Friday 30 December 2022

The Draw at the World Cup

I'm now returned from my Xmas holiday in the wilds of Kent, and pleased to have managed enough walks through the muddy fields in borrowed Wellington boots to achieve my goal of 2,000 miles on foot this year. It only occurred to me today that a goal of 2,022 would have been much catchier, and at 2,011 with two days to do, this is almost certainly done.

The 2,000 miles target was upwardly revised once I realised the original 1,200 miles a month was going to be too easy. 

Next year's goal will be an even tougher one, set at 2,023 miles. The absence of an office to go to, and a reduction in business travel, have combined to create the extra time needed each day to accomplish this. 5.55 miles a day at 15 minute miles is about an hour and 23 minutes a day. Plus I have the flexibility now to wander off in mid-day while it is still light and avoid any inclement weather.

While I was away, the World Cup wrapped up with a great result for Draw backers in the Final. A profit from backing the Draw in every knockout game was already guaranteed before the Semi-Finals began, but the Final Draw was icing on the cake. The investment was looking extremely unlikely to pay dividends for much of the game, but two Mbappé goals in the last ten minutes came as a welcome surprise. 

Backing the Draw in all 15 games resulted in a 3.53 unit profit, an ROI of 24%, and in games with no fair priced odds-on favourite, the respective numbers were 4.68 units profit and a 94% ROI.

I have data starting with the 2006 World Cup, and by tournament, here are the totals for backing the Draw in every knockout game and in only those with no fair priced odds-on favourite:
While there is a women's World Cup next summer, the next big international tournament for the men's game is CONCACAF's Gold Cup (also next summer) although that tournament isn't great for this strategy, followed by Africa's 2023 Cup of Nations delayed to January 2024. The summer of 2024 will see both the Copa America and Euro tournaments.

Here are the updated numbers for backing the Draw in every game for these tournaments:
And here are the numbers for the Draw in matches with no fair priced odds-on favourite:
Full details are in the Sacred Manuscript, so I'm confident at least a few readers made a decent profit from this World Cup. 

A nice way to the end the year, which hasn't been the best one by the numbers, but more on that in the New Year when I look back and forward. Happy New Year to everyone who reads this. Stay healthy and stay lucky.

Wednesday 14 December 2022

World Cup Winner Odds Since 1966

I will be travelling this afternoon and away for a couple of weeks over Christmas so there will be no posts for a while. The original plan was to watch England win the World Cup with friends and family, but that won't be happening now. The numbers of those of us who are old enough to (just about) remember 1966 continues to dwindle as the years of hurt climbs to 60. 

As is often the case, the Guardian today had an interesting feature about the fate of pre-tournament World Cup favourites going back to 1966, and posting it here serves two purposes - I don't lose it, and it may be of interest to some of you. 

Scotland joint 4th favourites in 1978? I had no idea. Merry Christmas. 
The only time since 1966 that Brazil lived up to their pre-tournament billing was at the 1994 World Cup. That is one of only three times in 15 tournaments since 1966 that the favourite has won; West Germany in 1974 and Spain in 2010 were the others.

Here’s a list of the odds for the favourites and winners before each World Cup:

Winners England 9-2 Favourites Brazil 7-4 (went out in group stage) Other notable odds West Germany 10-1 (runners-up), Portugal 20-1 (semi-finalists), North Korea 100-1 (quarter-finalists)

Winners Brazil 7-2 Favourites England 3-1 (out in quarter-finals)

Winners and favourites West Germany 9-4 Other notable odds Brazil and Italy 5-1 (joint 2nd fav), Netherlands 9-1 (finalists), Poland 28-1 (won third-place playoff)

Winners Argentina 4-1 (2nd fav) Favourites Brazil 22-10 (out in second group stage) Other notable odds Scotland 8-1 (joint 4th fav), Tunisia 1000-1 (became first African team to win a World Cup match)

Winners Italy 18-1 Favourites Brazil 15-8 (out in second group stage) Other notable odds Poland 25-1 (semi-finalists), France 33-1 (semi-finalists), Algeria 2000-1 (beat West Germany in group stage)

Winners Argentina 7-2 (2nd fav) Favourites Brazil 10-3 (quarter-finalists) Other notable odds West Germany 14-1 (runners-up), Uruguay 6-1 (last 16), Denmark 14-1 (last 16)

Winners West Germany 6-1 (4th fav) Favourites Italy 3-1 (semi-finalists) Other notable odds Argentina 11-1 (runners-up), England 10-1 (semi-finalists), Cameroon 500-1 (quarter-finalists)

Winners and favourites Brazil 3-1 Other notable odds Colombia 8-1 (out in group stage), Sweden 40-1 (semi-finalists), Bulgaria 50-1 (semi-finalists)

Winners France 6-1 (2nd fav) Favourites Brazil 3-1 (runners-up) Other notable odds Croatia 66-1 (semi-finalists)

