Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Ebb And Flow

A couple of comments along the same lines concerning the Lay The Draw picks I mentioned at the weekend. Steven (of the new Betting Crunch blog) wrote:

Considering draws are meant to be few and far between, that lay the draw guy seems to have a good strike rate for finding draws!
while Cloppa took the observation a step further by suggesting that I
could include the FTS selections in your Friendly Tipster League as backing the draw?
That's actually a decent idea, and lest anyone find this idea a little disrespectful to Ian, the Lay The Draw strategy is one where the position is closed during the match rather than allowed to run to expiration, which is the purpose for which I shall be using the picks.

Here's the updated table with Backing the Lay The Draw bets included:
As I noted on Sunday, Football Elite's Recommended Bets have dipped into negative territory during the weekend, an event that resulted in an increase in negative e-mails to Matt, who runs the service. Matt accompanied his Monday Update e-mail with some observations which, while less illuminating than the much anticipated commentary that accompanies Warren Buffett's annual Letter to Shareholders, was perhaps of more interest to me than most as I feel my way into the world of subscriptions and the responsibility that goes with it.

Matt has way more experience than I do in this realm, and we have both similarities and differences. For a start, I make it clear that the selections are not tips. The selections are not from a tipster but from the spreadsheet. There is no subjective element to the selections; the matches either qualify or the don't. Matt on the other hand favours a more subjective approach, the basis of which isn't for me to reveal.

My selections are draws, Matt's are Home winners and for both of us it is true that our selections will lose more often than they win. Draws are in the 3.45/3.5 range, and Matt's home selections are rarely at odds-on, so the long losing run goes with the territory. I caution in my 'prospectus' that
Backing draws is not for those looking for a quick buck. Draws are hard to predict, which is why the average price is around 3.47 (implied probability slightly below 29%). This means long losing runs are inevitable. For example, March 2011 had just one winner from ten selections, and there was a losing run of 16 matches early in 2011-12. On the other hand, the occasional round of matches comes along where only a 90th minute goal comes between a five for five (500-1 odds) outcome, such as September 24-25, 2011.
I'm not sure if Matt runs his service as a full-time enterprise or not, but one big difference I see (other than Matt probably has about 500 times as many subscribers as me!) is that if the XX Draw Selections are not profitable, I offer a money back guarantee. Not a FULL money back guarantee mind, since there has still been some effort expended on my part, but a percentage, with the amount of the percentage increasing the worse the results are. I hope never to be in this position, but since the service is a sideline and I'm not doing it for the money, I really would feel rather bad if subscribers lost money over the course of a season, and including a partial refund qualifier goes some way to making me feeling a little more comfortable about any losses. Subscribers can also opt out at any point too, an option I have no qualms about offering, and if I hit another run of 16 consecutive losers, as is to be fully expected, no doubt I will receive my share of abuse and requests for refunds.

In finance, when someone buys shares in a company (possibly on the recommendation of a broker), the usual scenario is for the investor to make a one-time lump sum investment, and for the shares to be held for some time. It's different with a service such as Football Elite where the investment is made in dribs and drabs over 38 rounds, and the investor is very much influenced, not so much by how the returns have been over the previous year, three years or whatever, but by what transpired the previous round. Gamblers have short memories. If the service consistently produces a positive ROI over the season and you still have confidence in it, keep making the investment. If you have lost confidence in a service, then stop investing. A share price does not climb steadily by 1p a day and an ROI of 10% does not mean you will make 10% on every bet. It means that over 38 rounds, you will, on average, get £110 back for every £100 you invest. On average. Some weeks you lose 100%, while on other weeks you will make several times your investment. As with trying to time investing in the stock market, unless you consider that the investment is no longer solid, the best approach is to invest consistently. However, while in finance if the fundamentals of a company are still strong, the advice is often to buy more on a dip (Unit Cost Averaging), this isn't recommended in betting. All ships go lower on an ebb tide, but a company or service holed below the waterline won't rise with the flow.

Part Two of my interview with The Sultan has received rave reviews - James said:
What a fantastic interview, some very good answers from Cassini there and a big thanks for doing this. Definitely some food for thought for me.
Geoff had this to say:
Superb interview, blog as always a good read but recently you have really taken it to another level.
And Abu needs to get out more...
Hi Sultan. I've really enjoyed reading this post. I've read it 3 times now! I really need to get a life! There are some very good points that are helpful for a newbie like me. Especially the one about value when closing a trade. Its something which I am thinking about looking into.

Monday, 28 November 2011

The Draw: Fulcrum Of Opportunity

The lead up to the Liverpool v Manchester City match was almost as interesting as the match itself. I wrote on Friday morning that
"You'll all be interested to know that Sunday's Liverpool v Manchester City is a meeting of the joint leaders in the EPL Elo ratings. Liverpool's move to the top is clearly not all down to results, but the supporting numbers suggest that the results will come. I have them priced at 2.75 and they are currently trading around the 2.93 mark, while I have Manchester City at 2.71 which is bang on where the market has them. The draw looks a tad short."
It's testament to the power of this blog that Liverpool's price then shortened to exactly 2.75 just before kick-off. Interestingly, as more money came in for Liverpool to match that for Manchester City, it might not be unreasonable to expect the draw price to shorten a little too, but as been commented on before, it didn't move. The draw price acts as a fulcrum, with the opposite effect of the added weight of money on Liverpool all reflected in Manchester City's price.

Another interesting thing was the price on the Under 2.5 Goals. My spreadsheet had the Under priced at 1.81. Early this morning, the Under was available at 2.08, a price I backed at. By kick-off the price was down to 1.94. In other words the goals expectancy in this game was now lower than it was a few hours earlier, so why was the draw price 'stuck' at 3.5? A lower goal expectation means a higher draw expectation, so we had two factors which, at least in my opinion, should have lowered the draw price, but didn't.

