Monday, 3 October 2022

Draws, Lays and Wild Cards

I think we can safely say that tonight's East Midlands Derby between Leicester City and Nottingham Forest will not be a qualifier for the EPL Draw System, which means we had two qualifiers and one winner this weekend for a profit of 1.46 units. The season total now stands at 1.61 units from 12 qualifiers.


In Germany, the Bundeslayga System lost exactly 2.0 units from the ten selections, reducing the season total to 15.5 units from 97 selections.
With almost 4,000 selections, I took a look last week at how various staking methods would have worked out. Because several of these matches take place at the same time or on the same day, my stakes for any one day don't change. How various percentages or flat stakes would have worked starting with a 1,000 unit bank is interesting. 
Sorted by current / maximum bank size, the optimal stake would have been 3.384%, a little higher than my typical 2% - 2.5%. I'll be taking a similar look at the EPL Draw numbers as time permits this week. 

In the NFL, we ended up with five more official selections on Sunday, with three winning straight up. The Bears and Commanders both lost and failed to cover.
The season record is 8-7-1 with currently three possible qualifiers for Week 5, though one is a Thursday night game

In baseball the San Diego Padres qualified for the post-season for the first time since 2006, and just one place remains, to be filled most likely by the Philadelphia Phillies. All the best-of-three Wild Card Series games will be played at the higher seeded club, and these games start on Friday. The Regular Season ends on Wednesday. 

Sunday, 2 October 2022

October Frenzy

October is always one of the best months for sport, with all four major US sports in action alongside football which is usually getting into its stride although this season seems more disjointed than previous ones, and that's before the World Cup next month.

Baseball finishes its regular season next Wednesday, with the playoffs beginning on Friday. 

In the American League the playoff teams are set with the Houston Astros, New York Yankees and Cleveland Guardians Division winners, joined by Wild Card teams Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays. 

In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers have dominated with 110 wins and in the Central Division the St Louis Cardinals have also clinched a playoff place, but the East is up for grabs with the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves currently one game apart and playing each other tonight. 

The two remaining Wild Card places are between the San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies and the Milwaukee Brewers.

The playoffs this season have been expanded to include 12 clubs, and no longer feature the single elimination game, with all series being best of at least three. 

MLB Hot Favourites had another losing month losing 1% on the Money Line, and 3.4% on the Run Line, with the season numbers now at -3.2% and -4.9% respectively. 

Of the six divisions, only the NL East and AL Central are positive this season. Killer Sports lines have an average overround of almost 104% (ML) and 104.5% (RL) so the actual results for most followers won't be as bad as the 'official' results, but clearly the markets are different this year. I'll look at this in more detail once the regular season ends on Wednesday.

In the NFL, September saw the Small Road 'Dogs end with a record of 5-5-1 after Thursday's Miami Dolphins loss. One of the benefits of following a system is that it takes the emotion out of the decision, but on Thursday I didn't like this bet at all. 

Underdogs playing on a Thursday having played at the weekend only cover the spread 41% of the time, and sure enough, after leading at the end of the third quarter, they gave up 13 points unanswered in the fourth and failed to cover. 

I've written about Thursday NFL games before back in 2016 and noted the bias towards Unders, and at least this bet was a winner.
Being a Thursday night game, this rather neatly ties in with the second suggestion, for which the source wishes to remain anonymous. He tells me that coaches detest the Thursday night game which has recently become established, mostly because they prefer the routine of playing weekly on a Sunday, with a full seven days to prepare for the next game.

While the Monday night football game reduces this to six days, it's been around for a long time, and at least Monday adjoins the weekend. Thursday doesn't, and so my anonymous source is convinced that with less time to prepare, coaches play with a 'vanilla offense' which results in low scoring games. "Back the Unders", he told me.
We may well have five selections in the remaining Week 4 games.

In the other football, the EPL Draws only had three selections in September. No winners unfortunately while the Bundeslyga System was on fire winning 17.13 units. For the season to the end of September, the EPL Draws are up 0.15 units from 10 matches and the Bundeslayga up 16.49 units from 88 matches. 

As September began, I wrote here that:
For the first time since June 2016, my overall year-on-year return is negative, and with September traditionally the worst month for stocks, things could yet get worse.
Thus it was not a big surprise when September became the fifth negative month in six, and a new record drawdown from April 20th's high was set on the 26th. 

The drawdown record was 14.1%, set in the midst of the COVID-19 panic on March 23rd, 2020, but last month's 15.7% has eclipsed that number.

On a positive note, Q4 is historically the best quarter and "nearly twice as good as the next best quarter of the year" which is Q1. Plus I am still employed, which is emotionally helpful. 

On a negative note, October has been the month in which several memorable crashes have been seen:
The Bank Panic of 1907, the Stock Market Crash of 1929, and Black Monday 1987 all happened during the month of October.
I use the term 'memorable' loosely since the only one I can personally remember, and I do remember it quite well, is the 1987 Black Monday crash when I did everything wrong, but learned a lot. Fortunately in those days I didn't have a lot of capital, so in real terms, the damage was limited. 

