Friday, 31 July 2020

National League Playoff Finals 2020

It's the National League playoff finals this weekend, with the Regional matches hosted by the higher seeded club.

In the North, that's Boston who play Altrincham. The hosts finished 3rd in the table, while their opponents finished 5th and when the two clubs met earlier this season, Boston won 5-0 at home.

In the South, it's a 3rd v 6th match-up with Dartford winning two Away games to win a third at Weymouth where they lost 1:3 earlier this season.

Looking at the 11 years of data for regional finals, the Draw is the profitable strategy with a 7.14 unit profit from the 22 matches, with at least one of the Finals ended all-square since 2013. Only one of those Draws had an odds-on favourite, and neither match tomorrow does. 

The playoff game for a place in the Football League next season is at neutral Wembley, where Notts County are favourites against Harrogate Town. 

Favourites since 2004 have a 5% ROI but again, the sample size is small. Notts County are the hottest favourites ever in this game (surprisingly no team has ever been odds-on) and having beaten and drawn with Harrogate Town earlier this season, are worth a bet.

Second Leg Dependencies

As expected based on the league placings, the Championship Play-Off Final will be between West Londoners Brentford and Fulham. Both clubs reached the Final in different ways. 


Brentford lost the Away leg by one goal before winning the second leg. Historically, when clubs lose the first leg by one goal, the value is on them to lose the second leg. In play-off matches of this type from 2004 on, the Away in 40 such matches has an ROI of

Fulham on the other hand, won the Away first leg by two goals. This is a margin which is also hugely profitable for the Away win, although there have only been 14 such scenarios. With a two goal margin, perhaps teams psychologically consider the job is done, and even when losing by a goal, are still ahead in the tie and don't care too much. Fulham had nothing to gain from pushing for an equaliser, and everything to lose by opening the game up, a great example of why understanding the context is so critical in sports investing. 

For those interested, the results of second leg matches ordered by the lead the Home team has going into the game are shown in the table below:
Only small samples for many columns, but some interesting trends can be seen.

The NBA restarted its 2019 season last night with a couple of close games, and as I predicted here, the value was on Unders.

Meanwhile hot favourites continue to struggle in MLB, although the T-Bone System is off to a 5-0 start with three more selections today. 

    

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Marlins Misery

Less than a week into the MLB season, and the Miami Marlins have 10% of their fixtures postponed after 17 members of the organisation tested positive for COVID-19. Other games are being postponed and re-scheduled as a result, which makes for an interesting time for investors on the sport.


It seems improbable that this will be the only team to suffer an outbreak during the season, and with limited dates to make up games we could have a League One / League Two-like scenario where final positions are decided on win percentage with teams playing a different total number of games.

Arguably, with a record 16 (of 30) teams making it to the play-offs this year, it doesn't matter too much! 

The early games have been good for the systems, with one glaring exception being the performance of hot favourites which, after a 5-0 start on Thursday and Friday, fell apart at the weekend with a rather disastrous 2-8 record. 

Results for the season so far are below, using the American method of calculating profits based on risking the line to win one unit when playing on favorites and risking one unit to win the line when playing on dogs.
Early days, and the million dollar question is will the favourites bounce back, or is this the new normal in a shortened season?

At around 1.6, Brentford may be the shortest price Home team in a Football League play-off match tonight. The top 10 shortest at this level for a second leg game are:
Some comfortable Home wins there, along with a couple of shock results with the Away team scoring four, but a shame that for Brentford's last match at Griffin Park, there will be no fans. 

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Early Season Baseball / Late Season Football

It's been a strong start to the 2020 season for followers of my MLB systems, with the Opening Day System (results updated) resulting in all three selections winning on the Money Line, and two on the Run Line, while the Hot Favourites System is off to a 5-0 start with all five also winners on the Run Line. Five more selections today, but no T-Bone qualifiers yet.


The Over / Under systems have only had one selection so far, which was a perfect winner for Unders finishing with one run scored.

Not such a good day for opposing Home favourites in the National League play-off semi-finals with four of the six home teams winning. 

We have more play-offs tomorrow and in the 17 years of Championship play-offs for which I have data, i.e. since 2004, only six times has the Away team been favourite in the first leg of the semi-final. A little surprising perhaps, given that the Away team is always the team that finished higher in the league, but there are, of course, many other factors to consider.
Whether the lack of a crowd this years has made a difference or whether it is just that Brentford and Fulham finished 11 and 8 points respectively ahead of their South Wales opponents, the fact is that both Away teams are favourites tomorrow, with Brentford the hottest Away favourite in any Football League play-off game.

Overround / Over-round

The editor of this blog likes to eschew obfuscation and espouse elucidation, and a couple of issues about "over-round" have been annoying me.

First of all, should the word be "overround" or "over-round"?  Search the web, and both spellings can be found.

Not the biggest of concerns, but without the hyphen, Blogger underlines it in red although MS Word has no problem with it. Since I have an aversion to anything red, my preference is to use "over-round". 

