Monday 18 March 2013


Two weeks ahead of Elite Eight Saturday, and Football Elite had its own special Saturday. Six selections, of which four were winners, for a profit on the day of 7.59 points - Matt's best day of the season by some distance. One loser on Sunday followed, but this service is now out of the red for the first time since September and four consecutive profitable weekends (10.76 points) supports Matt's decision to revamp his strategy, if not his selection methods. I say out of the red, rather than into the green, because after some 119 bets, amazingly the numbers I have are exactly 0.00. An impressive run.

Other big winners this weekend were Pete Nordsted's Drawmaster finding two draws from three matches and moving up to fifth, while Premier Edge moved up to sixth at the expense of Neil, who had something of a nightmare going 0 for 3 and dropping to seventh. The top four remained the same, backing the 'Lay The Draw' selection had one winner from three for a small profit, and the Bundeslayga had a good weekend with three winners from four selections. Premier Betting had a small profit, and Football Elite round up the non-losing entries. In the red, Al's losing run continues finding three non-draws, while Talkbet had a small profit, and Football Formbook a small loss.

The XX Draws were up overall, but the Classic selections continue a poor run going 0 for 4 with all four games ending 2-0 (or 0-2) so at least the Under 2.5 bets were winners. The Extended selections had ten selections, losing one to postponement, and of the remaining nine, had three perfect (0-0) draws, and three more single goal matches. Aston Villa v QPR was a draw until the 81st minute, Pescara was goalless until the 88th minute, and Wigan v Newcastle was a draw until the 90th minute so it could have been even better.

In the Bundesliga there were two selections, with one perfect draw in Hoffenheim v Mainz '05.

This week I am taking advantage of the International break and flying the entire Green All Over staff out for a ski trip in celebration of the 5th anniversary of this universally acclaimed blog which saw its inaugural post keyed on the 21st of March 2008 and now has 560,000 hits and counting.

In its five years, this blog has seen a total of 1,518 posts, and to repeat my amusing little line from the third and fourth anniversary posts - "Not all have been hugely interesting admittedly, but the other 1,517 have been...".  I wrote a year go:
Will the blog make it to five years? Possibly, if the (sensible) comments keep coming, and I can somehow find inspiration, and readers keep hitting. A year ago, I was looking forward to 250,000 hits. Today the count is 50% over that, 375,000 and counting. Next stop, half a million? Why not?
The blog continues to steer clear of P&Ls, which really don't make for an interesting read, and it will continue to seek out ideas from the news, forums, or other blogs.
A year on, and will the blog make it to six years? The comment regarding comments still applies, although I am  getting better at simply deleting nuisance comments. It used to be said that imitation was the sincerest form of flattery, but in the blogging world, the fact that people continue to visit says it all really. Anonymous (of course, except that IP addresses are known) goes to the trouble of commenting on my rather interesting piece about round numbers and their impact on sports, and writes:
yawn zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Such incisive wit. It must have taken him almost as long to come up with that as it did for me to write my post, and of course he's been back since for more.

Well why wouldn't he? Where else can you be so cheaply entertained? No promises on six years though. Unsurprisingly, the Super PC has dented my enthusiasm more than a little, and LADDAQ still has some way to go. Nothing lasts for ever. It's getting harder and harder to first find and keep edges, and second to make it cost effective to put in the time, often at unsociable hours, to do so.

The last complete month's (February) basketball saw me 'make' close to £5,500, which sounds good, but divide that by (roughly) two for the Super PC, and consider that I was involved in a little over 100 markets, and is it all worth it?

Something to ponder as I turn the lights out at Cassini Castle for a few days, but I'll be back, barring ski lift failures or ill-positioned trees. Stay warm.

