Tuesday 28 November 2017

Leaving New York Never Easy

As some of you may have noticed, the blog has been dormant while I took a few days off for a little Thanksgiving trip to New York and Philadelphia with my son. Seeing an event at Madison Square Garden was a bucket list item now checked off as we saw the Knicks beat the Toronto Raptors with a comeback that included a 28-0 run. 

I was also looking forward to experiencing the renowned Football Factory in New York for the round ball game, but this wasn't such a great occasion. The problem wasn't that the prices were high even by New York standards, but more that it's one of these establishments which automatically add on a (very generous) 20% gratuity, and then leave space for an unwitting customer to add an additional gratuity on the credit card receipt, which always seems rather a dirty trick. 

Someone a little drunker than I was or a little less 'on the ball' regarding prices, might easily have been duped into leaving an extraordinarily generous tip. Nothing wrong with that of course, if the service warrants it, but that wasn't the case for us. When I commented that others arriving after us had been served first, my son informed me that I was getting like my Mum, at which point I left the bar, walked around the corner, went up to the observation deck on the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building, and had to be talked down.

Fortunately there were plenty of other bars in the area where football was being shown and overall it was a good trip, and for the record, the view from atop the Empire State Building is quite spectacular.  

I was also able to see the Temple Owls lose their final home game of the college football season to ranked, and at that time unbeaten, University of Central Florida Knights, which leads nicely into the update for the Small Road 'Dogs in that sport.

Weeks 12 and 13 of the season made a small loss with a 7-8 record:

The NFL had a very quiet couple of weeks, with just three selections, of which only one won:
In the NBA, the Beast went 9-10-2 and is now at +3.55 points (ROI 3.6%) on the season.

League Two Aways also had a poor run while I was away, losing 11.39 points over the last three rounds of matches, and are currently -12.52 points (ROI -5.3%) on the season. The National League Aways also lost points while I wasn't watching, but 'only' 3.68. I blame Joseph Buchdahl

My holiday appears to have been well timed.

As a reminder that life is about much more than winning or losing bets, Betfair co-founder Mark Davies writes eloquently about his surviving a recent heart attack here and with an update here. Worth reading if you think losing a few points is a disaster.

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Carbonara Bitches

There was a flurry of interest on Twitter yesterday regarding my observation that the Away team has been underestimated by the market in League Two for some time. 

The current situation including this season to date for League Two Aways, and indeed National League Aways also, is shown below:

The downside of the publicity is that the esteemed Joseph Buchdahl Esq. became involved, along with his small army of 5,000 followers, so the edge on these will now be gone. Fun and lucrative while it lasted though.
There were also a couple of compliments to be found on the thread, and an amusing line from Bet Culture:
Well them bitches had a fine weekend, with the College pups extending profits after going 4-2:
While the Big Boy Small Bitches (I can see why this could be confusing to a young pup) of the NFL moved back into overall profit after a 3-1 Sunday:
Back to football, and the 2017-18 season may well be one of the more disappointing from a personal point of view. At club level, it's fair to say that Crystal Palace have had better starts, while at the international level, the New York Times had a superb lede yesterday:
As a Cassini, the failure of Italy to reach the World Cup Finals was obviously a huge disappointment, and with my wife's USA also missing out, I may be forced to be English this summer.
Who to support after the group stages remains to be seen, but 23 and Me did indicate I was above average in the Balkan area, an observation which I initially thought was someone being rather rude, but as it turns out - it's a region in Southeastern Europe! Who knew? Ural lying about your European geography knowledge if you claim you did.
The French and German looks promising, and I'll assume that's all German with none of that Frenchie stuff inside me - bloody cream adders! 

As for the missing 0.1%, it's either North African or West African. Grandma?