The first three quarters of 2022 have been unusual as:
"this is the first time stocks and bonds have fallen in tandem for three consecutive quarters since 1976" - Strategas Research.

The past two quarters have both been negative for me, which is another (unwelcome) first, but as the Irrelevant Investor puts it today:

Bear markets are no fun, but this is where all the best long-term returns come from. The dollars you invest on the way down will be worth more on the way back up.

On the personal health front, a winning month with a record distance covered on foot (234.6 miles), a record Kcal burn, moderate alcohol intake (just 39 pints on 7 drinking days) and a weight loss of 9.6 pounds. 

As mentioned before, if I drink on fewer than 9 days in a month or ingest fewer than 2200 calories a day, weight loss is guaranteed. The best correlation with pounds lost is Alcohol Days.

With "Sober October" starting yesterday, it should be another good month but my wife is going travelling with relatives on the 20th, and it'll take a small miracle for me to stay home and dry for the entire month. Here's the data from the past two years:


Sunday, 25 September 2022

'Elo Again

A few months ago, possibly longer, someone enquired as to whether I still had my articles on Elo Ratings in Football available. These were initially published around 2012 on the Betting Expert website, but don't appear to be available any longer.

At the time I responded that I didn't have them, since I couldn't find them anywhere, but while researching the logarithmic method of removing bookmakers' margin from prices at the weekend, I came across the Elo Ratings articles.

Originally written as a four part series, these are now published as one post here, and while they are somewhat dated now, it's interesting to look back on and see how some of my basic ideas from back then are now, albeit with significant enhancements, now mainstream with the xG revolution.


Why was I researching the logarithmic method of removing bookmakers' margin from prices you ask? A very good question, since the "Margin to Proportional Odds" (MPTO) method I typically use is far more simple, and for the odds ranges I'm usually interested in for Draws, results in almost the same fair odds anyway, but it was a good exercise for my aging brain. If you're interested in this topic, there is no finer readily accessible resource than Joseph Buchdahl's The Wisdom of the Crowd publication

For the Budeslayga System I use the Equal Margin (No Bias) method as this gives a worse price for the odds-on lays which is usually very close to the Lay price on the Exchanges. 

An example of this difference is illustrated by the winning Lay of Bayern Munich at Augsburg last weekend, where the price was 1.20 using the Equal Margin method, but 1.18 using MPTO. 

Over time these small differences add up of course, so since 2012 the 'official' ROI is 5.12% whereas using MPTO it would be 6.65% (from 3,947 selections). 

No 'real' football this weekend, but for anyone following the Bundeslayga Systems, here's a table of all the clubs who have featured 80 or more times, and their ROIs.

Borussia Dortmund top the list in terms of units won, but interestingly only 0.18 units (ROI 0.6%) are from laying them as the Home club. The ROI on laying Dortmund as an Away selection is 25.4%.

For Bayern Munich, it's the opposite. When opposing Batern as an Away selections, the ROI is a losing one at 5%

Only three clubs are losers both Home AND Away, with Borussia Moenchengladbach the worst by some distance, but Schalke 04 and Hertha Berlin are also unhelpful to us. On the positive side, 11 clubs are profitable both at Home and Away, although Ingolstadt 04 were relegated last season and will no longer be candidates, at least for this season. 

Quite why Moenchengladbach should be such an outlier is interesting, but clearly the market perpetually underestimates them in these matches. Fortunately they do not look likely to be a qualifier next weekend! 

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Big Line, Low Total

College Football isn't everyone's cup of tea, and unless you have access to the US sportsbooks, it can be hit or miss as to whether games are available, but there was an interesting Tweet on Friday:


While a sample size of 23 is very small, a system with just two losses, and just one loss in more than 16 years, does pique ones interest. It's not a new idea, with Sports Insights in 2015 publishing an article explaining that:
The basic philosophy was that low-scoring games would have a more narrow range of potential outcomes, and this would disproportionately benefit the team getting points.
Iowa were playing Nevada, and I was slightly tempted to place a small bet on Nevada to cover the 24 point spread, but fortunately didn't because Iowa won by 27-0, and there are now two 'L's at the end of that sequence.

If you're interested in this idea, there's a Thursday night game coming up with the Chattanooga Mocs visiting the Illinois Fighting Illini on Thursday night and getting 19.5 points in a game where the total is currently just 37 points.

The two key numbers in the Tweet (+17 points and 40 total) are extremely rare in the NFL, where there have only been two such games since 1989, although both were winners for the 'dog. Just teams getting more than 17 points in the more competitive NFL is a rarity, happening just 25 times in over 8400 matches. Teams getting more than 14 points with a total set below 42 has a 41-19-1 record but again, not many selections given this covers 33 seasons. 

Monday, 19 September 2022

Podcasts, Drinking, Dolphins and Augsburg

I mentioned a few podcasts a couple of weeks ago and Nfletch added one to the list that is worth mentioning:

Risk of Ruin is a great one. Not purely betting but great interviews from people with long careers in investing/gambling/betting space.
This is another excellent recommendation. The format makes it a pleasure to listen to, with no one talking over anyone else, and a bonus was the episode featuring an interview with Andrew 'Bert' Black who came up with the Exchange concept that turned into Betfair and which ultimately impacted my life quite significantly in a positive way. The topic of the Premium Charge was also raised at the end, which I thought was interesting.

