Sunday 30 October 2016

Friends, Experts And Failure

Some of you may have noticed I've had a few days away - very poor timing from my firm who seem to schedule seminars for their managers with no regard to the sporting calendar.

As CEO, I feel like I should have been consulted on the dates, but it's almost as if my CEO title exists only in my imagination.

My post on the topic of collaboration would have been improved had I taken the time to read Ian Erskine's views on the topic, a subject he touched upon in early October:

It seems to be the perception that trading together is better and makes it easier. I have my view on that and I will share it. Personally I think it is claptrap.
I have preached this numerous times in numerous ways, advice, ranting, trying to be nice, seminars in a room with people, Skype sessions, 1-2-1 meets and I can say categorically in 99% of cases it has been an abject failure.
In typical Ian style, he expands on why, with his posts revealing a lot about human nature along the way. Ian also appears to agree with me that "set and forget" betting is the way forward these days:
What should you do? Do exactly as I showed on both days, set your bank, place the bets and go out for the weekend.
I moved away from trading to spend more time with my lovely wife as we now just 2 with my son off to Uni and it was unfair to sit at a screen all day. It also is more profitable not having to make decisions and trade games, it is much simpler I promise you. Put your bets on and go out enjoy life! 
On the topic of chatrooms, Ian writes:
The fact is if that if that was going on in a chatroom more people would have listened to the negative people and less people would have won. That is another absolute fact. Which then beggars me to understand why people go in them and listen to people in them. We have had numerous versions. Art often reminds me of the evenings in 2007 when we used to trade football and I did it via MSN Messenger. It was a disaster, people discussed Eastenders, the weather, sex, posted stupid emoticons and basically talked complete and utter b******s. What chance did you have of winning?
All stuff that makes perfect sense, and that I can relate too. When I see threads on Forums for big games, it's clear that no one posting can be making any money - they're too busy seeking attention and posting pointless comments.

A three minute example from the Crystal Palace v Liverpool thread yesterday on the Betfair Forum:
sofaking : 0-1

GEESUSS : BBOOOOMMMMM..................

The Dragon : yessssssssssss

sofaking : 1-1

sofaking : easy overs.
Every one of those comments completely pointless, adding absolutely nothing of value, and you see it all the time. I'm sure the creator of Forums had higher hopes for his idea. Ian continues:
So that leads me to the main point of the post. Why would you listen to someone in a chatroom on any day UNLESS they are a proven big winner? The main issue is the negative people don’t realise what effect they have on people. they make our lives harder not easier. I get so much shite weekly and going back it did effect me. I have not sent selections before from JG, FTS whatever it may be because I was worried about the emails and people losing. I was being controlled by the negative people myself, it is easy to fall into that. Now I just laugh and say sod them!
I've written before that Ian's attitude is, in my opinion, the single biggest reason behind his success. He's confident (he would say arrogant) in his abilities, knows his strengths, and understands the emotions that can get in the way of success. He continues:
If I wanted to make a living at football I would listen to me, may sound arrogant but it is a fact. If I wanted to win at Basketball or NFL I would arrange to speak to Cassini. If I wanted to beat Cricket I would speak to Mark Iverson, Tennis I would seek out Matt from puntdotcom. That is what I would do.
Nice to receive a mention there, and if you follow me on Twitter @calciocassini, you will know that I seldom Tweet, but when I do, it's always (well, usually) something worth reading. 

There seems to be an inverse relationship between the amount someone Tweets, and the value of those Tweets. If someone's Tweeting 60 times a day, it's guaranteed they have nothing worth saying. 

Successful people are too busy being successful. If you're Tweeting multiple times a day, you're wasting your time - time that could be spent on actually finding a job or making money. Ian's thoughts on social media next:
The absolute last thing I would do is seek out some people in a chatroom who have lost perpetually and chop and change more than the tide yet in a chatroom become experts. They are not experts. It is like people who say they have 3 trillion friends on Facebook- no you don’t. You have probably 3 friends and 2.9999999 trillion saddos who like looking at pictures of your breakfast or a selfie of you in front of some obscure tourist attraction that you managed to make blurry just so you could get your own daft mug in frame!
I actually have about 4 friends in the world as I am a miserable git and that number could decline any day!
I think Ian is bragging, because four friends is a lot! I have colleagues, neighbours and acquaintances but very few friends. I'm not sure why.

Now put your clocks back an hour if you haven't already, and if you voted for Brexit, set them back to 1952.

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Blunders 2016

With the NBA season tipping-off tonight, I've had an enquiry from Geoff in regard to the BLUnders System.

With the onset of the NBA season I’m looking to get involved in the Blunders but despite reading the blog a few times I can’t seem to get a feel for just how heavily favoured the favs need to be to see if a game qualifies. You couldn’t oblige could you?
The criteria I personally use is for 'heavily favoured' is the -9.5 line, although the -11.5+ line is the 'official' line. 

This (-9.5+) generates a good number of bets each season, an average of 209 over the past five years, but more in the last couple of years as parity in the league has declined.

In the last two seasons, the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers have each been heavily favoured more than 50 times. 

The five year record for this system at the -9.5+ level is:
Without giving everything away, one of the above mentioned teams has a coach whose coaching philosophy is a little different to others, and Overs has been the preferred play for the past ten seasons when they are big favourites. 

I like to keep my basic systems simple, but if you are betting the farm on these, and I really hope you aren't, tracking exceptions to the rule can add significantly to the bottom line. 

In the five years detailed above, excluding the outlier team, would have increased the P/L to 60.14 points, and the ROI to 6.5%.

The -11.5+ line version is more selective of course, (about half as many bets as the -9.5 line) but has a higher ROI:
There are three games tonight, but no selections. Good luck if playing this system this season. I'll track progress from time to time through the season.   

