Thursday, 26 July 2012

Cassini v Iverson

It's likely that a few of you reading this will have predicted the theme of the post. If you follow me on Twitter, and who doesn't?, you will have caught an exchange between myself and professional sports analyst Mark Iverson who prompted the debate by tweeting "Feel like I'm reading this match well so far. No need to push it coming up to the end of the month mind." I questioned "Why should strategy differ on the 25th of the month versus the 1st? #illogical" because to my mind, it is indeed totally illogical to adjust your approach / attitude / strategy / mindset or whatever, simply because the end of an arbitrary period of time is approaching (and with six full days to go before the end of the month, even that is debatable).

Mark claimed rather vaguely that "Strategy doesn't change but mindset does". I pointed out that "no need to push it coming up to the end of the month" implies that the approach is different on 25/7 than it would be on 1/7 to which Mark said "Approach yes but not strategy".

My opinion is that whether you call it approach, mindset or strategy, the point of the debate is that none of those should change because of the date.

Mark's next comment was way off base, trying to make his point with an example: "if you were winning a Grand Prix by 30 secs, would you go into each corner on the final lap at full throttle?"

Well, most of you will spot the problem with this statement immediately, and I responded with "False analogy. There is no bonus in winning a GP by 1 second or 1hr, but a big difference between wins of 1p or one of £1k."

Similarly, the argument that "It's like saying Alex Ferguson always tells his team to try and score a goal" is irrelevant. A win in football means three points, or moving into the next round. It is rare that the margin of victory makes much difference, and teams play accordingly.

Mark added: The point of the analogy was that when you're well ahead why risk the wheel falling off?

Because unlike in motor racing where it makes sense to win as safely as possible, in betting - as in time trials - the idea is to do the best you can. The idea is to maximise your wins. Make hay while the sun shines.

Mark claimed that "It's all about what type of variance you're comfortable with. Everyone has different comfort levels" - but the fact is that this debate was nothing to do with variance - it was all about acting differently on the 25th of a month to the 1st of a month.

Matt of fame joined in, on my side of course, or I wouldn't have mentioned it, pointing out that:
"the date is meaningless imo. If you need target, try retirement day, otherwise, date is just a random point. The sporting calendar has peaks and troughs..timeline of betting decisions should be linear. Picking a point on a very long line, pointless."
Exactly. Forget the date, forget daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual targets. They lead to poor decision making - betting at poor value and chasing. Value is value whether it is there on a Monday morning on New Year's Day or a Sunday night on New Year's Eve. Keeping records is essential, but allowing your betting decisions to be influenced by the date or time is not taking a professional approach, although I appreciate that, as Yogi Berra said:
 "In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is".


Mark Iverson said...

I knew you'd write a post on it and I know you knew I'd reply ;-)

My last views on the matter...

My original tweet was regarding the level of aggression behind my positions . i have different gears and towards the end of month prefer to stay in 3rd or 4th rather than 5th. Value is value but that doesn't mean you have to play each bet the same way.

Why? Well because like you I'm human. Emotions play a big part and managing them can often be the difference between winning or losing.

As for targets leading to poor decision making I think you're putting everyone in the same box. Aiming for growth month on month over the last 6 years has allowed me to grow, improve my key stats and become more profitable.

Despite what you think, it works for me and I would very much recommend others adopt the same approach.

BigAl said...

Bloody hell, never been in more agreement with Cassini. Which I would have expected to be about as likely as Mark Iversen 'fessing up to losing on a cricket match.

I do smile when I see these guys who set themselves up and present themselves as such know-it-alls spout such crap.

fedslam said...

From what I gather from reading Mark's posts and tweets, he has an obsession with ending the month in profit and is afraid of doing anything to jeapordise the level of profit he has already achieved in that month. It seems when analysing results, Mark often focuses on monthly figures. That isn't a criticism by the way, and if it works for him, has done for 6 years and he's comfortable with it, then fair play. It's each to their own and unfortunately nobody's mindset is the same. Cassini, your mindset is the "ideal" one and the right one. I guess another thing with Mark is he doesn't have another job, so there is an element of pressure for him to deliver more consistant profits than streaky in order for him to be comfortable in his mind.

