Thursday, 19 December 2013

Oh What a Night

Almost a year ago, I wrote this, and it is time for the 2013 version:

Green All Over is all over for another calendar year, as I set sail for some family time where finding time to blog and invest will not be a priority. My parents are now even more "well into their 80s", still kicking, but a little less vigorously as each year passes. In addition, late December 1963, made famous by the Four Seasons, saw the arrival of my sister into the world, and thus she reaches the half-century mark in a few days. I can only imagine how that landmark must feel, ahem.

For those of you in the FTL (sponsored by TFA), keep the emails coming, and I shall update the numbers upon my return to normality early next year, normality referring to my routine rather than my mental state, which I am told is anything BUT normal.

So a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you, and I look forward to provoking, teasing, irritating, entertaining, boring, educating, infuriating and (perhaps) amusing you in 2014.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Table Updates 18.Dec

The currently profitable entries in the FTL (sponsored by TFA) after last weekend's matches are:

The big gainer of the week was Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster, which made 8.84 points and moved up eight places and into the money. Fedslam moved up a couple of spots, Cassini's Value Selections dropped a place, and the big loser at the top was Jamie A who slipped from fifth to ninth. Leader Emp was inactive.

The middle of the table, those down, but by less than double digits, are:
The winners here were my XX Draws which moved up seven places, and Fairfranco who moved up six places. It was a nightmare weekend for Matt at Football Elite with nine losses from ten selections and his best result being money back on a Draw No Bet. The frustrations of Matt were evident in his Monday update email, with some subscribers apparently not too happy. Punters' Friend Neil dropped six places and Webbo four places.

The basement dwellers, those down by double digits are notable for the presence of professionals The Football Analyst and Premier Betting. The 'top' two here are actually several points clear of the "Final Four".
There is still a long way to go in the season of course, but to see The Football Analyst down in 19th place as we reach Xmas is probably a surprise to many. Premier Betting's Official entry slipped to the bottom of the table as Scatter Gun took a second week off.

The prize money situation is currently:
  1. Skeeve ( £250) 
  2. Fedlam (£125)
  3. Hofs Hackers (£75) 
  4. Drawmaster (£50)
The Football Analyst's "Bounty" liability is £325, with 13 eligible entries currently ahead of him.

Over in the NFL, John Walsh's woes continued this weekend losing another 2.47 points.
On the ice, it's a different matter altogether, with his fine run continuing:

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Draw Convergence

After sending out my XX Draws email on Friday, I was initially rather concerned to receive a reply from Peter Nordsted saying that my selections were almost identical to his own. As followers of his Account Bets will know, heading into the weekend Peter's Official bets are down 22.54 points on the season, a -17.34% ROI, and to think that my selections were similar was alarming. Fortunately, a re-reading of the email made it clear that Peter's comment referred to a comparison of my draw selections with his own Drawmaster selections, and my heart rate returned to normal upon this realisation.

Fortunately for both of us, this convergence appears, so far at least, to be justified. Of the games played to date, Drawmaster has hit five winners from nine selections, while the XX Draws have hit five from eleven selections. Matches in my list but not Peter's were Friday night's Montpellier v St Etienne which finished 0-1, and any binary result is pleasing on some level, and Ajaccio v Lorient, which at 1-2 was not so pleasing, Almeria v Espanyol (a perfect 0-0 draw) and the Aston Villa v Manchester United 0-3. Peter had the Hull City v Stoke City game in which I had the value on Hull City with my price on the Tigers at 2.04 but available at ~2.32. It wasn't to be. There are still more games to be played, including the in-progress Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool game which has just gone 0-3 and looks highly unlikely to help either of us.

I mentioned Peter's Account bets going into the weekend were down 22.54 points, but coming out of this weekend they are -33.54 points, and falling into last place after all eleven selections this weekend lost. His FTL selections dropped 5 points to -20.56 points, with the reduced losses due to eliminating Half-time bets and consolidating bets on Unders or Overs into one. As I have said before, if there is value on either of these bets, there is nothing to be gained by backing in more than one of the 1.5, 2.5, 3.5 etc. goal markets. Just find where your risk tolerance is best suited, and stick with it.

It wasn't a good weekend for the rest of the Professionals. Football Elite had ten selections, of which nine lost and one was a push.

Skeeve had one double bet, but neither Kidderminster Harriers (v Alfreton Town) or Southend United (@ Torquay United) could win.

