Friday 27 May 2022

Play-Offs and Paris

When the Champions League Final is between clubs from different countries, it's historically not a good prospect, with just two Draws from the past twelve such matches. With a 66% ROI, backing the Favourite is the best option, with just one 'Dog winning. 

Liverpool are the favourites in Paris tomorrow, at around 2.09 and here are all the previous Final results since 2004:
There are also the two National League Premier Division Semi-Final playoff matches, where the Favourite (Home team) is not historically a good bet, unless no fans are present as was the case for the 2020 matches!
Usually the Home club has the theoretical advantage of being rested, but Wrexham played last week in the FA Trophy Final at Wembley losing to Bromley**. 

Wrexham host Grimsby Town (a repeat of the 2012-13 FA Trophy Final) and while some of you will no doubt be drawing parallels with Harrogate Town in 2020, the FA Trophy Final that season wasn't played until May of 2021, with Harrogate thus becoming the only Football League club to win the FA Trophy. Yes readers, you may laugh, but you never know when this kind of important information might come up at a Quiz Night and be the difference between a bottle of house white and a T-shirt. 

Solihull Moors play Chesterfield in the other semi-final, and in League Two, Mansfield Town are very slight favourites to beat Port Vale in the play-off final at Wembley. The favourite in these games has never been odds-on since 2004, but with Mansfield at 2.87, Port Vale at 2.93 and the Draw at 3.22 this is the most evenly matched game yet and the Draw price looks generous.
Bromley were the first Wembley FA Amateur Cup winners in 1949. Should Bromley make it to the Football League in 2023, they will be just the second club to have won the FA Amateur Cup and the FA Trophy. 

Wednesday 25 May 2022

Graeme Dand

Although we all knew it was coming, the news that Graeme Dand @theformanalyst has passed away today is incredibly sad. The fragility of life and the reminder that all that matters in the end is how we impact others in the way we live our lives. 

I never met Graeme in person, but as I've written before, he was the first person to comment on this blog back in 2008 and our friendship goes back even further.

Graeme was always friendly, encouraging, supportive, upbeat and positive, had a great sense of humour, loved his horse racing and - for a while - football betting, and wrote some of the longest posts in the history of blogs. He occasionally wrote some of the longest Twitter threads too and loved his Excel spreadsheets. 

Graeme showed incredible courage in the final few months of his life, and was a devoted husband, father and son and an inspiration to many of us.

Rest in Peace.   

Tuesday 24 May 2022

Another One Bites The Dust

Trading legend Mark Iverson announced yesterday that after 12 years of full-time trading, the only laying he would be doing in future (at least trading related) would be the one-time act of laying his mouse down. 

Mark and I go back a long way, successfully co-hosting real-time trading sessions on a couple of NFL games back in September 2011, as Mark wrote at the time:
Overall, the first game covered in the NFL trading room received positive feedback. This is encouraging and although typing when trading can be distracting, I do enjoy speaking with others when a game is on. It makes you realise that there are other people who do this too! More good news is that I’ve managed to coax Cassini into covering another game next Sunday. So, if you’d like to take part then click on the link at the top of this page to register. The match in question will be the 6pm kickoff on Sunday (Buccaneers @ Vikings) which promises to be a close one so hopefully we’ll do well. As I couldn’t do this alone I’d also like to thank Cassini again for giving up his time, and it’s good to see he was able to post a fantastic result on Monday night with this result.
I'm somewhat in awe that Mark was able to make a full-time salary for so long, given that Betfair's Premium Charge has been with us since 2008, although in its earliest manifestation of 20% it was manageable. 

The writing was really on the wall when the 40% / 50% / 60% penalties were announced in June 2011. Although I still had a few months to go before I would pass the threshold of lifetime winnings and be eligible to pay this new tax, it was apparent that long-term winners were no longer, as the Betfair slogan used to say, welcome. 

By the time I reached the threshold in October 2012, I'd realised that the days, or more often nights, of in-play trading were over and focused my efforts on establishing a more sustainable betting style.