Monday 24 October 2016


Bossman Megarain writes in his latest post:

It's an interesting idea, that, for corporations to excel, you need collaboration.

It occurred to me, there is little collaboration between pro-gamblers .. unless they are part of a syndicate, and, maybe its a deficiency.

Sharing expertise is hard to quantify - you don't know the value of a spreadsheet, or 15 years trading experience, but, it's probably something that should be explored.

Quite how you do it, is another problem.
While trading is necessarily a solo activity, (you won't have an edge if you share it with others), I do think that there are benefits to bouncing ideas off other traders.

It's rare to find any trading nuggets these days, probably because people recognise that sharing an advantage is not in their best interests, and blogs that tell the truth about trading are few and far between.

As Friedrich Nietzsche put it:

"Sometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed"
As a consequence, we end up with forums that are, for the most part, full of drivel, and happy blogs that talk about how easy trading is, and how an Aston Martin is in your (near) future and if you somehow can't achieve this, then there must be something wrong with you.

The inconvenient truth that, by most estimates, at least 90% of sports gamblers / traders lose money, is somehow glossed over. 

Meanwhile, the Cassini Team have been busy working on Project Verdana this weekend, going back into the archives to freshen up the look of the blog. It may be working, as Anonymous wrote: 
I am extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one these days..
Or it could have been a bot probing the ability to post comments. In case it was a genuine question, the theme is not paid for. It's all standard blogger functionality, topped up with excellent quality writing! Keep reading. 

Friday 21 October 2016

Aston Martin

From Dewsbury, via Twitter, came this message:

Flattery will get you anywhere. As my brilliant blog post made clear, Big Pairs' blog was indeed previously listed, but for some strange reason, the author decided to delete it - not for the first time he has taken this action it should be noted.

Trader247's blog is another Automated Trading blog, detailing the story of Oscar, (Original SCalping Algorithm Robot). No silly goals, no talk of retiring in three short years, just mostly small profits and the occasional set back caused by an error in the bot which sounds painful, and probably is. The blog has been added to the exclusive list on my blog roll.

Trader247 writes:

I started this blog for myself to help keep track of progress and keep motivated. But also there’s not many automated trading blogs out there that are realistic or that aren’t trying to flog betting / tipping / data services, so I hope this provides something a little different.
Whether the blog is about automated trading or manual trading, it certainly behoves the reader to question why the blog exists.

James had a recent post where he touched on this, using the term 'vendor blog' to describe a blog written with the aim of selling a product, this example being Peter Webb of Bet Angel fame.

Of course the approach has to be subtle if it is to be effective, but sharp minds such as James' are there to help. His latest post contains this gem:

Another crossover I notice from poker is that many people like to boast about their winnings and never talk about their losses. Rarely do you hear people talking about 50 consecutive losing trades any more than a poker player talks about losing runs. No, all you hear about is the winning. You don't sell product if you list its failures. Negative advertising doesn't work in this game.
What's misleading is that it's not that difficult to get a long streak of winners. The problem is that all of a sudden the laws of probability catch up with you and you lose all your profits and probably more. If you can call an unbiased coin toss correctly 14 times in a row, you should probably be performing in Las Vegas.

Anyway, James' post about Peter's "Luck And Skill In Trading" post appears to have touched a nerve, as the latter has been updated to include this:

[EDIT : In case you have been misled on the particular comment above, read my entire blog post. Here, I am writing about talking to people about what I am doing while trading at the same time, so that obviously slows you down. Despite this, I still got 14 out of 14 trades right. If I trade without doing this then I obviously do even better. Traders in financial markets don’t have to explain what they are doing to an audience real time, they just trade and that’s what I prefer to do on busy days. Again, read this entire post if you want to see everything in its true context]
So if I'm reading this right, trading alone with the blinds drawn and noise-cancelling headphones on, Peter would have been able to get 15 trades right out of 14, which would certainly be impressive.

Peter later wrote, in the style of P G Wodehouse or perhaps Enid Blyton:

On this particular day, it was clearly the right call. I had an absolutely cracking day. It was great to pop in to speak to the delegates, to show them the results as they unfolded.
No doubt they celebrated long into the night with bags of lettuce and lashings of ginger beer. 

Peter might also look up what the word 'delegate' means! 

Delegates in Peter's post apparently means people like Andy who have paid a few hundred pounds to attend.

In 2013, Andy was 21 and forked out £400. I won't reproduce his review in full, but it's worth a read and unintentionally rather amusing in a black humour kind of way - Some highlights:
My name is Andy, and I’m here to write a review on the forthcoming Peter Webb Trading Masterclass course, which is happening on the 24th June, 2013.
I will be updating my progress with deadly accuracy, which will mean posting my profit and loss no matter how shameful or fantastic it may be.
OK… so a little about me.
I opened my Betfair account on my 20th birthday last year and used it for a little matched betting and dabbling.
However I discovered the magic of trading around December time. I immediately handed my notice in and decided this was the big opportunity I was after!
Oh dear, this is why "trading is so easy" blogs are dangerous, the perfect example:

I had a bit of a crash in February, so until about April I got by on arbitrage and a portfolio of betting systems which has allowed me to rebuild my trading bank and keep the bills at bay, but…
It’s a ticking time bomb because I arb so much my bookmaker accounts are slowly being closed down.
And when I lose those, I lose most of my income and it’s trouble time!
Andy actually has nothing but good words to say about Peter and his class, but three months later, Andy was asked:
I know you went to the training course a while ago. Wanted to know how things have been going for you since then. Have you started to make any profits? Its been a few months since you attended so was curious if you are recouping the cost of your course.
Now remembering that the course cost £600 (including £200 travel), here's Andy's reply:
I’m definitely not anywhere near recouping the cost of the course, but then again I felt like that was an investment.
This course is definitely not the magic pill that suddenly allows you to trade.
Does anyone really think that any course is really going to arm you with anything of real value? Sure you'll learn the basics of trading, and how to use the software, but if any trader has even the smallest edge in something like horse racing, they are going to do everything they can to protect it. 