The Football Analyst's fared best of the pros with seven selections for two winners and five losers and a (probably) small loss although the official numbers aren't yet available.

For the second consecutive week, Scatter Gun was idle, and no selections this week from Forza Fizzer or leader Emp.

An update later when the numbers are all updated.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Retarded Markets

 A couple more comments on the fixing discussion. Emp wrote:

Cassini is dead right. Especially about this sort of thing being proof of "good faith" amongst fixers.
Secondly, as Hawkins book notes, our markets are very robust and we don't allow bets on retarded trivia like "player x to be booked" or "number of passes made by player z to player y" and stuff like that. Asian markets focus on the main action, which is necessarily tougher to fix.
While Peter added this:
Has Ellis never heard of bookings markets or does he assume everyone bets with Ladbrokes and their £2 limits. I've never had problems getting relatively large bets thru the bookings markets in the past and I'm sure others haven't either due to the two way trade the spread firms used to take.

It's been shown plenty of times in the past with match fixing that very little 'trade' ever comes thru to the UK bookmakers and is usually centered around the illegal Asian betting markets where pretty much any bet can be accommodated.
It takes a very naive view to imagine players are paid to get a card where the perpetrators have no way of cashing in, but then again we'll always have people like Ellis and Sports Trading Life to fill the gap.
While I'm not sure the official, or politically correct, term for fringe / novelty / side markets is 'retarded', I do tend to agree with the sentiment. I joked about Betfair having 'approximately 972 markets' for a top football game, but I make it 81 with a quick count on Betfair's Manchester City v Arsenal game this weekend. 81 markets seems a little excessive with plenty of overlap, and a day before the match, just 8 of these markets on the world's leading exchange have seen more than four figures traded. 

Several markets have seen absolutely nothing traded, and one can't help but wonder if Betfair wouldn't be better served by focusing interest on the serious markets. A rough and ready calculation shows that about 92% of the money already traded on this match was on the Match Odds market - with £267k. Next market in liquidity? Correct Score with £7k, followed by the Draw No Bet with £5.8k. Not a scientific study by any means, and I actually expected the Under 2.5 market to be higher than its fifth place and £2k traded, but it does show where most of the money and interest is, and it is not in "retarded" markets.

For the edification of Ellis, there are actually quite a few markets related to cards offered by Betfair on this game- six in fact, with a grand total of £191 traded as I write, all of it on the "Sending Off?" market. Whether or not other markets, whether legal or illegal, offer more bets I have no idea, and unless I become a referee, it is highly unlikely that I will ever be interested. 

Interesting that Emp says "Asian markets focus on the main action", while Peter claims that "pretty much any bet can be accommodated in the illegal markets there".  

Any bet in terms of size, or any bet as in "will Player X get a yellow card in the nth minute?" 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Confusion Fixed

Ellis Rayner has an opinion (albeit a wrong one) on the spot/match-fixing story and my post yesterday:

I think you and Sports Trading have missed the point. This story is bullshit, you cannot, major finals aside, bet on any random player to be yellow carded, whether during a match or in a timed window.
You say, or at least imply, you don't bet on things where inside knowledge, of which you have none, could play a part. Yet you are happy to make comments about markets (which don't exist) about which you have zero knowledge!
While the exact details of he alleged fixing are not yet publicly known, I haven't read any suggestion that the alleged spot-fixing was to allow anyone to necessarily profit from a "bet on any random player to be yellow carded", and nor did I say that was the case. It's nonsense. Even Betfair with their 972 (approximately) markets on a top level football match don't have this one!

So while I, and others, seriously doubt that this is the case, I am struggling to find where in my post I made a comment about a (probably non-existent) market of which I (by definition) could have zero knowledge.

And quite frankly, as long-time readers of this blog will know, if I have zero knowledge of something, it means it doesn't exist. What do I know about god, for example? Nothing. 

What I actually wrote was that "cards affect markets", and if there is any doubt about this, the importance of a red can be inferred by the fact that Betfair suspend trading if a red card looks possible, and clears any bets if a red is confirmed. 

I think Ellis, and indeed Sport Trading Life, have missed the point, which is that if you know a team will collect yellow or red cards, that knowledge gives you an edge in markets which actually do exist. 

