Sunday 29 November 2020

Denver QBs Zero, Observers Nonzero

Apparently the decline in output from this prestigious blog has resulted in formerly regular readers forming new, and bad, habits including not checking in on a daily basis. As unacceptable as this is, I must take some responsibility because with most of my favourite (from a betting perspective) sports in their close season, and NFL teams playing weekly at the most, there's not been a huge amount to write about. 

Add in a work trip this month, which looks likely to be the last one for at least a couple of months, a couple of side projects which I have found myself pursuing, and the result is fewer posts.

In my defence, the decline is more perceived than actual with the number of posts this year already at 125, including this one, which surpasses the totals of both 2018 and 2019. Nevertheless, I shall try todo better.

Some of you may have seen the line move in the Denver Broncos v New Orleans Saints game. The opening line favoured the Saints by 6 points, but the news that all four Broncos Quarterbacks are out has meant that line has now moved to -14.5 making them the fourth biggest road favourite in the last 15 seasons. The other three all covered the spread in case you were wondering. Some sportsbooks have circled this game, but at the time of writing Pinnacle are still accepting bets. 

How, you may ask, did Denver end up in this predicament? Per Adam Schefter of ESPN:

QB Jeff Driskel tested positive for COVID on Thursday.
Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles did not wear masks, per a source, and were deemed high-risk close contacts today. They now are out Sunday.

Here is where I would normally take the opportunity to point out that John Elway (President of Football Operations) is a well known Republican which may have been a factor in the mask debacle here, but Elway has shown a positive attitude towards understanding the racial injustices in the US so I'll be kind:

"I've spent the last week listening and learning from the players and coaches on our team.

"What I've heard from the players in particular—and watching the way they lead during this time of need—has been moving. I always thought that since I grew up in a locker room, I knew everything there was to know about understanding teammates from different backgrounds and walks of life. What I've realized is that I could not have been more wrong. Listening to the players and reading their social media, the strength they have shown and the experiences they have shared has been powerful. It has impacted me. I realize I have a long way to go, but I will keep listening and learning. That is the only way to grow. I truly believe a lot of good will come from the many difficult conversations that are taking place around our team, league and country.

The Betfair Forum has some long threads on the subject of when the US Election markets, notably the "Next President" market might be settled, and in particular plenty of people who are not happy with Betfair making up new rules as previously, and specifically, excluded "subsequent events" unfold.

One user suggested:

It's like backing the winner of a horserace and then being told by the bookie that you cannot be paid until the vets have examined the horses, and confirmed that as no doping or other fraud took place the result can stand, subject of course to any subsequent legal objections to the winner.

He's not far wrong. It's as if the horse race rules said:

"This bet will be settled with the winner the first horse past the post. Subsequent events such as an objection or positive doping test will have no effect on the settlement of this market" 

Biden's My Boy wins by 20 lengths, but the owner of runner-up Racist Donny doesn't like losing and immediately signals his intention to form a crack legal team to be led by Rudy Giuliani and files an objection. Betfair consult with their own crack team of lawyers and announce that they have decided to wait until the objection is heard. The objection is over-ruled. The horses never came close to each other, at least not within six feet, but another objection is filed. Giuliani, tucking in his shirt, says they have heard about a massive fraud that needs to be fully investigated. No evidence of course, but it possibly involves 5G technology, pyramids and men from Mars. 

No, wait! None of my horse's fans were allowed in to see the race!

Status: Denied. The Trump campaign later admitted that there were a "nonzero number of people in the room" observing the vote count, including some affiliated with the campaign. Judge Paul S. Diamond shot back, "I'm sorry, then what's your problem?"

The problem is that he can't handle losing, and it's not even as if it is close.

From the Washington Post:

The facts were indisputable: President Trump had lost.

But Trump refused to see it that way. Sequestered in the White House and brooding out of public view after his election defeat, rageful and at times delirious in a torrent of private conversations, Trump was, in the telling of one close adviser, like “Mad King George, muttering, ‘I won. I won. I won.’ ”

However cleareyed Trump’s aides may have been about his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, many of them nonetheless indulged their boss and encouraged him to keep fighting with legal appeals. They were “happy to scratch his itch,” this adviser said. “If he thinks he won, it’s like, ‘Shh . . . we won’t tell him.’ ”

Only on Nov. 23 did Trump reluctantly agree to initiate a peaceful transfer of power by permitting the federal government to officially begin Biden’s transition — yet still he protested that he was the true victor.

