Tuesday 30 November 2010


As I suspected, and was confirmed by Talkie and my old NFL friend from Germany expekter, I had my Hoffs twisted up with my Kaisers. It sounds worse than it is - my doctor assures me that no permanent damage has been done.

The abandoned Brest v Lens game gets replayed tonight, with the price on Brest a little longer than on Saturday - 2.16 v 2.10. My investment stays on, courtesy of Betfair's rules, and a little top up is in order.

A strong draw is the pick in the Paris St Germain v Sevilla game this week. Valenciennes look value at 2.32 v St Etienne. I have Valenciennes at 2.15 for this, and Olympique Marseille are available at 1.7. while I have them at 1.58.

I didn't predict the 5-0 win for Barcelona last night, (I had them to win by 0.7) but then I don't suppose too many of us did. Barcelona will be happy to have extended their lead in the Cassini ratings.

'My' Utah Jazz made it six in a row, easily covering the 9.5 point spread v the Milwaukee Bucks. They play again on Wednesday night.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Adrenaline Rush

Other than the draw selections, this weekend has been very poor for football investing. I wrote on Friday morning that "Home value picks are a little harder to find this week" and should have just left it at that. Just two winners - Cagliari beat Lecce, Tottenham Hotspur scored late to beat Liverpool. The Brest game was abandoned, and the lay of Bayer Leverkusen came in but aside from that it was all bad news.

I guess it's not just me. Football Elite also appeared to have trouble finding value, with just two Recommended Bets - Auxerre, as I had also identified as value,(lost), and Bologna, whose game was postponed. The appropriately named 'short-list' had just two selections this weekend, and neither of these won either - Stoke City (drew) and Gijon (lost).

Talkbet very generously also puts his predictions up for our consideration, and while his practice of suggesting "back Selection at odds in excess of " is questionable (e.g. Back Kaiserslautern at odds in excess of 3.25 is all very well, but the price on Friday morning was 2.12 - unless I wasn't properly awake which is always possible), I like to compare my picks with his. [In fairness, the opposite is also sometimes true, in that the odds suggested are way shorter than those available - for example Hoffenheim recommended at 2.55 or more were available at 3.5].

He did relatively well with selections including Toulouse at 4.1, Hamburg at 2.38 and Hannover at 2.68.

The highlight this weekend, at least for football, was the return to success (after a couple of sub .33 weeks) for the draw selections. Of the eight mentioned here on Friday, four came in at prices of 3.6, 3.3, 3.45 and 3.25 for a very healthy profit.

I now track seven grades of draws, and the top two grades - the 'strong' and the 'weaker' that I share here are now hitting at 36.84% (2.71) and 36.61% (2.73) in the 'major' leagues.

Some drama for me in the NFL today with the Chicago Bears holding off the Philadelphia Eagles by 31-26. I got into a bit of difficulty (a four figure mess accompanied by some four letter words I might add) on this one, expecting the Eagles to do a little better in the second half than they did in the first, but Chicago scored on the first possession of the half and I was in trouble. With the price dropping too low in my opinion, I put in a £25,000+ lay at 1.04 on the Bears, most of which was taken. The downside of a 1.04 lay is clearly minimal, but it then became a race between the Eagles closing the gap (with me riding their momentum by backing at 1.05 or more), and the clock running down (or worse, the Bears scoring again).

The Bears didn't score again (a good thing) and the Eagles actually got within one score while I was still about £5,000 short (it actually takes time to unload this sort of money on games) but some kind person layed it all at the end, and I somehow emerged from the fray with a three figure profit. I suspect that the shot of adrenaline to my body means that my life expectancy has shortened by a few weeks, but for now, all is good. Seeing a five figure green total next to one of the selections is always a rush, even if they're losing!

I picked up another three figures on the earlier Atlanta Falcons v Green Bay Packers game, but that was relatively painless, and in the NBA, 'my' Utah Jazz easily covered the 5.5 point spread against the improving Los Angeles Clippers. I didn't trade this game though - it was early, and clashed with the above-mentioned NFL games. although I did keep an eye on it to see if they spotted the Clippers a 19 point lead.

One more game to come in the NFL, the San Diego Chargers at the Indianapolis Colts, featuring two of the top QBs of this season. Philip Rivers second in passing yards, and Peyton Manning third. Antonio Gates is back for the Chargers after his suspension and while I shall hold my fire until the game starts, I have the Chargers at 2.26 in my sights as the value here. The Over 51.5 total looks tempting too, at 2.22.

Snow Good

Saturday's football saw three of the draw predictions hit from seven games to ensure a profit from the weekend, with a 'free bet' to come on Koln v Wolfsburg. When the best result of the day was the abandoned Brest v Lens game (heavy snow in Brittany) that tells you all you need to know about the home value picks. Bolton could only draw with Blackpool, and Everton were soundly beaten by West Bromwich Albion. Monaco could only draw with Nice, but the lay of Bayer Leverkusen generated a little cash. Plenty of Sunday games still to come. Manchester United now top the Cassini ratings, and it'll take a two goal win by Chelsea at Newcastle for them to reclaim top spot. For the record, they are rated -0.82 v Newcastle.

The draw for the Third Round of the FA Cup tonight as well, which always seems to throw up some interesting games.

The Arkansas Razorbacks beat the LSU Tigers last night, but missed the Over by 1/2 point. I had an unmatched bet at 2.0, so that was a little fortunate. The liquidity wasn't great, but I was able to work a small profit.

The late shift had a disappointing NBA session, where some biggish lays failed to pay dividends, but my ship isn't going to be coming in every night. Had another break on the punts where I had the Charlotte Bobcats +3.5, and they lost by three!

Saturday 27 November 2010

New Jersey

Another sign that some (Democrats of course) in the United States, are becoming a little more enlightened in their thinking when it comes to gambling, is seen in this article.

In America, the eastern state of New Jersey could soon become the first to legalise online gambling after legislators passed a measure that would permit casinos in the jurisdiction to operate websites offering games including poker and roulette.

Known as S490 and sponsored by State Senator Raymond Lesniak, the proposed legislation made it through the state’s Assembly on Monday by a vote of 29 to five and has now moved on for committee consideration.

In a separate measure, a Senate committee also overwhelmingly approved a resolution earlier this week that would ask voters next year to decide whether sportsbetting should be legalised in the state.

If passed as is, S490 would see residents of New Jersey and other countries permitted to gamble over the Internet via proposed online gaming portals hosted on servers based exclusively in Atlantic City while inhabitants of other states would be banned. These sites would be run by land-based casinos operating in the state, which would be required to apply for one-year renewable licenses initially costing $200,000, and permitted to offer most existing table games.

New Jersey is currently suffering from a budget shortfall and the state would collect a 15 percent tax on all gross revenues from Internet gaming and use these funds to support winners’ purses at horseracing tracks.

“That’s a no-brainer and the whole bill is a no-brainer,” said Lesniak, a Democrat that represents the state’s 20th legislative district.

“We need to be bold and tell the Federal government that it has no Constitutional authority to prevent online gaming here in our state.”

In addition, the proposed legislation would see the state’s Department of Human Services tasked with running compulsive gambling treatment and prevention programmes. Funded by licensees this would cost $100,000 per year.