But the bigger issue is how to use the term accurately. 

I have seen some sources refer to an over-round of, say 103%, while other sources use 3% or 1.03. 

Logically, using the 3% / 103% as an example, the bookmakers' round is 103%, while the OVER-round is the 3%, since a 100% round would be a fair book.

My bible for all, or at least many, things betting related is Leighton Vaughan Williams' Information Efficiency in Financial and Betting Markets and here the spelling is "over-round" but the use is:

Over-round = 1.03
Dominic Cortis' 2015 study Expected Values and Variances in Bookmaker Payouts : A Theoretical Approach Towards Setting Limits on Odds published in The Journal of Prediction Markets uses "over-round" as an alternative to "bookmaker margin" or "vig". 
... adds up to more than 100%, and the difference to 100% is generally described as the bookmaker margin (Cain, Law, & Peel, 2003; Peel & Thomas, 1992; Štrumbelj, 2014). Other similar terms include the over-round (Zafiris, 2014) and the vig (Peel & Thomas, 1992). The sum of the inverse of probabilities are equal to 1.05121%. The bookmaker margin in this case is 5.121%.
The Mathematics of bookmaking page in Wikipedia doesn't hyphenate the word but does say that it is the "amount by which the actual book exceeds 100%, e.g. 3%:
The amount by which the actual 'book' exceeds 100% is known as the 'overround', 'bookmaker margin' or the 'vigorish' or 'vig'.
Unfortunately, this article then contradicts itself by saying:
which gives an overround of 107.36%.
Incidentally, further definitions of vigorish include juice, under-juice, the cut, the take, the margin or the house edge!

I reached out to the esteemed Joseph Buchdahl for his opinion on the matter but he must have weightier issues going on right now as he rather dismissively replied:
Well, no, it really doesn't matter that much so long as every one understands the meaning intended.

Regarding ROI, I had no idea there was a similar problem with it, as I have always used it as defined financially:
Betting Wolf explained that:
Problem with ROI is the same issue essentially... some people quoting 103% meaning 3% profit. Where as some would say 103% as in £100 spent and £203 returned.
Claiming an ROI of 103% in the above example would be rather misleading. I find it bad enough that some people don't include the stakes on their voided or pushed bets, but that's another story. 

Friday, 24 July 2020

Adjustification

A new web site appeared on my radar a couple of days ago when Toni sent me an email:

hope you are doing well. Recently, I came across your blog which I like very much, lots of useful information. My name is Toni and I run a small website on betting strategies and automation. Your "Bundeslayga" method caught my attention and I would like to ask how you adjust the lay price for the market overround and what staking you use?
The reason why I am asking is that I've tried to replicate your approach at https://sportsbettingquant.com/strategies/laying-home-favourites-bundesliga/ with some Python code but unfortunately my results differ from the ones published on http://green-all-over.blogspot.com/2020/06/bundesliga-2019-20-notes.html
After clarifying the method and the staking strategy (risk one unit on each bet), Toni responded with:
Many thanks, Cassini. Your clarification was very helpful. After adjusting my script I obtained pretty much the same result - still a small offset, probably due to rounding / lower precision floating point calculation on my side.
He then asked me for my rationale behind adjusting the odds to produce a baseline:
I am struggling a bit to understand your motivation behind using the adjusted odds as baseline to report on profit/loss figures. I mean as a Pinnacle user, I wouldn't be able to place bets at the adjusted price to achieve the reported profit/loss, would I?
Since I typically adjust the prices to a 103% over-round, and the Pinnacle over-round is (for the EPL at least) usually below this number, then certainly you could expect to beat the results shown, but the reason is primarily to be able to compare results for a strategy from one season to another, even where the over-rounds may have been 112.5% in one season (EPL 2000-01) and 102% in others (EPL 2014-17).

Clearly using the raw prices doesn't allow this. The idea and process isn't perfect of course, but as I told Toni:
...the purpose is not to give a precise P/L but rather to show where the market isn't efficient and let anyone who is interested work out how best to take advantage of that.
As I've written in the blog before, if 100 people applied any system in practice, you would get 100 different results.

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Playoff Home Pressure

It was quite an exciting finish to the Championship last night with Swansea City overtaking Nottingham Forest and grabbing a playoff spot by virtue of winning by three goals and Forest losing by the same margin, while at the bottom end of the table Barnsley (who beat Forest on Sunday) beat promotion chasing Brentford to secure a remarkable escape at the expense of Wigan Athletic and poor old Charlton Athletic who joined Hull City in the relegation places. All three were Premier League clubs in fairly recent history. 

With six matches to play, this was the bottom half of the Championship:
None of the bottom five ended up being relegated although with the 12 point deduction hanging over Wigan, the table doesn't tell the whole story perhaps. 

As this Tweet from Jake Sanders pointed out:
Barnsley were in the relegation-zone every week from 15 September until the 91st minute in the final game of the season and survived. Charlton were in it for one week all season and got relegated.
The playoffs are thus set, and begin on Sunday with the possibility of an All-West London Final, or an All-South Wales Final.  