Saturday 11 November 2017

Correction And Reflection

Thanks to Habotron, possibly not his real name, who spotted a rare error in my recent post on College Basketball pointing out that:

I think there is a mistake in the first image. Total P/L and ROI%. In the text it is ok 5.9 ROI%, is it?
Anyway I really love you blog.
The image has been corrected from:
It doesn't take a genius to see how the mistake occurred, but that's no excuse. It's gratifying to know that someone actually looks at these things!

We, at Green All Over, have a zero tolerance policy on mistakes, and appropriate action has been taken with the staff member responsible - or should that be irresponsible? 

It's a long time ago now, but one of the more amusing memories from my school days in Croydon involved an incident where one of my peers threw a piece of chalk at a teacher as he wrote on the blackboard. The teacher turned around and said "Watkins! Are you responsible?" to which he replied immediately "No Sir, I am totally irresponsible". When you're 13, that's quite funny. 

Tony Stephens had a comment on my Runaway Train post asking:
Just to confirm. Your ROI is based on Pinnacle (SP?) prices that UK based bettors cannot take advantage of at the moment? Do you still get your bets on via Pinnacle so that your actual betting reflects the stats in the blog? If you are not using Pinnacle are you finding that the exchange prices are inflated enough beyond the Pinnacle prices such that the ROI is not affected by commission charges? Obviously you cannot get a bet on with a traditional UK based bookmaker any more or you haven't tried to. Would that be correct to say?
The numbers I publish for football are all using Pinnacle's Closing Odds, provided courtesy of Joseph Buchdahl's excellent and essential Football Data web site. They are for illustrative purposes only, and used not because they are necessarily available to everyone, but because they are the most accurate reflection of the 'true' odds that I have access to. 

Do I personally wait until just before kick-off and bet with Pinnacle? No. As I've written before, real life means that this is rarely possible, so my actual results will always vary from the 'official' results of a system

Some selections are backed at longer prices and shorten by kick-off, some selections drift from when I back them, and some weeks I'm travelling and unable to place the bets at all - or at least I'm not prepared to jump through hoops to get a bet on Mansfield Town to win at Coventry City.
With some systems where qualifiers depend on the line, it's not unusual for me to be live on a selection that ends up not being a qualifier, or conversely not being on a selection where a late move does make it a qualifier - but I don't worry about these things as they are unavoidable and things tend to even out over time.

Betting on the Exchanges where the over-round is often close to non-existent (e.g. 100.06% ) and paying commission is about as good for most people as being able to bet with Pinnacle (102.54%).
Pinnacle's claim of:
is debatable. Coventry City are currently available at 2.24, Mansfield Town at 3.9 and the Draw at 3.35. (As an aside, Mansfield Town have shortened considerably since trading at 4.5). 

As I wrote on October 25th:
Once again, if you're following this system, it now behoves you to bet early. It's as if, for some reason, people are piling onto the Aways closer to kick-off. What was that about an edge shared?
Everyone's situation is different, whether it's where you can 'get on', how much commission you pay, or how much free time you have to place your bets. The big advantage of both the Exchanges and Pinnacle is that you will not be restricted, and both are competitive. 

Yes, Betfair have their Premium Charges and Pinnacle are not currently taking bets from the UK, Spain or USA (which is ironic as "Pinnacle offers some of the best betting lines for American sports - compare theirs with any other bookmaker’s betting lines on American sports and you’ll see the better line at Pinnacle at least seven times out of ten") but serious bettors will have options available to them.

Again, I've mentioned this before, but if 100 people are playing the NCAAF Small Road 'Dogs system this season, I doubt that the actual ROI percentages of any two would be the same, and none would match the 'official' results I publish. 
The 'official' results should always be beatable, although having said that, I noticed this week that Pinnacle now operate a 102.93% over-round on College Football Handicaps, and incidentally a whopping 103.41% on Totals, compared to their 102.4% in the NFL, so I need to adjust the official returns to account for this.

We had a winner last night (BYU winning by 10 at UNLV) which hopefully augurs well for the remaining (probably seven) Week 11 qualifiers today.  