James says an edge shared is an edge halved, or something like that, and it is certainly not going to be given away for £400 to anyone who asks. The vendor's goal is to sell software, something that is aided by the idea that profitable trading is easy. No one is selling a valuable edge.   

So Andy was still out of pocket, not to mention that he no longer had his job! 

But all is well because a couple of years later, and Andy had moved on to "Profit Maximiser" which is "essentially a system that takes advantage of the free bet offers bookies throw our way to try and lure us into becoming new customers".

Andy writes:

Since I switched the emphasis to PM, I cleared my debts, bought myself an Aston Martin, have the money to holiday whenever and wherever I feel like and I have a number of entrepreneurial friends who I’m in talks with investing as a silent partner in their start-ups. All these things are my personal symbols of success, so I would say I got to the end goal, but in a manner that I completely didn’t expect. What mattered was setting the goals in the first place.
Oh my! Aston Martin! A debt free life! Unlimited holidays! The clichés! 

In less than two years! 

My boss will not be happy when I hand in my notice next week - I just need to run it by boss at home first, but should be no problem. After all, what can possibly go wrong?

Tuesday 18 October 2016


Many of you should be familiar with the term ‘Black Swan’, defined by Investopedia as:
…an event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and is extremely difficult to predict; the term was popularized by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a finance professor, writer and former Wall Street trader. Black swan events are typically random and are unexpected.
It was the first thought that came to mind when James notified me yesterday that CEO Big Pairs had deleted his blog. At least it was my first thought upon regaining consciousness having fainting from shock at hearing this news.

I mean, who saw this coming? And I am told his Twitter account has gone too. Warning: Do not search Twitter for "Big Pairs" if your other half is around. I had rather a shock at some of the results, and some explaining to do when I was caught examining them closely.

While I hate to say that James and I were right about this character, James and I were right about this character, and not 
for the first time, others weren't so right:
"Really enjoy the honesty!" CEO of a multi-billion dollar organisation? Really?

What the motivation was for the tall tales remains a mystery, but as I mentioned in my last post, there is a lot of nonsense out there in the sports betting / trading blog world, and while some of you may feel his vacuous posts were harmless enough, they were at best misleading, at worst downright irresponsible. The truth is that making a profit from sports betting is  not easy. Suggesting it's a viable career is dangerous.

In my opinion, full-time sports trading was never a viable career option. Perhaps ten years ago it might have been tempting, but there was always the likelihood that markets would mature and edges would vanish. The implementation of the Premium Charge in 2008 was another clue that the golden days weren't sustainable, so who does the idea of "turning pro" appeal to these days? (By turning pro, I mean giving up a job. I'm not talking about the unemployable people who bet - or talk about betting - because they have no options in life, and little money to lose anyway). 

The answer should be no one. 

Don't get me wrong - as a hobby and a second income, I think betting / trading is great, but if you have the skills to make a steady profit from betting then, if you have any ambition, you could be doing far better for yourself, your family and your future in a 'proper' job.     

In the end, my prediction made on August 31st took less than seven weeks to become a reality:
Credit to the author for posting these losses, but I have my doubts that the second incarnation of this blog will last much longer.
James had an excellent post about Big Pairs here, but this comment alone should give pause for thought:
As James suggested, there’s a high probability that Big Pairs will be back, so watch out for Large Couples or Top Twins or something along those lines.

And now I have to update my blog roll again.

Sunday 16 October 2016

New Blogs And Compliments

Being CEO of a multi-billion dollar global betting empire is hard work at the best of times, but October is certainly 'peak season' for the enterprise. 

Football, and American Football (both College and NFL) are in full swing, Baseball has its play-offs culminating in the World Series, while both the NBA and NHL begin their long seasons.

Add in the US Presidential Election and the Brexit situation and you can tell that the lights have been burning long into the night and at weekends at Cassini Towers HQ.

Regarding the NHL, and it appears that the countdown delay on in-play bets in this league have been reduced, at least for now, to 5 seconds (from the 8 seconds last season). I'm not sure this will help liquidity though. 

There was quite a deluge of comments (to steal James' expression) on my last post regarding blogging and a couple of brave souls put their names forward for blog roll consideration.

First up was Tobias B:
Hi Cassini, I have been following your blog for some years now - the best of its kind! You have actually inspired me to start my own blog, which I did a couple of years ago but just recently moved it to a new location at . I write about my bot betting activities (soccer) on Betfair from mathemathical, technical, data and performance view. If you find it worth being on your bloglist I would realy appriciate it, you are one (of two...) on mine. Keep up the good work! / Tobias
It's always pleasing to read comments like this. This blog always tries to maintain a positive attitude, with a little humour thrown in, but at the same time there's a lot of nonsense out there which deserves to be called out. 

This blog started out as a way of recording my progress, and if you read it from the start you'll not only learn a lot, but see that I learned a lot too. That it has inspired others to start a blog is nice, but hopefully more have been inspired that with a patient, disciplined, logical approach, it is possible to make steady profits from betting.

Unfortunately I don't believe that everyone can be successful at this - paraphrasing the Trader Feed blog, the necessary traits are:
1) Classical intelligence (IQ - the ability to be able to understand odds and probabilities and have a logical thought process)
2) Emotional intelligence (to be able to know their emotions and manage their risk taking)
3) Social intelligence (in poker terms, the ability to read the players around the table, but in trading terms, I see this as an awareness of how others might be reacting (or over-reacting) to information.
Anyway, back on topic and a quick perusal of Tobias' blog suggests that it is well worth reading, although of more interest to bot orientated traders than to manual ones given that a lot of the content is very technical.