Historically, the playoff markets at this level (since the 2003-04 season) place too much confidence in Home teams. 

Backing Away teams in the first leg has an ROI of 23.7% while in the second leg it is 32%

The idea that the first leg, hosted by the higher seeded team, is usually a close match is borne out by the statistics which show a healthy profit from backing the Draw over 100 such matches across the top three playoff tiers, but it's the under-performance of Home teams which is striking.

The table below should be fairly self-explanatory. The Stage is Tier Level 1,2 or 3 (Championship, League One, League Two) and the SF.x is the first or second leg. Odds are from Oddsportal and are adjusted to a 103% over-round. The raw over-round is as high as 113% in earlier years.
While Home sides generally do better in the second leg, an overall ROI of -17.3% from 200 matches is pretty bad.

Laying the Home team is clearly where the edge is, but with only four games per tier each season, any one year can easily see a four unit loss from this strategy, so don't go silly.  

Of course it's possible that the pressure of playing in front of demanding supporters is to blame, in which case maybe this edge evaporates for a season with no one there!

In case you were wondering, the last time all four Home teams won in the same season was in 2004.

For anyone following me with my $TSLA investment, there was more good news yesterday with NPR reporting:
Already a Wall Street superstar, Tesla turned a profit for the fourth straight quarter, an important milestone that will make it eligible to join the S&P 500 stock index for the first time.
Even though its main factory in Fremont, Calif., was closed for much of the time, the electric-car maker brought in more than $6 billion during the second quarter, well above analysts' expectations. Tesla reported a profit of $104 million, a reversal from a year earlier when it lost $408 million.
Tesla's stock has enjoyed towering gains this year, going from $430 a share at the start of 2020 to nearly $1,600 at the close of trading Wednesday. It's the biggest automaker by market value. Even its CEO, Elon Musk, has called the company's stock overvalued.
If Tesla joins the S&P 500, as expected, many investment funds will be obligated to buy it, which means it will become part of many people's retirement savings.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

La Liga 2019-20

La Liga is now ended, and the bad news for serious investors is that for the third consecutive season, the over-round using Pinnacle's Closing prices increased again. 

With the goals per game average at its second lowest in at least 27 years, it's not surprising that backing the Draw blindly was again a profitable strategy, but only just.

Here are the numbers, adjusted to a 103% over-round for the Pinnacle years 2012-2020:
As would be expected, the "Toss-Up" matches have the highest ROI, while the "Close" matches are also profitable long-term. 

I mentioned Deportivo La Coruña's whining against relegation in my last post, and it seems they may refuse to play their postponed last match of the season against promotion hopefuls Fuenlabrada, which is not very deportivamente of them. 

Deportivo are asking for the Segunda División to be expanded to 24 clubs so that both they and Numancia can be reprieved. Normally the response would be to award Fuenlabrada a 1:0 win but that would push Elche out of the final play-off spot, so of course then they would head to court. All rather messy.  

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Segunda División - Con Uno To Go

I was hoping to be able to update the final numbers for Spain's Second Tier (Segunda División) today, but there is one match outstanding after the Deportivo La Coruña v Fuenlabrada game was postponed shortly before kick-off yesterday with several of the visiting team's players testing positive for COVID-19.


This was a key match at both ends of the table, with former La Liga Champions Deportivo facing relegation to the third tier and Fuenlabrada looking for a promotion play-off spot. 

The other matches all went ahead, kicking off at the same time as is usual in the final round of matches, but now both teams know what they need to do to achieve their respective goals.

Deportivo need to win by thirteen goals (somewhat unlikely) to avoid relegation, while Fuenlabrada need a draw to replace Elche in the play-offs. 

Elche, you may remember, were relegated in 2015 due to their financial struggles and dropped to the third tier in 2017-18. 

Deportivo, La Liga Champions in 2000, are now crying that it is unfair that other matches have been completed, and the play-offs will be delayed for at least two weeks until the infected players test negative. 

So bearing in mind that we are one match short, the Segunda División had an over-round of 103.7% this season using Pinnacle's Closing Price (except for one match where no prices were available when I used Bet 365's numbers).

Backing the Draw was profitable in both the "close" and "toss-up" categories this season.

However, important to note that with the highest percentage of drawn matches since 2003-04, simply blindly backing the Draw this season would have been profitable. Below are the numbers adjusted to a 103% over-round:
I'll take a look at La Liga next.

Monday, 20 July 2020

Buffalo Blue Jays

The Home Advantage question now has another angle in the MLB where the Blue Jays will not only be playing in an empty stadium, but will now be playing their 'Home' games in a foreign country.

Having been denied permission to host games in Toronto this year, the franchise will be temporarily moving, with Buffalo a possible venue. The good news is that Buffalo Blue Jays is a pleasant sounding alliteration, although I imagine they will officially remain the Toronto Blue Jays in the record books wherever they end up.

