Thursday 27 November 2014

Erskine Cup - Third And Final Group Matches

A reminder that the FTL this weekend (Friday through Monday) is also the third round of Erskine Cup group matches.

In Group H there is everything to play for, as all four entries are tied on three points, but there are also key matches in other Groups where two entries on three points are playing for a place in the round of 16.

These are in Groups A (Sjosta v Mortimer) and D (XX Unders v

No one is guaranteed progression yet in Groups B, C, E, G and of course H, but with 6 points, XX Draws, Football Elite, TFA Euro Draws and Fairfranco are in the driving seats.

Here are this weekend's full matchups:

Ian Erskine
Talkies Tips
XX Draws
Football Investor
Trend to End
Football Elite
Online Trader
XX Unders
Draw Picks
TFA Euro Draws (DE1 DE6)
Club Havana
Cassini Value
TFA Draws (D1-D6)
Mountain Mouse
Jamie A
Daily 25
I am still away, currently in Tralee, celebrating my first grandchild and exploring the Emerald Isle, so updates will unfortunately be a little delayed.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Breaking Away

Not the title of the excellent coming-of-age / cycling film, but a reference to the fact that we have a new leader, and by some margin too. Fairfranco made 8.97 points, and has surged past Club Havana who lost 3.61 points. Randolph dropped 3.08 points and dropped behind Trend to end, who was idle.

Here are the top ten, and all up by ten points or more:

Other notable mentions from the profitable entries were, who was the biggest winner of the weekend making 10.91 points, and it was a good weekend for Drawmaster (6.79). Mountain Mouse was the biggest loser in this group Mountain Mouse dropping 5.04 points. Football Elite leads the Bounty Boys by some distance, and is currently the only one in profit up a very solid 14.78 points.

The remainder of the 16 in profit looks like this:
Draw Picks was the top boy in this group, making 5.89 points followed by Jamie A with a healthy 4.86. The 1.20 points for XX Draws looks rather poor compared with the other Draw entries. The biggest loser here was Abromo who lost 3.71 points.

In the red, but not yet dead, we have:
Four of these eight were idle this weekend, and the only two in profit were Betcast and Sjosta by 1.08 and 0.99 points respectively. TFA Draws had a small loss, and the biggest loser here was Football Investor who dropped out of the green with a loss of 5.04 points. Three of the Bounty Boys all cosy together in 19th through 21st place.

The final group of those down by double digits is:
Ian Erskine made the best profit here, up 6.02 points after what must have been a painful decision to lay Tottenham Hotspur. For the king of laying the draw, it was ironic that his two draw selections both came in. Online Trader was also up (4.37) as was last placed Paul Watson (3.43). Cassini Value dropped 5.37 points finding just one (odds-on) winner from seven selections, Mortimer dropped 4.70 points and @ValueBankFooty 3.53, (no winning double or treble this weekend), but poor Rubicon managed the unlikely feat of finding 15 losers out of 15.

Overall, the profit is up to 38.98 points, with the weekend adding 11.39 points, an ROi of 1.09%.

With three of the five draw entries in profit, I thought I would track the performance of a draw portfolio, and the ROI is currently 3.66%.
The November leader is, 13.96, followed by Football Elite 11.30 and Evertonian Fairfranco 10.73.

A quieter weekend anticipated with the big leagues taking yet another break, as indeed am I, but keep the entries coming and don't worry if there is a delay in updations, as some of my colleagues like to say.

Saturday 8 November 2014

Skill v Luck

Ozz stopped by, to ask:

Hi Cassini,
Could you please clarify your walk-over logic and justification:
On one hand we have:
"No one should, in my opinion, EVER be forced to make selections or penalised for not doing so."
On the other hand the very same FTL has the rule:
"Entries must make at least 76 selections to be eligible for prizes"
So if someone makes 65 selections and is the clear leader, he or she still would not get a penny i.e. will be penalised for not "forcing" further 11 selection.
Or if we follow the "£0 is a benchmark" and your cup walk over logic, even 0 selections should be absolutely acceptable.
The intent behind imposing a minimum number of selections is essentially to ensure that the competition is a test of (relatively) long-term skill rather than of short-term luck.

Opening up the option of accumulators brought with it an (admittedly small) increase in the possibility that one selection would put an entrant handsomely into profit, and without a minimum number of selections to make, the lucky entrant would be in a position where he could take the rest of the season off. Win the lottery, and never buy another ticket in other words.

A double at the end of August on a Stoke City win at Manchester City and a Manchester United draw the same day would have netted a significant gain of 74 points for example.

It seemed reasonable to assume that anyone entering a tipster competition felt that over a season they would be able to find value in 76 matches (out of 22 leagues, and ~8,000 of matches) and that including this requirement in the rules would not be seen as 'forcing' anyone to make a selection.

