Saturday 31 October 2009

Weekly Round-Up

It's been a busy week, lowlighted by a record Premium Charge deduction on Wednesday, but what can you do? It seems churlish to gripe about it, but that doesn't seem to stop me.

Anyway, the NBA season is underway and once again greedy people are backing teams at low prices with still far too much time left in the game. On opening night, Cleveland were 1.53 favourites to beat Boston, raced out to an early 10 point lead, hit 1.2 and then went on to lose. The next day Golden State (1.41) had a 10 point half-time lead against Houston and were also trading at 1.2. The second half started with two Houston 3-pointers and the lead was down to 4. Golden State went on to lose. Charlotte (1.91) traded at 1.01 yesterday against New York, before they finally won in double-overtime. I think it's fair to say that 1.01 was not a value back.

The World Series continues to offer value with people happy to back the Yankees at short prices. 1.54 on game one, which they proceeded to lose 1-6. They did win game 2, and for game 3 late tonight, they are a more reasonable 1.9, but on the road against a decent pitcher this is not a value back. Both games were unders and tonight's game should continue that trend.

Rugby Union last night gave me a nice winner. My ratings had Wellington as value at 1.41 against Southland and obliged. Wellington easily beat Southland 32-13 five weeks ago, and repeated with a 34-21 win early this morning. They might find the final against Canterbury a little tougher though!

And finally to football. I mentioned a month ago that at the start of the season, I divided the Premier League into four groups:

A. Big 4 (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United)
B. Europa (Aston Villa, Everton, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur)
C. Middlers (Blackburn, Bolton Wanderers, Fulham, Sunderland, West Ham, Wigan)
D. Strugglers (Birmingham City, Burnley, Hull City, Portsmouth, Stoke City, Wolves)

My theory was that intra-group games would provide more draws and lower-scoring games than inter-group games. After today we have 21 such games played, and the results are promising. To a £1 level stake, backing the draw would have you exactly £10 ahead, and backing the Unders would have you up £5.82. Not a single team has scored more than 2 goals in any of these fixtures, and only three matches have been Overs AND not a draw. Next week's games to watch for are Chelsea v Manchester United, Hull City v Stoke City and Wigan Athetic v Fulham.

In the Championship today, the 100% record of away win predictions continued with Swansea 1/2 goal favourites to win at Scunthorpe. They won 2-0.

One other observation is how there can be value in the immediate aftermath of a goal. Today I was looking at the Bolton Wanderers v Chelsea 3.5 goals market as Chelsea went 3-0 up after 81 mins. There was suddenly £4,332 to back at 1.66. As it happened, this was a winning lay for someone, but if you have the intestinal fortitude to ride out a couple of minutes, you could have laid off at 1.41 just two and a half minutes later. That seems a value bet to me.

Sunday 25 October 2009

NFL - London

It's hard to see anything but a big win for the New England Patriots at Wembley this afternoon, as much as any self-respecting Englishman might want to see some revenge for their actions of 1776. My ratings have the Patriots rated 4th and value at 1.96 giving 14.5 to beat bottom ranked Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It's a shame that the London game looks likely to be so one-sided. With the Patriots trading at 1.08, the value is clearly on an initial lay. If the Buccaneers get the ball first or force the Patriots to punt on their first possession, that price will quickly move out by a point or three.

The Colts (-14, 2.03), Jets (-7.5, 2.4) and Eagles (-7, 2.03) are also value to win this weekend.

Saturday 24 October 2009

24 Oct Summary

Some disappointing results in the Premier League again, with Spurs loss at home to Stoke probably the biggest shock. I had Chelsea as 4 goal favourites to beat Blackburn, and nearly had a punt on the "Any Unquoted", but of course didn't. Had I done so, the result would have been 0-0, or at least, it sometimes seems that way. Burnley's home form deserted them, and they may still be in for a long season. Good results for the other promoted sides though, although Wolves draw cost me some cash. I was looking good for three minutes! Hull v Portsmouth was predicted a draw, but on paper only. C'est la vie.

The good news is that the Championship continues to show more consistency than the Premier League. Whether this is a blip remains to be seen, but including midweek, 10 predicted home wins have obliged, and the draw prediction accuracy isn't too bad with the running total being 4 of 10 so far. Away predictions are running at 100%, but don't get too excited - that was today's QPR win at Derby.

In the Championship the results were:

Home selections 3 from 5, with two Draws (Running Total 10 from 12, 2 Draws)
Draw selections 3 from 5, with two Away (RT 4 from 10, with 2 Homes, 2 Aways)
Away selections 1 from 1 (RT 100%!)