The ugly sister draw continues to fascinate me and often offers opportunities. For anyone who enjoys the Lay The Draw strategy, the Arsenal v Fulham game was a loser yesterday, one of those games where the 'dog scores first, and fail to hold the lead long enough for the draw price to move out past the entry price. These LTD selections offer value on the back side in my opinion.

The West Ham United v Derby County match kicked-off just ten minutes before the Arsenal v Fulham game, just enough time for a small profit to be locked in.

The latest entrant into the Friendly Tipster League is off to a flyer. Geoff's eleven selections produced five winners, including the two fluked 3-3 draws I mentioned yesterday, and a 90' minute equaliser, but an impressive start nevertheless, entering the table in top spot with an ROI of 61.4%.
Football Elite's five selections were disappointing, with just one winner from five selections, and the ROI on the season dropping into negative territory at -4.3%. A little unlucky with Napoli scoring a 90' equaliser at Atalanta, but on the other side of the coin, it was a goal that Geoff benefited from.

Green Pullover still has one selection to come tomorrow night, but right now is on a poor run of eleven consecutive losers but still with a green ROI of 4.9%.

Pete Nordsted's Game Of Two Halves strategy continues to struggle, finding three games where the second half had more goals than the first on Saturday. The ROI on this is -42.2%. I am still not convinced that this will prove to be one of Peter's better ideas, but all credit to him for trying something different, and credit to to Griff for returning with his selections each week. He is on a current losing sequence of twelve, but when you're looking for draws, long losing runs are part of the game, which is perhaps another reason for the relative unpopularity of backing the draw.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Centre Stage On Centre Court

If you are not familiar with the 'Green All Over' blog, then you cannot truly consider yourself part of the on-line sports trading community. Over the past few years, it has grown into probably the most well known, well respected and certainly well read trading blogs. That is due to the author, Cassini, who is one of the few regular posters around who actually has plenty to write about other than a P&L update. It's without doubt my favourite read, with a nice mix of current trading and sports commentary, trading selections, scathing attacks and wry humour. So I decided to ask Cassini a few questions over a pint and a packet of pork scratchings down the Red Lion........
So begins the latest post from the Sultan over at Centre Court Trading. High praise indeed. Check out the first part of my interview with him here.

Better Late Than Never

It appears that an end to the 149 day NBA Lockout is finally in sight, with a shortened 66 game season starting on Xmas Day, rather then the usual 82 game season. There are still a few legal hoops for the two sides to jump through, but the news is looking better than it has for a long time.

No winners from the two XX Draw selections this weekend, with Koln v Borussia Moenchengladbach finishing with a lopsided 3-0 for the visitors (I say visitors because I really can't be arsed to write out Borussia Moenchengladbach in full all over again), and today's selection of Bolton Wanderers v Everton was somewhat messed up with a 19' sending-off. It happens, and the ROI on the draw selections drops to 26.5% on the season with the only crumb of comfort this weekend coming from the Under 2.5 goals in this game, which was a winner at 2.16. The ROI on backing this option is now at 14.1%.

After 262 matches that have qualified as XX Draw Selections, I have had just two that finished as 3-3 draws. Geoff makes his debut in the Friendly Tipster League today, and in his first six selections, flukes not just one 3-3 draw, but two. First he picks Hertha Berlin v Bayer Leverkusen, and then the Airdrie v Arbroath match finished the same way.

Griff's Draw picking woes continue, with another two losses in the Norwich City v QPR and WBA v Tottenham Hotspur.

More matches still to come this weekend, and complete updates once the results are all in.

The imminent games at West Ham United (v Derby County) and Arsenal (v Fulham) are FTS selections (Lay The Draw) from the recuperating Ian Erskine.

Seems my earlier post about technical problems not happening only to Betfair was prescient, as Betfair had some issues themselves this afternoon.

Gabriel Is No Angel

We have some more picks in. Green Pullover's draws are

Griff's draw selections are
An update on the prices for Geoff's draw selections are Stockport v Southport (3.6), Livingston v Ross County (3.4), Airdrie v Arbroath (3.85) and Start v Tromso (4.0).

Grey Cup this weekend in Canada, with the BC Lions having the rare opportunity to win the cup at home v the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Lions opened the season with five straight losses, and six losses in the first seven games, a run that included 20-25 and 17-30 defeats against Sunday's opponents. Since then, they have won 11 of 12, a record that is almost the opposite of Winnipeg, who won seven of their first eight, and since then have lost seven on their last eleven. The Lions are favourites at 1.39. For a team in form, playing at home, that looks value.

It's not just Betfair who have the occasional unplanned outage. Pinnacle was the target for a Denial of Service attack on Friday, with the site inaccessible for several hours.
Dear Sir,

We regret you are among the clients currently unable to reach our site. Pinnacle Sports is experiencing a DOS attack which, unfortunately, are becoming more prevalent events in all technology based industries.

Our IT Department is working diligently to resolve the issue and restore access to the site.

In other news, after being sent off in the game at Bastia last month, Lens’ Venezuelan defender Gabriel Cichero assaulted Bastia director Alain Seghi in the tunnel breaking his nose, jaw and eye socket. Banned until March, which seems a light sentence to me,
Cichero has refused to apologise, claiming that he is ‘an intelligent family man with God at his side’ and that he ‘reacted normally’ to the provocation he received from the Bastia contingent on his way to the dressing room.
Claiming to be intelligent with 'God at your side' is arguably something of an oxymoron, but anyway, it's fortunate that Cichero's a religious man or he might have really done some damage.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Perverted Enthusiasm

We have a new entrant in the Friendly Tipster Competition. Geoff has submitted the required paper work, backgrounds checks are complete, and here are his Draw selections for this weekend:

Barnet v Macclesfield Town (3.6), Bolton Wanderers v Everton (3.5), Atalanta v Napoli (3.3), Hertha Berlin v Bayer Leverkeusen (3.6), Liverpool v Manchester City (3.5), Swansea City v Aston Villa (3.5), Siena v Internazionale (3.4). The prices are as of the time of writing. Other matches with no firm prices were Stockport County v Southport, Livingston v Ross County, Airdrie v Arbroath and Start v Tromso. I'll check those matches closer to kick-off for prices although I have no idea what the liquidity is on non-league, Scottish or Norwegian games! In the interests of time, I may at some point have to limit both the number of selections allowed, and the leagues from which selections can be made, but for now I'll leave it as it is.

