Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Dodgy Blodget

Some of you may have read Yale professor and economist Robert Shiller’s “Irrational Exuberance” books, (the first in 2000 predicted the end of the dot-com boom, the second in 2005, the housing bubble), or at least heard of them since he is a well known expert on behavioural finance and prospect theory, topics which serious traders should be familiar with.

Anyway, I was reading an interview he gave recently in Davos to fellow Yale graduate, the disgraced Henry Blodget (he publicly said one thing about stocks, while privately saying another). When it was mentioned that all bursting bubbles tend to overshoot, Shiller replied:
Well, the problem is we've never had, in the United States, a bubble like this, of this magnitude before. That's the problem. That's the fundamental problem of economics. We'd like to be statisticians but in fact the world is always changing on us. So we end up having to use judgment. We're not very good at that.
It’s 'the world is always changing on us’ comment that caught my eye, because it is the same in sports trading. Just when we think we have a market figured out, it changes on us, so it really becomes important to first notice that the change is occurring, and second, to adapt to the change and either find a way to continue to profit from it or move on. While it may be true that, as a group, “we’re not very good at that”, those who can adapt quickest obviously hold an advantage, at least until the rest catch up.

Incidentally, Blodget has recently changed his tune on stock picking as I read that
“Blodget now recommends low fee index investing to capture the broad return, while focusing on reduced portfolio turnover to minimize taxes.”
Finally! Some of us came to the conclusion more than 15 years ago that this was the best strategy for an outsider when it comes to financial investing, but of course Blodget was anything BUT an outsider, and had his interests at heart rather than his followers.

This line in this Motley Fool piece made me laugh too (I'm easily amused):
Americans tend to laugh at people in less developed countries who believe in voodoo, curses, and other superstitions, and yet in 1999 there should be no doubt that many of the participants in the largest stock market bubble in history believed in something that was completely unsupported by reality. For a short period of time, investors believed in the magic that was emanating from Henry Blodget's keyboard.
Perhaps, but believe me, plenty of Americans who laugh at the superstitious beliefs of others are unable to look at themselves and see that their own beliefs are just as laughable to the more rational minded of us. When you point that fact out to them, they get all 'offended' - as if that's MY problem.

Not sure why the It Only Matters When There's Money On It blog didn't appear on my blog roll, but check it out. The author, SJ, has been whining about the fact that the Sultan has been the source of more hits than the King of Betting Blogs (that's this one) so please visit and put the Sultan in his place before he gets any big ideas about trying to usurp me.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Sultan Peppers The Compliments

The Sultan has recently posted a couple of blog reviews over at Center Court Trading, and the first had a few kind words to say about this one so in case you missed it here, I have included the important part here -->

I only tend to add blogs to my roll that I actually enjoy reading, so you'll find all of the following on the right hand side of this page. I'll start with the obvious ones; Green All Over and Mark Iverson. I'm sure you are already aware of these fine reads, so no need to delve too much into them. Mark rarely posts these days but it's worth reading his blog from the beginning if you are new to trading or looking for some inspiration. You'll discover someone's journey from early in their trading life (not at the beginning but certainly before Mark was raking it in) to going full-time.

As for Cassini, he is so prolific, you need to make sure you check his 'previous posts' because he does often post 2 or 3 times a day! I recently started reading the blog from the very start and although there isn't much new info I've picked up about trading, it has given me real inspiration and reinforced a few ideas. Just seeing that Cassini himself has made big errors and lost large amounts and reading him question himself when trading certain sports, is enough to make you feel better about your own struggles. But for newbies, there are loads of gems of info and it's as valuable a tool in your learning process as any forum or financial trading book.
Yes, well thanks for the reminder that I have "made big errors and lost large amounts", and just as the confidence was starting to return too! With one fell swoop, I am once more a broken man, the fragile shell of confidence lying smashed and broken at my feet. Or perhaps not. Last week was a good one, and while January will likely remain in the red, I am looking forward to a much longer February than usual this year.

More seriously, as Average Guy commented, the Sultan's blog has itself fast become one of the best, and must-read, betting / trading blogs out there.

So how was the weekend?, I hear you ask. Well, it had its moments. The Value Under picks for this week had a great Saturday as I mentioned in an earlier post, but Sunday saw three goals in all three games, including a 91' penalty which I could have done without. There were five XX Draw Selections with two winners, and three with a one goal differential. As I have said previously, the 0-0 and 1-1 draws are the results I take most pride in, but I fluked a rare 2-2 (first since September) in the Racing Santander v Valencia game. Only two of today's five went under which was not pleasing. Overall on the weekend, a small loss, but the ROI for all three categories stays positive, and so should I. There is a full round of games midweek in Italy and in England coming up, with at least one game looking a likely XX contender.

Backing the Lay The Draw selections proved profitable, as Roma v Bologna finished drawn at 4.8, but no luck for Football Elite as Evian TG were held to a draw (one of my XX selections), nor for the Green Pullover, who had Rennes v Marseille as a draw pick - as did I. I knew this one was in trouble when I saw the Pullover go for it!

Friendly Tipster League standings
High drama in the NBA again last night with the Texas derby game between the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks saw Dallas trade at 1.02 when seemingly in command, before the Spurs bench rallied, and appeared to have won the game at the buzzer. Several thousand exchanged at 1.10 before replays showed the shot wasn't made in time and the Mavericks prevailed in overtime. The Spurs play again tonight at the Memphis Grizzlies who have shortened from 1.6 to 1.47. If this was a reaction to the Spurs playing an overtime period (conventional wisdom), this one may be misguided given that the Spurs starters were pulled when they were down big, and the coach left the second team in for the last hour of play. Having said that, Memphis are a decent team at home (6-2), and a price ~1.5 is value, with the Spurs a sorry 2-8 on the road.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Horses For Courses

I'm not sure if Google's new privacy policy is to blame for the recent flood of comments to my Spam folder, but at least now that I am aware of it I can monitor and release any I find for general viewing. (Others have had a similar problem, and PT suggested that the XX Draw e-mail was going astray because the XX suggested porn related content!) The latest was a long comment from Alfred on pre-off horse race trading, and I am pleased to include it in full here:
As much as I like to read your blog and your rant against gamblers-who-call-themselves-traders, I find it disconcerting that you can’t grasp the difference between what you do (whether you call it sport trading of value betting and edging) and pre-race horse racing trading. Here i’m not talking about form analysis and punting, but of trading on a market with fluctuation of prices and quantities which have nothing to do with what is happening in the event, because it is the nature of prerace trading that nothing (well, very little) is happening. When you do that, you are not looking for value because you are not having an opinion about the qualities of a horse and its probability of winning the race. You don’t even have to know the name of the horses (or as someone has put it more prosaically, you don’t need to know the head from the arse of a horse). The edge only comes from the capacity to read the market and its evolution. You can back a horse at odds of 3.00 and lay it seconds later at 2.8 and, later (but always before the race and before anything has happened), lay the same horse at odds of 2.3 and back it at 2.5. There is no contradiction in backing the horse at 2.5 and laying it at 2.8 because “value” is not part of the analysis. You’re not making your trading decisions based on the probability of a horse to win or because you have “inside information”, but rather based on an evaluation of the market dynamic and its evolution. I’m not saying that it is easy, as most of those who try will fail, but it is very well possible to succeed in doing that.