BigAl said...

Someone with that approach who claims it has worked for 6 years is probably making false claims.

Scott Ferguson said...

if we all had exactly the same strategy, life and betting/gambling/trading would be very tedious. People have different mindsets. Who cares what is right and whether I/Mark/Cassini make £2 more than the next guy? If my methods and profits make me happy in my lifestyle, then the rest of the world can go twiddle their thumbs for all I care :)

Mark Iverson said...

Nice to see some I've sparked some debate, but one thing I've never done is make false claims. On my blog or twitter I've always been honest about my performance. Seriously, why would I make it up for 6 years?

Cassini, would appreciate it if you could change your link to my blog to:



The Golf Bettor said...

This debate is almost as fascinating as the Deal or No Deal conundrum. As a former odds compiler one of the highlights of the day was to scream abuse at the contestants on Deal or No Deal as one by one they succumbed to terribly poor value at the hands of the banker. Can you not calculate that you are being offered significantly less than the true value of your box we cried. How we booed when the old lady took the money early because she needed to repair her roof before the winter. There lied the conundrum, every player had a different interpretation of what a life changing amount of money was. Each player had a different opportunity cost attached to their decisions in the game. One wonders what Mr Iverson's opportunity costs are when he trades now. Does he trade in a world where confidence is of paramount importance and the opportunity cost of applying strict value principles at all times is that he risks the possibility of a nerve shattering loss? Or is he an autistic automaton able to maximize his profits or minimise his losses with perfect mathematical precision. We are not privy to the inner workings of Mark's brain and we do not know what images flash before his eyes when he is putting his family's income on the line every day. One thing is for sure is that he does not have the luxury of trading say an investments bank's money where one can become a sociopath devoid of empathy. From my experience working in the financial markets I used to hear two "pearls" of wisdom everyday: "Take your losses early and run your profits" and "No one went skint taking a profit". One requires iron discipline the other was designed to keep under performing traders sane and alleviate the pressure on them. Mark will be constantly calculating his own opportunity cost for every trade along with the mathematical probabilities and no doubt hoping they align on every trade. If at any point they don't he is presented with a choice, ram the odds down the banker's throat or pay for the new roof. What is the exchange rate of utils to hard currency, happiness versus cash. When trading does happiness matter? Does cash make you happy? We understand trading in terms of maximising profit and yet in Mark's case it is his job and jobs are part of our lives and living should be about maximising happiness. Those with full time jobs trading part time do not have the same opportunity costs as those trading for a living and yet if it is your sole revenue stream should you not maximise it? Equally fascinating is when decent punters trial Kelly staking but are unable to come to terms with the swings despite the undoubted benefits. Maybe if you are still making sufficient money to satisfy your needs/desires with level stakes betting and you are too discomforted my Kelly staking you will have to attribute a cost to that discomfort, what price Kelly? Why not use half Kelly or quarter Kelly I hear you cry. Well I have met punters over the years who have successfully made money for long periods of time and are still uncomfortable risking more on the bigger value bet and less on the smaller value bet. The debate on Kelly if indeed there is one should surround how accurately sporting outcomes can be calculated and for which sports as a consequence is it truly applicable so maybe save that for another time. Ultimately I hope Mark has attributed a value to the change in mentality of his trading at any given time and done the maths accordingly.

Mark Iverson said...

Great post Golf Bettor.

So much there that's very close to the mark.

BigAl said...

If you're down for the month on the 25th, do you chase a profit or carry on as normal?

Wow, golfbettor. Good post. But far too much to debate unfortunately.

The main issue for me is that to hear the comments on the end of month stuff from someone who sets himself up to appear such a successful, disciplined and confident professional trader. It's essentially diluting my description of him (which is how he presents himself) to just a trader.

Mark Iverson said...

Normally I would become tighter and reduce risk, but would evaluate the situation individually based on the event.

BigAl said...

So you pretty much reduce risk whatever. Makes no sense.

Cassini said...

Some more comments on the debate here:

Link to Mark's blog also updated

Mark Iverson said...

Cheers for the updated link Cassini but I think it's pointing to the wrong page.

The blog is on:

I know - having 2 blog subdirectories is silly!

Would appreciate it if you could amend it.