Full-time trading was never more than a fleeting thought. Although for a few years (2008-2011) my net income from trading matched that of my full-time job, I was only too aware that markets change, regulations change and with Betfair being the only viable exchange, I would be totally at the mercy of one platform.  Plus there were plenty of hours after work and at weekends when I could trade on the side, and a regular job isn't just about the paycheck itself. There are other significant benefits to full-time employment such as your pension, paid time off and gaining experience can pay off handsomely in the later years of your career as you move up the ladder with the pay / package differential getting larger between each rung.

Mark decided to go with being a full-time trader, hitting the 'super' Premium Charge threshold in May 2014. By December of that year he appeared to be questioning himself, writing:
2014 has been a year of 2 halves; the first 6 months contained a flurry of big events, big wins and record months whilst the second has been a story of grinding days out, living with increased premium charges and contemplating life away from Betfair. As we approach the beginning of a new year I’m probably more uncertain about what the future holds than I’ve been for some time. In short, things have become a bit of a struggle. Okay, I knew things were going to change, and yes it’s pretty much panned out the way I thought it would, but what I hadn’t fully appreciated was how much my motivation to keep going would come into question. Is it time to move on?

Mark was also the subject for one of this blog's all-time most popular posts back in 2012, a post that is worth reading if you've not seen it before, if only for the comments! Good luck in the future Mark, and credit for finding a way forward for another seven and a half years but I wonder how many full-time traders remain on the Betfair platform these days?  The Forum used to - at least on occasion -  be inspirational, and it's where I first became aware of the significance of psychology in betting and the related inefficiency of markets, but nowadays there's nothing that I see that's of interest. 

Mark is quite right in saying that the markets have changed. Even if I were interested in trading again, the money is generally not there these days to justify it, and it's apparent that courtsiders are everywhere these days and it's impossible long-term to overcome that kind of a negative edge. I'm old enough to remember when NHL and MLB games would have a decent amount of money for in-play trading, but it hasn't been this way for years. With the amount of time you need to spend trading in-play, it's just not worth the time. Bet-and-forget is far more efficient, and less stressful! 

Fortunately, while making profits slowly isn't as exciting, it is at least sustainable and with playoff games and Finals almost every day right now, it's an exciting time of the year for Draw followers.

The National League Regional Finals were played at the weekend and the strong recent record for the Draw in these matches continued with the Dorking Wanderers v Ebbsfleet United game ending 2:2 with the hosts equalising in the 10th minute of stoppage time before going on to win in extra-time.

Since 2013, the Draw in the North / South Finals has an ROI of 106% with 10 Draws from the 18 games (there were none in 2021):
The Europa League Final last week was also a winner for the second consecutive year with Rangers and Eintracht Frankfurt playing out a 1:1 Draw. At least one of you was on this one with me and hopefully many more.

The National League playoffs began with a Draw at Notts County yesterday, with another late equaliser as Grimsby Town tied the game up in after six minutes of stoppage time.   

Tuesday 10 May 2022

Playoff and Cup Finals

It's that time of year where Finals and important matches come thick and fast.

Before my trip last week, I warned you all that in European Competitions:
For Second Leg Semi-Final matches where neither side has more than a one goal advantage, backing the Away side has historically been a terrible idea.

None of the five such Away sides won, so hopefully some of you were paying attention and either made some money, or at least saved yourselves from losing any. Liverpool did hold a two goal advantage, and were able to win.

With no favourites in any of the upcoming three finals currently at odds-on, backing the underdog in such European Finals is similarly not a great idea with only three of 21 managing wins, a strategy that would have resulted in a -54% ROI. Liverpool may well move to odds-on though before their Final versus Real Madrid, as they range from 1.98 to 2.08 currently. 

No winners this weekend for the EPL Draw System, with the ROI on Close bets now at 4.9% and for Toss-Ups at 14.7% for the season with just 28 matches remaining. 

The Football and National League Play-offs are underway, and in the Football League matches it usually pays to oppose the Home team at the Semi-Final stage.

The National League (Premier, North and South) is different, with the Home side usually value with an ROI of 9.9% from 148 matches, although at the Quarter-Final stage introduced in 2018, the small sample size doesn't yet reflect this. These regional matches start tomorrow but the National League Premier fixtures still have a round to go with the play-off final not scheduled until next month. 