Unfortunately, there is a small downside to all these excellent suggestions, which is that because I typically listen to them while out for my daily walk, when something comes up that is of particular interest, I have to make a mental note to listen to the episode again when I'm at home and in front of the computer.

I like to do a longer walk at the weekend, and on Saturday covered 13+ miles while mostly listening to the two suggestions below from a 'Sacred Manuscript' subscriber who wrote:
Thanks for adding these Bundesliga systems. Hopefully you’ve got some more little nuggets up your sleeve to add to the Sacred Manuscript 😀

If you haven’t already heard them I think you will really enjoy the following 2 podcasts with Ed Thorpe. Absolutely amazing how sharp this man is at 89 years young.

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-tim-ferriss-show/id863897795?i=1000563807699

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-tim-ferriss-show/id863897795?i=1000568020919
They were both very interesting episodes, and hopefully there will be more with Ed Thorpe to come. I do like Tim Ferriss, but hadn't listened to him in a while. 

A couple of comments on the second episode related to a topic close to my heart.

Ed isn't a big drinker, and mentioned that he only started drinking (a little) beer a few years ago following a visit to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. He now drinks half a beer two or three times a week, which is a little less than myself and probably the main reason why he is his ideal weight and I am not.

The impact of drinking to my weight is quite clear. One of Ed Thorpe's rules when addressing any problem is to collect data, which in this case involves weighing yourself daily, and this is something I do except when I'm away from home, in which case I backfit the weight gain (and it is always a gain) over the period I've been away.


The data isn't perfect, but on the left is how my weight over the past three years has fluctuated following a dry day compared to a drinking day.

If I don't have a drink, on average I will lose almost 0.4lbs a day, which doesn't sound like much, but it adds up quickly over time.

After a drinking day, weight the next day tends to be unreliable, I suspect due to dehydration, but looking at the weight two days on and there's a linear increase in weight gain depending on the massiveness of the session. 

Any drinking at all, and I'll gain almost 0.5lbs a day, and if it's a bit of a party, the gain will be a little over 0.8lbs a day.

I hasten to add that my drinking is purely social and not a problem in any way. I very rarely drink at home since my wife isn't much of a drinker after growing up around alcoholism, but I do enjoy going out and meeting friends - and strangers for that matter - and enjoying a social drink or two or whatever. And it's almost always beer although the occasional Moscow Mule or glass of port goes down nicely too.

Anyway, moving on to sports betting and Week 2 was a much better NFL weekend than opening week, with all three selections covering, and two winning outright taking the season record to 4-3. 

The Miami Dolphins were trailing by 21 points (14-35) going into the fourth quarter, and it was looking like they would need a lot more than the 3.5 they were getting to cover, but they won the last quarter by 25 points to not only cover but also to win at 2.49 on Pinnacle. 

The Arizona Cardinals won in overtime (3.06 on Pinnacle) after trailing by a mere 20 points at half-time, while the Los Angeles Chargers covered in their game at the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.

No luck for the EPL Draws where we had two selections this weekend. For the second match in a row, Nottingham Forest lost 2:3 at home to a promoted club, while one goal was enough for Everton to beat West ham United. The ROI on these this season is now just 1.5%

In Germany, the Bundesliga Systems made us 5.21 units, with Bayern Munich's second consecutive failure to win at odds-on a big part of that. Going against Bayern Munich when odds-on away from home is historically not a good plan, but in the Pinnacle era (11 seasons), laying them when playing at Augsburg now has an 85% ROI.

Thursday, 15 September 2022

Dodgers Coasting

The past weekend was, like the curate's egg, good in parts. With no EPL games, the focus for many readers was probably American Football and the opening weekend of the NFL.


First there was Week 2 of College Football where the Small Road 'Dog selections went 3-1, with two winning Straight Up, and taking the record for the season so far to 5-2. 

Week 1 of the NFL wasn't so great with only one of four selections covering the spread. Given that Week 1 is historically the worst of the season, and by some distance, I could possibly have recommended sitting this week out, but two of the games were Division matchups and the Week 1 record on these isn't terrible. 

While subscribers to the "Sacred Manuscript" might be cursing me for a rather poor start to the NFL season, I hope my timing in updating the document to include a couple of Bundesliga Systems this weekend more than made up for it. 

We hit 8 winners from 11 bets and an 8.69 unit profit to level stakes, and it was also a good weekend in the MLB with all six selections winning. The Los Angeles Dodgers have become the first team to reach the playoffs, and its likely that once home field advantage is secured, they will ease up a little and start resting players. 

As good as the Dodgers have been this season, actually for a few seasons winning their Division 9 times in the last 10 seasons, they have underperformed when 'hot favourites', although depending on how you define 'hot' favourites, this isn't an issue for just the Dodgers this year: 
-400 is 1.25 in European Odds and if there was no overround the implied win probability would be 80%. 

Teams starting at this short a price used to be a rarity in baseball with just three between 2005 and 2015, but in 2016 that started to change, albeit slowly. 