But surely you already know all that? Don’t you? And that’s the main reproach I have to make about your blog. You seem to write those things about horse racing only to be pedantic (your recent comments on Caan Berry’s blog are examples of that in my opinion). You must know that there are several horse racing traders who are successful at it and even do it for a living. You must be aware of the numerous betfair softwares and the communities of pre-race and in-play horse racing traders hanging around their forums.

And talking of software, I recall that you don’t use any. Do yourself a favor, go get one and try trading NBA games on the ladder interface with automated edging calculation. I can’t see one good reason not to use one (and stubbornness is certainly not one of them).

Apart from that, I really like your blog. Keep up the good work.
My basic problem with horse-racing is that, in my opinion, it is a bit like the stock market. Plenty of money and 'opportunities' around to seduce us, but with the scales tipped in favour of insiders. Trading the horse-racing markets pre-off seems similar to me to day-trading shares, and most studies into the latter show that long-term,
day trading has exceptionally high "washout rates" and "regulators who have examined the books of day-trading firms say that more than 9 out of 10 traders wind up losing money. Because most of these people disappear quietly when their cash runs out, few who replace them in the trading rooms know about them or their failures."
Are there day-traders who make a profit long-term? Quite possibly, but they are certainly few and far between, and I see a similar situation in the pre-off horse-racing markets. As you should be aware, I do not know much about these markets at all, but what I read suggests that there are a lot of people who all think they have an edge, and my main point is that the majority of these people are deluding themselves. A technical edge based on 'market dynamics' is apparent to all who are looking for it - overbought or oversold signals for example - and the greater fool theory may work most of the time, but long-term, no. I absolutely do not "know that there are several horse racing traders who are successful at it and even do it for a living". That may be true, but I don't frequent the horse-racing forum, and I am struggling to think of one trader for whom this is true. In fact, all the profitable traders I am aware of are profitable in other sports, suggesting that the edge you need to be profitable is far more likely to be found away from the racecourse.

Alfred says that I "can’t grasp the difference between what you do (whether you call it sport trading of value betting and edging) and pre-race horse racing trading." The difference is that the edges I find are real, based on being able to accurately price up an event (a lot easier in a two or three winner market than a horse-race incidentally). Backing a horse at 3.0 hoping to lay at 2.8 without understanding what the true price should be, even if the 'technical indicators' are that the price has a good chance of dropping to 2.8, seems like gambling to me, if that horse's true price is 3.2. Sooner or later, the greater fool you need will not be there.

A healthy difference of opinion, and I welcome other views on this, in particular how trading without an opinion on value can be profitable long-term.
For the typical retail investor, day trading isn't investing, it's gambling. If you want to gamble, go to Las Vegas; the food is better.
Philip A. Feigin in "Day Trading Craze Should Give Investors Pause".

Two Way Twitter

Well, who knew? This Twitterage thing apparently works in two ways. Not only can you be followed, but you can also be a follower yourself. Jesus can also be an apostle. @markyiverson and @OnlineTrader pointed this out to me, and I am now open to suggestions as to who might be worth following. I'm quite demanding though, since I know I don't want anything horse-racing related, but beyond that, specifically what DO I want, I'm not quite sure. If there is a Twit suggesting winner after winner, that'll work.

The Saturday football went reasonably well, with all three Value Under selections winners, but of the two XX Draw selections, just the one Under to sing about. Koln v Schalke '04 was a draw until the 72' when Schalke exploded with three late goals, while Paris St Germain scored early at Brest, and the game ended 0-1. Both the Unders and the Draw price shortened considerably on the German game, offering a sure profit to anyone choosing to trade out before going in-play, but unfortunately this wasn't my own strategy here. The Under selections tipped were Catania v Param (1-1), Lorient v Sochaux (1-1) and Toulouse v Caen (1-0) at 1.7, 1.71 and 1.72 respectively- nice sequence there for those who like that sort of thing.

Mark J had one selection, Inverness Caledonian Thistle -0.5 v St Mirren at 2.2, but they could only draw. Football Elite had a winner yesterday with Hannover '96 beating Nuremberg at 2.25 while the Green Pullover's poor run in the draw department continued with four more losers. His pathetic Watson joke did, I am ashamed to admit, make me smile when I read it though.

SJ left a comment the other day which arrived in my inbox, but was flagged as spam by blogger - I just released it along with a couple of others that had made their way there. For the record, I never delete comments, even if they are mean and spiteful and make me cry. SJ wrote:

It is nice to think that “my well written” (thanks) blog is the spark for yet another ‘full-time/part-time/hobby” debate. Nice, apart from most of it is well trodden ground. I think theory of mind eludes most of us to a degree when this topic comes up as it is difficult to put yourself in another person’s shoes. I find it hard to imagine what I would productively do with my spare time if I were to gamble for a living. Last week I watched films, youtube videos and started a blog. Fun at the time, but not sure it would be on a regular basis. Plus despite the two hours of travelling a day I enjoy the routine of going to work and the social aspects whilst I’m there. I also like the guaranteed income and company benefits plus all the cross-skilling I do. So for me it is a very easy decision, gambling is a profitable hobby that I do in some of my spare time. That suits me perfectly. I can also see how if my circumstances were different then I could have a different opinion and I like Mark’s reasoning and I like the sensible approach to the longevity of the profession he takes.

ROI being a more useful indicator than unit profit (or anything) is another well read topic and I don’t suppose I have much to add to the pot. However I do have a couple of comments. The first is on Veitch and his 16% return, agreeing with the ‘’s around only, I think this is an exceptional return and that at his volume even a third of that would be highly impressive. Also as you allude to ROI on its own is a nice headline figure but without any qualification I find it is meaningless, perhaps comparable to looking just at goals for in football without referencing games played, goals conceded, relative position etc etc. Presented with a choice of either a system with a record of 5% ROI after 1000 bets at 1 bet a week or a system with a 20% ROI after 15 bets at a rate of 1 bet a day then based solely on that information I’d happily choose the 5% return. Of course there are various shades of gray in between too and taking into account things like average prices, drawdown and recovery periods and volatility can all help calculate the worthiness of an approach.

Second comment I’ve left on a blog this evening that is as long as my last post so I’ll leave it there.
Nice of SJ to write my blog as well as his own! Yes, that 16% ROI claimed by Patrick Veitch is certainly high, suggesting as I wrote earlier that his edge is based on more than an analysis of factors available to all.