Winners Brazil 13-2 (4th fav) Favourites France 4-1 (out in group stage) Other notable odds Argentina 5-2 (out in group stage), Turkey 100-1 (semi-finalists), South Korea 200-1 (semi-finalists), Senegal 300-1 (quarter-finalists)

Winners Italy 8-1 Favourites Brazil 3-1 (quarter-finalists) Other notable odds England 13-2 (quarter-finalists), France 12-1 (runners-up)

Winners and favourites Spain 4-1 Other notable odds England 8-1 (out in last 16), Uruguay 100-1 (semi-finalists)

Winners Germany 13-2 (joint 3rd fav) Favourites Brazil 3-1 (semi-finalists)

Winners France 6-1 (3rd fav) Favourites Brazil 4-1 (quarter-finalists) Other notable odds England 16-1 (semi-finalists), Croatia 33-1 (finalists)

Winners (from) Argentina 11-2, France 6-1, Croatia 50-1, Morocco 200-1 Favourites Brazil 7-2 (quarter-finalists)

Thursday 8 December 2022

World Cup, Round of 16 and Qatar-Finals

With a 0:0 draw between England and the USA on Thanksgiving Friday, diplomatic relations within the Cassini family have remained positive, although since then the fortunes for the two of us have gone in separate ways.

Only one of the Round of 16 matches (Croatia v Japan) was a game with no odds-on favourite, and Draw backers will have been pleased with the 1:1 score. The ROI on World Cup knockout matches without an odds-on favourite increased to 47.5%, just ahead of the Euros where the ROI is a mere 45.2%.

If you backed the Draw in all matches to level stakes you'd be down 0.74 units, or if you'd stuck with matches where the Draw was shorter than 4.0, you'd be up 2.26 units.

Hard to believe that only seven proper matches remain, and the Portuguese speaking quarter-finalists will both be odds-on this weekend, with the other two matches will be more evenly balanced. 

Some readers will have noticed that the eight knockout games so far have all been won by the alphabetically first team, and if this continues throughout, then England will lose in the final to Argentina. However, I wouldn't recommend this idea as a betting strategy. 

The shortest Draw price is Argentina v Netherlands at around 3.16 and the most evenly balanced game is England v France where the Draw is a rather rare underdog at around 3.28.

Since 2006, only nine previous World Cup knockout matches have had the Draw as the 'dog, with three wins each for the Favourite, 2nd Favourite and the Draw.
Notice that when the 2nd Favourite wins, it's always in some style. 

Looking at the slightly larger sample of non-World Cup elimination games, the value is on backing the favourite, with an ROI from the 22 matches of 39%.
Again, with one exception, when the 2nd Favourite wins, it's by three goals or more! 

Tuesday 22 November 2022

USA Sports Betting, MLB 2022 and Marital Discord

The 2022 MLB season is over with the Houston Astros winning the World Series by four games to two over the Philadelphia Phillies. It was an interesting season, with the Phillies reaching the final despite finishing third in their Division behind two teams winning over 100 games. The Astros were the best team in the American League though, so their success wasn't such a surprise, but with four teams winning 100 games for only the second time in history, and the New York Yankees only one short on 99, it's not surprising that there were a record number of 'hot' favorites this season.

Unfortunately the strategy of backing such teams in the regular season wasn't a winning one this year overall, except in inter-league games. The universal adoption of the Designated Hitter (DH) rule may have been disruptive, but this doesn't explain why American League (AL) clubs playing intra-league games would have been the worst performing types of game.

Here are the numbers going back to 2013, and note that in 2020 the DH rule was also not in effect:
Excluding the 2020 COVID season, the number of 'hot favourites' (shorter than 1.5) has doubled in the past five years as parity between the teams has dropped but of the five teams winning 99 or more games this season, only backing the Yankees and Atlanta Braves when hot favourites was profitable.

The majority of selections are Home teams, but ROIs have been slightly higher historically on Away teams with that for the 2013 to 2021 seasons (excluding the COVID 2020 season) at 8.9%, but this season the ROI on Aways was -10%.  
The above image shows the results by League, and while it might not be a surprise to see the National League disrupted in the two seasons with no DH rule, the season just ended was the first where the American League selection has lost (other than that very small loss in 2016). 

One other possible explanation is the huge increase in sports betting in the US in recent years. Just five years ago, Nevada was the only state with legal U.S. sports betting but a Supreme Court ruling in May 2018 gave states the power to legalise and regulate sports betting. It's a constantly increasing number but more than 30 states have legalized some form of U.S. sports betting, with likely more to come.

It could be a blip of course, but as markets open up, and billions of new dollars pours into markets, of course there is going to be some disruption. I'm in California at the moment, (it's Thanksgiving this week, although my in-laws are both currently sick and turkey plans may well be disrupted), and today's New York Times had a feature on the topic: 
Four years ago, betting on live sports was illegal in most of the United States. Now, fans watching games or attending them at stadiums are barraged with advertisements encouraging them to bet on matchups, not just watch as spectators.