Tobias is from Sweden, and uses the Swedish Krona, so some of the numbers look huge if you're unaware of this, but he's clearly knowledgeable on his subject. Check it out here and I'll be adding it to my blog roll.

The second nomination was from Peter, aka Nenko Gachev who wrote:
Hi Cassini,
thanks for all the great posts you are giving us here. Since you ask for blog recommendations, I will appreciate if you have a look at my betting blog I have not posted in a few weeks but have put on some material in the last couple of months. You might find the articles for home and away value in certain football leagues interesting. Also in the
Recommended section there are other blogs that I like, most of which you are certainly aware of, but perhaps there too you might find something new.
Two compliments in one day! I'm not sure that's ever happened before. Another reader who finds at least some of my posts useful. Church of Betting is a relatively new blog making its debut in May this year, and at just 15 posts, has yet to show longevity. By way of comparison, yours truly made its debut in March 2008, closing in on 2,200 posts and currently averaging around 450 hits a day. 

Early days then, but Peter's blog is similar to mine in that he has posts on subjects such as value, tipster shenanigans, goal stats and models, so I'll add it to the blog roll and see where he goes with it. 

However, given that most people reading this post are sound-minded enough to have dismissed religions as primitive, silly and totally illogical, I'm not sure the "Church" name will help draw readers. 

James sent me a message on the reference to day-trading in my last post:
In your latest post you neglected to mention that 'buy and hold' outperforms day-trading by some distance. An index tracking fund would net someone a good return but no where near as exciting as throwing your money away on day-trading. Obviously, you were too excited about the prospect of today's game against the thugs to mention the fallacy of day-trading in your post.
Did I really need to mention this again? Readers should be well aware of my thoughts on this topic - from September 2014 my financial investment advice was this:
Start as early as you can, invest 10% or more of everything you earn in stock index funds, and forget about it. You won’t go far wrong.
And back in 2011, I wrote that:
What I actually wrote was that day-trading from your living room trying to beat insiders just isn't viable, and the evidence supports that statement.
I'm confident this blog is full of even earlier references to the folly of believing that day-trading or active investing can beat investing in index tracking funds over the long term. It may not be exciting as James says, but you can go to Las Vegas for excitement, and pay for that thrill with a little spending money. 

Slightly off topic here, seems to be happening a lot today, but I have a vague recollection of reading an article pointing out how much a daily cup of coffee was costing you from your retirement wealth. The article was along the lines that, (for example you are age 20, retiring at age 60), a £2 a day coffee habit costing you £730 a year today (excluding leap years), would accrue to a sum (assuming the 20 year FTSE average of ~5%), that would amount to over £5,000 in retirement. That's an expensive cup of coffee. Of course it's not that simple, inflation takes a toll and it would be a sad life if you didn't enjoy the occasional luxury, but if you lose £100 on an ill-conceived bet, that's £100 that you could have invested in your future.

Finally, while no one has commented on it, some of you may have noticed that I've recently changed the font on my posts, as I think it is sharper and easier to read. Long-term, I'll see if I can have someone update all previous 2,200 posts to this format, but that's a task that will take a while. I'm also correcting a few typos, missed or misplaced apostrophes, as I find them since my son tells me I have more than a few.   

Friday 14 October 2016

The Curse Of Reality, And Goats

A good night for the UMPO System last night with ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw coming off the bench and recording his first ever save for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 4-3 score meant a push for the Overs, so for the first time this year, both post-season systems are in the green:

The MLB Playoffs are now down to four teams, with the ALCS (American League Championship Series) starting tonight in Cleveland (Indians v Toronto Blue Jays) and the NLCS (National League Championship Series) starts on Saturday in Chicago (Cubs v Los Angeles Dodgers). The series winners play for the World Series, with many eyes on the Cubs who look to put to rest the Curse of the Billy Goat after a mere 108 years. 

After winning two of the first five World Series, the Cubs have lost in seven subsequent appearances, the last one in 1945. The Indians last won a World Series in 1948, the Dodgers in 1988, and the Blue Jays in 1993 so there's some fresh blood this year. 

There was also a Vanilla Thursday NFL game last night, but while the Unders came in supporting a theory that I have little confidence in, and even less money on, the Road Division System took a loss. 
James had a comment on yesterday's post:
Oh well, another one for Green All-Over's betting blog cemetery.
Your blog lists are piling up at the bottom of each section with blogs that have bitten the dust.
Tales of initial exuberance brought crashing down to Earth by the Gods of Mean Reversion.
Some people haven't been reading their Buchdahl.
Not a Buch by Mr Dahl but Squares & Sharps, Suckers & Sharks by Mr J. Buchdahl.
The book James mentions (as do others by Joseph Buchdahl) has pride of place on my book shelf, and is well worth reading and re-reading, as is James' review of the book in the link above. 

Reading it will help you to understand that profitable betting is not easy. As James suggests, and as I myself have mentioned in the past, enthusiasm for blogging about your betting soon fades once the harsh realities set in.

Few bloggers are as honest with themselves as Sammy, Betfair Tennis Trader, who concluded his blog with the epitaph:
This is most certainly the last post for this blog. I quit trading this late summer basically. Since about May the markets where not the same, at least for me something had changed. I don't know if the merger with Paddy Power had something to do with it but I noticed something after May, that the markets wasn't the same. For some this maybe haven't been a problem but I didn't find spots as I used to. My motivation for trading sports pretty much dried up as well. So I felt it was time to do something else.
Unfortunately the next paragraph opens with the words:
You might wonder what my next adventure is? I've decided to try to learn a new game. And that's the stock exchange game. I've been grinding the Stockholm exchange roughly the last 2 months. My goal is to be break even for the first 6 months and anything better is just a bonus. Its a totally different beast the stock exchange compared to the sports exchange. But it's a lot of fun and I'm learning a lot of new things. We will see how it goes. =)
While the goal of breaking even isn't unrealistic, if the intent is to make money by day-trading, I suspect he is in for a rude awakening. Some of you may remember the tale of my chemist friend who gave up a lucrative career to make a fortune day-trading from his bedroom. It turned out that his edge was trading in a bull market.
I see that a fair number of blogs in my blog roll haven't been updated in several months - not quite 108 years, but time for a clean up. On the other hand, if any of you have any recommendations for additional blogs to add, please let me know.