Analysis of any kind seem to be noticeably absent in the 'strategies' of a couple of fellow bloggers. One opens his latest post with these lines:
Once again the demons are near the surface. I found myself scanning betfair @ 2.30 am this morning looking for ANYTHING to bet or trade on, I fucked away 70Euro on NBA basketball, what a muppet. I withdrew my bank and decided to start again. I limited my deposits to €450 per week as I know what's potentially round the corner.
A second blogger received a good comment which was this:
From the outside looking in, it appears that when you up stakes you are actually trying to sabotage everything - and that's the mindset of a gambler, or any addict. I think you need to go deeper than 'a traders mindset' and find out if this behaviour is repeated in other areas of your life and why.
Both these bloggers would appear to be unsuited to trading or betting. No one serious about trading profitably finds themselves 'scanning Betfair at 2:30am looking for ANYTHING to bet or trade on" and the second blogger says
i've taken some time to reflect deeply on the way i am and how i have been in the past, a constant theme would be my addictive personality which can be found to be responsible for quite a few things when i think about it.
Where's the discipline that is essential in betting / trading, not to mention other areas of life? And then we read this
I really enjoy pre race trading and its something im not too bad at although as i mentioned before chrtistmas the in-play trading was taking off nicely for me. So as the markets fluidity is rather poor at the moment im going to spend a little time opting out of the pre race markets all together (maybe ill bend the rules on saturdays) and just constantly apply the methods i have for in running as its far more difficult for the in running markets to be skewed by manipulation, something i feel this time of year thrives in the pre race markets. Also it should free up some time for me to watch the runner prior to the start, i have already tried this since my last post on thursday and friday evening meetings.... guess what, couple of the better days ive had over the past couple of weeks!
No mention of an edge, which in horse racing is almost impossible as I have written before, and it would seem that our friend is simply gambling at random, pre-race one minute ('not too bad at' - what does that mean - profitable, lose slowly?), in-play the next ('taking off nicely for me'). Gamblers are notorious for selective memory, and unless I am reading this all wrong, this seems to be the case here. Bending the rules - why have rules? There's the excuse for losses present too - 'markets skewed by manipulation'. What does that even mean? If you are confident about what price represents value, what any spoofers might try to do will be of academic interest to you only. If someone offers a bet that is value - take it! Or at least some of it. It could be Dietmar Hamann playing with some loose change.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Rather Optimistic Income (ROI)

Mark Iverson responded to my 'Great Work' post, I had a feeling he might, here:

Thanks for the mention Cassini - had a feeling you might respond to my post :-)

I can see your viewpoint and a normal career is one that appeals to most due to the 'safety' it provides, but after my mother died of cancer when I was 25 and after my son was diagnosed with his heart conditions it gave me a wake up call.

For me sports trading full time is a 5 year plan (4 years left) and after that who knows? If anything comes along to disrupt that in the meantime (enhanced premium charges, law changes etc) then I'm making plans as I go to provide myself with some breathing room.

Have you read the book I mention in my post, 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad'? It discusses the fear behind the 'no food on the table' outlook better than I could do justice and is well worth a look in my opinion.
I did read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad a few years ago, although unlike Mark, and not just to be difficult, I didn’t actually think it was that good. I believe it was also reported to contain many errors and bad advice, but I did like their definition of financial independence which was that it “is when your monthly income from assets exceeds your monthly expenses” and tracking this percentage as a goal is fun and encouraging. That might not be the original source for the definition, but it’s where I first came across it, and it’s a good goal to shoot for. There are, in my opinion, better easy-to-read financial advice books out there, such as The Millionaire Next Door - want to be a millionaire? Well stop living like one!
Webbo wrote
Great post Cassini. I think the professional gambler dream appeals because people desperately want to be in control of their own destiny, doing something that they enjoy and gambling is something that anyone can try. I'm pretty sure the reality will never match the dream... well except maybe for a few intelligent bot-makers out there!
Indeed. Most pro gamblers are either in the know, or smart enough to build a bot, and thus smart enough to build a career while their bot is running!

Ben from Sports Trading Life has written a post on what returns it is realistic to expect from sports trading. The opening lines are a little worrying though, as he writes:
“So you have decided to take up Sports Trading or some form of gambling and you might have bought a few systems, looked at a few strategies or even joined a service which means you are now ready to make some money.”
I can tell you right now that if you have ‘bought a few systems’ you are unlikely to have what it takes to make money from trading because for obvious reasons, ‘systems’ do not work long-term. You will need to be a little smarter than that, if you aspire to be profitable.

While it can be confusing to talk in terms of points or units, (10 points profit a week is meaningless, since we need to know up front whether the stake is 1 point or 1000 points, and how many opportunities there are in a week), the ROI makes much more sense. If you’d stuck 1000 into a FTSE 100 index fund at the start of 2010, your ROI for that year would have been 9%. We know what that means – at the end of the year, you have 1090.

The main thrust of Ben’s post though, is that gamblers / traders really expect unrealistic returns. Ben mentions that professional gambler Patrick Veitch, who has reportedly won 10 million, has an ROI of ‘only’ 16%. I was actually initially very surprised it was that high, although on consideration, when you own horses as Mr. Veitch does, and are this privy to the inside information that goes along with this, it’s a lot more reasonable. Anyone returning 16% over the course of several years must have a huge edge.

Any positive ROI is arguably good, but there are other factors to consider. Often overlooked is opportunity cost – by investing money on sports, you are passing up the opportunity to invest in another investment. As Investopedia defines opportunity cost, it’s
“the difference in return between a chosen investment and one that is necessarily passed up. Say you invest in a stock and it returns a paltry 2% over the year. In placing your money in the stock, you gave up the opportunity of another investment - say, a risk-free government bond yielding 6%. In this situation, your opportunity costs are 4% (6% - 2%).”
There’s also the cost of the time to consider, as well as the cost of subscribing to a service for the selections or perhaps for data. You might, if you are lucky, be able to make that 9% ROI on 250 bets during the course of a year, but you’ve invested a lot of time which could have been spent on other gainful pursuits. Investing 1000 at the start of the year and collecting 90 at the end is much easier, if not quite so exciting. It's also worth mentioning that ROI isn't the be all and end all of it - the number of opportunities is also a factor. A method that offers a 20% edge, but only once a year, is not so useful as a method returning 0.1%, but which offers 50 opportunities a day.

The Friendly Tipster League Table illustrates well that a double digit ROI is unlikely in the long-term, especially when you factor in that the returns do not include commission. Of the tracked selections, only one (the rather tongue-in-cheek Back The Lay The Draw Selection) has a double digit ROI, and that will soon change as it heads down with each passing selection these days.

And finally, in a book about Ancient Greece, and a chapter on Sparta, I came across a reference to the Helots, subjugated natives (essentially slaves) of the Spartans. Helots were allowed to continue their farming, but had to give 50% of the fruits of their labour to the Spartans. Ring a bell anyone? The Helots eventually revolted and allied with other Greek peoples to overthrow the Spartans.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Under / Over Prices From Correct Scores

Average Guy wrote:
Hi Cassini, I'm considering drafting a model for price predictions for Overs markets based on correct score probability. My question is, do the correct score probabilities drive the Overs price, or does the Overs price drive the correct score prices ? Hope I asked it correctly as I am even more confused now.
The Correct Score probabilities determine the prices for the Under / Over markets.

Calculate the Correct Score prices and then sum the probabilities for the scores that you need for the Unders. The Overs will be 1 minus the probability of the Unders.

For example, to calculate the probability of Over 1.5, sum the 0-0, 1-0 and 0-1 probabilities, and subtract this total from 1. For the Over 2.5, add the above three to the 1-1, 2-0 and 0-2 probabilities for the Under 2.5 probability, and subtract from 1 for the Over 2.5 probability.

And repeat as necessary. This is actually the easy part!