This transformation in sports betting started nearly a decade ago, at first with the explosion of wagering on fantasy sports. Then in 2018, the Supreme Court cleared the way for states to legalize wagers on live games. Today, 31 states and Washington, D.C., permit sports gambling either online or in person, and five more states have passed laws that will allow such betting in the future. Professional sports in the U.S. now are part of a multibillion-dollar corporate gambling enterprise.

This shift represents the largest expansion of gambling in United States history.
At least $161 billion in wagers have been placed since sports betting was broadly legalized in the United States. This explosion of gambling is just the start. Betting companies have made clear that the ultimate goal is to bring so-called iGaming to states across the nation, where customers can use their mobile phones to play blackjack, poker and other casino-style games.

California is one of the minority of states with no legal sports betting, but TV shows now openly discuss odds, lines and totals, and 'bad beats' are often featured and while sports betting has always been a part of life here, it's never been so openly discussed. 

When the last World Cup was played, just three states (Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware) had legal sports betting markets, but for the current one:
20.5 million American adults plan to bet $1.8 billion on the 2022 World Cup, per a new report from the American Gaming Association. Three in 10 (29%) of American adults who plan to watch the World Cup intend to wager on the tournament.
Of course, not all the money is too sharp:
If given $50 to bet, most Americans would put their money on the U.S. (24%) to win...

Systems that have worked well for several years in the NBA and NHL are also off to poor starts this season, but touch wood, American Football seems to be its usual self. It's unlikely I'll get to see a game live while I'm here, but with Friday being a holiday for most Americans, and the game starting at 11am local time here, bars should be lively for the US v England game. Whether or not my wife will still be talking to me afterwards remains to be seen. 

Thursday 3 November 2022

Stupid Small Eyed Pig

Backing the 'Dog in the MLB Playoffs had another winner last night, with the Houston Astros 'officially' winning at evens but backed at 2.06 on Betfair, following on the heels of the Philadelphia Phillies win on a delayed Tuesday night game three at an official 2.05 but again, backed higher on Betfair at 2.16. Betfair take their 2% commission so we're not comparing apples to apples here, but 2.16 is equivalent to 2.137. 

With a maximum of three games left, this post-season is guaranteed to end up in profit. I'll look at the MLB season in its entirety later this month. It's been an unusual one with the significant rule changes, but it's nice to end out the season positively.

With the series tied at two after a rare no-hitter last night, tonight's Game Five is hugely important, with the Phillies a home underdog at 2.46. 

With my wife away, I've had some extra time on my hands, and with excellent timing, I've been entertained by a crypto scammer in recent days. It started with a text from an unknown number addressed to "Kevin" referencing interest in a property deal, and asking for the contract. 

Being a decent chap, and assuming positive intent, I responded clarifying that I was not Kevin. I'd hate for someone to miss out on an opportunity because of a genuine mistake, and the reply stated that "my assistant saved the wrong number digits" adding "I hope I didn't cause you any trouble".

"None whatsoever" I replied, to which I was told "You are very gentle... Let's make a friend, How old are you?"

And so it began. By nature, I'm a sceptic, and 99.9% sure this now wasn't a genuine wrong number, and sure enough within a few messages my new friend was saying how they were "analysing the crypoto currency market" in their spare time.
"My aunt is a finance expert from a Japanese university, majoring in financial market analysis, quantitative investment and sound asset management, He (sic) is trading short-term Bitcoin call options. She will notify me in advance every time there is a good market quote, so I have been able to make rich profits in the cryptocurrency market for the past two years.
The target for next year was $800k. 

The two years later grew to four, with 3 to 4 trades per month on average and when pressed on the strike rate and position size was told 100% and 30% respectively.
Not a single trade of a total of approximately 168 made had ever lost. Very impressive? 

Even more remarkably, the profit on each was 40%. When I pointed out that this seemed rather unlikely and that with compounding they would now literally be a billionaire even starting with a very modest bank, I was told that I'm old and don't understand trading.
Well, I am certainly old, although I prefer the term 'experienced' and after being told I was a 'stupid pig' with an 80s / 90s mindset my new friend is no longer reaching out to me every hour to see if I've opened an account yet. Hopefully I wasted plenty of their time, and saved someone else from potentially losing money. 

Tuesday 1 November 2022

October in Perspective

It seems that when writing a weekend, weekly or monthly review that I often use the phrase "good in parts", with my first reference to the curate's egg all the way back in January 2010, and it's hardly surprising.

For those of us who have a number of systems or strategies, it's to be expected that over any given short-term period, some will be up and some will be down. If each individual system has a positive EV, the overall trend will be positive, but the more systems you have, the rarer it becomes for a month where everything was up, or down for that matter. 

While the big picture financially last month was positive, a welcome change to how much of the year has been going, the sports investing division of Cassini Holdings wasn't the cash cow I was hoping for, with an 'official' loss of 10.77 units, a negative ROI of -3.8%.
The EPL Draws extended their losing run to seven, with the one selection this weekend (Brighton and Hove Albion v Chelsea) failing. Longer losing runs when you're backing the draw are to be expected though, and hopefully the record of 15 will not be broken this season. 

