Tuesday 30 September 2014

Cup Luck

First, the Erskine Cup standings after the first round of group games:

Football Elite saw off the dustbins as Stoke City won last night, a result that also helped Online Trader pick up three points. The luckiest winner of the weekend ties was Daily 25 who lost 3.51 points but beat Jamie A who lost another 2 points when Stoke City v Newcastle United stayed under and Udinese beat Parma.

The unluckiest loser was the Cassini Value Selections which made 3.09 points, but lost to new league leader Randolph who already has dreams of doing the double.

Biggest margin of victory was Abromo over BettingTools.co.uk (13.88) and the smallest win was Mountain Mouse's 0.46 over Gecko.

As for the league, the big winner of the weekend was XX Draws with 6 winners from 12 selections and 8.55 points followed by Club Havana who had 7 winners from 8 selections for 8.02 points. Randolph's 4.69 points took him up six places to the top of the table, while XX Draws moved up 14 places, Club Havana up 10 places into second, and XX Unders up 6 places. Only 11 of 33 are in the red and overall, the profit is 39.62 points.

The top, profitable, 20 entries are:
Once again, the Selections total doesn't match the W-L-V totals in some cases as there are a few midweek selections, and in one case because I need to add in a couple of losers! The August / September monthly prize is up for grabs, with Club Havana just half a point behind Randolph with four selections tonight:

Birmingham City (@ Millwall), Derby County (v AFC Bournemouth), Wigan Athletic (v Nottingham Forest) and Cardiff City (@ Brighton and Hove Albion).

The first three matches are definitely from the Championship, but I'm not sure if Brighton are still there or not. Mind The Gap :) 

At the bottom of the table, those letting the side down are:

Monday 29 September 2014

Dustbins 2:1 Up

Erskine Cup Round Up

There are a few issues still to be resolved, but here are some updates on the FTL, with the focus on the Erskine Cup to mix things up a little.

Group A

Mortimer had only to finish in profit to take the 3 points versus no-show @ValueBankFooty, but had a poor weekend dropping 6.75 points so a walkunder victory for @ValueBankFooty.

Sjosta failed to show up, but Ian Erskine struggled and lost 3.46 points so Sjosta picks up the second walkunder win of the weekend. Ian does have one selection tonight, but even if it wins, it won’t be enough to win the tie.

Group B

Talkies Tips made a profit of 0.87 points and all three elections were all done by Saturday, but Trend to end had a total of 19 selections with two still to come. Trend to end is currently down 1.86 points and thus needs both Palermo and Parma to win to overtake Talkie.

Thinking that all he needed to do was beat a team of dustbins, XX Draws was quietly relaxing on Saturday when a sweating Football Investor showed up red-faced and panting and without shame handed in his team-sheet.

Excuses were plentiful, including the car breaking down, the dog eating his entry form, and his grandmother's abduction by aliens, but in the spirit of good sportsmanship, XX Draws agreed to play the game.

Football Investor came up with a 1.02 point profit by the end of Saturday, but one of the best weekends in XX Draws history (+9.55 points) meant this tie wasn’t much of a contest.

Group C

Fulltimebettingblog lost 3.78 points on Saturday, and Online Trader is currently down 3.00 with one selection to come. A Stoke City win tonight and Online Trader takes the points, anything else and the joint early lead in the group goes to Fulltimebettingblog.

OverGoalify was another no-show, and Football Elite needed a profit of any size. Two losses on the Recommended Bets and one win from three for the Vulnerable Home Favourites system means that this tie will also be decided tonight. Due to contractual obligations, I am unable to tell you which team Football Elite are on though.

Group D

Betting Tools had a nightmare of a weekend losing nine of the first ten and even a win for Newcastle United tonight won’t be enough to catch Abromo who is currently up by 3.18 points with lays of Panthrakikos and Parma tonight.

Skeeve was the final no-show this weekend, meaning XX Unders needed a profit this weekend, and they duly obliged with 10 of 11 selections going Under 2.5, with one more game in play tonight. Currently up 7.32 points, and that one loser was another 90th minute goal I might add.

Group E

Draw Picks has one more game tonight, Udinese v Parma, but even if that match is a draw, it won’t be enough to catch TFA_Raz who is in the clubhouse with 1.79 points. Draw Picks had one winner from five so far.

In the much anticipated ‘Battle of the Draws’, Peter Nordsted’s Drawmaster lost all three which meant that TFA Graeme’s two Euro selections on Sunday were guaranteed to win the tie even if both lost. He had a winner, Nantes v Lyon, to actually earn the points.

Group F

Randolph and Cassini Value was the tie of the weekend in terms of points gained, 7.78 between them, but Everton’s 90th minute equalizer at Liverpool tipped the balance in favour of Randolph. That’s the Cup for you!

Club Havana had no trouble getting the better of the TFA Draws whose three domestic selections all lost. Club Havana has the third highest profit of the weekend (6.89) and will add to that if Stoke City win.

Group G

Fairfranco v Rubicon is in the books, and both lost points. Fairfranco lost fewer though, so he takes the 3 points.

The closest tie of the weekend was Gecko v Mountain Mouse, decided in favour of the latter by just 0.46 points 2.68 to 2.22.

Group H

The Bundeslayga system had just one selection, a loser, so this was an easy win for Betcast who made 3.87 points.

Jamie A is currently down 2.00 points and will pick up the win if either Stoke City v Newcastle United goes Over 2.5 goals or if Udinese draw with Parma. Daily 25 has a final total of -3.51 points.

The one group that is set after the weekend is Group G, with Mountain Mouse and Fairfranco on top.
Thanks again to Ian Erskine for sponsoring this sideshow, and the second round of Group matches will be on the weekend of Saturday, November 1st, ie Friday, 31st October thru Monday, 3rd November. 

As I use the Tuesday or Saturday date to determine which month the round falls into, this round will be the first for November's monthly prize.   
I’ll publish the full table once the Monday results are in, but above are the entries in profit to date. No less than 20 of 33 in profit, which is a lot more than I was expecting by this stage of the season. Not that the W-L-V totals are out of sync with the Selection total where entries have selections tonight.