“Though there is still a little way to go, we’re very happy with the result of today’s vote”, said Joe Brennan Jr., chairman of the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association “Senator (Raymond J.) Lesniak (the sponsor of S-490) has been a thoughtful champion of his bill, and it’s nice to see him get the win today.”

“New Jersey has really taken the lead on these issues nationally,” Brennan added. “With Missouri, Rhode Island and California all passing measures in their own legislatures for state-related sports betting, it’s only a matter of when, not if, that this underground economy will be normalized for players in the US.”
"When, not if". Progress might be slow, but at least it's in the right direction.

Jazz Comeback (Repeat)

Something of a stellar night on the NBA with my favourite trading team the Utah Jazz once again doing the business coming back from 19 points down to win by six. The Lakers traded as low as around 1.17 I believe, and I had a four figure lay matched at 1.26 - good enough for a healthy four figure profit.

On the punting side, I did well too, with some lucky breaks having being on the Orlando Magic -10.5 (they won by 11), Toronto Raptors +9.5 (they lost by 9), and the Oklahoma City Thunder -1.5 (they won in OT). All in all a nice boost to the balance, which has been treading water pretty much since August.

I also made a nice profit on College Football when the Auburn Tigers came back from 0-24 down to beat the Alabama Crimson Tide 28-27. I put in a cheeky lay of Alabama at 1.09, (downside = v. low) but on this occasion backed back too early - one of the problems with a slow moving game like American Football, and who trusts college students with their money for more than a few minutes? (Excepting my son of course).

The Arkansas Razorbacks are ranked 12th currently, and host the 6th ranked LSU Tigers (there are a lot of Tigers in the SEC) tonight at 8:30pm in the 'Battle of the Boot'. The Razorbacks are favourites giving 3.5, and as much as I hope they will win, my head says to take LSU with the 3.5. Arkansas have a habit of messing up when they're well placed for a decent Bowl game, but if they win out, and get some help from other teams, they still have a shot at a BCS at-large place. Trust me - that's exciting stuff. This game has gone over in each of the last four contests.

While we're talking about Tigers, it's hard to believe that it's now one year since the golfing Tiger's now famous car accident. How time flies. Like Tiger, I used to be quite good at Golf (well, trading it), but these days I seldom bother with it. In 2006 it was my most profitable sport, but that title has since gone to baseball and basketball.

Framing And Anchoring

The brain works in mysterious ways.

In one experiment, a researcher offered subjects a dollar if, in a blind draw, they picked a red jelly bean out of a bowl of mostly white jelly beans. The subjects could choose between two bowls. One bowl contained nine white jelly beans and one red one. The other contained 92 white and eight red ones. Thirty to 40 per cent of the test subjects chose to draw from the larger bowl, even though most understood that an eight per cent chance of winning was worse than a 10 per cent chance. The visual allure of the extra red jelly beans overcame their understanding of the odds.

Or consider this problem. There’s a disease outbreak expected to kill 600 people if no action is taken. There are two treatment options. Option A will save 200 people. Option B gives a one-third probability that 600 people will be saved, and a two-thirds probability that no one will be saved. Most people choose A. It’s better to guarantee that 200 people be saved than to risk everyone dying.

But ask the question this way – Option A means 400 people will die. Option B gives a one-third probability that no one will die and two-thirds probability that 600 will die – and most people choose B. They’ll risk killing everyone on the lesser chance of saving everyone.

The trouble, from a rational standpoint, is that the two scenarios are identical. All that’s different is that the question is restated to emphasize the 400 certain deaths from Option A, rather than the 200 lives saved. This is called the “framing effect.” It shows that how a question is asked dramatically affects the answer, and can even lead to a contradictory answer.

Then there’s the “anchoring effect.” In one experiment, researchers spun a wheel that was rigged to stop at either number 10 or 65. When the wheel stopped, the researchers asked their subjects if the percentage of African countries in the United Nations is higher or lower than that number. Then the researchers asked the subjects to estimate the actual percentage of African countries in the UN. The people who saw the larger number guessed significantly higher than those who saw the lower number. The number “anchored” their answers, even though they thought the number was completely arbitrary and meaningless.
Finally, try this quiz. Apparently more than 80 per cent of people answer this question incorrectly.

Jack is looking at Anne, but Anne is looking at George. Jack is married but George is not. Is a married person looking at an unmarried person?

A) Yes

B) No

C) Cannot be determined

Vote in the poll. Answer in 10 days.

Friday 26 November 2010

Toulose To Lose

A cool post from Trading Times yesterday, taking a trip down memory lane with his radio and the Ashes. Reminded me of hiding under the blankets with my first transistor radio, although listening to music or football rather than cricket. The football match that I remember most vividly was the 1968 European Cup Final – Manchester United v Benfica at Wembley, and I had a 6d bet on Benfica with a Fulham supporting friend from school, which of course was a loser. And 6d at that time was a lot of money – a week’s pocket money in fact. I did get my own back less than a year later when Crystal Palace beat his Fulham 3-2 to reach the Promised Land of the First Division for the first time in their history and help condemn Fulham to a second successive relegation.

So moving on 40 years, and we have another full weekend of football ahead, all building up to the highlight on Monday night, and I don’t mean Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool, but El Clásico.

There are a few ‘strong’ draws, which are Kaiserslautern v Schalke ’04, Koln v Wolfsburg, Sampdoria v AC Milan and Real Zaragoza v Villareal. Weaker draws are Aston Villa v Arsenal, Stoke City v Manchester City, Wolves v Sunderland and Bordeaux v Lille.

Home value picks are a little harder to find this week. The odds and my ratings are remarkably close this week, but the following offer an edge per my ratings.

EPL: Bolton Wanderers (1.61) v Blackpool, Everton (1.65) v West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur (2.12) v Liverpool.

France: Auxerre (2.12) v Toulouse. Brest again show up on the radar, this time at 2.1 v Lens, but after being bitten twice by them, I won’t be betting the farm on this one. Monaco (2.06) v Nice and Olympique Lyonnais (2.12) v Paris Saint-Germain are two more from Le Ligue.

Germany: Hoffenheim look overpriced at 3.5 v Bayer Leverkusen, who can be layed at 2.24.

Italy: Bari (2.02) v Cesena, Juventus (1.71) v Fiorentina and Cagliari (1.7) v Lecce.

Spain: Mallorca (1.78) v Malaga and Gijon (2.18) v Real Santander. For the big game, I have Barcelona a little short at the current 2.16, while the draw looks overpriced at 3.75.

Thursday 25 November 2010

Nonsense And Noise

Mark confirmed my suspicions yesterday that his assessment of form is not based solely on the final score, and that the weighting factors I use probably account for some of the difference between our opinions of Everton.

In Mark's comment, he gives an example of

"If WBA were to beat Chelsea 1-0 it doesn't necessarily mean they were the better side".
Long-time readers with sharp memories will be aware that this is a topic I've touched on many times in the past, going back to at least 5th March 2009, when I wrote:
Goals are obviously important, but in a way, they are overrated. There are 1-0 wins, and there are 1-0 wins. A team can totally dominate and come away with ‘just’ a 1-0 win, or conversely, a team can be totally outplayed and win by that same score, but most systems will look at the two results and treat them the same. One of the interesting items in “Profitable Football Betting” is about the importance of looking past just the results, but looking more deeply into the statistics, in particular shots and corners.