If you read the articles and seriously thought the fixer was profiting from betting on "any random player to be yellow carded, whether during a match or in a timed window" you should probably quit gambling. Indeed, it is quite possible that the fixer was simply proving to others his ability to 'buy' the player in question, and use that to his advantage later. Ellis' interpretation is way too simplistic I'm afraid. 

For the record though, yes, I am happy to comment on markets that do exist, and I am also happy to confirm that I make no comments about non-existent markets.

Here's more on the affair from even more of an expert than myself:
As Ed Hawkins, author of a gripping book on the scale of the problem in cricket (Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy), has pointed out, there is no way of wagering large sums of money on outcomes such as a yellow or red card on the legal betting markets in Britain. All are tracked by the major bookmakers and, increasingly, by monitoring firms on behalf of the biggest sports.
Any substantial bet of more than, say, £200 would immediately arouse suspicion and could lead to the market being pulled. Nor is there any evidence that it is possible to place bets on yellow or red cards in the $500bn grey and illegal market in Asia and the Far East.
At least Peter understood my point:
To suggest match fixing at whatever level has no effect on the outcome is laughable and shows their knowledge of betting. Sports Trading Life is just one of those blogs hoping to make it's money via affiliate and click thru money. I can't imagine anyone takes a blind bit of notice of the crap they usually post.

For them it's all about key words hoping for new visitors, I doubt even they read what they've written :)

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Sensible Advice

Sports Tradng Life have a post about the recent match-fixing scandal, and has a quite different take on the subject than I do. The post basically suggests that it is 'only' spot-fixing, not match-fixing:

So far it seems like it is just players fixing yellow cards which does not really influence the overall result of the match. Unless you punt on the “Shown a card” market then this should not really affect you in any way.
Well, that's OK then. Boys will be boys. Punching someone repeatedly in the groin for no apparent reason is OK. 

"Does not really influence the overall result of the match?" Are you kidding me?

Of course cards affect markets and how players play the rest of the game. If they didn't, there'd be little point in having them! In the event of a yellow, the player is on a final warning, and thus needs to be extra careful to avoid a second one, and in the case of a red, his team are at a disadvantage. The impact of cards can vary of course. A yellow card late in stoppage time is one thing, a red card in the first minute is quite another.

The post continues:
To fix the result of a match you would need several players to all be in on it and while there are some players that might need the money you can trust that the majority do not.
Spot fixing is another kettle of fish and something that can easily be fixed but these will usually be only things that can not affect the result. If you are sensible you should not be getting involved in such markets unless you had inside information anyway.
If you stick to the highest level of any sport you punt on you do also lower your chances of any corruption. At the highest level, it is much less likely you will find players who need the money to such an extent that they will cheat to get it. The other main reason you should only punt on the highest level of any sport is the consistency of the players. This is much better from a punting perspective and you should only really be punting on the lower levels if you have inside information.
To sum up, unless something comes out where we discover a match result or a total number of goals has been fixed in a top level match then there really should be nothing to worry about from a Betfair trading perspective.
"If you are sensible" is as useful a piece of advice as to back the Overs just before a goal is scored. With World Cup Finals matches previously the subject of concerns about fixing (2006), and recent claims that some 2014 World Cup Finals games were to be targeted (one can reasonably guess the country involved), might the suggestion to be "sensible" mean that you limit your betting to the quadrennial World Cup Final game? 

League One and Championship matches are not the Romanian Third Division South (if there even is such a league), but many (most) traders see them as being above the level where one might reasonably expect corruption.

Whatever your interest is in games at these levels, whether you trade these matches, have a punt on them, or just watch them, I think there is plenty to worry about. 

What Betfair traders should be worried about is legislation that outlaws in-play trading on sports as a result of this or other investigations. The Gambling Commission study of 2009 found no reason to ban it at that time, but with more cases like the ongoing one, it's not inconceivable that there might yet be a regulatory change at some point. 

I have never bet on cards for the same reason I don't bet on horse racing - I will never have an edge in these markets, but I do have the occasional punt on lower league and even non-league fixtures, and I want these matches to be played cleanly. I don't see the issue as something to be taken as casually or as lightly as Sports Trading Life

Specialist Subject

An enjoyable review of this very blog found over at Betting Tools. Some highlights:
Many a reader have read the first blog post up to the present day and found it to be one of the most educational and valuable betting resources on the internet.

Cassini is a true student of the betting game and there’s very little he doesn’t know about his specialist subject.