With the end of September falling on Tuesday, the Monthly Prize for August / September will also include the handful of games on Wednesday (and any on Thursday) should anyone have any selections that day.

Saturday 27 September 2014

Grøn All Over tak du

I occasionally take a look at where the hits on this blog are originating, and noticed a number today from a www.betxpert.com forum in Danish. Now Danish isn't one of my best languages, but the 'superstar', 'post' and 'blog' caught my attention. Mostly the 'superstar' to be honest.

Jeg følger allerede med i Cassinis blog og mener faktisk også det var dig der henviste til den i en anden tråd. Og er enig med dig i at Cassinis blog er særdeles fremragende.
Her er en anden post af superstar Cassini. Hans blog er det tætteste man kommer på guld efter min mening.

Her kigger han på hvordan hjemmebanefordelen er aftaget gennem årene - i nogle rækker.
Translation - per Google:
I already complies with the Cassini blog and think actually it was you who referred to it in another thread. And agree with you in that Cassini's blog is very excellent.
Here 's another post of superstar Cassini . His blog is the closest thing to gold in my opinion.
Here he looks at how the home advantage has diminished over the years - in some rows.
Made my day - excellent, superstar, gold... :)

Thanks whoever wrote those words, and yes, the decline in Home advantage is continuing this season. Early days, but the EPL Home Win percentage is currently very low at 31%, (10 year average 46.95%). Draws are the most frequent result to date, followed by Away wins, which is quite remarkable.

In the Bundesliga the current 40% is the lowest for at least 10 years (10-yr avg 45.23%), but they are the most frequent result, tied with the Draw. Aways are under-performing here.

In Italy, Spain and France, the Home Win remains the most frequent result, but Italy's 38% is also the lowest in at least 10 years, as is the 43% in Spain.

Only in France is the Home Win percentage holding up at previous levels, currently hitting at 47%.

It's a little early to draw any conclusions, but something to keep an eye on.

Finding Value

Some of you may have read the comment on the last post from Stewboss (Football Investor) regarding his failure to show up for this weekend's Cup match. His entry finally arrived some 12 hours after the official deadline, and while in future I need to disallow any late entries to keep it fair to everyone, I made an exception this time because 1) Stewboss would have send out his selections to subscribers before my deadline, and 2) his opponent in the opening Erskine Cup match was me.

Had it been anyone else, it would have been somewhat unfair to tell them that they only needed to finish in the green to win three points, and then change that, but as I was aware before 3pm that the selections were there, it's not a big deal. In the end, it looks like Football Investor will make a profit, but only around a point or so, and the XX Draws were already ahead after Friday night, and continued their good weekend with two perfect draws from two selections today (Freiburg v Bayer Leverkusen and Sunderland v Swansea City). I'm looking good although with several selections still to come tomorrow, nothing is yet guaranteed.

While the Cassini Value Selections have started the season poorly, although this weekend has seen a change in fortune despite Everton's 90th minute equaliser which was more than a little annoying, it was nice to receive a comment from one member who wrote last week:

Again thanks for your hard work and insight into footie betting. This few weeks has changed my view of betting on football and I have started to keep my own stats. I am now looking for the value - which matched Newcastle, Man C and Liverpool.
I know it's a topic that Ian Erskine and I both agree on, but it's worth mentioning again that while the selections themselves are obviously important, the discipline required is just as important. I mentioned above that Everton's 90th minute equaliser was 'annoying', but it's a silly word to use.
To get upset about an individual loss makes as much sense as a casino owner crying over a large payout from one of his slot machines.
If you have an edge, of course. It's a lot easier to handle losses and stay the course if the money doesn't matter (stake sensibly in other words) and if you have confidence in the long term edge of your selections. Value doesn't mean every bet will win - far from it, and in the short term there will be losing runs.

I think Steve M (Daily 25) may be confused about this idea of having value in your selections. Here is one of his selections from today's schedule:
As I said earlier, value doesn't always win.

Finally, on a personal note, I'm struggling to understand my son's decision this weekend to forsake the cosy confines of Selhurst Park and the array of talent in red and blue, for an overseas trip to see another team in those famous colours - one who play at the Nou Camp and feature relative unknowns such as Messi and Neymar. An odd decision in my view.  

Erskine Cup And Walkunders

The midweek matches did see a few changes to the table, with Jamie A the big winner moving to the top on the back of an 11.26 point gain. I was going to merge the midweek results in with this weekend, but I'd hate to deny Jamie A his place atop the podium, so here are the top 10 as we head into the weekend:

There are a few entries not showing up the first match of the Erskine Cup (I don't recall this happening in the FIFA World Cup) so the match-ups, with some notes to enhance your Cup experience, are:

While in football, a team whose opponents fail to show up is awarded a walkover and 3 points, I have the novel idea of adding in the possibility of a walkunder. Basically Mortimer, Ian Erskine, XX Draws, Football Elite and XX Unders are facing a team of dustbins, with the embarrassing possibility of losing to them! It's rather upsetting that two people think they can beat my XX Selections without showing up, but if last night's results continue through the weekend, and that is a big if, they may regret that decision. One goal in the two selections so far, and that was a 90th minute effort.

That every tie has at least one selection, means the chances of a draw are rather slim, so it's 3 points or nothing.

Ian Erskine, to whom we all owe a large debt of gratitude for sponsoring this diversion to the regular season, also had two selections last night, but has dug a small hole for himself as both Mainz '05 and Elche failed to win at home. Football Elite also handed the advantage to an idle opponent, as he had Mainz '05 to win as well.

Joining XX Draws with Mainz '05 v Hoffenheim as a draw selection was Draw Picks so TFA_Raz is already behind, as is Rubicon whose opponent Fairfranco found a draw in Ligue 2 although offset by one losing selection.

In Group E, there's a battle of the Draws, with Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster pitting three selections against TFA Graeme's first two selections of the season.

With three Group games, no one will be eliminated after this weekend, and the randomness of it all hopefully adds a little fun to the FTL. Thanks again Ian for making this possible.

