Friday, 31 August 2012

Let Them Eat Cake

As I have written before, often to support my argument that the profit and loss figures of someone else are all but meaningless, wealth is relative. Ones age makes a big difference, as this article on Yahoo!Finance earlier this week explains.
The highlights are that in the USA, to be in top 1% by wealth, you need a total net worth of $8.4 million, but that's a sweeping average across all age groups. To be in your 40s and in the top 1%, you need 'only' $5.8 million to get into the one percent. For people in their 50s, it takes nearly $10 million. For people in their 60s, it takes around $11.6 million.
In other words, it takes twice as much wealth to be in the one percent for someone who's 65 compared to someone who's 45.
So the next time someone posts their P&L, it should be accompanied by their age and what percentage of their net worth is involved.

For anyone looking to increase their wealth, and if you are reading this, the chances are good that you are, there's some advice from Australia's richest person, and the world's richest woman, climate change skeptic Gina Rinehart (pictured), who recently wrote (again courtesy of Yahoo!Finance):
"There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire. If you're jealous of those with more money, don't just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself - spend less time drinking, or smoking and socializing and more time working."

"The lessons are the same. You can't get rich without working hard, taking risks, investing and reinvesting your profits."
Rinehart's an expert - she made her money the old-fashioned way: She inherited it. Born on third base, and thinks she hit a triple.
On the subject of eating (cake), at the end of Wikipedia's entry on her, there is this amusing piece, that may well be untrue, (surely it's too funny to be genuine?) and erased by the time you read this:
Let Them Eat Corn Dogs
But where's the fun in being given your money? Where's the challenge? It's got to be much more fun to win it on the exchanges!

Monday, 27 August 2012

The Gain In Spain

Congratulations to Dave, aka Gundulf, over at Betfair Football Trading on reaching 100,000 hits. Not too many blogs continue for two years or more with a steady flow of posts. One thing Dave seems to have missed is the referral payment scheme run by Blogger which kicks in after two years. The leading referral site receives a modest payment via PayPal based on the number of referrals. To be honest, it's more a tradition than a rule, but some traditions I rather like, and I hope Dave is of the same opinion. CalcioCassini @ aol.com when you are ready Dave.

Thanks to Baz who wrote:

Great start for the XX Draws in what I think is an always tricky first few weeks.
Certainly the opening weeks, and indeed closing weeks, of a season can be treacherous with all the new teams to be absorbed into the ratings, as well as wholesale changes to team line-ups and managerial positions, but if you take things too carefully, you end up betting in November and early March, because there is some excuse for the rest of the season - heavy pitches in winter being the excuse for December through February. 

By their very nature, the XX Draws are not intended for big punts, since most of the bets will lose, but an objective selection method is always going to select matches involving teams such as Montpellier, who I highlighted earlier in August were a team whose ratings were too high, and would start to fall. 

Now positioned in the relegation zone, their inclusion as an XX Draw selection last week away to Lorient can be double-guessed, but it was only a 92' goal that took away the win there. 

The other team I highlighted as likely to see a ratings slump were Wigan Athletic, and they have featured twice - one game cost me 1.54 points, the second made me 1.59 points, so again, no regrets about including them.

My spreadsheet thinks that Atletico Madrid are superior to Athletic Bilbao by 1.3 goals tonight, and finds value on the Unders. Atletico on the AH -1 at anything over evens is value for me. 

The earlier game features a promoted side Real Valladolid hosting Levante, and I'll be leaving this one alone.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Three Desmonds

With all the weekend games of financial interest in the record books, the Friendly Tipster League is updated below.

Standings as of 26.August.2012
There were a lot of XX Draw selections this week, I believe a record number, with four Classic selections and 13 Extended, which meant a lot of placing, monitoring, adjusting and recording of bets was going on at Cassini HQ.

Of those 17 selections, we had 7 draws for a nice profit - two were perfect, two were 1-1, and no less than three were imperfect 2-2s. Rather lucky perhaps, but on the other side of the coin were the two losers to 90' goals, and the HT0-0 that lost to a 45' goal. The Aston Villa v Everton game was an all-round disaster featuring an early goal and then lots more.

As the table shows, the Extended selections which are expected to be more numerous, but with a lower ROI than the Classic selections, are actually surpassing their older brother in all categories but the Match Odds Draw. Still early days, but with a total of 30 selections, and 150 bets if you bet all five suggested categories in each, the total profit is 27.14 points (ROI 22.62%) powered currently by the HT0-0 bet which alone has generated  11.66 points.

Some observations on a busy weekend:

Chievo v Bologna: Under 1.5 matched at 2.98 on 24th. 46 hours later 2.8 Draw price unmoved, staying in the 3.2 to 3.3 range.

Genoa v Cagliari: Draw matched at 3.4 on 26th. Down to 3.1 / 3.15 by kick off.

Palermo v Napoli: Under 1.5 matched at 3.65 on 25th. Out to 4.1 at kick-off.

Some examples of how pre-game moves can be quite dramatic. One subscriber asked if I placed my XX Draw bets early in the week or closer to kick-off, and the answer is the former. While it's frustrating to put in a back at say 3.55 and then see 3.7 available a couple of days later, I find it more annoying when 3.55 that was available is now at 3.3. One thing I didn't mention is that when I'm matched at 3.55 before the price drifts to 3.7, I will usually top-up at the higher price - always asking for a price rather than taking what's available. I then tend to watch the early part of the game, and lay off the top up amount once the price drops below my original entry point, so in the above example, I would lay off at 3.5 but keeping the amount I am comfortable risking in-play of course. This strategy doesn't always work, notably failing in the Aston Villa v Everton game yesterday, where an early (3') goal meant that none of the in-play lays were matched. It happens, but overall it appears to be an effective strategy.

