, Burnley are the value selection at 2.06 for promotion, but don't go putting your house on it, because these finals can go either way. Having backed both these teams for promotion before the semi-finals, I am on a winner either way. I have added a little to my Burnley position, but mostly I shall be reminiscing about the glorious play-off finals of 1989, 1997 and 2004.

Should Sheffield United go up, it would certainly be justice after the Tevez affair that cost them their place a couple of seasons back. I'm sure the referee is well aware of what happened back then. (Just preparing the groundwork on my conspiracy theory...)

Sunday 24 May 2009

Paddy Power Palpable Error

Some of you may have read about the friends of amateur Shane Lowry, who backed him at 3000 to 1 to win the Irish Open last week.

Paddy Power accepted the bet, but the day after the tournament was over, one of the lucky punters, Noel Egan, read in the paper that a Paddy Power spokesman was saying there had been a mistake. The price should have been 300-1. When Paddy Power were contacted, he was told that Paddy Power “don’t mind bad publicity”, and that were they to take on “the might of Paddy Power, they wouldn’t win and might get nothing”. They were then offered 1000 to 1, and had until Tuesday morning to decide, before they received another call saying that they had just 10 minutes to decide, before it would be withdrawn.

The offer was accepted, but how palpable an error really was that? Given that no amateur had EVER won the first professional tournament he has entered, 300 seems a little short.

The full story of Lowry’s win is here.

I did like the line where Noel decided to put 100 euro on Lowry to win. “The difficulty was that when he put his card into the hole in the wall, the response was disappointing.” Classic!

Anyway, his brother Gerard agreed to loan him the hundred. I hope he got paid back.

In The Forests Of The Night

By the skin of their teeth, Hull City retained their place in the Premier League for next season. Not bad for the only league team whose full name contains no letters that can be coloured in, but their chances of survival next season look bleak. My now complete for the season ratings has the Tigers rated 19th. Obviously close-season personnel changes can cause problems carrying ratings over from one season to the next, but it's a starting point at least. It's hard to believe that the season is (pretty much) over already. Football seasons these days go by a lot quicker than in my youth.

The League One play-off surprises continued this afternoon with Scunthorpe coming from behind to beat favourites Millwall. Scunthorpe finished the season ranked fifth, behind play-off losers Leeds United and Milton Keynes Dons. Who said the play-offs were a lottery?

In Scotland Rangers held their nerve on the final day to clinch the title, and had the top rating in Scotland. St Mirren had the lowest rating in the Scottish Premier, but it was Inverness CT who went down after a disastrous final day loss at home to Falkirk, who consequently saved themselves and can enjoy their defeat against Rangers in the Scottish Cup Final next Saturday.

League One Play-Off

Millwall are the selection today. 1.81 for promotion. They are the higher rated team, and in better form, and they are the value bet.

Airdire at 2.16 should beat Ayr United, and keep their place in Scottish League One.

Newcastle are 1.62 for relegation. At that price it's more of a lay for me. Hull are 1.5 to lose, and Newcastle are 1.72 not to lose, giving 1.63 for Newcastle to go down. Plus there's always the chance that Sunderland will lose even if Hull do win. But given the uncertainty of how Manchester United or even Aston Villa will perform, I'm staying on the touchline.

Gillingham left it late, but yesterday's tip turned out to be a winner. Could be a good weekend for SELKENT.

Saturday 23 May 2009

King James And League Two

Nerves still jangling after game one of the Cleveland Cavaliers v Orlando Magic series, and game two showed I have learned my lesson. Once again the Cavaliers opened up a big lead, at one point 23 points, and traded as low as 1.02. This time I went back to the strategy that have served me well over the years and layed them low. The Cavs did indeed end up winning, but not until the Magic had pulled back the deficit, and taken the lead being up by 2 with 1 second left. The last-second heroics by Lebron James that I mentioned in my post after game one happened this time, with the King hitting a three-pointer as the clock ran out. Very exciting stuff, and although my green was larger on the Magic, it was an excellent outcome for me.