There was one match in 2016, three in 2017 and four in 2018 before the floodgates opened in 2019 with 19. All-time (going back to 2004) backing favourites at these odds would have lost you 7.9%

This season, (see left), and if you're thinking of backing at 1.3 or shorter, stay away from Southern California seems to be the rule with six losses from six although a little strange, given their record, that the Dodgers haven't been huge favourites since May.

Overall, backing the Dodgers when favourites this season - i.e. in all but four games - has an ROI of 4.9% on the Money Line and an amazing 18.7% on the Run Line.

They did lose last night in extra innings though, and the foot may be off the gas until the playoffs.

Week 2 of the NFL starts tonight, with the Los Angeles Chargers playing a Divisional game in Kansas City against the Chiefs.  

Friday, 9 September 2022

Pitch Clocks And Big Bases

As many readers will know, this season has been a strange one for MLB betting.

Clearly the universal adoption of the Designated Hitter rule was always likely to have an impact on Totals betting, but the Money Line and Run Line markets also appear to have been disrupted.


It's going to get worse. News out today reveals that the 2023 season will see 'sweeping changes' as MLB look to shorten games as well as increase 'offense'.

Since these changes have been trialled in minor leagues, it's not a huge surprise, but the impact on data will be significant.

MLB will be adopting a pitch clock (15/20 seconds depending on whether the bases are empty or not). As The Guardian reports, in minor league trials, a pitch clock...
"has helped reduce the average time of a nine-inning game from 3hr 4min in 2021 to 2hr 38min this season. The average time of a nine-inning game in the major leagues this year is 3hr 6min; it was 2hr 46min in 1989, according to the Elias Sports Bureau." 
Violations will be penalised by the calling of a ball or a strike, depending on the violator.

There will also be restrictions on how a team can line up on defensive shifts as well as larger bases, which should mean more stolen bases, and thus more runs, since they will effectively be closer together. 

Larger bases were the only proposed change supported by the players, who were in the minority on the 11 man competition committee. Four player, one umpire and six management representatives made up the panel so there could yet be some pushback from players. 

Interesting times are ahead, and as I have mentioned before, with rule changes comes opportunity.

Before my time (just) but the NBA introduced a shot clock in 1954 which completely changed the game, as did the later introduction (1979-80) of the three-point shot:
In the last pre-clock season (1953–54), teams averaged 79 points per game; in the first year with the clock (1954–55), the average was 93 points, which went up to 107 points by its fourth year in use (1957–58).  The advent of the shot clock (and the resulting increase in scoring) coincided with an increase in attendance, which increased 40% within a few years to an average of 4,800 per game.

In the first year of the three point field goal, there was an average of 0.8 scored per game from 2.8 attempts per team, with this increasing up to last season's 12.4 scored from 35.2 attempts. 

Teams adapt to rule changes and bettors need to also.   

Monday, 5 September 2022

Podcasts and Compliments

No luck with the sole EPL Draw selection this weekend with Manchester United beating Arsenal 3:1 and worryingly looking to be in rather good form going into next Sunday's big game. The Arsenal game was actually a Toss-Up selection, the second of the season, and the second loss, but the Close picks remain in profit.

For followers of the College Football System there was some welcome Week 1 success with the four selections going 3-1. It's always nice to get off to a winning start. The final game of the weekend was yesterday, and we were on Florida State +4. Up by seven at 24-17 and things were looking good until LSU scored a last second touchdown. Totals bettors had mixed feelings at this point, with the number set at 51 and the game looking set to go into overtime, but the extra point attempt was blocked and Unders bettors joined us in breathing a sigh of relief. 

I wrote on Saturday with regard to the William and Mary win that "At least one Sacred Manuscript subscriber was on board" and I can update this to "at least two" now.

Chris wrote to verify some of the ROIs I mentioned in the Smokey the Square post, and at the end added:
P.S. I managed to bet on the William and Mary NCAA match, so that's another Sacred Manuscript subscriber you can add to the list of people who got on board.
While the Regular MLB season is almost certain to end up as a losing one for Hot Favourites. the month of September has started promisingly. The Regular Season ends a little later than usual on October 5th, before the playoffs begin so we still have a few weeks of action. 

September is a good month for sports betting with MLB teams chasing their magic numbers for the playoffs (including for once, my wife's San Diego Padres) and of course the NFL getting underway this Thursday with an interesting game in Los Angeles.

Friday's post on hedging, which was prompted by Jason's recommendation of the Bet The Process podcast, brought about this rather generous, and much appreciated, compliment:
Hopefully there will be a few useful recommendations in there, and it may go some small way towards repaying the debt we all owe to you for the continuously excellent blog.
Quite probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said about it! 

I'll include Jason's email in full since it contains several other podcast recommendations which might well be of interest to readers. 
Hello again, Cassini.

Thanks for the mention, glad my comment was of interest. The Bet the Process podcast is certainly worth a listen, particularly when a guest is interviewed. It tends to focus a fair bit on NFL or NCAAF during the course of the season, and if you can get past the occasionally disjointed conversation flow between Rufus and Jeff I’m sure the miles will fly by.