On the subject of dramatic price movements, I looked at a new market today - the Corners Match Bet. This is not a market I have taken any interest in before, but some solid research from Premier Betting suggested that Arsenal were value (1.91) v Stoke City, and also Liverpool v Manchester City. After taking a 'watching brief' as Pete puts it, on the Arsenal game, and seeing the bet come in rather easily, (11-0), I decided to venture into the Liverpool v Manchester City game. At 1.81 the price on Liverpool looked too low, possibly driven down by Premier Betting's customers, but eight minutes later at kick-off, 2.12 was available. 31 ticks in 8 minutes before a ball is kicked? Unfortunately I took that 2.12 for £200 and then watched for 28 minutes waiting for the first corner. Since this game was an XX Draw (Extended) selection, I was in the strange position of wanting Liverpool pressure, just not too much. I have to say I'm not a big fan of these 'fringe' bets. Corners, along with thow-ins, cards etc. are an incidental statistic, by which I mean that the teams do not care about them, but it'll be something to watch. The Arsenal bet was certainly solid enough, backed up by some good statistics, but there is still the feeling that these are something of a lottery - take the Pescara v Internazionale game for an example, the result was 0-3, yet on corners Pescara won 10-2  - and I have my doubts that backing these bets at sub evens, with the tie always a possibility, is a long-term profitable strategy.

Tony's Tips moved up into fourth spot with the Tottenham Hotspur v WBA draw and a tasty lay of Real Madrid.

Griff's dreams almost came true with an impressive four draws from six matches, including the same three 2-2s that I had, and a 90' goal in his favour. Random fluctuations of probability evening out, and Griff is now only very slightly in the red.

Ian Erskine's first Lay The Draw pick was Middlesbrough v Crystal Palace, a loser for backers, and no selections from Football Elite or Little Al. [Correction - Little Al left a couple at Gold All Over - table updated].

The table is accurate I hope, but if anyone spots anything out of place, let me know. As I said, it's been a busy weekend.

Finally, an appeal for anyone who has the prices at, or close to kick-off, for the Saturday Bundesliga games of Hamburg v Nuremberg and Eintracht Frankfurt v Bayer Leverkusen. While I wasn't backing these, I did mean to note the prices on the Draw, HT0-0, and U1.5, U2.5 and U3.5 bets for tracking purposes, but quite forgot.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Prophets Coming - Have Faith

I guess that in a way it's good news that so many blogs these days make reference to 'value' bets, 'value' selections etc., but the bad news is that 'value' should really be a noise word, and totally unnecessary. Why would a bet be recommended if it isn't value?

The problem I have is that so many times someone list their 'value' bets, but offers no evidence to support their assertion that the bet is value, or any evidence offered is somewhat flakey. To me, something like
Team A v Team B - 7 of the last 10 Team B away games have seen 3 or more goals - Over 2.5 (1.98)
suggests a very lazy approach. Who were those last ten away games against? Did team B lose every game handily? Surely the suggestion is not that Over 2.5 in game 11 has a probability of 0.7 ? Where did the 1.98 come from too? Is that the price that the value kicks in at, or the price that is available? If it's the latter, then is 1.97 still value? Is 1.5 value? Why does the market make this price 1.98? How has the market missed this 'key' statistic?

I may be being a tad harsh here, but the idea that a sweeping look at something like a league table - especially one where no team has yet played - or the last few games is going to uncover value that the rest of the world has somehow missed seems a little optimistic. There may well be some more research done behind the scenes that is never revealed, but the impression is that this is not often the case. Rather than give reasons why the bet is considered value, you simply add 'value' to the description and away you go.

On the topic of little evidence, it seems odd to me that someone would try to sell a system without some results to back up the system's claims. Actually, I'll correct myself. It's probably quite reasonable to try to sell such a system, but it seems unlikely that anyone would consider buying one with no evidence that it works.

And funnily enough, such a system just happens to be for sale over at The Best Betfair Football Trader.com for just £37.

The video at Premier Winners starts off with the claim that it is a profitable English Premier League strategy for 2012-13, which is some claim given that we are eleven games in, and the first weekend was missed out of necessity "due to some of the filters that I have identified in creating this winning football betting system".

Presumably Chelsea v Reading was a winner.

And then we have this: "For the first time since starting my website I've decided to sell a system as I believe it should perform better than most football systems available". The evidence for this flimsy claim? It's here:
An angle that 'should' help us to make some good profits. Well that's reassuring, as are these words:
That's a lot of 'believes' and 'shoulds' I see. So basically we have for sale an untried and unproven system, that can be yours for just £37. The back-testing results look good though, 2009-10, you 'would' have made 22.72 points, 2010-11 48.32 points and 2011-12 32.63 points! 

That's almost as good as my XX Draws! 

There is also talk of a £200 to £20,000 challenge, for which the last update was in March when Steve wrote:
So the challenge bank is now on £389.34, which leaves just another £19,610.66 to go. Which seems a long long way away when I write it down like that! 
With no updates in five months, can one assume that the challenge has stalled? Which would be strange, since the author claims to be a "Professional Betfair Trader", although the definition of "professional" here may be a little loose as he states "My name is Steve and I’ve been a professional Betfair Trader since December 2009 when I lost my job and used it as a sink or swim opportunity to make my Betfair trading pay"

It is certainly possible to go from £200 to £20,000 but I'm glad I didn't set myself such a finishing target. What's the point of a final target? Is anyone going to find a method that gets them there, and then quit? I suppose they might if the target is the Super Premium Charge threshold, but that's something of an exception. 

Friday, 24 August 2012

Half-Time

Not Quite Green All Over
A pleasing start to the weekend's activities with the XX Classic selection of Evian Thonon Gaillard v Olympique Lyonnais coming in with a 1-1. Not quite the 'perfect' draw, with the Under 1.5 a loser, but both goals in the second half did mean that the six Classic selections this season to date have seen a total of two goals, and a total profit of 6.11 points. Also worth noting is that the two goals we did see were both quite late in the half, at 37' and 43'. While two draws at full-time is also not bad, again we have been a little unlucky with two losses in the 90', but it's early days, and with five selections from Ligue 1, hardly a balanced look across the leagues.