You'll all be interested to know that Sunday's Liverpool v Manchester City is a meeting of the joint leaders in the EPL Elo ratings. Liverpool's move to the top is clearly not all down to results, but the supporting numbers suggest that the results will come. I have them priced at 2.75 and they are currently trading around the 2.93 mark, while I have Manchester City at 2.71 which is bang on where the market has them. The draw looks a tad short.

The dice have been thrown again to select three random draw picks, and they are Athletic Bilbao v Granada (4.6), Stoke City v Blackburn Rovers (3.75) and Nuremberg v Kaiserslautern (3.55).

Letters to the Editor

Devilonline asks: "How can I view XX draws tips please?" and the answer is that these are available on a subscription basis, and anyone interested can e-mail me for details at calciocassini @ - after removing the spaces of course. Historical results can be found at Gold All Over, and if you are already a subscriber, please check your e-mail. Last week we had one subscriber miss the Friday night winner.

Here's another letter to the editor, or more precisely an article by Brian Glanville, presumably a southerner, in the Football League Review of March 1969. Older readers may remember that several clubs would attach these to the programmes back in those days, and they are interesting, and often amusing, to look back on.

"I have before me yet another report of a squalid incident of violence by football fans. This time the culprits were supporters of Exeter City, whose crowd, ironically, was awarded last November's John White Football League Supporters' Award for sportsmanship."
 And later
"The cult of teenaged violence in, and outside, the football stadia seemed to begin, like so much else, in the North, and it wasn't long before it had spread South. In his excellent, diverting book The Soccer Syndrome, John Moynihan humorously bewailed the fact that you couldn't imagine a Chelsea fan with the sheer, perverted enthusiasm to uproot a lavatory bowl from a supporters' train. Well, you can now."
I'm guessing the book was out of date not long after publication, and the police inquiry into the uprooted lavatory bowl was stopped as "they had nothing to go on".

Finally, it's quiz time. If Player A has a higher batting average than Player B in 2009, again in 2010, and again in 2011, will Player A always have the highest batting average when the three years totals are combined?

There's a poll for you to cast your vote.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Match Postponed (Attempted Suicide)

The weekend's football is now wrapped up, and the numbers have been updated.

The Random Draws enter the 'Friendly Table' in last place with an ROI of -100% after three selections, (hard to be worse than that), and the Green Pullover's Draw selections drop from second to third spot after two winners from eleven selections wasn't good enough. Griff's five selections from the EPL produced no winners, while Football Elite found one winner from two selections, with a third selection being postponed (Koln v Mainz '05) postponed as "the referee tried to commit suicide a couple of hours before the game!"

Most inconsiderate of him. Pete Nordsted's Game Of Two Halves system found one winner from three, for a small profit, but with two 0-0 results from two selections, both the XX Draw Selections were winners as draws and as Under selections moving their ROIs to 31% and 14% respectively.
A look back at a couple of comments, one from Betslayer who corrected me on my statement "What I said was that in the world of sports, we all see the game unfolding at the same time and was contrasting this to the world of finance, where we don't"
Just to slightly pick you up on the below, its not true that we all get to watch the game at the same time...doing a time trial last night on the Bundesliga game on ESPN it was at least 10 seconds behind live through cable....about 6 seconds through a dish.....cable now getting unuseable for sports trading/inrunning! Great Blog, loving your work :-)
Well, yes, but I didn't mean it literally as in the exact same second - as the rules on Betfair state
The extent of any such delay may vary, depending on the set-up through which they are receiving pictures or data.
Any event where court-siding is possible is one where a TV viewer will always be at a disadvantage, but if you are trading 'fastest finger', if you are behind, it won't take long to see that. Besides, an edge built on speed is only an edge until someone else gets their 'pictures or data' from the same source as you.

Tradeshark had a valid point on the sports v financials debate with this comment
Point taken although I would have thought the people with real prior knowledge of the figures wouldn't be wasting their time using 20 quid stakes on Betfair
That would probably not be the best use of valuable information!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Purple Patch

Very pleasing to see that the XX Draw Selections finished the weekend with a 100% strike rate when Fiorentina and AC Milan played out another perfect draw after trading at 3.6. Seven 0-0s from the last 26 now, and another win for the Unders. Opening these selections up to subscribers has changed how I view these results. The added responsibility makes the winners that much sweeter.

There are still a couple of matches still to be played from the selections of others this weekend, and I will update the numbers after Monday's matches. 

The random draw selections unsurprisingly went 0-3, but Chelsea v Liverpool pick came close with the draw-breaker coming late.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Rolling On

Another winner last night for the XX Draw Selections, as Toulouse and Lille played out un draw parfait (0-0), meaning another win for the Unders on these selections too. A great start to the weekend, and that is now six 0-0s in the last 25 picks, and the ROI on the season after 55 selections now stands at 26.8%.

Griff's expecting plenty of draws in the EPL this weekend, going for no less than half the card:
and the Green Pullover has even more selections with draws selected in the games at Swansea City (3.4), Middlesbrough (3.6), Reading (3.5), Watford (3.4), Millwall (3.75), AFC Wimbledon (3.6), Bradford City (3.55), Parma (3.25), Villareal (3.45), Valencia (4.4) and Racing Santander (3.35).