Later today I am hoping to continue my luck with the League Two play-off final. Gillingham play Shrewsbury Town. Gillingham are higher rated, and have the better current form, and so are the value selection at 1.84 in the DNB market. Shrewsbury did have a big win over Gillingham early in the season, 7-0, but that was a freak result. Shrewsbury also do not win away from Gay Meadow too often.

Thursday 21 May 2009

How Soon We Forget

From the Green-All-Over Archives, and what do I find posted on November 26th 2008? To make it easy for you, I shall tell you - I find this:

Q) And what is a good reason to enter or exit a position?
A) Because the market offers value.

We see this debate quite often on the gambling forums – whether or not to green-up. My answer is that you should only ever green-up if the market offers value. If you have backed at 2.0, and the current price is 1.5, some argue that you can’t go wrong with locking in a profit. I would argue that you lock in a profit ONLY if your valuation is that the correct price is above 1.5. If not, then this is a bad profit.

This is all great in theory however, but in reality and in the heat of the action, I must admit that I sometimes lay a big red total off simply because it’s scary seeing that red number on the screen. (I often have bets where I am red to the tune of close to £5,000, and winning or not, it sets the pulse racing which I am told is not good for me!) and while I might consider the value to be at 1.04, I am often happy to lay-off at say 1.06 just for that peace of mind and lower heart-rate).

Considering my previous post, this was rather a prescient observation, even to the exact price of 1.04 and my elevated heart-rate.

If only I read my own blog. I never realized just how much great advice I impart to you lucky readers.

Regarding my comment that you should “lock in a profit ONLY if your valuation is that the correct price is above 1.5. If not, then this is a bad profit” consider this.

Imagine you have placed a significant bet at the start of the season on Portsmouth to win the FA Cup at 1000, and somehow they reach the final to face a Championship team from south Wales. (Far-fetched I know, but bear with me). The price at which you can lay off is now down to 2.0, but other bookies (from which you have been barred for winning too much using advice gleaned from this blog) have them at 1.5, and this is the ‘correct’ price.

Do you take the profit, or let it run?

It's A Kind Of Magic

I have finally, I think, recovered from the stress of trading this morning’s Cleveland Cavaliers v Orlando Magic game like a novice - novice here being a polite term for idiot.

One of my frequent strategies is to lay any team at short odds pre-game since the downside is limited, and it is rare for the price not to move higher, often significantly, at some stage of the game. However, the Cavs had a phenomenal record at home this season, dropping just two games (one of those being the meaningless final game of the regular season), and I just couldn’t see them losing. Mistake number one, never fall in love with a team.

The first half was one-way traffic with the price never going higher than the 1.23 SP, and at half-time did I lay off at 1.05? No. They were ahead by 15, had finished the half strongly, and I offered 1.04. No takers, although some money did get matched at that price – sadly not mine. Mistake number two – 1.05 is ok. The downside of waiting for that extra tick is huge.

The second half starts, and is again one-way traffic, but this time the traffic was coming from the opposite direction, and Orlando steadily erased the deficit. Did I lock in my profit while I had the chance? No. Having mentally prepared myself for a set amount, I didn’t want to take any less. Stupid. The 1.04 was long gone, and even laying at 1.12 or so would have been the smart trade, but I was in love with my position. Even when Orlando took the lead, the market still liked the Cavaliers. At this point I was red-all-over, including my face, but I have watched enough basketball to know that the pre-game underdog is the value in this situation.

A big lay of the Cavaliers looked like a mistake as the final minute saw the Magic with a two point deficit, but a late three pointer saved the day. Timeouts are wonderful for balancing the books, and I gave back some of my Magic profit to ensure that any late heroics from LeBron James would not leave me with a loss, and in the end it all worked out ok. Some stupid errors though, and I dodged a bullet.

As an aside, I did take a moment during the second half to check my pulse – it was 93! That can’t be good. Here’s hoping for a smoother ride on the Lakers – Nuggets game tomorrow.

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Halloween Indicator

There is a Stock market theory known as the Halloween Indicator which is based on the old adage “Sell in May, and go away”. As suggested by its name, the Halloween Indicator goes a step further and suggests a time to return and buy, namely Halloween. The reasoning is that historically the period from November to April has shown significantly stronger stock market growth that the excluded months of May through October.