With only ten games until their "Home" opener, there's not much time for the Blue Jays to get organised.

The shortened 60 game season starts on Thursday. 

In the National League (the English football one, not the MLB's), six club play-offs, Home teams continued to struggle with just one win from the four regional Quarter-Final matches yesterday.

Results for the Quarter-Final and Semi-Final matches since this format was adopted are now:
With the Home clubs at the Semi-Final stage not having played a competitive match since mid-March, it may well be that the Away team with a game under their belt and coming off a confidence boosting win, will have the advantage in an empty ground.  

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Six Club Play-Offs

Since the National League moved to a six club play-off format in 2017-18, there have been 28 matches hosted by one of the clubs, with two finals at neutral Wembley.

In the regional divisions, all matches are hosted by the higher seeded club, based on their regular season placing, including the final.

Of the 29 matches, only nine have been won by the Home team, with eight Away wins which, the sharper minded of you will soon realise, leaves twelve matches that have resulted in a Draw. 

Using the prices from Oddsportal, and adjusting to an over-round of 103%, the return from blindly backing the Draw is 16.23 units, which is an ROI of almost 56%. Once again, as I'm sure you don't need to be told, an ROI from so few matches is fairly meaningless, but in games such as these, where there is no second leg, the need to not lose can lead to close games. Losing 0:1 when there is a Home leg to come, is a lot different to losing by the same score in an elimination game.

Today's win for Barnet means the National League Play-Off final will be between a former Football League club and a potential debutant. 


Friday, 17 July 2020

National League Play-Offs 2019-20

Home teams in empty stadium playoff games haven't fared too well so with just two wins from the ten matches so far, including the Bundesliga playoffs.

Only one Home team started at odds-on, while the Away team was favourite in three matches 

Results are above with the over-round adjusted to 103% as Oddsportal's over-rounds tend to be a little higher than those of Pinnacle Sports. 

We have another game today, the National League's first Quarter-Final between Boreham Wood (2.2) and FC Halifax Town (4.0) with the Draw at 3.25. There are more playoff matches, including the National League North and South, this weekend. 

This is the third season with the current playoff format, and across all three divisions of the National League, of the 23 matches at the Quarter-Final stage, nine have been Home wins, with seven Away wins and seven Draws. In other words, Home advantage hasn't been great even with fans showing up.

Only two points separated these two clubs in the "final" table and while FC Halifax lost at home to Boreham Wood in the regular season, with the return fixture lost to the pandemic.

Thursday, 16 July 2020

270 To Win

The always excellent The Economist has an article on the US Presidential Election and their model for the Electoral College which:

...works by simulating 20,000 paths for the election, each time varying candidates’ vote shares to account for polling error, changes in turnout or the political environment and the effects of campaigning. The bars below represent the predicted likelihood of every plausible electoral-vote outcome.
Less than three weeks ago, I wrote that:
...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).
The Economist has only three states as "toss-ups", namely Ohio, Georgia and Iowa (two of those states having a good number of votes at stake).

Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are moved to the "Likely Democrat" column, and North Carolina, Arizona and Florida move to the "Leans Democrat" category although with a win probability for the Democrats of 0.84, (The Economist's estimate, not mine), I would have Florida in the "Likely" category. Betfair has the Democrats in Florida at 1.62, having traded as low as 1.5.   

With 270 Electoral College votes needed to win, any one of Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina or Arizona would be enough for the Democrats, assuming no huge surprises higher up the list of "likely" states. 

With less than four months to go until the election, the Trump response to COVID-19 as poor as it has ever been, and with no sign of getting any better any time soon, the 1.66 on Biden to be Next President or 1.57 on Democrats to be the Winning Party look great value. Barring a miracle cure for COVID-19 (and his suggestion to stop testing so that no new cases are found does have a slight flaw) it's hard to see where he will add to his base to be close to competitive.

The fight for control of the Senate looks likely to be close, with "No Majority" currently the favourite at 2.5 and "Democrat Majority" second favourite at 3.15.

A tie would probably suit the Democrats (assuming they win the Presidency) since the deciding vote is cast by the Vice President. Who that might be isn't yet known, but Kamala Harris of California is currently the favourite. 

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Homesick

In the whole scheme of things, it's still a small sample size, but some of you may be interested in the results to date for league matches being played in an empty stadium.

It's a little more garish than my usual more subtle style, but shows the outcomes for backing the Home result using Pinnacle's Closing Odds adjusted to a standard 103% over-round. 

As might be expected, the results so far show that the loss of a crowd has more of an effect on the teams in the top tier of leagues than on teams from the second tier. 

The Bundesliga is complete and the top league showed a big loss, although again, 82 matches is very small, while Bundesliga.2 showed a profit.

Home teams in La Liga are also under-performing with just two rounds to go, with second tier teams just about where they are expected and in Italy, it's a similar pattern.