And now for the Wisdom of the FTL Crowd forecast. Last week was another profit, which for the season now stands at 14.9 points.
Four homes and four draws with one No Bet where the panel is evenly divided.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Trendy Mistake

The good news is that I didn't mess up Jamie A's numbers at the weekend. The bad news is that is was the turn of Trend to end to fall victim of my updating skills, recording Granada's win at Athletic Bilbao as a win, but not crediting him for it with points. The 7.69 made quite a difference, propelling Trend to end into second place, so there is an update to the table and an update to the Erskine Cup groups.

The revised Erskine Cup groups are now:
which interestingly pits three Draw selectors in the one Group (E). Apologies to Talkies Tips, Online Trader, Abromo, TFA_Raz, myself and Rubicon for the late change in travel plans.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Erskine Cup Opening Matches

With a short turnaround between the weekend matches which finished last night, and the midweek matches which start tonight, there's not too much time for a detailed write up of the FTL results, but the table and a few highlights are here. One unforeseen circumstance came up this weekend, when for some reason there are no Pinnacle Sports prices recorded for the Queens Park Rangers v Stoke City game. It wasn't a hugely popular fixture, and I went with the average prices per Football Data.

First, the entries in profit, and there are a lot of them with the overall total up by a combined 35.03 points, which is quite impressive.

Mortimer has quietly moved up the table, (up 8.41 at the weekend) and now leads after BettingTools.co.uk dropped a couple of places. Draw Picks is having a great start, and made another 5.88 with five winning draws from 11 selections. Fairfranco slipped three places, but Trend to end was the big mover of the week, up by 21 places which may be a record. His big winner was Crystal Palace (9.52) to win at Everton, so entering that win was a delight. Bundeslayga made a small profit, Jamie A made a bigger one (3.85) and Club Havana had his best week (5.49) and is on a good run. Drawmaster made 2.48 with four draws from 11, the XX Unders had seven winners from 11, and Football Elite made 2.96 to move into profit thanks to Mainz '05 and Leicester City. Football Investor was economical, one bet, one win, and Sjosta made a small loss. Ian Erskine tried to break the rules by having more than one selection in the same game, but I caught him. If someone does this, e.g Augsburg v Werder Bremen Draw followed by Lay Augsburg, I take the first bet and discard the second, so Ian actually benefited by this rule! Paul Watson tried the same trick too, but fortunately for me, I'm not as stupid as I look (a great relief to my mother).

As for the losers, here they are:
Bounty Boy TFA's Draws got hot with two winners from four to move up the table, and there's not really any highlights at the bottom. @ValueBankFooty lost his five-fold acca and it wasn't even close with two winners and three losers. The unlucky 33rd placed Paul Watson is eliminated from the Erskine Cup, for which next weekend represents the opening Group matches. I say unlucky, but in the end, it wasn't even close.

The Groups are thus set for the Erskine Cup, and the Groups and match ups are below. The format should be fairly obvious, so without further ado, here are the Groups A to H and next weekend's ties:

OverGoalify, Skeeve and TFA Euro Draws have yet to make a bet, but can still take 3 points if their opponent makes a loss. Or they may be in action this weekend. Who knows? The drama of a cup weekend has already begun.

TFA_Raz is in the same group as mentor TFA and his Euro Draws, who open their campaign against another Draw seeker Drawmaster. Oh the delicious irony should this match end in a draw!

I wish everyone the best of luck this weekend, except Football Investor, Skeeve, Fairfranco and Betcast.

Saturday 20 September 2014

Wiser By The Week

The FTL crowd is gaining wisdom as the season progresses. Each week, the result of following the crowd has improved.

Not a very impressive win-loss ratio, but when the relatively few winners include Stoke City at Manchester City and Aston Villa at Liverpool, it doesn't need to be.

Here are this weekend's consensus picks:
A definite away bias this week, and with Aways hitting at 35% so far this season, that's reasonable and incidentally, not unexpected:
But averages can be deceiving. In the days of Division One, Away teams won 24% of matches. Since the Premier League was formed, they have won 27%, and have steadily chipped away at the long established home advantage.
The last three seasons have seen an average Away win percentage of 30.3%. This is actually quite remarkable because it is a number not seen in a single season since 1947. Away teams over this three year period have averaged 1.22 goals per game, a number not seen since England won the World Cup.
Here are the win percentages over time – notice how the Away win averages are steadily gaining over the years, and in the last three seasons in particular:
For the acca watchers out there, @ValueBankFooty is back with a five-fold Home Accumulator:

Thursday 18 September 2014

Confident, If Not Entirely Convinced

Some changes at the top after Wednesday's results, and nice to see Mortimer and Randolph side by side! Here are the in-profit entries to date:

Scott has pointed me to an article on a 'responsible gambler' who can afford to lose £900k on the Scottish Referendum. I'm also not sure a 'responsible' person would be walking around the streets of south-west London with hundreds of thousands of pounds in their trousers, and betting it at a high street bookmaker, but maybe I'm just being difficult. There are other ways to play this bet:
A political punter stands to gain just over £1million if Scotland votes No to independence after placing a £900,000 bet at his local bookmaker, William Hill.
The middle-aged businessman, who is not Scottish, has gambled the biggest amount of money ever staked on a political event on Scotland staying in the United Kingdom.
After already placing £600,000 on the outcome of the referendum the customer has now added a further £200,000 to his wager, and stands to collect £1,093,333.33 should the outcome of the poll be a No vote.
“He placed the first part of his bet, £400,000, in June 2014, then returned to the same betting shop on two different dates in August to stake a further £200,000 each time,” said William Hill's spokesman Graham Sharpe.
“Now, today - Tuesday - he has come back in and placed an additional £100,000 on the same outcome,” said. “This adds up to the biggest bet of the century on any subject with us - and almost certainly with any bookmaker,” Mr Sharp added.
The customer took odds of 1/ 4 for the first part of his bet; 1/6 for the second part; 1/5 for the third, and now 1/5 again - meaning his actual profit would be £193,333.33.
“This man is confident, if not entirely convinced, that his gamble will pay off - in fact, he has called it an ‘investment’ said Mr Sharpe. “He isn't yet sure how or where he will discover the outcome of the Referendum.”
Mr Sharpe added: "All three bets have been placed in the same branch of William Hill in south-west London.
He said the customer was a “responsible gambler” and gave every indication he could afford to lose the money if the result did not go his way.
“He sees losing the money more as an intellectual blow than a financial blow. But he is confident and says he has done his homework.”
The latest William Hill Scottish referendum odds are 2/11 NO; 19/5 YES.
If Scotland leave, do Berwick Rangers have to join the English National League system, and if so, where do they start?