I like this idea, although it is going to take more time to research every game. The author compares a number of systems, and this “Penetration” based system fared extremely well, placing second overall of the fifteen he analysed, and first in a number of categories. He breaks his results down by predicted home wins, draws etc.
Perhaps I put a higher emphasis on the quality of the opposition or on some of the other factors, but certainly for Everton, it still seems a big difference of opinion.

Back to the WBA 1 Chelsea 0 scenario, the beauty of an Elo based ratings system is that WBA do not suddenly leap ahead of Chelsea, which would clearly be nonsense, but a factor such as 'shots-on-goal' can become very subjective. A shot-on-goal could be an effort that tamely rolls up to the goalie, or a shot to the top corner requiring the keeper to make a world-class save. Is a penalty only worth half-a-goal for ratings purposes? and as I wrote realtive recently, is a goal against 10 men worth less than a goal against a full-strength side? As I wrote just a few days ago:
If a team wins, but a star player is injured and likely to miss several games, this should impact the ratings.

If a team loses, but had two players sent-off in the first five minutes of the match, this result should impact the ratings differently to the same result achieved in a match where the opposing team had two players sent off in the first five minutes!

If a team loses but had more shots on goal and more corners than the winning team who won the game on a dubious penalty, this should be factored in.
If I had all the time in the world, every game could be analysed, but I live in the real world with a regular job with football ratings just a small part of my betting / trading life.

I'll let you guess who the commenter is who wrote this:
I've been waiting for ages to see if Cassini would ever twig that a quality ratings system is not based purely on results.
"Waiting for ages!" Classic! It's been out there for at least 21 months! That really is one of the more stupid comments he's made, and he's certainly made a few!
It's not as if the best brains in the business - the guys who both set and move the markets - simply input final scores into a spreadsheet and then put their feet up. But thousands of wannabee pros do just that and expect to have a magic answer. And will come up with nonsense like in the latest post where Spurs were expected to win by nearly 3 goals at home to Bremen.
Yes, complete nonsense - but profitable nonsense. Lucky for me, I don't simply enter final scores into a spreadsheet and that I have no aspirations of becoming a pro. And finally this comment, that could have been taken directly from previous posts of mine:
How you move it on from simply pure results is the tricky bit. There's no single right answer but there is, or should be, a single aim, and that aim is key.
Brilliant! His comments are superfluous noise, but in a way it's amusing that he misses so much.

There's a guy at work who told me yesterday that he had seen Person A on the phone, and then added 'talking to someone about something'. Well I suppose Person A could have been texting, but the additional comment really added nothing of value.

Oh well - the poll clearly suggests most people would like to see an end to his negativity and I have decided to block his tedious and often offensive remarks, comments such as this will not be missed:
Cassini is just some dullard blogger taking thru his arse with his own perceived air of authority. Most of his value bets lose, I read quite a few blogs and like Cassini all the losing ones avoid talking about the real aim of gambling their pnl.
He won't be missed. It's much more pleasant having a reasoned debate with someone like Mark, who puts his own ideas out there for constructive criticism and has some real-world trading / betting experience to draw upon.

Now to enter some final scores into the spreadsheet and come up with the value bets for the weekend.

Form Fitting

Perhaps SAF doesn't read this blog, or if he does, he forgot to mention in his team-talk that Manchester United needed a three goal win to move ahead of Chelsea, but the ratings only predicted a 0.68 goal win, so they inch slightly closer with their 1-0 win.

In the other games where I have ratings for both teams, Schalke '04 were rated .84 better than Olympique Lyonnais and won 3-0, and Tottenham Hotspur were rated 2.74 goals better than Werder Bremen and won by 3-0 for a good evening of results.

Speaking of Lyon, if anyone is looking for a book to add to their list for Santa this Xmas, you could do a lot worse than ask for Soccernomics, by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski. Among a number of fascinating topics, it details the reasons between the rise of Lyon in the past few years from a nothing provincial club in France, to a major European power (last night's result notwithstanding). Bloomberg News describes it as "a blend of Freakonomics and Fever Pitch, bringing surprising economic analysis to bear o the world's most popular sport". If you enjoyed Moneyball, by Michael Lewis, then you will certainly enjoy this one. It's not betting related, but it's a very well written book on a subject that I suspect most readers of this blog would enjoy.

I recently linked to Mark Iverson's post on his football system, and found myself in the role of Anonymous by questioning Mark on some of the details. Some of my questions, and Marks's answers are:

Why 4 matches? My system only takes into account Premier League matches (not cup games etc.) so if you go back more than 4 games then you could be talking about 5-6 weeks ago. That's too long ago for me.

Do you weight the most recent game heavier? Not in the rating, but it's something I consider when looking at the overall trend of the 4 games.

Do you account for the games being at home or away? Yes. I use different scorecards for each but a 20 rating at home should represent a similar 20 rating away so you wouldn't know the difference.

Do you account for the strength of opposition? Yes.

Why 4 to 34 and not 0 through 30? There's some free points on offer. Maybe I should change this to 0-30! lol! Won't do it for this season but maybe next year.
Mark also posted up his teams ranked by form, and I compared them with my form figures. The results were a surprise, in that there was very little correlation at all. As Mark says in his post "Some unexpected teams are towards the top" and I agree. Everton third on form? Well, I have Everton third too, only I have them third from bottom! Mark goes back four games, and I go back six, with the more recent games given more weight, but Everton's last six games are, most recent first:
A Sunderland D 2-2; H Arsenal L 1-2; H Bolton D 1-1; A Blackpool D 2-2; H Stoke City W 1-0; A Tottenham D 1-1
I have Everton underforming expectations in all but the Sunderland and Tottenham games, and the Tottenham game is about to drop off. How are Everton ranked third on form? For the record, Everton are ranked seventh in my overall ratings, having started the season in fifth place. We do agree on West Bromwich Albion being ranked 19th though, and we have Bolton at the top or second, but for the most part we have some big differences. But if we all had the same opinion, we would never find value.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

A Win Is What You Make It

For someone who a few hours earlier had dropped four figures on a basketball game, I felt remarkably chipper yesterday. It's not from some deep-rooted psychological desire to lose, but simply because I made about half of the loss back in the next game I traded, and finishing a session on a high, even with an overall loss, almost seems preferable to finishing up overall but finishing with a big loss. It's human nature to put a greater emphasis on the most recent experience, and studies have been done to prove this.

From the American Psychological Association:

The effect of life events on subjective well-being (SWB) was explored in a 2-year longitudinal study of 115 participants. It was found that only life events during the previous 3 months influenced life satisfaction and positive and negative affect. Although recent life events influenced SWB even when personality at Time 1 was controlled, distal life events did not correlate with SWB. SWB and life events both showed a substantial degree of temporal stability. It was also found that good and bad life events tend to co-vary, both between individuals and across periods of the lives of individuals.