In England and Portugal, the top teams currently show better than expected returns, but the Championship (where crowds are higher than other second level leagues) shows a drop off in results. The top tier numbers are impacted by the influence of a few big priced winners which, in a small sample, skews the results of course. 

I'll update these numbers at the end of the seasons and maybe make the colours a little less jarring to the eye.

Back To Green

"It's certainly been an interesting stock to invest in, with hardly a day going by without some news."
I wrote the above just two days ago, and so it continues, with Tesla's stock price surging by another 16% on Monday coming within a whisker of $1,800, before losing all its gains and closing at around $1,500. Never a dull moment!

At one point on Monday, the losses since February 19th were erased, but there's a saying about counting chickens which I was reminded of as the trading day came to a close.

Yesterday was a more steady day for Tesla, closing at $1,532, and with the markets all generally positive, the 146 day draw-down since February's slide is finally over after touching a nadir of -23.3% in March. 

In football, it's been a very quiet run of matches in the EPL as far as qualifiers for the Draw bets go with only four "Toss-Up" qualifiers since the hiatus, and just another five in the "Close" category. Totals for the season and all-time (adjusted to a 103% over-round) are:
We're only eight days away from Opening Day in MLB, and some of you may recall the March post where I revealed a possible weakness in the market on Opening Day related to the Favourite in Divisional games

With two-thirds of matches this year falling under into the 'Divisional' category, there are likely to be a few more qualifiers this year than usual with 24 of the 30 teams playing a Divisional rival, but this season is unique so whether the trend will continue with empty stadiums and a season starting in July remains to be seen.

NBA returns on July 30th, and the NHL on August 1st closely followed by pre-season NFL on August 13th. I suspect a few Sports Equinox records will be broken this year.  

We won't be seeing any Super Equinoxes though with the NHL and NBA playing in Canada and Orlando, but the seasons are going to get so complicated, it'd be easy to miss anyway. 

An update on a couple of recent topics. One is that the Washington Redskins have finally confirmed their name will be changed and in College Football the Pac-12 have also moved to a conference-only football schedule while the other P5 conferences (SEC, ACC and Big 12) will make their decisions later this month.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

From Sports To Day Trading

While Tesla's stock price continues to soar, breaking through the $1,500 level on Friday, there could be more to come.
Wall Street analysts are increasingly confident that the company will post a profit when it reports earnings on July 22.
This would mean four consecutive quarters of profitability which is a requirement for being added to the S&P 500 index, and if that happens demand will be driven up by all the indexed funds needing to re-balance their holdings to reflect the change.

With Tesla's market capitalization larger than 95% of companies of in the index, demand will be high.

The flip side of this is that if Tesla doesn’t get added to the S&P 500, its stock price could plunge.

It's certainly been an interesting stock to invest in, with hardly a day going by without some news.

Sticking with the theme of financial trading and the Robinhood trading app which I have mentioned before is coming in for some criticism for trying to make trading more like a game and attracting younger, inexperienced investors.
Robinhood, E-Trade, TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab, Interactive Brokers, Fidelity and even Merrill Lynch have all embraced commission-free trading and zero-minimum balances in an effort to attract younger customers, many of whom have little understanding of the securities and markets they are dabbling in.
Last month, a 20 year old student, Alexander E Kearns, killed himself after running up an apparent loss of around $730,000 on Robinhood.
Like so many others, Kearns took up stock investing during the pandemic, signing up with Millennial-focused brokerage firm Robinhood, which offers commission-free trading, a fun and easy-to-use mobile app and even awards new customers free shares of stock.
During the first quarter of 2020, Robinhood added a record 3 million new accounts to its platform. As the Covid-19 stock market swung wildly, Kearns had begun experimenting, trading options. His final note, filled with anger toward Robinhood, says that he had “no clue” what he was doing.
It seems clear that many people who formerly invested on sports have moved to the financial markets during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Some readers interested in US Sports may be familiar with Barstool Sports and their founder Dave Portnoy, who has:
...become the poster child of the day-trading craze, livestreaming his daily trading sessions on Twitter, giving followers a glimpse into both his successes and failures as he slings positions worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
With 1.6m followers on Twitter, his profile cautions:
I’m not a financial advisor. Don’t trust anything I say about stocks.
Nevertheless it seems likely that several people have followed his lead as this Fox Business article discusses.
Portnoy isn’t alone in diving headlong into the stock market to help fill his sports gambling void. The sports-betting industry was a $150 billion business in 2019 and gamblers have since March been limited to wagering on South Korean baseball and other obscure sports, causing many of them to turn their focus to the financial markets.