Although this is often dismissed as a superstition, analysis by Bouman and Jacobsen in 2002 confirmed this effect in 36 of 37 countries they examined, including the UK. In many countries it was noticed that the stock market returns during the period May to October are often negative or lower than the short term interest rate. This flies in the face of financial theory which states that stock market returns should not be predictably lower than the short term (risk-free) interest rate.

As we are currently in May, you may well have seen reference to this in the papers recently. It’s one of those recyclable stories that the media loves, and whether this is an anomaly that you can exploit is debatable.

I have a similar Halloween effect on my trading accounts. My trading history does not go back quite so far as that of the Stock Market, (5 years versus 300), but my top six performing months are all between October and March, with the worst quarter being that of April through June.

Whereas for the Stock Market, there might be some mystery as to why the Halloween Indicator should occur, for me, there is no secret. My best sports occur in the October to March window. I like my trading to be fast and furious, and there is nothing that beats NBA or NFL for that. Football and Rugby are OK, but value is so hard to obtain with half the world watching.

Summer brings Cricket and Golf, but these are too slow for my liking although both have occasional big swings (pun intended). Baseball liquidity is at an all-time low this year, and although tennis is fast and furious, it’s only because court-siders are fast which leaves me furious.

Other summer events I have dabbled in are Formula One, Volleyball, Yachting, Aussie Rules, Darts, Athletics and Olympic swimming and Beach Volleyball, but I really should just close the computer down and take time off.

I’ll be back in October.

Sunday 17 May 2009

The Love Of Money

Another reason to be very wary about betting in the lower leagues. As a loser on one of the games under investigation, I demand a refund! Seriously, I hope this story is like most in the Daily Mail - sensational, but lacking in facts, and I tend to think that if some of this stuff was true, that it would have come out before now. by Daniel King

At least five matches are being probed by football and gambling authorities for suspect betting patterns.

But The Mail on Sunday can reveal that betting on some games has taken a more sinister turn, with threats and intimidation by criminals added to the list of matches under investigation.

Last September, officials at Histon, the non-League club who beat Leeds on the way to the FA Cup third round this season, received telephone threats and the car of one was set on fire after a game against Lewes, in incidents confirmed by Cambridgeshire Police.

And it has been suggested that players and officials from Forest Green Rovers and Grays, whose match in the same Blue Square Premier last month is the latest known to be subject to an FA inquiry, were also threatened by third parties who were demanding the game finished a certain way.

An FA spokesman said: ‘Anything which interferes with the integrity of football is of great concern to us. We would do everything in our power to assist other bodies in addressing that.’

Although higher-level matches have also come under scrutiny in the past year — including Derby’s Championship clash with Norwich in October and the Accrington-Bury game in May last year, which led the FA to charge five players with breaking betting rules — the real unease surrounds gambling on matches just below the Football League.

Players and officials on lower wages are thought to be more tempted to risk breaking rules and to believe they are more likely to get away with it because the matches at that level take place, as one source put it, ‘under the radar’.

At least six matches are known to be under investigation for illicit betting, including Marine’s 4-0 defeat at Matlock in the UniBond Premier League last month and Weymouth’s 9-0 home defeat by Rushden in the Blue Square Premier in February.

But the word is that several more matches are also being investigated and that organised criminal activity is suspected in some cases.

Neither Forest Green nor Grays, nor the FA nor the Gambling Commission would comment on suggestions intimidation lay behind the alleged £1million betting coup in which large sums were staked on the 22-1 shot Grays recovering from a half-time deficit to win, which they did, 2-1.

But Histon chairman Gareth Baldwin confirmed rumours about events surrounding his club’s midweek game against Lewes on September 23.

Baldwin said: ‘Our club and its officials did receive threats and one of our officials did have his car blown up overnight after the game.’

Within 30 seconds of Lewes taking a surprise lead against a Histon side which was a short-priced favourite to win the game, the first of 38 threatening phone calls to seven club officials was made.

The caller warned of dire consequences if Histon did not win and claimed to know where officials worked and lived, and even where their children went to school.

A last-minute equaliser earned Histon a draw but at just before 1am the following morning, a car belonging to club president Peter Betson was set on fire outside a college at Cambridge University, where he works as a night porter.

