Sunday 31 January 2010

Walk Like An Egyptian

Since everyone is titling their posts as above today, I thought I might as well follow suit. Could be a pyramid scheme that I need to get in on... or am I in de-Nile?

The Elo ratings got the Manchester City v Portsmouth result spot-on with the expected 2 goal win but Arsenal were out-played by Manchester United and the expected draw didn't happen.

A problem with picking the draw is that there is no room for error. You either hit it for a nice win at 3.4 or so, or you lose. With the 1+ goal predictions, you can back the winning team and get a winner even if the margin is not exact.

There are three teams in Serie A with the initial letter of "C" and Football Elite went for all of them today. The Recommended Bet was Cagliari, and two Short-List selections were Catania and Chievo but unfortunately all three teams drew to complete a negative weekend for the service. Cagliari were 2-1 up before being reduced to 10 men, so a little unlucky perhaps, but luck evens out over time.

I was looking at a very interesting link provided by Scott Ferguson showing the proofed results of horse-racing tipping services. As Scott says "Why bother risking losing your own money when there are people out there willing to pay for such 'great' advice..."

Matt (Football Elite) commented on the topic of only backing at evens or better, and his summary was that backing at shorter prices just doesn't pay. "Maybe the market is too efficient at that end of the market?" Perhaps, but my answer would be that if these shorter priced selections are failing to return a profit, then they are clearly NOT value selections. More research needed.

Finally, I am going to replace the Conference Regional leagues with Seria A and La Liga. Possibly the Bundesliga 1 and Ligue 1 also. The spreadsheet is certainly showing promise in the higher leagues, and I'm hopeful that the stronger leagues in Europe will also perform well.

I had an enquiry as to the availability of my spreadsheet, and while I am willing to share ideas in general, the spreadsheet does contain two years worth of proprietary data so it's not something I would want to be giving away. Besides, it's an evolving work in progress and will continue that way for some time.

Saturday 30 January 2010

Cream On Top

Once again, today saw a few gems for the Elo ratings, particularly in the higher leagues, but overall nothing spectacular. The draw predictions in the Premier League are hitting at an overall 38% right now, including the draws at Birmingham City and Hull City today. Everton did win by the 1 goal predicted at Wigan Athletic, with Liverpool and Chelsea both winning, but missing their expected margin by 1 goal. Disappointingly, West Ham could do no better than draw at home to Blackburn Rovers.

In the Championship 4 of the 11 games were spot on, 4 were winners but not by the expected margin, and the other three were off by 1 or more. Predicted draws in this division are hitting at 31%.

League One saw 4 spot on from 11, with 1 other winner.

League Two was pretty much a disaster with no spot-on winners, and only 2 winners overall, and the Conference was an unmitigated disaster with four away wins out of four and not one prediction even close.

In Scotland, the Premier League saw the Big Firm matches finish exactly as predicted, with Hibernian also a winner, and in the handful of other games north of the border, two were spot on, and one other was a winner.

Football Elite’s Recommended Bets today saw their first losing pick in 19 games, with Fulham going down at home to Aston Villa. I had this as a draw myself, so we were both wrong! As Matt said in his notes: “Villa could be on their day and get something, but at 2.75 you have to side with Fulham in my opinion”. Agreed that this was the value bet here, despite the result.

His other picks were Napoli who drew 0-0 at 1.92 v Genoa and Deportivo La Coruna who lost 1-3 v Real Madrid where even the ‘safe’ play of laying Real Madrid didn’t help me.

His Short-List selections saw a nice win at 4.0 for Borussia Moenchengladbach at home to Werder Bremen 4-3, and Hull City failing to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers – Drew 2-2.

One more recommended bet tomorrow, and two short-list selections. Overall slightly down including commission, with the Short-List selections faring better than the Recommended Bets.

I had a comment from an anonymous Curly about why a tipster might be reluctant to tip at odds-on, and he suggested that in part it could be because tipping at odds-on is something anyone can do, and that the moment one tips an odds-on loser everyone is critical. It would be interesting to hear Matt’s thoughts on this.

My own view is that within the category of odds-on, there is a huge range of probabilities. Odds-on simply means an implied probability of 50%+, it by no means necessarily means ‘almost certainty’ as some people seem to think. A fairly priced 1.7 shot will lose 7 times in 17 so there should be no shame in tipping one of these. Of course if you are tipping 1.1s regularly and hitting losers 7 times in 17, that would be deserving of criticism.

There is another football tipping service out there called AH Betting who according to the Betting For A Living blog “are now 27/61 for January at odds-on”. That would be cause for concern.

On a completely unrelated topic, I was out for a ‘lose-some-weight-you-fat-bastard’ run / walk this afternoon, and had the misfortune to cross paths with a young girl, about 5 or so, enjoying the fresh air with her mother and sister. Why she wasn't indoors playing video games I don't know. Kids today!

Anyway, as I approached, I saw the girl point to me and then heard her say very clearly “That man looks like Granddad” followed even more bizarrely by a certain level of agreement from the girl’s mother. All very puzzling. Either there was an old man somewhere behind me, or her Granddad must be an incredibly young looking and amazing athlete.

Hammers And Poppies

The Elo ratings are in form right now, and confident they will continue that way, in this weekend’s English Premier League, the best value bet is West Ham at 2.17 to beat Blackburn Rovers. I expect them to win by 1 goal and anything over 2.0 is good value for these selections. An additional bonus is that West Ham currently have (by my ratings) the best form in the Premier League.