The 20 days between the election on Nov. 3 and the greenlighting of Biden’s transition exemplified some of the hallmarks of life in Trump’s White House: a government paralyzed by the president’s fragile emotional state; advisers nourishing his fables; expletive-laden feuds between factions of aides and advisers; and a pernicious blurring of truth and fantasy.

Though Trump ultimately failed in his quest to steal the election, his weeks-long jeremiad succeeded in undermining faith in elections and the legitimacy of Biden’s victory.

As I've said before, it's the principle that Betfair are establishing here that is worrisome. Having funds tied up for a few more days is slightly annoying but it isn't a big deal.

What's the worst that could happen? Say there are enough faithless electors to give Trump another term. In this event, Betfair would have three options

1. Settle the market as a win for Trump. Not going to happen since millions were put into the market where the rules clearly stated that "Any subsequent events such as a ‘faithless elector’ will have no effect on the settlement of this market". I imagine some fairly large bets were placed and a lot of unhappy customers would take legal action.

2. Settle the market as a win for Biden. That wouldn't be a viable option having refused to do just that when they should have, and with Trump heading for another term.

3. Void the market. A billion pound market? Maybe, but that would be a PR disaster as well as costing Betfair some money.

The most likely outcome is that Trump's legal efforts continue to be denied, thrown out, withdrawn etc. (you'd think they'd have fired their best shots by now, if they had any), and the Electoral College process sees Biden elected on December 14th with close to 306 EC votes, and Betfair settle the markets breathing a huge sigh of relief in the process.

I think they chose to milk the uninformed Trump supporter for a few more weeks at the expense of the integrity of the market, and having waited too long (unlike other sites who settled much quicker) painted themselves into a corner. Very poor from Betfair, and I'm usually one of their biggest fans.   

Anyway, following my established accounting process, the profits will now be booked in December with November's numbers including the worst case scenario, which is a four figure loss. We still have one trading day to go in the month, and I'd hate to jinx it but as things stand, this month has been the single most profitable one of my life. 

The continued gains in Tesla, (first mentioned in this 2018 post) have of course helped significantly, with the stock soaring another 50.95% just this month, in part at least on the news that the company will be joining the S&P 500 Index. 

Readers will be aware that I first mentioned this possibility back in July when $TSLA was trading at (price adjusted to account for the split) $308.93 and hopefully someone saw what I did and took advantage of the opportunity as it is up 89.6% since that post. 

Aside from Tesla, which closed at $585.76 on Friday, the stock market overall has been good this month. Hopefully some of you took my advice in 2018 and invested in US funds.
A quick calculation shows that an investment of £100 in each Index Fund at the end of 1999 would now be worth just £91.88 for the FTSE100 and £247.63 for the S&P500. These are quite shocking numbers actually, as is the fact that the FTSE100 is on track for its worst year since the market crash of 2008. 

A solid December, and it'll be a record year, which is not something that looked likely on March 23rd when I was 20.4% off my all-time high. 

Finally, a word of caution about small sample sizes. Just because a "big favourite" (in this case we are talking about the EPL where "big" is under 1.5) has a few losses in the opening 14 matches of a season, doesn't mean the markets are suddenly offering you value to lay them. The favourite-longshot bias means you'll lose your money more slowly by backing such selections.

It's true that seven of the first nine teams priced shorter than 1.5 this season failed to win, but since then, there have been six consecutive winners.

In the Pinnacle era (2012-date) your ROI would be -0.3%

When presented with some statistics pointing out the nonsense of this idea, the response was:

On the other hand, I am sure -6% ROI for the last 10 seasons is better than many of of us had.

I did point out that an ROI of -6% in a 103% overround market was actually pretty bad and hopefully the idea that laying favourites in the EPL is profitable is being reconsidered.

Saturday 28 November 2020


Some news last night regarding the Billion Pound Betfair "Next President" market, with Betfair essentially announcing that they are now no longer settling the market based on their rules.

Naming the market "Next President" may be the root of the issue, because it is actually a misnomer since, per the rules of the market, the bet is actually for "Who will be elected to be the next President of the United States of America as a result of the 2020 presidential election?"