Here is the latest table in full;

Saturday 16 March 2013

Betfair Evolution

June 2000:

PITY the poor, traditional bookmaker. His familiar world is rapidly falling apart. Generations of monopoly over enslaved punters have already met challenges from the Internet and tax-free offshore rivals. Now even the last bastion of bookmaking - the ability to set the odds - is being taken away. As from today, those who have longed to back the Derby favourite, King's Best, at 5-1 rather than 3-1, or to take the money of anyone foolish enough to think that England can win Euro 2000, can theoretically do so.
The opportunity comes courtesy of a revolutionary form of betting that banishes those irritating middlemen with their sheepskins, sleek limos and bulging satchels. The idea has been kept carefully under wraps for months but tonight, in Covent Garden, just in time for one of the headiest sports betting weekends of the year, it will be launched to a gathering of gamblers and celebrities. A company called Betfair, describing itself as a "sports betting exchange", essentially gives the punter a chance to decide his own odds.
Put simply, the mechanism is a website that provides a dynamic screen on which it will be possible to call up a variety of sports events, nominate a bet and await it being taken by some other anonymous gambler in cyberspace. Participation will be restricted to account holders, who will be required to deposit a sum of money that will either grow or shrink depending on their success rate. 
It is all the brainchild of Andrew Black, a sports-mad computer analyst, whose background includes being thrown out of university for failing exams and spending successive years as a professional gambler and a full-time bridge player. "I've worked in the city and I have always gambled on sport," Black explained. "It was an extension of both activities to come up with a trading system for sports betting."

Conventional bookmakers will view this as yet another threat to their once sacred territory and will bridle at their role in the launch today, when a mock funeral cortège for bookmakers is staged through the City's square mile. Leaflets will be distributed simultaneously outside Underground stations proclaiming "The bookie is dead" and bidding a sombre farewell to the turf accountant "who emptied punters' pockets, took shirts off their backs, never made a decent price and died with the birth of open-market betting".

Such audacity, from a marketing team that includes Mark Davies, the son of BBC sports commentator, Barry, will ensure irksome questions about the legality of a scheme that ignores betting conventions. It seems that betfair has already covered this problem, however, as Linklaters, the firm of solicitors, is a shareholder in the company. "They assure us that we don't need to pay betting tax because, effectively, we are brokers rather than bookmakers," Black said.

The new company will make its profits through commission on winning bets. It begins trading today on Epsom's big races and Euro 2000, but its parameters could spread in unusual directions. "As we don't need specialist odds-layers, we can offer any sporting event at all," Black said. "We will put up sumo wrestling if people want it, so long as we can authenticate the results."
No thanks
Betfair Sportsbook
Betfair Exchange
2013, and the wheel has turned almost full circle. As most of you will know, Betfair have introduced a traditional Sportsbook alongside it's Exchange site, and it would appear to offer nothing to anyone with half a brain. Prices are poor in comparison to, not only the Exchange, but also other books - three screenshots for the upcoming Manchester United v Reading game illustrate.

A post from frog2 sums up the current state of affairs:
I think its fair to say that the current fixed odds website is very very poor. It is characterised by terrible prices and terrible limits. It has joined the current fad of being a soft bookie - i.e. refusing bets to anyone who has a clue. In short it is a pathetic offering and if it was launched without the Betfair name it would not last five minutes.
Betfair is struggling to find its identity. In the early years it was all about 'winners welcome', 'sharp minds Betfair'. When they took over Flutter they stressed that the merged markets would mean more liquidity and thus higher limits for customers. They developed the technology to match more bets that than all the European exchanges put together.

Then what did they do? They started looking for soft targets. They branched out into games and poker. At the time it was all still person to person. I remember one of the founders telling me they were not being greedy and they were sticking to their p2p principles. Then came the casino. The p2p games were replaced by ones run by Betfair themselves. The cross-matcher came in - to this day I still don't know if it gets to beat the clock in-running to match bets.
This was still not enough. They have since walked further from the starting point. They introduced the Premium Charge. Uproar at 20%. But really this would only affect traders, cheats and extremely good position gamblers. Then it went up to 40% and 60%. Now 40% gets all good big players. Arbers - gone. Decent position gamblers who have a long term return of over 3% on stakes - gone or slowly moving. The consequences of the Premium Charge are huge.
Then there are the data charges and bet placement charges. Great in theory. But a 1000 bets an hour max? Try pricing up and adjusting books for 30 races or football matches a day (with all their secondary markets) with that. You cannot. So early markets are no more.
So what started as the perfect limit order book market has evolved into a monster. It has not been helped by the lack of regulation by Betfair itself. Instead of the Premium Charge why did they not look to level the playing field? Encourage people to leave offers up rather than take them with commission rebates. Get rid of obviously unfair markets like in-play horses until real time streams are available. Not allow connections to bet on here. The list is endless.
Betfair could have hired someone who has experience of running a real exchange to run the company. Prices and policies and new markets would have been completely different. Maybe LMAX would not have failed if this was the case. But we now have an out and out industry man at the helm hired out of another soft bookie. So what can we expect going forward?
I would have liked to have seen a lot more thought going into the sportsbook. There are some bookmakers that do actually take bets and offer sharp lines using a proper dealer market. If Betfair had gone down that route I could see the point of it. If they could have offered decent prices to a fixed amount to everyone and adjust the lines if they believe a sharp has just placed a bet they could have had a winning product. The UK is crying out for this. Surely a crack trading team is capable of building the software to do this.