In League One the results were:

Home selections 5 from 7, with one Draw and one Away
Draw selections 0 from 3, with two Home and one Away
Away selections 0 from 1, with one Draw

In League Two the results were:

Home selections 6 from 8, with one Draw and one Away
Draw selections 1 from 2, with one Home
Away selections 0 from 1, with one Draw

For what it's worth, and on the basis of today's results, that's not too much, my expectations for tomorrow in the Premier League are:

Bolton v Everton Away win by 1 goal
Liverpool v Man Utd Draw
Man City v Fulham Home win by 1 goal
West Ham v Arsenal Away win by 2 goals

Finally, I never realised before today that the increments in the Asian Handicap are .01 - you learn something new every day.

Caroline Wozniacki

It's been written about quite widely, but for those who may have missed the story, there was an unusual 1.01 gubbing in tennis earlier this week.

Caroline Wozniacki was leading 7-5, 5-0 against Anne Kremer, when she withdrew. Betfair's rules are that if the first set is completed, then bets stand, so there were a lot of angry punters to be found on the forum.

At 5-5 in the first set, Wozniacki called for the trainer, and had her leg heavily strapped. After that, she went on a tear, winning every game. It seems that she realised her hamstring injury would stop her from competing in the next round, and during the change-over at 3-0 in the second set, Wozniacki's father/coach, speaking to her in Polish, told her that she should get to 5-0 and then quit, thus allowing her opponent to compete in the next round.

The comments, picked up by microphones, were heard by Polish speakers, at least some of whom started laying Wozniacki. One person to his credit, did actually post a warning on the forum about what was going on, and certainly the odds must have reacted as people jumped in to lay the short odds. As Labro, a commenter on an earlier post said, this is clearly one of those moments when, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Does one trust the forum poster claiming that he speaks Polish and what he claims to have heard, or does one trust the odds? I seldom trade tennis, so I don't know what odds were available on this young lady as she extended her lead to 4-0 and 5-0, but they were surely not 1.01.

Personally, I don't think that this was any attempt to manipulate the betting markets for personal profit - simply a 'sporting' gesture to allow Kremer to play in the next round and collect a little more prize money. This was far too obvious for a fix. Contrary to what some punters seem to think, sport is not all about betting, although anyone backing her after the decision to quit was made probably has a right to feel aggrieved. Hard to feel too much sympathy for 1.01 backers though!

Friday 23 October 2009

Saturday Selections 24 Oct

Another weekend of football action and a different approach. One of the benefits of tweaking my Elo ratings recently is that I am now able to easily calculate an expected result, or at least an expected margin of victory.

I trialled this last Tuesday on the 12 Championship games, and they were reasonably accurate. The ratings predicted 7 home wins and all 7 resulted in home wins, 3 by the exact margin expected. Of the 5 draws predicted, 1 was a draw, 2 were away wins, and two were home wins.

Of course, this is all meaningless since I didn't record the match odds at kick-off, and all home teams may have been "1.01" shots, but it does show promise with regard to perhaps using the Correct Score markets.

I'm bored with trying to find the value in every game, so from now on I'll just pick the stand-out bets. So for tomorrow's Premier League matches, the best value bets are Aston Villa (2.18) to win at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Burnley (2.54) to win at home to Wigan Athletic, and Tottenham Hotspur (1.46) to beat Stoke City.

In the Championship, Preston North End (2.7) at home to Middlesbrough are the pick along with the draw at 3.6 Coventry City v West Bromwich Albion.

League One: Bristol Rovers (1.84) v Yeovil Town and Exeter City (2.22) v Wycombe Wanderers.

League Two: Shrewsbury Town (2.2) v Aldershot Town.

Warning: Your capital is at risk when you invest in Cassini's tips – you can lose you some or all of your money, so never risk more than you can afford to lose. Always seek personal advice if you are unsure about the suitability of any investment. A full portfolio is available on request. Past performance and forecasts are not a reliable indicator of future results.

Angels v Yankees - Game 5

Tonight's match odds for the baseball are 2.0 New York Yankees, 1.99 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Fair enough, but when we look at the handicap prices, the Yankees -1.5 are 2.6, the Angels -1.5 are 2.82. One would expect a little more parity here, although being the home team (and batting last) does slightly increase the chances of a 1 run win.

Last night I took the Phillies giving 1.5 runs to beat the Dodgers because they were available at 2.52, whereas just to win they were about 1.73. That seemed to me to be a generous price given that the Phillies would want to win at home and avoid a trip to California, but I suspect that two one run games on Monday may have unduly influenced the price on the handicap.

Tonight I'm not so sure. The Yankees can afford to drop the game, with two more back in New York, but then again, the Angels may be subconsciously resigned to defeat in the series (they trail 1-3). The Yankees are my pick for a small punt, giving 1.5, but I wish they were available at the 2.82 rather than 2.6! I'll be trading this game and hoping for a few flip-flops.