About an hour later a female official received a call warning her to leave her house because it was about to be firebombed.

Further threats were received in the days following the game, including a warning that unless Histon paid £100,000 — the amount the caller claimed his group had lost — the team coach would be ambushed while travelling to or from a forthcoming game at Wrexham and everyone on board shot.

Cambridgeshire Police subsequently handed over the investigation to Merseyside Police, who were unable to confirm reports that a man had been charged in connection with the allegations.

Bulls hit Top Form

The greatest club Rugby tournament completed its regular season schedule this weekend and the Bulls claimed top-spot and home advantage in the semi-final and final (should they make it). Bulls have a 100% home record this season, and are value at 2.7 plus to win the tournament.

The first semi-final is the all-New Zealand affair with the Chiefs hosting the Hurricanes. The Chiefs won this match up just a few days ago 16-8, but will be missing All Black Brendon Leonard with a torn hamstring. I expect this game to be closer, but with the Chiefs again coming out on top.

The second semi sees South Africa's Bulls (champions in 2007) host NZ's Crusaders, who are the reigning champions. The regular season match between these two was played in Canterbury, with the hosts winning a close game 16-13. Expect the Bulls to reverse that result.

No prices yet on the exchanges for these games.


Earlier this week, I was reading about what psychologists call 'brainlock. It's that stunned and bewildered state that the majority of people find themselves in when confronted with a sudden crisis.

Apparently people essentially divide into three categories, in a 10-80-10 ratio. Around 10%of us handle a crisis in a relatively calm and rational state of mind. Another 10% of us freak out and lose it completely, whereas the great majority find that reasoning is significantly impaired and that thinking is difficult, and as a result we turn into statues.

I'm sure anyone who has done a significant amount of in-play trading has been confronted with a sudden turn of fortune, either for the better or, more likely perhaps, for the worse.

I have certainly had disasters where I have found myself doing a reasonable impression of a statue, but as the article said, that's OK. The response is not necessarily fatal, and doesn't last forever. The key is to recover quickly from the brainlock, shake off the shock, and figure out the best way forward.

And what is the best way forward? I would offer the following. Relax. Stay calm. Don't lose perspective. Sometimes things aren't as bad (or as good) as they seem. Stay focused. Don't give up on a bad situation. If you're looking at a four figure loss, and you can trim the loss to three figures, that's as good as a win.

After five years of trading, my statue moments are fewer. I have a different perspective on a potentially bad situation than I had a few years ago, and one good thing about disasters is learning from them so that next time, one is better prepared to deal with them.

"It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do so little" - Sydney Smith.

Saturday 16 May 2009

Playoff Value - Where?

Three out of my six teams advanced in the Football League playoffs, and two of the losers went close. Milton Keynes Dons lost a dramatic penalty shoot-out against Scunthorpe, and failed to capitalise on their away draw in the first leg. With the exception of the Bank Holiday final, I shall probably be leaving the remaining games alone.

My ratings give Burnley a very slight edge over Sheffield United in the Championship play-off and as they are available at 2.12 on BETDAQ, this is the value bet.

League One I am still sulking about, but I have Millwall as the top rated team. Not sure if they are value yet though.

League Two has Gillingham as my favourites, but again the value is hard to find here.

Sunday sees two former minnows of the Football League playoff for the right to return there. Cambridge United have the slight edge both on rating and current form, and the 1.95 on Betfair is slight value, but not enough to justify my backing them. For no better reason than that Devon, along with Cornwall, is my favourite county, I would like to see Torquay win this one. That would complete a good season for south Devon.

Friday 15 May 2009

Thursday 14 May 2009

10k Hours

In his book “Outliers”, Malcolm Gladwell states that “it takes about 10,000 hours of work to achieve mastery in almost any endeavour”. That’s lot of time. Eight hours a day, seven days a week is close to 3½ years. About the length of a traditional apprenticeship in fact.

How many people sign up on the exchanges expecting to be instant winners? How many people try to short-circuit the apprenticeship period and buy a winning system? Forget it. There are no winning systems, just winning approaches.

