Saturday 26 August 2023

Weddings, Shadows, Magpies and Manuscripts

I shall be taking a few days off starting with today to take advantage of the Bank Holiday Monday and after spending a few days in the Faversham area, will be attending a wedding in Bridport next Saturday before heading home via the New Forest. 

It seems that the older I get, the more my calendar is filled with special occasions. Funerals and internments are one, not very pleasant category, but with two sisters come nephews and nieces, as well as my own children and grandchildren, and so there are the more enjoyable occasions such as weddings. births and birthday celebrations. 

There's already one wedding planned for July next year, and as an amateur shadow chaser, I shall be taking time out next Spring to visit old friends in Arkansas and see the April 8th Total Solar Eclipse there. It'll be my third, and if you've not experienced one before, there is nothing like it. 

I shall also be climbing Ben Nevis next year to complete the highest points in England, Wales and Scotland. I'm not getting any younger, and it's now or never with some of these more physical bucket-list items. 

I've managed to get hold of a copy of the Billy Walters' book I mentioned in my last post - Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk, and at 25 pages in, it looks like a great read, and one that should be finished by the end of my trip. 

I'm something of a Walters fanboy, and I've added a couple of articles written about him here and here. He lives fairly close to my wife's parents' home, although on my latest visit to the area I walked by his cliff-top home and noticed it was for sale - at a mere $27million or so. And no, my in-laws house is not on the same street, unfortunately! 
The all-time total number of views for this blog is approaching 3 million, and with a bit of luck this milestone will be passed by my return.

Steve left a comment on that last post, writing:
Hi Cassini, I hope all is well. An enjoyable read, as usual!

If the premise is solely around home field advantage how does the picture look if we support all road teams ( either via spread or M/L )?

All the best and much appreciated.

Ps I’d be interested to hear more on the ‘sacred manuscript’.

Best regards
Well, as is usually the case, blindly following a basic strategy here doesn't work too well. I replied to Steve:
It would be nice if it was as simple as just backing all NFL Road Teams but there is a definite difference between games where the spread is more than one touchdown and extra point, and the closer games.

Where the spread is 8 or more points, since 2002 the record for the Road Team in regular season matches is 414 - 455 - 15, i.e. just 47.6% - when the spread is less than 8, the majority of matches, the win percentage is 51.8% and in the 'sweet spot' it's up to 54.7%.
It's taken me a lot longer to finish than I'd hoped, or indeed expected, but the 2023-24 version of the 'Sacred Manuscript' is now finally available

The American Football season starts today with the College version of the game, and the NFL opening game on 7th September, a Thursday night and while updating the document for these systems was a pleasure, this wasn't the case for all systems. The EPL Draw System had a losing season, the Bundeslayga for Home teams was a loser, as well as being rather a complicated system to apply, but the other football (soccer) systems were all profitable.

For the US sports, the NBA went south after 16 consecutive profitable seasons for one system, and 8 for the totals. A blip, or has the edge finally gone? 

Baseball went on hold after all the rule changes which have upset the markets, although the two systems effective around the All-Star Break were both profitable as were the NHL systems. 

Overall it was a good year, and while I'd like every system to be profitable, that's not exactly a realistic proposition. 

I've added a few more football (soccer) systems for this season, as well as explained how newly promoted teams to the EPL impact betting, and discuss whether the Big 6 - which also have an impact on profits - should now be a Big 7. 

Last season was too early in my opinion, with FFP rules slowing the ability of Newcastle United to join the others, but they arguably over-achieved and in qualifying for the Champions League, have accelerated their likely rate of progress. I think there's a case to be made for calling it a Big 7 now. 

Sunday 20 August 2023

Home-Field Advantage in the NFL

I ended my previous post with a reference to the NFL Road 'Dog System which has continued to be profitable for far longer than might be expected. Just two of the last 17 seasons have been losing ones, and since the league reorganised in 2002, the ROI is 6.6% from 1305 selections with a win percentage of 54.74%.