“Sports gambling is a huge business in this country and a lot of sports gamblers and a lot of these millennial gamers are now playing the stock market, day trading,” Jim Bianco, president and macro strategist at Bianco Research, told FOX Business. The shift is evidenced in enrollment at Robinhood and other web-based trading platforms.
“The Robinhood numbers are just showing you parabolic increases in the amount of accounts opened, positions added and every other broker is telling us the same thing,” he said.
Nearly 800,000 people opened new accounts at the three biggest online brokers in March and April amid the heart of the COVID-19 lockdowns, according to the Financial Times. That wave of new accounts has infused life into an industry that had been left for dead.
Two years ago, everyone was throwing their hands up saying, “How do we get retail investors interested in the market again?” J.J. Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade, told FOX Business. “Well, you know, all of a sudden, retail investors are interested in the market again.”
Back in 2013, maybe farther back, I wrote about the risks of day-trading here.
In the days of the Dot-com bubble, many of us probably knew at least one person who gave up a career to day-trade full-time. It was easy money, with tech stocks on an upward trend, but the bubble burst, as bubbles tend to do, and I do not know a single day-trader these days.
What made it viable for that short time wasn't that these full-time amateurs had an edge over the full-time professional traders, but that their gambles were kept profitable by the rising market.

I remember asking my former chemist acquaintance how he could possibly think that he (looking at a blinking screen) could have an edge over the full-time traders fully aware of what orders and why, were coming in to the market.
He never was able to answer that question, and like today, stocks are in another bull market since their 23rd March lows, and unless you are shorting, it seems easy to make money, but of course, it isn't that easy or we would all be millionaires.

Be careful.

Friday, 10 July 2020

Conference Only

I mentioned College Football yesterday and the decision of one Conference (the Ivy League) to suspend all sports, including football, until at least 2021.

While the decision was significant, the Ivy League isn't one of the Power Five (P5) or Group of Five (G5) conferences, but the Big Ten is, and yesterday they announced that they would only play conference games. There are actually 14 teams in the Big Ten, but teams usually play games against teams from outside their own conferences. It comes a day after Big Ten school Ohio State announced that it was...

...pausing all voluntary athletic workouts, football included, after receiving the results of COVID-19 testing of its student-athletes, the school announced Wednesday. The university did not release how many of its athletes tested positive for the virus, citing privacy concerns.
The question now is will other big conferences follow the lead of the Big Ten? 

It seems quite likely, with the ACC and the Pac-12 already rumoured to be following suit, and poor old Notre Dame, who compete in college football as an Independent school, potentially left without anyone to play! Following on from the terrible fire last year, this hasn't been a good year for them. Oh wait, that was a different Notre Dame.  

It seems likely that they will join the ACC to avoid this fate, as most of their sports teams are already in this conference, but because of money, they have remained independent for Football.

Conference teams share revenue but like other religious institutions, the more money Notre Dame (a Catholic college) can get and keep for themselves, the better. From May 2018
Notre Dame makes a reported $15 million annually with NBC to televise home football games in an agreement that was extended in 2013. The deal runs through 2025.
If Notre Dame were to join a conference, a certain amount of money would have to be spread through the conference, something that already happens in basketball and other conference sports.
Basically, if Florida State vs Notre Dame is televised on ESPN, Boston College gets part of that money.
Well perhaps now, Boston College will get some of that money, but there remains more than a slim possibility that there won't be any College Football this season anyway. 

The NFL's COVID-19 protocol banning jersey swaps at the end of games has come in for a lot of ridicule. As this Boston CBS article puts it:
These football players will have just completed a 60-minute athletic competition in which 10-14 people will be wrestling and colliding at the line of scrimmage.

Receivers and defensive backs will engage in man-to-man battles on the perimeter. Quarterbacks will get sacked. Running backs will get gang tackled. Safeties will jump into piles.

Refs and officials will dig through those piles looking to identify who has possession of the football.
There will also be huddles before every play. This will happen quite often.

Oh, and don’t forget the huddles. And what about those pump-up circles? Pregame prayers? Or post-play celebrations? Will that all be banned?
It does seem a little pointless, and personally I'd prefer it if they banned the pregame prayers.

Just a few days after releasing the shortened 2020 schedule, MLB released its 2021 162 game regular season schedule yesterday, which seems a little premature and perhaps overly optimistic.

I've added a couple of blogs to my blog roll. I wasn't aware of it until last night, but the Secret Betting Club, which I always thought was a rather silly name, changed its name to the Smart Betting Club (which is much more mature) and has some posts that some of you may be interested in. A little over six years ago I had a post about them which included this paragraph:
With a name like “Secret Betting Club”, it will be no surprise when I say I have no idea who the brains are behind it, but what I do know is that they have not taken a law class.
The topic was their campaign for "Bookie Fairplay" which seemed to me to be an exercise in futility. The claim that they a "defender of punters rights" still seems silly, 

The second addition is Plus EV Analytics which looks like it may have some interesting content. It's well written and very readable, and the writer has a sense of humour as well as coming across as being honest. In response to one comment asking where he'd got some numbers from, he answered:
To be honest I don’t remember where I got it, and I can’t vouch for its 100% accuracy
Can't beat that! He also seems to like NFL so one to watch. If anyone has other suggestions for additions to the blog roll, let me know. 

Thursday, 9 July 2020

NFL Facemask Rule Update - Wear One

With the American Football seasons (College and pro) getting closer by the day, and the number of new cases in the US continuing to climb every day, the question of if and how the seasons will be played out continues to be uncertain.