Favoured by 3 goals are Liverpool and the price of 1.45 is a reflection of their wobbly form right now. With this win expectancy, 1.45 is value.

Teams favoured by 2 goals this weekend are Chelsea, a short 1.31 at Burnley, and Manchester City a not much better 1.32 at home to Portsmouth.

Everton should be one goal stronger than Wigan, but they are away and 2.38 is not generous.

The other games are predicted to be draws, although form favours Birmingham City and Hull City against Tottenham and Wolves respectively. Hull at 2.46 and a lay of Tottenham at 2.48 are my plays here. Draws at Arsenal and Fulham seem value at 3.4 each. A lay of Sunderland at 2.2 for Monday’s game.

Looking outside the Premier League, the stand-out value bet based on the numbers is Kettering Town, 2.4 at home to Crawley Town. Kettering may be missing their player-manager and captain, but for those like me who believe the market often overreacts to team news, 2.4 is a good price.

Other selections are Cardiff City (1.78) v Doncaster Rovers, Preston North End (2.54) v Ipswich Town, Reading (2.05) v Barnsley, Bristol Rovers (1.77), Carlisle United (2.04) v Leyton Orient, Leeds United (1.71) v Colchester United, Aldershot (1.75) v Grimsby, Morecambe (2.34) v Chesterfield, Port Vale (2.02) v Hereford, Torquay United (2.38) v Bradford City, Luton Town (1.47) v Ebbsfleet United, Aberdeen (2.16) v Motherwell, Dundee United (2.42) at Kilmarnock, Hibernian (1.7) v St Mirren, Inverness Caledonian Thistle (2.06) v Partick Thistle, Alloa Athletic (1.63) v Arbroath, Fofar (1.55) v Elgin City, Livingston (1.43) v Queens Park.

Pride Comes Before

Not to blow my own trumpet too much, just a small toot, but the Elo predictions don't come any better than my post on Wednesday. 4 out of 4 with every margin exactly right.

If only every match day was as accurate.

Matt from Football Elite also picked Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday. It's interesting to me that Matt doesn't select teams that are less than evens. I have written before about the fact that value can exist at any price, so it is puzzling to me that Matt (and indeed others) don't like to back at odds-on.

I can understand that recreational punters might not want to risk more money on a bet than they stand to win, but I think that punters with a more 'professional' approach would be quite happy to bet at 1.7 if that price is value.

I say 1.7 because that was Everton's price on Wednesday evening, which, for a team with the two goal supremacy I predicted, was a standout price.

Typically my 3 and 4 goal home selections are very short priced - they are your Manchester United v Hull City types of games, and for these I favour the Correct Score market, but then there are the 2 goal supremacy teams who typically are priced in the 1.4 to 1.6 range that offer value at anything much over that.

For the one goal supremacy home teams, the price is typically 1.6 to 1.8 and so anything at evens or above is good value.

As part of the evolution process of my spreadsheet, I am dropping the Conference Regional Leagues. For whatever reason, the results of predictions at this level are significantly less accurate than those higher up the pyramid, and with the liquidity being so poor on these games anyway, it just isn't worth the extra time and effort.

The Conference National isn't much better, but I shall persevere here for a while longer, even if no money is invested for the moment.

Weekend selections in the morning, but beware that I may have used up several weeks of luck on Wednesday! If you believe in that sort of thing of course.

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Red Rose Value

Two value selections today in the Premier League. Blackburn Rovers are overpriced at 2.03 to beat Wigan Athletic at home tonight.

For my reader who wants numbers and an explanation, Blackburn’s Elo rating is currently 948 and Wigan’s 921. After taking into account home advantage, the result needed to keep these numbers close to their current values is a 1 goal win by Blackburn.

Typically when the ratings predict a one goal home win, the price is a lot shorter – for example yesterday Tottenham were 1.68 to beat Fulham, so anything above evens is excellent value.

Also value is Everton at home to Sunderland. Everton’s supremacy is 2 goals and 1.7 is a great price.

For the record, Chelsea’s supremacy over Birmingham City should be 3, and Aston Villa v Arsenal is predicted to be a draw.

Worth a mention perhaps is that Crystal Palace’s odds for relegation plummeted from 19.5 down to a low of 2.96 yesterday, before settling in at 3.5. A nice play if you have inside information.

Tuesday 26 January 2010


I have long considered that the concept of fining someone a fixed amount for a transgression is inherently unfair. If I drive at 95mph on the M25 or park on a double-yellow line somewhere, I will probably receive a fine. It will be for a fixed amount. Whether I am unemployed, retired, on minimum wage, a lawyer or a multi-millionaire is not taken into consideration. The court just wants its ₤100 or whatever, and the fine is clearly not a fair punishment. To be fair, fines should not be fixed penalties, but should be proportionate to net worth or income.

It’s for a similar reason that I tend to keep this blog free of actual amounts won (or lost). It’s meaningless to read that Mr. Apple won ₤20 on an event or that Mr. Banana won ₤20,000 without knowing what the win meant in real terms to each individual. If Mr. Apple has a net worth of ₤200, then his win clearly meant considerably more to him, than Mr. Banana’s did to him, if he is worth ₤10 million.

Extreme examples admittedly, but they make the point. Reading other blogs, it is clear that some people are quite happy to make a few quid a day and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Any increase in your disposable net income is great, whether it buys a pint of milk, a pint of beer, pays for a nice holiday or allows you to give up your regular job.

When I started with exchange betting back in 2004, I was happy with any profit. My bank was at one time ₤21.40 and just a 10p win meant something back then. (Many years ago, when I was still in school, I once won a little over ₤1 during a lunch-time card game. I still remember the giddy excitement I felt that afternoon, as the winning of a whole week’s pocket money sunk in. I was rich!)