Thursday 13 October 2016

Messy Approach

I was looking through my Blog Roll today, and hidden under the Horse Racing section, a category I seldom visit, I happened upon the RaceTrader blog, which it turns out isn't that much about horse race trading. Maybe it started out that way, but recent posts are all football related.

The writer, Crazy Horse, doesn't post too often, three or four times a month, and the latest post is on the subject of statistics, and their usefulness for trading.

He posits: 
How many times have you researched a bet, only to find that the result is the opposite of what you predicted?
I'd hazard a guess that the answer depends on the price of the bet, and question whether when betting you are predicting a result at all. What you should be doing when researching a market, is identifying which of the possible outcomes (if any) is undervalued.

If I back a draw in football, I'm by no means predicting that the game will end as a draw. I'm backing it because the market estimates the probability of a draw at a certain percentage, whereas I estimate that the percentage is higher.

The writer continues, and after correctly stating that "all market prices are largely correct and most people wouldn't know value if they saw it" asks:

So why bother betting or trading at all if stats offer only limited advantage and there is scant value around? Critically, most of us have the ability to watch football matches. If you can read a game - you can get your edge.
The problem with this assertion, that you can get your edge, is that it makes the assumption that you have the ability to 'read' a football match better than everyone else watching the same game. As much as many of us might like to think we have this ability, the truth is that statistically, it's rather unlikely.

The writer goes on to describe 'trading' (his term) the Under 2.5 goals market in a recent La Liga game:
The other night I was trading in the 'Under 2.5 goals' market in Celta Vigo v Barcelona (why you might wonder! Ok, Messi wasn't playing and I know Celta can be tight in defence - but even without these stats I still would have looked at the game!) Celta's previous three La Liga matches at home finished: 2-1, 0-4, 0-1. Barcelona's previous three La Liga matches away finished: 0-5, 1-5, 0-1. Last season the corresponding fixture finished 4-1 in favour of Celta Vigo. Did I think the game would go over 2.5 goals? Almost certainly. So why trade the Unders? Simply because the odds 'decay' from kick off and I could watch the game, deciding when to enter and when to exit.

From memory the odds on offer at the start of the game were around 2.72. I watched for a few minutes and then got in at 2.6. It was all Barcelona but Celta were holding there own in defence. Then Celta started launching their own attacks - the game began opening up and I started coming out of my position. This was around the 20 min. mark and I was laying at around 1.98. A couple of minutes later Celta scored. I would have been on for about a 30% profit. The goal just game a bit soon / I didn't exit quickly enough - so it was a scratch trade 0.00. No profit, but I was able to avoid a loss by exiting when I felt things were about to go against me.
So a few things about this, and yes, I did wonder why anyone might think they had some kind of an advantage trading this market. 

That Messi wasn't playing was well known and already priced in.

That "Celta can be tight in defence"... what does that CAN there even mean? Every team is capable of keeping a clean sheet. The probability of it happening depends on the quality of the opposition. A clean sheet against Barcelona is far more unlikely than a clean sheet against well, pretty much anyone else! 

Then we have the 'Norsted Nonsense' approach of looking at both teams' previous La Liga games, without any context whatsoever. Who were the opponents? Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico? Or Granada, Osasuna and Valencia? There's a difference! 2-1, 0-4, 0-1 takes up space in a write-up but tells us nothing useful. 

And what does last season's fixture have anything to do with today's game? Nothing. Teams change. Managers change. Tactics change. Motivation changes. 

"Did I think the game would go over 2.5 goals? Almost certainly."  The market opinion was that there was a 63.2% probability of more than 2.5 goals in this game. What does 'almost certainly' mean in probabilistic terms? 80%? - in which case just back the Overs and go out.

"So why trade the Unders? Simply because the odds 'decay' from kick off and I could watch the game, deciding when to enter and when to exit."

Ah yes, that's a great reason, except that this is gambling, not trading. The thinking that time-decay offers an advantage is wrong. As mentioned before, this is akin to picking up pennies in front of a steam-roller. It's a steam-roller that can, and will, hit you at any time, however clever you think you are. 

That Crazy Horse escaped from this venture with a wash was fortunate, but if he continues with this approach, he won't always be so lucky. If betting was this easy, we'd all be doing it!  

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Insider Trading

The Secret Betting Club, run by Peter Ling, sent me an email today reporting on the BBC Radio 5 debate on the subject of bookmaker account restrictions and closures.

I’ve written before on this topic, and my attitude is essentially that no business is going to let you take advantage of them indefinitely, and unless or until ‘traditional’ sportsbooks adapt to the 21st century and move to a Pinnacle based model more suited to the technological age, account closures and restrictions are inevitable.

The traditional books want mug punters only. However much shouting and screaming there is, bookmakers are in the business of making money and if a customer is perceived as likely to cost them money, they will decline to do business with them.

Some of the reasons given for closing / limiting accounts were interesting though. Boylesports gave ‘fraudulent activity’ as the primary reason, while Paddy Power and Skybet gave ‘insider trading’ as the reason.