Also, when events of the opposite valence were controlled, events correlated more strongly with SWB. The counterintuitive finding that good and bad events co-occur suggests an exciting avenue for explorations of the structure of life events.
One exciting avenue for me is trading, and when it comes to trading, it pays to have a short memory. In the second game, while the balance of my mind could be said to have been 'disturbed', a value opportunity presented itself, yet I found myself hesitating, solely due to the negative outcome I'd experienced in the fist game. Ultimately I 'forced' myself to enter the market, and as happens more often than not, it paid off. The point I am trying to make is that one needs to look at the big picture, rather than just recent events when it comes to trading and gambling. It's the nature of the game that winners and losers do not come evenly spaced.

Sunday 21 November 2010

Think High, Lay Low

The NFL game just completed between the New York Jets and the Houston Texans was yet another example of (twice) of teams being backed in to way too short a price. The Jets had a 16 point lead, (two possessions), and traded as low at 1.03. When the Texans came back to take the lead late on, they too traded at 1.03, before the Jets won the game in the last few seconds.

Then in the later game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots, the Patriots traded at 1.01 before a Peyton Manning led final drive looked likely to win the game for the Colts and the market flip-flopped. In the end, Manning threw an interception and the Patriots held on, but these games both provide evidence of how the price on whoever is leading is frequently driven too low.

Ian Erskine mentioned this subject on his blog yesterday in regard to football, specifically the 1.07 price at which Arsenal could be layed at half-time in the North London derby yesterday.

The picture was even rosier for me because the only solace I could find at half-time was to lay Arsenal for £200 at 1.07, not because I thought Spurs would come back at all but just it was too low a price and if Spurs nicked one then who knows, I greened up nicely with a back at 2.05 when it was 2-2, the 3rd was beyond my wildest dreams. Some of you on Twitter got confused when I mentioned my lay at 1.07, I think you thought I was backing Arsenal, I can assure you I would not back anyone or anything at 1.07, I purely did it for a chance of a trade at a risk of £14, which is a tactic I adopt quite often.
Now clearly there are times when 1.07 is value, and I would not agree with Ian that 1.07 or any short price should be avoided simply because it is short (as his comment implies), but in the in-running events that I mainly follow, the value is more often on opposing the market than on chasing the price down.

It's actually quite comical at times. A team is say 1.7 and tip-off, and they open up strongly. Two minutes into the game as they open up a lead, and the price drops through 1.6 and panic sets in. Money appears to back at 1.59, but the price drops and the same money comes in again at 1.5. It's clear that someone wants in without regard to the value. A lay at this point is often rewarded.

I have written before, more than once, about how the strategy of laying the NFL team that has just scored a touchdown (in many game situations) pays off time and again. The market wants to get on, the price is driven too low, and the market realises it and the price moves back. Put a lay in before the touchdown a few points below where it will rebound to, and if you watch enough games and price it right, you will get matched almost every time. There's also the occasional bonus of an apparent touchdown being called back due to a penalty being called, and when that happens it's a nice bonus.

But back to the NBA. A team has a run, and the market goes into free-fall, but runs don't go on for ever. One time-out, a score, a stop and another score, and the lead can suddenly be down by six. Depending on the game situation, this can result in an enormous swing in price.

I actually find these swings much easier to trade in basketball than in football, American Football, or baseball, in big part because the swing is so fast. Too much time to think can be a handicap in trading. It takes time before you can oppose the leader and hold your nerve, and it can be hard to do. The thing is though, that it's precisely because it's hard to do, that the opportunity exists in the first place. Most people feel happier to be on a leader, and will buy in at (seemingly) any price.

Mixed results in the football today. Blackburn Rovers and Deportivo came in, as did Espanyol (Football Elite) plus the strong draw at St Pauli, but only the slimmest of profits in the day. I had the strong draw in the Real Sociedad v Atletico Madrid game, but FE went for the home team. In the end, neither of us won. At 80' the draw was looking good, but no less than four goals in the last 10 minutes saw Atletico Madrid win 4-2. It was a poor weekend for FE with just one winner from four Recommended Bets, and one winner in the Short-List selections. The Bundeslayga selection was a loser (winner for us) as Stuttgart (1.56) lost 0-1 to Koln.

Manchester City move into fourth spot in the ratings, and the gap between Chelsea and Manchester United closes up. A win by two or more for United in Glasgow on Wednesday will see them go top, a fact that SAF will no doubt mention during his pre-game talk. Or perhaps not.

Comeback Kids

The Utah Jazz won their fifth consecutive road (away) game last night, beating the Portland Trail Blazers. In every one of those five games, they came back from a double digit deficit, this time 'just' 11 points. Portland traded as low as 1.16, and pre-game were -3.5 on most sportsbooks (-4 on one). Betfair was out of line with -2.5, and the Jazz were available at 2.06. Next road game is at the Clippers next Sunday, and for once it's an early game. Mind you, the way the Clippers are playing, one win in 14 games this season, and on a nine game losing run, it's unlikely that they'd be able to take a double digit lead if they were offered it, although the rookie number one draft pick Blake Griffin is playing well right now.

The regular season is 82 games long, so we're about 1/6th of the way through already. Some of the surprises so far have been the poor performance of the Miami Heat, and the strong performances of the New Orleans Hornets and the San Antonio Spurs. The Hornets have yet to lose at home, and the Spurs have yet to lose away. The Lakers had a poor spell, losing two games and playing poorly in more, and the line for their game later today with the Golden State Warriors which opened at 11.5 is now down to 6 in some places. Betfair have yet to put the line up.

Update 7:42pm: Darn it. Just received an e-mail from the SBP, and he's gone for the Warriors +12. Kiss of death?

Saturday 20 November 2010

Miller Time

A second minute own goal isn't the kind of start I was looking for at Crewe, even if I did have a small interest on the Overs. Mind you, by that time Nuremburg were already 0-2 down at home and about to concede a third, so it wasn't the best of starts to the afternoon schedule. When I backed Nuremburg, they were at 2.04, but following Football Elite making them a Recommended Bet, the price came in as low as 1.92. What I should have done as soon as they went odds-on was to lay them as they then qualified under the Bundeslayga System!

The early games were much better. Before I had backed Arsenal back, they went a goal up and it looked a loser until Tottenham's comeback, and in Scotland, both Rangers and Hearts won by the expected margins.

The strong draws suffered late hits. Hannover v Hamburg was heading to a 2-2 draw before a 90' winner, and Moenchengladbach v Mainz was 2-2 until the 88'. Close games - just not quite close enough, but Stockport v Torquay came in though, as did St Etienne v Auxerre.

Meanwhile, inspired no doubt by the Cassini Ratings, blue moon blogger Mark Iverson has come up with some ideas of his own. Check out Professional Sports Trader . It's always interesting to see how others lay out their spreadsheets and what ideas they have.

Friday 19 November 2010

Losing Well

I must post up lower division tips more often. A Crewe Alexandra v Rotherham United tip gets more comments than the Netherlands v Spain World Cup Final.

