Tuesday 30 June 2020

Bundesliga 2019-20 Notes

With the 2019-20 Bundesliga and Bundesliga.2 regular seasons finally complete, it's time to update the Booming Bundeslayga post from earlier this month. 

At the time there was much excitement about markets not adjusting to empty stadiums, which seemed a little improbable and far too soon in the 'experiment' to be drawing any conclusions but it seems worth while to separate the data for the season by the crowd category.

Some clubs seem to have been affected more than others either by the break or by the lack of a crowd. Since my trip to Gelsenkirchen in 2006 for the World Cup, I have adopted Schalke '04 as my German club, and playing in an empty stadium certainly doesn't appear to agree with them as they had a terrible record after the suspension. It's a good job I don't bet with my heart.

Here are the results for the Bundeslayga System:
With only 90 selections, the sample size is too small to draw any conclusions from. Results from the 47 top flight games where you might consider the lack of a crowd to have a bigger impact (logically going from a crowd of 60,000 to none is a bigger change than from 1,000 to none) do seem to reflect this theory so far, but as the other major leagues conclude, I'll take a look at them all together.

Again, while emphasising that the sample size is small, it is interesting to see Away goals exceeding Home goals by 137 to 117 in Bundesliga.1 although in Bundesliga.2 Home sides outscored Away by the more expected 136 - 106. Overall the goals per game figure declined from 3.23 per game to 3.1 per game after the break.

Sunday 28 June 2020

Leaning Green

Back to politics for this post, and some interesting comments from Paul Motty, aka Political Gambler regarding the 7% implied probability that the next president will be neither Biden nor Trump. 

Both candidates are up there in years, and both have - not surprisingly - shown some decline from their prime years, and while money coming in for Pence is not a surprise, the same for Clinton is a little unexpected.

If Biden drops out for whatever reason, the likely Democratic Party candidate will be his (likely female) VP choice which is expected to be announced in July.

As mentioned previously, the five states to keep a close eye on, and in order of importance, are Florida (29 votes), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15), Arizona (11) and Wisconsin (10).

Michigan (16) was a "toss-up" state a few weeks ago, but as I wrote here, has now moved to the "Leans Democratic" category. A similar move was made this week by the Centre For Politics web site for Pennsylvania.

Texas may yet move to "toss-up" after polls in that state show the race there to be neck-and-neck. 

Florida has been hit hard in the last few days by a huge increase in new cases of COVID-19 and the Republican governor there hasn't managed the crisis well at all which may hurt them in November. 

There is still a little over four months to go until the election, and a lot can yet happen, but for now, anyone following along is in good shape. Leaning Green you might say. 

Latest odds on Betfair are Next President Biden at 1.68, Trump at 2.92; Popular Vote Winner 1.19 / 8.2 respectively; Winning Party Democrats 1.56, Republicans 1.76.

Friday 26 June 2020

Long Division

How the 'empty stadium' factor will influence the 'home advantage' in baseball this summer remains to be seen, but the biggest advantage (batting last) of playing at home will not be changed. 

Aficionados of the game might be interested to learn that in the early days of baseball: 

the home team could chose to bat first, and would sometimes do so to gain a tactical advantage (for example, by trying to rattle an opposing pitcher by forcing him to pitch in front of a hostile crowd before he had had a chance to adapt). Most managers realized however that the tactical edge of batting last in the final inning was much more precious than any short-term gain from batting first.
Historically the Home side wins about 55% of games in baseball.

While the 60 game schedule is not yet finalised or released, it's almost certain that more games than usual (at least as a percentage) will be Divisional games, so in preparation I took a look at the last few seasons to see how the market behaves for matches in this category.

Readers of this blog will know that in most of the US sports leagues, Divisional games have their own characteristics with the teams playing such opponents several times a year in the case of baseball and ice hockey and home and away every year in the NFL where 50% of regular season games are Divisional and the markets historically under value the road team.