I find SBC’s comments on insider trading a little naïve. They write:

The problem with insider information is that, by its very nature, it’s used by only a very small number of people. Indeed, perhaps only a dozen or so people might, at any point in time, have genuinely bonafide insider info that can help them make money betting.
I certainly don’t know anyone who uses ‘insider info’ to make money betting and I regularly deal with a lot of very shrewd punters.
I think the problem with this statement is that all markets are different, but all have insiders, with the value of their information varying enormously. Knowing that Steve Bruce has accepted a managerial position is one thing, knowing that Benteke twisted a toe in training is another.

I think we all need to differentiate between someone wanting to bet £10,000 on an English Premier League game, and someone wanting the same amount on a horse in the 2:30 at Cartmel or on a Next Manager market or on The Voice UK 2017 : Winning Coach market. 

If your bet history shows that you have inside information on, for example, a TV show market, surely it's reasonable for a bookmaker to decline any more bets from you on those markets? Restricting anyone from betting on a Premier league game is just petty though.

No one should blame bookmakers for protecting their interests and declining a sizeable bet on ‘high-risk’ markets, but if a bookmaker can’t manage a book on an EPL game and take a decent sized bet, one might wonder why they are in business at all. Surely it’s not so that their high-street shops can be filled with FOBTs, attracting the uber mug punter?

Horse racing is for sure rife with inside knowledge. I had personal experience of this very early on in my betting life, and like the name of the horse – Two Swallows - it’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten, and the main reason I seldom bet on horse racing. I don’t have ‘connections’.

Insider information in this sport would certainly not be limited to a small (around a dozen) number! If I got inside information because the girl I was dating’s best friend’s husband was working at one of the stables at Epsom, then it’s probably not unreasonable to assume that more than a dozen people were in. There are already four individuals in that true story alone, and that’s before I went to work the next and shared the tip with the entire office.

Much has been written about individual sports, with stories popping up every few weeks or months about unusual betting patterns or players retiring in suspicious circumstances. These individuals all have their inner circles, and they are the ones who will be the first to know if the athlete / player is ill or injured or was out until 3am partying. It’s one of the reasons why individual sports do not feature in my betting.

Team sports also have their own insiders. The number will depend on the sport, league and level of competition but if the option to bet exists, then the bookmakers are exposed to some extent, but the higher the level, the more protected they are by market liquidity.

‘Specials’ such as TV show / awards betting will also have insiders. It takes more than a dozen people to put together a TV show, and contestants and relatives talk!

Of course at what point insider information becomes public information in this age of technology is debatable, but it seems to me that the traditional books really need to adapt and start accepting bets up to a certain (and posted) limit for most sports at least, and use the information garnered to update their prices for the next bettor.

The limits would vary based on the likelihood of an insider having information, (Big Brother, Next Manager markets for example would be low, while a World Cup Final would be high).

I do have more sympathy for an account holder who is unable to put four figures on an EPL game than on a novelty market or a horse-race, but demanding action from your MP on this issue, as suggested by the SBC, is to my mind just futile and rather silly. There are other options out there - use Pinnacle or the Exchanges!

Your MP should be hard at work on real issues, like keeping us in the EU, and until gambling is a human right, they have more important things to do.

On the topic of Brexit, my suggested lay less than a week ago at 1.2 on the UK - Article 50 triggered date market is now trading at 1.38 as the January 2017 to June 2017 price reacts to the realisation that the decision to leave, or (probably) not leave, (and under what terms) will ultimately need to be made by Parliament, and not by the PM alone.

Thanks to James for being even pickier than myself regarding Sharpe Ratios, clarifying:
I forgot to mention that the Sharpe Ratio I use is the ex-post version, which, unlike the ex-ante ratio, is based on realised returns and doesn’t involve a risk-free rate.
Sorry to be pickier. ;)
A couple of losses for UMPO yesterday taking the 2016 System into the red, but both were 5-6 losses which at least meant a couple of wins for the Overs.  

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Bad News Bears

As promised, here are the results for this weekend from the NFL Small Road Dogs and Divisional Road Systems. 

A couple of selections featured in both systems, the San Diego Chargers getting 3.5 points at the Oakland Raiders, and the Monday night pick Tampa Bay Buccaneers who got 5.5 points at the Carolina Panthers. 
Eight winners from nine bets is about as good as it gets. Roll on Thursday! 

UMPO 2016 moved into the green again with two wins by the underdogs yesterday. 
I backed both the Nationals and Indians at 2.42, and mistakenly backed the Chicago Cubs at 2.24 assuming that they would be a certain UMPO qualifier at that price. However, my line source had the Cubs as odds-on (-103) and I laid off pre-game at 2.02 for a free bet. As I said yesterday, "Sometimes these line moves will work out for you, sometimes they won't."
James had a comment on Sharpe Ratios:
One thing I have noticed with Sharpe Ratio (SR) is that it is dependent on sample size. As sample size increases then all things being equal so does SR, which doesn't seem helpful to me.
SR = average yield / stdev yields
Try it with a spreadsheet. Have a set of yields that has the same average yield for 10, 20, 40, 80 and so on returns. You can achieve this with just two values and repeating throughout the samples.
(e.g. 1.2 and 0.8 - it will give an average of 1.0 for simplicity)
Then calculate the stdev for the 10, 20, 40, 80 and so on and then do the SR calculation for each. You will see a rising SR.
I used to do an SR for daily yields and it was very low. Positive but low. I did weekly and it was higher, monthly higher still (over the magic 2.0) but I was still averaging the same yield.
I still use SR in my optimisations but I have other metrics too and take all of them together.
Some of you may remember that James wrote a post on this topic back in June 2012 - worth reading or re-reading. 

As James's example shows, the crucial thing with using Sharpe Ratio is understanding that the standard deviation (the denominator) is bigger for daily returns than it is for weekly returns, for weekly returns compared with monthly returns, and so on. Thus it is only useful when comparing like with like. It's not useful for comparing a short (small sample size) system with a longer term system.