It’s rumoured that one is never more than six feet away from a podcast recommendation nowadays, but for what it’s worth I have found the following well worth a go:

Be Better Bettors - 
Spanky does seem to divide opinion in the Twitter betting world, but his podcast is decent, and due to being very well connected he seems to get a few guests that don’t appear elsewhere.

Circles Off - 
I’ve just started this one from the beginning. I’ve listened to co-host Rob Pizzola on various podcasts previously, and he obviously knows the time of day. A decent array of guests too.

Business of Betting - 
Recently relaunched with a different host, some interesting guests on the earlier episode, and previous host Jake had a very easy interviewing style.

Inside Betting - 
A sporadic offering from Matthew Trenhaile. A shame it never really gained any traction at the time (I myself only found out about it well after the final episode) but Matthew is incredibly interesting, and clearly very knowledgeable.

The Bashcast - 
This is a hidden gem. An abundance of information on modelling soccer based on xG, via the correct score market (amongst many other useful nuggets). Really, really worth a listen.

The Business We’ve Chosen - 
Back across the pond for the final suggestion. This pod is pretty no-nonsense, and  not shy of throwing shade at most of Gambling Twitter. 
Not many episodes, but some are quite lengthy, and another where the guest line-up is pretty unique.

If you’re already familiar with some or all of the above, feel free to ignore.
Hopefully there will be a few useful recommendations in there, and it may go some small way towards repaying the debt we all owe to you for the continuously excellent blog.

Kind regards,
Jason
I think I'll start with The Bashcast on my next walk given the double really, but if other readers have their own favourite podcasts, I'd love to hear and share them. Matthew Trenhaile is someone I admire and have interacted with in the past, and Spanky I have also mentioned in this blog before. 
He certainly has an interesting background and his fulsome recommendation of Jack Moore's book led to me selling it for a three figure sum.  

Saturday, 3 September 2022

William, Mary and Charlotte

It was a winning start to the College Football season last night with William and Mary not needing the 4 points they were getting to beat Charlotte.


Going into the final quarter trailing 20:24, it was looking like they might need those points for a push, but they then scored 21 unanswered for a comfortable win, their first over an FBS opponent since 2009. At least one Sacred Manuscript subscriber was on board.

Of the first 33 matches this season, only 5 Road teams have won, and only William and Mary as underdogs. There should be a couple more selections today, unlike in the EPL where there appear to be no Close selections right now for today (Saturday) but one very interesting Big 6 selection on Sunday. 

Big 6 Close matches have a 51% ROI from the 89 matches since 2000, and when Manchester United are the Home side, the ROI is 93%:
Don't go crazy since it's just one game and anything can happen of course, but that 3.65 / 3.7 on Betfair looks very tasty, and Marathonbet's 3.74 looking even more generous if you have an account there. 
 

Friday, 2 September 2022

Smokey The Square

As some of you may have seen, I recently spotted a Tweet containing what I was fairly sure was some rather poor advice. 


We all make mistakes, so I didn't reveal the account name, but after pointing out the inaccuracy of the Tweet, rather than simply admit he was wrong, the person in question gave some responses that made absolutely no sense, before later deleting his nonsense. 

He appears to be fairly new to betting, and the handle SmokeytheSharp can only be an ironic nickname in the same category as nicknaming a morbidly obese guy "Tiny". 

Fortunately he has very few followers, so feel free to become the 168th if you'd like, though I wouldn't recommend it.

The Tweet in question stated, with no qualifications:
Saying 'never' is rarely a good idea, but the idea that big teams might be over-bet and that there thus might be value in opposing them isn't new, and it's an angle I've looked at in some detail. 

Ignoring the fact that "in the long run" you will either be up or down overall, and will almost certainly not ALWAYS lose, I quite politely pointed out that:
This is very poor advice.

With almost 19 seasons of data, blindly backing the Los Angeles Dodgers when favourite has a positive ROI from more than 2200 matches.

If the 'tip' had specified 'Away / Road favourites' it would have had some merit (the Yankees are actually the worst team to back in this situation), but at home, these two clubs are actually the best of the 30 clubs to back when favourites.

When faced with these facts, the first response was this:

Who said anything about "winning records"? My response clearly referenced ROI so again, I very politely suggested that Smokey:
I should have said "are positive" but as I said, we all make mistakes. The response this time made it quite apparent that we were dealing with SmokeytheSquare:
What?! Presumably he later realised the error, and it's no wonder he deleted his Tweets. 

Obviously this is complete nonsense as I, again, patiently and politely pointed out, even taking the time to include an easy example:
Our friend then tried a different tactic, the old trick of moving the goalposts, writing:
But I thought the original Tweet clearly talked about the long run? No, apparently we're not talking about the long run at all, but we're talking about 'now', which of course is a term that needed some clarification. Is it a Day? Week? Month? Season? 

The answer is that, for Smokey, the 'long run' is a season. It's probably not the definition most readers will have of a 'long run', but so be it. 

How true was the statement that if you bet both those teams consistently [to level stakes] you'll lose over a season?

Not very. Profitable each of the last four seasons:

The response? To delete all the Tweets, although at the time of writing the original one is still there.

As for the other two "tips"?