So it’s not the amount won that is important, it’s the relevance of that amount to your circumstances that is important. While it is perhaps all too easy to look on with envy as someone claims to be winning thousands, or alternatively to look sneeringly down your nose at people who make ₤2 a day, the truth is that whatever the results are is not as interesting to others as the method or thinking behind the investment decisions.

He's Not The Messiah

Troubling news today with one of England’s more illustrious clubs being forced into administration. The impending points deduction will mean that promotion becomes that little bit harder to achieve. A realist would say that promotion now becomes impossible. Assuming that the deduction is 10 points, Crystal Palace will descend from the vertiginous heights of two places from a play-off spot to the depths of two places away from relegation, and morale will not be high for tomorrow’s visit to table-toppers Newcastle United.

Saints Prayers Answered

After my relative success in the Colts – Jets game yesterday, I stayed up full of confidence for the NFC game with the New Orleans Saints at home to the Minnesota Vikings.

The confidence was soon dashed as I made a few mistakes on this one.

First of all, I am not a Brett Favre fan. I think he is an attention seeking drama queen, turning on the tears when it suits, whereas his opponent Drew Brees is one of my favourite quarterbacks, and the complete opposite of Favre – someone with a little class. I know I let this affect my investing.

Secondly, I had the Saints as favourites by ?? points, and really couldn’t see them losing. Another mistake – sometimes you’re wrong. Deal with it.

Thirdly, I was tired, and that is never a good state to be in when trading. As with driving, tiredness or alcohol do not make for good partners when trading.

Anyway, in a close game that could easily have gone either way, the Saints did finally prevail in overtime after our friend Mr. Favre threw a game-losing interception on the Vikings’ final drive. Ha ha. That moment alone was almost worth the money I lost, almost, but not quite.

So one more real game left this NFL season, since one can’t count the Pro-Bowl next week as a serious investing opportunity, and my numbers have the Colts by ½ a point.

The Saints have topped my ratings for the past several weeks, but after yesterday’s performance, they have dropped below the Colts and I would have to say that I expect the line to be several points higher and the Colts to win by more than that ½ a point.

Sunday 24 January 2010

Footy Round Up - Sunday January.24

Some excellent results today, with the Elo ratings predicting 4 away wins out of the 4 FA Cup and Scottish Premier League games today. Three duly obliged, including the two that I had an investment on. Form in Cup games is too unreliable.

Football Elite had a stellar weekend, with both recommended bets winning, Mainz at 2.05 and Palermo at 2.45. 11-15-2 is their full record now since I signed up, down to a level stake, but not by much, and only two losers out of 29 selections at better than even money is value to me.

The short-list bets did almost as well this weekend - 5 selections, and four winners at good prices:

Borussia Dortmund 2.52 v Hamburg

Deportivo La Coruna 2.44 v Athletic Bilbao

Getafe 2.56 v Atletico Madrid

Internazionale 2.66 v AC Milan

Ironically, the sole loser was the shortest priced selection of all - Udinese, who lost 2-3 at 2.1 at home to Sampdoria (after leading 2-1).

NFL Live Chat

The Indianapolis Colts have just beaten the New York Jets to reach the Superbowl, and a good result for me with the Colts coming close to winning by their expected supremacy of 12 points (they won by 13) and thus comfortably covering the -7.5 handicap.

It's always nice to get the result right, but equally was pleasing was the opportunity provided by Mark Iverson over at Mark Iverson - Professional Sports Trader to chat with other traders as the game unfolded and make calls about the more immediate events in the game.

It was an easy game to trade, no turnovers until late, with the Jets looking good early on taking a 17-6 lead, but the turning point was the final two minutes of the second quarter when the Colts are at their best. The Jets traded in the 1.50s at one point, but as I had hoped, the Colts scored to close within 4 at the half. The Colts have an excellent record of scoring in the last two minutes of the first half, and my comments were for once spot on.

The second half was all Colts, and the half-time price of 1.76 (of which there was an amazing £127k available) looked very generous. My bank isn't quite large enough to allow a bet of that size, even if it was value, but perhaps one day.

Anyway, an interesting idea which I think was enjoyed by the dozen or so people who joined, and hopefully everyone made money and there will be another event covered fairly soon.

The Noughties And Floating

This article, reflection on the last decade, was posted by Greg Wood Thursday 31 December 2009 12.58 GMT on

How it changed for the better The launch of Betfair in June 2000 has brought profound change to racing and betting, and was responsible for a golden decade for punters. When there is not a single newspaper tipster in the country whose return beats a blind bet on the favourite, you can be sure that form horses are running with exceptional consistency. By giving the authorities access to betting's "money trail", Betfair has also made racing much more difficult to corrupt. Other sports now come to British racing for advice on stamping out betting-related corruption.
How it changed for the worse The on-course betting market is dying on its feet (an inevitable, but less welcome, result of Betfair's arrival). Traditional racecourse bookies who travel the country to shout the odds are on the way out, and the track is a less exciting sporting venue as a result.

2020 vision: There is no reason to think that the second Betfair decade will be any less significant than the first. If they can crack America and then float, then by 2020 the international betting market could be increasingly dominated by Betfair and — perhaps - one other exchange. Fixed-odds and high-street shops will be seen as a very old-fashioned way to bet.
And continuing on the topic of Betfair floating, the Sunday Times today has this:
Betfair, the online gaming exchange, has selected two investment banks to advise it on a £1.5 billion stock-market flotation.