Also, to be extremely picky given that interest rates today are close to zero, but the Sharpe Ratio numerator isn't simply the average yield - it's actually the yield less the 'risk-free' rate, as James mentions in his post. 

Sunday 9 October 2016

Sharpe Lines

The College Football Small Road Dog System had a good Saturday with eight of the ten likely qualifiers making the final cut, with BYU a late addition.

With lines being dynamic, qualifiers for a system like this will always be subject to change, and the list will vary depending on where you take your line from, and when you take it.  

Disqualified were Army, who moved out to +5.5, and Virginia Tech came in to -1.5 favourites, although not before I had backed them at evens getting 1.5. Sometimes these line moves will work out for you, sometimes they won't. 

The line on BYU moved to +3.5 before kick-off, making them an additional qualifier. The final list and results from yesterday were as follows:
Hopefully some of you made some money. For the 2016 season, the results now look like this:
I'll update the NFL version of the Small Road Dogs system next week after all the games for the round are complete. 

Sports Picks System ( @sportspickssys ) took a look at my NFL findings, calculating the Sharpe Ratio for various spread ranges.

The conclusion:
It means that using small road underdogs with a spread from 2.5 to 3.5 is the safest system to play.
Playing this range only is certainly where most (90%) of the profits are generated, 57.62 points out of 63.56 points, (ROI 12.4%) but the 4 to 5.5 range generated an extra 6.54 points with an ROI of 2.3%. 

It's not all about ROI and safety though, as this post in 2011 concluded:
Those who’ve spent a lifetime maximising ROI, I guess you’ve now realised that in a punting context, those who are able to grow their bank balance more significantly are, by most people’s definition, the more successful.
So, in summary...Return on Investment for show, Rate of Bank Growth for dough. £, not %.
The ROI% might be lower, but so long as it's positive, why leave money on the table? For those paying Premium Charges, and most sportsbooks will soon limit you if you are winning with a double digit ROI%, there is added value in a lower ROI%.

At some point the returns may not justify the time needed, but the American Football seasons are relatively short, and typically on set days of the week. The average number of bets over ten seasons is 73 for the NFL and 97 for College Football, and the 4 to 5.5 range is less than 20 a season. Unless you're the CEO of a multi billion dollar global empire, I'd suggest that most people would have time to place an addition one to two bets a week. 

I wrote about the success of Road teams in Divisional games last week, so it seemed logical to see how Small Road Dogs performed in Divisional (Regular Season) games. 

The result of combining two profitable systems are not surprisingly impressive. Looking at Small (less than 6.5 point) Road Dogs in Divisional Games only:
Three losing seasons, with 2013 the only painful one but important to note that the impressive looking ROI of 13.1% is boosted by the returns of 2006 and 2007, and since 2008 is down to a still impressive 7.5%.   

Saturday 8 October 2016

Small Road Dogs In The NFL

Martin's a bit happier with me after the College Football Small Road Dog findings earlier today. He Tweeted:

I'm sure some of us can, but most readers will have little interest in a system for a niche sport like College Football, and few bettors have the patience and discipline to follow such systems.

Having found what looks like a promising strategy in the somewhat haphazard world of College Football, I thought it might be worth taking a look at the professional version of the game, and other than finding it to be profitable from the 2.5 point line (2.5 is the average [mean] spread in NFL games) to the 5.5 point line, the results were fairly similar. The NFL System has an ROI of 8.5% (from 750 bets) while the NCAAF's figure is 7.1% from 1,008 bets).

With greater parity in the league, NFL games are typically much closer than College games, which have an average line of 13.3 (since 2006).

Here are the numbers, again from the 2006 season onward, and again using Pinnacle's standard 1.952 as a guide.
As with the College Football System, just the one losing season since 2006, although a more costly one, and just one line (the 4.5 line) showing a loss, albeit a small one of -1.63 points from 68 bets.

Interestingly, the 3 and 3.5 lines are where the biggest profits come from - limiting yourself to these two lines would have resulted in a record of 206 - 145 - 19, +51.11 points, and an ROI of 13.8%.

A couple of comments from James to address, one somewhat serious, the other rather rude and not really suitable for the family audience this blog is intended for.

The second comment first was this:
'I ended the previous post with "For the record, I am on the Nationals at 2.38" but as their price drifted, I doubled up on my usual stake at 2.52.'
Is Cassini (a supposed mathematician) advocating the Martingale?
While my great-great-great something Uncle Giovanni was indeed an esteemed mathematician, this Cassini makes no such claims, other than an 'A' Level in Pure Mathematics With Statistics, a subject which was rather fortuitously chosen at the last minute after a previously mentioned incident with a screwdriver and a History teacher. This has been good enough to see me through life, and as I am no longer eligible for the Fields Medal, my interest in the subject is unlikely to advance much further.

I should probably update the 'screwdriver' story, as my partner in crime is no longer running a restaurant / coffee shop in Dumfries, but is now managing a pub in the delightful city of Exeter, where I had the pleasure of meeting him again a couple of years ago.

Anyway, back to Martingale, and to allay James' concerns, no - Cassini is certainly not advocating the Martingale. He simply felt that a price of 2.5+ on a home underdog with a strong pitcher was excellent value, especially given the lack of outings from the Dodger's Clayton Kershaw after a couple of months out with injury, and his likely lower pitch count limit. Short-term, value doesn't always mean winning - long-term it does.

James' earlier comment was this one, and if you are under the age of 18, please stop reading now:
"In the tropical paradise where I live, the women all wear grass skirts, so being handy with the mower is a useful skill to have."

I always thought you were a bit of a bushman, waving your massive weapon in front of the ladies.
I'm not sure who James has been talking too, Mrs. Cassini certainly denies any dealings with him, but it is actually a fact that the size of a certain appendage of mine is a matter of public record as it was mentioned by the defence in a murder trial at the Old Bailey in 2001 - along with the size of my car and wallet!