Number 1 makes sense. Squares tend to like Home teams and winning teams, so if there is any value, the first place to look would be Away teams with losing records. 

And in fact, there is value on these teams when they are favourites and have won their previous game. The market likes the team, hence they are favourites, yet still undervalues them. If you look at games where such a team has won their last two games, the ROI is even better (4.1% on the Run Line since 2004). 

"Rule" number two is good advice except for games when the pitcher is from the American League playing an inter-league game. In this situation, the ROI is 5.3% since 2004, so again, never say never. 

Until this season, ERAs across leagues cannot, and should not be directly compared due to the different rules in place, but that will probably change. 

Unfortunately, of his 167 followers, it's highly probable that the vast majority do not validate these claims for themselves. It could be costing them money. 

Apparently the account is going "private" for the NFL season in a few days time, but the evidence suggests the guy has no edge and frankly, little idea about how sports betting works. 

One big clue is that there is no record keeping. There are a few green ticks for some winners, some red crosses for some losers, but the majority have nothing next to them at all. 

Make of that what you will, but importantly there is no running total, and no way of verifying whether a follower would be "in the can" or green all over.

This lack of verifiability was the reason I stopped discussing the Bundeslayga System on this blog, (it requires a lay price and being Exchange bets, an accurate historical record is not readily available), but after corresponding with my old friend Stewboss, I may have an acceptable compromise and in a few days plan to add it to the "Sacred Document". 

If you signed up, "stand back, and stand by" as someone once said.

One of the intentions of this blog is to educate people into not believing everything they read and to verify claims such as the ones made by Smokey. Unfortunately there are a lot of Smokeys out there but it's not necessarily all bad. Claims such as his can be easily verified and this process may well lead to discovering an angle that you hadn't previously considered. 

Rufus, Hedging, and Oxford Coma

This blog doesn't get too many comments, so it was rather remiss of me not to mention one from Jason regarding my Risk Is Personal post a few days ago.


Jason wrote:
Hi Cassini, This (very loosely) reminded me of a podcast I listened to recently, on the subject of hedging. Not sure if you're a listener to the Bet The Process podcast, but within the last couple of months (Season 5 Episode 32) there was a discussion on whether to hedge out of a bet even if the hedge itself is a bad value bet. At around 25 minutes in the discussion covers the use of Kelly in relation to hedging out of a bet, even at a negative edge, when considering what you stand to win in relation to your bankroll/personal wealth. I can't really comment on the maths (although I'm sure you can), but thought it might be of interest when considering the follow-up poll referenced in your piece (where the responders are asked to consider the effect of net worth on their choice between red and green). Hope this is of some interest to you. All the best, Jason

I found the podcast in question, and it's well worth a listen. Tying a couple of former posts together, and I mentioned here that my 100 miles every month goal was in jeopardy. 

Additionally, and while less of a factor than calories ingested, my exercise routine has also been significantly disrupted and my monthly goal of 100 miles on foot is in serious danger of being missed for the first time since November's feeble 93 miles.

Fortunately listening to podcasts is a great way to pass the time and learn something new, and I ended up at 115.9 miles with one of those hours spent listening to Rufus and Jeff discussing hedging and Kelly as Jason describes.

Rufus Peabody is a betting person I respect a lot, and I've mentioned him several times in this blog, including recommending a podcast he did for Pinnacle Sports a little over three years ago. He also led me to the excellent book The Logic of Sports Betting by Ed Miller and Matthew Davidow which you should definitely read if you are serious about being profitable in sports betting. 

Back to hedging out of a bet, even at negative value, the premise was this. You make a bet at fairly long odds, and are lucky enough to find yourself in a very good position. 

I thought I'd written about this before using the example of backing a small team to win the FA Cup pre-season (say Oxford United), going into a coma, before awakening on the eve of the Cup Final to find that they are playing Crystal Palace. (One can dream). 

The £100 bet was placed at 1000-1, and Oxford are now available at 2.75 to lift the Cup. Palace are just 1.35 to win their first proper major trophy, but their fair odds are really more like 1.5.

The question is should you let your bet run or hedge out by backing Palace, even if that latter option is poor value? 

The answer is "it depends". 

If you are Warren Buffett (who just turned 92 by the way), £100,000 is nothing, and you should let the bet ride rather than take bad value, but what if you are someone to whom that sum would be rather significant, and you were a lot younger than 92? 

This is a situation (an extreme one admittedly) where you would almost certainly lock in at least some profit whatever the outcome. Yes, you'd be giving away value, but in the same way that your insurance premium isn't an accurate reflection of the true risk, sometimes insurance helps you sleep. Though if you've been in a coma for nine months, you're probably done with sleep for a while! 

Rufus describes the real world example discussed on the podcast here, and this is also well worth spending some time on. His conclusion is this:

Psychological Considerations of Hedge Betting

Hedge betting is very difficult for some people, because of regret. If you don’t hedge a potential big payday, and the bet ends up losing, you kick yourself for not hedging. If you hedge and the original bet won, you kick yourself for hedging.