A rubbish sportsbook is a bad fit for the exchange. They need a fair limit, decent price one. Lower margin yes but much much higher volume.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

One In A Thousand - Nap

The mention yesterday of Stanley Matthews playing one league game at the age of 50 reminded me of something I read about round numbers and the importance attached to them. It seems highly likely that Matthews decided well in advance to hang up his boots having reached 50. It looks so much more impressive than retiring age 49 and 360 days, in contrast to most of us who would probably much rather retire as soon as possible rather than work past age 50, 60 or 70 if we didn't have to.

And New Year's Eve was far more celebrated in 1999 than it was in 2000, never mind that 2001 was the first day of the third millennium, and not 1.1.00. Incidentally, the Embankment was a lot quieter on 31.12.00 than it was a year earlier.   

There is an amazing statistic from the statistic-heavy sport of baseball concerning hitting percentage. Not all readers will be familiar with baseball, but a hitting average of .300 (how the Americans record 30%) is something of a milestone separating a star player from a more ordinary one. Hit .299 and you are a relative failure, but hit .300 and you are a star. The difference in perception is huge, considering that the difference amounts to one extra hit per 1,000 at bats, and with salaries at the level they are these days, an average of .300 gives a player an estimated 2% more in salary than a .299 hitter. And with the average salary of a .300 hitter in the $6.5 to $7 million range, that's a fair amount.

So what is this amazing statistic I hear you ask?

A study of the final day of the seasons 1975 to 2009 looked at players entering that game on .299 and .300. When it comes to calculating averages, a 'walk' (look it up if you need to) doesn't count, and the study found that players on .300 walked far more often than players on .299 and .298 who swung away trying to get that hit to put them at .300. .300 hitters walked 14.5% of the time, .298 hitters walked 5.8% of the time, and hitters on .299?

Players hitting .299 have NEVER walked in their final plate appearance of the season over a quarter of a century. NEVER, meaning 'not ever'.

Having told you this statistic, I will be very disappointed to hear that this run ended in 2010, 2011 or 2012 after the study, but even if it has, it clearly shows how that .001 influences decisions far more than it should.

The study also noted that players on .300 are far more likely to take the last game off and preserve that number than a .299 hitter, who stays in the game to the final at-bat.

The outcome of this is that on the penultimate day of the season, .300 and .299 hitters is almost identical (0.8% and 0.79% of hitters respectively) but at season's end one day later, the numbers are 1.4% and 0.4% respectively.  

You'll see a similar thing in other sports too. In basketball, players getting close to a personal best or a double-double or a triple-double will usually stay in games long after they would normally have been pulled, and not only that, but their team-mates will play differently to try to ensure the target in question is reached.