Great Work

Mark Iverson’s latest post is the inspiration for this one. I concluded yesterday’s post with a call for anyone to seriously consider the full ramifications of giving up a career to go full-time gambling. Note that I said ‘career’ rather than ‘job’. One could argue that a career and a job are both work, but there are differences, and I'm rather assuming that a career might be, if not something hugely enjoyable, at least something tolerable, while a job might not be. There are not too many gainful activities that I would describe as truly enjoyable outside of the world of professional sports or the arts, and even those might not be so enjoyable after a while unless you were one of the few making huge amounts from it which would certainly help.

One of the problems with giving up a career is that it can be very difficult to pick it up again after a break. My background is in IT, so my views on this are biased towards that industry, but a lot can change in a couple of years. In IT, skill sets become obsolete quite rapidly, and whereas the company you are with will (one hopes) re-train you at their expense in new technology, if you are on the outside, the cost of training is not only significant, but it is also hard to get a position when all you have is ‘theoretical’ experience. Even if you are lucky enough to be able to step back onto the ladder, the loss of a couple of years can mean going back to square one in terms of holiday entitlements, profit-sharing awards as well as seniority – since you are now behind others who have not taken a break.

This is not a problem for the unskilled, or for those with a trade of course, where it is much easier to pick up where you left off, but my feeling is that the modern professional trader / gambler is more likely to come from a ‘career’ background than from the unskilled or semi-skilled background. I am sure there are exceptions. If you believe the newspapers, the 1980s London Financial Markets were supposedly full of barely literate financial traders / dealers yanked straight off the street markets in the East End, thrown into the financial markets, and burned out by age 29 incidentally, but my feeling is that for the most part, an aptitude for trading is more likely to be found in someone with career options than not.

Mark talks in his post about the hours we work, and yes, work hours are hours that are not our free time, but there is a big difference between ‘work’ in an office and ‘work’ on an assembly line in a Chinese factory for Apple, for example. The latter really is work, but for many, a twelve hour ‘working’ day (including travel time) is really a lot less than that. Some people even get to write blog posts from their desk, read on their commute, (if they have one – working from home is becoming ever more common, even if not every day), have social chats by the water-cooler or coffee pot, take a lunch hour and breaks, adjust their hours to suit themselves and have access to personal e-mails and Internet while at ‘work’. Getting approved for a mortgage is a lot easier with a ‘proper’ job too, and as you move up the ladder, your income steadily increases too - something that is definitely not assured with betting, and quite possibly the reverse is true.

So I guess it all depends on where you are coming from, and where you want to get to. If I had a 12 hour shift in a Chinese factory, or a ‘job’ that I didn’t enjoy, my views on full-time trading would be a lot different, but the value of investing time in your future is perhaps something only fully appreciated when looking back in life.

As Mark mentioned in his post, Steve Jobs did indeed say this about work:
"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."
I’m just not sure a solitary life spent in front of a monitor betting on sports is what Jobs had in mind by ‘great work’, (he was probably thinking more Mona Lisa), and I’m not sure that I would ‘love what I do’ if I did it full-time anyway. I enjoy trading, most of the time, because it’s a challenge and because it's a way of relaxing from my real job, but would I enjoy it if the price of failure was no food on the table, or knowing that my income was at the whim of a PLC who could choose to stop doing business with me at any time because some accountants decided that I’m not good for their business model?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Career Advice

Finally, a much better weekend on the football with the XX Draw Selections finding two winners from four selections, and three winning on the Under 2.5 market. I also offered subscribers six value under selections, four of which were winners, and even more pleasing was that three were scoreless games - Bologna v Parma (1.77), Levante v Real Zaragoza (1.81)and Hoffenheim v Hannover '96 (1.92). The other winner was Nuremberg v Hertha Berlin (1.95), with the losers being Bayer Leverkusen v Mainz '05 (2.01) and Santander v Getafe (1.67). The I'll add these to the tipster table once the number of selections increases, but with few matches, the ROI is rather misleading.

The latest Tipster Table is here:

Backing the draw on Ian Erskine's Lay the Draw selections is on a losing run right now, but this method still leads the table in terms of ROI. Backing Under on the XX Draw Selections moves up to second place, while Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster drops to third after drawing a blank this weekend, although a little unlucky with two of his picks losing to 85' and 90' goals.

Mark J's selections are in fourth place, after a small profit this weekend, while Geoff's draws continue to struggle and drop to fifth. The final profitable method is the XX Draws mentioned previously, and in negative territory is Football Elite who had a disappointing weekend with one push, and three losers.

In eighth is Green Pullover, who managed to find one winner in 34 selections before a draw in his final pick this weekend, and Griff improved his ROI, if not his points, with one winner from five for an ROI of 48.5%.The random selections remain in ninth spot because I forgot to randomly pick any this weekend.

It's interesting how all of the draw-seeking methods have had long losing runs of late, of 15, 16, 17 and 20. Not unexpected that a losing run like that would be hit, but for Griff, the XX Draws, Geoff and the Green Pullover all around the same time is odd.

SJ knows the way to my blog roll is with a little sweet-talking, and writes:
Hi Cassini, apparently flattery is a good way to go about getting a blog link. Well yours is definitely the best gambling themed blog I've come across. Its impressive that you're able to blog so consistantly well on such a regular basis.

Anyway, my blog is at http://itonlymatterswhentheresmoneyonit.blogspot.com catchy, I know. Feel free to check it out and hopefully it will be worthy of inclusion on your blogroll
It helped that the new blog actually looks well written. As the Green All Over board of director was reviewing it, he noticed this:
Several times I've considered giving up work and gambling for a living, current winnings whilst trading less than part-time (i.e. when I can be bothered) alone would be more than adequate to live off but I'd be very hesitant to actually do so.
Hesitant with good reason I would say. Unless you have a unique edge (perhaps inside information) that will endure forever, or at least for long enough for you to not worry about working again, why would anyone give up a career to trade sports for a living? Later in the post, SJ wrote:
Secondly, contrary to something I recently read on another blog but conveniently forget the location, the markets do evolve and any edge I have isn't guaranteed to last, what with the Premium Charge about to rear its ugly head and the increasing presence of bigger fish.
That may well have been this blog, because I have written on this subject before - may times. Edges disappear, and external factors such as the introduction of a Premium Charge or Super Premium Charge do happen. The goal posts can and do move. If you can find an edge, then someone else can too. It's unlikely that you will remain top dog forever. And there is always the risk that in-play gambling (for example) will become illegal, or some other black swan event will mean that your ability to make a profit vanishes overnight. If you have a career, be thankful, hang in there, and trade on the side. A career is about much more than just the pay. Each year is an investment in your future, something that gambling doesn't offer. Yes, it may sound very exciting, especially to the younger and more impressionable among us, but the truth is that gambling for your living is unsociable, stressful, and bloody hard work.

Finally, a big day today for the football club that has been a huge part of my life for more than forty years. Another trip to Wembley would be a nice memory.