I mentioned previously that I would, at random (by throwing a die), come up with three matches each weekend from the Top5 leagues, just for fun and to see how they measure up with other picks, and this weekend's completely random selections are Chelsea v Liverpool (3.7), Juventus v Palermo (4.6) and Stoke City v QPR (3.75). Against the odds, given that there are 49 matches to choose from, but the Chelsea v Liverpool game actually came up twice during this selection process. Make of that what you will, but I had to have a cheeky tenner on it after that. Even stranger, this is one of the EPL games NOT on Griff's or Green Pullover's lists.

jokerjoe had this comment on my advice to get over any ideas about trading the financial markets from your living room yesterday.
Nonsense. Trading pure news even in the sporting arena is a tough game requiring speed. Secondly long-term stock investing is not all that, there can be decades without growth. And finally day-trading is not about trading news. Trading on all timescales is similar, the one advantage with day-trading is being able to read order-flow better though there is less liquidity and smaller ranges.
I'm not sure which piece of my post the 'nonsense' was directed at, but let's take a look at jokerjoe's comment.

To address the first part - "Trading pure news even in the sporting arena is a tough game requiring speed" - I never said that trading pure news wasn't a tough game. What I said was that in the world of sports, we all see the game unfolding at the same time and was contrasting this to the world of finance, where we don't. Thus sports at least offer you the same opportunity to profit as everyone else. Whether or not an individual is able to profit from that opportunity is a different matter. Some people are just better than others at being able to make the most of opportunities. And yes, speed is always of the essence when it comes to opportunities - the older the news becomes, the more people know, and the more that news is factored into the price. The point is that events in sports are pure news, events in finance are not. The release of unemployment figures may be news to the living room trader, but as I explained yesterday, the process of compiling those figures involves many hands and eyes.

Jokerjoe's then dismisses long-term stock investing as being "not all that, there can be decades without growth". The term 'long-term' when applied to investing perhaps needs to be defined. For me it is 20 years plus, and over a 20 year period, stocks have always had a minimum of a 2.4% annual return. That's the minimum, after selecting the worst possible 20 years from the last 140 years. So saying that long-term stock investing "is not all that" is wrong if we agree on that definition of long-term. Three, five or ten years is not long-term. I would be interested to know where jokerjoe invests for the long-term. I hope it's not in bonds, because "stocks have also outperformed bonds — the current investment of choice for risk-averse investors — nearly 100% of the time over 20-year periods since 1871, a Vanguard study found". Of course there have been periods with poor returns, lost decades even, but long-term, the strategy of consistently investing in stocks is hard to beat.

jokerjoe finishes with "And finally day-trading is not about trading news. Trading on all timescales is similar, the one advantage with day-trading is being able to read order-flow better though there is less liquidity and smaller ranges". I never actually said that day-trading was about trading news. What I actually wrote was that day-trading from your living room trying to beat insiders just isn't viable, and the evidence supports that statement. For example:
There have been many studies that have concluded that most day traders lose money, but there have also been studies that documented successful trading by day traders. The data currently available seems to imply the following results:

· The majority of new day traders probably do lose money.

· At some firms a very high percentage of day traders lose money.

· However, there is some evidence that a majority of (surviving) day traders at some firms are profitable and many traders generate tremendous returns on their money.

· Industry commentators also suggested in the past that day-traders using software at home are much less successful than those trading at professional day trading firms.
Note that the profitable day-traders are not self-employed and working from their living rooms while on a break from trading sports. They are full-time professionals employed by a firm, and I stand by my statement that "day-trading from your living room trying to beat insiders just isn't viable".

Finally, updates to this blog may be a little infrequent for the next week or so. I am off to Las Vegas to roll the dice for a couple of days, before spending some time with Mrs. Cassini's family for the Thanksgiving holiday later in the week, but I will be keeping up with the XX Draws, accepting donations, adding new subscribers, and updating my numbers and the blog when I can. It may be a while before Green Pullover's selections are finally updated though - eleven!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Shark Infested Waters

The perfect example of why one should stay away from trying to trade the financial markets is written about today on TradeShark's Tennis Trading blog.

One thing I have learned today though is that I need to find a website or forum or something that gives a heads up of what significant financial news is due out each day.
Here's a newsflash - news you read is not news.
What the shrewdies knew was that the unemployment figures were out at 10am and they were shite. By the time this information flashed up on the website I was using it was too late and the stake was lost. £50.
Of course it was too late! Unemployment figures, or any economic statistics for that matter, do not suddenly appear out of thin air for all to see at the same time. Many hands are involved in compiling them, and lots of eyes see them before they are released. Why try to compete when the odds are so stacked against you? I'm not saying that you shouldn't invest in the stock market, long-term you certainly should, but as many found out to their cost about ten years ago, day-trading from your living room trying to beat insiders just isn't viable.

This highlights the beauty of betting in-play on sports - excepting the occasional fix of course. It's a fair game. What you see with your own eyes really is news, and the prize goes to those who can best use that news.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Invisible And Illogical

No theme to this post really - just random observations, betting and non-betting. I have fixed the error with the link to the recommended video on trading I mentioned a few days ago. It's here for those who don't feel like hunting for it.

Next up, does anyone in 2011 really still think it's clever to not wear a seat belt? No names, but someone whose blog I link to seems to think so. There's a wealth of data out there about how many lives are saved each year by wearing them, and even if one is too stupid to understand those stats, as one wise commenter wrote, the more serious your injuries are, the more cost to the taxpayer.