Reading the Betfair Forum, it's clear that at least some people investing in this market thought they were betting on the actual Next President, and not on the '2020 presidential election' winner. 

Betfair's rules also clarify that "This market will be settled according to the candidate that has the most projected Electoral College votes won at the 2020 presidential election. Any subsequent events such as a ‘faithless elector’ will have no effect on the settlement of this market."

The projected Electoral College vote count is 306 (Biden) to 232 (Trump), so why haven't Betfair settled the market? 

Well, only they know for sure, but clearly by their own rules, they should have settled by now.

The Trump campaign's continued efforts in the courts are a "subsequent event" as key states such as Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania have already certified their results, yet those markets remain unsettled. 

The Trump campaign has no evidence to support their sweeping claims of voter fraud and with election day almost four weeks ago now, it seems unlikely that any evidence will come to light in the future, but logic and common sense don't seem to be an attribute found among Trump's lawyers or his supporters. It's all a show for his base (64% of uneducated whites) as Trump fights to keep his fast sputtering "populist" movement alive. 

I suspect the reason that the Betfair markets remain open for some states, including the certified states listed above, is that were they to settle these markets, they would have no reason to not settle the "Next President" market which, at the time of writing, has lots of money available to back Trump at 19 and Biden at 1.05, and there is commission to be had. 

Betfair's latest statement reads:
A statement that clearly contradicts their rule about "subsequent events" not having any effect on market settlement, and wouldn't it have been better to consult these "leading U.S. lawyers" while setting up the market rather than 24 days after the polls have closed? And since "subsequent events" have no effect on settlement of the market, couldn't U.K. lawyers have given an answer?  

It's all rather poor from Betfair, and while waiting a couple more weeks isn't a big deal for me personally, I imagine that for many, it is a big deal. There is no way that this market can be settled as a Trump win (given their rules) and the chances they void a billion pound market are nil, so basically they are taking advantage of the uneducated Trump supporter (sadly, there are a lot of them) who, based on their "news" sources think he has a legitimate chance at being the "Next President". He doesn't. The market should be settled now. 

Friday 27 November 2020

Thanksgiving Thoughts

On the Betfair Forum, Souldancer wrote that:

The average racehorse punter gets 75% of their stake returned.

If you put the work in it's not hard to change the racing loss into a profit.

Even if this number is anywhere close to correct, and I'm pretty sure it's nothing but a wild guess, you would need to put in a hell of a lot of work to overcome a -EV of 25%. 

You would also need to be an incredible optimist to even attempt such a task, given that this is probably about the worst handicap in betting to try to overcome. Even a single zero casino roulette gambler only faces a house edge of 2.7%.

With it's multiple possible winners, and vulnerability to inside information, Horse Racing isn't the easiest of places to find winners, but in sports betting, there are many 50/50 propositions and as I've written before:

I can't be sure, because it was a few years ago that I first read this book, but this may have been when I realised that betting the 'dime line' (i.e. Pinnacle's 1.952) on 50/50 bets, winning just 51.23% of bets would result in a profit.

Given that my grandmother would be expected to pick winners at a rate of around 50%, and she's been dead for over 30 years, this didn't seem to be a hugely impossible task. 

It's not as easy as it might seem of course, but as explained above, you're not betting against a sportsbook with otherworldly powers of prediction. You are betting against other members of the public, and in some markets more than others, the public aren't too smart.

If Grandma can get a return of 97.6% blindly betting say Overs in the NBA, doesn't it make more sense to focus your efforts on turning 2.6% of those losers into winners and start making a profit? 

Over 1,000 bets, you would need 513 winners to be profitable, which is a lot easier than overcoming a massive 25% disadvantage.    

Followers of the Small Road 'Dog System will have enjoyed an easy Thanksgiving Day win by the Washington Football Team in Dallas yesterday in their Divisional game against the Cowboys. This takes the season win percentage to 58.1% at 25-18-1. This result was the second most comfortable win of the season, and with four possible qualifiers this weekend, let's hope it augurs well.

Meanwhile in the US, the Betfair market for Next President surpassed the billion pound mark earlier this week, and Biden is still available at 1.07 which is incredible value if you don't mind tying up your money for a few days. The Democrats are also still available to win in some states such as Pennsylvania (again 1.07), a state which certified its results earlier this week as has Michigan (also 1.07).