But back to baseball, and here are some statistics going back to the 2012 season for 'hot' favourites, which for the purposes of this discussion are teams priced at 1.5 or shorter, which is -200 in American odds. 

As readers will know, hot favourites have been unstoppable since 2012 with an ROIs of 6.3% and 5.7% on the Money Line and Run Line respectively. The average line on these selections has shortened from -224.8 (1.45) in 2012 to last season's -256.1 (1.39) while the number of selections in the same period has jumped from 202 to 474. That should equate to at least 175 selections in the shortened season ahead.   

In Divisional games, the ROIs are 6.3% and 7.8% overall, but when the Away team is a hot favourite, the numbers jump to 15.8% and 16.2%, and in the American League to 17.9% and 18.4%.

The findings for the T-Bone System are less exciting with the ROIs since 2012 dropping in Divisional games from 7.1% and 7.2% to 3.9% and 0.9%.

Thursday 25 June 2020

MLB Sprint

Some good news for the Summer with baseball looking like it will be back, albeit for just a 60 game schedule and with a couple of significant rule changes. 

The Designated Hitter rule will be universal and in extra innings, each side will start with a runner on second base.

Baseball has experimented with this in the minor leagues, and according to @JJCoop36:

Unable to accept the idea that a Draw (1/2 a win each) is perfectly acceptable to most people after three hours of contest, MLB is trying to reduce the number of games that stay tied until the wee hours. The "runner on second base" rule should accomplish this even if it messes with our statistics.

The regular season becomes a sprint rather than the usual 162 game marathon, so there will be differences in how managers approach these games. Loss aversion is likely to be higher, as is the probability that many teams will stay in contention for the play-offs much later in the season than usual, simply because there is less time for them to drop out of contention. 

The planned schedule will see the season open around July 24th and end on September 27th, with the playoffs and World Series immediately thereafter.

While the schedules aren't yet released, it is reported that teams will not venture outside their "regions." So teams in the East divisions of the the leagues will play each other, as will Central and West teams, so there will likely be no East v West or East v Central games for example. 

It also looks likely that within each region, teams will play the majority of games against others in their own division instead of adding more inter-league games. One report suggests that each team:
"will play 10 games apiece against its division-mates for a total of 40 games. The remaining 20 games will come against the other division, though it's unclear if it will be an even breakdown of four games against each inter-league opponent."
There is always the possibility that further COVID-19 will change these plans, but for now it is looking hopeful.

Readers will know that backing hot favourites later in the season is a successful strategy with an overall ROI of 6.9% on the Money Line and 7.2% on the Run Line over the past eight seasons and close to 1,250 matches. For road teams, the ROIs are in double figures over this period, but with empty stadiums, perhaps the market will be less inclined to over-bet the Home teams? I have a feeling that more competitive games as the season winds down may reduce the profitability but something to watch.

With the increase in Divisional games, systems that take this parameter into account should have relatively more selections. 

Also worth considering is that implementing the Designated Hitter rule in every game should see more runs being scored, as should the "runner on second" rule.

If the markets don't adjust, or if they over-adjust, there will be value to be found in this area, but readers of this blog will know where value in the Totals markets has traditionally been found. No one has ever seen the DH rule applied in a NL Division game before, so this is new territory. With change comes opportunity.

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Look Away For Favourites

With another "Local Derby" draw this weekend on Merseyside, I thought I might share another observation, although I may live to regret this. 

The numbers below are from 2000 to the suspension of play this season, as I haven't updated my spreadsheets yet with this week's results, but the trend is clear.

Basically in close matches, i.e those where the teams' win probabilities are within 25% of each other, the value on the Draw is much higher when it is the Away side who are favourites, or when the two teams are priced exactly the same.

Likewise when the matches are "toss ups", i.e. where the win probabilities are within 10% of each other, there's a significant increase in ROI when the Home team is not favoured.