Wednesday 17 September 2014

European Delay

It's quite remarkable that there are no less than four matches this week between EPL teams and Bundesliga teams. Borussia Dortmund beat Arsenal 2:0 last night, and this evening we have Chelsea v Schalke '04 and Bayern Munich v Manchester City - not sure when United play...

Tomorrow night, the Europa League sees Everton host Wolfsburg. With matches between Fiorentina and Guingamp plus Borussia Moenchengladbach and Villareal, it means that the ratings won't be updated until late Thursday or Friday morning, so for Cassini Service subscribers the newsletter will be a little later than usual.

A quick look at the big winners and losers from the midweek matches to date in the FTL. Mortimer is top dog, up 18 places into fourth on the back of a 7.56 point gain, with another 0.72 to add if Derby County can win at Blackburn Rovers tonight.

Paul Watson (-7.74) and TFA_Raz (-4.44) were the biggest losers so far this midweek. Paul's loss could be particularly catastrophic as @ValueBankFooty managed a profit (+2.77) even if his accumulator went down, and moved out of last place into an Erskine Cup spot. Paul needs a Fulham win (at Notts County) tonight and a decent return this weekend (or a dramatic loss from elsewhere of course).

A couple of entries are looking for the draw at Blackburn, and Fairfranco wants one at the Fleetwood Town v Barnsley game. Randolph wants a Fleetwood Town win, but even if they don't, it's been a good midweek for the Duke brothers currently 4th and 7th and looking at £445.

Marty left a comment asking:

A quick rules question: 25ish bets - would be feasible for 25 accas? Or should we treat as 25 selections (whether accas or singles)?
This could get tricky. With the exception of @ValueBankFooty, there has been no interest in accumulators, not even doubles or trebles, so it would be a shock to receive 25 10-folds this weekend, but then I have been shocked before. For now I'll say that one accumulator counts as one bet of the '25-ish' bets allowed.

Actually, one entry did have 30 selections this midweek, but all bets were backs and all a lot easier to manage, and in the '25-ish' range. Accas are easy to settle, in that when settling them, I simply stop at a loser.

It just occurred to me that having an "ish" rule is probably not a good idea. As I am in the competition myself, it may well be in my interest that others fare poorly, so it is clearly not good to be in a position where I can choose to accept or decline entries after matches have been played.

So the rule is that up to 25 bets is definitely acceptable, and slightly over that number is probably acceptable. The 25 rule will only be enforced if I reply to your selection email to this effect.

Thanks to Pedro who sent me a spreadsheet of team names for more than 40 leagues as used by Betexplorer and Oddsportal, and while I am not sure how much I can utilise it, the thought and effort is appreciated.

Rubicon took a break from working out how to get back into profit by sending me a link to an article about Betfair (Sportsbook) paying out early on a No vote in the Scotland Independence Referendum which of course isn't until tomorrow.

Betfair is so confident of a "No" vote in Thursday's Scottish independence referendum that it is already paying out to those who have staked money on it.
The online bookmaker says it is paying out a "six-figure sum".
Despite polls ahead of the vote continuing to be close, betting markets have been overwhelmingly in favour of the Better Together camp winning on Thursday.
Betfair said this morning that gambling patterns indicate a 79pc likelihood of a "No" vote.
Despite the odds on "Yes" shortening last week, they have lengthened significantly in the last few days.

Financial markets have appeared to mirror betting patterns in recent days, with both suggesting that the chances of a "Yes" vote are far slimmer than polls suggest.
Betfair's pay-out applies to its sportsbook operation, not the online exchange in which punters bet against each other.

Odds on a "Yes" vote have drifted from 4 (or 3/1) at the end of last week to 4.5 (or 7/2) on the exchange.
This would mean a £100 bet would return £450 if Scotland votes for independence. Backing "No" would return £127.

“Political bettors have often favoured the exchange as their choice of betting platform and it has historically provided an accurate prediction of political outcomes," said Betfair's Naomi Totten.

"Paying out early on our Sportsbook is testament to the esteem in which we hold the illustrious track record of our Exchange.
A six figure sum. A cheap publicity stunt, and the price of a No victory is even shorter as I write this, in the 1.23 / 1.24 range. The media loves to make out such contests are close (think US Presidential Elections) but they are usually anything but, and money talks. The exchange has indeed "historically provided an accurate prediction of political outcomes", and the results of quality opinion polls shouldn't be ignored.

On this subject (quality polling, not Scotland), 538 published this article which I found interesting.

I was troubled by a survey released Monday by Mitchell Research in Michigan. It wasn’t that the results — which showed Democratic Rep. Gary Peters leading Republican Terri Lynn Land by 2 percentage points in the U.S. Senate race and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder leading Democrat Mark Schauer by 5 points in the governor’s race — were necessarily wrong. It was how Mitchell said it arrived at them that bothered me.
From the Mitchell release:
Mitchell Research had intended to release a survey today that we conducted on Wednesday, Sept. 10th, prior to President Obama’s speech to the nation regarding the conflict in the Mid-East. That poll showed Snyder leading by only 1 point, and Peters up by 8 points. However, because of changing poll data nationally, we decided to conduct a survey last night (September 14) to see if those events coupled with the increased television advertising by Snyder and Land might have changed the races in Michigan.

Here’s one way to read this: Mitchell Research conducted a poll, thought the results looked wrong and decided to conduct another survey to get results it thought made more sense.

That would be fine if Mitchell released the full data from the first poll. But it didn’t.

A pollster should release its work regardless of whether it thinks the results are right. Outliers happen even to the best pollsters. They are supposed to happen.