Sunday, 22 January 2012


Two big games in England today, and there's something a little odd about the Arsenal v Manchester United Unders price. As you all know by now, my spreadsheet calculates the probabilities of each score combination, and from that the Match Odds and any market I'm interested in. My Match Odds are (H/A/D) 3.01 / 2.56 / 3.61 and on Betfair the mid-prices are 3.025 / 2.57 / 3.575 - could hardly be closer, but my Under 2.5 price is 1.74 while 2.17 is available - a whopping 24.7% edge. If the market has a higher goal expectancy than I do, then why are the draw odds not higher? Opportunity knocks.

The Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur game also has prices close to mine, including the Under where I have 2.13 against 2.17 available. Home I have 1.87 (1.925), Away 4.33 (4.55), Draw 4.18 (3.825). Not much value there.

Saturday, 21 January 2012


Well, that was a bit better. With today's football, I could hardly put a foot wrong. The first XX Draw selection of two today - Norwich City v Chelsea - finished 0-0, and although the second finished 2-0 to Juventus (@ Atlanta) I was happy to pick another under. The 0-0 was my first 'perfect' selection in 25 selections, so I was due.

As a trial, I also started listing Under selections where value, in my opinion of course, was in excess of 15%, and had two winners Hoffenheim v Hannover '96 (1.92) and Nuremberg v Hertha Berlin (1.95) and one loser - Santander v Getafe (1.67). The latter was probably a little low in hindsight, and I may need to adjust the spreadsheet to award a minimum value to their probability of scoring. Right now, if they've not scored in 12 matches, and not had a shot or a corner, my spreadsheet thinks they are incapable of scoring. I also took a look at the Bolton Wanderers v Liverpool game just before kick-off and had Liverpool much too short, (I had them at 1.86), and took Bolton on the Asian Handicap +1 at 2.1 and +1/+1.5 at 1.75.

I'll update the Tipster League after tomorrow's matches.

I have finally completed Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, with some interesting comments at the end from Jobs himself which rang a bell. He said, and I am paraphrasing here, that companies are started by individuals with great ideas and products, but that after a while they are taken over by sales people whose sole interest is in the bottom line, and couldn't care less about the product or innovative ideas. An excellent book, by the way. He was certainly a little different, but his innovations have positively impacted everyone reading this - and a few others!


This month, and year, started full of promise and hope. The NBA season was underway, the XX Draws had hit a winner and ended their losing run, and all was good in the world. Unfortunately the XX Draws have embarked on another depressing losing run, and after a good couple of weeks, even the trusted NBA has gone rapidly sour. This past week has been one of those where I just can’t get a thing right. I lay a team after they go on a run, ‘knowing’ that after a time-out the run will end, and yet they continue on their run. If I make the call that the run will continue, it stops immediately. If I take a loss, it turns out I should have let the bet run, and if I let the bet run, I should have taken the loss. For a couple of nights, I scaled back, and of course was successful, winning small amounts, but when I up the ante again and start risking four figures again, the bad ‘random fluctuations of probability’ recurs. I can’t remember a run like this, and whether it is a blip or there is something fundamentally different about the NBA markets, I’m not yet sure. This season is certainly different, with teams playing a condensed schedule, with teams on occasion playing on three consecutive days, but I’m not convinced that is the source of my difficulties. The Super Premium Charge is now further away than it was at year's end, which is some good news I suppose, but 2012 is not starting out as I would have liked.

Perhaps the XX Draws will get back on track this weekend. The first selection went down in flames as Borussia Moenchengladbach, refreshed from their winter break, easily beat Bayern Munich last night. One of the XX Draw subscribers went so far as to suggest that Google has started to review the draw selections, as my e-mail this week was consigned to his googlemail junk folder. Now that hurts. Griff has selected no less than half the EPL schedule for draws this weekend, selecting Everton v Blackburn Rovers, Fulham v Newcastle United, Queens Park Rangers v Wigan Athletic, Sunderland v Swansea City and Wolverhampton Wanderers v Aston Villa.

Mark J’s value selections are Wolverhampton Wanderers (2.625) v Aston Villa, Freiburg (2.2) v Augsburg, Dundee United (2.25) v Motherwell, Espanyol (1.82) -0.5 v Granada, Borussia Dortmund (1.91) –0.5 @ Hamburg and Rayo Vallecano (2.11) -0.5 v Real Mallorca.

Geoff has an even more diverse selection of draw picks this week, venturing as far afield as the Africa Cup of Nations for two of his eight:

Undergroundtrader posted up his views on statistics in a post on his new blog, and reproduced here:
Nice discussion around in various blogs about a mostly overrated subject, "mathematical approach". In the view of undergroundtrading it goes like this:
With the assistance of maths you solely describe the past! The past is almost nothing but smoke and mirrors, you could it solely take as indicator what the mass are thinking about the event and reference point for bookies and punters. Next step is to take a look at the present (i.e taking into account change the manager, upcoming CL match and so on), to scale the own expectations. Pretended a little bit more experienced traders are going now to define value or not by comparing reference point on maths with scaled "Odds" and given odds. ok, so far so good but real undergroundtrading and value riding is starting only now. You have to think about future aspects (expectations) or better yet to have "valuable" informations about the future (i.e manager will announce "parking the bus" in the team briefing, heavy snow at match time, ...)
Thinking about what most likely will happen or of course insider informations define the real value and give you the edge.
Just want to sharpen punters mind not to stay in the past and to look "under the ground" of upcoming trading opportunities. Trade the third dimension (future)vs (past,present)!
Looking forward to give you a real trading example in one of my first postings on my new blog. Perhaps already this weekend in German Bundesliga I or II, where i "get deeper insights"
Of course, we would all like inside information, exclusively, but that is not going to happen, at least at the top level of the game - perhaps Geoff has a friend in the Annan Athletic dressing room? - so I think UndergroundTrader dismisses the importance of mathematics, essentially rating form, too easily. Statistics give you an excellent starting point, even if they are not the whole answer. I think I have written before that perhaps our biggest advantage as punters is that we do not have to bet in every event. We can be very selective, and this, together with some solid probability calculations and a sprinkling of subjectivity at the end is the way to make profits. But it's not easy.

Friday, 20 January 2012


Loudsight, still enjoying his winnings from the Green All Over One-Third of a Million contest a few weeks ago, rings some alarm bells about a couple of bills currently making their way through Congress in the USA. I must admit I wasn’t aware of either until I saw the Wikipedia protest on Wednesday, which seems to have had the desired effect of raising awareness and increasing opposition to it. The two bills are SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), a bill originating in the House and its sister bill from the Senate, PIPA (Protect IP Act).

Loudsight says
I notice you sometimes use copyrighted material on your website i.e. pictures and quotes from other publications and blogs. I believe the proposal to combat piracy listed in one of these bills SOPA and PIPA (can't remember which) would allow the copyright holders to send a notification to your service provider i.e. blogger.com and blogger would take down your WHOLE site. You also become responsible for policing comments to ensure links to sites hosting copyrighted material aren't posted. I think it would be cool if your blog took part in the campaign to raise awareness of this issue. This maybe an American law, but affects all of us. So if you have any American friends please let them know that they need to vigorously oppose these crazy draconian bills.


American friends? I have an American wife, but I'm a little short of friends - of any nationality. It's something I'm working on though - with my therapist.