The Gold All Over blog has been updated with the latest table, along with some corrections from last week and some selections for this week. At XX Draws HQ, it'll be a busy weekend.
Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. - Lance Armstrong

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Opening Weekend

The first (almost) full weekend of the season is complete, and the updated Friendly Tipster Table is shown here. I think that in future, I will post both the table and the selections over at Green All Over, because I don’t want this blog to become cluttered up with them. Along with P&L numbers, tips don’t make for the most interesting of posts, so they will be consigned to the junior blog of the All Over family.

Including Ligue 1 last week, the XX Draws have had 5 Classic selections and 8 Extended, and the grand total of two draws, and an ROI of -50%.

On the surface, not a very promising start, but below the surface, things look a lot better. Eight of the thirteen finished Under 2.5 – ROI of 20%, and 12 have ended Under 3.5 with an ROI of 28%.

But the stars of the show, and I’m aware that it is early days, are the Half-Time 0-0 (76%) and the Under 1.5 (79%).

The irony is that backing these selections as draws currently shows a loss, but backing any of the other suggested markets, and they are well ahead. It'll even out I'm sure, but for now, that's how it is.

A breakdown of the ten individual categories can be found in the table above.    

The pre-match price movements on the opening Classic selection of the weekend (West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool) were interesting. The draw in mid-week was around the 3.65 mark, yet by kick-off, 3.8 was available, with a little traded as high as 3.9.

As might be expected, the Unders prices drifted too, with the U2.5 market moving from 1.83 to 1.95. A significant drift, and annoying for anyone getting involved early. It sometimes works the other way of course, (see Levante v Atletico Madrid) although as with 90th minute goals, one tends to notice and remember these things when they work against you rather than for you.

Speaking of 90th minute goals, we have now had three in just four Classic matches, although one was in our favour – at least it was for all of two minutes! Lorient v Montpellier was the match in question, with the visitors scoring first in the 37th, before two Lorient goals in the 90th minute spoiled the party.

And the Extended selections have also seen one 90’ goal (last night’s Real Vallecano v Granada game), and two other winners taken away in the 80’ or later, so the draws have been a tad unlucky perhaps.

We did get our first Classic winner of the season on the Match Odds market, with a perfect draw in the Ajaccio v Paris St Germain game. Tense moments late on, when the lights went out, but play resumed after a short delay and the last two minutes of stoppage time passed without any goals. Very tempting to lay off at 1.0x, but to do this in reaction to a couple of unlucky breaks from earlier selections is not the best strategy.   

The Extended selection of Levante v Atletico Madrid was another match showing a big price movement pre-game, with the Under 2.5 moving from 1.92 on Saturday to 1.74 four hours before kick-off on Sunday night. Did the draw price come in? Nope – the draw traded at 3.45, 3.5 and 3.55 with no discernible trend. If Unders shorten, then the draw should shorten too. There’s value somewhere, and after a couple of early goals, the match ended 1-1 for a winner on the Extended selections.

But enough about me and my selections. How did the others fare over the weekend, I hear you ask?

Little Al leads the non-XX category, finding the draw in the Arsenal v Sunderland game. Peter Nordsted’s Premier Betting got off to a great start with the selection of Fulham v Norwich City, and Tony’s blend of backs and lays found three winners from six, and an overall profit. Football Elite had Reading with the Draw No Bet, so no profit, but no loss either. Jon (Talkbet) had Everton to beat Manchester United, but three losers to go with it meant a small loss overall, while Neil and Drawmaster couldn’t come up with any draws. Draws were hard to find this weekend, as Griff knows only too well, extending his record to 0 from 9, although six of those were Under 2.5, and one was a 90’ draw-breaker, so this record is a little harsh I feel. 

Saturday, 18 August 2012

FTL - Tips Galore

Some more selections for the weekend -

Tony goes with:

FULHAM v Norwich City Draw 3.8
READING v Stoke City 2.4
WEST HAM UNITED v Aston Villa 2.22

Lay Liverpool @ West Bromwich Albion 1.99 
Lay Chelsea @ Wigan Athletic 1.66 
Lay Manchester United @ Everton 1.92

Jon (Talkbet) goes for:

QUEENS PARK RANGERS v Swansea City 3.5 
BRADFORD CITY @ Gillingham 3.6
LEVANTE v Atletico Madrid 3.5
Everton v Man United Draw 3.8 

Griff's second set of draw selections are from France and England

Olympique Lyonnais v ESTAC Troyes 4.9
Bastia v Stade de Reims 3.75
Olympique de Marseille v Sochaux 4.4
West Ham United v Aston Villa 3.45

Wigan Athletic v Chelsea 4.0

Everton v Manchester United 3.8

Griff adds: I know last week draw selections showed a loss of 3 points but like you I'm also looking a the unders and overs markets as well as the home and away. For the first round of the French league I'm showing a profit of 3.9 points. I could send you the extra selections if you want but there are a lot of them?

I really need to keep this as simple as possible, so the draws will be more than enough. You are not obliged to stay with Draw selections, so if you feel other selections will be more profitable, then submit those.

Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster selections should be available shortly, and Football Elite are back in action this weekend.

Exciting times ahead.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Navigating The Lull

Not much going on this week, to be honest. The lull before the storm, with La Liga and the EPL joining Ligue 1 as the 2012-13 season gets underway. 

A chance to catch up on a few comments, and one from George was appreciated, as he wrote:
Liked your Elo articles. Very skilful navigation of the topic!
Old friend Al commented on the Expected Value post with these words of wisdom:
all gobbledygook to me, i whack my cash down depending on what time of the month it is and whether the missus is in a good or bad mood.
Prompting a shy commenter to say:
Hahahaha, insightful from 'AL', obviously an experienced trader!
Indeed, until recently I was under the misguided impression that the time of the month was irrelevant for trading, but this is the type of useful information only known to professionals it would appear. With the end of the month fast approaching, it's time to begin furling the jib and lowering the mainsail.

Al also commented on my football trading post :
i thought we were going to get the holy grail of when to trade out of your position - a future post maybe?
There will certainly be some more written on this topic in the not too distant future, but there is no Holy Grail, although pretending there is might be a great way to garner more hits! 