OverGoalify is currently behind schedule on his selection count, and Daily 25 is distracted by Daddy Duties, but other than those two it's only "Second-half" Skeeve who may struggle to reach the 76 selections, specialising as he does in the non-league Conference.   

At the other end of the spectrum is Mortimer, who managed to find no less than 81 selections in just one weekend back in September.

A completely unrelated comment was also received from Marc Owen Banks who wrote:
Good to see I am not alone in being the only Portsmouth fan in the FTL league, although my position at present is relatively reflective of the fortune of my beloved club of recent seasons!
Indeed, quite a remarkable coincidence that a club like Portsmouth would be supported by two members of the FTL! I know Crystal Palace are well represented in the FTL with four entries, but since they are all mine, that doesn't really count. Ian Erskine is a Tottenham Hotspur fan, Drawmaster (Peter Nordsted) is Arsenal, TFA is Dundee I think, but it would be interesting to know who everyone else follows.

Crowd Slide

The Crowd is certainly not getting any sharper, with another losing week of looking for value in the EPL. This brings the losing streak to five, and the overall loss so far to 5.81 from 100 bets.

Undaunted, the Crowd is back with their value picks for this weekend, with four Home win picks (Burnley, Sunderland, West Ham United and Swansea City) four Away wins for Chelsea, Manchester City, Stoke City and Newcastle United) with one Draw (a unanimous verdict on the Manchester United v Crystal Palace game) and a Lay of Southampton who host Leicester City.
Other highlights are that @ValueBankFooty's accumulators this weekend are:

No entry again this week from Talkies Tips, and judging by his last blog post, enthusiasm for betting and blogging is at something of a low right now. I believe he is a Portsmouth fan too, so his enthusiasm for football is also probably pretty low right now. Other no-shows this week are Daily 25, who is still either changing nappies or breast-feeding, and TFA_Raz, who is on a luxury world cruise for a few weeks. Trend to end sits out this weekend, as do Gecko and Skeeve who has no Conference games this weekend anyway.

As I mentioned previously, I shall be taking three well-earned weeks off work (my primary job anyway) to spend time with family, both old (parents) and new (grand-baby due any minute now), with a first visit to the Emerald Isle thrown in because Mrs Cassini, along with 99.9% of Americans, thinks she is partly Irish.

FTL updates and "wisdom of the crowd" emails will probably take a hiatus. Keep the entries coming though, as the results will be caught up with on my return in December.

The blog will also be a little quiet, but there was one comment on the post about Betfair's share price and strategy from pop, who wrote:
Problem with Betfair exchange is that it is not peer to peer. Betfair bots lay a high percentage of the bets.
I'm not sure that it ultimately matters, or is a problem, if the exchange is purely peer-to-peer or not. Whether one is matched with another individual, several individuals, a Betfair bot, a customer's bot or a combination of these is irrelevant. The only thing we care about if we are price sensitive (i.e. serious about making money long-term) is the price we can obtain. Why do I care if it's a Betfair bot laying the bet rather than an individual?

The problem for the exchange is that Betfair were not making as much profit from the less sophisticated punters as they could have made, so they have now lured these people away to the Sportsbook where they lose their money a little faster, but apparently don't care, and the exchange sees a fall in liquidity.  

Friday 7 November 2014

FTL Update And No Shows

There were a few FTL matches in midweek, but no major changes. Randolph was the big winner making 5.01 points and moving up to 3rd place, followed by @ValueBankFooty who hit a treble, made 4.58 points and cruised up to 30th place. Football Elite continued his good November (he is the early leader in the race for the monthly prize) picking up 2.34 points and also moving up one spot. 

As we head to the weekend, here are the standings with the numbers for the last round and also for November:
OverGoalify will also be celebrating, as his one winning selection took him into the green, which of course means a share of the prize money.

Marty left a comment on my last post, specifically highlighting my statement that "No one should, in my opinion, ever be forced to make selections or penalised for not doing so."
As an entrant who lost to a no-show I have to say I completely agree with this. £0 profit is a benchmark we (presumably) all think we can beat - and if we fail to then we don't deserve any points.
I've written on this subject many times before, but some days there may be no value opportunities identified, while on other days there may be dozens. Forcing a bet is up there with setting targets in any top ten list of mistakes to avoid.
Daily targets are the most ridiculous. In the sports I mainly follow, some days there just aren't any value opportunities at all. Other days, there might be several. To force myself to bet when I shouldn't, or not bet when I should, is just nonsensical.