In the ten minutes or so that it took to write this post, the Yankees have gone out to 2.04, (-1.5 2.66) and the Angels are in to 1.95 (-1.5 still 2.82).

Update: Well, I got my flip-flops. Angels up by 4 early, and layed them at 1.06 for a tidy sum. (Why people back at these prices with a third of the game still to play is really quite incredible). Yankees came back to lead 6-4, layed it off to go Green-All-Over, and my best baseball trading result ever. Best win of the year too! Call me Mr. Happy.

Sunday 18 October 2009

Sunday Selections 18 Oct

Manchester City (2.06) to win at Wigan is today's bet. I expect City to win by one goal and have had a cheeky small punt at 32 on the 3-2 scoreline.

4:15: I just noticed my 0-1 and 1-2 bets were also matched at 9.8 and 10 respectively. Weird, because the prices on both had dropped after I put my back in earlier today and didn't look like being matched, but at 3:58 and 3:59 they got matched. The 2.5 goals market also plunged pre kick-off. Not sure why, but I was able to lock in a profit there before the ball was even kicked. Always a good feeling.

Friday 16 October 2009

Saturday Selections 17 Oct

After what seems like forever, another weekend of Premier League football is here, and no doubt some anxious readers waiting for my selections. Or perhaps not, but here they are anyway.

Back Chelsea (1.84) @ Aston Villa
Back Everton (1.51) v Wolves
Back Tottenham (1.92) @ Portsmouth
Back Stoke (2.19) v West Ham
Back Liverpool (2.26) @ Sunderland

I have gone with my most reliable indicator (Form) with the exception of Liverpool, who are selected because their in-game performances are more than twice as good as Sunderland's.

Also Manchester United v Bolton Over 2.5 (1.76). If I had to pick an Under it would be at Stoke City, but I'm not.


A small loss on the day, with Group One teams Chelsea and Liverpool both losing away. Everton were again very poor, but at least Tottenham and Stoke City both won. The Over 2.5 goals also came in at Old Trafford, as it did in most games once again!

Liverpool will not win the League, too many defeats already, and have dropped to 5th favourites, and Chelsea and Manchester United are both now available at 3.05 on Betfair. They play each other on November 8th.

Back Chelsea (1.84) @ Aston Villa L -100
Back Everton (1.51) v Wolves L -100

Back Tottenham (1.92) @ Portsmouth W 92
Back Stoke (2.19) v West Ham W 119

Back Liverpool (2.26) @ Sunderland L -100
Back Over 2.5 (1.76) Manchester United v Bolton Wanderers W 76

09-10 Totals - Stake: 2800 Return: 3033.61 P/L: 233.61 (+8.34%)

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Doing A Ratner

From today's Evening Standard (Tuesday 13th October)

Mark Davies MD, when asked if anybody makes a living on Betfair.

"There are very few people who are consistently profitable and NONE of these people are in the UK"
A bizarre statement, up there with Gerald Ratner's speech at the Institute of Directors on April 23 1991. For those too young to remember, during the speech, he commented:

We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, "How can you sell this for such a low price?", I say, "because it's total crap"”

He compounded this by going on to remark that some of the earrings were "cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich but probably wouldn't last as long". After the speech, the value of the Ratners' group plummeted by around £500 million, which very nearly resulted in the firm's collapse.

Monday 12 October 2009

A Whale Tale

The end of a roller-coaster week with 5 of the last 8 days of trading seeing a four-figure swing one way or the other. Fortunately, the good days now lead the bad days 3-2 and the bank is once more at a new high.

An interesting end to the New York Yankees - Minnesota Twins play-off baseball game - a whale made his (or possibly her) appearance in the ninth inning. At one point there was something like £330,000 wanting to back the Yankees at 1.01 in the 9th inning, when they were up 4-1 with the bases loaded and one out. In the end, they didn't add on and the money shifted to 1.02 for the bottom of the 9th.

I was sorely tempted, and took £25k of it, backing it back at (mostly) 1.04 for a very quick £500 (almost) when the Twins lead-off batter reached base. I was pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to back back the entire £330k had I taken it, but that would have been a very nice little earner in a more liquid market. (Not as nice as the Twins going on to win, but mustn't be greedy).

One of the problems I have encountered in the past is that of unloading large amounts into illiquid markets. Time is often not your friend, and it is very frustrating to take a position and have it move in your favour, but then be unable to lock in profits. It's especially frustrating when the event swings back against you, and you are still holding the now unfavourable position.

With the generally accepted rule that one shouldn't risk more than approximately 2% on any single bet, Mr Billy Big Bollocks must have a bank of some £16 million. I may have to revise some of my targets. I feel so inadequate.