Elected into the FTL (Friendly Tipster League) during the summer was Neil, and his first two selections of the season are:

West Ham United v Aston Villa - Draw @ 3.5
Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur - Draw @ 3.5 

We also have Al's draw selections which are:

Arsenal v Sunderland @ 4.9
Wigan Athletic v Chelsea @ 4.1

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Catch 22

While SoccerDude stopped short of calling in the authorities, he has nonetheless told all his friends (both of them) and neighbours that I have crashed his domain, and behaved appallingly.

His full reply, worth reading, although obviously not as entertaining as this blog, can be found here, but a couple of comments in my defence before you head off over there. (Between starting this reply, and posting, I see that SoccerDude has been feeling bad for being "somewhat hard and mean-spirited towards Cassini". Not a problem for me at all. Signor Cassini has a think skin, and was mildly amused by it all. I was pondering, for example, how a bogey can have an Italian appearance, although it's snot something I want to dwell on really.)

It was actually a novel experience to be corrected about something, because my first comment is an admission that I did indeed go the wrong way when suggesting the sample size of 22 was cherry-picked. I could say that my sub-editor accidentally removed the word ‘not’ from the sentence, which should have read suggesting the 22 figure was somewhat 'not' cherry-picked, but since such a badly worded sentence would never appear on my blog, I will just have to admit that the cherry-picking suggestion was wrong. SoccerDude’s already weak assertion that Community Shield draws are rare would have only been weakened further by the choice of 22 matches.

As for going back to 1908, I think this is a very lazy approach. This match can trace its roots back to 1898 and the Sherriff of London Charity Shield, so I would suggest including that first game, which coincidentally was a draw between Corinthian and Sheffield United – which further strengthens my case that draws are far from rare in this match. As an historical side-note, not a lot of people know that the Sherriff of London Charity Shield was actually last competed for as recently as 1983, when it was won by Watford who beat Corinthian Casuals 6-1 (not quite a draw).

Having cleared up that little mess, I now turn my attention to SoccerDude’s mocking of my suggestion that “with probably thousands of people 'trading' this game, it seems to me that identifying in-play trading opportunities is at best difficult”. Now I should have added the word value before opportunities, but I think most people assumed this.

My point is that when a football match is in-play, there are so many traders in the market, that to think you can somehow spot value ahead of those others, is something of a reach. I am talking here about the more active of in-play markets – some of the less populated markets may well offer a reasonable shot at finding value, but if you are trading Match Odds or Under/Over 2.5 goals in a big game, I think this is a stretch. There is nothing wrong with having confidence, but a reality check is good too.

For me, the reality is that when we are watching a football match, we are all seeing the same thing. With some exceptions, I suggest that once a game is in-play, the market moves in a predictable direction at a predictable speed, interrupted only by rare, and key, random events. If an Under 2.5 price is 2.0 at kick-off, the rate at which that price will decay is, for the most part, known. If the game proves to be more defensive than expected, then it is true that when this becomes apparent, the Under price may briefly become value, but this change has become apparent to everyone watching the game, and unless you are at the front of the line, the value will have gone.

I have some more thoughts on this for another day, but essentially, my feeling is that the term 'football trader' is abused. , I believe that the traders who can profit long-term from football are few and far between. SoccerDude may well be one of them, but I would like to know more about this ‘qualified and defined edge’.

This is a bold claim, and as the late Carl Sagan put it – “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. The odd large loss should be a red flag. Losses should be more frequent, but smaller in size, than wins.

Successful trading is about letting winners run, and cutting the losses. When the ‘odd large loss’ appears, you can certainly be forgiven for suspecting that this is a result of gambling, rather than trading.

I'll wrap up for now with some high praise from SoccerDude, who as I have mentioned before, has himself written some great posts on football ratings and markets:
Let's be clear, Cassini's blog is one of the best out there. It's well-written, full of decent content and his output is prolific. It's also one of the longer-lasting blogs discussing our favourite subject, with many others having long fallen by the wayside since he's been going. My own little corner of the blogging universe is also in its infancy compared to his, and so I should be a little more humble, I suppose.
By the way, for anyone who is genuinely interested in the analysis-side of betting, can I advise that you read the four-part series on Applying Elo Ratings to Football, written by Cassini on BettingExpert.com. It's clearly written and should provide a decent uplift in your strike-rate if used well. In these articles, he gives a good grounding on how to use / rate form.
Where he says 'one of the best', it's clearly a mistake, and should read 'the best'.

And I was joking about going back to 1898 for the Community / Charity Shield data. 1908 is quite far enough.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Expected Value Made Simple

From the Chicago Tribune Business section last week, via BettingExpert.com, this is a good article on value - with a little investment advice thrown in.

For gamblers and investors alike, expected value is the name of the game

August 07, 2012|By Elliot Raphaelson, Tribune Media Services | The Savings Game

What does casino owner Sheldon Adelson have in common with Bill Gross, co-chief investment officer of the giant money management firm Pimco? Many of you will probably say not much. I believe there is something, and it is important. They both understand the concept of expected value.

Expected value is the sum of each monetary outcome multiplied by its probability. Here is an example: A casino pays $30 at the craps table for a $1 wager if two sixes are rolled. The expected value is 1/36 -- the probability of the only roll that pays off -- times $30, or $0.83. This means the casino has a 17 percent edge on this bet.

As a successful casino owner, Adelson clearly understands the profitability of his games, especially slot machines. He will make sure "the house" has the edge on every bet.

There are very few ways for a gambler to make a profit in casinos because most games have negative expected value. For example, most slot machines in the United States return approximately 90 cents on average for a $1 bet. This gives the casino has a 10 percent edge on average for each bet. If you bet $1 in a slot machine 100 times in an hour, your expected loss (the casino's expected gain) is $10. Over a few days, if you "invest" for 10 hours your expected loss would be $100.

Any single bet can force a casino to pay out, but on a long-term basis, it will make a lot of money off almost all gamblers. I say almost all because some blackjack players have succeeded in making a substantial profit by "counting cards." After college and before his Wall Street career, Gross reportedly was one of them.