In other words, not all 10% or 25% differences are equal. Markets have biases as I have written previously, and it never hurts to dig a little deeper to see where the consequent inefficiencies offer value.
Looking ahead, and Thursday's match between Southampton and Arsenal is looking like a "toss-up" qualifier with the Away team slight favourites on Pinnacle, though interestingly slight underdogs on Betfair.
The Draw on Pinnacle is currently 3.54 which is great value in a "toss up" matches with only 23 previously this high in almost 20 seasons with an ROI of 82%. 

But don't go crazy. Prices will move before kick-off and even if this match remains a qualifier, when backing the Draw you will lose more than twice as often as you will win, even with value on your side, so these bets are not for everyone.

Sunday 21 June 2020

Local Derby Factor

It's the Merseyside Derby today and Derby games traditionally are good value for Draw bettors. 

Since 2000 in the EPL, the return from blindly backing the Draw in Derby using prices adjusted to an over-round of 103.7% is 1.1% which may not sound like much, but it compares well with non-Derby matches which would have lost you 4.47%.

Like most recent Merseyside Derby games, Liverpool will be odds-on to win today, but of the last eight matches where they haven't been odd-on, six have resulted in Draws. 

For the record, while games such as Liverpool v Manchester United and Crystal Palace v Brighton and Hove Albion are often described as 'Derby' matches, the term is used as in 'local Derby'. Big rivalry games is another category. 

The "Close" matches means matches where the teams are within 25% of each other in Win probability, and "Toss Up" is where teams are within 10% of each other.

Little evidence yet that Home Advantage has vanished in the EPL with the three teams winning Away so far all playing at clubs in the bottom four of the table. 

Meanwhile things aren't looking great for baseball this summer. While the league and players argue over how many games to play and how much they should be paid, the two states where "Spring Training" takes place (Arizona and Florida) are both seeing surges in the number of new cases, the result of poor leadership at the state level with Republican Governors opening up the state prematurely, going along with the argument that the "cure can’t be worse than the disease”. As the disease is killing people, it's hard to understand how the cure could be any worse. 

As a result, teams have announced they will train in their own stadiums, potentially costing Arizona and Florida a ton of money and hopefully Republicans a ton of votes. With cases on the increase, MLB should probably just call it a day. Assuming, and it's a big assumption, that the US get the first wave under control, the second wave is likely to arrive around World Series time, hence the reluctance of the players to extend the season. Spring has gone now, so the traditional pre-season warm ups would be "Summer Training" but to me, it looks like they are running out of time to strike an agreement, and the conditions don't support a return any time soon anyway. 

With conditions worsening in Florida, the NBA's plan to resume play at the Disney World Resort in Orlando might be re-considered, and the NFL training camps are due to start next month. It's hard to see how that season will be anything like normal.

I've not checked the prices today, but the Biden and Democrats to be the winning party bets can't have been hurt by last night's rally in Tulsa, where Trump kicked off his campaign. With ticket demands over one million announced several times on TV last week, Trump was no doubt very excited and scheduled to speak to 19k inside and another 40k outside but it seems he was punked by teenage Tik-Tok users ordering tickets they never intended to use, and the actual attendance inside the arena was 6,611. The outside crowd was zero, and that speech was cancelled. He's finished, and he surely knows it. 

Saturday 20 June 2020

Michigan Leans Blue

The US Presidential Election is three weeks closer (now 136 days away) than it was when I wrote this last month about the so-called "toss-up" states

In Florida, polls as of yesterday have Biden leading 49% - 46%. Clearly with 29 votes, this is a must win state for the Republicans, as if they lose here, the Democrats would need just one of the other swing states to push them over the 269 votes needed.