A word on the reasoning behind the Crewe pick, and incidentally I quite often back at this level, even Conference matches, but don't comment on them as I didn't think the interest was there. Scott Ferguson of the excellent Sport is for Betting blog calls it:

an odd pick. I'm a Crewe fan - we've just broken a four-game losing streak by beating Gillingham who are terrible. Our 11 match unbeaten streak included seven draws. Rotherham are five pts above us on the table and have the best goalscorer in the league, Adam Le Fondre. Crewe clean sheets are about as common as England World Cup wins and the Millers have conceded just 6 goals on their travels this year.
I nearly stopped reading at "I'm a Crewe fan", since all credibility was gone at that point...joking aside - interesting that Rotherham United are five points ahead in the table, since my ratings have Crewe in sixth place and Rotherham down in 17th. The ratings have no respect for league positions, nor for goal difference for that matter. They simply reward a team that plays above itself, and punishes a team that plays below itself. A four game losing run in itself means nothing. It's who those four losses were against, and where, that affects the ratings. A quick check shows that two of those recent losses were one goal losses against 'high-flyers' Shrewsbury Town and Port Vale, neither of which did much damage to the rating. Rotherham, on the other hand, have under-performed in each of the last seven matches, and their last two away league wins came courtesy of a late penalty and a 92' winner. The ratings have Crewe superior by 1.24 goals, and at 2.42 appear to be good value. However the ratings are just a starting point - certainly if you are putting serious money on these games, and someone like Scott who 'knows' a team like Crewe is better able than myself to confirm whether the ratings are valid. In this case the answer is no
Can't see any value in it at all myself but hope you're right!
Rest assured, I am not as stupid as I look (which was a great relief to my Mother) and if Crewe lose 0-3, there will still be food on the table.

There are a couple of 'strong' draws in League Two - Barnet v Northampton Town and Stockport County v Torquay United. Strong draws in the lower English leagues currently hit at 33%.

Update: A commenter (Blez - check his blog out here - it looks quite good, despite the author's name!) mentioned that "Crewe's goal scoring prowess is pretty much unrivaled across UK football at the moment. Dario Gradi's men are the ONLY side to have only failed to score 1 time so far this season out of the 92 sides."

One small correction is that "across UK football" is a stretch as Crusaders, Stranraer, and Albion Rovers have so far scored in EVERY league game this season, and last time I checked, they were all UK teams, but anyway, another interesting example perhaps of how we look for stats that we want to find. So yes, Crewe may fail to keep many clean sheets as Scott says, but you don't need a clean sheet to win. You do need to SCORE to win though, so perhaps the play here to keep every stat happy is Over 2.5 goals at 1.77? I'm on.

Blez can't be his real name, can it?

Motley Crewe

After a slow week for football, the weekend gets off to about as big a start as it could - no offence to Burton and Bury but Arsenal v Tottenham takes some beating. I'll let the always fascinating My Football Facts web site set the stage:

Spurs v Arsenal is now one of the great rivalries in World Football but the fixture had very different beginnings back in November 1887 when the clubs first met in a friendly played on Tottenham Marshes. Arsenal, then called Royal Arsenal, had been formed just a year earlier as Dial Square and were essentially the works team for the munitions factory situated in Woolwich, Kent, while Spurs who had been formed some five years earlier in 1882 still had many of the youngsters who founded the club playing for them. Spurs won that first encounter 2-1, although the game was cut 15 minutes short due to poor light conditions because of Arsenal turning-up late.
I doubt that anyone will be turning up late tomorrow, even if kick-off is a little early, so we should see a full 90 minutes plus of action. Conventional wisdom is that derby games are closely fought, and five of the last ten league matches between these two have ended even. Arsenal at 1.67 certainly seem a little short, so a lay with a view to trading out is my plan here.

In League Two, the value pick would appear to be Crewe Alexandra, available at 2.42 to beat Rotherham United. (Be honest, you weren't expecting that pick, were you?) I don't often look at the lower leagues, but if this turns out as good as it looks, I might well do more in the future.

In the top leagues, the 'strong' draw prospects appear to be Borussia Moenchengladbach v Mainz '05, Fulham v Manchester City, Nancy v Valenciennes, St Pauli v Wolfsburg, St Etienne v Auxerre, Hannover '96 v Hamburg, Lens v Olympique Lyonnais and Real Sociedad v Atletico Madrid.

The home value picks are: Nuremburg (2.04) v Kaiserslautern, Sunderland (2.8) v Everton, Deportivo la Coruna (2.3) v Malaga, Eintracht Frankfurt (2.32) v Hoffenheim, Stuttgart (1.56) v Koln, Bolton Wanderers (2.18) v Newcastle United.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

An Open Or Shut Case?

Since day one of this blog, the privilege to post comments has been open to anyone, including Anonymous commenters. I guess in the early days, there was a desire to know whether anyone out there was actually reading my posts, and there was no reason to discourage anyone from commenting.

With an average of around 300 hits a day, that concern is no longer, and I need to decide whether leaving the door open for anyone to post comments is the right decision. Overwhelmingly it seems that Anonymous comments are negative in tone, not always, and on rare occasion they do add value to a debate, but in general they do not contribute anything positive. As you can see from the list of quotes below, it’s generally accepted that allowing negative comments detracts from a blog, and perhaps it is time that I stop allowing them.

One of the problems with Anonymous comments is that it can be hard to distinguish between them. There are well-meaning and decent Anonymice out there, but one individual in particular (same IP address anyway) keeps returning to this blog, (which is curious since he claims to think I’m clueless in regard to betting – “Time after time you show you don't understand some fairly basic points of gambling”), yet never has anything good to say. It’s one thing to insult me, but it’s another to insult other readers, who, although I have never met them in person, come across as decent, well-intentioned and basically friendly individuals.

That Anonymous has issues with the success of others is obvious from his incessantly negative tone. Contrast a successful, well-balanced individual who does not need to hide behind anonymity and make snide remarks. He is confident, pleasant, and not in the least jealous of the success of others – or if he is, he keeps it to himself and uses it as motivation to improve as a trader / bettor.

As you can see from the list below, it’s generally accepted that allowing negative comments detracts from a blog. Here are a few comments from other bloggers who have had similar problems.

Individuals who provide relevant and helpful comments don't disguise who they are.
Anonymous commenters don't have the integrity to be held accountable for their behavior or their questionable facts. People who form opinions based on research or direct experience with an issue don't need to hide who they are.
Blogs that allow anonymous bullies drive away participation by reasonable people. This hurts the blog's credibility. Blogs that refuse anonymous comments are more credible, because they have set a standard that commenters must be willing to stand behind what they say.
I used to read it regularly when it first launched last Spring. I occasionally posted a comment. But as the tone of the discussion went downhill, I stopped participating. Soon, I stopped reading.
If you want the discussion on your blog to be interesting and civil, the solution is simple. Don't Allow Anonymous Comments.
And this lengthier post on the subject:
I've yet to find a reason for why so many blog writers keep allowing comments without even requiring a name/handle. It is just as good as, or better than an open invitation to spam your website. Maybe it's the default setting on your blog software that allows anonymous comments. Maybe you are new to blogging and feel that commenting should be encouraged in every way possible and that anonymous comments might encourage more people to freely express their opinions. All I can say to that is I've found that respectable bloggers and commenters do not try to hide or run away after leaving behind their opinions. People who post credible information do not hide behind a nonsense handle or an invalid e-mail ID. It's those who leave behind a trail of crap who're too scared to let their identities come out in the open. And don't fall for that "Freedom of Speech" nonsense. Freedom of Speech does not include pissing on private property, anonymously or not. Since anybody with a half-decent internet connection has the freedom create their own blogs (hint: http://www.blogger.com/start :roll: ) and even remain completely anonymous in the process, the "freedom" point is moot and doesn't hold water in this context. Point is, there are plenty of legitimate opportunities to express one's opinions, no matter how idiotic they might be. Anonymous hate-mongering on other blogs' commenting areas is not one of them.