There's also the FA Cup Final this weekend, with Chelsea making their fifth appearance in six years against Liverpool who haven't won this trophy since 2006. 

After starting as favourites in each of their last four finals, and losing three, Chelsea will be underdogs this time. For finals with no odds-on favourite, the results are:
Not a lot of goals as is often the case in finals, and with no more than one goal separating the teams in 15 of the last 17 finals the Draw at 3.8 looks like a value bet.

There's no place in the record books for fewest single goal wins in a top-flight English season with Crystal Palace following their first one goal wins away to Southampton with the same victory margin at home to Watford. As I wrote previously:
Crystal Palace missing out on the opportunity to match Darwen's 1891-92 season with no single-goal wins by scoring a stoppage time winner at Southampton. With two games remaining (v Watford and Manchester United) Palace do still have the opportunity to achieve the rare feat of going an entire season without a Home league win by said margin. 

Swansea City in 2013-14 remain the last club not to win a home top-flight game by one goal all season.  

Monday 2 May 2022

Darwen, Tesla, Twitter and April Losses

No luck for the EPL Draw system this weekend, although two of the three qualifiers were level as late as the 86th minute and Crystal Palace missing out on the opportunity to match Darwen's 1891-92 season with no single-goal wins by scoring a stoppage time winner at Southampton. With two games remaining (v Watford and Manchester United) Palace do still have the opportunity to achieve the rare feat of going an entire season without a Home league win by said margin. The ROI on the Draw falls to 15.01% on the season. 

While there are still two-thirds of the year remaining, and much can change in that time, it does appear likely that the S&P 500 Index (US) might have a rare year in which it outperforms the FTSE 100 Index (UK). Of the 13 years since 2008, only one (2016) saw the FTSE come out on top but with April behind us, the S&P 500 is having its worst year since the market crash of 2008 when both Indexes saw losses in the 30% range. 
For me personally, April was the 135th best month of the 136 since I started tracking so closely, in real terms at least, saved from worst ever by March 2020 when the markets were in turmoil about the pandemic. 

In percentage terms April was the 129th best at -3.25% so not a lot to celebrate really. Tesla stock lost 19.9% during the month, with Elon Musk selling $4b worth of shares to finance his planned purchase of Twitter and my relatively insignificant Bitcoin holding lost 16.5% with Warren Buffett's comments this weekend at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting unlikely to help its prospects:
“Whether it goes up or down in the next year, or five or 10 years, I don’t know. But the one thing I’m pretty sure of is that it doesn’t produce anything,” Buffett said of cryptocurrency, as reported by CNBC. “It’s got a magic to it and people have attached magics to lots of things.”
He also criticized the passive nature of bitcoin, saying that if he invests in apartments, they'll produce rent, and if he investments in farmland, they'll produce crops.

"If you told me you own all of the bitcoin in the world and you offered it to me for $25, I wouldn’t take it because what would I do with it?" he said, according to CNBC. "I’d have to sell it back to you one way or another. It isn’t going to do anything."

Munger took a less measured approach, saying that "in my life, I try to avoid things that are stupid and evil and make me look bad - and bitcoin does all three."

“In the first place, it’s stupid because it’s still likely to go to zero," he said. "It’s evil because it undermines the Federal Reserve System and third, it makes us look foolish compared to the Communist leader in China. He was smart enough to ban bitcoin in China.”

Friday's losses mean that I am also now in the red year-to-date but by less than 1%. The net calories trend I mentioned last month - 1500 or fewer net calories a day and my weight goes down; 1900 or greater, and it goes up - was unfortunately reinforced after a month of too much eating and drinking and not enough exercise meant that my daily net calories averaged 2181 with a consequent guaranteed weight gain. 

As I mentioned previously, I shall be on the road this week for work which is never good for the scales with the company paying for my calories in and opportunities for exercise (calories out) limited but there is plenty of time left in May to get those pounds off. My employer made the decision to close my office location a couple of weeks ago, and so my working from home arrangement which has been unofficial since March 2020 is now official. This saves me several hours a week of course, and generally I've been putting the time to good use with 650 miles covered on foot so far this year, and the original target of 1,200 miles looking much too soft.  Back soon.