When individuals don't wear seat belts, these costs increase considerably because the injuries are more serious.
A quick search on who the retards are who still don't buckle up, and I found this:
The most likely candidates for not wearing seatbelts are males between the ages of 17 and 25. Even the most expansive of educational programs are not helping to convince these drivers to think of safety first. The most likely reason is the natural inclination for people of that age group to think of themselves as invisible.
I think the word is 'invincible', but anyway, our invisible friend fits the demographic:
im 24 years old, left school without any qualifacations of value..
With three errors in nine words there, I can see why English was a Fail, but if you are into statistics, as anyone serious about betting on the exchange must be, the stats on seat belts (and crash helmets for that matter) tell you just one thing. Sometimes it pays to follow the crowd - wear them. Not too mention the fine that's just money down the drain. There was another statistic about car accidents that alarmed me when I first saw it some while back:
It is also a fact that 80% of accidents involving a fatality occur less that 25 miles from home.
What a wake-up call finding that out was - in fact, it was one big reason why I moved away.

A 'Buzzer' on the Betfair Forum is also statistically challenged, writing that:
Two or three kids a wife and a mortgage means you need around 5k a month for an average standard of living.
Say that again. £5k a month is hardly 'average'! As I wrote here in March this year, the latest figures show that the median weekly pay for full-time employees in the UK in the year to April 2010 was £499, so a £5k monthly income would be well ahead of 'average'.

Still no NBA any time soon, with games now cancelled through mid-December. At least the college version of the game is underway now, although until the conference games start, competitive games are few and far between. For the last two seasons, I've actually lost money on college basketball, including one £2,900 loss in 2010 that still stings. Perhaps liquidity, which traditionally lags well behind that of the pro game, will be up as NBA fans like myself try to make ends meet.

Finally, in the US, the Department of Justice has responded in a case brought by two men that the UIGEA [Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act] did not apply to poker, "as it is a game of skill". In the DoJ's reply to the court, they reference a legal citation from an 1888 case (Jack the Ripper was active and Preston North End were winning the League) and another argument used is:
that the Kenny Rogers song contains the lyrics “about knowing when to ‘hold em’ and when to ‘fold em’” because it is called “The Gambler.” They do, however, misattribute it to Willie Nelson.
You can't make this stuff up!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Self Defenestration

With no end in sight to the NBA [No Basketball Ahead] lockout, and a fast approaching "nuclear winter of the NBA", the search for a replacement source of income is becoming a little more intense. Cricket is one sport that has a few advantages, it's a year round sport with few possible outcomes for a start, but it's not a sport I enjoy watching too much, and there are too many people with more knowledge of it than me. I have tended to just have the occasional dabble when the mood takes me, which isn't often, but my mood might be changing. I found a very interesting thread on the Betfair Forum created by a 'crunchyfrog' which has been running for more than two years. The creator has kept a running total over 141 test matches of the outcomes of blindly following a betting strategy, e.g Back the Favourite or Lay the 'Dog. 

The categories should be self-explanatory, and the current standings are:

Match 142 is yet to be updated, but id South Africa's win over Australia in the First Test in Cape Town [SPs South Africa (2.86) v Australia (3.25) Draw (2.88)] and Match 143 is the in-progress India (1.57) v West Indies (13.5) Draw (3.4) Second Test in Kolkata.

Following on, while it might be considered bad form to find humour in the sorry tale of Peter Roebuck, these lines from South African cricket writer Neil Manthorp did make me laugh.
A radio station in New Zealand asked me for an interview about the man I had known for so long.
The presenter told me beforehand that NZ law precluded him from using the word ‘suicide’ in his interview. I assumed that meant it was my job to say it. “No, no – you can’t say it either,” he replied. “It’s against our law.”
It was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard. It would have made Roebuck laugh out loud: “Australia and New Zealand are nanny states, I love them, but Africa is so much wilder and more free,” he told me more than once.

“After questioning by the police,” I heard myself saying, “he left his hotel room via the window, apparently without the assistance or intervention of anybody else.”

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Obscure And Oblique

Peter Roebuck, the former Somerset (and Devon) Captain, died today, reportedly committing suicide in South Africa, at the age of 55. While being questioned about an alleged sexual assault, he jumped from the sixth floor of his hotel.

He was an 'odd' character, or as his own father put it:

...{Peter} is seen as "odd" in orthodox spheres, "whereas he is merely obscure and oblique".
It wasn't the first time he'd had problems with the law:
In 1999, while working as a commentator in South Africa Roebuck met three cricketers, all aged 19, and offered to coach them, inviting them to live at his home in England. He warned them beforehand that he would use corporal punishment if they failed to obey his "house rules". He caned all three men on their buttocks at different times for misbehaviour and in 2001 was given a suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to three charges of common assault. ''Obviously I misjudged the mood and that was my mistake and my responsibility, and I accept that,'' he'd said at the time.
Obscure and oblique indeed. While cricket might not be the most macho of sports, there was another, (more serious since it involved at least nine young boys), sexual scandal this week, at Penn State University, which resulted in the end of legendary American football coach Joe Paterno's 46 year reign there at the age of 84.