I, for one, do not allow anonymous comments on my blog. My definition of anonymous commenters in this context is
1. People who leave behind no e-mail ID and/or website URL and
2. In my judgment, are merely trying to bait me or my readers for their pleasure.

If I find such comments, my first instinct is to delete. I don't care if people cry "censorship". The point is: submitting feedback on any website is a privilege, not a right. And I have every right to clean out what I consider spam on my website. If these cowardly anonymous hypocrites don't like it, that's no skin off my nose.
The bottom line is that anonymous insults not only hurt the author, but the other regular readers of a blog as well. They are an unproductive waste of space, add nothing to your blog and you are better off without them. So what if a few well-intentioned, but misguided idealists criticize you for that decision in the name of "censorship" or "Free Speech" and expect you to tolerate insults in order to uphold their principles? :Twisted.
Hard to argue with the above, but if anyone has any good reason why I should continue to allow Anonymous comments, let me know. I’ve added a poll through the end of November, and I’ll leave it as is until then.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, though there’s not much football this week, other than Scotland winning their local derby, there is plenty of NBA action to look at. The SBP had another loss with Dallas Mavericks needing to win by 3 ½ ending up winning by three. Dirk Nowitzki missed the second of two free-throws at the end to cost his clients a win, and the New Orleans Hornets became the last team to lose a game this season.

Incidentally, if there is a tipping service out there that deserves to be treated with contempt, it is this one. It’s a complete scam. A system that can lose 67% of games and yet claim a 100% success rate – now that’s marketing!

As I have written before, if a system doesn’t make profits to level stakes, no staking plan in the world is going to help you. Staking plans can improve profitable systems, but until the laws of mathematics are re-written, no staking plan can make a losing plan profitable.

Thunder Rolls

When I said in the last post that

Football Elite doesn't actually tell its subscribers how many points or percentage of the bank to bet. That is entirely up to the individual
- that wasn't actually correct. I meant that when the selections come out, there is no differentiation between bets in the same category - either Recommended or Short-List. Unless I haven't noticed, the stake on Recommended Bets is always 1 point.

Joep remembers more, and says:
FE does advise on staking plan, for instance the 8.12 points profit he made this year equals 32% ROC, which would be correct for a 25 point staking system.


Also remember Matt saying in an email he advises a 25 point bankroll, think it was in last email of last season or the first one of this season. (40 points for the shortlist bets).
Another internationals week which means no decent football until the weekend.

Another Utah Jazz game last night, and again they went down by double digits, (13), but this time at home. The Thunder traded as low as 1.21 before the Jazz began their sixth successive comeback, but unfortunately this time they came up a little short, closing to within three before finally losing by seven. Not before we saw a flip-flop though.

When a team plays their first home game after a long road trip, it's not unusual to see them under-perform.

One other NBA statistic of note is that this season, 'dogs are currently winning at 61.8%. Early season games in most sports are often unpredictable, but that number is quite remarkable. Even the New Jersey Nets won as 'dogs on the road against a Western Conference team last night. When was the last time THAT happened? - 23 games ago.

Monday 15 November 2010

Football Hoi Polloi

Laying at 1000 on the exchanges doesn't seem to me to be the best way to make your money. A few weeks ago, someone laid 'no corners' for 1000 in the Wigan v Chelsea game back in August, and yesterday the Correct Score of Sunderland 3:0 at Chelsea was matched at the maximum also. While the 'no corners' lay was actually value, I have my doubts that the 0:3 Correct Score was a value lay. Regardless, I made a little on this game laying Chelsea in-play and backing the Over 2.5 goals. Chelsea's rating has decreased in each of the last six matches and my ratings show their form to be the worst in the league. The best? Surprisingly, it's Bolton Wanderers. Combine that with one draw coming in at Lorient, and wins for Bologna and Auxerre, but losses elsewhere, (Milan, Cagliari, Sampdoria, Everton and Bari - who missed a penalty) and the net profit for the day's football was a whopping £2.74. I guess I have to continue working my day job, at least for a few more days.

Reading the Trading Times blog, this post on laying-the-draw caught my attention:

Ian Erskine's FTS and system 3 what can you say about that this weekend? If anybody who reads this subscribes to his picks then I bet it was a proper brown trouser weekend. Finally after a good part of the season is gone I can say in proper Theo style .... "Im Out"

The results for the weekend were poor but more than that I just cannot see any profit being made following picks that even I could come up with. The lay the draw games are always big odds on favs, with high draw odds and then when the 'dog scores first its just wait and see if it hits the fan. The system 3 picks are laying 1-1 scorelines and again at odds of 7/1 a couple in a row mean a long wait to get back in profits. I actually think from studying the picks that your best actually backing the draw, you have a much smaller liability and if the 'dog does score first the odds come in, not out, so giving a green book opportunity. The picks for the weekend were Man City the odds were about 5.2 on Betfair laying that for £100 gives a £420 liability, the other games were just as bad and today's pick was 0-0 until the 93rd minute which would have been another hefty loss, and even though both 1-1 lays today were winners you would have had to wait to the 85th minute. Its just not worth it. So that's my take on the situation.
My draw picks are having a tough time of it right now, with just two winners form 14, but the risk to reward ratio is within my comfort zone. Laying the draw is fraught with problems. As Eddy says above, it the underdog scores first, the draw odds don't shorten, and then if the favourite equalises, the draw price is still shorter than they were at the start, and you have less time on your side. I know Ian Erskine claims to have made a million from trading football, and well done to him if he has, but you just never know where these draws are going to come from. 8.68% of matches in the five major leagues are scoreless this season, although you could reduce that number by excluding the French Ligue 1. Anyway, it's hardly a 'back swan' event.

Anonymous continues to miss the point that Football Elite are named Football 'Elite' and not 'Football Hoi Polloi' for a reason. Understanding that in the real world where most of us reside, no one is going to be able to consistently find value across a large number of matches, FE specialise. They focus on what they are good at. Currency traders specialise. Commodity traders specialise. McDonalds do not sell software. Stock-analysts do not cover every stock in the market - they specialise, and similarly Matt specialises on the matches where he can find an edge. Perhaps (long-shot) Anonymous doesn't work for NASA, but it's not that hard to understand. I am much happier subscribing to a service that offers a few quality selections than a list of 49 tips each weekend. That would not inspire confidence. But then
Time after time you show you don't understand some fairly basic points of gambling.

If you truly don't understand why someone who apparently is constantly reaping a double digit ROI is not having enough bets then there's little hope. Maybe another reader would care to explain.
Yes, I must just be on a lucky run - since 2005. Amazing. On another blog, Anonymous is no doubt advising Usain Bolt that because he's a great sprinter, he should enter Marathons as there are so many of them. Joep did try to explain, with a well-considered comment, but still the points continues to escape our Anonymous friend, or more likely he doesn't want to admit that he's being somewhat naïve on this one.