Cassini has a very witty and dry sense of humour

Cassini ‘s writing style is authoritative and at times borders on arrogant.

It’s very difficult to come out on top in a heated debate with Cassini but if you do find yourself embroiled in one, stay hydrated.
In the interest of full disclosure, the site is owned and operated by Webbo, an FTL entrant who, after at one time being down 13.73 points is now in profit after five consecutive profitable rounds.  Brian also runs his own Tipster Table, and it looks a lot more professional than my amateur spreadsheet!

Tipster Updates 10.Dec

Above is the FTL (sponsored by TFA) after the weekend's results. It's not often the leader doesn't change, but Emp retains first place ahead of Skeeve who is in line for £250. Jamie jumps four places into third place (£150). Cassini's Value Selections remain fourth while Fedslam drops three places to 5th (£75). With an ROI of 6.66%, what the devil is he playing at?  

Other big climbers were Football Elite who moved up three places and the Bundeslayga selections who moved up four places. Fairfranco was up two places while the notable fallers were my XX Draws (down four places) and Murphy's Law (down three places). Down two places were Hofs Hackers (£50) and Graham C. The Football Analyst moved up one place and his bounty liability now stands at £300.  Scatter Gun in 23rd place was idle.

In the NFL, John Walsh had another tough weekend:
but his NHL selections are excellent:

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Any Given Sunday

Emp had this to say on my last post:

I'm mildly amused that back the huge underdog blindly is actually a "winning strategy". Probably has to do with punter psychology. I read somewhere that backing anything which goes to 1000 in play (excluding in play horse-race markets with front-running) generated pretty decent returns.
While I don't touch horse-racing, it has long been a strategy of mine in other sports to take advantage of people willing to back at prices that are too short in-play as I have written before. Football prices move predictably, so the strategy doesn't work there, but in true trading sports, it's a long-term winning strategy. 

Watch the price bounce back after a touchdown or after a basketball team goes on a run. Of course this won't work if the touchdown scoring team is up big with little time left, but if the pre-game underdog scores first, greed drives the price too low, before the fear kicks in and the price bounces back. Similarly in basketball, you need enough time left in the game. A run leading to a lead of 20 points with 10 seconds left isn't going to do you much good, but a lead in the teens or even twenties with enough time left is an opportunity. The key is that you don't need the lay to go on to win. You simply need the price to bounce and you can lock in your profit after a tick or two or let it run as your risk tolerance allows. Lay £10,000 at 1.01 (risk £100) and a bounce of one tick to 1.02 allows you plenty of options to lock in a decent profit.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Emp Strikes Back

In my last post, I wrote that:

Whenever there are a couple of ‘surprise’ results such as these, it is natural to think that the key to football betting is to bet the outsider, but while these relatively rare wins unsurprisingly gain attention at the time, as a long-term strategy, it is doomed to failure.
The surprise results in question being the likes of Evian Thonon Gaillard's defeat of Paris St Germain, Sunderland's defeat of Manchester City or Hull City beating Liverpool.

Emp appears to have taken this comment as a dig at him personally, but this was certainly not my intent. My comment was meant to highlight that profitable betting is never as simple as always backing or laying favourites, second favourites, long-shots. In fact, the idea of backing a selection solely because of its price or its price range / band is fundamentally flawed. Essentially you are making your decision based on what other people are doing. A selection should be made because your estimate of its chances of winning exceed those of the market. Trying to reverse-engineer selections based on the prices on offer is counter intuitive.

Hypocrite! I hear you say. What about your Bundeslayga system? Indeed, this is an exception to my 'rule', and one where selections are determined by price range, even if the price range is pretty big! It's proven profitable for several seasons, and used more as a Premium Charge mitigation system than one that will make me rich. Last season, for example, there were 90 selections, and a return of 13.11 points although if you had the time to apply the principles to other favourites in the Big Five European Leagues, you could have made 87 points from 1,340 selections.

Anyway, I digress, and here is what Emp had to say:
While I agree that blindly betting on outsiders is, of course, doomed to fail, I am not sure these sorts of bets are inherently bad. In fact I doubt any sort of price range is an inherently bad one to bet on, though I am not sure if that's what you meant.
In either case, it's hardly the only long-shot I've picked. I did get Reims on a long-shot earlier as well as several winners at 5 or 6 (including Everton in the mid-week). In a league where being at home is such an advantage, the price did seem a bit off on Evian, and as for United, they are actually weaker than Everton according to my system, though that might prompt some laughs.