Self-Esteem And Routine

Before this blog turns into the dreaded P&L blog LazyTrader worries about, here's some good old trading advice. The original article on a "Daily Routine" was intended for futures traders, but with a little tweaking, I think a lot of the routine can be modified to be relevant for sports traders.
• I will only trade on days when I am well rested, relaxed and not mentally distracted by matters that will divert my focus. [Common sense advice]

• I will spend at least 15 minutes relaxing to music or a form of meditation after a good nights rest before trading. [A little too new-agey mumbo-jumbo for me, but it reinforces the importance of being rested and relaxed]

• Conduct a Pre-Market Analysis myself, perform a top-down review of the major markets and develop a plan of the day. The trading day is from 9:30 a.m. (EST) to 4:15 p.m. divided into a morning session, lunch and afternoon session. [My 'trading day' will depend on what events are going at at any time]

• I do not trade for the first hour on Mondays. [Not really relevant for sports markets]

• I do not enter any new trades the last half an hour of the market hours (1545 – 1615 EST) [Again, not relevant]

• After I have met my goal or the market is closed I will log my journal and then spend quality time with my family. [Goals are counter-productive, but updating records and quality time to enjoy the rewards of your trading are both musts]

• At some point before the end of the day I will revisit the S&P trading day and back test my plan and system. [For sports traders, this means constantly keep track of what is working, and what is not working, and keep looking at new ideas]
From the same site comes the advice that you can't trade the markets with the proper mental edge if you don't have self-esteem. In a way, this ties in with my belief that the money you trade with needs to be money you don't need, and that what others think of you is irrelevant, but the article takes it a step further.
Trading the markets requires a person to be persistent and resilient. People with self-esteem don't question their ability. Despite the number of setbacks they experience, they fully believe that if they work hard enough, success is guaranteed. At their core, their self-esteem is true and unwavering. As noted self-esteem expert Dr. Nathaniel Branden observed, "When we appreciate the true nature of self-esteem, we see that it is not competitive or comparative. It is not about making myself higher by making you lower. It has nothing to do with you. It is the joy of my own being." But the competitive spirit often interferes with people's ability to maintain self-esteem. People compete with others. They compare themselves to others and only feel good when they are winners. Ironically, though, winning traders look inward, live by their own rules, and don't care how anyone else is doing. They humbly go where the markets take them and accept what they get.
"I don't define my self-worth by my net worth." Winning traders feel good about themselves no matter how much they win or lose. They feel good about themselves because they know deep down that they have value as people. They look inwardly for self-acceptance, and follow their personal values; they don't care what anyone else thinks. If you want to trade the markets with a calm, astute, mental edge, you must develop a genuine sense of self-esteem. By making sure that you live by your own values, and fully accept your limitations, you'll develop a true sense of worth that won't be easily shaken by momentary setbacks or failures.
Finally, check out this video on Why most people will never trade successfully for some useful advice.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Gain On Spain

After-timing I know, but it wasn't a big win so indulge me a little. I let my pre-game lay of Spain run it's course today, and made a little over three figures. Once again, it paid to oppose the general feeling that seems to feel Spain simply had to show up to win. They came up short in 1588, and history repeats itself. Here are a couple of views I read earlier today from around the blog world:

Who Wants To Be A Betting Millionaire -
Can't see England getting anything from a Spanish team out to humble the hosts on their home turf. Have backed Spain (-1.0) in the asian handicap - £4 at 2.50 at paddy power.
BetsLayer Acount Bets
England v Spain Spain to win (1.86)
England v Spain Both to Score Evens (2.00)
It used to be conventional wisdom that England were always priced too short, but the globalisation of the betting markets has seen an end to that. Spain at odds-on to win in England? While the market isn't usually too far wrong, I did feel that Spain's price had been driven down too low.

1000 To 1

Above is a screenshot from Thursday night's San Diego Chargers v Oakland Raiders game. Pretty good you might think, but unfortunately it didn't end so well.

The Chargers, down by a touchdown, began a drive which would have resulted in their becoming favourites at 1.65 or so had they scored a TD, and a lay of the Raiders looked like a smart move. After building a good position, I often use the strategy of laying the current favourite for the amount of profit built in to that point, so in rough figures, I was a little over £3000 green on the Chargers, and £1 (yes, seriously!) green on the Raiders when the drive fizzled out. Except that it didn't fizzle out, which would at least have given me a chance to trade out. Instead it blew up in my face with an interception, which gives no opportunity for damage control. The price of aggression I suppose.

Of course it's easy to say that I should have quit while ahead, and yes, in this instance that would have been true, but in the long run, laying the favourite whose price is too short will boost the bottom line more than walking away does. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but so long as the wins exceed the losses, keep playing the odds.

Lastly, For anyone expecting XX Draw Selections this weekend, there are none. No games, so no selections. No one missed an e-mail - I rather assumed that everyone would know it was an international weekend.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Stretching The Band

On the subject of Draw seeking, Scott writes:

Have you considered the merits of allowing for the backing of a higher priced draw above 5.0 in your XX selection process?

Maybe it's just luck, but Green Pullover has really boosted his ROI with two Barcelona draws at prices of 6.50 and 9.00.

Is it something worth considering when a short priced favourite offers no value?
The XX Draws are selected based purely on ratings and as you might suspect from a system with a 34.5% (implied price 2.9) strike rate where the average price is 3.48 (implied probability 28.7%), price is not typically an issue. It would be nice if the selections were all 4.1 (the maximum that I have yet seen) but so long as they are above 2.9, we have a value selection, and unless we're in a late season Serie A game, the draw price will always be well above 2.9.

The XX Draws are those games where the expected superiority of either team is 0.1 or 0. This is admittedly a very narrow and thus selective band, but that's why it is so profitable. If I widened the band, there would be more selections of course, but the quality would start to fall. If the band were widened to include the 0.2 to -0.2 selections, the draw price needed to be profitable would rise from 2.9 to 3.33. Interestingly, if we forget all about the crazy Bundesliga once we move beyond the 0.1 band, the results are better. The 0.5 band (0.5 to -0.5), needs a draw price of just 3.15 to be profitable, 249 winners from 785 selections. Excluding the Italian games would also boost the numbers, but that's another story.
The problem with games such as Barcelona's at Athletic Bilbao last weekend is the paucity of data. Of 2,355 matches recorded, only 7 have the same profile as Barcelona's game at the weekend. Three games have been draws, which is great, but from a sample so small, it would be reckless to get too carried away. If I include matches close to that rating, I have 8 draws from 24 selections, which is promising to say the least if the draw price is over 6.0. Analysis goes on, as always.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Great Strides

A quiet weekend for the XX Draw selections, with just one match qualifying, Novaro v AS Roma. On Thursday the draw was trading at 3.65 / 3.7 on Betfair, but by Saturday had dropped as low as 3.3. I added some subscribers to the service last week, and the thought did occur to me that in a week with just one selection, more money than usual was backing this draw. However, the price did rebound as kick-off approached, and in fact I had more matched at 3.7 just before kick-off. The game was actually looking good for a long time, one of those games with 'nil nil written all over it' as they say, but after the draw price touched 1.77, two goals after 70 minutes meant the bet went down. The ROI drops to 23.15% after 54 selections.