It is understood to have chosen Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to weigh up options for its future, which include a possible sale or share listing.

A deal could lead to a giant windfall for Betfair’s founders, Ed Wray, a former JP Morgan trader, and Andrew Black, once a professional gambler. They own 25% of the company between them.

It could also mark an exit for Japanese backer Softbank, which has a 23% stake. However, a float is unlikely to take place until the autumn.

Travelport, the hotel reservations group, last week announced plans for a £1.8 billion listing, firing the starting gun on a dash to the stock market for a host of private companies in 2010. Hugh Osmond’s latest cash shell, Horizon, also fleshed out plans to raise £500m next month for deals.

On Betfair, gamblers can bet against each other instead of a bookmaker. The firm took two billion wagers last year and reported earnings of £72m, a 29% rise, on sales 27% higher at £303m.

It believes it is well placed to lead a consolidation of the gaming sector.

Pretty In Pink

Once again, the FA Cup appears to be Chelsea's for the taking. Already on Betfair they have traded as low as 2.48, but earlier I had a dabble on them at 2.94. While there is always the risk of a tougher draw for them at the likes of say Aston Villa, Manchester City or Crystal Palace, the Cup appears to be Chelsea's if they want it. Other competitions may well take precedence as the season unwinds, so I doubt that I will let this bet run for too many rounds.

The draw for the fifth round in a couple of hours will be interesting. If Aston Villa, Manchester City, Tottenham, Birmingham or Fulham are paired together and Chelsea avoid them, then that 2.94 will be looking even better.

Football Elite returned to fine form this weekend. After yesterday's aforementioned win for Mainz '05, Matt followed up today with what, at the time of writing, is looking like a solid win for Palermo over Fiorentina. 3-0 up with 7 minutes to go. How often does one get the opportunity to watch teams in pink and violet play each other?

There are also three short-list bets which I shall report on later.

Are There Any Women Here?

Saturday 23 January 2010

Drew The Winner

The NFL Conference Games are tomorrow and for what it's worth, I have the Indianapolis Colts rated 12 points better than the New York Jets in the NFC game which makes the Colts -8.5 at 2.1 a value bet.

In the later game for the AFC championship, I have the New Orleans Saints 7 points better than the Minnesota Vikings. The Saints -4.5 at 2.08 are the value bet here as the classy Drew Brees sends drama queen Brett Favre into the NFL sunset.

Curate's Egg

A bit of a mixed bag today for the Elo ratings. For the second week in a row, Manchester United were spot on, Crewe won comfortably, and in Scotland Aberdeen were a good bet for me, but one or two others let me down. None of the selections lost, (although Stirling Albion and Livingston left it very late) so the conservative approach of laying the opposition would have paid off nicely.

Football Elite returned to winning ways with their recommended bets as Mainz '05 beating Hannover '96 1-0. Since I signed up, their 27 selections are now 10-15-2, and interestingly, 22 have been under 2.5 goals. And just 2 losers is impressive. Again, a conservative approach would have reaped rich rewards.

From their short-listed bets, Borussia Dortmund beating Hamburg by 1-0 and Deportivo la Coruna beat Athletic Bilbao 3-1 for a very profitable day. The running total for these is 39 selections, going 15-15-9. 24 unders / 15 overs.

Friday 22 January 2010

Port Value

Another Saturday is here, and a quiet league schedule due to all the 'big' teams being involved in FA Cup action. Teams such as Accrington Stanley, Crystal Palace, and goodness, even Brighton, are still in, all boosting their bank accounts with much needed additional revenue from cup ties.

Meanwhile, less successful teams (I'm not mentioning any names) are labouring away in the league trying to trim their £716m debts with a home game against Hull City, or possibly out playing golf while neighbours Everton play Birmingham City.

The best value bet this weekend is Port Vale at 2.1 versus Macclesfield, followed by Aberdeen at 2.0 v Kilmarnock.

Other selections are Carlisle (1.62), Norwich City (1.51), Crewe Alexandra (1.57), Rotherham (1.62), Oxford United (1.55), Stirling Albion (1.7) and Livingston (1.51).

Manchester United (to win by 4) are being backed via the Any Unquoted at 3.1, and Rangers are value at 1.43 to beat Hearts.

Monday 18 January 2010

No Stopping Photo-Shopping

The topic of photo-shopping came up again last week. In the wake of Mali's comeback in Angola, someone was (somewhat bizarrely) claiming to be the unlucky loser on the wrong side of the 999-1 layed on Betfair. Nevermind that the real loser was from Sweden, and the big winners were from Moldova, Germany and Cyprus.

From the Irish Independent by Wayne Bailey on Saturday:

Earlier this week, a story did the rounds about a man who supposedly risked €4,400 to win €44 by backing Angola in-running on Betfair who were 4-0 up with 11 minutes to go. Their opponents Mali, however, fired in four goals late on and the match ended in a draw costing the man a small fortune.

When offered a few quid from one of the redtops for his story, the man admitted that he had 'photo-shopped' his profit and loss and the whole thing had been made up.

This guy's story may have been a fake, but similar tales of woe (and euphoria) happen for real every week on the exchanges and the in-running markets can be both a goldmine and a minefield all wrapped into one.
In other news, I see that Psychoff have today called time on their blog. Speaking of dead or dying blogs, does anyone out there know what became of John Tuohy, aka the Gambler?

League Value 19/20 Jan

I don't invest on cup games, but for the record the numbers make Manchester United one goal winners at Manchester City tomorrow, and Aston Villa should be 2 goals better than Blackburn Rovers the day after.