Along with many bloggers, I do sometimes post pictures, quotations or excerpts from other sources on the web, without really worrying too much about my actions. This blog is not a commercial venture and my intentions are never malicious, (ok, the occasional piss-take excepted), and I usually link the extract to their source. Since most such excerpts are from fellow bloggers, and only lead to an increase in traffic to those sites, albeit miniscule, I have yet to receive a single complaint. Usually the source is pleased to have been referenced.

The bills in their original form would seem to have little chance of progressing to become law, with several of the remedies mentioned by Loudsight going too far – shutting down a website without due process is obviously too draconian. Some of the original sponsors of SOPA have also dropped their support in the last few days, but even if these bills pass in some modified form, I doubt that it will have much effect on little old me. The best reason to oppose these bills is perhaps that they are endorsed by Rupert Murdoch.
Rob The Builder wrote:
I spent a while reading Eddie's piece. Heavy going but nice to see some real detail and thought on a blog. But doesn't his example show one of the limitations of calculations. However good the maths, I didn't see the formula include whether De Jong and Barry were holding down in midfield, or whether Mancini was 'going fo it' with Johnson, Balotelli, Silva and Aguero.
Eddie will be writing another piece shortly, showing how to rate the contribution of each individual player to a team, and how to adjust the goal expectancy of a team once a line-up is definite. It will include notes on how to follow all players on Twitter and get a feel for their mood, how well rested they are, how much beer did they have on their last night out, plus an analysis of biorhythms and everything else you need to know. Or maybe not. While football is an eleven player team game, and thus the contribution of individual players more diluted than in a sport such as basketball, the loss of a ‘world-class’ player from a team is something that should be factored into the equation if practical. I’m just not sure how practical this is, and I tend to feel that the market often overreacts to any such absences. Replacements at the top level of football are usually not too shabby. If you are lucky enough to hear 30 minutes before kick-off that Wayne Rooney is surprisingly out of the team, then use that information, but most of us are too remote for it to be of much use. By the time we hear about it, the news is already factored into the price. The sensible thing to me seems to be to use the numbers to identify value, and then verify that there is no team news that would render this irrelevant before placing your bet. What 'team news' you deem relevant is subjective of course. It would be a quiet exchange if we all agreed.
Mark Davies mentioned the topic of bettors trying to buy money in his blog yesterday, and indeed it’s strange that the Daily Telegraph seems to suggest that we should have more sympathy for someone risking 100 to win 2 and losing 2 times in 100 than for someone risking 50 to win 50 and losing 50 times in 100.
“In-running punters on Betfair left to count the cost as two 'certainties' fail to deliver at Newbury: In-running betting has been in the spotlight lately and the risks associated with this form of punting were never better illustrated than in the first two races at Newbury on Wednesday.”
I’m not quite sure why the “risks associated with this form of punting” are any different from any other risks. If you back at 1.02, it’s because you feel that the probability of the event occurring is greater than 98%. If that price is correct, then yes, one time in fifty you will lose, and when that 2% chance happens, it’s hard to feel sorry for someone who should be well aware of the risk:reward he is taking. At least the article put a quote around the word ‘certainties’, although it might have been better to say ‘almost certainties’. Despite what you might read on the Betfair forum, there are few certainties when it comes to sports. I’ve even been on the wrong side of a score adjustment in the NBA half-time market – made long after the half was over! ‘Winning’ field goals in American Football are waved off because the coach called a time-out. Buzzer beaters disallowed because the shot-clock was down to zero before the ball left the player’s hand. Caveat emptor. A few years ago I read that 1.01 shots are overturned about 70% of the time on Betfair. I don’t know for sure of course, but that number seems about right, and given the number of markets in a day, that is a lot of ‘upsets’, although one man’s upset is another man’s delight.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Going Underground

Lazy Trader commented on the numbers I posted up yesterday:
Interesting to see the financials only taking 259K, which should really be in the In play volume btw :)

I remember the financials used to be one of my early markets back in the day and the turnover whilst not huge was decent and playable. As usual betfair started to tinker with the markets brought out tradefair and completely killed off the financials. Wonder if the same will happen with their own fixed odds arm due out soon.
I didn’t generate these numbers myself, but I must admit I was a little puzzled about the financials volume all being pre-event, but as it’s an area I don’t go near myself, I left it as it was.

Then we had a comment from UndergroundTrader:
great thanks to you for your write ups. They inspired me to start a blog, where i m going to provide hopefully useful trading experiences over 20 years now in stock and sport markets.

In terms of your considerations about volume: for profitable trading you need volatility and liquidity and marginal price movements preferably without greater gaps.Thats the reason for increasing matching in-play in basketball, tennis and so on. Btw. just four ingredients lead you to a constantly "green" trader: It s all about 1) discipline 2) value picking 3) money management 4)to do the opposite of what human mind and emotions of your own and the other market player want to mislead you (i.e. exaggerations, cutting profits to early, let losses slide.....). Thats the reason why just 5% of the traders (in stock or sports trading) have a positive ROI. The key is "undergroundtrading" in terms of looking under the ground of your mind and emotions as well as the other players.
i ll point out this subject in one of my first upcoming posts.
Some good points about the ingredients needed for successful trading, all of which regular readers of this blog will be familiar with, but it's always good to get another perspective.

Speaking of which, A Punter's Year posted this up yesterday via Betfair Guru, and I thought it was worth including here because again, it makes some very good points:
"The underlying theme of everything we do is market dynamics and risk reward. It's very important to distinguish between price related entry and opinion related entry.

For our entries it doesn't matter for a second who wins the match eventually but what we do need is tight closely fought games.

One of the points I push repeatedly in the chat room is I have as much chance of knowing who's going to win the next game as you do. IF we take that approach we are basically guessing and hoping we got it right and that's not a road I want to go down.

Our approach is based on taking good risk:reward positions over and over again as long as the price and dynamics are right. Over time we will win an awful lot more than we lose, but lose we will... repeatedly in fact. And that's just the price you have to pay to have your money in the market with a chance of a big swing. The losses are tiny and the wins are big and that's how we make our money.

The MOST IMPORTANT thing to implement here is patience and discipline..... I cannot make the opportunities arise, they just happen or they don't. When they do we'll make the appropriate entry, if they don't come then there's no way I'm going to advise anybody to put their money in a spot that I am not prepared to. Over time you will begin to make your own entries but it's vital that they are at the right places."
We don't KNOW who will win, (despite what you might think on reading the forums), and we can't make things happen. Excellent advice. Be patient, and play the numbers when opportunities arise.

Al asks:
Cass, is picking a 75-1 winner today just luck?
Does he not read this blog? - there is no such thing as luck, only ‘random fluctuations of probability’!

75-1 winners come along every day - look at how often 1.01 shots are overturned on Betfair - but whether or not a 75-1 winner is down to a favourable random fluctuation of probability, inside information / fixing, or there is an element of skill, (the infamous ‘edge’), can only be determined in context. How many 75-1 selections has Al made? If it’s a handful, then it’s a promising start, but nowhere near enough data to be confident that this is the outcome of anything but chance. With no edge at all, you would be expected (have a better than evens) to find a 75-1 winner after 53 attempts, but I don’t mean to spoil Al’s day. I’m sure that 75-1 winner was very welcome, but just don’t give up the day job yet.