Sunday 11 October 2009


An unofficial spokesperson for Betfair has been active on the Betfair forum, trying to smooth over some discontent regarding the recent changes to the Premium Charge. As I have said before, the changes don't impact me at all, but it does seem that some of the answers from Betfair could be considered a little misleading.

By extending the period of profitability to the lifetime of the account, rather than the past 60 weeks, about 15% of people will fall "out of the PC net and will, overall, result in Betfair making 15% less revenue from the PC than last year.
I have no reason to believe that this isn't true. If someone joined three years ago, and lost money in years one and two, but in the past 60 weeks was in profit (although not by enough to cover their earlier losses) then they will now be spared the charge until such time as their lifetime balance becomes positive.

He did give some numbers which made interesting reading.
The facts remain that from a customer base now exceeding 2.5 million and an actives base of 600k plus on the exchange, the people paying the PC total something around the 2,000 mark - I don't have precise figure but it isn't far off that number.
The part that I do have a problem with is the statement that Betfair is far from a monopoly.
In the end, everyone has the choice to say what they like on here and to decide whether to bet with us or not. Betfair is far from a monopoly, has to exist in a very competitive market place and if we're charging people too much for the service we offer then we will inevitably lose their business. I hope we're not doing that and our customers still recognise that Betfair charges fair and competitive prices for the service it offers.
Another poster replied: "Where else can I trade in running on a sport please, where I can get in and out of the market at any given moment on events such as tennis and snooker. Pray do tell, as I will go there, truly I will. It is clearly a gross misuse of your monopolistic powers. If it isn't then why did you not come up with this idea any sooner, had you not reached market saturation, had you not got a strong enough monopolistic power on the industry at that stage?"

Very true. If you look at Betfair as a bookmaker, then sure, there is a lot of competition, and as I have stated previously, once you are paying the Premium Charge, Betfair ceases to be of any value for an outright punt, but if you look at Betfair as an exchange, and most PC payers do, the truth is that they ARE a de facto monopoly however you twist it. No other exchanges yet have the liquidity or the same number of markets that Betfair has, and to say they do not have a monopoly is disingenuous to say the least.

No word on how many Casino / Arcade players pay the Premium Charge.

Friday 9 October 2009


I think the history of cricket might actually be more interesting than the game itself. The things you learn from poking around on the Internet. About three hours ago, I started out with the intention of researching some IPL data, and found myself reading about 'major cricket' in England back in the 1700s. Apparently my old stomping grounds of Croydon, Coulsdon and Caterham in Surrey have quite an interesting cricketing past.

"Caterham is first recorded as a major cricket team on Monday 21 September 1767 when it played Hambledon at Duppas Hill and was heavily beaten by 262 runs. The club's last major match in 1770 was also against Hambledon and they lost that by 57 runs. In all, Caterham's ten known matches ended in two wins, four defeats and four where the result is unknown."

"Coulsdon is first recorded as a major cricket team on Monday 8 May 1769 when a combined Coulsdon and Caterham team played All-England at Smitham Bottom in nearby Croydon. The result is unknown. The club's last known major match in 1777 was against Chertsey at Sevenoaks Vine and they lost that by 6 wickets. In most of Coulsdon's matches, the result is unknown, but the team did defeat Sussex in 1775."

"The original Croydon Cricket Club was one of the oldest in England and was prominent until the 1740s. It had a very strong team in the 1731 season when it defeated London four times. Croydon was interchangeable with Surrey as a county at that time. The club declined in the 1740s and was barely mentioned again after that except in a few minor matches. It looks as if the club disbanded in the latter half of the 18th century and has never been resurrected; the nearest modern equivalent seems to be Addiscombe Cricket Club in the Surrey Championship.

Duppas Hill is a park at Waddon, near Croydon, and has a long history of sport and recreation. It is thought to be named after a family called "Dubber" or "Double". It is said that jousting took place there in medieval times and a story goes that Lord William de Warenne was treacherously slain there during a joust in 1286. It was a major cricket venue in the 18th century and is believed to have been the venue for Croydon's 1707 match against London. It was certainly in use in 1731 when it is mentioned in H T Waghorn's Cricket Scores 1730-1773 and re two subsequent matches between Croydon and London. The last mention of Duppas Hill as a major venue is in 1767 when the nearby Caterham club, managed by Henry Rowett, played against Hambledon.

Duppas Hill was the site of the Croydon workhouse from 1726 until 1866. A public park was established there in 1865 and this became notable for public celebrations and firework displays. On the eve of the 1926 General Strike, it was the venue of a mass rally of trade unionists and workers. During the Second World War, it hosted a baseball match between American and Canadian soldiers. It remains a recreation area today and cricket is still played there."