Before this weekend, I do still have Manchester United higher than Everton in my ratings, although that might be in jeopardy should Everton win at Arsenal tomorrow. 
My comment on backing the outsider may have been written a little hastily. Looking at last season's EPL, and using Pinnacle's prices, backing the outsider in the Match Odds market would have generated 19.01 points of profit. Unfortunately for anyone thinking this is the key to success, Queens Park Rangers win at Chelsea generated 16.1 points in one fell swoop, so the difference between that profit and and the smallest of profits comes down to one goal, and the prior season is similar. With no Pinnacle prices, I used the average prices, and 2011-12 saw a profit of 28.72 points, with the biggest return coming on New Year's Eve when Blackburn Rovers won 3-2 at Manchester United at 22.98 and Aston Villa won 3-1 at Chelsea at 11.78. If you were away and missed that day, your season's returns would be a lot different!  

Dream Wife

You know you are spending too much time on maintaining the FTL (sponsored by TFA) when your dreams include one about Peter Nordsted, who, and I kid you not, flew with his wife to Long Beach in California to meet up and discuss his College Football strategy with me. Why Long Beach, I have no idea, since my familiarity with the city is pretty much limited to attending one wedding on the Queen Mary there about ten years ago. The mind, or at least my mind, works in mysterious ways, and I remember being impressed that Peter could drive so naturally on the ‘wrong’ (right) side of the road, as I sat in the back listening to his ideas. The reason why Peter may have featured in my dreams could be because his midweek account bets did rather well, mostly on the back of Aston Villa’s rather surprising win at Southampton. He selected Villa to lead at half-time as well as full-time, and at prices of 6.5 and 6.0 respectively, these winners helped Peter make a profit of 10.05 points for his service. Still down on the season, but a step in the right direction. Incidentally, Peter’s dream wife – by which I mean Peter’s wife in my dream and not Peter’s ‘dream’ wife, who I am sure is the lady he is currently married to – is not as fierce as Peter implied in his now infamous “having to ring up and tell your wife you lost money” video.

The other big winner in midweek was Emp, returning after a few days off to make 13.04 points, and back to the top of the table, mostly on the back of Evian Thonon Gaillard’s even more rather surprising win at home to Paris St Germain at 10.27. Whenever there are a couple of ‘surprise’ results such as these, it is natural to think that the key to football betting is to bet the outsider, but while these relatively rare wins unsurprisingly gain attention at the time, as a long-term strategy, it is doomed to failure.

The latest FTL table after the midweek games is here, and then it all starts over again with the weekend matches:

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Tipster Updates 3.Dec

With Monday night's games completed, the FTL table sponsored by TFA has been updated, and as always let me know if you see any errors and I will double-check and update as necessary.

The big winners were Jamie A, whose honesty and integrity was rewarded with an upward move of nine places after a profit of 7.86 points, and even more so was Punters' Friend Neil who moved up 'only' eight places, but made 15.6 points profit from 28 selections. Jamie moves into the money in 4th place overall, while Neil moves very close to break-even which after being down by 28 points two weeks ago is quite a feat. Football Elite moved up five places after making 2.9 points, and Fedslam's upward move of three places was enough to take over at the top.

There were a few idle this past weekend - Skeeve sat out due to the FA Trophy matches, Emp took a break for the second consecutive week, and Forza Fizzer was resting too.

On the losing side, Graham C and FairFranco both dropped eight places after losses of 4.84 and 6 points respectively, while Hofs Hackers dropped five places from first, but still in the fourth money spot.

The Football Analyst trimmed his bounty liability by £50 after making 2.6 points and moving up one place.

So at the top, the first three are Fedslam, Skeeve and my own Value Selections, while at the bottom is Scatter Gun who dropped 6.6 points. Just out of last place are Peter Nordsted's Premier Betting selections, with his official selections dropping another 1.9 points and his FTL entry making 0.07 points.

The XX Draws are mired in mid-table, with two late goals in Spain at Espanyol (88') and Granada (87') not only seeing the draw win evaporate, but also the Under 2.5 goals. We have some midweek selections though, and a long way to go this season.