And, of course, a pollster has no way of knowing whether a result is an outlier.

Sometimes when a poll appears to be an outlier, it’s the first survey to pick up real movement in a race. And sometimes when a poll fits neatly into previous surveys, all the surveys end up being wrong.

Squashing results, however, suggests a pollster is looking at other pollsters’ work (beyond its weighting mechanism) to determine whether data is worthy of publication. Such decisions can lead us down a bad path.

When a pollster holds back some data, we can’t be sure what other results it might be holding back or changing. What might have happened if Mitchell Research’s second poll didn’t seem to match what it thought it should be? Would it have conducted a third poll?
What happens when there are other results Mitchell Research doesn’t like?

And though it’s beside the point, I should note that Mitchell’s explanation for the change in results has no backing from the majority of other polls. President Obama’s approval rating is the same as it was a week ago, according to the aggregate of polling information. There hasn’t been a big swing to Republicans in the majority of other Senate races. The FiveThirtyEight estimate actually gives Democrats a better shot at holding on to the Senate than they had a week ago.

But not releasing all results that were meant for public consumption is sketchy, even if it’s thought that those results might be wrong.
As readers of the Cassini Newsletter will know, my numbers are often quite out of line with the market, which could mean great value has been identified, or more likely that I am missing something. It is with some hesitation that I mention some of these, because no one wants to look stupid, but I often do.

For example, last week, I suggested that Reims at 2.97 appeared to be value versus Toulouse, with the market at 2.45, and also Bordeaux at Guingamp (3.17 / 2.45). In Germany I had Paderborn at 2.21 v Koln, with Pinnacle offering 3.21 on them.

The results? Reims won 2:0, Bordeaux lost 1:2, and Paderborn drew 0:0. On this subject, one member asked me why I don't include higher priced selections in my Cassini Value Selections. The answer is that my concern with odds being much over the 10% threshold, it's usually because I am missing something, and the prices on offer are literally too good to be true. At higher odds, i.e. lower probability of winning, a small error can mean a supposed edge is triggered more easily, and confidence in long-shots is weaker. It's something to keep an eye on though, because the pricing model (aka Excel spreadsheet) 'should' improve as more results are entered in, and longer prices may become more appealing.

If I calculate the true probability of an event as 0.125 the market need only have it at 0.114 for it to be 10% value. At evens, my estimate of a 0.5 probability only has a 10% edge if the market's is at 0.445.

Finally, and its not quite the same thing, but I'm sure most of you have noticed how certain people are very quick to announce their results after a good weekend, and yet go very quiet when it is the reverse. I suppose some people are stupid, and don't see through this, but I personally find it annoying.

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Total Biff

Thirty of the thirty-three entries have now seen action, and the table is starting to take shape (see previous post). The holdouts are Skeeve, (who is planning on a second-half of the season campaign), OverGoalify (who has made a few selections, but none yet in the leagues covered) and TFA's Euro Draws, which will likely have selections at some point in the not too distant future.

One observation is that the net total is in profit, as are 18 of the 30 who have made selections to date. It suggests that the standard of competition this season is much higher than before! 20.90 points from 844 settled bets, an ROI of 2.47%. When you consider that with a little effort, most of the prices recorded against can be beaten, that's a decent return.

The table is really in thirds - three of them strangely enough. The top third are the in profit my more than a point, the bottom third who are losing by more than a point, and the middle third comprised of three anal-retentive holdouts plus those who haven't strayed far from zero yet.
BettingTools.co.uk (-1.72) and Fulltimebettingblog (-0.33) both made small losses but continue to lead the way with Fairfranco (+5.99) storming into third place.

Bundeslayga (+2.53) marched steadily into fourth place ahead of Draw Picks (-3.12) in fifth.

Randolph (+2.28) moves up to sixth, Drawmaster (+0.47) dropped one place to seventh, a whole 0.01 point ahead of XX Draws (+4.98) in eighth. It's been a good season so far for draws apparently.

Sjosta (+5.22) made a big move up to ninth from negative territory, Gecko made 4.17 with his debut selections and is tenth, Mountain Mouse made another 1.84, Jamie A lost 2.70 points (I think – I usually mess up his numbers somewhere, and he always points out where).

Daily 25 made 1.49 with his first selection, bettering the Football Investor (Bounty entry) who made 0.49 with his opening shots, and Ian Erskine who made 0.46 points with his.
Club Havana was up 1.85, TFA_Raz lost 2.08 and XX Unders was up 0.84 to make up the top eighteen profitable entries. Club Havana and XX Unders both emerged out of the red this weekend.

The dirty dozen currently letting the side down by being negative at this stage are led by Mortimer who made 1.38 points which, I would just like to point out, was an average gain of 0.017 points per bet! 
"Mortimer," Randolph says, "We're back in business!"
Next is Football Elite (Bounty, idle) and The Football Analyst’s Draw (Bounty) entry which lost 1.00 point on their debut. Cassini Value made 0.98 points, Trend to end made 0.41 points, Betcast was idle and Rubicon made 1.76.
Online Trader was up 0.45, Abromo down 1.10 and Talkies Tips lost 0.69. Paul Watson lost 2.87 while @ValueBankFooty was idle.

The 81 selections took a few minutes, and while it wasn’t hugely onerous, it’s not something I want to repeat in a hurry. Thanks for the emails and comments of support, including one from the guilty party, but it is not his fault for taking advantage of an apparent loophole, rather mine for not limiting entries before. 

Jamie A, quite correctly, pointed out:
I did try to warn you about the lay prices!
I'm happy with people making as many selections as they like as surely the more instances of perceived value you have the higher the likelihood that your perception of value is wrong.
But then again i'm not doing the admin.

If I had a method that picked that many selections which were value I wouldn't be part of the FTL at all as I would spend all my time calculating trying to get bets on & applying the same method to as many leagues as possible.
I do think you should make it so that everybody has to submit their bets in a specified format (using football-data team names for example) so the admin is kept to a minimum.
Indeed Jamie did warn me. Note to self: Stop messing up his numbers, and listen to what he has to say.