Historically, the favourite-longshot bias showed that the better value was in betting shorter prices, (this method still showed a loss, but a slower rate of loss than backing outsiders), but I suspect that this may have changed, or at least reduced, with the evolution, or revolution, of betting over the last few years. The advent of Betting Exchanges heralded the arrival of a more sophisticated investor and while there are still plenty of recreational punters for who making money is secondary to entertainment, for the most part I would suggest that bettors are far more savvy than was the case years ago.

Finally, a quick mention again of, not Pete, but Eddie - aka Soccer Dude, who followed up his excellent Correct Score market write-up with a Poisson For Dummies piece which is a good introduction to the subject. I await his ideas on handling the 'too-low' results that Poisson gives for binary numbers, and his views on whether the probabilities are independent or related, i.e. does Team A's probability of scoring 2 goals increase if they are playing a team expected to score 3 goals, versus if they are playing a team expecting to score 1 goal?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


I made a couple of (very rare) errors in my last post, both now corrected. Soccer Dude is Eddie, not Pete, not even close really, so apologies for that, and yes, of course I meant that a Wigan Athletic win would have been a better result for someone betting on Wigan than the Manchester City win that actually occurred.

Thanks to Shevy who suggested the best bookmakers for Asian Handicap bets were SBOBET or IBCBET. I shall check those out.

I was also sent a very interesting spreadsheet showing the total volume on Betfair in the nine months between March and December last year. Only markets with a matched volume of 200k plus are included, which will obviously lessen the visibility of the more fringe sports such as baseball, ice hockey and basketball, as well as 'soccer' where many markets would fail to reach this threshold. Nevertheless it is interesting reading, and I have added a column showing the percentage of the total that is comprised of in-play trading. Sorted by Total volume, the numbers are:

Not surprisingly, horse racing leads the list, but drops to third behind soccer and tennis for in-play. The sports with less scoring (e.g. soccer, ice hockey, rugby, baseball) tend to be those with a higher percentage matched pre-event, while the more volatile sports (e.g. cricket, basketball, volleyball, tennis, darts, snooker) see more matched in-play.

This does mesh quite nicely with my opinion that it is hard to win trading soccer given that the price movements are so well known and follow predictable paths, while sports such as basketball are far better suited for trading over the treacherous pre-game punt where one late injury can ruin your bet.

Many thanks for sending those numbers my way.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


The Wigan Athletic v Manchester City game was profitable, although a draw or Wigan Athletic win would have been preferable. My spreadsheet was of the opinion that the goal expectancy here was too high, and that Manchester City were too short. The Unders came in comfortably enough, but a straight lay of Manchester City, 1.42 at kick-off, didn't. Laying at 1.42, or the 1.45 I was actually in at, is the same as backing at 3.38 or 3.22 as you all know, but the Asian Handicap markets are there as an alternative to a straight lay. I was already on Wigan +1.5 at 1.88, but @shevyten pushed me into adding the +1/+1.5 option, which was matched at 2.13 which worked out well. Twitter is profitable already! I must admit that it's not only Twitter that I have been slow to embrace, but also the Asian Handicaps. My excuse is that they weren't around in my youth, and it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but I am warming to using them. The markets on Betfair and BETDAQ do seem a bit gappy though.

There was an excellent 'Correct Score' market write up by Soccer Dude Eddie on the Football Trader's Path blog the other day, the best I have seen - article I mean, not blog! For me, as a dedicated follower of Poisson, albeit modified, the following paragraph was of special interest.
You could also use Poisson to calculate the percentage chances of each scoreline being achieved. If you do utilise pure Poisson, you should ensure that you increase the probability of 0-0 and 1-1, and reduce the probability of a 1-0 home win and a 0-1 away win. This is because the Poisson model is known to under forecast 0-0 and 1-1 draws and over forecast 1-0 and 0-1. There are also other well-known algorithms that you could use to calculate the goal expectation and, again, these would all help you to make a more reasoned selection for you to lay 0-0.
Soccer Dude mentions the adjustment that needs to be made for the binary scores, (i.e. not using the usual zero-inflated Poisson model) and this helps with the problem of Poisson underestimating draws as so many draws are 0-0 or 1-1. Getting the goal expectation and this 'adjustment' right are key, and while it's unfortunate that you can't simply use the POISSON function in Excel with the goal expectancies for each team and generate your odds, this difficulty is what can give you an edge. The maths is, to my simple mind, quite complex - here's one example:
Bivariate Poisson models can be expanded to allow for covariates, extending naturally the univariate Poisson regression setting. Due to the complicated nature of the probability function of the bivariate Poisson distribution, applications are limited. The aim of this paper is to introduce and construct efficient Expectation-Maximization (EM) algorithms for such models including easy-to-use R functions for their implementation. We further extend our methodology to construct inflated versions of the bivariate Poisson model. We propose a model that allows inflation in the diagonal elements of the probability table. Such models are quite useful when, for some reasons, we expect diagonal combinations with higher probabilities than the ones fitted under a bivariate Poisson model. For example, in pre and post treatment studies, the treatment may not have an effect on some specific patients for unknown reasons. Another example arises in sports where, for specific cases, it has been found that the number of draws in a game is larger than those predicted by a simple bivariate Poisson model (Karlis and Ntzoufras 2003)
but I am expecting a couple of books in the post any day now that were recommended to me, and if they are written in English, may improve my understanding, and more importantly, my pricing model. I studied some of this in my Pure Mathematics With Statistics 'A' Level, but that was oh so long ago, and I don't recall it being this complicated. Perhaps I wasn't paying attention. Again.

Why the Flatfish you may be asking yourselves? Well, 'zero-inflated Poisson' might be fine if you are French, but in English, can't we simply call it Flatfish?

I'll get my coat.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Hits - 1005 Good, 1 Not So Good

An eventful day yesterday, some good, some not so good. For the second day running, I took a big hit on my trading - one of those days when everything I tried seemed to go wrong. I ended up with (relatively) small wins on the Milan derby, the New York Giants at Green Bay Packers NFL match, and the Golden State Warriors at Detroit Pistons game, but bigger losses on Swansea City v Arsenal, the Baltimore Ravens v Houston Texans and the biggest of all on the Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz where Denver and their tremendous home record (in part the altitude advantage) just couldn't get their act together which all means that January, and thus 2012, are now in the red. Here's a link to some good advice on taking a hit, or more specifically for bouncing back from one.

With January historically my best month, this is a situation I've not faced since 2007, when that January ended with a loss of over £9k, and it took me until August 5th to recover. At least I'm not on schedule to match that, yet, but it's a reminder that trading isn't as easy as showing up, and cashing in. I suspect I am trying to make up for the shortened NBA season and being a little less patient than I need to be, so as I have done before, the medicine seems to be to scale back on the risk, pick up a few smaller wins, and regain the confidence before stepping it up again.

With more than six years of data to look back on, I can put these losses in perspective, knowing that the money always comes back, but it's still frustrating.

I meant to comment on a post by Peter Webb from a few days ago which should get you thinking if you lose at a faster rate than commission burn:
Over the years I’ve studied the markets and a number of strategies, but all of these have been focused on winning.