Here's Joep's comment
As a subscriber to FE I'll give it a shot. For starters, Matt does offer more bets than the recommended bets listed on the website, he also offers so called "short list" bets, on average about 5 a weekend, that are on average so far profitable, yet not as profitable as the main picks. I personally see them as value picks, yet second rate compared to the recommended picks.

Secondly, FE recommends 4% stakes (or a 25 point roll) for every recommended bet. A tipster that uses such an agressive betting strategy needs to have a rather large edge in his bets.

Say for instance the average odds of FE picks 2.5, according to Kelly the picks need to win at least 42.4% of the time, which equates to a little less than 2.36 average odds. This means that the payout needs to be over 10% of the true odds (in this example) to be able to use such an aggressive betting strategy. If one would incorporate weaker tips, say those where the payout is only 5% over the true odds, according to Kelly, no more than 2% of the total bankroll in the same scenario. In order to maintain the same absolute profits in this system, the number of picks should be more than doubled with all long term profitable picks, which is a hard thing to accomplish in my opinion.

So by increasing the number of bets provided, even when they are slightly profitable, due to the increased volatility, you're forced to reduce betsize and thereby losing ev instead of gaining it.

I know that FE historically offers more value than needed in order to use optimal Kelly using a 25 point system, but I'm sure that's a choice Matt made to build in some security into his system, which would also be incorporated if he would choose to include weaker tips. Also, I think most, if not all, long term successful tipsters only use a fraction of Kelly instead of full Kelly, so his choice here is also very reasonable.

I hope that story made some sense to you and that my math isn't off :).

Correction: Oh, I did err on the safe side by using 5% edge on all bets in the 2nd example, could get rather complicated due to 2 unknown variables otherwise and I'm not exactly a math expert.
Thanks Joep, although here's the reply:
I'm not quite following your explanation fully.

One point. If the staking plan is based on Kelly, then why is each bet the same size (in % terms).

Even if you aim for, say, 10% value for each bet (too high, just an example), your perceived edge on each bet won't be precisely 10 % so therefore stakes should vary if using Kelly.
Football Elite doesn't actually tell its subscribers how many points or percentage of the bank to bet. That is entirely up to the individual.

A slightly bigger profit was achieved in the NFL action today, so I can afford the commute to work at least. The SBP went three out of six, a reasonable outcome for a coin-toss - and I actually made most of my NFL profits today on a team he had picked - the Seattle Seahawks, who seemed excellent value to win the NFC Division game at the last placed Arizona Cardinals. I picked up a little on the Miami Dolphins win over the Tennessee Titans and on the late game where the New England Patriots continued their tremendous record in games following a defeat - one loss since 2006.

A quiet day in the NBA with the Utah Jazz not in action after their unbelievable road trip, (it'll be interesting to see how they play later today at home to Oklahoma City Thunder) and only five games to choose from. In-form Minnesota Timberwolves covered the spread via the back door in the early game at the even more impressive Atlanta Hawks, and the Los Angeles Lakers again started too short (1.22), this time against the Phoenix Suns, but I messed this one up and managed to turn a good position into a bad one.

Sunday 14 November 2010

Quality v Quantity

Anonymous, not his real name I suspect, recently suggested that Football Elite, with their proven track record of the past few seasons, could learn from him, and that "they are having nowhere near enough bets. I think the non-backing of odds-on shots has been discussed here before. It's nonsensical."

Well, my thoughts on the subject were that it was the comment was nonsensical. There are 49 games across the major leagues of Europe most weekends. Football Elite has found a subset of these matches that provide long-term profitability. The folly of suggesting that this subset should be expanded to include already disregarded matches from the initial set should be obvious. Anyway, I was pleased in a way that Matt took time out from his perusal of next week's fixtures to address the comment directly himself, although I am also slightly concerned that Matt is not spending the time trying to make me more money! Get back to work please Matt.

Here is Matt's reply in full:

Hi Anonymous, if that is your real name :-)

If I thought I could make a good return betting in 1000 games a season then of course I would do it. I dont think there are that many games that have those opportunities though.

The type of bets that I dropped 2 and a half years ago were all making losses or only very, very slight profits (or in the case of lays would have been more profitable if I had backed to win instead of taking insurance on the draw)

My personal opinion is that it's better to focus on the one area that obviously has the significant edge rather than pad it out with other less strong or even loss making bets.

Regarding odds-on betting, it's not a case of 2.0 yes, 1.99 no. I just found that over the years I couldn't make a profit on short priced favourites in top class football. Thats not me saying there isn't value for anyone else just that I am rubbish at finding it at that end of the market.

I'm guessing the reason why is there is more "mug" money on short priced faves in top class football than any other betting markets so odds in general are artificially lower.

The sort of side I focus on (my niche I guess) is home sides in games where there isn't a strong favourite so there arnt going to be odds-on bets by the very nature of the games I focus on.

Obviously though I wouldn't rule out a bet because it was 1.95 and not 2.0. It's just the principle of not backing short priced faves rather than not backing odds-ons.

At the end of the day its just my approach. You might be right I might be going wrong somewhere but it works for me which is all that matters really!
For followers of the US code of football, the not-so-highly-esteemed Rich Allen (aka SBP) sends me his selections for today's upcoming games.

Minnesota Vikings -1
Indianapolis Colts -6.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -6.5
Seattle Seahawks +3.5
Kansas City Chiefs -1
St. Louis Rams +6.5

All That Jazz

It's starting to get ridiculous. For the fifth game in a row, the Utah Jazz spotted their opponents, this time Michael Jordan's Charlotte Bobcats, a double digit lead, and came from behind to win. The lead this time was 19 points, but Utah clawed that back and won by a single point. The market didn't go as low as it has on other nights, partly because Utah were favoured to win the game at tip-off, but possibly plenty of people were wary of another comeback. I believe the lowest they traded was at 1.08, but another very profitable night. If only it was always this easy.

The football wasn't good, with just Montpellier at 2.22 winning out of the four home value selections. Brest repeated their Arles-Avignon game of two weeks ago, and gave the visitors their first away point of the season. Laying odds-on home teams in Germany gave winners as Werder Bremen and Mainz 05 both failed to win, and the unpredictable nature of the game there was further shown by Koln's 0-4 home defeat to Borussia Moenchengladbach, with all four goals coming in the second half.

Both 'strong' draws came up short with under 2.5 paying a conosolation prize as Wigan Athletic and Stoke City both won at home. One out of two for the 'weaker' draws though, although Kaiserslautern looked dead and buried at 0-3, before a Jazz-like comeback.