Pennsylvania has Biden well ahead by 49% - 41%, although the polling data here is eight days old, while Michigan and North Carolina have Biden ahead 49% - 43% and 46% - 44% respectively. Biden also leads in Arizona (47% - 43%) and Wisconsin (47% - 41%) which all means that in a fair election, anything close to evens for the winning party to be Democratic seems great value.
As of yesterday, the Cook Political Report (an independent, non-partisan newsletter that analyzes US elections) updated its web site to reflect that Michigan, with its 16 Electoral College votes) is no longer a toss-up state, but has moved into the "leans Democratic". 
This means that with 248 electoral votes in the Solid, Likely and Lean categories, the Democrats would need only 23 of the available 86 (27%) electoral votes from the Toss Up column.

A win in Florida and it should all be over, and the latest polls there have Biden ahead by 50% - 43%, 51% - 40% and 50% - 40%. 

Hardly a surprise then that the odds on Joe Biden have dropped sharply in three weeks from 2.17 to 1.82.

For the Democrats to be the winning party they have dropped from from 1.96 to 1.7 and for the Popular Vote winner to be Biden from 1.34 to 1.2. 

Last Wednesday, @BradAllenNFL tweeted:
I'm starting to think Biden at 1.88 might be one of those Mayweather v McGregor once-in-a-lifetime type bets
He may not be 1.88 any more, but at 1.82 is still value in my opinion, and one reason why is summed up by the Ladbrokes Politics Twitter account.

Friday 19 June 2020

Sound of Silence

There are a number of people jumping on the "no crowd / no home advantage" bandwagon, although it is very early days in the experiment and the number of trials is still very low.

One typical posting is from BitEdge where the latest article has the title "Why EPL away teams are good value this season".

While he doesn't mention it, blindly backing Aways this season had actually been profitable with an ROI of 4.6% - don't get too excited - up to the enforced break, but the crux of the article is that Away sides should continue to show value in empty stadiums.

A full season of 380 matches is a small sample, so a sub-set of only 92 isn't likely to give us too much information, but better than nothing.

The author then states that "the good news is that odds compilers are yet to make allowances for this".

I'm not sure who these "odds compilers" are because prices are determined by the markets, and anyone offering odds out of line with the market wouldn't be in business for long.

He suggests that five teams are worthy of "consideration" whatever that means adding that "all five are realistic shots. But what’s remarkable is every single one of them is still available at an odds-against price. The prices are assuming home advantage still exists."

Having just claimed that the prices have not yet "made allowances" for this expected loss of Home advantage, this now becomes "an assumption" which is a huge difference. It's also highly unlikely that the market, with some highly sophisticated participants, hasn't taken this into account.

I'm also at a loss to understand what the significance of being odds-against is. 

A price is the probability, and is value if it is greater than the true probability. 

A price of 1.01 can be value, a price of 1000 may not be value, and there is absolutely nothing magical about a selection being odds-against.  

The author claims to make a 4% return from sports betting, which would be phenomenal if true, but perhaps he is new to the EPL. 

If you're interested, the five to "consider" this week are Southampton, Manchester United, Leicester City and Arsenal. Sheffield United were the other selection, but they failed to win on Wednesday.

For the record, backing Away teams that are not-odds on does have a higher ROI this season so far than backing ALL Aways with an ROI of 6.4%but the trouble with small samples is that the profitability of blindly backing the Away team would actually be a loss were it not for just one result (Wolverhampton Wanderers win at Manchester City last October).  

Regarding Home Advantage, an October 2002 study titled "The Influence of Crowd Noise and Experience upon Refereeing Decisions in Football" concluded that:
The noise of the crowd influenced referees' decisions to favour the home team. It is suggested that referees' decisions are influenced by the salient nature of crowd noise, the potential use of heuristic strategies, and the need to avoid potential crowd displeasure by making a decision in favour of the home team.
The results found that:
The presence of crowd noise had a dramatic effect on the decisions made by referees. Those viewing the challenges with background crowd noise were more uncertain in their decision making and awarded significantly fewer fouls (15.5%) against the home team, compared with those watching in silence.
But this is nothing new. What is new is the possibility to more accurately evaluate this advantage, although I suspect it has eroded somewhat since 2002 by the implementation of goal-line technology, VAR and modern schedules as I have written about before. I suspect this will be a returning topic over the next few weeks.