Finally while doing some research for another project, I came across this comment about "Home" advantage in football from 1920:

That 'two goals' seems a very precise estimate with not even a mention of goal expectancy, but 100 years later and with no crowds and VAR, Away teams are actually winning more games than Home sides in the EPL, a trend many of us hope will continue today.   

Sunday 22 November 2020

Bet, Forget, Enjoy Life

Another work trip just wrapped up, and hopefully the last one for a few months. While I was away, Jackson wrote to me asking:

Hello Cassini. I have been looking for a piece you wrote on the benefits of bet and forget in comparison to in play betting without success. Kindly assist. I am an avid reader of your articles and also a pro punter. Many thanks.

It's a topic I've covered on many occasions, and I can't say I recall a specific post on the topic, but my immediate response was that:

Basically the benefits are that you don’t waste your life watching hours and hours of sport! If you have a few proven systems, although no system should last for ever, it’s far better for most of us to place our bets and get on with life, although in lockdown maybe that’s not such a great argument!

Another consideration is that pre-event, you have time to do your research, and invest an appropriate amount at the best prices available to you. When you are in the middle of an event, it is harder to think clearly with fewer options for placing your bets, as well as prices and events changing in real-time, which increases the chances of bad decisions and taking poor value. There's no stress placing bets pre-game.

The only way you are ever going to get good value when an event is in-play is either to get your data before anyone else (think courtsiders at tennis or cricket matches who are paid to transmit live data) or to understand the event better than anyone else, which is highly unlikely or you'd be very wealthy indeed. 

If someone is paying for this data, it doesn't take a genius to work out that it has value, and by definition once that value has been taken, there is none left.  

You are not going to make any money from watching say a football game, seeing a goal scored after a certain number of minutes, and based on historical records, having a bet.

If you think you can read a horse race better than anyone else, well good luck with that, because apparently everyone thinks they possess the same talent.  

You're wasting your life for one thing, and completely misunderstanding that the markets know the true price for all these scenarios. In the rare event that the market doesn't know, perhaps some South American third division match is in play late at night, then there usually won't be enough money in the market to make it worth your while. Occasionally there might be, but the risk is you end up spending half your waking life waiting for such rare opportunities.

As I've written before, in the early days of Betfair, it was almost easy money to trade some sports in-play, but after several years the liquid markets are now much more efficient. The introduction of the Premium Charge was the killer for in-play betting, at least for me, and it's so much calmer and less time consuming to take a look at the lines and prices as close to the start time as possible, and bet according to proven strategies.

Writing this on an NFL Sunday, and the Small Road Dogs System is an example in point. No luck last week, with a 2-3-1 outcome, but long-term this is a solid system. It takes a few minutes to run the query and put the bets on. 

One thing I've noticed, and it may well be due to the absence or reduction in home fans, but in matches where the road team is getting a very small number of points, i.e. fewer than 2.5, ATS this strategy is 9-2 this season, increasing the trend which has been present in this category of games since 2009 which is now 107-83-5 in all games, and with a slightly higher ROI in Divisional games. Good luck if playing the Small Dogs today. 


Wednesday 11 November 2020

The Cassini Tales From Victorian North London

A change of pace today with a personal post, and it appears that the Cassini family have a long and proud history with drinking and gambling. The next time I am accused of taking either of these perfectly harmless (in moderation) activities to excess, which does happen on rare occasions, I shall fall back on the excuse that it runs in the family, a claim for which I now have evidence.

The first story is about my great great grandfather who featured in the Tottenham and Edmonton Weekly Herald of Friday 31st July, 1891: 
Almost seven years later, his elder brother had some notoriety appearing in the Globe newspaper of Friday 20th May, 1898, in a story also covered in the same day's London Evening Standard:


Arthur Golding, 321, Upper-street, Islington, was summoned before Mr. Horace Smith for keeping and using the premises 376, Gray's Inn-road, for the purpose of betting. The defendant was further summoned for permitting the premises to be used by William Wolton and William Henry Golding for the purpose of betting on 4th May. William Henry Golding and William Wolton were summoned for using the premises for the purpose of betting. William Henry Golding and Wolton were further summoned, together with Henry Cassini and Richard Ray, for assisting in the conduct of betting at 376, Grays Inn-road.