Late last year I turned my attention to why people lose, the psychology behind that, but also what fundamental flaws they have with their approaches in the market.

If you mess around at random you should, over long periods, break even less the spread or commission that you pay to the service provider. However, when I look at a lot of people that lose money, they seem to constantly exceed that.

So if you have an approach, preferably a systematic approach, that constantly loses money. I’m quite interested in hearing about it. Football is a nice sport for this as it contains only a few variables and can be pigeon holed into something simple. Back before the off, lay off if this happens, sort of thing. You don’t need to go public if you don’t want to, or if you want to suggest something I am sure people wont attribute that to yourself. But good suggestions are invited, however sourced. I’ve seen some real bum systems over the years so I imagine there must be some decent suggestions out there.

I’ve put a thread on the forum, which is a little off at a tangent at the moment. But I’m happy to look at any suggestions or approaches. I’m interested in not only what you did but why. I can’t promise to respond or comment on anything immediately, just trying to see some commonalities across losing approaches. The idea is to identify the most common errors and come up with some useful ways of avoiding them!
If this applies to you, then my initial thoughts on this are that you are greening up too soon, and letting losing bets run, rather than the opposite, which is what you should be doing. As Peter says, in football, just randomly messing about with selections should see you lose slowly, but many 'succeed' in doing far worse than that.

The better news from yesterday was 1) Green All Over exceeded 1,000 hits in one day for the first time ever - just, 1,005 was the final tally, and 2) the response that my entry into Twitterland generated - I could scarcely keep up with my e-mail at one point. I hope I didn't under-sell myself in the tag line!

140 followers in a little over 10 hours was rather a shock. Now all I have to do is find something to tweet about, which I suspect may be harder than blogging. The catalyst was the Milan derby I mentioned earlier, where the Under 2.5 goals prices suggested a 20% edge. I spent most of the first half working out how to get the account set up, but next time I see a similar opportunity, I'll be prepared. For the record, I have Manchester City too short at Wigan Athletic later tonight at 1.45, and the Under 2.5 as value at 2.32 - but not such great value as the Milan derby was.

A full day of NBA action coming up too, starting early for once. It's a holiday in the USA, I believe in honour of former NBA legend Dr Martin Luther King Junior.

Sunday, 15 January 2012


@calciocassini The world of Twitter is a new one to me, it takes me a while to catch up with the newest trends, and while I don't plan on tweeting every hour, it did occur to me that on occasion, it might be a useful tool to use to spread time-sensitive information or opinions. For example, when I looked at the Under markets for the Milan derby as kick-off approached, the 1.85 available looked huge value against my, admittedly too low, calculation of 1.55. Anyway, it's something to trial. It may work, it may not.

Flawed Hindsight

The Swansea City v Arsenal game this afternoon was the sole XX Draw selection from this weekend's fixtures. The Under 2.5 goals price dropped steadily from earlier in the week at 2.0, to 1.79 at kick-off, and as you might expect, the draw price similarly dropped from 3.85 to about 3.45 before kick-off. As a trader, being able to lock in a profit before a ball is kicked is ideal, and while it seems to me that more often than not, the prices on the XX Draw selections shorten, that may well be a case of flawed hindsight. I will be adding a couple of new fields to my spreadsheet to record the prices when the selection is identified, and the price at kick-off, although the latter may be problematic since despite what may appear to be the case, I am not trading 24 hours a day.

I was pleased to see that Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster is making a return in 2012, although somewhat disappointed that Pete still feels the need to force three selections each week, when there may be none, there may be ten, or more usually some number in between. He's already off to a good start though, finding Aston Villa v Everton yesterday, and today he was also on the Swansea City v Arsenal game, as was Griff who found Liverpool v Stoke City at 4.7 yesterday and is improving his ROI. Griff deserves a lot of credit for hanging in there after a poor run. In the end, we were all wrong, as Swansea conceded more than one goal at home for the first time this season, but scored three to win 3-2. The draw price traded as low as 2.26, after being 2.56 / 2.58 at half-time. 1.9 appeared on the lay side at 2-2, but Swansea's third goal came so quickly that nothing was matched.

A good weekend for Football Elite with two winners from three selections, Ajaccio (2.88) and Chievo (2.2) both won, and a return to the green on the season.

Mark J's selections returned a profit with three winners from five, but no winners from eight draw selections for Geoff, and none from six for the Green Pullover, although the Milan derby is yet to come.

I've been somewhat slack about updating these results at Gold All Over, but will try and find time once the weekend's games are complete.

I mentioned flawed hindsight earlier, and it's important that as traders / gamblers we understand this trick of the mind. Maintaining accurate records is essential. We all remember more of our wins than our losses, and the reason is selective memory - the way we remember things. From the passage below, most of us will also recognise the 'hindsight bias' - looking back and thinking that something was far more predictable than it actually was at that time.
Our memories are shaped to a great extent by the present and we frame the past using this knowledge. The implications for our experiences of investing in a horse, greyhound or football team is fascinating.

According to a recent paper by a firm of financial analysts, flaws of memory impair our ability to learn from the past and contribute to our poor financial decision making. The report states bad memories tend to be blocked out by good ones. Just as we find it easier to remember the types of bet on which we have won money, we block out our poor financial decisions with other memories that are more pleasant for us. This conditions us to become overconfident.

Another memory flaw gives rise to what is termed “hindsight bias”. This is the tendency to look back and see events as being more predictable than they were before they took place.

The dangers of hindsight bias usually get learned the hard way. It promotes overconfidence by fostering the illusion that the world is a far more predictable place than it is in reality.

This gives gravity to the process of diary keeping whereby our bets and the grounds, the thought process, for them are logged. These writings will allow us to learn from previous mistakes. It will be harder for you to convince yourself that you knew something all along when you are faced with the evidence of how events unfolded at the time.
From a trading perspective, selective memory may be helpful short-term - a big loss can be confidence destroying unless you place it context - but in the long-term, it can be harmful - the complete picture provides an essential reality check. Keeping records is essential. The mind plays tricks on us all, but spreadsheets don't lie.

The excellent Stock Market Trading blog had a piece on this subject a while back too. You can read it here:
Trading is one of those things that really requires a selective memory.

The same kind of selective memory that I needed when I was on the dating scene. I chose to ignore the bad experiences I’d had with certain girls, and I stayed in the game long enough to find the wife of my dreams.

It’s the same kind of selective memory needed on the golf course. That bad shot from a few holes ago needs to be suppressed for this next one across the water hazard. Otherwise, you’re toast.

Some traders never develop this skill, unfortunately. They cling to the past, unwilling and unable to let it go for the sake of making that next trade. Getting faked out of a good trade last week prevents them from taking a similar setup this week, afraid it will hurt their account once again, or worse, their ego.

They have a good memory, yes, but they’re not using it in a good way.

That’s no way to trade. Clinging to memories which don’t empower you is a form of recency bias, and it can really prove costly in this game.
As an aside, I find the activity of record keeping in itself is good for discipline in other areas of life, whether it's recording your weight on a daily basis, logging your exercise activities, alcohol intake or updating your net worth spreadsheet. The mere process of knowing that everything you do is tracked helps you to stay disciplined.