Not so long left in the NFL though, and John Walsh is having a disappointing season. I've not tracked previous years, but this one is surely not one of his finest. Here are the results since my last update:
John's NHL picks are still in profit, although treading water a little over the past few days:
And for anyone wondering where the updates for NBA Tips are, I have given up. It was quite time consuming, and after finding 11 errors in the recording of the first 91 bets of the regular season, of which the details were never requested so that they could be corrected, there seems little point. Plus the fact that the bets suggested are often with bookies with whom no serious punter would be able to keep an account for more than ten minutes. I don't imagine many serious investors can get more than 20p on with BetVictor or the like.

John Walsh's prices are usually beatable on the exchanges, and readily available, so the returns can reasonably be expected to be beatable.

Sunday, 1 December 2013


The hits count on this blog has now broken through the 600,000 StatCounter milestone,

although according to Blogger, the total page views all time is actually somewhat higher than that.
More technical types than myself can probably explain the difference - I think someone in the past suggested that certain page views are not recorded by StatCounter - but if the Queen can celebrate two birthdays, I don't see why this King of the betting blogs shouldn't celebrate two counting milestones! Stand by for the PATH 750k celebration.

It's also a new month today, and while I don't do detailed P&Ls because I don't want my readers to fall asleep, November was the second best month of 2013 for me. November is usually a good month, although 2012 was a small disaster. The NFL and NBA are usually solid, and the football last month has been good, if not spectacular. The XX Draws were up slightly, the Unders was up slightly more, and the Cassini Value Selections were up even more. 

Speaking, as I was earlier, of P&L blogs, I don't see so many of these around these days. Admittedly after almost six years of doing this, I don't search for blogs as actively now as I used to, but I don't trip over them like I used to. 

Some of you will be aware that at the end of the last NBA season, I stumbled across the NBA Tips blog, and although as soon as I started following them, their results went downhill, I made a note to keep an eye on them for this season. It was play-off time and those matches can be challenging.

Sadly, a litany of errors in their record-keeping has called their accuracy and attention to detail into question, and their reluctance or failure to correct their errors calls their integrity into question. Some of you may have seen the Twitter exchange as I try to keep them honest, but here is some more background for anyone interested in the details. 

Leaving aside subjective concerns such as the concern over recommending bets in pre-season games, the silliness of 1/4 point bets, or the often immature nature of the Tweets, here are some of the proven and indisputable errors or inaccuracies.

The number of games played each season was incorrect
A 2 unit loss was recorded as a 1 unit loss

Try writing the below on your betting slip and getting paid out - the Pacers won by 15 (97-82)
Clearly a loser, and no bookmaker would pay out on the above, but the NBA Tips boys then suggest the bet was for the Half-Time result, a rather important detail that was "missed by accident"
"Full time line was around +12.5 at 1.95"? I did indeed check the lines, and here's a screenshot of my Betfair investment from that game:
That Boylesports would have 12.5 as their line seems unlikely. Using the traditional mathematics that I prefer, I make this claimed line of 12.5 further away from the actual line of 7.5 than the 4.5 point line on the bet was! Bet is a clear loser one might say.

I rest my case, but one final point before I go is that cherry-picking the best price listed is one thing, but not many serious or successful investors can keep accounts with the likes of Bet365. Creative mathematics such as the examples shown above might well turn a sow's ear into a silk purse, but hopefully anyone following their 'results' will maintain a healthy scepticism. Their reluctance to correct the above bet to a loss is one serious concern, but their claim to have resolved the other issues I found (at least nine) seems unlikely as they never asked me where the errors were, is another! These 'errors' are all the more puzzling given that there are two people involved, and another set of eyes should be able to catch all, or at least most, unintentional errors. 

On the other side of the integrity scale, credit goes to FTL entrant Jamie A, who noticed that a game where he had two (both losing) selections was only recorded as a one point loss, and pointed the mistake out to me. Yes, we all make mistakes, but sadly not everyone takes responsibility for them and corrects them.

I'm not sure if I have told this story before or not, but the mother of a good friend of mine back in the 1980s used to enjoy a Saturday flutter on the horses at her local bookmaker in Coulsdon. Back in those days, winnings would be paid out in a small sealed brown envelope, and on one occasion she arrived home after collecting her winnings only to find on opening it that she had been paid out too much. 