From the evidence previously given, it was shown that Arthur Golding rented the premises known as the Great Northern Club, at £130 per annum, the landlord paying rates and taxes. The club was raided on 4th May by Superintendent Hammond and a number of officers of the G Division. No fewer than 855 betting telegrams and 863 betting slips were discovered on the premises, and while the raid was in course of progress, a number of telegrams relating to horse racing were received at the club. Wolton and William Golding were sitting at desks receiving betting slips. Mr. Muskett prosecuted on behalf of the Commissioner of Police. Mr. Travers Humphreys defended Cassini and Ray. The two Goldings and Wolton were represented by Mr. C. Mathews. 

After hearing the evidence, Mr. Horace Smith said he was of opinion that this was betting club used for the purpose of betting. It was obvious that a great deal of betting was carried on there, and also outside the club. He dined A. Golding £50 and 5gs. costs; W. H. Golding, £20 and 3gs. Wolton, £20 and 3gs. costs; and Ray, £5 and £1 1s. costs.

He dismissed the case against Cassini. Several defendants found on the premises were bound over.

Back to my great great grandfather, and it does appear there was something of a history of drinking. He was in Holloway Prison in 1881, though I have yet to find out what for and how long he was there for, but in September of 1875, he was caught in a pub (Nightingale Tavern, Hornsey - sadly now closed) after-hours:

As reported in the Hampstead & Highgate Express: 
With all these fines, I'm beginning to understand why the family fortune never made its way down to me.

There are other pleasures in life besides drinking and gambling and this Cassini story from 1891 completes the set, although it's not a happy tale. A nineteen year old girl killed herself after being pressured by her Mum to choose a Cuthbert over a Cassini - Cuthbert? Seriously? He may have gone on to work for the Trumpton Fire Brigade, but that is to be confirmed:

This is what happens when there is no sport to invest on - things get silly! 

Tuesday 10 November 2020

The Draw As Third Favourite

One, of many, curiosities about this Premier League season is that since 2000, every Home odds-on favourite in a match where the Draw was priced as either the third favourite or joint second favourite, had won. 

This isn't a scenario that shows up too often, so it wasn't anything to get too excited about, but it was interesting nonetheless.

Then along comes 2020-21 and the first two qualifiers of the season fail to win, the second being Manchester City v Liverpool this past Sunday. 

The Draw can of course be either the second or third favourite or it can be joint second favourite and I've written before about how backing the Draw when the Away team is the favourite is more profitable than when the Home team is favourite, but this was in the context of "Close" matches.

Blindly backing the Draw when the Away team is sole favourite will not be profitable, but if you stick to the "Close" matches, backing the Draw is far more profitable in these games than when the Home team is the sole favourite.

Of the seven types of match-odds, assuming nothing untoward is at work as sometimes seen in Italy, the lucrative match types for Draw backers are clear from the chart below. When there are fewer than 50 matches a neutral yellow is used:  
For the A-H-D category, some of you may be interested to know that for the "Toss Up" category, the ROI climbs to 26.65%.
On a day when my wit won me, and WON ME BY A LOT! in the words of Trump, the Internet, a betting related topic came up on my timeline with @MathewForth questioning how a tipster could guarantee three bets a day.

The answer is that he can't.  

It's a clear signal that the tipster has no clue about how betting profitably works because you can't set an arbitrary number of selections within any timeframe. 

You might have several value selections on any given day, or you might have none for several weeks. The result of forcing selections, or stopping on a day after a random number has been reached, is that you either bet at poor (negative value) or you miss out on positive expectancy bets. The three a day idea is nonsense. You bet when you have value, and you don't bet when you don't. The option of not betting should never be underestimated or looked down upon because it falls under the "discipline" heading. 

Meanwhile the Next President market on Betfair has still to be settled, with Biden out to 1.1 now. Presumably this is because Trump is refusing to concede but so far his lawyers have held a press conference outside the Four Seasons Total Landscaping business with the star witness a convicted sex offender who isn't even from Pennsylvania and otherwise have presented no credible evidence at all.

Claims that vans have been seen pulling up outside with people seen filling in ballots for Biden are all ridiculous but it's amazing what some people will believe. When you ask them why this fix didn't also get the Democrats a couple more Senate seats, and why they lost House seats, well - no explanation. The one person so far committing fraud was a Trump supporter who attempted to get a ballot for his dead mother, but was caught by the system and even if, and it will never happen, he gets the result in that state overturned, he still wouldn't have enough Electoral College votes to change the result. 