The two seasons that started last month (NBA and NHL) haven't started off well, and while it's always a concern that something has changed in the close season, I've not seen anything along the lines of last year when NBA rule changes directly impacted the number of points being scored.

Hopefully with a few more matches in the ledger this month, things will have settled down. Handling losing runs never ceases to be difficult, but looking back at past results is always helpful, and implementing a stop-loss after a drawdown is one strategy where you reduce or even stop betting and just monitor results until your confidence returns. 

Overall though, October was a good month, the second best of the year after March, but still down almost 13% from my high, and 9.2% down year-to-date. The major indexes all had good months with the FTSE100 up 2.9% but the S&P 500 was up 8% and the narrower DJIA almost 14%. It also helped that my company's share price hit a new all-time high on Halloween, with those stock options nicely in the money.

It was also a good month for exercise and weight. I covered 226.5 miles on foot, slightly fewer than September, but well on track to average 5 miles a day for the year, and despite my wife going off on holiday, I was more self-disciplined than I thought and only consumed alcohol on three days resulting in a losing month on the scales. 

The worst part of the month by a long distance was losing one of my dogs, which put into perspective a few losing bets. She was 12, had congestive heart failure and was starting to suffer, so we had to make the tough decision to put her to sleep, and it was a lot tougher process to go through than I thought.

An animal rescue charity in the US runs a 'poorly drawn pets' fundraiser where you send in a photo of your pet with a donation, and in return get a drawing. I was rather pleased with mine:
If you're not a dog or pet owner, you won't understand how upsetting the loss of one can be, but I have two more with me who are probably wondering what the heck is going on after my wife has also disappeared from their lives, although she should be back this weekend.

Life goes on, and here's to a winning November, with a major football tournament to turn our attention to.

Wednesday 26 October 2022

World Series Miscalculation

In baseball, the World Series is set with the Houston Astros to play the Philadelphia Phillies in the best-of-7 series starting on Friday. 

The Astros, last season's runners-up, are the top seed in the American League and have so far won every one of their seven playoff games, while the Phillies are the number six seed (i.e. lowest) in the National League but have won 9 of their 11 playoff games. 

Not surprisingly the Astros are favourites to win the series at around 1.57, but worth noting that backing underdogs, particularly at home, has again been profitable so far this post-season. 

In the last ten years of playoffs, Home 'Dogs have an ROI of 9.5%, although this includes games played on neutral grounds during the pandemic where the team was designated as Home based on seeding and batted in the bottom of the innings. 

David Purdum wrote an interesting article about a supposed odds calculation error by Sportsbook BetMGM who for two weeks early in the season offered 2,500-1 on the Astros defeating the Phillies in the World Series:
A fortuitous bettor in Colorado is in position to win big on the World Series, a potential score magnified by a bookmaker's miscalculation.

On April 13, one week into the Major League Baseball season, a bettor in Colorado placed a $50 futures wager with BetMGM on the Houston Astros to beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series at 2,500-1 odds. Nearly seven months later, the Astros and Phillies are in the World Series, and the bettor is position to win $125,000, if Houston prevails. The bettor also could lock in a profit by placing a hedge bet on the underdog Phillies. A $10,000 wager on Philadelphia at current series price of +160, for example, would secure a $15,950 profit if the Phillies pull the upset or a $115,000 payday if the Astros win off their original $50 wager.

The bettor declined interview requests but provided some quotes to BetMGM.

"It's been surreal living and dying with the Phillies from April all the way through 'Philtober,'" the bettor said. "Shoutout to the Astros for taking care of business, and to the Dodgers for choking as usual."

The bettor added, "I'm not hedging."

Regardless, the bettor is in for a World Series sweat that could be more lucrative than it should be -- because the odds on the wager were longer than they should've been. Instead of 2,500-1, the odds on the Astros' win over the Phillies in the World Series should've been closer to 250-1, if not shorter.

The most basic way to create odds on an exact outcome of a World Series, months in advance, is to multiply the projected champion's odds to win the World Series with the other team's odds of winning the pennant. At the time of the bet, the Astros were 10-1 to win the World Series, and the Phillies, despite a slow start, were around 10-1 to win the National League. Using the traditional method, the odds would've been around 100-1, not 2,500-1. Different approaches might have produced longer odds but unlikely anywhere close to 2,500-1. In comparison, the odds offered on the Texas Rangers beating the Miami Marlins in the World Series were also 2,500-1 at BetMGM.

"We were probably a little bit of aggressive on those," a good-spirited Jason Scott, vice president of trading at Bet MGM, told ESPN, acknowledging a misstep in the oddsmaking process.