She returned to the shop to complain.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Best Friends

An excellent read from Punters' Verdict on the fallacy that the bookmaker is there for you, and a friend in need. The opening salvo is included below, but click on the link for the full piece:

Your friend, the bookmaker….
Bookmakers love to peddle the ridiculous notion that they are your good-hearted friends.
They work tirelessly to give the impression that they are firmly on your side – going out of their way to offer you the best odds, the sweetest deals, the latest cool technology, the biggest sign-up bonuses, the most markets, the broadest range of bets and the biggest and best range of options enabling you to get your bet on.
The wide-boy ‘geezer’ types employed to front the bookmaker’s television ads, combined with a fashionably ‘wacky’ approach to product promotion, might give you the impression that winning is a simple derivative of opening an account with the friendliest and funniest bookmaker.

Newspapers, TV output and radio shows aimed at the sports-betting enthusiast are literally over-run with friendly ‘betting experts’ – all giving the punter the benefit of their wisdom and experience seemingly free of charge. The fact that a good proportion of these ‘experts’ are on the bookmaker’s payroll is never questioned.

Do these people – the bookie’s fork-tongued PR men – really want you to win? Isn’t there a conflict of interest at work here? When some talking head – who takes the bookmaker’s coin for his daily bread – spouts on about good bets on Talksport or Racing UK – can he really serve two masters? Is he really going to be giving you advice that he believes will see his employer lose money on the market?
Of course he isn’t. So what use is his expertise or his advice? No use whatsoever. The whole thing is a sham. Broadcasters and publishers that persist with using the bookmaker’s employees to provide betting ‘expertise’ are doing their readers and viewers a huge disservice. If they really want to serve the punter then why not get some bona-fide pro-gamblers to give their view? How about giving us the opportunity to hear from experts who aren’t invested in the ultimate success of the bookie? How would that be?
But I digress. The purpose of this week’s column is simply to remind you that the bookmaker is NOT your friend. He is your adversary…. your opponent…. your enemy…. and you should never forget it. Don’t get dazzled by his stardust. Don’t get confused by his mixed messages. Don’t get taken in by his PR guff. The bookmaker is NOT your friend.
A number of tipsters give selections and the best price available, but often they are from an obscure bookmaker or one with a reputation for closing accounts as soon as the holder shows that they have a clue. As the above article says, "Boylesports, Bet365, BetVictor and others are famous for refusing bets, closing accounts or offering just a fraction of the stake requested", so how many people are really able to place the suggested bets at the likes of these companies? For all its faults, at least Betfair don't (yet) completely ban consistent winners.

There was an amusing comment on a thread on the Betfair Forum from TheVis who offered this advice
Get an account with Victor Chandler
If you can't get them to email you saying your account is closed within a few weeks then you should give up the game. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

FTL Update 27.Nov

Here is the latest FTL sponsored by TFA table up to date as of last night. Let me know if you see any omissions or errors and I will double-check and correct them, but with so many entries each week, unfortunately I can't go back over several weeks looking for the odd penny!

Big winners - Hofs Hackers, who move into first place, Jamie a who also moves up five places to 13th, and Punters' Friend Neil up four places.

The losers? Football Elite dropped seven places after a very poor weekend, and Murphy's Law dropped five spots. The Football Analyst also had a poor weekend and midweek, and Peter Nordsted's Premier Betting had a clean sweep of losses to take over at the bottom.

Something of a gap has opened up between 17th and 18th place, and the bottom three are dropping away too, but as Hof showed this week, a good set of results and it can all change quite quickly. The TFA Bounty is currently at £375.

It's Thanksgiving in the US this week, and I will once again be overseas celebrating with Mrs Cassini and her family. The first day of Hannukah also happens to fall on Thanksgiving this year, an apparently once in many lifetimes rarity. The next one will be in about 79,000 years time, and I may not be here for that! I'll be able to send out the Cassini draws and value selections once the European League games are over, and the FTL table will be updated as per usual.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Gracias Carlos

There was just he one Cassini Value Selection this weekend, and an hour in, it wasn't looking good. Having taken an early (6') lead, Real Sociedad proceeded to let Celta de Vigo take a 3-1 lead. Fortunately, Mexico's Carlos Vela was in fine form for the home team, adding three more to his early goal, had another one disallowed for offside, and was the victim of Andreu Fontas' foul and second yellow card which saw Celta de Vigo reduced to 10 men. A little lucky perhaps, but I'll take it.