Also from the aforementioned book – did you know that 70% of professional Canadian (ice) hockey players are born in the first half of the year?

In other news, Leeds United lost, which rather spoilt my 100% record in the play-offs so far, but value doesn’t equal guaranteed winner. If Milton Keynes Dons can finish off Shrewsbury Town (correction, thanks Tiger - Scunthorpe) tomorrow, it will still be a very successful play-off round.

Tuesday 12 May 2009

However You Spin It

I spent many hours in my teens and twenties experimenting with dice and a roulette wheel trying to find the perfect staking plan to guarantee profits despite my imaginary bets not being value. My thinking was that surely with such a miniscule house edge in a game such as roulette, it should be quite possible to find a winning system. Of course, I never did. The plain and simple truth is that if your bets are not value, no staking system in the world can guarantee you a profit. Your success is dependent upon the vagaries of Lady Luck and while you may turn a profit for a while, sooner of later the inevitable and unavoidable losing run comes along that wipes out all your profits.

I was reminded of those halcyon days when a colleague at work told me about his latest roulette system. It was that old chestnut of betting on the even money choices and doubling up after a loss. Great in theory. In practice, not so great. You don’t need to spend too much time around a roulette table before you see a sequence of eight, nine or more come up. However, my colleague had thought about this, and here was his little secret. Wait until a colour hits three times, and THEN start betting on it! Apparently he has yet to lose using this ‘system’. I tried to point out to him that the whole idea was fundamentally flawed, and why, but he was having none of it.

There’s a long-running thread on the Betfair forum, Laying Alan Keyte’s Tips. It has worked well, not because of any fancy staking system, but simply because laying Alan Keyte’s selections has proven to be a value bet, at least so far. The ultimate in staking systems is of course Kelly, and it would be interesting to apply that to Alan Keyte’s results and see what a difference to the bank it would have made.

Saturday 9 May 2009

Saturday Round Up

As expected, Piacenza v Bari finished as a draw. When the pre-game price on the draw is in the 1.5 to 1.6 range, you know something is not right and while I'm not going to go crazy, this was something to be taken advantage of.

Rangers (draw no bet) was a good win for me. Pre-game my calculations had Rangers value at anything over 1.64, and with 1.83 available, I took advantage. I'm surprised this bet isn't more popular. Comparing two teams is much simpler if you take out the draw as a possibility.

My play-off bets are looking quite good right now. In the Championship, Sheffield United have the advantage going into the second leg at home to Preston, and Burnley take a 1-0 lead to Reading. This one is in the balance, but Burnley are in form and Reading aren't.

In League One, Millwall beat Leeds 1-0, but Leeds' form is good enough to make me feel they can still progress. MK Dons drew at Scunthorpe and have the advantage going into the second leg.

League Two and Bury won away to Shrewsbury and should progress. Gillingham drew at Rochdale and also should advance.

I got caught out by an early goal in the West Ham United v Liverpool game, and bailed out at half-time when it was 0-2 for a controlled loss. It's always hard to accept defeat, and of course annoying when there were no more goals until after my break-even point had been reached, but I think the decision was the right one.

Friday 8 May 2009

Time - Your Greatest Resource

I was dreaming about my old school last night, doubtless a consequence of reading about the Old Boys’ Association and their proposed name change. I guess I am something of a traditionalist, and don’t much care for change. The school in question is generally called simply Trinity School, but its official name is Trinity School of John Whitgift. Until 1956, the school was known as Whitgift Middle, and thus the Old Boys’ Association were named the Old Mid-Whitgiftians. Perfectly logical and sensible, yet 1956 is now a long time ago, and the argument for changing the name is that not many club members attended the school during its former identity. I would be sad to see the name go though. Old Midwives is a cool nickname for the club if nothing else.

Time is a strange beast, and so relative. When I started at the school in 1967, it was only 11 years into its new identity, yet from my perspective the former name might as well have been from the 16th century. Sometimes, it’s only when you look back that you get the proper perspective on things. As a kid I would ride my bicycle around the Kenley Aeordrome, close to where I lived. Me and my friends, I had some in those days, would explore the blast-pens and the bunkers, but the tales of the war from back in the 1940s were again stories that had about as much relevance to me at the time as tales of Julius Caesar or William the Conqueror.