I've topped up at 1.11 as this is too good to be true. Pretty sure that with half a billion traded, Betfair will not be voiding this market! 

Monday 9 November 2020

Dogs Stay On Track

For the sixth time in nine weeks this season, the Small Road 'Dogs were again profitable with the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins and New York Giants all winners with two losers, the Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos. 

One weekend was a loss, one was a push and week five saw no selections and for the season, the record improves to 20-12. 

The three Divisional games went 2-1 this weekend for an 8-5 record overall this season. 

I'm still waiting, along with a few others, for the Presidential Election bets to be settled. In addition to the main event, I have smaller interests in the Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania state markets. 
The sum traded smashed, and continues to smash, the Betfair record set in this same market in 2016:

The Exchange 'Next President' market obliterated the record for the most money ever to be traded on any political and sporting event, with just under £200m traded
With three more US states (Louisiana, Maryland, South Dakota) voting this past week to legalise sports betting, bringing the total to 21, this 2020 record may well be beaten again in four years time. My prediction is that Biden will step aside and Kamala Harris will be the Democratic Party nominee, and John Kasich will be the Republican candidate.

No "Toss-up" Draw selections in the Premier League this weekend, and the one "Close" selection wasn't close at all with Crystal Palace scoring four goals against Leeds United for the first time ever, and in a match for the first time since the final day of the 2018-19 season.

Sunday 8 November 2020

Biden Beats Trump

The four year nightmare in the USA is entering its final days with the win of Joe Biden over Donald Trump which was finally called by the media yesterday, an announcement that was accompanied by spontaneous celebrations in cities around the country. The timing was interesting as it appears the networks waited until Trump was out on the golf course (yet again) before making the call. He wouldn't be the first right wing leader to learn of defeat while in a bunker.

Trump does at least set the record for most votes by a losing candidate, and how 70+ million people can vote for him given his record is really quite disturbing, as well as managing to lose the popular vote twice. 

The error yesterday by a Trump staffer who booked the Four Seasons Total Landscaping business for a press conference for his lawyers instead of the Four Seasons Hotel was a nice metaphor for the job the administration has done over the last four years. 

He promised to run the country like he ran his business. It ended with Rudy Giuliani outside Four Season Total Landscaping next to a dildo shop, after a staffer mistakenly thought the empty parking lot was a Four Seasons hotel.

Although at the time of writing, Trump is still whining that he won - and by a lot - he didn't, and there is no reason why the result in any state would be overturned, so if you have some money you don't mind tying up possibly for a few days, you can still get 1.05 on Biden.

Trump says he plans to go to court on Monday, but reporting indicated Jared Kushner is trying to get through to him that it's a lost cause. Trump's defeat is made all the sweeter given that on Tuesday night, with his odds as short as 1.24, he almost certainly thought he had won. We can only imaging him waking up a few hours later, checking his phone, and the reality of his situation slowly dawning on him. With no immunity from his financial and legal troubles after January 20th, it's no surprise that he is crying so much, but come that day he is no longer President whether he concedes or not. Farewell to a dreadful human being, and Mexico never did pay for that wall. 

For a change of pace, if you like statistics and you like tennis history, you might enjoy the Netflix show Guilermo Vilas - Settling The Score which is about how Vilas was wrongly denied the No.1 world ranking in the 1970s. Great lockdown viewing.

Even though he won 16 ATP singles titles, including the French Open and the US Open and was the runner-up at the January edition of the Australian Open in 1977, Vilas was never ranked by the ATP as world No. 1 during 1977 which was due to the fact that the rankings at the time were based on the average of a player's results. He was instead year-end world No. 2, behind Jimmy Connors (who won the Masters and seven other titles and was the runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open in 1977). Nevertheless "World Tennis" magazine listed Vilas as 1977 year-end world No. 1, and Borg No. 2.

Argentine journalist Eduardo Puppo and Romanian mathematician Marian Ciulpan investigated the 1973–78 period records, and delivered a detailed report with more than 1,200 pages in which they came to the conclusion that Vilas should have been ranked No. 1 for five weeks in 1975 as well as during the first two weeks of 1976 and handed over their research to the ATP at the end of 2014. Although the study was not refuted, in May 2015 the ATP announced it had decided not to make official the No. 1 position for Vilas because it happened in the interval between the publications of the official rankings.