Egregious odds errors, often referred to as palpable errors, can be a controversial topic in the betting community. Data entry errors or typos can cause sportsbooks to post the wrong lines, sometimes making a big favorite an underdog, for example. Sportsbooks often include stipulations regarding egregious odds errors and, in the past, have fought from having to pay out on bets made on the bad lines. Scott, however, made no indication that BetMGM would go that route.

BetMGM offered the 2,500-1 price for two weeks but only took six bets on an exact Astros-over Phillies World Series outcome. Scott said the $50 wager accounted for "about 90%" of the total amount bet on the inflated odds.

"I'm more worried about Mattress Mack beating us than him, to be honest," Scott said.

Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale, a Houston furniture store owner known to place big bets to mitigate risk from promotions, placed a $2 million bet with BetMGM on the Astros to win the World Series. In total, McIngvale has approximately $10 million riding on the Astros in the World Series with a chance at a $75 million payout. He'll need it: After placing his seven-figure bets in June, McIngvale offered to refund customers who spent $3,000 at his store Gallery Furniture double their money back if the Astros win the World Series.

"It's not pleasant, but we can deal with it," Scott said of the liability caused by McIngvale's bet on the Astros.

BetMGM said it will be sending the Colorado bettor to Friday's Game 1 of the World Series in Houston.

A glitch in the Matrix on Monday night caused some confusion for a couple of subscribers, with the Killer Sports site throwing up qualifiers for one of the NBA systems who were most definitely not qualifiers. The problem was soon rectified, but it was a reminder that it's always a good idea to double-check the data before investing any money. 

Results over the weekend were mixed. With the end of month approaching, I'll write up a summary at that time, but the EPL Draws had a blank weekend with the two losses extending the losing run which started in midweek from 4 to 6, while the Segunda (+0.77) and Bundeslayga Systems (+2.13) were both profitable.

My findings on the 'seeded and rested' teams that I've mentioned here recently has sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole. After looking at seeded and rested clubs in the National Leagues (the English football ones, not the MLB one), and rested, but not seeded, NFL teams coming off a regular season bye week, my interest in time zones was rekindled. Some of you may remember my NBA findings on Eastern teams playing in the West published in 2019, but most of you likely won't. 

Saturday 22 October 2022

Equinox Knocks

There was another Sports Equinox in the US on Thursday, but it wasn't a profitable one. The Thursday Night NFL game went Over by a mile, and the 2.5 points the New Orleans Saints were getting was nowhere near enough.

On top of that, the two NHL selections both lost, but at least the Los Angeles Clippers picked up a win on the road. Well, technically on the road, since the win came in their home stadium which they share with the Los Angeles Lakers.

A profit yesterday from the Bundeslayga though, and the NBA's two systems were both in profit.  

Regarding my observation that top clubs resting on a bye historically underperform in their next game or series, Can't Win With Kids took the idea down a different path asking the question:
Were there not an odd number of teams in the National League when Macclesfield went bust a couple of seasons ago, therefore one team per week who effectively had a bye week, may be worth looking at especially with Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday game weeks.
There have been quite a few leagues played with an odd number of teams in them, going back to 1893-94 when Division Two had 15 clubs.

Why does this season sound familiar, I hear no one ask. Well, I can tell you. It's because Small Heath went the entire season without drawing a game.  This wasn't a first however, with two clubs - Sunderland and Aston Villa - managing this feat in the Football League of 1891-92, and something not repeated in the top division since Stoke managed it in 1895-96. 

While I'm on the subject, I should mention that the last time a top league had a club with no draws in a season was in 2009-10 when RKC Waalwijk finished bottom of the Eredivisie without a single draw.

Back to the odd number question, and other leagues with an odd number of clubs are:

1931-32 Division Three North (Wigan Borough resigned after 12 games and had their record expunged)
1961-62 Division Four (Accrington Stanley resigned after 33 games and had their record expunged)
1987-88 Divisions One and Two had 21 and 23 clubs respectively
2019-20 League One (Bury expelled without playing any matches)

The season Can't Win With Kids is referring to is the 2020-21 National League season when Macclesfield folded before they had played any matches, and later saw Dover Athletic refuse to play matches from January before they had their results expunged in March. 

The 2021-22 National League season was played with 23 clubs, and Dover Athletic were relegated after having 12 points deducted for sulking the previous season, while the National League South also had 23 clubs that season, which means that there have been several years where clubs have had a bye week.

While finding the Match Odds data from 1893-94 Division Two might be rather challenging, the data is there for those more recent seasons, but it's a relatively unusual scenario so I'm not sure it's worth trawling through the data for something that might not happen again for some time.

These 'ordinary' games remove the element that the rested team is always the, on paper at least, stronger team, but if we're looking at this scenario, we have some good data from the NFL where teams are given bye weeks, so for example this weekend is Week 7 of the season and:
Unfortunately, historically there is no edge here, with an almost 50/50 record against the spread:

Wednesday 19 October 2022

Football Byes, Lost Games and NBA Tanking

After writing my last post on the topic of whether a bye is the advantage it's often made out to be, it occurred to me that in the English National League since 2018, they have had a six team play-off format with the top two seeds having a nice long rest before hosting the winners of the Quarter-Finals in the Semi-Final round. 