Jason suggests an award would be appropriate:
The admin sounds like a nightmare. I run a horse racing tipster competition at High Class Equine, both paid and free entry, in a winner-takes-all prize and small win if a free entrant wins. Luckily we have just a small group of about 15 tipsters and one selection each Saturday, so manageable.However, it can be time consuming and if by chance a number of new entrants arrived I would quickly shut the door.
There are only so many hours in a day.

I can imagine the look on your face when 94 entries arrived.

You deserve a medal.
I certainly won't be adding to the 33 entries already in! And then Lazy trader had this to say:
You need to automate things especially if you use things like Football data's csv files for results etc. Shouldn't be the hardest thing in the world to set up a webpage that'd gather all matches etc

I used to use football data's files to do everything from the upcoming matches and results/odds.

Where/what do you currently use for the matches/results/odds at the moment I'll see if I can tweak my code to cobble something together.
I'll take a rain check on that kind offer for now. I think with the limit of around 25 maximum per entry it should be quite manageable, but if the FTL idea were to get any bigger, some automated / standardised format would be a must.
We move on.

An administrative detail is that following next weekend, I will make the group assignments made for the Erskine Cup. I am aware that the following midweek sees a number of the top leagues in action, but I want to give myself time to publish the Groups and opening matchups (to be played on the weekend of 27th) and also time to update my Elo ratings and send out selections for subscribers. Last week was a good one in every category, and I don't want to be a total biff just as we are getting hot.

Here is how Group A would be comprised were the allocation to be made today:
The four players will pair-off on the three dates shown, as indicated by the colours (blue plays blue) and the better entry will get 3 points. 1 point each if there’s a tie, and the tie-breaker after three matches will be the actual point profit.

The end of September marks the first of the ‘monthly’ (August/September) prizes worth £25 courtesy of Betcast. David runs bettingwebsites.org and has a number of trading Betcast Podcasts. I erroneously told you previously that David was from Australia. He must have gone up at the end of his sentence, because he is actually UK based. I’m not sure there are too many worse insults in life than being called Australian, so I am very, very sorry David …. (like that Steve M? Right back at ya')

While I rather missed @ValueBankFooty’s acca selection this weekend, so did Marc, writing:
Valuebank footy is a total biff, as he forgot to email for the second week running - This week costing me a 10.6pt profit. That said, what goes around comes around as last week would have seen a 7.35pt loss, so not all bad but selective memory in forgetting last week and remembering this would have been a nice break - Reminders set everywhere now - and I am looking forward to a midweek thrash out and landing a nice little acca.
I actually had no idea what a "total biff" was, but I have learned something new. Not often that happens these days. 

There are a number of selections already in for the midweek matches, including this five Home Team accumulator from Banky: 


Before risking everything, bear in mind that @ValueBankFooty is currently 1.06 points adrift of Erskine Cup qualification in 33rd place, which simply means that he's due...

And I'm sorry Betcast, but Champions League games are not part of the FTL due to the absence of any official recorded prices. Football Data do not cover these matches. For anyone interested, David was looking for an away win for Atlético Madrid (@ Olympiakos).

FTL Table 15.Sep.14

Saturday 13 September 2014

Value Galore

With one exception, the number of selections, per entry, per round, is somewhere around 6.5. While I was hoping that most entrants would be cognizant of the fact that administering each selection takes time, and voluntarily restrict their entries to a few where they had identified value, I received 94 entries from one person for this weekend (81 in one entry, 13 in the other).

Not only is this a huge number, but many of the selections were Lays at higher (odds-against) prices, i.e. matches with a high win probability, which means a large number of bets where I have to enter the price into my spreadsheet and note the profit. Not a big deal for the odd one or two lays, but it gets old fast ploughing through 40 plus.

This is a huge amount of work of course, and with 35 FTL entries I clearly can’t commit to this effort every week. Even at an average of 10 minutes per entry per week, that’s close to six hours in total. This is something I do in my spare time, but I do have a full-time job and would like to keep my wife, so six hours is already at the top end.

Since it's my own fault for not having specified an upper limit, I'll deal with it this time, but as self-appointed commissioner of the FTL league, I am going to have to exercise my executive commissioner powers and limit the number of selections per entry per round of matches.

I’ll say 25 for now, but this is negotiable to a point. Some people's selections, my own XX Draws for example, are variable in number, and it could happen that one week they have no selections, other weeks they have 30 (highly unlikely, but possible), so if the number exceeds 25 but is usually below that, I’ll make exceptions. And I did email the person in question, and he is quite understanding of this change. I'm just glad to have got away with just 94 - in his reply, he mentioned:
I actually removed about the same about as I sent you because the edge was too small
Good heavens - there's a lot of value floating around this weekend! The other point that this strategy has raised is that the formula for adjusting prices to accommodate lay bets isn't sufficient in some markets. The rather naïve assumption on my part was that lays would be mostly at odds-on and shorter odds-against, but the fixed formula needs to be changed so that higher lays (2.5+) are being made into a market that mirrors that for back bets.

The screenshot below shows an example over-round of 1.03 (which was the average for Pinnacle in the Conference last season, with a range of 1.018 to 1.038):
Under the previous formula a Pinnacle back price of 3.2 was adjusted to 3.25 and a winning lay made 0.44 points profit. The new formula adjusts that 3.2 to 3.395 and makes the potential profit 0.42 points. It's a change that should only make a small difference, but if there are markets with larger over-rounds, the current formula leaves a loophole that could be exploited.  

Again, I'll stick with the current formula for this week, but the new formula will be effective after the weekend.

As for this weekend, we have a few debutants in action. Ian Erskine (of Erskine Cup fame, but also known for his FTS Income service), has ten selections, Daily 25 has one, Football Investor has seven, and Gecko has five. I already mentioned that TFA has his first (draw) selection this weekend. Football Eite is idle this week, as is @ValueBankFooty - I was looking forward to another accumulator. 

Here are the Wisdom of the Crowd numbers, representing where entrants see value:
A lot of support for the Arsenal v Manchester City draw, and no love for West Bromwich Albion or Manchester United (nothing new there). Only one clear home selection (Crystal Palace, and I have them as 7.2% value (currently 2.24 versus my 2.09). 

Friday 12 September 2014

Pinnacle's Nadir

I can’t say it was huge surprise that Curacao based Pinnacle Sports have followed SBOBet and withdrawn from the UK market, but it is disappointing news. I saw TFA ask Pinnacle Sports on Wednesday for comments on the rumours, and their reply was hardly unequivocal.
Pinnacle Sports’ business model of using punters to highlight inefficiencies and help them to sharpen their lines has certainly been a welcome breath of fresh air in the past few years. If only the more traditional books would learn from Pinnacle and re-invent themselves, but it's so much easier to close and limit, yet so short sighted.

Pinnacle's understanding of geography might not be as sharp as their mathematical skills - 
and their continued reference to FC Nantes as Nantes Atlantique (despite the Atlantique being dropped more than seven years ago) was almost as annoying as their low draw prices in Ligue 1, but overall they will be missed, especially if you like Aways and Draws

TFA Graeme wrote a long piece (when does he ever not?) about this in his email to subscribers, and mentioned a few options for accessing the likes of Pinnacle Sports and SBOBET, notable the use of bet brokers or using an account registered overseas, such as the ROI (Republic of Ireland). For the top leagues, liquidity on the exchanges makes these a viable option if you are not paying the Premium Charge, and the low ROI (Return on Investment) on football bets makes it a useful way of generating commission and delaying the onset of Premium Charges.

As for the FTL, nothing changes. Joseph Buchdahl of Football Data has confirmed that he will still be collecting Pinnacle’s prices even if he appears to be unable to mention their name:

Speaking of Graeme, I mentioned yesterday that he had opened his FTL account with two draw selections both ending 1:0, but that was my mistake. I am not familiar with Graeme's numerous systems, and when he said his draws would be D1-D6 and I saw selections in D1, I got rather excited.

Turns out that D1 is not automatically in D1-D6 but that D1-D6 is its own entity. I think I've got it now, and Graeme's slate has been wiped clean. He is definitely in action this weekend though, and I hope no one in profit went out and spent the £25 bounty. Daily 25 is also making his debut, and Football Investor may be in-play. 

Thursday 11 September 2014

A Rising Tide

With a round of Conference games this midweek, a few tipsters were in action, with varying degrees of success. BettingTools.co.uk extended his lead at the top, and his share of the prize money while Club Havana and Mortimer trimmed their deficits. TFA_Raz trimmed his profits slightly, which was not the intention I'm sure, and TFA Draws made its much anticipated debut, but both selections finished as 1:0 results.

For the eagle eyed among you, some of the selection totals are higher than the results because some entries for this coming weekend have already been entered. I'm expecting the weekend to get a little busier. 

One of the less positive aspects of a zero-sum competition like the FTL is that everyone has a vested interest in the success or failure of others, especially if they are a Bounty Entry, but overall, the returns to date overall are good. The net total is -3.08 from 547 bets, and if a certain south London team hadn't snatched a 95th minute equaliser at Newcastle United a couple of weeks ago, @ValueBankFooty's accumulator win would have seen that total be positive. 

I really am trying to wind down the index funds discussion, because as with climate change, its deniers are an ever shrinking minority in the face of overwhelming evidence, however Emp was back with some fine quotes.

Frankly, I couldn't care less about the mythical average guy who has no information, and apparently no time to search for it either
I keep forgetting that Emp is so much better than average. I'm not sure who has no information in this information age, but it certainly doesn't take much time to search for investment advice. Go to Google and type in "Green All Over"...
What you may be missing, is that by definition, the average guy can never do well. There just isn't room in the markets for any but a tiny minority to profit.
Yes, you see this in the harbour when the tide comes in. Those multi-mullion pound yachts just float so much higher than the average ones. Investors in the S&P 500 last year had a torrid time, only making 32%. My heart goes out to the huge minority who did so poorly.
Seriously, I think Emp confuses traders with long-term investors. Not many of the latter have failed to do well over the years. It's exactly the trading (active management) strategy that costs profits and that I am advocating be avoided. Pay attention Prabs!
If hypothetically, everyone jumped into index funds as you advised, the stocks in said index would necessarily become over-valued (because people buy them just because they are in the index).
 "Said index"? Yes, there is only one index in the world markets, and everyone is piling in to it. The stocks in "said index" are indeed becoming over-valued. Perhaps Emp missed the part about diversification?
Plenty of people can and have predicted and benefited colossally from market turns.
And plenty of people have predicted the second coming and the end of the world. If you have a steady stream of experts predicting an upturn or a downturn, of course someone will appear to have made a great prediction after the fact, but it's the way of the world that all the other incorrect predictions they have made are overlooked, and that too much weight is given to a lucky guess:
“The data is clear, 50% unemployment, a 90% stock market drop, and 100% annual inflation . . starting in 2012.”

That catastrophic outlook comes from Robert Wiedemer, economist and author of The New York Times best-seller Aftershock. Before you dismiss Wiedemer’s claims, consider this: In 2006 he accurately predicted the collapse of the U.S. housing market, equity markets, and consumer spending that almost sank the United States.
Oops. Consider this: Someone missed out on some massive returns last year.

Of course there will be a crash, and of course there will be a recovery - at some time - (it's how economies work) but anyone who claims to be able to accurately predict them (date and duration) is either wealthy beyond imagination (The Sultan?) or dishonest, delusional or both (The Sultan!).

Wednesday 10 September 2014

Dilbert And Embedded Bullshitness

As much as I’m sure Matthew wouldn’t like to be lumped in with Emp, the two did again both have comments on my last post.

Matthew's is worth a read, and is in full below, discussing the vast array of funds and investment choices we are faced with, and this important point caught my eye:
As you rightly say there is not just one index but if an investor currently holds a FTSE All Share tracker and a Russell 2000 small cap tracker and he is currently beating the performance of the actively managed funds benchmarked against the performance of the same indices he should not necessarily sit back and think that he has maximised the return on his capital.
It reminded me of the early success of the XX Draws. It was only when the overall number of drawn matches declined precipitously last season that I was forced to look at the underlying numbers and ultimately take consolation from the fact that, although down on the season, the results were still better than a vanilla benchmark of draws. Simply winning or making profits isn't the be all and end all of betting or investing as Matthew correctly points out. There's often room for improvement and in betting, markets can change in a hurry.