Looking back though, the war was less than 20 years prior. As I write, it is 64 years to the day since the war ended in Europe. My old Mum was at the gates of Buckingham Palace celebrating, and not so old as she is now. (Sadly, it was the last time any member of my family has had anything to celebrate at the Palace). It’s only as you get older I think, that you can get a fuller perspective of time. I remember reading that time seems slower when you are younger because as a percentage of your life, any time interval is more. For example when you are ten years old, it seems like an eternity from one Xmas to the next, because as a percentage of your life, you have to wait 10%. When you are 50, and yes, people do live to that ripe old age so I am told, one Xmas to the next is just 2%.

Anyway, so that this post can be included in a betting blog, I’ll just mention that my first ever bet was struck in my first year at Trinity, on May 29th 1968. I wagered a full 6d, that’s 2½p to you younger readers, on Benfica to beat Manchester United in the European Cup Final. The newspapers were full of talk of how it was 10 years since the Munich Disaster, but once again, at that tender age, an event from 10 years earlier was in the same frame of reference as the Titanic going down.

My school was also influential in teaching me probability and being where I learned what 11 to 4 really meant and what the origins were of such a strange format. Strangely enough, this was all explained during one of our weekly government mandated Religious Studies classes, called Divinity in my day. That was a waste of time. I think once I’d realised that Santa Claus was made up, (when I was about 17 I think), it wasn’t a giant leap to suspect that God was imaginary too, and nothing has happened since to persuade me otherwise. The lesson on betting odds was at least useful, and I suspect the teacher shared my opinion on religion and was pleased to have something real to talk about.

I actually had two ladies knocking at my door yesterday, I am being totally serious I swear to God, spreading the word of Jehovah. After a brief exchange of opinions, I think they went away questioning their faith! I heard such gems as "Evolution isn't real because dogs can't give birth to cats", and "The Earth is 6,000 years old". Sadly, they seemd quite sincere about this. "Isn’t that about when Portsmouth last won the league?" I asked. "Or was that Liverpool"? In either case, it’s so long ago as to be irrelevant today…

Biancorossi v Galletti - L'incontro e stato truccato!

A Serie B match doesn't usually attract too much interest on the Exchanges, but Saturday's game of Piacenza v Bari is an exception.

From the screenshot above, it should be clear just why. Piacenza are comfortable in mid-table, Bari are all but promoted to Serie A, so the game is pretty much meaningless, but 1.54ish pre-game on the draw? Something's going on. Fill your boots at your own risk, and if any of my grandmother's relatives find anything out, I'll be sure to pass the information on. After I've cashed in of course.

"We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?" - Jean Cocteau

Thursday 7 May 2009

Hyaena & Edgy Nudities

Congratulations to Hayes and Yeading United (that's just one team by the way) who have made it to the Conference National by virtue of a 3-2 win away at Hampton and Richmond Borough (also just one team). Quite probably the longest named play-off fixture in history!

Not to belittle them in any way, (I think the pyramid structure is wonderful for football) but Hayes and Yeading's average attendance 2008-09?


AFC Wimbledon on the other hand, averaged 3,219. That's pretty impressive.

I'm not sure the Hayes and Yeading win was the result the Conference were hoping for, but good luck to them next season against Luton Town et al. I feel they'll need it.

The post title? An anagram.

Last Ever UEFA Cup Semi-Final Bet

I will never, ever again, bet on a UEFA Cup Semi-Final game.

At 1-2 to Werder Bremen, the last ever UEFA Cup semi-final was slipping away from the home side Hamburg. The 66th minute goal for Werder Bremen meant that Hamburg had to score to progress, and I strayed from my usual conservative style and lumped on the Over 3.5 at 1.59, expecting the price to be considerably less. I figured this was good value, expecting the game to open up and see goal scoring opportunities at both ends. One of my better moves if I say so myself. 17 minutes later the bet was in, and in fact the game finished 2-3. After-timing at its best I know, but with in-play trading, it's all but impossible to post bets before-hand, since the action depends on the game situation.

Incidentally, is it just me, or is German football lacking something that the game in England, Italy and Spain has?