Looking ahead to the Premier League, and it's Arsenal to beat Bolton by 3 (didn't we just have this one?) and Liverpool by 1 over Spurs (although a lay of Spurs is my bet here given Liverpool's current form, or lack of).

However, the pick of the day is Blackpool at 1.96 at home to Sheffield Wednesday. The numbers give Blackpool a supremacy of 2, and this is great value bet.

In League One, Charlton are also 2 goals better than Hartlepool, but the price here is a more realistic 1.51. Correct Scores of 2-0 (8.6), 3-1 (15) and AU (7.2) worth a shot.

In League Two, Bury are another +2 team at home to Bradford City and are great value at 2.0. Rotherham are +3 (1.32) at home to Darlington. Correct Score 3-0 (10.5) and AU (5.1) here.

"I hope I break even today...I need the money." - Phil Harris

Sunday 17 January 2010

Correct Score Value

The Correct Score market is one that I have pretty much ignored in the past. My simple brain prefers fewer selections, and the fewer the better. Give me a basketball game, a tennis / snooker / darts match or an NFL game with two outcomes, and my brain is happy. The price moves out on one selection, and in on the other, as the events of the game unfold.

Next we have sports like football, where the draw or tie becomes an extra outcome. Things start to get complicated, and then we have markets such as the Correct Score with its 17 possible outcomes. Daunting, but the truth is that these markets are as complicated as you choose to make them.

There are a few threads on the betting forums about the correct score market, but most seem to favour laying various scores. I can see the appeal. With 17 runners, it’s a lot easier to pick a loser, but the downside of course is that when you pick a winner, it is costly.

A popular strategy is to lay the 0-0 score, but typically after a good sequence, out of nowhere comes that 0-0 and all profits (and more) are gone. I like the idea of a good flow of winning bets, but I also know that the laws of probability are not suspended when my bets are on the line, and thus if I am laying the 0-0 at 10.0, then I can expect a losing bet every ten games.

Another idea is laying the 3-3 score, but similar to the 0-0, although less frequently, a 3-3 score comes along at the inevitable huge price, and weeks of profits are wiped out.

None of these ‘systems’ are for me, but as my regular reader will know, I have been playing with a spreadsheet that, given the ratings of two teams, forecasts a team’s supremacy in an upcoming match. It’s still in its infancy, but the early results show promise in a number of ways.

For example, a predicted supremacy of 2 goals has been forecast in the Premier League in the past week on three occasions; Manchester City v Blackburn Rovers; Aston Villa v West Ham; Arsenal @ Bolton.

Bets (to a 10 point stake) in the Match Odds market would have resulted in profits (losses) of 4.9, (10) and 6 and a net profit of 0.9.

Bets in the Correct Score market (covering 2-0, 3-1 or Any Unquoted) would have resulted in profits of 34, (30) and 58 and a net profit of 62.

For the three goal supremacy teams this week, Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, bets in the Match Odds market would have resulted in a loss of 5.6 whereas bets in the Correct Score market (covering 3-0 and Any Unquoted) would have resulted in profits of 25, 60 and (20) and a net profit of 65.

Whether or not this strategy will continue to return so positively remains to be seen, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, and I shall continue to play with the numbers.

Football Elite had four recommended bets today; Real Mallorca beat Deportivo La Coruna 2-0 at 2.12, but that was the only winner as Parma, Almeria and Bordeaux could all only manage draws.

Since I subscribed, the 24 selections have had only 2 losses, but no less than 13 draws!

On the short-list, (not tips, but selections that came close to selection), Blackburn Rovers beat Fulham at 2.58 to end a losing run for these selections at 11, followed later by Napoli who could only draw.

Saturday 16 January 2010

Saturday 16.Jan Summary

The football went well today. The highlights were Manchester United winning 3-0 (a winner at 8.0), Chelsea came in on the Any Unquoted at 4.5, and Everton won comfortably at 3.0.

The lowlights were Tottenham's failure (yet again) to win at home against lowly opposition, and Wigan's unexpected - by me anyway - win at Wolves.

The Championship proved even better with 6 of 11 games finishing exactly as predicted.

League One was 3 of 9, League Two was 2 of 6, the Conference National was 2 of 6 and the limited Scottish schedule finished 3 of 10.

The Correct Score market looks to be a better bet so far than the Match Odds. More research is needed of course; something to make the long winter evenings just fly by.

I'm also strongly considering scrapping the ratings for the regional Conference Leagues. Too much effort, for too little reward.

Football-Elite tipped Stoke City today, but they came up short against Liverpool. Their short-list bets had a torrid time, with three selections (Hannover '96, Wolves and Grenoble) all losing.

1 in 10 Million

One of the great things about sports is that every once in a while you see something that has never happened before. More than 10 million points have been scored in the NBA during its 63 year history, but only one was the result of a technical foul for running out of players!

In the NBA last night, one of my fun bets was on the Over 216.5 points in the NBA game between the Golden State Warriors and the Milwaukee Bucks.

The result of the game, 113:104, so the bet won by the skin of its teeth, but only thanks to an obscure rule that had never been enforced in the NBA before.

The rule states that 5 players must remain on the court for a team at all times, and with four seconds left, Warriors down by 6, the total at 214, and the game already lost, Stephen Curry committed a needless foul, to foul out of the game and put Luke Ridnour on the line for 2 free throws.

However, because the already short-handed Warriors had no other players available, Curry had to stay on, resulting in an additional technical foul.