An interesting case study and while we should have five seasons of data, COVID hit the Northern and Southern sections in 2021 and there was a problem with Concord Rangers in 2019 who, after finishing sixth, were barred from the play-offs due to failing ground size regulations.

Probably more disappointing for that club than for me, but 26 games is better than nothing.

Of those 26 matches the rested, higher seeded, club won just nine, with eight more games Drawn and the other nine going to the tired, and supposedly weaker side, and laying the home club in every match has an ROI of 33%, +8.6 units, and in matches where the Home side is odds-on the ROI is 72% (+10.14 units from 14 matches). 

I think I should add this to the 'Sacred Document' and hopefully get more comments like this one after the last update:
Many thanks for this most excellent quality after sales service!
We aim to please. 

How did the weekend go, I hear you ask? 

Overall not bad at all. American Football made us 3.71 units from 7 College and one NFL selections, while the EPL Draw System found two winners from two selections for a nice 4.85 unit gain. 

Not so good in Spain or Germany where the systems combined for a 4.05 unit loss. 

Backing the 'Dog in MLB playoffs over the weekend through to last night added 4.6 units to the pot, and while it is early days in the NHL, the system there is down 1.49 units after 10 games. 

Back to College Football, and in this post last week, I wrote about the differences that we see when sourcing our bets from different places.

This past Saturday, the 'official' system had 5 winners from 7 selections but Frédéric had twice as many picks and almost twice as many winners:
By the way I went 9-5 this weekend on the NCAAF. Maybe you see your selections just by clicking on "football" and going from there, vs me actually selecting each league (NCAAF, NCAAF FCS, and sometimes NCAAF added)? Still puzzling as to how we can come up with so many variations..

He very helpfully listed his 14 selections, and it's some good news that the official seven were all present, but what of the other seven extra qualifiers? Nowhere to be seen on Killer Sports. 

One such team was the Central Arkansas Bears who were on the road at the Kennesaw State Owls, and despite both teams being FCS teams (Football Championship Subdivision), the game is not in the database. 

Something appears to have changed after the 2019 season since a check on another team, Elon Phoenix, shows them 11 times in 2019, and just twice since. 

Honestly with so many games each week, seven is a lot easier to manage than 14, but if I am leaving money on the table, it appears I need to source my bets elsewhere. 

Unfortunately the Odds Portal site also doesn't appear to show any of those seven missing games, although they do have 48 matches which is two more than Killer Sports. Which begs the question, where are the markets for these games if they are not on Odds Portal? More to come I suspect.

The NBA season started last night, albeit with no official selections, and it's looking like a competitive season with no clear favourite, and five teams priced between 7.0 and 12.5 (Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets) but with an outstanding prospect coming up in the draft (Victor Wembanyama), tanking may well be an area of opportunity this season.

This ESPN article explains it well, and this line was interesting:
...tanking teams have a bigger impact on in-play wagering and "will cough up leads at greater rates than typical double-digit dogs."

Over the past three seasons, the teams that ended with five worst records during the regular season covered the spread in approximately 45.7% of games, excluding pushes.
As for who those five teams might be, the article mentions the contenders for the worst in the NBA, stating that:
Five teams - the Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz - have season-win totals of less than 25. That's the most in any 82-game season in the last 20 years, according to sports betting archive

I'll try to remember to check the records of these five ATS from time to time. 

Monday 17 October 2022

Bye - Gift or Curse?

I touched on this topic in my last post, and it's not a new idea, but in sports where teams performing well in the regular season are rewarded with a bye, is this more of a curse than a gift? 

The argument is that teams become rusty whereas their opponents do not lose, and arguably gain, momentum by coming through that extra round or series.

The play-off format for MLB this season is new, but the Wild Card round has been around since 2012, though not in 2020 when COVID rule changes resulted in a 16 team play-off field with no byes.

From 2012 to 2021 (9 seasons excluding 2020) each League had one Wild Card game with the winner advancing to play the team with the best Regular Season record, so the number of extra rest days for the top seed was minimal.

Nevertheless, of the 18 series between the Wild Card game winner and the number one seed, the Wild Card team advanced 50% of the time, while winning 43% of individual games.  

The format this season changed with the addition of an extra Wild Card Team in each League, and instead of a single elimination game, the Wild Card Series games are now a best-of-three series, meaning the resting teams (now the number one and number two seeds) have a longer rest.

So the data for one season is obviously very limited value, but both the #1 Los Angeles Dodgers and #2 Atlanta Braves lost their series in the National League, while in the American League the #1 Houston Astros swept their series, and the #2 New York Yankees are tied at 2:2.