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Over-round 2019-20

With the imminent return of English Premier League football, it seems a good time to dampen everyone's enthusiasm and point out that Pinnacle's average over-round since the start of the year for these matches has jumped up to 103.7%

For comparison, it was 102.8% for August to December, and last season was 102.4% following seasons of 102.1% and 102.0%

A concerning trend for those who take their sports investing seriously, although still a huge improvement from the 2000-01 days of 112.5%! Did anyone other than the rare and lucky accumulator winner ever make a steady profit against this margin? 

Such variations over the years make direct comparisons from one season to another irrelevant, but we can standardize the over-round and work with adjusted prices. It's not perfect but it gives a more accurate comparison than using the raw numbers.

For example looking at the returns from backing the Draw in the EPL since 2000-01, using the raw numbers (and prior to Pinnacle's Closing Prices from 2012 I used 2000-02, William Hill from 2000-02, and Bet 365 from 2002-12), backing the Draw in every match would have cost you 555.77 units.

Using the imperfect over-round adjusted to the current 103.7%, the loss from those 7508 matches is 290.12 units, which readily illustrates the impact the over-round has on returns. 

The table below shows the results for all blindly Backing outcomes:
Fortunately it is blindingly obvious that some bets are always just terrible value, and if you stay away from these, you are at least in with a chance of being profitable. 

Interestingly the over-round in the Bundesliga.1 since the break averages 102.7%, down from 103.2% before the stoppage. The welcome plight of Home teams continued this past weekend with only one such team (Bayern Munich) winning, making Home teams just 11 of 55 since the restart. I'll update the Bundeslayga numbers at the end of the season. 

Sunday 14 June 2020

Booming Bundeslayga

With the German leagues back in action for a while now, and prompted by an inquiry from Ioannis, I thought I'd update my Bundeslayga System results.

In its original form from 2010, this system layed odds-on favourites in the Bundesliga.1 but was revised in 2016 after more data was available and the weakness in the market for teams in the 1.3 - 2.0 (50%-77%) range was showing signs of correcting itself.

Since 2012, the strategy of laying all teams, Home and Away, would have been a profitable one with Home lays having an ROI of 0.6% and Away lays one of 0.7%

Sadly the vig means that backing the Draw blindly is not profitable with a negative ROI of 0.6%, but these numbers can easily be improved upon with a few simple parameters added.

Laying Home teams priced at greater than 2.5 (an Implied Win Probability of less than 40%) increases the ROI to 3.4% for example, and backing Home teams in this range up to 10.0 (10%) itself has an ROI of  11.1%

But I digress. Back to the Bundeslayga and here are the results prior to this weekend of the strategy in both Bundesliga.1 and Bundesliga.2 since the Pinnacle era.
In the 16 seasons, only two have seen a loss, and combined only 2016-17 has ended in the red.

The 2019-20 numbers have been improved by the empty stadium factor, and while it is a small sample size at the moment, it's something worth tracking. 

Prior to the suspension of play, the Bundeslayga System (Bundesliga.1) was up 23.76 points (ROI 18%) while after returning to empty stadiums it has added another 18.29 points (ROI 73%).

In Bundesliga.2 the numbers are 12.05 points (8.3%) and 4.63 points (21%) respectively.

Friday 12 June 2020

Drawing To A Close

Church of Betting is one of the better betting related blogs out there, and the latest post is on a topic close to my heart - Draws.

Nenko looks at how the strategy of backing the Draw in 'close' games has played out since the basic idea received attention with the publication of David Sumpter's book "Soccermatics" in 2016.

Sumpter's idea was to back the Draw in matches between the Big 6 clubs of the English Premier League, but to my mind this strategy was flawed because in any given season, one or more of those Big 6 may not be that big at all, and it seemed to me that a better strategy might be to look at matches between relatively evenly matched teams, regardless of status, where the implied win probabilities were close.