On the subject of final day drama, one of the biggest controversies in baseball occurred during the 1910 batting race between the disliked Ty Cobb (a 'virulent' racist detested by opponents and team-mates alike) and the popular Nap (Napoleon) Lajoie. Wikipedia tells the story far better than I could, although to be honest, I don't remember the details too clearly after all this time.  
The Lajoie-Cobb rivalry reached a peak in 1910, when Hugh Chalmers of the Chalmers Auto Company (a direct predecessor to modern-day Chrysler) promised a Chalmers 30 Roadster to the season's batting champion. The public became fascinated with the daily statistics of Lajoie and Cobb in what became known as the Chalmers Race. Sports bettors, who by this time followed the sport attentively, also followed the daily reports with interest. Cobb took the final two games, a doubleheader, off against the Chicago White Sox, confident that his average was safe and would allow him to win the AL batting title—unless Lajoie had a near-perfect final day. Going into the final game of the season, Cobb's average led Lajoie's, .383 to .376.
Lajoie and the Naps faced a doubleheader against the St. Louis Browns' pitching staff in Sportsman's Park, Cleveland's final two games of the season. After a sun-hindered fly ball went for a stand-up triple and another batted ball landed for a cleanly hit single, Lajoie had five subsequent hits – bunt singles dropped in front of rookie third baseman Red Corriden (whose normal position was shortstop), who was playing closer to shallow left field on orders, it has been suggested, of manager Jack O'Connor. In his second at bat of the second game, Lajoie dropped another bunt but the runner on first base advanced. According to the rules of that time, the hit was scored a sacrifice and thus, Lajoie did not record an official at bat. He finished the doubleheader a perfect 8-for-8 and his batting average increased to .384, .001 greater than Cobb's mark.
Although the AL office had not officially announced the results, Lajoie began to receive congratulations from fans and players, including eight of Cobb's Detroit Tigers teammates. Most players in the league preferred Lajoie's personality to that of Cobb's. Coach Harry Howell is reported to have said to the game's official scorer, E.V. Parish, "to do well by Lajoie." 
Howell was reported to have offered a bribe to Parish, which described in Al Stump's biography of Cobb, was a $40 ($963 in current dollar terms) suit. Parish refused the offer and the resulting uproar ended in O'Connor and Howell being banned from the major leagues by AL President Ban Johnson.
Johnson had the matter investigated, and after having Cobb's September 24 doubleheader statistics re-checked, discovered only the first game of Cobb's statistics had been scored, but not the second game, in which he went 2-for-3. This put Cobb's suggested actual batting average at .385, again ahead of Lajoie's. In the end, Johnson ruled that Lajoie's sacrifice bunt should have been recorded as a hit (which would have allowed him to go 9-for-9) but that Cobb's batting average was greater, recording 196 hits in 509 at bats to Lajoie's 227 hits in 591 at bats. 
Johnson asked Chalmers if his company would award an automobile to each player, to which he agreed. Initially Lajoie refused the car but eventually relented and accepted it. Cobb said, "I am glad that I won an automobile and am especially pleased that Lajoie also gets one. I have no one to criticize. I know the games were on the square and I am greatly pleased to know that the affair has ended so nicely." 
Lajoie said, "I am quite satisfied that I was treated fairly in every way by President Johnson, but I think the scorer at St. Louis made an error in not crediting me with nine hits. However, I am glad that the controversy is over. I have the greatest respect for Cobb as a batter and am glad of his success."
The Sporting News published an article written by Paul MacFarlane in its April 18, 1981, issue where historian Pete Palmer had discovered that while Cobb's September 24 doubleheader was not correctly tabulated (perhaps purposefully) according to the correct date, the second game's statistics were in fact included in the next day's ledger, thus incorrectly recording a second 2-for-3 performance from Cobb which meant Lajoe's average was greater. Author James Vail wrote in 2001:
"To date, it seems that no one knows for certain who won that 1910 batting title. Total Baseball, which is now the official major-league record, lists both men at .384 in its seasonal section, but its player register has Lajoie at the same number and Cobb at .383—so even the various editors of that source do not, or cannot, agree." Jon Wertheim wrote in Sports Illustrated 100 years after the event, "The statistics for the Detroit players had been crossed out and nullified. Every Detroit player, that is, except one: Ty Cobb. It takes something less than a detective to arrive at the conclusion that at some point Johnson (or someone in the league office, anyway) realized the error and decided to conceal it."

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Intrade Out

The FT has an article on Intrade's demise and the 'financial irregularities' that spells trouble for account holders, and Yahoo!Finance has this to say:

Dublin wagering website announced on Sunday that it was completely shutting down. The move comes months after the company was sued by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for operating an improper, off-site options exchange.