Card counting is a complicated art, but here's the basic idea: A card counter assigns a value to each card played. If at some point there is a predominance of high cards (aces, tens and picture cards) remaining in the deck to be played, the card counter has an advantage, and increases the size of his bet.

I don't recommend becoming a counter in blackjack. It is very difficult, and casinos will bar you if you become good at it. You would have a slight long-term edge, but you would have to be willing to invest a substantial amount of money in order to win.

Most other games in Vegas, or any other casino, do not provide you with a positive expected value. Do some research before you bet in a casino and determine the negative expected value of any game you play. (A good place to do research online is Wizardofodds.com.) Games that it is possible to play with positive expected value are poker, horse racing and sports betting, but to succeed you would have to have expertise or inside information that most individuals don't have. (If you want to learn more, I recommend Mike Caro's books.)

When I visit my grocery store, I notice a lot of people "investing" serious money in lottery tickets, even though the expected loss of purchasing lottery tickets is about 50 percent (except when there is a large carryover). This means that if you spend $1,000 annually on lottery tickets, you can expect an average loss of $500 per year. That money would be better spent or invested in other ways.

Bill Gross has gone from counting cards to managing highly successful bond funds. One of them, Pimco's Total Return Fund, has done well by conservative investors (count me among them). Return on the fund's Class D shares year-to-date as of August 6 was 7.5 percent. The five-year return measured from December 31, 2011 was 7.7 percent, and the 10-year return was 6.4 percent.

Gross wrote in his August investment outlook column that he does not believe that common stock investments will do as well in the future as they have in the past. He may be wrong about that, of course. He has made some mistakes in the past, but not many.

Although investments in common stocks and bonds are not foolproof, on a long-term basis, they should provide a positive expected return, especially in contrast to lotteries and casino games.

Long-term investors should have some money invested in the stock market, such as S&P 500 index funds or other broad-based index stock funds. I also believe that older investors, either close to retirement or already retired, should have a substantial portion of their investments in no-load intermediate-term bond index funds and other intermediate-term high-quality bond funds, such as those offered by Vanguard, Fidelity and T. Rowe Price.

You will not become rich with these investments, but you will do much better than you would with lottery tickets or slot machines. Adelson has enough money.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Spreading Those Wings

SoccerDude has had some nice words for my blog and other articles in the past, and his blog contains some great articles on topics such as Poisson for Dummies and the Correct Score market which are well worth reading, but that doesn't make him immune for a little gentle prodding.

He writes that:

Most people seem to expect the Charity Shield will be a draw, but since 1990, only eight matches have ended full-time as a draw, with the remaining 14 matches seeing a positive result inside 90 minutes.
'Only' eight matches from 22 have ended as draws? That would put the implied price of a draw at 2.75, a price that is rarely seen outside of late season Italian matches. And why look back at the last 22 matches? It's not exactly a round number, so could it be because games 21 and 22 were both draws? 6 from 20 (3.33) or 9 from 30 (3.33) are also both true, suggesting the 22 figure was somewhat cherry-picked, but anyway, the nature of this game has changed in the recent years. Certain matches tend towards having their own personality, and the Community Shield is one of these. SoccerDude sums up the probable reasons:
The last three years have seen a surfeit of goals too, so perhaps it's a chance for the top teams to spread their wings, unencumbered by any real expectations or any real dangers (a loss in the Charity Shield doesn't really "matter", so to speak). In that time, there have also only been two 0-0 scorelines, the most recent when Man Utd played Portsmouth, who may have played more defensively than most teams tend to do.
I think he hits the nail on the head with the appearance of Portsmouth in this game in 2008. They are the only team outside of the 'Big Five' (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United) to feature since 1997, and it's reasonable to assume that it meant a lot more to them than it did to any of the Five. Perhaps not as much as avoiding extinction, but a lot, even in those heady days.

SoccerDude continues with this:
Anyway, I have no real clue about scores, but I wouldn't be surprised if a goal or two was banged in later today, and I will be trading with that in mind. The beauty of trading, of course, is that it doesn't really matter whether the goals go in or not. Trading is not guessing. It's simply taking a position for a defined period of time.
"I have no real clue about scores". That statement seems to me to be incorrect. SoccerDude does have a clue. He has already identified that with two big teams in a game of this character, neither is going to care too much about the result, and the probable 'spreading of wings' means a higher expectancy of goals than in a competitive game.

If Soccer Dude has identified that the market's expectancy of goals is lower than his, then my approach would be to bet (punt) accordingly, and walk away. (I prefer my sport to be meaningful). With probably thousands of people 'trading' this game, it seems to me that identifying in-play trading opportunities is at best difficult, and that you are better served to let the bet run. Not all matches will play out as your research suggests of course, but no one with any understanding of sports betting expects that, but the key is to be right more often than the odds suggest you should be. Value.

Somewhat related to this topic is whether you should trade out of a position late in a game. As you read yesterday, the first Classic selection of the season was a winning bet before a late (90') Lille goal spoiled the party. Last season, I experienced this six times, one match in every 26, so it's hard to argue that greening up at sub 1.04 is a wrong move. Whether or not that price is value at the time it is available is another thing, but it's not likely to be far off.

I took a look at how often the HT 0-0 bet is scuppered by a late goal, and not surprisingly (there is less time added on at the end of the first half) the total was lower at 3 (from 156 matches). Only 8 matches saw a first half first goal come later than the 40th minute. The evidence from this small sample suggests that the conventional wisdom that teams are happier to play out the last few minutes of a drawn game at half-time rather than full-time has some merit.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at First Pitch

There was one more Classic XX Draw selection today, which was newly promoted Stade de Reims v Olympique Marseille. Classic selections are 2 for 2 for the 0-0 at Half-Time, but unfortunately the second halves have been frustrating. Marseille scored relatively late (77') to secure a 1-0 win, which resulted for a win on four of the five markets I suggest (HT 0-0, U1.5, U2.5, U3.5) but a loss on the one that the selections are measured by, the Match Odds Draw.   

An interesting web site for Elo fans is the one at clubelo.com - interesting because it's always interesting to compare my ratings with others. While the top four are the same for mine and ClubElo, I have Barcelona top instead of Real Madrid, and my fifth rated team, Liverpool, don't even make ClubElo's top 13. This is what happens when a team's results don't align with their 'behind-the-scenes' efforts!

