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 MbappĂ© 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!