Intrade shot to popularity during the 2008 presidential election when it correctly predicted a win for President Obama. The site also allowed users to place wagers on commodity prices, Oscar races and whether or not the economy would slip into an official recession. The "big idea" was that the predictive power of a market's collective intelligence was greater than that of any individual. The reality was that Intrade was a routine gambling market operating without U.S. oversight.

None of which matters much to the masses in the U.S., who are hardly wanting for ways to place wagers. What brings the story home is the drive to legalize online wagering sponsored by more traditional casinos.

New Jersey has the most at stake as the U.S. tries to redefine what constitutes "legal wagering." On February 26, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bill allowing online wagering in his revenue-starved state. As a give-back for the increased business, casinos agreed to a 10% to 15% tax hike on online revenues.

Christie's budget projects contributions to the state's Casino Revenue Fund will be anywhere from $235 million this year to $436 million next year, which is largely based on allowing online gamers to legally play any game found in a casino.

It remains to be seen what made U.S. regulators target Intrade, but it's impossible to rule out fraud given the accusations of fraud surrounding other gambling sites like, Full-tilt Poker, Online Poker Stars and Absolute Poker just in the last six years.

The most likely scenario is that the U.S. government will take pains to run the criminals out of business to maximize its own take. Such selective prosecution is exactly what was done with the lottery — which was once a black market numbers racket.

Legitimizing online gambling in the states would be a boon for companies like Caesar's (CZR) and Zynga (ZNGA), which are both counting on getting a piece of the online gambling action. Cracking down on the black market offshore sites gets rid of competition on the taxpayers' dime.

Since the end of January CZR and ZNGA are up 76% and 36%, respectively. Odds are the Intrade shutdown is an incremental positive for both, but it's a binary wager. Neither company has much going for it if they can't facilitate gaming.

And on the perhaps more interesting topic of prediction markets, the FT has this to say.

Stanley Matthuselah

Overall up, but a mixed weekend for the XX Draws. The Classic selections were 0 from 4, but the Extended selections were 4 of 13 (five losers from five on Sunday was disappointing) and two Bundesliga selections finished 0-0 and 0-1. The one Bundelayga selection also won, a lay of Freiburg (v Wolfsburg). I have also started throwing in a bonus value selection in the XX Draws email, and with the selection of Newcastle United to beat Stoke City and the Overs, you can imagine the excitement in Cassini Castle when the Magpies hit that late winner. Late goals aren't always bad news.

Looking at the other entries, and Neil made a small profit (he would have made more had he followed his heart and Aston Villa) to take the lead in the non-XX division ahead of Premier Edge who also had a small profit, and Drawmaster who had no winners from three. Premier Betting also showed a loss, as did backing the Lay The Draw selection.

Of the entries in the red, Football Elite found three winners from seven picks for a profit for the third week in a row, and Jon (Talkie) Talkbet also finished the weekend ahead. Nothing this weekend from Al, the Free O/U picks went 1-1 for a small loss, and Football Formbook dropped to the foot of the table dropping 4.71 points.

As many of you will know, Betfair refunded commission on winning UK Saturday football bets as a result of their outage, although the logic of helping winners escapes me. Surely some special arrangement for those who LOST as a result of the outage might have made more sense. And did the outage only apply in the UK? Why only UK football? If they really want to help winners, perhaps a moratorium on the PC for a few months might have been a better idea?

One of the best blogs I read is Mark Taylor's The Power Of Goals. As used as I am to finding interesting facts there, I must admit that I was very surprised to read about the extent of Sir Stanley Matthews' longevity in his latest piece:
Quite incredible. 500 years old! Some of us are unlikely to even reach our fiftieth decade, never mind be playing top class football. I am beginning to think I may have hung my boots up about 460 years too early.

Even playing past 400 is rare, as Mark writes:
but we can really begin to appreciate just how unusual it is for a player to play into his fortieth decade if we produced a team average weighted by playing time.
Unusual indeed. Matthews famously played for Stoke City and Blackpool, but not many know that he also played (wartime) matches for Airdrieonians, Morton, Rangers and Arsenal. You can win a beer with that piece of trivia. 