I had an Anonymous comment that I will mention, because it draws attention to the Statto web site which is excellent and a great source of information, and he makes it sound so easy to make money on football. He writes:

Great blog and love the articles. I do think the fact you come up with similar selections to Football Elite is that anyone who does value betting will generally come up with the same selections. That is surely logical. Every week I spend a few hours looking at the Soccer Stats at Statto website, compare the last 8 for the matches in each league and then look at the currently available prices. Guess what?, almost without fail the selections I make are very similar to yourself and Football Elite. I don't keep a spreadsheet with stats or anything and it takes up very little of my time. If anyone is reading the blog just and have a look and see what I mean. Bologna are unbeaten at home, Brescia haven't won in 8, Bologna are 2.22. It took me 2 mins, no fancy spreadsheet or ratings, very simple. I keep a record or my results and I'm doing very nicely. Trust me, the stats on Soccer Stats and Statto along with team news are all you need to gauge form and value. I implore everyone to do it and see what I mean. More importantly if you compare your home value picks for this weekend to the Statto website, all but one (Cagliari which has their price about right) are down as value picks, so basically anyone could just go on there, run down the match odds list in 1 min and they would have the same selections as you. People out there are trying to sell it to us as rocket science but it really isn't.

I do think it's great that you do post up your selections though so don't get me wrong. It's very generous and you come across as someone who knows a hell of a lot about trading, write great articles and I'm sure put plenty of work in to get where you have got. I just wanted to point out to people that it's a lot easier than you think to find value. Most of Football Elite's selections and yours are unsurprisingly the same as the value selections on Statto. I dare say that because when you put the stats together in a spreadsheet they all come out pretty much the same if it's yours, Statto's, Football Elite's etc. There can only be so many variables.
Using Statto to determine my picks would certainly save me a lot of time, but if the value on there was really significant, I suspect that word might have got out by now. I just don't see how a popular web site can be the answer to the great puzzle of making money consistently from football, but it is certainly a great web site. The key to it is that myself and Statto and possibly Football Elite all have different values and variables. My ratings are similar to Stattos, in fact the top nine in the EPL are identical in sequence, but their values are closer together than mine, and there is less volatility, which probably means they put a greater emphasis on form when determining true odds than I do, but anyway, our determination of a value bet is by quite different means. If we come up with the same selections, then all the better. Their odds on the Milan derby are way off when compared with the bookies: Internazionale 1.86, AC Milan 6, Draw 3.35. I have Inter at 1.99, and the current Betfair price is 2.66. For the record, I have the draw priced at 3.45, AC Milan at 4.8 and a small interest on Inter.

Saturday 13 November 2010

Tout Le Brest

One of my picks for today, Brest, are the subject of a blog post on BBC Sport. Titled “Revolution on the rampage in France's Ligue 1”, the post details Stade Brestois 29’s rise to the top of the league, although to suggest there’s a ‘revolution on the rampage’ is ridiculously premature. We’re 12 games in to the season, not 32, and with Paris St Germain just two points behind, and Marseille three back (with a game in hand), to suggest that Brest are anything but a flash-in-the-pan team seems a little ridiculous. It's a good story though; the club were in the Fourth Division just 11 seasons ago. If you think the blog post isn't premature, Brest can be backed at 130. For those who like backing goalscorers, Romain Poyet is on a run with goals in the last three Brest games.

The reason the price today is so generous is no doubt because Brest have only won two of their five home games, and annoyingly for me, I picked them to easily beat hapless Arles-Avignon a couple of weeks but were held to a 0-0 draw – Arles’ only away point all season so far.

Adam (Mouldhouse) commented:

I have Inter down as a strong back and also I like Brest (boom boom) - good luck this weekend.

Do you have a spreadsheet or document with the strong draw bets on, or the home value picks? It's quite clear that there's a lot of quality in the picks by the fact you so often front-run Football Elite. Appreciate the "This is NOT a P&L blog" tagline at the top so fully aware of the possibility of being told to **** off.

Cheers :)
Right then - **** off. Ah, just kidding. Yes, I do keep a spreadsheet with all my bets on. I’d be surprised if anyone serious about making money didn’t. You have to. If you don’t keep accurate records, you’re not going to get anywhere. Apart from making it easy to see what’s working and what isn’t, it’s all part of a disciplined approach to investing. Human nature is to remember the good things in life, and erase the bad. Gamblers remember winning bets easier than losing bets.

It’s also quite a compliment to be compared with Football Elite. They are the only service I, use and have a proven track record making profits every year. It would be hard to imagine how anyone could find fault, but of course, there’s always one, although clearly, once again, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s always good to come up with my value picks and then find Football Elite have the same opinion. It’s when we differ, as we did last week on the WBA v Manchester City game, that I have a decision to make.

John had a comment / question too (my e-mail was busy yesterday):
I just wondered how often you change/tweak your ratings system? At first I thought it would be a good idea to build a basic rating system then build on it and let it grow but now I'm not so sure. At the end of the day any rating system is a measuring device and therefore changing it will give you strange results. You wouldn't start building your house one measurement then change it once you get half way through, so is it then a bad idea to start tweaking a ratings system once you have begun collecting data? More importantly, does it actually matter if a rating system is accurate? Is it not more important for it to be consistent and allow you to take a more precise measurement of what's happening. If you are consistently off the mark with a prediction system that's better than mixed bag of results because you kept moving the goalposts so to speak.

Could the most basic of ratings systems kept as-is from day one provide more details than a regularly tweaked one. Shouldn't we be looking at and studying the results compared to the ratings to try and work out 'why' rather than tweaking the system to match the past results.
He raises a good point. It’s certainly true that my forecasts from last season cannot be directly compared to my figures for this season, but I think overall, this is a small price to pay for achieving better numbers going forward.

It’s also important to be clear that the formula for calulating the ratings has not changed from day one. All that has changed is the accuracy (mathematically) to which the expected outcomes of matches is displayed.

You say that you “wouldn't start building your house one measurement then change it once you get half way through”, but I think I actually would. If something’s not working, or not working as well as it could, then I have no issue with making a change, whether it’s to a ratings system, a home improvement project, my job or my personal life. Doing something the same way because “it’s always been done that way”, is simply not a good enough reason not to make a change.

The only thing that matters is being profitable, and by making the changes I made during the close season and early this season, I have made it much easier to identify value.

The big change was to improve the accuracy of the ratings so that they now give a figure to 0.1 of a goal rather than round to a whole number as they did last season. Yes, this means I can’t directly compare the numbers, but that’s ok. The other big change was to automatically factor in form, and here – if I do say so myself – I have been rather clever. I modified the spreadsheet so that the original number is still generated, (allowing comparisons with earlier versions), alongside a new ‘with form’ value.

I may well adjust the form weightings if I see that form is more or less important than I have estimated, but again, the important thing is that the ratings formula has been the same since inception. I do agree that changing this would not likely be useful.

Think of it like the game of football. The rules change very infrequently, but the data that is collected on matches is far more, and used quite differently, than was the case just a few years ago. Similarly, my ratings calculations stay the same, but the way I use them changes.

Appreciate the comment and the question though, and here’s a final comment from Greece:
You have maybe the best blog out there right now for all of us BF addicts, and soccer maniacs - keep up the good work!
Thank you, although I would take out the ‘maybe’ and the ‘right now’, but other than that I have to say I totally agree with you.

And finally, the Utah Jazzz won their fourth game in a row, all on the road, after trailing by double digits beating the Atlanta Hawks. Don't say I didn't tell you. They were available +4.5 at 1.82 pre-game.