Cool-hand Luke Ridnour hit all three free-throws, to complete one of the luckiest winning bets for me that I can remember.

I'm off to buy a Lottery Ticket.

Friday 15 January 2010

Elo Footy Picks 16.Jan

I'm predicting easy 3 goal home wins this weekend for Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, but all are short priced at 1.25, 1.19 and 1.30 for the win respectively. The Correct Score 3-0 and Any Unquoted seem to be the best bet for these games. Chelsea 3-0 is 9, AU 4.5. Manchester United 3-0 is 8, AU 3.3. Spurs 3-0 is 9.4, AU 4.3.

Next strongest, I have Aston Villa beating West Ham by 2. Villa are 1.57 which is good value. Shades of last Monday night's game here and a dabble at 2-0, 3-1 and AU for me. 7.6, 16 and 8.8 respectively.

Wolverhampton Wanderers are 2.38 at home to Wigan Athletic, and I have them expected to win by 1. Another value bet. Also by 1, I have Everton v Manchester City. Everton at 3.0 look tasty.

Draws at Portsmouth (3.4 v Birmingham) and Blackburn Rovers (3.3 v Fulham), and an away win for Arsenal (1.6) round out the picks.

No bet in the Stoke City game on account of Liverpool's unpredictability at the moment. For the record, the numbers favour Liverpool by 1, but my confidence in them is zero. Of the last 12 games involving them, just one predicted margin has been correct.

Tuesday 12 January 2010

Psychoff Cynic

Signor Cynical Cassini is back, and some of you have probably read the Psychoff blog from Turkey which is included on my blog roll. It is certainly popular with 143 followers – which is more than me, so the rest of this post you can credit to pure jealousy! I am Green All Over in fact.

Their claim to fame is that they made 100K USD in less than five months during the second half of 2009 on football, and their next challenge is 1 million USD by the end of 2011.

On the face of it, their results are outstanding, but details on how exactly they achieve these results are non-existent. They also seem able to make relatively huge amounts from games in eastern Europe, where the liquidity is relatively low.

I hear the maxim ‘if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is’ ringing out.

The inevitable comments along the lines of ‘tell me how it’s done’ are starting to appear:

Excellently done. How people do it, please tell me. :-))

i wonder if u can tell us(the readers) the strategy's that u use in making all this money...

and I wonder how long it will be before we see an invitation to share in the joy - for a small price of course.

All very puzzling, and made even more confusing by the apparent contradiction in the following two statements:

“Psychoff is now composed of two physicians interested in psychology and self-improvement”


“While this challenge goes on, I also have a personal and more difficult challenge regarding my weight. Although I make hundreds of mostly correct decisions at the keyboard and use my willpower to get what I want week after week, I find it difficult to understand why I find it so difficult to master what should be a much easier matter. I have promised my wife to do better and will be starting a personal challenge to lose weight and share the results with you although not with graphics.”

A physician interested in psychology and self-improvement with a weight problem? Really?

I’m also curious as to how using willpower gets you what you “want week after week.” Willpower doesn’t work so well for me when it comes to investing or weight loss - the markets typically ignore me and the scales seem to be driven by my net calories ingested less calories burned.

Anyway, it all seems a little too good to be true, but I must admit I would enjoy the reported profits.

City Slick

Update to previous post: I made a typo - City were of course only 1.49, not 1.79, to win. I say 'only' but when my system predicts a 2 goal win, it is spot on 31% of the time (33% if I drop League Two!)

So the Any Unquoted was a nice bonus, though I would have preferred the 3-1 final scoreline. With the Any Unquoted, you're essentially covered for the 2 goals or more scenario, with just the 3-0 to cover.

Over 2.5 goals is probably worth backing in these games. To be honest, I've just been recording the strike rate rather than the prices for these games, but since the strike rate is looking good, I shall add another page to my spreadsheet and track the prices.

I'm also noticing that some teams are more predictable than others. For example in the Premier League over the last 10 matches, the predicted margin for Aston Villa games has been correct 5 times, and within 1 goal three times. At the other extreme, Chelsea have been within 1 goal once, and that's it.

Monday 11 January 2010

City By Two

Manchester City are the pick today, available at 1.49 on the exchanges to beat Blackburn Rovers. I have City expected to win by 2, and 2-0 is available on the Correct Score market at 7.6, 3-1 at 14.5 and Any Unquoted at 6.4.

Will Burnley's bubble burst with the loss of Owen Coyle? If history is anything to go by, and it usually is, then a dip in Burnley's fortunes can be expected. I'll be leaving them alone for the next few weeks.

Sunday 10 January 2010

'Dog Days Of Winter

Another quiet day, with the only football bet going down. I expected Leicester City to beat Ipswich Town by 1, but the game finished even - a frequent outcome this weekend!

The NFL Wild Card games ended mixed. In the AFC, both the Cincinnatti Bengals and the New England Patriots were higher rated, favourites and at home, but both managed to lose - the Patriots for the first time at home in a play-off game since 1978!

In the NFC, the Dallas Cowboys were my pick to win by 2, and won by 20.

My best bet was in the final game, where my ratings had the Arizona Cardinals to win by 2 against the Green Bay Packers. The game went to overtime, with the Cardinals trading as low as 1.03 in-play.

So 2 for 4 overall, and more to come next weekend.

Backing the underdogs in these games is a long-term winning strategy in the NFL.

Stats show that in the NBA, in the 20 years to 2006, the probability of winning was 0.69% higher for underdogs than favorites. This may seem small, but as most gamblers will know, finding any edge is huge. It is also not all that surprising.