Have a process for making these decisions. I have no regret for not hedging my Mito Pereira outrights, because I knew hedging was not the optimal decision. Were my bankroll smaller, I 100% would have tried to hedge (and definitely not regretted it), because it would have been the optimal decision. “Professionals don’t hedge so I shouldn’t” is a huge load of bull. Every situation is different. You can’t paint this decision in broad strokes.

It’s about having a process that you stick to. Whether to hedge isn’t a decision you have to make – the decision has already been made for you. You know what the optimal decision is. You just need to not f*** it up. Whether or not it works out in one instance is immaterial. Your process was good, and in the long run you are putting yourself in the best position to succeed.

Thanks for the comment Jason, and I'll probably listen to a few more episodes of Bet The Process as I try to get back on track to average 5 miles a day for the year. I'm currently at 4.917 should you be wondering.  

Thursday, 1 September 2022

Oysters Are Back

August is done and for me at least, it's a case of good riddance. I enjoyed the family holiday time, but from a financial perspective, the month was the worst ever. 

More on that later, since most of you are more interested in sports betting than in my retirement.

The 2022-23 English Premier League season got underway, and for "Close/Toss-Up" draws August is historically the best month with an ROI of 27% since 2000. 

This season's results boosted that ROI to 28% with three winners from seven:
There were also a couple of matches this week that fell just outside the "Close" range but finished as Draws. These were West Ham v Tottenham (30.7%) and AFC Bournemouth v Wolves (31.7%) but since 2000, these haven't been a good investment overall, although in games where a Little 14 team is home to a Big 6 side the jury is out. 

August is historically the best month for 'hot favourites' in MLB, but not this year. Whether this is due to the rule changes previously mentioned here remains to be seen, but with a month to go, we're looking at a losing season with the ROI currently at -3.8%:
I did see this baseball betting 'tip' on Twitter:
This is very poor advice. 

With almost 19 seasons of data, blindly backing the Los Angeles Dodgers when favourite has a positive ROI from more than 2200 matches. 

If the 'tip' had specified 'Away / Road favourites' it would have had some merit (the Yankees are actually the worst team to back in this situation), but at home, these two clubs are actually the best of the 30 clubs to back when favourites.

Presumably the rationale for this suggestion was that being popular teams, the Yankees and Dodgers are typically over-bet, but the data doesn't support this. Validating your ideas is always a good idea. 

College (NCAA) Football is back as of last weekend, and with the NFL is just a week away with a Thursday Night game, it's a sure sign that Autumn is here. 

For the first time since June 2016, my overall year-on-year return is negative, and with September traditionally the worst month for stocks, things could yet get worse.

Tesla had a 3 for 1 stock split, but dropped more than 7% in the month, and overall my net worth dropped 5.6%, the 138th worst month in percentage terms of the 140 since I started tracking with, not surprisingly, August 2022 ranked dead last in real terms. 

The drawdown from April's high is 12.2%, not far short of the 14.1% I experienced during the March 2020 COVID-19 panic. 

The good news, I suppose, is that I am still employed. The bad news is that I might have to remain so for some time if I want to go out on a high, which would be psychologically optimal.

August was also a red month on the scales, but with my net daily calories averaging over 1900, this was no surprise and the damage wasn't terrible. Hard to lose weight when grandkids are eating ice cream and wanting to eat out most days! 

For anyone wondering about the post title, with the advent of September, adherents to the traditional advice recommending abstaining from oysters unless the month has an 'R' in its name will be aware that today is the first of 242 days in which the delicacy may be enjoyed. 

Sunday, 21 August 2022

Risk Is Personal

One of the accounts I follow on Twitter is Clifford Pickover and last week he Tweeted the following:

At the time of writing, it has garnered almost 1,500 replies, with a number of differing opinions, and one unfortunate individual saying:
I am color blind. Which is which?
There's always one, as my Mother used to say.

While it's unlikely any of us will ever find ourselves in the fortunate position of deciding which button to press, it's an interesting thought experiment.

Mathematically speaking, it's a no-brainer. The green button has an expected value of $25 million, the red of $1 million, and so you should press green every time, but we're human beings, not robots. 

Losses hurt and our personal circumstances tend to outweigh the mathematics when it comes to big financial decisions.

If you are a billionaire, you (presumably) press green, but if $1 million is a life-changing sum for you, it's not unreasonable to press the red button and take the guaranteed $1 million. 

The question gets interesting when it's applied to people with some money. What if you have $1 million already? It might hurt to miss out on doubling your money and you may well choose red, but what if you have $5 million? 

Risk is personal and our individual circumstances make a difference.

The 18th century mathematician Daniel Bernoulli came up with the idea of "utility" and understood that real-life decisions are dependent on an individual's circumstances. 

Someone posted a follow up poll, with the following results:
I wonder how close those numbers would be in a real-world scenario? 

Friday, 19 August 2022

Mind Your Meme Stock

A little over a year ago, on July 12th, 2021 to be precise, on the recommendation of a friend of my daughter, I invested a small amount in a small Canadian company called Mind Medicine ($MNMD).
It's not been one of my better bets, as the chart for the past year (above) clearly shows, but with a much larger investment in Tesla up 1,304% currently, it's money I can afford to lose. As Yahoo Finance stated:
Mind Medicine is a company very few people have heard of.
It was certainly a new name to me at the time, and its profile states, it is "a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, develops novel products to treat brain health disorders related to psychiatry, addiction, pain, and neurology."