Thursday 9 November 2017

The Boys Are Back

The College Basketball (NCAAB) season begins this Friday, and having watched the rising totals in the NBA, here are some observations on the College version.

It's important to note that the NBA and College games are quite different. College games are shorter, with two 20 minute halves rather than four 12 minute quarters, the shot clock is 30 seconds rather than 24 seconds, but with an extra two seconds to cross the half-court line, and the college game has a possession arrow.

The three-point line is closer to, and always the same distance from, the basket (unlike in the NBA), and the college lane (paint) is 12' wide rather than 16' wide. 

Possibly the biggest difference in how the game is played is because of the rules around fouls and defences. If you're interested, there are plenty of places you can read up on these, but I don't have all day. 

The other confusing aspect for the College game is the number of teams - 351 spread over 32 different Conferences. There are also a lot of mismatches, so you might want to wait for the Conference season which starts in January. Not that there aren't mismatches on Conference games, but the average line over the last three seasons in Conference games is 3.4 while in non-Conference games it is 8.7.

Despite their many differences, backing Over when the Total is set high is also currently a successful strategy in the College game.

In the past two seasons 2015-17, Overs has a 120-101-2 record which is a 5.9% ROI.

The increase in points over the past two seasons is clear, at least in part because the the shot clock was reduced to 30 seconds in 2015, so older data isn't relevant.

The same two seasons also show an edge on road teams favoured by between 6 and 10 points in Conference games:
If that's too many selections for you, try the 7 to 8.5 point range:

Sunday 5 November 2017

Runaway Train

Runaway train never going back, Wrong way on a one way track, Seems like I should be betting somewhere, Somehow I'm neither here nor there
My favourite type of comment from Doc Sportello on my Aiming High post, one that not only lets me know that at least someone is following along, even if not yet risking any cash, but with a question and compliment as well. Thanks. Doc writes: 
Phenomenal evening for the college road dogs. Would you reckon it's OK to jump aboard, not having backed them at all this season, or has the train left the station? And how about the NFL?
I see there are two qualifiers tomorrow.
On another note: Glad you're blogging more frequently nowadays. Long may it continue.
The Small Road 'Dogs did have a good day yesterday, and Week 10 ended 7-4 and boosting the ROI to 17.8% for the season.
Doc Sportello is quite right to validate for himself the results of this system, or any system for that matter. Unfortunately not everyone is as open and honest about betting results as we are here at Green All Over and a sceptical approach to claims is always healthy and it's perfectly valid to ask if "the train has left the station". 

Unless you have an interview, a surgery, a plane to catch, a hot date or it's the last train for the day, missing a train isn't usually a big deal. There's another one coming soon, although 'soon' is a relative term, and it may not feel very 'soon' at the time.

My confidence in the medium-term viability of a system (in the long-term, no system should continue to be profitable) is based on past results rather than on a short-term period.

This particular system has been profitable for far longer than it should have been, and while I expect the ROI to decline for 2017 from it's current 17.8%, there's no reason why it shouldn't match or exceed 2009's 19.8%.

Also worth noting that an ROI can decline while profits increase.

There's a clear trend here, present since 2001, and it always pays to ride the trend to the end. There's a saying in trading that "the trend is your friend". 

Looking at the table to the left, there is no point when it would have made sense to abandon the strategy. Were there multiple week losing spells contained therein? Almost certainly. 

Although the mention of "trading" might be confusing here, the biggest single mistake for traders is closing out a position too early. Let your winners run, and exit the losers. 

Same with this system - while it's profitable, keep with it. Understand that no system will be profitable every week, month or even season, but maintain perspective. With a long / medium term edge, it doesn't matter when you start. 

Sumptuous Pickings

As I have noted previously, some betting articles from Pinnacle, "the world’s sharpest bookmaker", are worth a read. Some are absolute nonsense, but a recent one from last month by "Soccermatics" author David Sumpter piqued my interest, touching as it did on the draw - one of my long-time favourite football bets as followers will know.