In the NFL, the value in betting underdogs is even stronger. Why? Recreational gamblers tend to bet on favorites, creating value on underdogs.

On a completely non-betting topic - in an idle moment today, I was looking at weather records for the UK, and this note on wind speed amused me:

"Shetland holds the unofficial British record for wind speed, which in 1962 was recorded at 177 mph (285 km/h) at RAF Saxa Vord — just before the measuring equipment blew away"

Saturday 9 January 2010

Memory Lane

Professor Leighton Vaughan Williams is, for me, the most interesting of bloggers on the Betfair Blog, and I only caught up with his latest post from December today. He talks about the changes that have occurred in the betting industry in the past 15 years, and they are truly quite astounding.

Read his post in full, but it's a trip down memory lane for those of us of a certain vintage who can remember the days when the bookies was by law an uncomfortable sparsely furnished den, full of smoke and people who really shouldn't be spending their money on gambling. 10% betting tax and massive over-rounds meant that all but the sharpest minds were doomed to lose. He mentions the hole-in-one team that managed a nice coup, and I well remember the story. For once, the bookies didn't know the true odds on something, and a team that did were able to make a tidy sum. Here's the post in full:

When I founded the 'Betting Research Unit' at Nottingham Trent University in 1995, the National Lottery had been going for less than a year. In a betting shop, there was a 10% charge levied on your stake, or else you could choose to pay 10% of any winnings. Betting shops had for many years been viewed as the sort of place which should have their windows blacked out just in case you might be tempted to wander in and loiter in front of the form guide.

There were no Internet price comparison sites, no such thing as a betting exchange, and very little in-running televised sports betting. But you could puff away to your heart's content at your local bookmaker's den in the almost certain knowledge that no amount of skill could beat the odds and the tax. There were exceptions, like the team that took a number of independent bookmakers to the cleaners because they knew the true odds of a hole in one in a golf tournament and the bookies did not. But this was a different world. Yes, it was all of 15 years ago.

Academic research into betting was still very much an esoteric part of mainstream economics and books that told you how to win were treated with usually justifiable suspicion. So what happened? The National Lottery, the abolition of betting tax on turnover, the growth of the Internet and cable and satellite television, that's what.

The Lottery played a major role in destigmatizing and changing attitudes to betting, not least among policy-makers. After all, what is the difference between placing a £1 bet on the outcome of the Lottery and a £1 bet on a horse? Other than that the latter is more likely to pay off.

Then bookmakers started to move offshore and I was charged in 2000 with advising the Government on the options for taxing betting in a rapidly changing world. I offered my advice, it was accepted, and in 2001 the tax on betting turnover was abolished and replaced with a much smaller incidence of tax on the gross profits of bookmakers. For the betting public, tax was effectively axed. The Internet brought more competition, and (along with the impact of the tax changes) it brought us the betting exchange boom, and all of this made the real price of a bet lower than ever. The growth of cable and satellite television expanded the range of sports on which people bet serious money, and it encouraged betting during the course of the action.

I have been privileged, throughout this time of change, to have been involved in influencing the course of policy towards gambling in the UK and elsewhere.

If this is the Golden Age of betting, 1995 was very much the Stone Age. It is quite a transformation. But it is a transformation that didn't occur just by chance. It happened because a lot of people worked hard to make it happen. I'm glad to have been part of that. The work goes on.

Friday 8 January 2010


Looks like the previous post was one of the biggest wastes of time ever. Even fewer games now remain, and Arsene Wenger makes a good point about the fairness of postponing the entire Premier League schedule once more than a couple of games are called off. With the World Cup fast approaching, another winter along the lines of 1963 (and yes, sadly I can just about remember it) unnecessary postponements will be the last thing the FA will want, but something to be considered in the future perhaps.

Thursday 7 January 2010

Icy Value

It looks like it'll be a slow weekend with the weather as it is. The Pools Panel will be busy. The advantage of postponed games is that it allows more time to focus on the remaining fixtures. Here are my predictions for the games that haven't yet been called off.

The nap selection of the weekend for me are Fulham, expected to win by 2 at home to Portsmouth, and available at 1.78. Fulham have won 60% of their games at home with a +9 goal difference, while Portsmouth have lost 70% of their away games by a total of 11 goals. The price is presumably out of sync with my ratings because of the injuries to Zamora, Hangeland and Pantsil, but even so this looks value to me.

Other stand-outs are Burnley (2.38) at home to Stoke City, although be warned that the loss of Owen Coyle may have dampened spirits at Turf Moor. Northampton Town (2.42) are good value to beat Chesterfield, as are Leicester City (2.14) v Ipswich Town, Sunderland (2.05) v Bolton Wanderers, Leeds United (1.3) v Wycombe Wanderers

Other home wins for Arsenal, Cardiff City, Crystal Palace, Derby County, Queens Park Rangers, Norwich City, Liverpool, West Ham United and Manchester City.
Draws are the expectation at West Bromwich Albion (3.8), Coventry (3.45), Middlesbrough (3.6) and Peterhead (3.8).

Away wins for Chelsea, Aston Villa and Manchester United.

Stay warm.

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Slots Of Money

A few weeks ago, I was whining about the losing runs one comes across, even when betting with value, and a passage in my Xmas reading resonated with me. The book was "Moneyball" by Michael Lewis, a very interesting book even if your knowledge of baseball is limited, and the lines that made a lot of sense to me were these, (I paraphrase):

If one believes that it is simply a matter of figuring out the odds, and exploiting the laws of probability, and that investing follows strikingly predictable patterns, then there is no point in being anything but calm. To get worked up over individual bets, is as unproductive as a casino manager worrying over the outcomes of individual pulls of the slot machines.
Very true words and something to keep in mind next time a losing run comes to visit, as it will.