With the additional days of rest, and the ability of the top seeded team to have their best starting pitcher available, it's perhaps not too surprising that in the opening game of a Rested v Wild Card team, the Rested team prevails in 75% of Game 1 fixtures, before the rust settles in. After this, the ROI on backing the Wild Card team is a solid 18.8% since 2016. Unfortunately for 2012 to 2015 the Killer Sports data is incomplete. 

Another major sport that rewards its top regular season performers with a bye week is the NFL, and here the data since 2002 shows that the rested team underperforms with just a 36.4% record ATS. 

Something to think about in the New Year when the NFL Playoffs begin.

Sunday 16 October 2022

LA's Wild Goose Chase

The MLB playoffs are already more than a half over, and the 'Dogs are having their day especially in the National League where all four series so far have been won by the underdog. 

The San Diego Padres (leading 2:1 in the best-of-five series) gave the Los Angeles Dodgers a 3:0 lead before scoring five in the 7th last night and holding on for another 5:3 win.  

The two lowest seeded clubs (#5 Padres and #6 Philadelphia Phillies) now meet in the best-of-seven NL Championship Series and my wife is rather excited. The last time the Padres made it to the Championship Series was in 1998 and the city has 'goose bumps'. 
Winning more than 100 games in the Regular Season looks good on paper, but means nothing when it comes to a short playoff series.

Only one of three Series Winners in the American League so far have been 'Dogs, but after a three run bottom of the ninth inning for Cleveland, the Guardians lead their best-of-five series 2:1 against the New York Yankees and have a chance to advance today. The Series Winners will play the Houston Astros in the AL Championship Series. 

In playoff games since 2004, (625 matches) the ROI on Underdogs is 2% with the best series games being the third and fourth games, and when the 'Dog is at Home.  

In College Football, I had seven qualifiers for the Small Road 'Dogs System yesterday, five of which won, although at the time of writing Killer Sports seems to have mislaid a few games. 
System Upgrades in Progress We're currently getting our systems back up and running and making improvements along the way!
The luck was on our side yesterday with two selections covering by one point, and USC covering by two thanks to the home team (Utah Utes) going for a two-point conversion instead of kicking the extra-point to tie the game in the last minute. This is a strategy road teams often apply, but not usually home teams so clearly Utah didn't want to give USC the ball with 48 seconds left needing just a Field Goal to win. Anyway, it worked out well for us USC +3.5 investors! Oklahoma State and Rice both lost by 3, but were getting 4 points, and we also had wins with Northern Illinois and Arkansas State. Washington State and North Carolina State were our two losses, and hopefully the official results will reflect the same when they are updated. 

Friday 14 October 2022

Differences And Hockey Returns

For reasons I'll explain in my month-end summary, it's been a sad couple of days here at Green All Over HQ, so this comment from a "Sacred Manuscript" subscriber which was received after I had sent out an updated version of the document, came at a good time last night:

Thanks for the update Cassini. I really appreciate your diligence in fine tuning the document you have supplied. It shows you are a man of integrity and a decent human.
That comment really meant a lot to me, and was much appreciated. If I make a mistake, I admit it and correct it as best I can, since that is the right thing to do. 

Unfortunately the world of sports betting has more than its share of unsavory characters, and a reputation to match, but integrity is very important to me which is one reason why I try to make my systems as transparent and verifiable as possible.

I've written before about how results will vary depending on where and when you source your prices, and the 'official' results are just a benchmark that should be beatable for most people.

While individual results, including my own, will never match the 'official' results, they are usually reasonably close, but one reader had a much larger difference in American Football which prompted these comments (personal and proprietary details omitted):

Hi Cassini, I just read with interest your latest post.

I am surprised to see a huge variation in the NCAA football system results, would it be because you don't include the FCS division in your stats? I have played NCAA and NCAA this weekend, and tried to get the last minutes odds before kick off except for the late games (we have a 2-hour time difference with the UK here in Finland), and I ended up with 17 selections, and an incredible 14-3 result, bringing the whole system back in profit just like that!

Altogether, from the start of the season, on this one I am 26-22-1.

I enjoy following all these systems, it might become hard work once all the leagues are on, but it is a lot of fun when it wins :)

Have a good evening
So my 'official' College Football results for the season to date are 28 matches, evenly split between wins and losses, and yes I do include the FCS Division matches, whereas the approach detailed above produces almost twice as many selections, and more importantly, a profitable record!

The update I mentioned in my opening paragraph related to an NHL System which has been profitable since 2010 with a 6.5% ROI from more than 3600 matches. Although the example query was correct, I incorrectly wrote shorter rather than longer regarding the odds range to be looking at, and our old friend Dr Tsouts wrote back to say (proprietary information redacted):
I was betting on X.XX and shorter and my ROI is 6.2%.
It turns out that by sheer good fortune, in the 2021 season this was actually a profitable strategy, although the 'official' ROI would have been 7.5%.

Long term though and it's not so profitable, although after 2021's gains the ROI is only down by 0.8% since 2006, but I'll need to see more improvement before changing the system which admittedly hasn't got off to the best of starts this season, with a 1-2 start last night. Early days. 