The basic premise for the system is that bettors continue to consider home-field advantage to be more valuable than it actually is. A article earlier this year stated that:
For a long time, if you asked any regular NFL bettor what home-field advantage was worth, you more or less got the same answer: three points on the spread. But the collective understanding of what the home field is worth today has evolved rapidly due to a long-standing downward trend, as well as adjustments suggested and made during the nearly fanless season of the COVID pandemic.
Readers of this blog will be familiar with legendary bettor Billy Walters, aka Rick Matthews, and he has an autobiography scheduled to be published later this month titled "Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk" which should be an interesting read for many of us. One of the excerpts released early is on this very topic, and this is what Walters has to say:
The standard NFL home-field advantage, taking fanfare, folklore, and conventional wisdom into consideration, is generally thought to be worth 3 points. Well, not so fast. The actual average home-field advantage, taking into account every NFL game from 1974 to 2022, is closer to 2.5 points. In addition, the home-field advantage over the last four years of NFL football is actually less than 1 point (thanks largely to COVID).

If you had made the mistake of using 3 points for the average home-field advantage over the last three years, you certainly would have lost. This is a variable that needs constant updating to keep up with trends. I do a lot of reading and examining scoring trends over time to determine exactly what advantage home field affords.

Walters also mentions some other factors which readers will be familiar with - the impact of Divisional games for example, which again regular readers will already be aware of, and time zones which again have been covered here as an area of opportunity. 

He also points out that you will need to win more than 50% of your (spread) bets to be profitable:

You may think betting is a 50/50 proposition. It is not. Because you must pay a fee to make a bet - usually $11 for every $10 bet - you need to win 52.38 percent of the time to break even.

This is the percentage when you are betting into a -110 book. Pinnacle's -105 lowers the required win percentage to 51.23%, and for Betfair users in a 2% commission market, the number required drops to about 50.76%. 

I love these stories about gamblers such as Billy Walters who are able to consistently beat the odds betting on sports with systems based on mathematics. There are lessons to be learned for all of us, and while none of us is likely to achieve same level of success as the likes of Walters, Alan Woods and Haralabos Voulgaris, with a disciplined approach, it is possible to be profitable. 

In my Numbers, Not Teams post from March 2019, in regard to the challenge of finding winners at a rate above 51.23%, I wrote: 

Given that my grandmother would be expected to pick winners at a rate of around 50%, and she's been dead for over 30 years, this didn't seem to be a hugely impossible task.

My opinion about this remains unchanged.  

Saturday 19 August 2023

Big Match Draw Update

For followers of the Draw in 'big' matches, there's no better match than UEFA's Super Cup which delivered for the 8th time in the last 11 matches this week, and  for the 10th time in the 19 matches for which I have data and a 25.12 unit profit. It's rather a pity that these games only come along once a year. 

The knockout stages of the Women's World Cup are also guaranteed to generate a profit, with 4 of the 14 games played so far ending as Draws, and just the Final to come. The Draw on the exchanges is 3.15 but an expected "close" match in the women's game hasn't historically been the harbinger of success that it has been in the men's version of the game, but the former is still relatively new with nothing like the volume of data we have for the latter. 

Across all Women's World Cups and Euros (79 matches starting with the 2009 Euros), the Draw ROI is 3% and in games where there is no fair-priced odds-on favourite, the ROI climbs to 17%.

For 'big' matches in the 2022-23 season, the final total backing the Draw was 10.81 units from 63 matches. The Women's Euros made 3.81 units, the European Club competitions made 0.81 units and the English domestic season made 6.19 units, for an ROI of 17.2% 

If we only include those matches where there is no fair-priced odds-on favourite, the respective numbers are 3.81, 3.20 and 3.02 for a total of 10.05 units and an ROI of 24.5%.

A couple of readers have asked about the 'Sacred Manuscript' and I shall update the above results this weekend as well as include the Women's World Cup results. I'd planned to do this sooner, but with the passing of my Dad, there's been a lot going on. 

One of the longest running systems included in this document is the NFL Road 'Dogs System, which has an ROI of 6.5% dating back to the league's realignment in 2002 and 1306 matches. More on this edge in my next post.