Tuesday 29 June 2021

Euro Draws, Canada Hopes, And Suns Shine

Rather a thrilling day in the Euros 2020 tournament with two more winners for Draw backers, although not many would have expected the 3:3 result in both matches. 

At 3:1 to France in the second match, I tweeted this:

Quite remarkable, especially given that no previous Euro - or World Cup for that matter - knockout game has ever finished 3:3 after 90 minutes! The Copa America last had a 3:3 in 1999 (Mexico v Peru). 

Draw backers currently have a healthy profit of 5.69 units from the six matches played with another nine matches to come.

It's Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight, with Canada having another shot at ending its 27 year drought since the last win for a team from that country coming in 1993. 

The winners that year were the Montreal Canadiens beating Wayne Gretzky's Los Angeles Kings and the Canadiens are back this year, underdogs against the reigning champions Tampa Bay Lightning.

Five Canadian teams have reached the Finals since 1993, but all have lost; Vancouver Canucks (twice), Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators. 

The regular season NHL system this season was very successful, +51.5 units with an ROI of 14.9%, but wasn't so successful in the playoffs losing 6.23 units for an overall ROI on the season of 12%, which is not too shabby at all. 

Going back to 2006, the system is profitable in playoffs (ROI 10.2%), but in any one season with a small number of matches, we are at the mercy of variance. 

The NBA season is close to determining its final series also, with the Phoenix Suns looking to clinch their place in the final tonight when they face the Los Angeles Clippers at home and with a 3:1 lead. Whoever advances from the West will play either the Milwaukee Bucks or the Atlanta Hawks.

Friday 25 June 2021

Euro 2020

When it comes to the knockout stages of big tournaments such as World Cups and Euros, it should come as no surprise that the Draw is generally where the value lies. 

I only have data going back to the 2004 Euros, which means a sample size of just 96 matches. The third-place play-off games in World Cups tend not to be competitive, nor are they technically elimination games.

Using Odds Portal prices adjusted to a standard over-round of 103% (in Euro 2004, this was over 110% declining to 102.6% for the 2018 World Cup), backing the Draw in all 96 matches would have profited you 27.22 units, an ROI of 28.4%.

The highest ROI is at the Quarter-Final stage, but every round (Round of 16, Quarter-Final, Semi-Final and Final) shows a profit. When games are 'toss-ups' or 'close' matches the ROI is 71%. Unfortunately 18 matches in eight tournaments would test the patience of most of us, but worth mentioning for those who use Kelly when determining their stakes. 
Euros / World Cups 2004 - 2018
In the 40 matches where there was an odds-on favourite (using fair odds) the ROI is 4%, while it is 46% in the more evenly matched of matches. 

Of course in any single tournament with just a few matches, the chances of a loss are very real, with three of the eight tournaments showing small losses. 

The 2010 World Cup lost 1.77 units from 15 matches, and both the last two Euros were losers with losses of 0.7 units in 2012 (from 7 matches) and 0.13 units in 2016 (from 15 matches). 

Thursday 24 June 2021

Killer Closing

A rare loss for the 'Hot Favourites' system on Tuesday, although with Gerrit Cole the starting pitcher, it perhaps wasn't a surprise given his poor record as a hot favourite this year. He already had more losses than any other pitcher this season for us, and now leads all comers by two, with five losses in his nine matches.

Overall this season the ROI on the Money Line is 12.6% and an even higher  
20.8% on the Run Line, but interestingly, by which I mean I have no explanation for this at the moment, when the starting pitcher is left handed, the profits are far higher this season compared with previous years. 
Unfortunately insights such as this will be much harder in the future as it appears the site I use (Killer Sports) is to shut down soon.
Whether any alternatives will reveal themselves remains to be seen, but it is bad news. For betting pre-game you need data, and this site has baseball data going back to 2004 which has proven to be very valuable. 

Unfortunately it attracts people who get excited by nonsense such as "Padres as a dog since 2008 of more than 125 before all star break in first game of series, last h2h was home win this season where opposing team threw 2+ strikeouts." When you play with enough parameters, random patterns are easy to be find.

Oh well, at least they are seeing the MLB season to its conclusion, and the NBA and NHL seasons will have ended, but no NFL for next season. Fortunately we have a clear edge in this sport going back to 2002 so I should be able to cope even if it will take a little longer to identify qualifiers. The other issue is that no longer will the results of systems be readily verifiable, but life goes on.   