Duppas Hill was where I played many football games back in the 70s and 80s. I never knew I was running around on such an historic site!

It seems that cricket has quite a past associated with gambling. On Monday 1st September 1718 London were playing Rochester when the Rochester players walked off in an attempt to have the game declared incomplete so that they would retain their stake money. London was clearly winning at the time. The London players sued for their winnings and the game while incomplete was the subject of a famous lawsuit where the terms of the wager were at issue. The court ordered it to be "played out" and this happened in July 1719. Rochester with 4 wickets standing needed 30 runs but were out for just 9.

Anyway, back to research after a very interesting distraction.

Au Revoir Betfair

From Owen Gibson in today's

Betting exchanges such as Betfair have been outlawed under new French legislation.

The French government has effectively outlawed the online betting exchange Betfair after passing an amendment to new gambling laws. These are being closely watched by sports bodies in the UK which are lobbying the government to bring in similar regulations.

Under a surprise last-minute amendment, betting exchanges such as Betfair that allow punters to lay as well as place bets were excluded from the legislation in a move that the company described as "discriminatory".

Since its launch in 2000 Betfair has grown to become by far the biggest online betting exchange, with more than two million customers.

France's new laws have opened up the betting market for the first time, but also enshrined the principle that any bookmaker must apply for a licence and agree to pay a proportion of their revenues to sport. Online betting exchanges will not be able to apply for one of the new licences after it was ruled that allowing punters to lay bets contradicted this principle.

Passing the amendment, the French parliament also referred to a 2007 report from the British Gambling Commission that said 9.8% of punters using betting exchanges developed gambling addictions, compared to a rate of between one and three per cent among the general gambling population.

Betfair's managing director, Mark Davies, said: "We will consider our position. It is fairly clearly discriminatory against the biggest and most competitive online operator in Europe. It is a slap in the face for the consumer."

The company also disputes the figures in the 2007 BGC report, which it said were based on such a small sample that they were close to meaningless.

The French legislation has been closely watched by a coalition of British sports governing bodies that hope to persuade the government to introduce a similar system here. They argue that bookmakers should be forced to pay a levy to offer odds on their sport, a proportion of which would then be spent on fighting corruption.

But bookmakers say corruption would exist regardless and believe they help bring potential cases of match-fixing to light, as well as investing in sport through sponsorship and betting partnerships.

There had been doubts about whether France's stance would comply with European law, but the European Commission appeared to signal its cautious approval earlier this year. However, bookmakers are expected to challenge the new rules, which require them to pay 1.8% of their revenues to the French sports commission and negotiate separate licences with each sport they want to offer bets on.

Sports administrators, including the England and Wales Cricket Board's chief executive, David Collier, and his counterpart at the British Horseracing Authority, Nic Coward, last month met the sports minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, to advance their case.

Two parallel government reviews are both expected to report before the end of the year. The former Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry is chairing a panel of senior industry figures looking at issues of sporting integrity in the wake of several high profile match-fixing cases in snooker, tennis and football. Meanwhile a separate review is looking into whether overseas bookmakers can be forced to contribute towards the fight against corruption, issues surrounding the horse racing levy and problem gambling.

The stakes were raised by the recent decisions by the two biggest high street bookmakers, William Hill and Ladbrokes, to move their online operations offshore for tax reasons.

The Hunt For Green October

Volatile days on the trading recently, with four days out of five resulting in a profit or loss of four figures. Good for the Premium Charge. Not so good for the ticker. Thankfully the latest swing was positive, but I am still in negative territory for this month, and to paraphrase Sir Edmund Blackadder, "we're not at home to Red October." Still a long way to go though, and plenty of play-off baseball for which the liquidity has been a pleasant surprise, especially for the early games. Sunday will be a busy day, with games in all four baseball play-off series, plus a full schedule of NFL. With no Premier League this weekend, that will be my focus. The international games hold no interest for me, and I don't keep such detailed ratings for the lower leagues.

I did enhance the Elo ratings this week, and the margin of victory is now taken into consideration. With the NHL recently under way, I am planning to keep ratings for that league too. They worked well in the recently ended NRL too, and I would like to expand these to other sports, but I'm not sure the NBA or NFL is a suitable candidate given the importance that certain individuals have. Baseball is also a non-starter given the importance of the pitcher. There's no reason why they shouldn't work in tennis either, but with so many matches, that would be quite an effort. The IPL in cricket could be a go though.