At least we did have another comfortable win for Unders in a low-scoring Thursday Night game in the NFL with the Washington Commanders and Chicago Bears combining for just 19 points in a game where the line was around 37.5 to 38. On totals this low, when the teams are playing on short rest (combined fewer than 10 days) the Unders win percentage is 69% all-time and 89% since 2008.

Monday 10 October 2022

Doctor Segunda

The addition of Dr Tsouts' Segunda División Draw System to the "Sacred Manuscript" produced immediate dividends with four qualifiers and two winners this weekend for a welcome profit of 2.72 units. We await the good Dr's next observation with great anticipation.

The more established Bundeslayga System was also profitable gaining 1.27 units, but no luck in the EPL where the two Draw selections both lost out because of North London clubs winning the games by one goal. There were no Draws anywhere in the EPL this weekend, but one game to come tonight of course. 

From the feedback I've received, not too many people follow the College Football system, but one subscriber did comment in a postscript to an email related to a different topic (the NHL season, which started on Friday) that he was:

"getting killed on the NCAAF plays so far this season. Hopefully it turns".
Not what I want to be reading, but right on cue, it turns, with a 7-2 Week 6, which sounds great but actually only puts us back to level (minus the vig) at 14-14 on the season, but a much healthier position than was the case a week ago.

In the NFL's Week 5 matches, I mentioned previously that the week got off to a winning start on Thursday, but after that not the best of weeks. 

Only about 3% of games see a shutout and unfortunately one of our selections was in this category, losing by 29 straight points. In other words, not even close, but the Detroit Lions did manage to gain 330 yards without scoring a point, something that's only happened six times since 1989. 
Two of those other five times were also by the Lions, including Week 5 in 2001, a season when they repeated the rare feat in Week 17. Make a note for New Years Day when Detroit play the Chicago Bears!

The Sunday Night game was the final qualifier of the weekend, and the Cincinnati Bengals covered at the Baltimore Ravens making it another profitable weekend for the Small Road 'Dogs System and 11-9-1 for the season. This was also a winner for the Divisional System, but this is at a losing 4-7 so far for the year. 

In baseball, the Wild Card was extended this season but the supposed reward of Home Advantage to the higher placed qualifiers didn't work out because with the four Wild Card Series all now decided, three away teams ended up winning the series, including my wife's San Diego Padres who unfortunately now have to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series this week.

The St Louis Cardinals, NL Central Division winners, were eliminated in two games by the Philadelphia Phillies, who finished third in their Division, 14 wins behind the New York Mets, who lost to the Padres. It's baseball, and strange things happen in the short run. 

The good news is that the Padres have beaten LA 5 times already this season. The bad news is that they've played them 19 times in total...  but it's a short (best of five) series, so anything can happen. 

Friday 7 October 2022

Segunda División Draw Review

It was a good start to the NFL weekend with the Indianapolis Colts (+3) winning a low scoring game at the Denver Broncos last night, and another win for Unders on a Thursday Night.

Thursday games over the past two seasons (which includes the traditional Thanksgiving Day games) have gone 16-7 to the Unders.

Dr Tsouts commented after the football this past weekend:
3 weekends in action for Bundeslayga and my record for 1st division is 9-4 and 36% ROI but 2nd division is struggling with a 6-9 record and -29% ROI. The pleasant surprise though is Segunda Division draws with 24% ROI after 22 selections. Still early days but it's a better start comparing the La Liga draws.
Backing the draw in Spain's Segunda División (second tier) isn't the worst idea in the world. Blindly backing this result in the Pinnacle era (since 2012) and you'd have lost just 1.62% of your stakes which, in a market overround of 102.9%, suggests there's an opportunity.

As always, backing the Draw at higher odds is a losing proposition and by eliminating these, the loss is reduced to 0.62%

In the EPL, the Draw has a Fair Price of less than 3.0 in just 6 of 8,437 matches, i.e. it is an extremely rare event, and the Draw has never been favourite.

There's quite a contrast in the Segunda markets where the Draw has had such a Fair Price 441 times in 4,687 matches, and was actually favourite in 107 matches. 

This can partly be explained by the lower number of goals per game in the Segunda (2.32 v 2.68 in the EPL) but a league where some Draws are priced at odds-on suggest a competition where games are not always played competitively.

Dr Tsouts and others have suggested to me that this league is worth a look, and using some of the principles from the EPL Draw System, an ROI of 6.37% is very good, and would have been a lot better if not for the COVID impacted 2020-21 season!  
Note that the definition of "Close" differs from the EPL in this league, as does the time of the season when the system loses its profitability.  

I'll add this system to the "Sacred Manuscript" and send out an update with specifics to subscribers shortly, and if anyone else has a league or division worth looking at, let me know. 

Thanks to Dr Tsouts and others suggesting I look at this league.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer the negative elements in your life, don’t sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy!” — Dale Carnegie

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.