This was also a topic covered by the New York Times in 2015 in which the ATP give more details about their reluctance to correct the record and recognise Vilas' achievement. 

Thursday 5 November 2020

When the Tie-Breaker is Tied

Thanks to @Bitcoinpari_, the flaw in my logic puzzling over why either Pennsylvania or Georgia was identified.

What I didn't know until today, was that in the event of a tie, while the deciding vote is cast by the House of Representatives, it is based on one vote per state and not one vote per representative, and with Republicans currently in the majority when measured by state, although maybe not in the new Congress, the deciding vote would go to Trump.

Some tried to claim that the flaw in my logic was due to correlation, but that argument never made sense. What I was pointing out was that if Trump's only paths to winning had a sum probability of around 2%, then why was his price around 10%?

As mentioned, Trump's probability was actually higher than that 2%, because a Biden win in Georgia wouldn't have been enough on it's own. 

Fortunately not only did I learn something new, although now I am wondering what would happen of the House was tied at 50-50**, but I got away with the mistake since Biden has since shortened to 1.08 / 1.09 with Trump out to 13.5 / 14. 

Pennsylvania is currently 1.08 for Biden, with Georgia around 1.34, Arizona 1.23 and Nevada 1.04.

If Biden wins Pennsylvania, it's over. If he wins Arizona AND Nevada, it's over. If he wins Georgia AND either Arizona or Nevada it's over, so the 1.08 for Next President still offers value, discounted presumably because of the risk of courts stepping in which seems less likely as the hours go by. There's probably also a few people who have a significant sum tied up and are looking to cash out.  

** I looked up the tie in the tie-breaker rules: Note that if a majority is not reached in the House vote (e.g., 25-25), that chamber needs to keep at it until the tie is broken. If the deadlock is still in place when the new term starts (noon, ET on Jan. 20), the vice president becomes acting president until such time as the House elects a president.

Trump's Roads to Victory

Unless I am missing something, which wouldn't be the first time, or there are some shenanigans in the courts, which seems less likely, as things stand, Trump has just three ways of getting to the 270 Electoral College votes he needs to win.

The five states still in-play are Pennsylvania (PA), Georgia (GA), North Carolina (NC), Nevada (NV) and Arizona (AZ) which has already been called a win for Biden by Fox News, much to Trump's annoyance and perhaps a little prematurely.

Certainly a fair amount of money was matched down to 1.01 in the AZ market for Biden, with the price now out to 1.2. The issue here is that pre-election day ballots are still being counted, and while generally the early / mail-in voting has favoured Biden, around 59% of the ballots to be counted are from areas favouring Trump which means the lead Biden currently has will close.

Anyway, the maths is that if Biden wins Pennsylvania or Georgia, he gets to 269, which with the deciding vote to be cast by the House of Representatives, again under Democrat control, would mean a win for Biden and on Betfair whose rules cover this possibility.

So for Trump to win he needs both PA and GA plus either:
NC and AZ or
NC and NV or 
AZ and NV.

Trump is currently the favourite in just one of these states, North Carolina (1.2) but using the current state prices, and they are moving all the time, these combinations add up to a 2% probability if my Pure Mathematics With Statistics 'A' Level skills are still with me. 

Biden is trading at 1.1 / 1.11 with Trump at 10 / 10.5 which means a big discount for the possibility of the courts intervening in a crucial state or on a state such as Michigan suddenly finding thousands of Trump ballots. 

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Not in Kansas Anymore

Early in the 2009-10 EPL season, Betfair Forumite "The Magician" commented on the lack of Draws in that league to that point, and suggested that he was "thinking about backing every draw until the end of the season."

There was some debate about the soundness of this strategy, for example whether this was akin to backing tails after consecutive heads, but the OP was making the assumption that "football has not changed that much" and that the draw price would likely increase in response to their relative scarcity. 

He started his strategy on September 27th with the Sunderland v Wolves match. At this point in the season, there had been four draws in the opening 64 matches, well below the Premier League's 26.9% for draws since 1992.

As it turned out, The Magician was right. Nothing had fundamentally changed with the Premier League, and by the end of the season, the draws were at 25.26%, only one fewer than the previous season and backing the Draw in every remaining game at Bet365 prices would have generated a 7.1% profit.