I made a rare visit to the horse-racing markets this afternoon, and of course, wished I hadn't, but at least I reminded myself why I don't trade this markets on a regular basis. I did make money trading pre-off in six of the seven markets I played, but in the one where I let the trade run, of course it won, and wiped out the profits from the other six and a little more. What a waste of time! I'm sure some people make money at this, though it's hard for me to see where the steady flow of losers comes from.

Finally on this something of a rambling post, a comment on a frequent source of annoyance on the Betfair forum which reared its ugly head again yesterday. The idea that backing at less than evens should always be avoided. I really think that anyone subscribing to this opinion should not be investing. The simple rule is that you back when you have value. That's it. Value can be at 1.01, it can be at 1000, or it can be anywhere in between. There is no arbitrary point where value stops. Rant over.

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Twins v Yankees

A bit of a roller-coaster the past few days. Three four-figure wins or losses in the past four days, with losses ahead 2-1 unfortunately. Laying the leader worked yesterday in the Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins game allowing me to lock in a healthy profit, but the same strategy failed today in the Colorado Rockies v Philadelphia Phillies game. The New York Yankees are about to start against the Minnesota Twins and are an astonishing 1.29 to win.

This is a team that won 63% of its regular season games, playing against a team that won 53%, yet NEw York have an implied probability of 77.5%. Yes, Minnesota played last night, and the Yankees have CC Sabathia pitching, but the value is on the Twins. I'm not sure I saw a team priced this low during the entire regular season.

Some say that fatigue will be a problem for Minnesota, but last night's game finished before 9pm local time and New York is hardly a long way from Minnesota. They travel further than that during the regular season. Anyway, pre-game I have laid a hefty chunk at 1.29. Although I expect the Yankees to win this, I'm hoping to see that 1.29 move out at some point. Top of the first would be nice!

Update: First batter on 2nd base, and 1.4 matched... :)
3rd inning: Twins take a 2-0 lead, Yankees at 2.0 now

Monday 5 October 2009

'Elo Again

Just a quick post to say that the draw looks good for tonight's Aston Villa v Manchester City game, but I am conservatively laying City at 2.71. Villa are slightly better on form and overall rating, whereas Manchester City are better on recent in-game performances.

Update: A very entertaining game with the result, for once, as predicted. Always nice to finish the round on a high, even if I am second-guessing myself for not backing the draw outright!

Lay Manchester City (2.71) @ Aston Villa W 58.48

09-10 Totals - Stake: 2200 P/L: 246.61 (+11.21%)

I'm also in the process of refining my Elo ratings calculation after deciding it was too simple and needs a little tweaking. The problem was that years ago I used the more basic method before computers and spreadsheets (yes, I'm old) and I followed this same method when I restarted the exercise last season, but I can do better with the technology available today. Under the old method, a 1-0 win was treated the same as a 5-0 win, and this can't be right.

Another bad day in the NFL yesterday, and down again for the season. My strategy of laying short prices didn't pay off in the late game as the Chargers went 0-28 down to the Steelers before making a too little, too late comeback.

On the plus side, my numbers for baseball this season are a new high for me, and the play-offs start tomorrow. Elo doesn't work too well with baseball.

I'm also planning to use the new and improved Elo rating system for ice-hockey betting this season, but so much to do. The season has started and I am behind schedule. The NBA also starts soon with pre-season games going on right now, while the women's version is currently winding up - another sport that has set new highs for me this season.

Look for momentum swings in the women's game. A 10 point lead evaporates fast and there is often money backing the pre-game favourite too short later on in a close game. The way I look at it is that if the starting prices are 1.5 and 3.0 but the teams are close after say three quarters, those SPs are no longer relevant. (Be aware that there are things like foul trouble, or players injured that faactor in). If a game goes into overtime, then pretty much those teams are 50/50.

Saturday 3 October 2009

Sunday Selections 4 Oct

A rather annoying small overall loss today, with Manchester United failing to beat Sunderland. As I suggested, 1.21 was a little tight, and I did notice that the price had moved out to 1.24 by kick-off. This is the shortest price to lose this season, (odds-on favourites have won 31 of 37) and these things are going to happen.

With overs still comfortably ahead this season 42-29 and showing a profit of 13.7 to a level 1 point stake, it was good to pick the only under of the day.

Now to tomorrow's fixtures, and a busy day in London.

Arsenal v Blackburn: Arsenal are short at 1.25 to win this, but I think they will. After beating similarly rated Wigan and Fulham in the past two weeks, I expect a comfortable home win.

Everton v Stoke City: Everton at 1.62 to win this. Although Stoke have picked up a couple of points away from home this season, they were at weaker teams, and Everton will be too strong.

West Ham v Fulham: A low scoring game, and with both teams in poor form I am going for a draw covering 0-0 (10.5) or 1-1 (7.4) as well as unders at 1.8.