Finally, hot off the press as I wrap up this post, and the above James has named his latest post after the aforementioned Uncle Giovanni, more specifically his discovery of the gaps between Saturn's rings, now known as the Cassini Division.

James makes much of my expectation that the Brexit vote would be for Remain, but aside from that, and I was hardly alone, my record on Political betting is pretty good, especially in US Presidential Elections where I have a 100% winning record! OK, so sample size is small, but the key is to look at the polls from the handful of swing states.

I wrote in 2012:
There is hope for the world, and after four more years of Obama, I am hoping Hillary will run in 2016. The Republicans are becoming more and more marginalised, and their message is not popular. Old white men are declining in importance, religion is declining and the future for their selfish policies is bleak. Opposition to same-sex marriage is an old person thing, and old people are dying. The planet is getting warmer - that's a fact - and the demographic sands are shifting, but the future for the Democrats and decency looks bright. Thank god. (That's the one true god of course. Apparently he's not Mormon).
How perceptive of me. Hillary Clinton is now as short as 1.27 and that 1.6 tipped less than two weeks ago was a pretty good one, if I do say so myself. The second debate is imminent, and the smarter, better prepared Clinton, with real policies rather than a 'trust me' line (why would anyone trust him?), should win again and barring a disaster, go on to win the White House comfortably next month.

James' views on Brexit differ from mine, and I'm not sure that will change, but there is still money to be made from trading the uncertainty surrounding if, when and how a Brexit might actually happen. Sadly for the UK, no one seems to have any idea, which means volatility and opportunities!    

Scherzer's Ruff Outing

My sub-editor was really hoping to title this post "Scherzer's Schnauzer Is A Hot Dog" but alas, it will have to wait. 

I ended the previous post with "For the record, I am on the Nationals at 2.38" but as their price drifted, I doubled up on my usual stake at 2.52.

Unfortunately the Los Angeles Dodgers went ahead in the first inning, and despite being pulled back from 4-0 to 4-3, they held on to win. However, the Overs came in, so all was not lost.

It was a busy day for the UMPO System yesterday, although only three of the four matches qualified for a bet. 

The Toronto Blue Jays took a 2-0 series lead over the Texas Rangers winning 5-3 (a Push on the Totals) in the first game,  followed by the No Bet game between the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox which was a comfortable 6-0 for the Indians, who also now have a 2-0 series lead.

In the final match of the day, the Chicago Cubs upset the UMPO System beating the San Francisco Giants in a low-scoring 1-0 game. I need hardly add that this was a win for the Unders.
Martin wasn't happy with my research of his College Football System:
While I understood what Martin was looking for, the problem is that I don't know of any site that keeps historical money-line prices on College Football, or at least in a format that is easy and quick to access. Everything is based on the spread, so I had to improvise. Martin Tweeted again:
The Sloan Sports Conference article was mildly interesting, but boiled down to a system backing teams favoured by 20 to 25 points on the money-line.

The article must be a few years old, because the results included were for the 2006 to 2011 seasons:
Some of you may have noticed that those million dollar totals in the Losses column are wrong. 

Anyway, when the System 'inventor' was asked where he had got his data, the reply was:
"He told me he spent a semester going through the Covers website, manually inputting the 1,591 games that had a spread between 10 and 25, as well as their money-line price".
Unfortunately I don't have a semester to spare, but selections in this range historically win 94.7% of the time so you'd need 1.06 to make a profit, and that's excluding commission. As the article says:
Everyone reading this column presumably knows that you aren’t going to get rich betting heavy money-line favorites. For one thing, unless you already have a substantial bankroll, the price of entry for a decent payoff is very high. For another, no amateur has the willpower to make big dollar wagers that yield more consistent, yet smaller, returns.
As for the Top Performing Systems in the screenshot above, the first was Hot OVERs: 
The college football season kicks off in August that means hot weather. Pair the rising temperatures with non-conference games and you got a perfect recipe for taking the over.
This Pro System is up 73.7 units and has only one losing season in the last 11 years.
Current Pick: UTEP vs. New Mexico State, OVER 61.5 Result 38-22 LOST
Not only do hot non-conference games lend themselves to higher scoring (the heat wears down the defenses and the lack of familiarity increases the potential for big plays) but this game is a great OVER bet because of New Mexico State. The Aggies are one of the ten best Over programs in college football.
I don't mean to spoil anyone's excitement at these revelations, but it shouldn't surprise anyone that August is hot, or that opening games in a sport where a large percentage of the previous season's team are no longer eligible, will bring surprises. And just what the writer means by "one of the ten best Over programs in college football" or who he is trying to impress with this nonsense, is anyone's guess. 

The second system was Small Visiting Dogs:
The public loves betting favorites, especially on small money-lines. This system goes against the grain and takes advantage of the casual gamblers tendencies.
If you took small visiting dogs on the money-line you would be up 79.0 units in the last decade.
Current Pick: UCLA +2 at Texas A&M Result 24-31 LOST
Three points is the standard for home field advantage in football. The Bruins being 2-point underdogs on the road suggests that UCLA is actually a better team than A&M. Value taking UCLA on the money-line to win. 
Despite the loss on the above pick, this System has some merit; actually it has a lot of merit.
The table above is the collated results for all road dogs by from 1 to 5 points from the 2006 season on. 

Again using Pinnacle's 1.952, it has just one losing season, and that by a tiny 1.11 points. 

In addition, if you look at each line individually, only the 2.0 line shows a loss, and that is by just 2.35 points after 100 matches. 

Likely qualifiers today for this system:

Army, Vanderbilt, Idaho, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Hawaii, Colorado, Florida International and Syracuse.