I mentioned previously that backing the Under 2.5 goals on the XX Draw Selections is also a profitable strategy, at least the ROI on this increased to 12.1% with the Under coming in at 2.0. I have added these selections to the comparison table above.

Although I clearly explained in the 'prospectus' that XX Draw selections were dependent on the numbers alone, and that some weeks might see no selections, other weeks several, I did feel bad about just having the one pick, so I added four matches that came close to qualifying. Newcastle United v Everton was close, Bolton Wanderers v Stoke City wasn't, but two winners were found in Real Mallorca v Sevilla and Bordeaux v Paris St Germain.

Green Pullover found another Barcelona draw at a good price (6.5), as well as a winner with Rennes v Valenciennes. Two from five is not too shabby, and he consolidates second place with an ROI of 19.6%.

Peter Nordsted's pursuit of games with the same number of goals in both halves continued, and showed a profit on the weekend with one winner from three.

Not such good news from Griff or Football Elite this weekend. Griff dropped to 6th place in the table with two more losses but still a small sample. Football Elite had a poor weekend with just one winner (2.08) from four selections, and the ROI on this season falls to just 3.12% from 25 selections.

I came across an interesting idea on the Betfair forum where one poster (MaryChain) randomly picks three matches a week, randomly selects Home, Away or a Draw bet on each, and randomly stakes £10, £20 or £50. His random selections are showing a decent profit on the season! From next week, I am going to do something similar, and select three matches from the five leagues I follow and track the outcome of the draw. Theoretical backing only, just another method to measure our systems against.

I'm not into horse racing as anyone reading this blog knows, but it's hard not to notice when a horse starts a race at 1.04. Unbeaten in 15 races, Black Caviar duly won again, rather comfortably in my non-expert opinion. Apparently, her invincibility could be down to mathematics. Australia's Channel 7 reported that per stride, she covers 11 metres, compared with the 'average' horse's 9 metres, and at Flemington, there were no pesky corners to negotiate.

I must work on increasing my stride when I run. It's certainly true that my 100 metre times were always relatively so much better than my longer distances. Now I know why - no bends.

Finally, a professional gambler has generously posted a video on YouTube with useful advice for anyone considering going pro any time soon. Included is advice on the set up required, horse selection techniques, how to deal with bookmakers and how to handle losses. Even the importance of staying hydrated is subtly worked in during the early scenes where a bottle of Evian is in evidence. More experienced pros might also learn something. It's certainly worth a look.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Financial Peak

I should know better, but every once in a while I get lured in by a teaser headline, and this one on AOL made me click on the link "You'll hit your financial peak at the age of 48".

Well no, not exactly. The dingbat who wrote the piece, Ceri Roberts - ("I started my career writing for teen magazines Sugar and J-17, before moving to more!") should stick to writing about Justin Bieber if she seriously thinks financial health revolves around possessions in your home. The last sentence makes no sense either - "After the peak at 48, the value of the average person's belongings begin to decline at the age of 50". What happens at 49? It has to either be the peak or the start of the decline.
We're all feeling the pinch at the moment, so it's good to know that many of us haven't yet hit our financial peak.

A new study reveals that we are worth the most when we reach the age of 48: at that age the average person's possessions are valued at £52,587, compared to £44,081 at the age 35.

Researchers found that hi-tech goods made up three of the five most expensive items in the average home, with the top five being large electrical goods, computers, furniture, jewellery and electronic gadgets. One in ten people also valued the contents of their wardrobe at more than £2,500.

However many of us have no idea what our belongings are worth: a More Than home insurance survey of 2,000 people found that people valued their possessions at £21,477 on average. But a study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research calculated that the typical value was in fact £35,414.

After the peak at 48, the value of the average person's belongings begin to decline at the age of 50.
So home equity, stock portfolio, retirement funds don't matter - it's all about large electrical goods and furniture. Well that's good to know. I am off out to buy an electric chair. It'll come in handy for next time I click on a teaser link. Or you could read the same rubbish in the Daily Mail, but that's no surprise.

Griff has released his draws for this weekend, and they are Aston Villa v Norwich City and Blackburn Rovers v Chelsea. The prices at the time of writing are 3.75 and 4.5 respectively.

I was rather hoping the Green Pullover would be tipping Cardiff City today, and he is. Only not to win - their match v Crystal Palace is one of his draw selections at 3.75. His other entries in the Battle of the Draws are Reading v Birmingham City (3.5), Rennes v Valenciennes (3.5), Palermo v Bologna (3.75) and Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona (6.5). Interestingly, he has three Under 2.5 selections, all from the above list. I commented in my e-mail this week to the XX Draw subscribers that backing the Under 2.5 goals in each of the 53 selections so far this season would have seen a profit of 5.54 points and an ROI of 10.45%. Obviously when you are looking for draws, you are looking for games with a low goal expectancy, and in a way, it's more satisfying to pick a 0-1 or a 1-0 game than it is to fluke a 4-4 winner. Unless that one goal comes after 90 minutes, in which case give me the 4-4 fluke.

It's been about as quiet as I can remember from a trading perspective this week. Baseball has ended, NBA basketball has yet to begin and with European games of only academic interest, no football either. Well, there shouldn't have been any, but the devil makes work for idle hands, and the Cassini coffers show a small loss on the week since Tuesday. It'll have to be a small electric chair.