Play-Off Preview

The play-offs are set, and here are my ratings:


Sheffield United 1162 v Preston North End 1030
Reading 915 v Burnley 1139

The ratings suggest Sheffield United and Burnley to meet in the final although Preston is the team in form, always handy at play-off time! Reading will probably be favourites to qualify, so Burnley should be available at a tasty price. To win the final, Sheffield United are 3.55, with Burnley available at 4.0.

League One:

MK Dons 678 v Scunthorpe United 597
Leeds United 793 v Millwall 593

MK Dons v Leeds United is a strong pick here for the final. Both teams also have the better form right now. Leeds are favourite at 2.79, with MK Dons at 3.7.

League Two:

Bury 414 v Shrewsbury Town 363
Gillingham 382 v Rochdale 300

Bury and Gillingham here. Not only are they higher rated, but these teams also have the better form. Bury are 3.65 for promotion, Gillingham are at 3.8.

Sunday 3 May 2009

Betactual - True Form Continues

I need say no more about the 'professional tips service' other than to show their results from the last six days. Funny how those runs of one loser in 46 selections, 27 of which were at evens or better, have come crashing to a halt once they go live. If it seems too good to be true...

Saturday 2 May 2009

The Pilgrim Factor

In the 1920s, Plymouth Argyle finished as runners-up in Division Three (South) no less than six years in a row. In the days when pay for professional footballers was a fixed sum regardless of what division they were playing in, but were awarded win bonuses, players would make more money playing for a winning team in a lower league than for a losing team in a higher league.

Perhaps even today, some players are happier winning more often at a lower level. What other explanation is there for teams with a great chance of making the play-offs or promotion,folding in their last games? Last weekend in the Conference, Cambridge United, Stevenage Borough, Kidderminster Harriers and Oxford United all failed to win key home games, and today Dagenham and Redbridge handed a play-off spot to Shrewsbury Town by losing 1-2 at home to their rivals.

Scunthorpe almost did the same at home to Tranmere Rovers, leaving it to the 88th minute before levelling the game and notching up the one point they needed. Wycombe Wanderers and Bury both messed up home games. Wycombe lost, and Bury scored a 95th minute penalty to win 1-0, when just one more goal would have seen them promoted. So close.

Based on this evidence, a lay of Reading tomorrow is looking good value at 2.24. Cue comfortable win for the Royals.

Buy and Hold v Trading

I like to mess about with shares from time to time, although the time I used to spend looking for bargains is now mostly spent investing on sports, and as I have mentioned many times before on here, there are many similarities between financial investing and sports investing.

Financial experts have for years recommended a Buy-and-Hold strategy, but caution that this doesn’t mean “buy and forget about it”. The “buy and forget about it” strategy can be compared with outright punting on sports, whereas active trading can be compared with, well, active trading.

In financial investing, there is a not insignificant cost associated with frequent forays into the market; commission on each trade, tax implications etc., whereas (for now at least), no such penalty hits someone doing the same in sports.

Whether you buy a stock that has performed well in the past, or you back the highly rated favourite in the 2:30 at Epsom, the principle is the same. The time-frames are rather different, but if it makes sense to sell your stock that is no longer performing well, and move the funds to another investment choice, then surely it makes sense to trade out your position on the horse if it starts to lose ground?

In the old days, sports investors didn’t have the option to trade out of a position, and in truth, many don’t even care to today, even though that option is available. For a lot of people, a bet is not an investment. They want the thrill of the action rather than the responsibility of trying to make money from it. If it wins, that’s great, something to tell your mates about at the pub, and if it loses, no worries – on to the next race, and forget it.

For me, the ability to trade has been the single most important factor in making investing consistently profitable. Pre-market, the prices are usually about where they should be, (the markets are efficient), and unless you have some inside information there is no long-term benefit to betting on these events. With trading however, opportunities for finding value occur much more frequently and, you can combine your experience of the markets and reading of the game to take advantage.

Blades Steel Promotion?

The final weekend of the Football League season promises to be almost as exciting as last weekend’s conclusion to the Conference.