Buy Buy Betfair

Mark Davies, Betfair co-founder and Barry's boy, had some insightful comments on Betfair this week that some of you may be interested in reading. I found the comments on price-sensitivity particularly interesting. While I can understand that the casual punter strolling into the high street bookies with his £20 might not be price sensitive, it does surprise me that there is apparently so much casual on-line money around for companies to cater for, and if Mark's example (presumably exaggerated to make a point) that "if 10% of your customers are very price sensitive and 90% are not..." is even anywhere close, it's quite staggering. It certainly explains the rationale behind the launch of the sportsbook.

The thing about on-line betting is that your records are all kept. How much you've deposited, how much you've withdrawn, in other words how much you are up, or more likely down. Quite different to betting with cash at the bookies when the memory plays tricks on you, and the losses are forgotten all too easily. To put it bluntly, the clueless have migrated to the sportsbook, while the more aware are fighting over better prices on the exchange, and paying through the nose for the privilege. Anyway, bear in mind Mark's woes with his Betfair shares from a few years ago when you read this, but it is a good read from someone who knows Betfair a lot better than most of us ever will:
Betfair’s share price is up more than 10% in three weeks and 5% in the last two days, following their announcement of Q2 figures on Monday morning that showed 22% year-on-year growth.
This much is well known, and plenty of analysts have put out notes in the couple of days since the publication of numbers. I will not, therefore, go into any depth about them: there is plenty of information in the public domain from people who are significantly more knowledgeable about today’s business than I am. I’ve written before about why I think the shares are a buy, since when they are up 50%. But for those who have asked for my view, I have one thought to offer about why I think that they still remain a buy at this level. It comes with the usual caveats: I have no line into the business (indeed, I have not spoken to a single person in the company for months); and I am a shareholder and therefore will be seen by some to be talking my own book. But to be clear: this is not investment advice. It is just my view, for what that’s worth.
You could argue it is the reason why I am a shareholder, long after I might have decided it was time to move on.
When people looked at Q2′s 22% revenue growth, a number of analysts were keen to stress that 9% of it was the result of favourable sporting results leading to strong sportsbook margins.
The clear implication was that this cannot be expected every quarter, and that therefore investors should really only consider the 13% that remained.
This is a traditional, not to say tried-and-tested, approach which on the face of it makes a lot of sense. Indeed, history supports it with every other bookmaker out there.
But here’s the thing: despite what people say about it having moved its business model and sold out, the reality is that Betfair still isn’t the same as every other bookmaker out there. And despite what people say about liquidity on the exchange being much poorer than it was (and in some places, it is; but in actual fact, as a whole, volumes have tripled in the last three years), the exchange is not dead. And in my view, these two things are very important, at least in relation to the topic at hand.
Sportsbook margins are determined not just by sporting results, but by risk management around those sporting results. And Betfair has, built-in, the best risk-management system that anyone could possibly have. Indeed, by finally linking the sportsbook to the exchange, in the way that was first mooted (but which we failed to deliver) back in 2005, Betfair now have a platform which should allow them to take the best of both worlds, and move the margin north for good.
The downside of the exchange was always that it delivered a low-margin product even to people who were not price sensitive. This is one fundamental reason why other bookmaking operators did not simply move towards an exchange model with its keener pricing, the moment that the technology was available. If 10% of your customers are very price sensitive and 90% are not, then to offer everyone out there a product with a 2-3% commercial margin when you could charge a 10% commercial margin and still be best price simply doesn’t make commercial sense. But this, for years, is what Betfair has done, because the low-margin exchange was the only product it had.
The downside of the sportsbook, in turn, was that, first, it exposes you to risk to the outcome of the event (which leads to you cutting back the bet size of your shrewder punters – or sometimes not even the shrewder ones, but ones on a winning streak), and second that (as a result) it is harder to deliver keener pricing to those who are conscious of the margin on every bet. In short, it is not as easy to engender loyalty in your customers: you piss them off either because you charge them too much or because you won’t stand their size.
A combination of the two genuinely means the best of both worlds. But more importantly, it means that you can manage the risk on your sportsbook, if you so choose, much more effectively. You offer prices based on the due diligence on your customers, like everyone else out there; but if you are asked for a price by someone whose success rate is likely to damage your commercial margin, you can manage the risk of his or her bet without having to knock it back.
The result of this should be obvious: the customer experience is better; the margin on the occasional punter can be maintained at a level which makes better sense. When you add to this clever little gizmos like Price Rush, which I would guess do wonders for both acquisition and retention, the opportunity to become the destination of choice for punters at both ends of the spectrum is dramatically increased.
Back in 2000, when we launched Betfair, a lot of people shared our view that we had built a better machine. In some respects, we were right, because what we created was the best risk-management system out there; but in fact we had only built half of it. For various reasons, we failed to deliver the other half, and the company went through a difficult period. But that second half has now been built, and the whole – it seems to me – is now purring very effectively.
Some will argue that the current price reflects that: it is double what it was at the lows, and many will say that it has run its course. But, far from approaching the highs, it has still not quite gone past the level at which the company came to market – which it did at a time when Paddy Power was worth about a third what it is today – and there is now good reason to believe that the company genuinely can reach the sort of heights in the betting hierarchy to which its 2010 IPO positioning aspired. For all that some people today rubbish its flotation pricing, those that bought the story then did so because they thought Betfair was a lean, mean, fun company that had built a better machine than anyone else’s. There are lots of reasons to believe that today, at an offer price just lower than it was back then, that is exactly what it is.
In other Betfair share price news, Yahoo!Finance has this to say:
Betfair: A Target For Private Equity
Betfair (LSE: BET) is the most likely takeover target in the sector. That's not the only reason why its stock has risen by 5% year to date: Betfair has a strong balance sheet, and its stock doesn't look overvalued based on most trading metrics. The shares trade in line with consensus estimates, but if the bulls are right then upside could be close to 15%.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Cupsets And Updates