Here is Matthew's comment in full:
Grazie Saggio Cassini,
Once again you provide a thorough and enjoyable analysis. Looking at it again I am rather comparing apples with oranges. I think my main intent was to compare different methods of allocating savings for the retail investor for long term prosperity. When you are making decisions regarding your pension, stocks and shares NISA or SIPP you are often faced with a bewildering array of funds and of every conceivable strategy. Income funds are invariably included in your pension prospectus and yet the description seems incongruous with the concept of allocating money with which you are unable to touch till you retire.
Ultimately we want to make the most money possible and if it comes from a DRIP income fund or from a passive managed index tracker is of little consequence. I am a huge fan of the low cost index trackers but simply question whether sometimes an attempt to separate the best of breed from a large index via yield evaluation might beat the returns of the tracker for the self same index. Obviously it would have to beat the additional management fees to make the exercise worthwhile.
So can a DRIP income style fund outperform an index tracker fund from an ROC perspective over the longterm? They are both called upon to perform the same role if you agree with the fund prospectus from your pension, NISA or SIPP IFA advisor. As you rightly say there is not just one index but if an investor currently holds a FTSE All Share tracker and a Russell 2000 small cap tracker and he is currently beating the performance of the actively managed funds benchmarked against the performance of the same indices he should not necessarily sit back and think that he has maximised the return on his capital.
Those who have purchased your draw selections and Graeme's TFA selections are investing in football bets but generated from different strategies. Much as they would love to simply compare your selections to other draw backing strategies and Graeme's 7-22 to other H/A backing strategies I am sure they are looking at the ROC of both and wondering which deserves the finite capital more. Of course there could just be a desire for diversification.
I feel I have rather gone off track now. As for re-allocation if one was to try and execute an income style fund strategy oneself there are of course timing issues regarding the buying and selling stock but they are certainly navigable by the retail investor. Finally a note on my education and knowledge as a financial trader. My education simply taught me to always read more, any institution that gets this message across has in my view done well by its students and it does not matter what name is on the building. As for my knowledge on financial trading I am sure I can find the back of a small envelope to put down all I know to pass on to you.
Somehow I suspect the envelope will be on the large side, stuffed with reams of A4 paper, all covered with Matthew's knowledge.

I think the assumption that we are all trying to maximize our returns should perhaps be challenged. Plenty of people, including the two people living in the house where I was born many moons ago, have quite happily gone through life happy to ‘invest’ (I use the term loosely) in bank deposit and building society accounts. I’ve mentioned before that my maternal grandfather was a stockbroker, which makes my parents’ aversion to the stock market (“too risky”) all the harder to understand, but my Mum thinks being a day late returning a library book is living on the edge. While the high interest rates of previous years (15% my Mum mentioned just a couple of days ago, as she bemoaned the meagre returns of today) has seen their savings over 50 years increase hugely, (the power of compound interest) they seem blissfully unaware, or at least don’t care, that had they invested more wisely, they might now be as comfortable as the Sultan. Their low risk tolerance meant that the higher returns associated with the volatility of the stock market were not worth the stress to them. I try not to dwell too much their poor decisions over the years have cost to me in my forthcoming inheritance.

In general, as retirement nears, one should move out of stocks into less volatile investment, but my parents being totally out of stocks for their entire lives (save for a few gifts from the likes of the Halifax and Woolwich) is taking this to an extreme. Maximising returns usually takes second place to protecting capital at some point in our lives, but not usually from the day we’re born.

Another point is that we can all get a little too hung up on stressing over maximizing our returns. Perfect is the enemy of good, and there is much to be said for keeping life simple.

And now to Emp, and it may well be a ‘lost-in-translation’ thing, and given that just one person seems to be missing the point, it probably is, but one of the key things Emp / Prabhat is missing is what we mean by the “man-in-the-street” or Mr Average in the context of this debate.

It may sound harsh, but the average person is not a sophisticated investor, he has little understanding of investment choices, and he simply doesn’t have the tools to identify the 1% of active managers who ‘might’ beat the market. He wants to save money for his future.

For this person, the advice to investing consistently in a diverse portfolio of low cost index tracking stocks is an excellent long-term strategy.

Emp waffles on about how theoretically it is possible to find an edge, and given time and a certain knowledge set that might well be true, but this is completely irrelevant for the vast majority of people.

Emp also feels that for some (he doesn’t explain why) reason actively managed funds might outperform index funds in a bear market. Some might, some might not, but again, he is off topic. We are not debating the merits of one versus the other in a short-term bull or bear market, but over the long-term. Next, Emp will be telling us he can predict market turns. Oh wait, here he is now:
“Embedded bullishness doesn’t do so grandly in a bear-market, and there’s certainly one coming in the next year or two”.
You read it here first. Certainly? Well, no, not certainly. Quite possibly, but no one can successfully consistently predict market turns, except possibly Emp. “Next year or two” is a bit vague really. It almost sounds like he’s guessing. Come on Emp – surely you can share the market peak date with us. We’re like family. I think perhaps he meant to write "embedded bullshitness".

Although this is an interesting topic, and one that I shall likely remind readers of again in the not so distant future because it is important, especially for you younger readers, I’ve spent more than enough time for now on this.

I’ll leave you with the thoughts of Dilbert creator Scott Adams on the topic:
It's a Perfect Strategy for My Enemies
I can think of many cases in which I would recommend active money managers over index funds. For example, I might be giving the advice to someone I hate or—and this happens a lot—someone I expect to hate later. I would also recommend active money managers if I were accepting bribes to do so, if I were an active money manager myself, or if it were April Fools' Day. And let's also consider the possibility that I might be drunk, stupid or forced to say things at gunpoint. I've also heard good things about a German emotion called schadenfreude, so that could be a factor too.