For example, in 2018-19 Manchester City were priced at 1.27 to beat Tottenham Hotspur in a Big 6 match and backing the draw in this match made little sense while ignoring matches between non-Big 6 clubs where the two win prices were perhaps identical. 

'Close' is a relative term of course, but Nenko looked at matches where the difference was less than 10%.

To remind you, the original idea recommends backing the draw in the Premier League in games where the difference of the winning probabilities of the two teams as implied by the odds (after adjusting for overround) is less than 10%. In other words, the market implies the teams are somewhat evenly matched in strength.
One flaw in Nenko's analysis is that he uses Pinnacle's Opening prices to determine qualifiers. 
A quick note: there is a small difference to my initial article since I used maximum odds among all bookmakers back then. Now I am only using Pinnacle’s opening price.
The strategy I recommend is to use the prices as close to kick-off as possible for maximum accuracy in the win probabilities of the two teams and so the Closing prices actually measure the effectiveness of the strategy as markets are not as efficient when they open (possibly weeks in advance) as they are close to kick-off.

If we use Pinnacle's raw Closing prices as our filter, over the last four seasons, including this incomplete one, there have been 108 qualifiers, with a profit of 9.42 points, and ROI of 8.7%

When I say 'raw' I mean prices that haven't been adjusted to account for the over-round. While it should be preferable to calculate the actual implied win probabilities and use these to determine qualifiers, the extra work seems to add little value as using this method there have been 105 selections, with a profit of 8.8 points, and an ROI of 8.4%.

So in the EPL, results for this strategy when correctly applied appear to be holding up, even though the genie is out of the bottle. Fortunately punters generally have short attention spans, and after a short-term dry spell will forget about the long-term profitability of a method and move on.

Looking at the 2019-20 results so far, I imagine several followers gave up at the end of January after one winner in 12 matches, but these losing runs have to be expected when it comes to backing the Draw. 

Note that matches in bold are those where the difference was less than 5%.

Similarly in La Liga, which also came under Nenko's scrutiny, the results over the past (almost) four seasons are also profitable, with an ROI of 6.7% from 96 selections.  

One noticeable change in this league is that prior to 2016-17, the Draw in 'close' matches was never shorter than 3.1. 

However, in the (almost) four seasons since, the Draw has been priced shorter than 3.0 on 14 occasions, and in no fewer than nine just this season. So far!

Backing the Draw at sub 3.0 is rarely value, and you can improve your ROI by excluding these qualifiers.

Thanks to Nenko for giving me something to write about as the pandemic plays out.

Sunshine Follows >5% Declines - Usually

Who needs baseball, I rhetorically asked at the end of my last post. After today's beating in the markets, it seems that I do. Some slow and steady T-Bone profits are far easier on the psyche than the losses incurred by a 5.9% one day loss in the markets.

This was only the 28th time since 1952, when the S&P 500 converted to a five-day trading schedule, that the index has tumbled by at least 5% in a day with five of those declines have been in the past three months alone.

The good news though is that Market Watch reports that "declines of this magnitude have historically been followed by sizable rebounds in the days, weeks and months to follow".

Three of those days were followed by another 5% or greater loss, but it's encouraging that the last time a Friday saw a decline of this size was back in the last millennium.   
Investing is a game of endurance, with the biggest gains accruing to those that can most withstand the pain.
Context is everything of course, and the S&P 500 is still up 34.2% from March 23rd, a much more positive way of looking at things than that it is 11.3% off its high.

Tuesday 9 June 2020

Boeing Meets Tesla

I trust some of you are making a little money on Boeing, Pfeizer and Tesla after an outstanding day yesterday. 

Boeing are now +57.56% after just one week!

I don't think I'll be selling anytime soon either, with this Barron's headline:

Boeing Stock Is Surging Again. It’s Looking More Like Tesla These Days.
Tesla is the +202.37% investment seen on the left, so there seems to be plenty of runway left for Boeing. 