Matthews did play a game at the age of 70 - for an England Veterans XI against a Brazil Veterans XI in Brazil. He injured his cartilage during the game, and rather amusingly wrote in his autobiography that it resulted in "a promising career cut tragically short".

Saturday 9 March 2013

2:56 Saturday Afternoon

Your Premium Charges At Work
Looks Promising
Oh Dear

Thursday 7 March 2013

Off The Scale

An amazing night in the NBA with 28 of the 30 teams in action. Only Denver and Oklahoma City were idle, and both play tonight - at home to the Los Angeles Clippers and away to the New York Knicks respectively.

But that wasn't the amazing part. No less than seven of the 14 games saw a team lead by double figures and went on to lose. I can't think of one occasion when this has happened in football... 

These comebacks, which happen more often than you might think, are what make the NBA such a perfect sport for trading with the reward to risk ratio very favourable when laying at short odds. 

The worst losers were the New Orleans Hornets who led by 25 at home to the inconsistent Los Angeles Lakers, before losing by six. That must have stung. The full list of shame (or opportunity, depending on your point of view) is:
Two other teams (Sixers and Wizards) led by 8, and the Magic led the Heat late in the fourth quarter by five (and going odds-on after Miami had traded at 1.01) before the Heat came back to win by one. Golden State (up 10 at one point) also trailed in the final minute after trading at 1.08 but came back to beat the Sacramento Kings by four. A key win in the race for the play-offs, with both Houston and Utah losing, and plenty of home games to come.

For what it's worth, the Denver Nuggets have a big advantage playing at home tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers. Denver are good enough at home as it is (26-3 with the three losses all against East teams, and unbeaten since January 18th), but factor in that the Clippers played last night, and have to fly west. They also beat the Clippers 92-78 at home on January 1st. I'm just saying.   

I always thought that on a scale of 1 to 10, the low was 1, but per the below report on ESPN, apparently the rules of mathematics have changed since I was at school: 
While the New York Jets may be determined to trade Darrelle Revis, it would be a mistake to count the San Francisco 49ers as a serious suitor, according to a team source. The 49ers' interest in Revis is ".001 on a scale of 1-10," the source said via text message. That remains consistent with the same team source who previously stated the 49ers were not inclined to pursue a Revis trade.
Perhaps the .001 was after the deduction of commission?

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Civil Debate

John asked:

Do you think that there is value in the correct score market betting the 0-0 at half-time (on those games that are scoreless)?
Of 115 XX Draw selections that have been 0-0 at half-time (out of 367 selections) 34 have remained goalless, 'true' odds of 3.38.

I have spent very little time looking at the Correct Score market, so I have no idea if this price is available at half-time too often or not, but perhaps someone more familiar with this market can provide some positive input.

47 of the 115 went on to finish as draws (implied odds of 2.45) and 94 finished Under 2.5 (1.22).

Nasty Effect

I am once again indebted to Scott for pointing me in the direction of a New York Times story on the topic of the 'nasty effect - the impact that negatively toned comments have on blog posts. The article concludes with:
It’s possible that the social norms in this brave new domain will change once more — with users shunning mean-spirited attacks from posters hiding behind pseudonyms and cultivating civil debate instead.
Until then, beware the nasty effect.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Season Draws On

Another weekend behind us, and the football seasons seem to go by ever faster the older I get. It was a good weekend for the XX Draws, even with commission factored in. There were just two Classic selections which combined for just one goal between them, three Extended selections including El Clásico which lost to a late (82') goal, and two games which again totalled just one goal, and three Bundesliga selections, two of which finished 1-1.

The selection categories in profit are:

The top four in the table remain unchanged, while the main contenders shuffle around a little. Drawmaster found one winner from three while Neil had a small loss, while Premier Edge and Premier Betting both made profits. The Bundeslayga system had three selections, and two were winners as Hamburg and Werder Bremen both failed to win.

The categories in negative territory are:
Football Elite had an excellent start with a winner at 5.7 in Stade de Reims v Paris St Germain, but ended the weekend up just 1 point. Little Al had five misses on the draws, Football Formbook had a second consecutive profitable weekend, Jon Talkie had a loss and that was about it. As always: