Thursday, 22 July 2010

Lay The Leader

I mentioned backing Louis Oosthuizen after the third round of the Open Championship, a move which I justified by the record of final day leaders at St Andrews and backed up by Oosthuizen holding up well on the Saturday when leading.

Until about two years ago, backing the last day leader was a solid bet, with at one time 18 of 20 last day leaders going on to win, but in the last two years this trend has reversed, and the value now is more often with a lay of the leader. Two plus years ago, and Tiger Woods in his prime was one factor boosting the number of leaders holding on, but golf has changed of late with new Major winners in five of the last six events, something that hasn't happened since 1968, and prior to that, 1936!

A similar strategy that I use in a few two-team sports is to lay an underdog that gets off to a strong start. Bettors have a tendency to panic (i.e. overreact, or on the flip-side get greedy - fear and greed drive the market) but in the long run, good teams, certainly in sports where timeouts or built in breaks are a feature, tend to come back.

I have read that in the fist half of 2009, some 30% of tennis matches saw the first set winner go on to lose, but unfortunately don't know if this is true, or whether this is just in best-of-three or includes best-of-five matches, or even whether this strategy would have been profitable.

1 comment:

Rob The Builder. said...

It's a known fact that the percentage of first set winners who go on to lose increases if only taking into account those cases where I had backed the eventual winner, but gone all-red after the initial set. Doh.