Tuesday 15 June 2021

Whyteleafe Woes

Not to depress anyone, but less than a week until the days start to shorten again, and 2021-22 pre season fixtures start to be announced. Unfortunately for my club, there is again no pre-season tour of Queensland and even more unfortunately for my local non-league club, any season at all is now in doubt.

Many years back, I trained pre-season with Whyteleafe but surprisingly they never called me back, (presumably they mislaid my number).

More recently my son went further and played a few matches for the first team there, but yesterday the club confirmed rumours that have been circulating for a while that they will not be playing in next season’s Isthmian South Central League.

The club has been forced to give up its Step 4 status after new owners of the Church Road ground refused to negotiate a new lease or licence agreement with the club for the 2021-22 season.

So that's a bit disappointing, but hopefully the club will continue, albeit in a lower tier. Depending on how much lower a tier, I may try out for the team again, although after the broken leg this year, I'm not sure my chances of first team action are any higher than they were 40 years ago!

The new owners of the ground are Irama Sports, a Singapore based company which has "close links" to former Liverpool and Wales player Ian Rush. Not sure how true their claim to love grass roots sports is though.
Sports investing has gone a little quiet this month so far with few qualifiers in either the NHL or NBA systems as both these sports are well into the playoffs. It's fortunate there have been few, as most have been losers.

The NHL ROI has fallen to 13.4% for the season, and the NBA Overs ROI to 22.5%. The MLB Hot Favourites continue to generate money though, with a 22-5 record and an ROI for the month of 16.8% and 11.7% for the season. June is usually a good month for hot favourites, though not quite up to May's high standards, but 2021 is on track to beat the June record set two seasons ago.

Friday 11 June 2021

Sticky Situation in MLB

Last month, I wrote this in regard to the MLB: 

The Totals Systems combined are comfortably in profit after 179 games (29.96 units) but interestingly all the profit is from Unders with Overs slightly down, although making up ground after a slow start to the season.

Overall, Unders is the winner in 51.7% of matches, but in our subset of selections, the strike rate is currently 62.9%.

It appears that we may now have an explanation for why the Unders is performing so well. The latest Sports Illustrated magazine has an article titled "The inside story of how rampant pitch-doctoring in MLB is pumping pitchers up and deflating offenses" reporting that:

Over the past two or three years, pitchers’ illegal application to the ball of what they call “sticky stuff”—at first a mixture of sunscreen and rosin, now various forms of glue—has become so pervasive that one recently retired hurler estimates “80 to 90%” of pitchers are using it in some capacity. The sticky stuff helps increase spin on pitches, which in turn increases their movement, making them more difficult to hit. That’s contributed to an offensive crisis that has seen the league-wide batting average plummet to a historically inept .236.

The current World Series champions Los Angeles Dodgers are called out specifically:

According to the data, L.A. has by a large margin the highest year-to-year increase of any club in spin rate on four-seam fastballs, which are considered a bellwether pitch. In fact, the Dodgers’ four-seam spin rate is higher than that of any other team in the Statcast era. There is no proof the Dodgers are doctoring baseballs, but nearly across the board, their hurlers’ spin rates on that pitch have increased this season from last.

The Dodgers declined to comment.

However, the Dodgers have been one of the non-profitable teams for this strategy this season, and along with the Padres and Giants have made this a non-starter in games involving NL West teams. In NL East matches however, the Under is winning 68.4% of the time. 

In the AL, where the Designated Hitter rule applies, matches involving an American League team, system matches are going Under 66.2% of the time.

Now that the issue of tampering with the ball has been exposed, it will be interesting to see how the Totals markets, as well as the leagues, react. We may not always immediately know why an edge exists, but if you wait until an explanation is found, you'll have missed the boat. 

The T-Bone System is firing on all cylinders this season too, with a 100% record this month and a season ROI of 5.6%, while the hot favourites are up 11.1% on the season. After losing 6.7 units in April, the system is now up 26.9 units.  

Thursday 3 June 2021

The Betting Bees - Benham's Brentford, and Bloom's Brighton

Other than fans of their promotion rivals, I suspect that most neutral football fans were happy to see Brentford promoted to the Premier League last Saturday. 

One club chairman who wouldn't have been so thrilled would have been Brighton's Tony Bloom, as it is well known that he and Brentford chairman Matthew Benham had a major falling out in the early 2000s when they worked together at Premier Bet. The two clubs did agree on the transfer of Neal Maupay in 2019, so maybe things have cooled off a little but the boardroom could be an interesting place when the two teams play each other next season.