At the College level, one Division 1 Conference (read this post for a primer on how College Football is structured) - the Ivy League - has said there will be no sports played by any of its members until at least 2021.

Most readers might not care too much, but College Football is the only sport that generates profits at most universities, and so the knock-on effect to other sports teams of losing a season is likely to be significant. 

As for the NFL, it's still not certain whether fans will be allowed to attend, but it seems certain that if they are, the number will be significantly reduced. The Green Bay Packers announced last week that face masks would be mandatory, and that the stadium's seating capacity would be significantly reduced, while the Baltimore Ravens announced yesterday that fewer than 20% of seats would be filled with the limit set to 14,000. 

Crowd noise used to be considered a key factor in the home advantage in the NFL, which behind the NBA, is the second strongest in US sports, but studies have proven this not to be the case. Last season, a record low 52% of regular season games were won by the Home side, which as readers will know, helped to boost the profits from the Small Road Dogs System.
Reduced crowds or empty stadiums will probably result in less value on the Road teams so this long-term cash generator may be in for a tough season, if indeed any season actually takes place.

The most common line for a Road team is +3 points, but strangely while this has been profitable long-term (55% ATS since the current league format was established in 2002), this specific line hasn't been profitable since 2014. 
Pre-season games are only five weeks away, and only a few days after the EFL Championship Play-off game, presumably at Wembley but with no fans allowed it seems like any neutral venue would suffice. 

Meanwhile the top two flights of English football click off their remaining games one at a time, as they do in Spain and Italy. The Championship relegation battle has been made a little more interesting with the possible 12 point deduction facing Wigan Athletic, but with matches against teams in 21st, 22nd and 23rd place to come (Charlton Athletic, Hull City and Barnsley) they can save themselves, although that might not be what the new owners want with rumours flying that they have had a sizable bet on the team being relegated.

From 200%:
In the video, a covertly videoed Rick Parry, the chair of the EFL, seems to be recorded saying that there is a rumour that this is happening because the owners of the club, who own casinos in the Philippines, have a large bet on Wigan being relegated at the end of this season. You can’t see a face in the video and it’s only a short clip so there’s no context given to the conversation that was being held, so for some time there was considerable conjecture that the video might have been faked, but the EFL did confirm in a statement last night that the person talking in the video was indeed Parry.
Wigan are currently third favourites and odds-on to go down. Barnsley looked doomed with their three other games being against Leeds United, Brentford and Nottingham Forest, currently in 2nd, 3rd and 5th places respectively.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Seven Year Hitch

While researching backing the Draw, I stumbled across a blog that seems to no longer be active, called Sport DW written by Ian. It's one of the better written blogs out there, with a statistical angle which I like, but it hasn't been updated for about two years which isn't a good sign.

What caught my eye was a post from about seven years ago, which claimed that

"If we look at the past three completed seasons in the Premier League, we can see how blindly backing the draw can be particularly profitable:"
Evidence in the form of a table is then shown, with the three EPL seasons from 2010-13 shown:
Ian clarifies that:
"The figures are based on placing £10 on the draw in every Premier League match over the course of a season. As we can see, you would have won money in two out of the three seasons, with the overall profit for the three year period being an impressive £668.90, which represents a 5.87% return on your initial stakes."
Unfortunately where the odds were pulled from isn't mentioned, but I compared them with my spreadsheet which uses Bet365's numbers for 2010-12 and Pinnacle's Closing Prices for the one season they are available (2012-13). 

My numbers for the seasons are:
Still profitable over the three seasons, but nowhere near as profitable as Ian was able to find. 

Possibly the results were achieved using the idealistic "best Draw price from any of the sportsbooks", and while it doesn't really matter at this stage anyway, perhaps Ian can recall where he pulled his numbers from? Or maybe not because seven years is a long time ago! 

In practice, it's likely an investor would have called it a day in early 2012 given that this method isn't traditionally profitable and the positive spell was just noise.

In fact, these three seasons just happened to be the best three for blindly backing the Draw since Football-Data began! 

Here are the results from the EPL since 2000 with the prices adjusted to a standard 103% over-round.

As readers will know, there is no edge to be found blindly backing the Draw.

Ian does continue with looking at the return in matches where the Under 2.5 goals is favourite (profits are increased) and also finds that the EPL is something of an outlier when it comes to Draws when compared to lower divisions and the top leagues in Europe.

In the comments, Spencer asked:
Great article Ian. Could you increase the ROI by leaving out games with heavy favourite?
Also, would be interesting to delve into why the Premier League is an anomaly when it comes to draws? 

Is it just coincidence or do you feel it's likely to continue in the future?