In the Championship, the key games are Reading v Birmingham City and Crystal Palace v Sheffield United. A draw at Reading will mean promotion for Sheffield United if they can win at fortress Selhurst Park, and given that Neil Warnock is a lifelong Blades fan, and that Simon Jordan detests Birmingham with a passion, it would hardly be a massive surprise were Palace to lower the drawbridge. Certainly the prices on Betfair (1.67) suggest that I’m not the first person to spot this. If Birmingham (3.6) should win at Reading, then up they go, but my ratings and current form suggest that they won’t. Promotion would certainly seem to be justice for Sheffield United after the Tevez affair, and as they are top rated in my exclusive Cassini Ratings And Performance standings, I can’t say it wouldn’t be deserved.

Burnley need a win (1.55) to secure a play-off spot and at home to Bristol City, should achieve that.

At the bottom, it’s looking very much like Norwich will complete a trio of relegated former Premier League teams. It’s certainly very sad to see Charlton struggling so badly…

In League One, the only promotion related issue is Scunthorpe or Tranmere Rovers for the play-offs, and Scunthorpe have the advantage playing at home and needing just a draw (3.4). Brighton will probably survive, and can look forward to playing Charlton next season. Lucky them.

In League Two, once again Bury and Accrington Stanley play each other on the final day of the season, but this year there’s a little more at stake for Bury. If they win (1.41), and Exeter fail to win at Rotherham, then Bury are promoted. Dagenham and Redbridge host Shrewsbury Town for a play-off spot, and again, as with Scunthorpe and Tranmere, the home team (2.2) has the edge by playing at home and needing just a draw (3.45).

At the bottom, I think Chester City might go down. I just can’t see them winning and Grimsby Town losing by a net 19 goals…

Friday 1 May 2009

April - May

April wasn’t a profitable month overall due to one stupid error, resulting in my first losing month since October last year, but the loss for the month ended up being trimmed to just 2.11% of winnings in the first quarter of 2009, (see chart left), but still a loss. 

Although I’d obviously rather not lose, I would rather take a loss from a mistake than from a previously profitable approach going bad. I’ll be back.

At first sight, it doesn’t look good that every month since February has been worse than the previous month, but this is a familiar trend looking at past years. May through August is always a quiet period. May last year was a minor disaster, so a steady month will at least see my year-on-year average increase, although sadly, with the Premium Charge these days, that’s not the cause for excitement that it used to be.

I’ve been reducing the impact of the Premium Charge by arbitraging on BETDAQ, and elsewhere, and of course, in the cloud of a losing month, PC reduction is the silver lining.

So what does May offer? The IPL has been profitable so far, and baseball is in full ‘swing’ and with greater parity these days (no team winning more than 62% of their regular season games in the last four years), I have come up with an idea that seems to be paying off so far. Betfair this week upped the in-play delay to 6 seconds, and whether that actually brings in more in-play money or less remains to be seen.

Football is winding down for the season, and there should be some cracking playoff games and cup finals, but football is still a tough nut to crack consistently. I was ahead last month on this, but not by enough to pay off the mortgage. Maybe one brick is now mine.

Ice Hockey is in full playoff mode right now, but is useless for trading, a result of increasing the delay time to 8 seconds a couple of seasons back. That’s why the future of in-play baseball concerns me. Like baseball, ice-hockey is one of those sports where the market tends to hold on to the pre-game favourite too long, and it is often possible to find value, if only there was some money around!

Basketball seems to have plenty of liquidity, and the play-offs have seen plenty of good games for trading, especially in the Boston Celtics – Chicago Bulls series which has had seven overtime periods (from four OT games) in the first six games. Game Seven on Saturday night I believe. Just lay the leader, and wait for the other team to bounce back. Basketball is very much a game of momentum, and if you watch the game enough, you will learn to recognize the momentum turning moments.

This should all be enough action to keep me out of trouble. I shall not be visiting the Casino, Exchange Games or Arcade anyway, and after reading about the cheating scandals at Absolute Poker and UltimateBet, I’ll stay away from the online poker too. For a while I played a lot of poker, but online poker just isn’t the same. You need to have your opponents there in front of you, it’s a key part of the game. Plus, it’s nice to know that the game is legit too.