The big winner of the weekend was Football Elite, who made 7.14 points and would have had another 2.54 points had the Parma to beat Internazionale selection been submitted by the deadline. Talkies Tips also had his entry miss by several hours, although he benefited slightly by missing out, and Betcast's entry was apparently sent, but was never received as I mentioned on Saturday morning. Betcast would have made 0.88 points and won his Cup match v Jamie A, but to be fair to everyone, I have to honour the deadline. The good news is that Group H is wide open with every entry on three points.

Back to the League, and Football Elite's win propels them into the elite group up by 10 points or more:

Club Havana maintains his lead, with Trend to end having a poor weak and dropping to third with Fairfranco moving up to second. Another nine are in profit, but by less than ten points, and they are:
Fulltimebetting blog and were the best in class here, both up by three points and change, while Draw Picks were the big loser down 5.75 points.

The "Down by less than ten points" group looks like this:
Skeeve's long awaited debut was a losing one, but TFA_Raz was the biggest loser down 3.70 points. The big winner was Mortimer, up 3.53 points.

And finally, the strugglers:
Rubicon was the only one profitable in this group, though only by a modest 0.36 points, while Ian Erskine was down by 6.45 points.

Overall, the total profit is down to just 17.05 points from 3,331 bets.

Now to the Erskine Cup, and four entries have guaranteed themselves a place in the Round of 16, while four (all high profile entries) have been eliminated. The qualifiers are @ValueBankFooty, who has elected not to enter either of the first two rounds and won both, Abromo, Club Havana and Randolph. Eliminated are Cassini Value, TFA Draws,  Skeeve, and rather sadly Cup sponsor Ian Erskine.

The Groups as they currently stand are below, with the match results included:
On the subject of no entries on a Cup weekend, Stewboss commented:
I would award a walk over in match ups where there is a no show. Two walk overs is a draw.
The problem with this approach is that not only does it penalise someone for forgetting to submit their entry or whose entry gets 'lost' in the wires as happened to Betcast this week, but in betting, as in life, it is sometimes the correct decision to do nothing. No one should, in my opinion, ever be forced to make selections or penalised for not doing so.

A word of warning that I do have a holiday coming up shortly, (my wife's step-daughter is having her first baby this month),  and while the Cassini Service will continue, the FTL updates may fall a little behind for a couple of weeks.

Saturday 1 November 2014

Erskine Cup Round 2 Preview

For the fourth round in a row, the crowd wasn't too wise last week with just three winners and a loss of 4.56 points bringing the season's total into the red by 2.76 points. This week again sees a bias to the home teams, with Newcastle United (v Liverpool) perhaps a little surprisingly, the nap selection. The crowd like the draw in the West London derby between Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers and the Midlands derby between Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion.  West Ham United are the sole away selection at Stoke City (not a derby) while lay Southampton at Hull City (also not a derby) is the only other non-home decision.

The second round of group games in the Erskine Cup is this weekend, and a few dustbins are out there to be beaten. Daily 25 is still changing nappies, Talkies Tips has missed the deadline before and appears to have done so again, Betcast is sitting this one out and we will be missing @ValueBankFooty and his accumulators.

Making up for all those absentees is the news that Skeeve has a woken from his summer slumber, and is in action with seven FTL selections. With Skeeve one of the four Bounty Boys, there will be a lot of interest in his numbers.

Paul Watson is not distracted by Erskine Cup action, dwelling in 33rd place as we enter the weekend, but he is attempting to steal the limelight with the big accumulator of the week going for a five-fold featuring  Chesterfield, AFC Bournemouth, Celtic, Arsenal and Grimsby Town.

Here are the Erskine Cup match-ups again:
Good luck this weekend to everyone but Trend to end, Abromo, Club Havana and Daily 25.