I've previously written on this blog about Benham in February 2015 when Brentford were playing in the second tier after spending 59 of the previous 60 seasons in the third or fourth. I wrote about Bloom a year later in February 2016. It's worth reading the Benham article again, given that the post ended with:
None of us know what will happen next. But we can say this. Brentford and Midtjylland are clearly going the right way and their stories over the next few years will make fascinating viewing. And while Benham has taken some flak in recent days, history teaches us that in the long run it is unwise to bet against him.
Back in February 2015, FC Midtjylland had never won the Danish League or Cup, but since then have won the league three times, finished runners-up twice, and also won the Danish Cup. With Brentford now reaching the Premier League, it's pretty clear that Benham's methods work.

His betting strategy - "to exploit inefficiencies and errors in bookmaker prices" - should be what everyone strives for, and speaking of which, here are the results from May.
A couple of red areas, but in a short time period such as a month, results are always going to be skewed by randomness and luck, and worrying about wins and losses is rather silly if we have confidence in our strategies. Focus on the process, not the results.
"Bad bets sometimes win and good bets sometimes lose. Long-term it will work." - Mark Langdon (Racing Post)

Tuesday 1 June 2021

Keeping Score

I mentioned Morgan Housel a couple of times late last year, and his book "The Psychology of Money" which is well worth reading if you are interested in finance. 

One of the main takeaways from the book is that investing is quite unlike any other field. In the opening chapter he writes:
In what other industry does someone with no college degree, no training, no background, no formal experience, and no connections massively outperform someone with the best education, the best training and the best connections? 
The 'outperform' in this instance is the often heard story of someone like a janitor or librarian who dies at a good old age and leaves several million in their will, and Housel includes the story of Ronald James Read who:
"was an American philanthropist, investor, janitor, and gas station attendant."
All that Read and others like him have done is typically invest what they can from their average salaries in stocks / index funds and let time do the rest.

Fewer than 4,000 of the 2.8 million Americans who died in 2014 left more than $8m and Read was in this group.

The Washington Post praised Read, writing, "How a man of modest means accumulated so much wealth contains exemplary lessons for saving that apply to all of us.

The writer, Barry Ritholtz, noted that lessons could be learned from Read's experience adding: 
"But there is also a cautionary tale about recognizing the value of your finite time here on Earth. Perhaps learning to enjoy life while you can is part of that equation."

This subject was also touched on by Morgan Housel in a recent podcast interview I listened to, when the name of Warren Buffett was brought up, as it often is in these conversations. 

Early on, Housel is asked about Buffett and essentially the primary reason that he has become so well known and wealthy is because he started investing at age 10, and in his 90s is still going. The formula for getting rich is "be patient and wait for 75 years."  

Housel points out that 99% of Buffett's net worth was achieved after age 50, and 97% after he turned 65 and that his obsession with business and investing has come at a cost to his family and social life.

Most of us want wealth so that we can be independent and focus on other things in our lives, but for Buffett and I suspect some other billionaires, wealth is simply their scorecard in a game they can't quit. 

If you're into podcasts, check out "We Study Billionaires" Episode 378 - The Psychology of Money. It's 75 minutes of fascinating conversation and great to listen to while you're out for a walk or run. 

Back to the book and Housel declares that:

financial success is not a hard science. It's a soft skill where how you behave is more important than what you know.

This applies to sports investing too, as do some of the podcast discussion relating to Benjamin Graham and his evolving formulas!  

While not in the same league as Warren Buffett of course, not many of us are, I do like to track my investments and May was another solid month overall (+3.52%) although most of the gains were from property which is unusual. Seven consecutive months in profit and +33% since the end of October.


Tesla slumped 11.9% last month while my birthday Bitcoin purchase has now lost 40%, not one of my smarter investment decisions but at least I only put in a relatively small amount. Overall my play trading account lost 4.2% last month, and 0.6% year to date. 

I probably shouldn't mention the streak of profitable months because as soon as I mentioned the winning streak (of 19) for hot MLB favourites in the last post, we hit two consecutive losers on Friday. Normal service has since resumed with two more winners at the weekend, but I'll review the MLB, NHL and NBA systems for May in a couple of days. I'll also be publishing some results from the Europa and Champions League this season, now that those competitions are both finished.