Something of a longshot in other words, and after months of steady declines in its stock price, all of a sudden I see that:
Its stock is up almost 50% today. Why? A college student made roughly $110 million trading Bed Bath Beyond, according to SEC filings. After a Financial Times report showed the student is also heavily invested in Mind Medicine, traders seem to have decided to pile in. Welcome to the meme stock club, Mind Medicine.
Things may be looking up. Definitions first, and:
A meme stock is a stock that gains popularity among retail investors through social media. The popularity of meme stocks is generally based on internet memes shared among traders, on platforms such as Reddit's r/wallstreetbets. Investors in such stocks are often young and inexperienced investors.
Many of you are probably familiar with the term 'meme', and while I've never jumped on a meme stock bandwagon, that I possibly find myself on one by default is somewhat interesting. I did jump on the Bitcoin bandwagon via a trust ($GBTC), but that has so far proven to be even more of a loser than $MNMD. A large element of FOMO drove that poor decision.

Some of the language on the r/wallstreetbets suggests a high degree of immaturity, but maybe that's just me becoming a grumpy old man. These bets are highly speculative and volatile and stocks often trade at prices that are above their estimated value based on fundamental analysis so be careful and don't get greedy if you are playing this game. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Drowning in Draws, Visas and Trousers

It was a good weekend for Draws with the second round of EPL games this weekend producing no fewer than five. 

Two of them (Southampton v Leeds United and Brighton and Hove Albion v Newcastle United) were 'Close' qualifiers, with the next most probable Draws (Wolverhampton Wanderers v Fulham and Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur) also finishing without a winner. 

Someone was happy:
The fifth Draw of the round, last night's Liverpool v Crystal Palace match, was an unlikely addition to the Draws column, although a very welcome one personally.

The high rate of Draws won't last though. The record percentage of Draws in top flight English football is 32.25% set in 1973-74 when the average number of goals per game was 2.4 whereas this season so far looks to be close to last season's 2.82 goals per game and goals are not good for Draws as most of you will know by now.

The extra Draws are coming at the expense of Away wins, which are currently at an EPL all-time low of 20%, but of course, it is very early days. Four of the Big 6 are away next weekend and all are odds-on.
During the weekend, @statsbet Tweeted the following:
@oddsvantage and myself were both curious as to what this might be a reference to, and it's our old friend Psychoff who is very generously offering one-to-one trading mentoring for the very reasonable price of just:
Which seems an absolute bargain for 30 hours of live trading with someone who is (modestly and self-described) as "one of the best football traders of all times (possibly the best one)".

Possibly, but probably not. If there was ever a huge edge trading liquid football markets, you can be sure that it's long been identified and blunted by the big players in these markets and if the edge is on Turkish Third Division matches, well the liquidity just ain't going to be there. 

Back in 2010 I wrote about Psychoff:
I wonder how long it will be before we see an invitation to share in the joy - for a small price of course.
While I was right about the invitation to share in the success, I have to admit that I was way off on the 'small price'.

Rumours on betting forums are that the money is needed for immigration purposes, i.e. generate an income, pay tax on it, and get a visa for the UK, but as one commenter wrote
Coupled with the fact, if it happens to be true, the reason behind the course is to pay tax to acquire a visa, you'd have to be completely bonkers to sign up.
Mind you, this was in 2020 when the cost was significantly cheaper and:
He's offering the basic and advice course for £2499!!!
The cost seems to have risen fairly rapidly from £1,000 to the current £39,999 but while there are many comments regarding the cost, there aren't quite so many saying what great value the course is. 
I've looked at the testimonials. There's no feedback from anyone who's done the £24K course.
With the median UK 2021 (April) gross salary at £31,772 I'm not sure demand for this training will be particularly strong, but I'm certainly beginning to think that offering the "Sacred Trading Manuscript" for a small fraction of this £39,999 was a big mistake. 

Future copies will be just £9,999 and you don't even have to watch hours and hours of live football every week. Just follow the rules, bet, forget, collect, and enjoy life.

And as a bonus, the results of all systems are easily verifiable, something which isn't the case for in-play trading 'systems':
It may surprise no one that there was no reply to this question. 

Finally, and following on from the Kiké Hernandez and The Case of the Extra Tight Pants story, Baz quite reasonably asks:
Will you try tight trousers to improve your betting? Publish the results please.
Unfortunately the answer to this question may well be known in just a few weeks given that August is not proving conducive to weight maintenance, never mind weight loss. It's a holiday month with children and granddaughters, ice creams, birthday cakes, meals out and other temptations that I can normally resist proving temporarily irresistible. 

Additionally, and while less of a factor than calories ingested, my exercise routine has also been significantly disrupted and my monthly goal of 100 miles on foot is in serious danger of being missed for the first time since November's feeble 93 miles.

I do have a week left in the month after my daughter and grandchildren leave, so if I am not too worn out, a few ten-mile days should get me over that line.

And then it's into the NFL season (pre-season has already started) with the NHL and NBA not far behind. Oh, and a World Cup.