Bari Shine

Not too much football action this week, but Football Elite did have a selection today which proved very profitable - Bari to beat Udinese at 2.26 which they did comfortably 2-0. A goal in the 5th minute is always handy. I had an additional investment to cover the draw since so few selections actually lose. Matt is very selective, and always gives a good justification for his picks.

On Monday my predictions had Partick Thistle favoured by 2 over Morton, and the price of 1.67 seemed excellent value. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, the spreadsheet is predicting Scottish League results quite accurately, and there may be more value to be found in these leagues than in the English Premier League. Anyway, Partick won 1-0, and the above two matches are the only football investments I have had so far this week. Arsenal are predicted to beat Bolton Wanderers by 3 goals later today.

The tennis season is underway in Australia and I have been able to make a few quid fairly painlessly. Tennis in-play point by point doesn't work too well for me, but during changeovers it is possible to find value.

Finally, I see that there is a move to switch horse-racing prices from the traditional fractions to decimal, with mixed reaction from the public. I recall reading years ago that the reason for the 5/4, 11/8 and 100/30 etc prices, was a relic from the old days of 240 pennies to the pound. 11/8 for example was 11 half-crowns to a pound, and 100/30 was the return to a half-crown. Since most people these days have never even seen a half-crown, it probably is time to move on. Not sure that popularity in horse-racing will increase though. Like greyhound racing, it seems to be a dying sport with younger people finding other sports more exciting.

Sunday 3 January 2010

Bye Success

My Elo ratings had a mixed day. Obviously the Leeds forecast was way off, but the Chelsea margin of victory was close to expected. Arsenal won, as did Wolves, but as soon as I mouth off about how great the ratings work in Scotland, I go 0 from 3 up there. Typical.

Football Elite had one recommended bet today, and one that made the short-list. Both were Spanish games and both selections (Real Mallorca and Sporting Gijon respectively) were priced at 2.1 on Friday. However, as kick-off approached today, both had significantly drifted for some reason, Mallorca to 2.23 and Gijon to about the same. Real Mallorca went on to beat Athletic Bilbao 2-0 but Sporting Gijon were held to a 2-2 draw by Malaga.

Nevertheless, a profitable day. Not only am I backing these selections to win, but I am also laying the opposed team. Of the recommended bets, only 2 selections of 18 have lost, and 50% of the games have ended in draws. Of the short-list bets, 13 of 27 have ended even, with just 4 losing selections.

It has been a poor American Football season for me so far, but a change in calendar year seems to have coincided with a change in fortune. I made one of those bets in the Pittsburgh Steelers game at the Miami Dolphins where immediately after pressing the "Enter" key I got one of those "What the hell am I doing?" moments. Two plays later and I was starting to prepare to bail out for a loss, but after the next play I am (almost) wanting to marry the Steelers quarterback as he completes a 54 yard pass for a touchdown and a tasty profit.

The late games presented an opportunity where the San Diego Chargers, having already secured a play-off spot and a first round bye, looked likely to rest some key players in a meaningless game at home to the Washington Redskins. After taking a 13-0 lead, they pulled the QB, and a price of 1.16 looked like a value lay. It was. The Redskins came back to lead 14-13 at the half with the ball at the start of the second half, and it was possible to green up for another tasty profit. More importantly, perhaps, was that this was a small step towards restoring a little confidence to my NFL investing. It's human nature, I guess, for a few bad breaks to dent confidence, even in a proven betting method.

Saturday 2 January 2010

FA Cup and Scottish Predictions 3.Jan

While updating my spreadsheet with today's FA Cup results, I noticed that had I backed the expected results, I would have been in profit, so with a warning about team selections, the expected outcomes for tomorrow's games are:

Chelsea by 4 v Watford; Manchester United by 4 v Leeds United; Notts County by 2 v Forest Green Rovers; Sheffield United by 1 v Queens Park Rangers; Wolverhampton Wanderers by 2 @ Tranmere Rovers; Arsenal by 2 @ West Ham United.

And in the Scottish League - Rangers by 1 @ Celtic; Heart of Midlothian by 2 @ Hibernian; Dundee by 2 v Airdrie United.

The predictions for the Scottish League are currently the most accurate so far. All four divisions there are hitting at least 33.33%, which compares favourably with the best of the English Leagues - League One at 30.12%.

Friday 1 January 2010

And A New One Just Begun - 2010

Three years ago today, I had my worst day ever on the exchanges - £5,183.31 dropped on football which marked the start of a calamitous 19 week run which saw my bank decrease by an unbelievable 51.19%. It was August before my bank was restored to its 2006 level.

I like to remind myself of that episode at the beginning of each year, as it acts as a reminder about the folly of greed, and the dangers of chasing. Although I would have denied it at the time, looking back, there can be no doubt that some of my decisions in the early months of 2007 were the result of chasing. It was only when I was able to press the 'Reset' button and let the initial loss go, that I was able to resume normal service.

This year started quietly with little going on in the sports world. Some College Bowl games and the NBA was about it, and on quiet days like these I am content to eke out any kind of a profit.

My involvement in football today will be limited, as I have learned not to take the FA Cup too seriously. I do have a small investment on Under 2.5 goals in the Middlesbrough v Manchester City game after seeing the team selections and weather - both are great levellers.