This season has started off slowly for the Draw also at under 20% for the season, but the big story so far is in the percentage of matches being won by the Away team. Long time readers of this blog will know that I have predicted the decline of home advantage at the top level of the game, and with the implementation of first goal-line technology followed by VAR and now the added factor of no crowd, this 'advantage' has become a disadvantage. 

With one exception, the first season after the Second World War, Away wins in top division in England had never (going back to 1882-83) surpassed 30% until 2011-12. Five of the eight seasons since have seen that level beaten, and as of today the percentage is 45.6%. 

The problem is that unlike in 2009 when nothing had fundamentally changed in football, we can't say that this time. 
In the Bundesliga, Home teams currently have just a 35.2% winning record (a low since 1993 when my spreadsheet for the European leagues begins), while in La Liga home teams are also at an 'all-time' low (38.4%) with Away wins at a record high (35.6%). 

In Ligue 1 and Serie A, it's the Draws which are at an all-time low, with the Away at all-time highs.

In my formative years, the Home team in Division One won around 50% of matches, with 25% for the Draw and Away, but it's a different world now. Good luck if you fancy laying Away teams for the rest of the season. 
One final nibble at Biden's great value odds this morning. The odds will shorten as the day goes on, or at least that has been the pattern for some time now. Hopefully by this time tomorrow they will have shortened a lot more usual. 

Monday 2 November 2020

All Souls Day Update

Another profitable Sunday for the NFL Small Road 'Dogs system which advances to a 17-10 record with the three wins and one loss yesterday. All four matches were Divisional games where the edge is historically bigger, and these are now 6-4 on the season. 

Tonight's game is not a qualifier. Since the league reorganised for the 2002 season, only 24 teams have been road favourites by more than 12 points, as are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tonight for the first time in database history.

In non-Divisional games, the overall record ATS for favourites is a losing one (4-9-2) but the last loss was back in 2012. 

Both of tonight's EPL matches fall into the "Close" category but no luck with the one "Toss-Up" qualifier yesterday (Aston Villa v Southampton, coincidentally the second consecutive time this fixture has featured in a post!) 

The US Presidential Election market is closing in on £300 million matched on Betfair, a Betfair record, with Biden currently at 1.51 / 1.52. Once again last night, the price on Trump shortens overnight and then drifts during the day. 

A word of caution if you are arbing this market that the rules clearly state that "This market will be settled according to the candidate that has the most projected Electoral College votes won at the 2020 presidential election." In other words, the "winner" isn't necessarily the person who will be the next President. 

There is also a caveat in the Senate Majority market which specifically excludes the two Independent senators who both caucus with the Democrats. So if you are betting on the tie, you are betting on the Democrats getting 49 seats, and not the 48 seats which they need in practice. 

Sunday 1 November 2020

Football Outsiders

With few of my sports currently active, I have too much time on my hands, and during a trawl of the Betfair Forum I came across a thread titled Football outsiders - match odds market.

The OP Shanelee1966 wrote:
To back 4 teams every Friday/Saturday who are 5/1 or over. English leagues ideally.
I may venture into Europe, lets see how it goes.

Starting bank £20, fiver a throw.

Blindly backing outsiders in any sport is generally the fastest way to lose your money, and if this strategy had been applied to the Premier League since 2000, the ROI would have been around -14.08%

Given that in the early years of this century the over-round was sometimes as high as 113%, this number looks worse than it is, but what surprised me a little is that if you apply this strategy to Home teams only, then it is actually profitable with an ROI of 7.75% from 514 matches. 

If we look at the Pinnacle era (i.e. since 2012) when the over-round has averaged a more competitive 102.2%, the ROI on these Home outsiders increases to 20.7% from 270 matches. With one exception (Aston Villa v Southampton in April 2016), in every match the Away team has been one of the Big 6. In four matches the Home club was also "Big 6", and two of these won.

I took a look at this strategy for big Home 'Dogs in some of the other top leagues in the Pinnacle era to the end of last season, and in La Liga the ROI is 30.7%, while in Ligue 1, hardly any home teams are priced at such long odds, and all seven in the eight seasons lost. However, the return on Away sides priced at 5/1 or longer is 31.4%.  

As mentioned many times before, when it comes to European football, a one-size fits all approach never works as each league and division has its own personality.