Sumpter writes that:
In one section of the book, I did manage to beat the bookies. But it wasn’t because I found a magical formula that predicts who will win soccer matches.

The way I did it was much simpler. I looked at the odds and found a very small but significant bias in how they were set. Bookmakers and bettors hadn’t paid enough attention to predicting the draw in soccer.

Maybe it is because of the popularity of the Over/Under markets.
Maybe it is because bettors don’t like betting on a draw. But, whatever the explanation, it turned out that draws in the Premier League were not properly priced.
As I've explained before, the idea that bookmakers "set" odds is really misleading. Bookmakers, especially those with a Pinnacle like model, adjust their odds as money comes in to the market, with the goal of making a profit whatever the outcome. The odds are not "set" as such, which implies that they are firm (set in stone).

Opening odds are available to small limits, and as the market firms up, float up or down depending on the money wagered. The closing odds are the result of the opinions, backed up with money, of the market's participants.

I also don't agree with the suggestions that the draw offers value because the Under / Over 2.5 goal markets are popular or that bettors don't like betting on a draw. Agreed that the casual punter may not like the draw, but there are much larger enterprises who should be backing the draw if it offers value.

Those issues aside, David Sumpter writes:
It turns out that when two well-matched teams meet (i.e. the probability of a home win is only slightly bigger than the probability of away win) then draws are under-priced. When matches are skewed so there is a strong a favourite (i.e. the probability of one team or the other winning is larger than the other) then draws are over-priced. 
The above conclusion was drawn from the five seasons 2011-2016, but closing odds are not available for 2011-12 so how the Draw odds for this season were extracted is not clear. 

I looked at the five EPL seasons from 2012-17 using Joseph Buchdahl's Pinnacle Closing Odds, and blindly backing the draw was the worst 'blind' approach. Homes was the best (-1.8%), followed by Aways (-3.2%) and finally Draws (-4.3%).

Betting in this way is generally a losing proposition, although there will be short-term intervals where such a strategy is profitable.

Back in January this year I wrote about a Draw System named Draw-4:
Given that backing every Draw would have 'only' lost you 43.01 points, and it doesn't take a genius to work out that there was value backing the Draw up to a certain point. I've previously referred to this basic system as the Draw-4 (it's catchier than the Draw-4.11, and the 4.0 / Implied Probability 0.25 is close enough) but if you're going to be backing the Draw, you're generally not helping yourself by looking at games like Manchester City v Cardiff City at 12.38.
The basic system can be improved by additional filters, such as ignoring matches where either team is evens or shorter, somewhat confirming Sumpter's observations because such matches are by definition, between closer matched teams.

Using Sumpter's idea of using the differential between the Home and Away probabilities to determine when to back the draw, where the difference is up to 30%, the profit from 947 bets over five seasons is 76.8 points, an ROI of 8.1%.

By way of comparison, an improved Draw-4 system of backing the Draw when the Home team is priced between 2.01 and 3.25 would have been up 84.28 points from 688 bets, an ROI of 12.25%

Perhaps an appropriate time to point out that Draws are in decline in the EPL. In its 25 season history, the average has dropped from 29% of matches in the first five seasons, to just 24.7% in the most recent five seasons, a natural consequence of the goals rising from an average of 2.59 per game (1992-97) to 2.73 since 2012.

2017-18 to date - Draws 23.6%. Goals per game 2.59. 

Saturday 4 November 2017

Aiming High

I'm not sure how many readers agreed with my logic for The Beast system this season, and are following along, but in the last week it has a 14-3 record, and is now up for the season by 8.66 points, with an ROI of 18.4%.