For anyone who likes the college version of American football, there is one huge game tomorrow at midnight. The first and second ranked teams (college sports have a large element of subjectivity) Louisiana State and Alabama play each other in the regular season, a rare occurrence in the world of college football. Also worth a mention is another all top-10 game between the Arkansas Razorbacks (7) and South Carolina (9) which starts even earlier. Go Hogs!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Laughing Stocks

There is a book coming out in the near future, titled Laughing At Wall Street, with the not so catchy sub-title How I Beat the Pros at Investing (by Reading Tabloids, Shopping at the Mall, and Connecting on Facebook) and How You Can Too. 

It’s written by a man from Dallas, Chris Camillo, who invested $20,000 in the stock market in 2007, and turned it into more than $2 million over the next three years – no mean feat at the best of times, never mind over three years during which most portfolios lost value. 

The 37-year-old amateur investor attributes this success to his knack for identifying trends and spotting opportunities before Wall Street. His logic is essentially that the core demographic of Wall Street is male, middle-aged, wealthy and lives in or near a city, and is thus slow to pick up on female, youth, lower-income or rural trends. By having a more diverse group of acquaintances, it is possible to have an edge over the stock market professionals who have a narrower social life.

A couple of examples of his success are Guitar Hero and the Wii, and he tells of standing in a line of 150 people in a retail store on the day a new line of clothing was launched and seeing every piece sell out within two hours. 

Apparently many people had already stumbled onto the same secret, that this line of clothing was going to be a success, yet while many made their profit from re-selling the items on eBay, the author cashed in by investing in the store’s stock – and claims to have ‘almost’ tripled his money in about 48 hours. All these people had information, but while some profited by re-selling, others, like the author, made easier money by thinking bigger, or at least differently.

The author also has some thoughts on how to handle risk. He says:

People are generally risk-adverse with their money. I think all humans have a hard-wired aversion to losing money, and there's a large psychological barrier to overcome with risking your money on a stock trade or a leverage options trade. So one of the things that I teach prior to even thinking about finding the next big thing is learning how to compartmentalize your finances.

Most of us have a spending account. Many of us have a savings account, which could include a retirement account. And that's money that we count on to retire with, and to get rich slowly over the course of our life. But what few of us have is what I call a big money account. So I encourage all people to view every dollar in their life as a potential hundred dollars for its full future potential investment value. And when you start to look at everything in your life, every dollar bill as a hundred dollars, it uncovers all types of money that all of a sudden you might be willing to put into your big money account. For example, you might really appreciate getting all the sleep you can on the weekends, so you might hire someone to mow your lawn. However, if you view that $20 as a potential $2,000 for its full investment potential, that might persuade you to go out and mow your own lawn, to take that $20 and put it into your big money account. Now you have an account that you're willing to take risks with, that you're willing to make leverage investments with.
I have written before on this subject, and when your trading or betting bank is not money that is ring-fenced from your daily, weekly, monthly or even annual needs, you are not going to make the best decisions.

Finally, a quick comment on Green Pullover. As much as I enjoy some friendly competition with him, would he please stick to trying to beat me at draw finding rather than keep selecting Crystal Palace to win. Single-handedly, he is ruining that wonderful club's chances of playing Premier League football next season. Stop it!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Accepting Reality

The NBA lockout is getting serious. Once again, the main news sources focus on the owners and players, with nary a mention of the poor sports investors who are also out of pocket - this from
With more lost games come more staggering numbers in financial losses -- even for minimum-salary players. The amounts that these guys will lose in the month of November will fall between $80,500 and $230,000. In other words, the lowest-paid guys in the league will lose significantly more in one month than the average American will make in an entire year. ... Four players -- Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Rashard Lewis, and Kobe Bryant, would've made over $20 million in 2011-2012, and the losses they take are the most drastic.
The battle between NBA owners and players is one that the players cannot win, at least, that's what all the experts are saying, but I have to agree. When you have a skill that limits you to a small number of employment opportunities, you are not in the best of bargaining positions. For a basketball player, the highest salaries are in the NBA. Sure, you can ply your trade elsewhere, in Europe or Canada perhaps, but with few exceptions the big money is to be made in the NBA. If there is no NBA, you are somewhat screwed. If the best that the NBA is willing to offer you is $x million, then even if it wasn't the $x+y million you were getting before, if it is still higher than anyone else is paying, suck it up. Cutting off your nose to spite your face isn't the best of ideas. Ask Latrell Sprewell. It's also how anyone hit with the 50% Super Premium Charge on Betfair probably feels too. As a former IT contractor, I'm well aware of how a specialised market can go from boom to bust overnight, and stamping your foot saying how much you used to be paid doesn't do much good.

With the cancellation of all NBA games through November, I took a look at my numbers from last season, and was somehat relieved to see that, as might be expected, October and November are appetiser months for the main entrée of the season, which starts in December. The usual concerns of no form and personnel changes take a while to settle down. Of course, were a shortened NBA season to start in December, that 'settling down' period would simply be delayed, so however you look at it, this outage is going to cost me money.
I was looking at the salaries of MLS players, and while David Beckham and Thierry Henry aren't doing so bad, the average salaries there are really very, well, average. It's a little strange to look at the salaries of two of my erstwhile heroes, Gregg Berhalter and Jovan Kirovski, (I use the term 'heroes' loosely), and see that their incomes are nothing special at all. Their lifestyles might be a little more exciting though. It's a short career though, something that's hard to comprehend when you're young.
Maybe my Mum was right about school after all. Law of averages means she's going to be right every once in a while, although I still think she was wrong with the "computers might not catch on" line she came out with when I quit my first job (with NatWest) to learn computer programming.