Chelsea v Liverpool: Form favours Chelsea, recent performances favours Liverpool. Both teams return from disappointing trips to Europe, although at least Chelsea won. Games between these two tend to be tight, but these teams are the top two in my performance ratings and I think overs at 2.16 is a stonking bet, with a lay of Liverpool (4.0) the match odds bet.


Another disappointing day. Two losing matches, with Everton failing to win, and the Chelsea - Liverpool game coming up one goal short. Interestingly the price on overs dropped to 2.06 before kick-off and 2.16 was indeed generous. Arsenal won easily enough, and the lay of Liverpool came in. As predicted, West Ham and Fulham did draw, but unfortunately my attempt to make a little extra on the 0-0 and 1-1 fell short with the game finishing 2-2, and my unders bet lost too.

Back Arsenal (1.25) v Blackburn W 25
Back Everton (1.62) v Stoke L -100
Back Draw (3.35) West Ham v Fulham W 235
Back 0-0 and 1-1 (10.5/7.4) West Ham/Fulham L -100
Back Under 2.5 (1.8) West Ham v Fulham L -100
Lay Liverpool (4.0) @ Chelsea W 33.33
Back Over 2.5 (2.16) Chelsea v Liverpool L -100

09-10 Totals - Stake: 2100 Return: 2288.13 P/L: 188.13 (+8.96%)

Saturday Selections 3 Oct

Five Premier League games today, and will the draws start to appear? For me, the two likeliest games for this are the games at Burnley and Wolves, but it is by no means out of the question at Bolton.

Bolton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur: This is a tough game to call, with a good argument being made for any of the three possible outcomes, but a lay of Tottenham (2.0) is the verdict. Bolton have the better form, which has proven to be my most reliable indicator to date, and I'm going with that.

Burnley v Birmingham City: A lay of Burnley at 2.36 is the call here.

Hull City v Wigan Athletic: A win for Wigan here at 2.62. All three of my indicators suggest Wigan will win.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Portsmouth: A lay of Wolves at 2.14. Portsmouth's recent performances haven't been bad, and I expect them to pick up at least a point but the drift in their price doesn't bode well!

Manchester United v Sunderland: Hard to see anything but a home win here, although at 1.21 it's a little tight on value.

I'm also tipping the unders at Wolves (1.8).


Lay Tottenham (2.0) @ Bolton W 100
Lay Burnley (2.36) v Birmingham City L -100
Back Wigan (2.62) @ Hull L -100
Lay Wolves (2.14) v Portsmouth W 87.72
Back Under 2.5 Wolves v Portsmouth (1.8) W 80
Back Manchester United (1.21) v Sunderland L -100

09-10 Totals - Stake: 1400 Return: 1694.79 P/L: 294.79 (+21.06%)

Friday 2 October 2009

Letting Go

A lot of different things factor into my calculations for where value lies in my football betting, but there are some things I don't bother with, because I just don't see how they are anything other than a curiosity. I was reading Pete Nordsted's blog earlier, and in his Crystal Palace v Blackpool write-up he mentions, among other things, the following:

Three of the last four meetings between these two have ended in a draw.

Palace have failed to score in their last two home matches against Blackpool.

Blackpool are unbeaten in their last three away trips to face Palace.

Now if these aforementioned matches had all taken place in September, then yes, I would consider them highly relevant, but the five meetings referenced go back to April 1978! Is the result of a match played more than 30 years ago really relevant?

But why stop at "Blackpool are unbeaten in their last three away trips to face Palace"? 

According to my records, Blackpool are actually unbeaten in their last FOUR trips to Palace, and haven't lost there since Wednesday 2nd September 1970, a match that I was forced to miss by my Mum because I had school next day, and I'm still a little upset about it.

Anyway, not having a go at Pete, (plenty of others include this information too), just at the relevance of factoring in games played more than a few weeks ago. Blackpool certainly do seem to be a bogey side for Palace if you believe this stuff is relevant though, having lost just one of their last 12 league games against Palace.

For those who don't know, Pete has a book coming out this month called Mastering Betfair, and you can link to his blog on the right for more details. 

He was given a rather torrid time on the Betfair Forum earlier this week after linking to the video on his web page, but that is nothing new since the anonymity the forum offers seems to bring out the worst in people, many of whom are probably a little jealous. 

I have collaborated with Pete in the past on analysing some price movement charts, and he seems to me to be a perfectly genuine and intelligent guy. 

My Mum, (same Mum who stopped me going to Palace's last home victory over Blackpool), used to say that if you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all. Maybe that's why I am such a quiet chap?

Anyway, I shall be ordering the book myself, because although I am not expecting a magic system that will allow me to win millions in the next year, reading this kind of book does at the very least give you ideas that you can perhaps mould to suit your individual style of investing, and it's always interesting to read about how other people are thinking.