I wrote in September on the rise in NBA Totals:

For the record, backing Overs when the total was 215.5 or higher had a 55.6% strike rate last season. Expect the average totals to increase again this season, and look for profitability on the Overs a little higher than 215.5.
While the 60.9% strike rate at 215+ is impressive, the rate rises to 90% above 224 points (10 selections), and to 100% at 229+ points (albeit with only three selections, so don't get too excited).
Both the number of 3 point attempts and points scored from them has inched up since my last update almost a week ago. Something to keep an eye on as the season progresses. 
The College Football Small Road 'Dogs System looks likely to have a total of ten selections for Week 10 of the season, and already had one winner on Wednesday with Central Michigan making a nice comeback in the fourth quarter against their geographical rivals to the west.   

The NFL version of the system is likely to be less busy with just two qualifiers at the time of writing.

Thursday 2 November 2017

Colt .45's Dodger Bullet

Survivorship bias at work here, but this Sports Illustrated magazine cover and prediction from June 2014 proved to be perceptive, even profiling George Springer who won the World Series MVP award:
Earlier this year, one former blogger fell into the survival bias trap, writing:
Not actually so surprising when you think about it, and an error that it's important to be aware of as bettors. 
Survivorship bias, or survival bias, is the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that "survived" some process and inadvertently overlooking those that did not because of their lack of visibility. This can lead to false conclusions in several different ways.
Major League Baseball is now over for the year, with the Houston Astros defeating their former National League West rivals Los Angeles Dodgers.

Until 2013, the Astros (originally the Colt .45s) played in the National League and are the first club to win both the American League and National League.  
Tony Stephens has apparently been for some practice interviews, in preparation for his application to join me here at Green All Over as Deputy Editor:
In my first interview I did get asked what football team I supported. I confidently answered West Ham. The guy that asked me said "well I support Millwall". Christ knows how I got the job!
I would hope anyone could answer that question 'confidently' since there's no wrong answer.  

It's not like being asked "Which club won the Zenith Data Systems Cup in 1991?" for which there is only one correct answer, but it's an easy question that surely everyone knows the answer to, which may explain why no one has ever asked me it.

How did Tony get the job? Christ isn't here, so we can't ask him, but I can only assume the talent pool was incredibly thin at that time, even for janitorial positions... Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Just kidding Tony - keep the comments coming. Just don't mention West Ham again, unless you want me to talk about the 97th minute or play-off Finals.     

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Posh Bankers, Essex

Still desperate for a writing career at Green All Over, Tony Stephens is back with another free contribution:

"And many traders who work in the City enjoy betting in their spare time, be it on shares, horses or football. After all, the Cheltenham Festival, racing’s most lucrative week, is dominated by those who work in the Square Mile."
Most of the traders that I've worked with in the city when in my 20/30's I wouldn't now call traders. Providing the "traders" their liquidity positions, I had a fair amount of interaction with them. I much preferred working with the accountants to be honest. Some of my drinking friends worked on the FX desks and knew from school days. I wouldn't be surprised if most of them didn't even get a GCSE in maths. They would have the gift of the gab for sure (handy for getting info from the brokers) and would regularly get involved in spread betting, often whilst down the pub! Would I be surprised that overpaid "traders" get involved in gambling...
Tony's recollections of the City are similar to mine, although mine date back to the 1980s and the days of the Big Bang - the financial Big Bang before any smart-arse readers suggest I might date back to the cosmological Big Bang. 

Back then, as the Financial Times described it:
The old City of London was stereotypically split between the posh folk who ran the merchant banks and the Essex lads who worked on the floor of the London Stock Exchange or for market-makers and brokers. The latter did not literally push barrows around but they were country cousins to those at London’s meat, fish and produce markets who did.
Nice of them to clarify that the "Essex lads" didn't "literally" push barrows! 

Back in those halcyon days of the 1980s, it would have been an 'O' level in Maths rather than one of these newfangled GCSE things, but as Tony says, most seem come by their jobs not by any academic qualifications, but through word of mouth. Supporting West 'am probably didn't hurt either - amazing how low some people will stoop for a job...