Currently at 230.5, Boeing was at 347.45 on February 12th, so it really does have some upside with Seaport Global Securities today recommending a Buy and looking at a $277 price target. 

Normally I'd be quite pleased with the 3.11% on Pfeizer, another oversold stock purchased at the same time as Boeing last Monday, but performance is all relative, and relatively it has been disappointing. 

Both are components of 30 stock Dow Jones Industrial Average which was up another 1.7% yesterday.
Another major US index is of course the NASDAQ, which is heavily weighted towards tech and healthcare companies, both of which have performed well during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, this index set a new record high yesterday, and the 76-day return to a record high is the second fastest rebound on record (a new high in a new bull market), after the 65 days ending on April 9, 2009.

After all the downs and ups of the past few weeks, I am now back within 0.25% of my all-time high set on February 19th.  

Who needs baseball! 

Saturday 6 June 2020

Splendid Hibernation

As the years have gone by, the impact to my bottom line from trading and sports investing has diminished in percentage terms, and lately in actual terms also.

Other than some unsettled trading on Politics mentioned in my last post, May saw no trading or betting activity at all, with all my sports and markets continuing their enforced hibernations. If you were brave enough to follow me on the US Presidential Election bets, you're in the money right now with Biden currently the odds-on favourite, and the Democrats around 1.85 to be the winning party. Keep an eye on those swing state polls, but I'm not seeing any reason to lock in profits at this time. 

As for when the sports I follow might return, with Baseball that remains undecided. Major League Baseball was planning on a shortened 82 game season, but that looks unlikely now with the MLB and the MLB Players Association miles apart on the number of games to be played and how much the players should be paid. 

The NBA is targeting a return to play on July 31st, with all games being played at the Disneyland Resort in Orlando...

...where 22 of the 30 NBA teams are expected to participate in Orlando. That will include the 16 current playoff teams as well as the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards. Teams will play an abbreviated version of the regular season that will consist of eight games, as well as a play-in tournament for the eighth seed in both conferences. The tournament will only happen if the No. 9 seed finishes within four games of the No. 8 seed, in which case the No. 9 seed will have to beat the No. 8 seed twice to earn the final playoff spot in their conference. The playoffs will be a best-of-seven series in each round, with the NBA Finals concluding no later than Oct. 12.

For ice hockey, while the NHL has decided on the format when they return, the dates are not yet determined.

NFL is still a few months away, but of course could still be impacted by the pandemic. 

Bottom line is that from a betting perspective, with empty stadiums and neutral venues, this year looks like being one where previous strategies will no longer apply - there's not a lot of data on teams playing on an empty, neutral site in Orlando for example - but as I have stated before, with disruption comes opportunity.  

I haven't been idle regarding trading though, as my day-trading in stocks has increased during the 'lockdown', with a strategy of investing in quality stocks that had been hit hard by the pandemic, a strategy that is so far working out well. With some help from my son, my trading account is up 15.2% year-to-date and would have been more had I listened to him sooner about Llloyds Bank! 

One example is Boeing (top entry on the left) which seemed to me have been oversold. In four days the price has soared by 47.48%. If it keeps this rate up, I'll be retired in a few weeks! 

It's not always this easy though.

The meagre 2.74% gain has only gone green today after several months of being in the red, but some solid gains in those individual stocks have more than made up for no baseball, basketball or ice hockey.

The runt of the litter with the 1.82% gain was another stock recently purchased which was Pfizer, a company I know very little about but the technical indicators I use indicated a buy and heck, at least it is up which admittedly isn't anything to be proud of in a rising market.

On March 23rd, the markets closed at a pandemic low, but since then have risen enormously. The S&P 500 is up 42.75% and the FTSE 100 is up 29.84%. Regular readers will know where they should be investing. At the time of that linked to post in April, the S&P 500 was down 11% on the year, but as of last night, it is down just 1.1%. No surprise that the FTSE languishes so far behind, with no gains since 2013.