Thursday 1 October 2009

Too Good To Be True?

I had an interesting comment on the last post, concerning a situation where 1.06 was available on a completed tennis game in Tokyo. I've cautioned on here before that "if something looks too good to be true, it probably is" but the key word there is PROBABLY. If you have confidence in your data, be it a web page, TV pictures or (unlikely) your morning paper, then act on it. In my five years on Betfair, I have seen some strange things.

In April 2004, less than a month after I joined Betfair, there was a football game that was scheduled to kick-off at midnight English time on a Saturday night. About five minutes before KO, I was thinking about a bet, and was looking at various web sites, and happened to see a result from that day of a game between the same two teams. I don't remember the teams, but I do recall that it was a 1-1 draw. It seemed too good to be true, and I only had £100 or so in my account, so I only 'risked' £20 on the match odds market. I was about to risk a bit more when the market suspended, and sure enough, two hours later I was paid out. Unbelievable, and maybe unethical of me to not say anything, but none of us are perfect. I've not seen a similar situation in all the years since. I think what had happened was that the kick-off had been re-scheduled for some reason, but no one had told Betfair.

On 3rd October, 2007 there were some strange happenings on a baseball play-off game. I was actually first alerted to it by a post on the forum when someone pointed out that a large sum of money on the overs had been taken at a bad price. I checked the graph, and sure enough, a four figure sum had been matched. On a whim, I stuck an offer out there, and someone else posted on the forum a joking comment that there was new money available if the backer wanted some more, but when I went back to the market, my four figure lay had gone! Now I can't recall the prices exactly or the teams even, but the gist of it was that the game was more than half over, and was low scoring making my lay of about 1.7 on over 8.5 a poor bet to take. But someone took it, and then some more that I put out there. At this point I became a little concerned that my pictures were hugely delayed, and was waiting for a grand-slam to happen, but it never did. A few minutes later, another poster on the forum asked "Why is the price on overs so high when there's 7 runs been scored?" - (I was covering) - and someone else replied "Er, it's 2-1 mate". Whatever source the guy was using was wrong, and one of my better days on Betfair.

Those are two of my best tales, so far as betting is concerned anyway. If any happen these days, I tend to write about them at the time, but these occasions are very rare. There's the occasional 1.01 left over at the end of a middle of the night event, or a baseball game tied at 4 where the overs is 8.5 and money is still available to back!

Premium Charge - No Change

I mentioned earlier that it's been a little over year since the introduction of the Premium Charge, and right on cue, in my mailbox today is a message from Betfair advising me that the rules have changed. Previously, if your previous 60 weeks were not in profit, or you had played in less than 250 markets, then you didn't pay the charge. Now they have wiped out this 60 week safety net, and extended it to the lifetime of your account. This will help those in the short-term who lost money in their early days but who have now turned it around, but it doesn't help me one bit. To be fair, it probably doesn't hurt me any more either. I am well over the 250 markets level, and although I was a loser on here in the beginning, I was never down more than a few quid (£77.10 to be precise) while I was finding my feet.

For most of my trading, I shall continue to use Betfair, at least until such time as other exchanges become more liquid, but for my outright punts, I do that all on either BETDAQ oe WBX these days. There is no point in backing, and effectively taking a 20% worse price.

Spetember - October

Another month over, (despite what some calendars might suggest), and with the autumnal equinox behind us, winter is on its way. But we like winter, or at least we like the sports that winter brings.

September is a transitional month. Tennis has its last major tournament of the year, golf is winding down, but football is in full swing, as is the American version with the NFL.

I am now into my fifth year of semi-serious trading on the exchanges. Hard to believe, but I have the spreadsheet to prove it. September was down on last year, but second best overall, so I'll take that. I'm slightly ahead of last years total at this stage, and with the anniversary of the Premium Charge now here, I am no longer competing with a 20% handicap. Plus last October, I actually made a small loss, so there's even more chance I can stay ahead in the next month!

The best news from last month is that my football betting is showing a profit. I wrote at the end of last month, "the Form ratings are showing a lot of promise as I mentioned a couple of days ago (+56%) but with only 36 games played, there's no getting too excited just yet. It takes me a good 2/3 hours a week to maintain all the ratings and whilst I only do the Form and Power numbers for the Premier League so far, if I find they are profitable, then I may be spending a few more hours a week and include the lower leagues."

The Form numbers continue to show promise, but I haven't the time to expand this study to the other leagues yet. It seems to me that with the book close to 100%, you only need a small edge to be able to show a profit. A little tweaking here and there, and the search goes on. It's an interesting challenge, as well as fun.

Good luck in October.