Wheelie1977 raised the topic of the Big 6 teams, although he only considered 5 worthy of being considered Big at the time, asking:
Wonder what the stats are if you leave out the Big 5 either home or away. Surely double digit ROI?
Actually the idea was a 'wheelie' good one, and would have left us with the 182 Little 14 match-ups per season and some good returns:
For the full twenty seasons blindly backing the Draw in 'Little 14' matches is down just 3.59 points after 4139 bets, so it's actually not a terrible system and one can that easily be made profitable by focusing on close matches. 

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

$TSLA Bull

It's hard to believe that it is over two years now since I invested a five figure sum in Tesla at $314.16 a share. 
I also liked that "around three-quarters of Tesla’s stock is held by major institutional investors — companies who have built their empires based on choosing good stocks. Furthermore, institutional investors have recently been increasing their stakes in the company".

These investors usually (not always) know what they're doing.To cut a long story short, I invested.
It's not been the prettiest of rides, especially in early April, but the stock is up 46.44% from that low, and the last couple of weeks have seen the red turn to green with some breathing room, and I think there is plenty more upside.
I wish it had been a six figure sum, because at the close yesterday, the stock was at $1,371 and after-hours was up to $1,432. The lower figure represents an ROI of 336.58%.
Bullish at this level I'm not so sure about, but while I'm not looking at selling just yet, I certainly wouldn't recommend buying at this level.

Boeing were up 57.56% about a month ago, but have since fallen back to +28.44%.

This would normally be a great return after five weeks but now feels slightly disappointing!

The second quarter just ended was a record for the spreadsheet (+14.3%), with the markets bouncing back strongly from their March slump.
The S&P 500 is down just 1.6% for the year, although the FTSE is struggling again as I warned in January 2018:
In more traditional financial markets, once again the main US benchmark index outperformed the UK's FTSE100. Only 4 times in the last 24 years has the FTSE prevailed, and the disaster that is Brexit means the US and Overseas markets are where most of my investments will again be in 2018.
I used to enjoy reading Wayward Lad's Pension Builder blog, but updates these days are few and far between with the last update back in February. A lot has happened since then, but overall his portfolio doesn't look to be in terrible shape.  

No Divas

The NHL continues to move towards a resumption of play with the two cities chosen almost certain to be Toronto (Eastern Conferences) and Edmonton (Western Conference).

Training camps originally scheduled for this Friday (July 10th) have been delayed to next week and will be held in the home city of each of the 24 participating teams.

From ESPN:

Teams are then expected to travel to the two hub cities on July 25 or July 26. Games are expected to begin Aug. 1, and if the tournament goes as planned, we should be awarding the Stanley Cup in early October. This is all still fluid, but we're getting to the point where the NHL needs to put firm dates on the calendar.
Interesting, but perhaps not surprising given the COVID-19 situation in the US, that the two cities likely selected are both in Canada, with Las Vegas dropped as the hub city for the Western Conference. The ESPN article has an amusing exchange between the writer (Emily Kaplan) and "a prominent Western Conference player":

Kaplan: Edmonton isn't exactly Las Vegas; do you think that will be a factor in some guys not wanting to play?

Player: The location of the hub hasn't been a consideration for any of the guys I talked to. If we went to Vegas, it's not like guys were really expecting to be able to go play cards at the Cosmo, or whatever. The only reasons guys are going to opt out is for health, personal or family reasons.

Kaplan: At the end of our conversation, he added: "Hockey guys just aren't divas like that."

In baseball, the long awaited schedule has finally been released by MLB and it looks like 40 games are against Divisional rivals with the other 20 against opponents from the other league although not 4 games against each. 

For example, the Los Angeles Dodgers play their National League West opponents (San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies) ten times each, and American League West opponents Houston Astros (4 times), Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (6), Seattle Mariners (4), Texas Rangers (3) and Oakland Athletics (3) for the 60 game season.

The season is scheduled to open on Thursday 23rd July with games between the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants.

All being well of course. 

The opening lines are already up for the Nationals v Yankees game with the total runs set at 7, significantly lower than the average total tine of 9 runs last season but reflective of the two starting pitchers status as 'aces'. At home in the Regular Season last year, the total was set at 7.8 when Scherzer was starting.   

Monday, 6 July 2020

Le Draw in Ligue.2

While there have been few Draws in the EPL since the hiatus, we did find two more winners this weekend in the "Close" and "Toss-Up" categories, although the official 2.95 for Burnley v Sheffield United was the shortest Draw price of the season.

Above are results since the return, and below overall for the season to date:
The Total line is for all seasons from 2000-01. It's also good to see that Pinnacle's over-round since the break has dropped slightly to 102.6% and note that the results above are adjusted to a 103% over-round and as a consequence are slightly worse than would be achieved in practice.


I also finished off the numbers for Ligue.2 this season, and they are presented below:

The problem with this league is that the average Draw price is so low. Overall the average price is 3.29, but in Close and Toss-Up matches it is just 3.05.

In the EPL since 2012, the respective averages are 4.28 and 3.34. 

While the percentage of matches ending in a Draw is consistently higher in Ligue.2 versus the EPL (see below for 2012-20) this is understood by the market and the prices offer little value.