Friday 9 December 2011

Pulpable Error

I have a habit of re-reading trading and betting books a couple of years after the initial reading. It’s my experience that there is often something on that second read that triggers a new idea, or perhaps has a whole new level of meaning due to events that have taken place since the initial read, or experiences in the meantime that add a new perspective. Or of course there is always the possibility that I simply missed the point or failed to fully understand it.

Back in March 2009, I wrote about a book I had purchased called “The Football Betting Science” which in fact is anything BUT about taking a scientific approach to football betting. Written by Gary Christie, in my opinion the book is very poor. As I wrote previously, it’s the sort of book that upon completion leaves you with the feeling that you could have written something just as good, if not far better. It’s not even a book really – more of a booklet or pamphlet, 93 pages, and only that many because the typeset size (Palatino 12/16) is enormous and as large as any books you might find in the Large Print, special-needs, section of your nearest public library. I don't hang out with too many librarians - too wild for me - but apparently Large Print is defined by that group as print that is at least 16 points in size. It works out at about 330 words to a full page. The book is simply just not very good, but I was nevertheless re-reading it the other day, and Chapter 12 “Draw No Bet” leapt out at me. The opening paragraphs are:
If there’s one thing I can’t stand, then it’s sitting on the fence. If you are going to put your money down then make sure you are confident enough to nail your colours to one mast, otherwise don’t have a bet at all. If you fancy a team to win, they could do so 1-0, 2-0 or 7-0. The scoreline doesn’t matter as long as the result is right. However in my own opinion there is no real point in backing the draw. Even if you think you have covered all bases and no matter which way you look at a game it looks even, DO NOT put money on the draw. If two teams look inseparable then leave the game well alone.

If you were researching a game and thought it might finish level, you may on occasion end up being right about the result and think “I could have made a profit there.” But don’t get tempted too often. Sometimes you might have backed the draw in a game which was 0-0 for ninety-odd minutes but then one defensive lapse or one piece of brilliance from a forward resulting in a late goal ruins your bet totally. It doesn’t matter that you were nearly right. It’s all about the end result and that you got it WRONG. If you are betting on games finishing level, you will lose a lot more than you will win, I promise.

One reason football is unique, and probably one reason why the American’s hate it, is that a draw is a very likely result. In league games, there doesn’t have to be a winner. For some teams, a draw is a good result but when betting it certainly is not. You can never rely on the draw. You are being too exact in your prediction when you say a game will definitely finish level.
And that, believe it or not is one whole page of the book, (10p that page cost me!) and in my opinion, one whole page of drivel. The next page starts off no better:
No matter what the circumstances are you can’t even get close to a guaranteed draw.
I must have been in a good mood when I read this first time - most likely it didn’t really resonate with me at the time because the draw was of no special interest to me – but some of the writing suggests a complete lack of understanding what betting is all about. In fact, most of it does really. It’s actually not until we get to Chapter 14 that we read this: “
Another vital part of choosing the right bet is getting value for money."
No kidding, Sherlock.

"If there’s one thing I can’t stand, then it’s sitting on the fence". Is the man clueless? A football match has three possible outcomes – a Home win, an Away win, and a Draw. How is backing one of those three options ‘sitting on the fence’? For a value seeking bettor, the talk about nailing your colours to one mast is nonsense if it means you can only select two of three possible outcomes. You sit on the fence if all three outcomes are priced correctly. If one of the three outcomes is value, you should back it. Yes, even if that value bet is the draw!

However in my own opinion there is no real point in backing the draw” – in my ‘own’ opinion, your ‘own’ opinion is wrong, and the vague ‘real’ in “there is no real point in backing the draw” suggests to me that the author realises there might actually be a point, but that he is just missing it. There is a point – sometimes the draw is value. It’s as simple as that. To blithely write “DO NOT put money on the draw” is bullshit. (My language is getting stronger the more I think about this. Apologies to any ladies reading this.)

Of course finding draws isn’t easy. Finding value isn’t easy, and we all understand that in betting nothing is guaranteed, but backing the draw when it is value to do so is a good strategy whatever Mr. Gary Christie might say. This line of thought certainly isn’t unique to Mr. Christie though, and for those who understand value, it’s great that the draw continues to be unfashionable.

It certainly changes how you watch matches though. Even as a neutral, it’s almost impossible not to be wanting one side or the other to win, at least to some degree, and you get some strange looks in the pub cheering misses at both ends when it’s 0-0, and then becoming a fan of the trailing team until they (hopefully) tie the game. If they then take the lead and you become a die-hard fan of the opposing team, you’re in danger of being considered very strange indeed.

If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing.” ― Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim


Griff said...

I'm back for more humiliation!!

Swansea v Fulham
Sunderland v Blackburn

Betslayer said...

Great article and what a terrible book that does appear to me. If thats scientific I'm a bear shitting in the woods :-D