In baseball today, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were a very, to put it mildly, short 1.38 to beat the Seattle Mariners. Neither team is in form right now, the Angels 3-7, Mariners 4-6 in their last 10 games, and in a game where any team can beat any other on any one day, that price, one of the shortest I have seen, was worth opposing. Seattle won 4-1.  

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Handing Off To Rio

Some interesting movement in the price for the season's opening XX Draw selection today. After hovering in the 3.2 to 3.25 range all week, in the last hour before kick-off, the price drifted out to 3.55. Both Saint-Etienne and Lille shortened, while the Unders prices didn't move. It was almost as if someone was taking on the XX Draw selections! In the end, the layer got away with it, courtesy of a 90' goal. Not the start I was hoping for, but it happens. Six 'winners' last season were taken away in the 90', and 22 in the 81' or later, but these things even out over a season so I'll get over it. I know some subscribers lay the bet off as the time remaining runs out, and anybody backing the Half-Time 0-0 had a nice winner. In addition to the Match Odds and the Under 2.5 markets, I am this season including the Under 1.5, Under 3.5 and the Half-Time 0-0 markets. Five points a game, and an opening loss of 0.91. The Extended selections, were both Away wins also, Evian Thonon Gaillard lost to Bordeaux 2-3 and Troyes v Valenciennes finished 0-1 to an own goal. Griff shared my ETG and Troyes selections, and has Stade Rennais v Olympique Lyonnais in play tomorrow. I shall publish the fledgling Friendly Tipster Table at Gold All Over tomorrow.

A couple more nice comments on my Elo ratings articles at BettingExpert, which are appreciated - Baz said:
Agree with SocerDude interesting stuff at Betting Expert. Looking forward to more.
And Rugby Trader said...
same here, my aim for this season is to start constructing my own odds model.some great pointers in your Betting Expert articles. just got to figure out how to use Excel to do it!
There is plenty of help on Excel out there if you need it. I know I did, and I learned a lot. Learning how to use Tables and Lookups is probably the most important thing. It's a lot easier to enter a team code, e.g. LIV or RM and have the rating and form populate automatically than have to enter it all manually.

If I don't post again before the closing ceremony, enjoy it. My brother-in-law's tree won't be there, but he does have another creation to watch out for.
Del Boy: Don't worry, Rodney. This time next year, we'll be millionaires!
Rodney: This time last WEEK we were millionaires!

Get Rich Slowly

Little Al joins the tipster league with two selections from the EPL. I suspect they are draw selections, but Little Al didn't say. The two matches are Arsenal v Sunderland and Wigan Athletic v Chelsea from England's opening weekend, so Little Al has a few days to confirm.


Soccer Dude's comment on my Elo ratings posts over at BettingExpert.com was appreciated - he wrote: 
Just read your Elo posts over at BettingExpert. Top job.
Thanks SD. The idea was not to say 'this is how it's done' but rather to illustrate one way in which Elo based ratings CAN be used, with the hope that it generates some ideas among readers on how they might approach them.

G wrote:
Quick question relating to the XX draws/over unders betting Cassini. I see the P/L for the season is 15.85 & 30.28 (a decent return by any standards).
Broken down into an average monthly return say over 10 months then it would look like -
XX Unders 3.28 / XX Draws 1.58
Is this the type of "expected" return for a straight betting system.
The reason I ask is I think most average punters think (or expect) easy returns of say 20/30 points per month from a system.
I used to think like that but soon realised these types of retuns tend to belong to the "Get rich Quick" scammers out there.
Personally an average return of 4.5 points per month between the systems is rather good.
That comment actually made me look at the numbers by month, even though I know better! The school of thought that betting strategy / approach / mindset should 'often' change later in a month from that applied a few days earlier has, I hope, been thoroughly debunked and accepted by most of us, but just for kicks, here are the numbers by month from 2011-12:

These returns are indeed to level stakes, and the ROIs on the draws (10.16%) and Under 2.5 (19.41%) are, if I say so myself, pretty good. In my opinion, huge ROIs, month by month are seen only in scam mailings and not in reality. Reality is that returns will fluctuate randomly, with no regard to the month (or the day of the month), but if, on average, the return is positive, then that's something to build on.

The off season can certainly play havoc with ratings. Obviously a change of manager and  playing style, or changes in the team have an impact, and where to insert promoted teams is a perennial problem, one that I have addressed in a soon to be published post over at BettingExpert.com. Some teams ended last season on a high - think of Wigan Athletic (who ended the season rated eighth and in great form) or Montpellier, but both are likely to see their ratings steadily decline.

I think I wrote previously that I would highlight the bottom three teams in each league, excluding promoted teams, as they may make interesting bets in the relegation markets. From bottom down (e.g. Stoke City are worst rated in the EPL), the three teams in each major European League are:
 Lots to consider other than the ratings of course, but there are a couple of surprises in there.

Today really is the last chance to get every XX Draw selection, both Classic and Extended, for 2012-13. Check out the prospectus here for all the details, and whether you are a subscriber or not, good luck to you this season.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Quorum, Just

Not exactly an abundance of takers for the Friendly Tipster League, but Griff did confirm to me that he will be submitting his picks once again, and for opening weekend, his draw picks (full names) are:
Evian Thonon Gaillard v Girondins de Bordeaux
Stade Rennais v Olympique Lyonnais
Espérance Sportive Troyes Aube Champagne v Valenciennes
Peter Nordsted confirmed the return of Drawmaster this season, and with the XX stable of runners plus Football Elite and Ian Erskine's 'Lay The Draw' selections, we have a quorum.

I hope some of you have had a chance to check out my articles on using Elo ratings in football published over at BettingExpert.com - I've mentioned a lot of the details at odd times in this blog, but it seemed like a good idea to collect them together and post them in one place. In part, the reason was that the ratings were a work in progress, starting with basic principles and then building on those, and of course stumbling by accident on the predictive component which led to the XX Draws.

Early season can be treacherous, but you wouldn't think so from last season's early results. Opening weekend in Ligue 1 saw one winner from two, and the first ten selections saw seven draws. That'll be hard to beat!

I had an excellent email from Tony, who wrote:
Been following and enjoying your blog since the start of the year and have signed up for the xxdraws and looking forward to the new season.

Would appreciate one point of clarification though re the Classic and Extended selections.

If I have understood it correctly, the Bundesliga will be covered by the Classic selections but not in the Extended because of the higher average goals per game.

With that in mind, what are your thoughts on using the Classic Bundesliga selections for the non-draw investments (U2.5, HT0-0, U3.5). Taking a quick look at 2011-12, the Bundesliga did pull down the Strike Rate and the ROI on the U2.5 but was still positive by 3.3 units.
I need to look at the numbers more, and will write on this before the German league kicks-off on August 23rd. The Bundesliga does seem out of step with the other leagues, as I have written about before, but Tony's question deserves some thorough analysis this weekend. Watch this space.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Friendly Tipster League 2012-13

With the big European Leagues kicking-off this weekend (Friday night) in France, it's time to see what interest there is in another season of the Friendly Tipster League. The final standings for 2011-12 were:
I should be too modest to point out that XX took Gold and Silver, with the somewhat tounge-in-cheek Back 'Lay The Draw' taking Bronze, but I'm not.

The XX group of selections were my XX Draws backed as Draws and on the Under 2.5 goals markets, and for this season I'll be including the 1.5 and 3.5 goal markets as well as the HT 0-0.

Back 'Lay The Draw' is my opposing Ian Erskine's FTS selections. In theory, these selections should be higher scoring and the draw less probable, but after 82 selections last season, the draw was clearly a value back in these games.

Football Elite need no introduction. One of the services with a proven track record, and a solid enough profit from (coincidentally) another 82 selections. One point of interest from anyone who subscribes to FE as well as the XX Draws is that there were 13 matches last season that both services selected, and backing the draw in these games saw 6 winners, with 6 games 0-0 at Half-Time. The Under 2.5 was also a profitable bet to follow.
Also profitable were Geoff's Draws finding value in the draw in matches such as Berwick Rangers 3 Elgin City 3, and at obscure places around Europe such as Telford, Tamworth, Sandnes and Brighton. I was thinking of restricting this competition to the top leagues, but I have learned so much from trying to find what country some of Geoff's selections are from, that for educational and entertainment value alone, it's worth including them. Besides, surely Geoff's luck in fluking 3-3 draws will not continue for another season.

Mark J finished very slightly in the red, and Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster hit a poor run in March to finish in the red too. Trying to force three selections from the EPL each weekend doesn't help, in my opinion. Some weeks there are none, other weeks there may be ten.

A couple of other entries were dropped - Griff's Draws fell well behind, and not surprisingly, the selections stopped coming, and the 'Game of Two Halves' was also dropped as they, as I suggested at the time, proved to be something of a lottery, and unprofitable.

Talkbet has expressed an interest in joining, and the more the merrier - up to a point. If the administration side of this starts to get too much, I reserve the right to pick up the ball and go home. 

I may include the Free Under / Over bets on Saturdays and Sundays - he selects most days, but I'm not a pro on here, so my time is somewhat limited.

The table will not reflect ante-post selections, just individual matches, and the bets should be on the main markets, rather than things like 'First Goalscorer'. The table will be ranked by P/L rather than ROI.

This is probably also a good time to remind anyone who has been prevaricating on signing up for the XX Draws this season that time is running out - at least if you want to be on board for the full season.

While past performance is no guarantee of future results, the XX Draws last season had 156 selections for a profit on the draws of 15.85 points on the Under 2.5 of 30.28 for a combined 46.13 points.

This season I am adding an 'Extended' category, which I am expecting will generate more selections, and more profits, albeit with a lower ROI than the Classic selections. But remember, ROI for show, ROBG for dough!

This weekend has one Classic selection and two Extended selections from Ligue 1.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Hitting Singles

The recent discussion on the psychological aspect of trading saw me write these words:

The Sultan quite rightly mentioned in his lengthy post on this debate that I myself have admitted to acting in a less than optimal manner on occasion, when a poor run has seen profits taken a little sooner than they might have been had I been on a good run. Confidence can be fragile for us humans.
A phrase used to describe my approach in this instance was found in The Stock Bandit, one of the blogs on my blog roll, where Jeff White wrote on the subject of trading after a setback:
1.) Take it down a notch. And you know exactly what I mean. When you’re starting out or starting over, you have to start small. Small enough that it’s all about the process and not the result. By doing this, you’re setting the tone for growth again, you’re respecting the market, and each trade takes on minimal significance while you’re getting back into the right habits.

2.) Get specific. By narrowing your focus to that which you should be doing, by default you can eliminate much of the fear you may be facing, as well as a lot of the trouble which comes with a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants style of trading. Without a game plan, you’re playing the guessing game. Understand which conditions you’re facing, and go with the strategy best-suited for those conditions.

3.) Set realistic expectations. As much as you might like to, don’t expect to make it back right away. Big expectations may be what got you in trouble to begin with, so curb your enthusiasm a bit and aim to just get the bat on the ball first. The idea is to start a foundation which can support bigger and better results, but right now it’s first things first, so look to start small.

4.) Keep risk in check. As noted in the point above, you can’t just go swinging for the fences. To avoid that, have a risk per trade amount that’s appropriate for the fresh start you’re making. And be careful with how many positions you’ll carry at once, at least until you’re back in the flow.

5.) Hit singles. Early on, the aim is to get on base and establish a rhythm of success that can be built on. By selecting high-probability setups with defined risk, you’ll increase your odds of getting into that rhythm and start marking some results in the black – just what you need the most.
'Hitting singles' is a good phrase to describe my approach. After a setback, the importance of rebuilding confidence is not to be underestimated, and to continue the baseball analogy, runs scored playing small-ball count the same as solo home-runs.

One commenter on that post wrote: "I think I have discovered that optimism doesn’t work." My opinion on this is that while positive thinking / optimism is very important, it's only the start. Awareness of a problem is not the same as managing a problem, as I pointed out a few days ago.

Mark Iverson's latest post mentions an old book from 1937 - Think And Grow Rich which is available free on the Internet, which is fortunate because, as the old joke goes:
Want to get rich?
Don't waste your hard earned money on "Get Rich Quick" books.
I read this book about 20 years ago, and while it shows its age and is clumsily written, and the author LIKES HIS CAPITALS which gets ANNOYING, it's overall worth a read, but I wouldn't say it was life changing by any stretch of the imagination. 

Most, if not all, of the ideas in it that have merit have long since made it into the mainstream. The author, Napoleon Hill, does seem obsessed with SEX -
 "Sex energy is the creative energy of all genii. There never has been, and never will be a great leader, builder, or artist lacking in this driving force of sex."
He also opines that: The average man reaches the period of his greatest capacity to create between forty and sixty." A great comfort to me, but with these types of books, it's always good to remember, as the great George Carlin said,  "If you’re reading it in a book, folks, it ain’t self-help. It’s help." 

Golden Tenth

Baseball again, and my selective system is perhaps a little too selective come the second half of the season, with just one selection this month so far. It was a good one though, and thanks to a two-run homer in the 10th innings (10th innings have been good to me this week) the Chicago White Sox's win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (10th innings have not been good to the Angels this week) saw the system move into the green for the first time since mid-June. With commission factored in, that won't be the case, but this exercise is more about trying to reduce the Premium Charge liability than making money. The interesting thing is, as I have mentioned before, the fact that the two handicap (+1.5 and -1.5) bets are faring so much better than the Match Odds market bets. It would be very profitable to lay the selection on the Match Odds markets, but back them on the handicaps.

While Tennis being an Olympic event is a little bizarre, nevertheless the Men's Gold Medal match is a redo of the Gentlemen's Singles Final at Wimbledon between Roger Federer and Andy Murray played just a few weeks ago. Federer was at ~1.56 for that July match, and is out to ~1.7 for Sunday's game. I wrote on July 7th:
To my layman's eye, Federer at 1.56 looks to be a gift, but there are others who know far more about tennis than I do, so this is not an investment that I claim to have an edge on. A fun bet to add some interest to the Gentlemen's Singles final.
Substitute "1.7" for "1.56", and "Gold Medal match" for "Gentlemen's Singles final", and that says it all. Federer is older now I guess, but I don't think a month is going to make much difference. What will make a difference is the roof, as an indoor game will suit Federer more than Murray. Keep an eye on the weather, as well as Murray's Mixed Doubles result/s today.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Spitting In A Thunderstorm

I mentioned yesterday that the Texas Rangers had come back from a three run deficit in the tenth innings versus the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim The Book (Playing The Percentages In Baseball) had the probability of a team winning from this position as .047, (close to 1.05) while laying at 1.03 gives an implied probability of  0.029. Making the lay even better value in my opinion at the time was the fact that there had been 17 runs scored already in the game. What I didn't know at the time was that the Texas Rangers hadn't come back to win from this position (three down in extra innings) since 1975 - although admittedly they probably haven't found themselves in that unusual position too often.

I was reading a Wall Street Journal article by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, and while he was actually talking about the financial markets, I see similarities with the betting exchanges. (On this subject, some of you may want to read the post Why Betfair trading is like Online Stock Trading). Traders are oft derided on the forums for being parasites, with the counter-argument that they add liquidity. Mark Cuban's response was excellent.
WSJ: What do you say to the argument that high-speed traders provide liquidity to markets and narrow spreads? The argument is that those benefits outweigh the negative side effects that you’re talking about. If the HFTs are pushed out of the market, they say, regular investors will wind up paying more to buy and sell stocks.
MC: That’s a bogus argument. By definition they can’t go into an equity unless there already is liquidity. To say they’re adding liquidity is like saying spitting in a thunderstorm is adding liquidity.
The article in full is titled High-Frequency Traders Are The Ultimate Hackers.

I pulled Nigel Paul's Lay, Back and Think of Winning from the bookshelf the other day, and it appears I have been making hard work of what is apparently guaranteed, and relatively simple. From the introduction:
Lay, Back and Think of Winning is an accessible and invaluable guide that teaches you how to make money on the betting exchanges. That in itself is a sound enough reason to make this manual yours. How many books can guarantee that, if you follow the advice within their pages, you can see a return on your investment of £14.99 in an instant - and then swiftly progress to daily profit up to or in excess of £100?
Guarantee! It's that easy! In an instant! A lot has changed since 2005, not least of which is the fact that the author is obsessed with horse-racing, with just a cursory mention of other sports. Of course, all this was written long before the introduction of the Premium Charge, so the £100 a day target is probably a little harder to achieve for those looking to win with a high strike rate.

How much is realistic these days? As I wrote a year and a bit ago when the ASHE figures came out:
It’s always fun playing with these numbers, and that £538 per week figure for us men, works out an annual salary (gross) of £27,976 which according to The Salary Calculator nets out at £21,385, or £411.26 per week. 
If you are a full-time trader and trade seven days a week, then to match Mr. Median, you need to make close to £60 a day - £58.76 to be precise, or if you’re that rarity in the trading world, i.e. female, you can be Ms. Median by making just £49.14 a day. Life is so much easier as a woman, as I keep telling Mrs. Cassini.
How easy an individual finds it to make an average of around £60 a day will, of course, vary, but I doubt that anyone serious about sports investing would find this unachievable.
It's only of academic interest anyway. If you are full-time trading, then it's a benchmark to measure yourself against, and not much else, and if trading is just a hobby and you already have a full-time job, then any profit at all is just icing on the cake.
Unfortunately that benchmark is changing. Hard to believe that the first Premium Charge was introduced back in September 2008, and already 47 monthly figures since then have come and gone. Seems like only yesterday. 

And finally - 

"Late money on the betting exchanges is found to be the most accurate prediction of true outcome probabilities and the greater the late odds movement in an entrant, the higher its probability of winning." - Discuss.