Also a little fortunate perhaps with the XX Draw selections, of which nine were in-play yesterday. Four ended as draws, but the lucky part was that two of the games (Everton v Liverpool and Eintracht Frankfurt v Schalke '04) ended 3-3. Not exactly the low-scoring affairs I was looking for.

I'll round up the football after the weekend is over, although I will say the Premier League table looks a lot brighter after yesterday's results.

I'm not hugely surprised that there was no request from the NBA Tips boys for me to point them in the direction of their many errors, and while their Quality Assurance department might have been expected to tighten up their process, that appears not to have been the case.

After reading and recording this selection on Friday, I was a little surprised to see an update of "WON" appended. (Strangely, last night's updates are not yet there).

I had identified the Indiana Pacers as value in this game, and thinking that Betfair may have erred in crediting my account with a win, and anxious to let them know of their mistake, I checked the results, and sure enough, here was the official result:
Now it takes some creative mathematical jiggling worthy of the George W Bush administration to make 82 + 4 > 97. Yes, they do the 2 units = 1 unit if it loses, or 1 unit = 1/2 unit if it looks poor value later, so one shouldn't be too surprised. Admittedly, it has been a while since I left school, and I have been known to make the rare error, but I'm pretty sure I'm correct on this one. Let me know if I am missing something. Incidentally, the term 'draw' has no place in the NBA.

I was thinking that NBA Tips may have specialised more in medicine than maths at school, but apparently not. Actually, I'm not sure they are out of school yet, because does any adult Tweet like this?
Followed by:
Oh dear, but again, perhaps full-time education is ongoing. Fortunately for us all they are quick learners, going from clueless to meniscus tear specialists in just a few minutes. Whoever said that you need 10,000 hours to master something was only off by 9,999 hours and 50 minutes.
Well that's the verdict then. Close to 6 months. Given their proven lack of attention to detail and accuracy, if I were Rose, I'd be mighty relieved. Although not a direct result of my brief professional sporting career, I have had to undergo a couple of meniscus tear surgeries myself, but even with first-hand experience I wouldn't want to presume to offer an opinion or speculate on someone else's injury or recovery time. Here's the actual P&L record for NBA Tips since the last update.
This may bear little resemblance to their own numbers, but I think I have given enough examples of where they have erred to explain those.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Reliable Numbers

NBA Tips claim that "a lot of effort goes into making our numbers reliable", which is a bold claim after having made mistakes with the number of games a team plays in the regular season, with the prices at which wins are recorded, and of course the intentional mistake of attempting to modify the bet several hours after posting it.

They posted their version of their results for this season yesterday, but unfortunately rather than confirm that the errors already mentioned were the exception rather than the rule, there are a number of other errors revealed. Some are minor, for example the 4.November bet on a player to score over 195.5 points, something even Wilt Chamberlain would have struggled to do on his best night, or the handicap moving from 13.5 to 13, but more serious are these:

The 2 unit stake on the 31.October bet is recorded as one unit in the spreadsheet.
And then we have this:
Bwin apparently give a bonus similar to Ladbrokes, as the recorded price has gone up to 1.85 in the spreadsheet.
It's not all bad news for the thousands of NBA Tips followers though, as on a couple of bets, they have actually managed to err against their own interests, so the errors do seem to just be down to carelessness or poor mathematical skills. Unfortunately, with at least 11 of the 91 bets in the spreadsheet having some kind of an error, the claim that "a lot of effort goes into making our numbers reliable" just isn't supported by the evidence. I would be happy to point out the other mistakes, but NBA Tips don't seem to appreciate my well-intentioned advice for some reason.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Best In Show

I sometimes check to see what visitors to this blog are doing, or at least what posts they are reading, and some can be seen reading post after post. I can now put a name to one of those visitors, who posted a much appreciated comment:

In the last two weeks I've been reading your posts daily from the start of your blog trying to catch up.
Hope to finish it before the NBA 2013/14 season ends :-)
Your insight into NBA is priceless and is the only useful information about trading it that I have found.
Best regards
High praise indeed, and thanks Nick. Read on - there are over 1,600 posts, at least some of which are useful.

Green All Over is indubitably the UK's leading free NBA betting advice site, and it was interesting that the post Nick commented on is a little over three years old, yet all the advice contained therein remains valid. Either I haven't learned much in three years, or the opportunities in the NBA remain the same.

The UK's leading free 'alternative mathematics' site had another creative accounting moment last night. A novelty bet was posted on the blog with a price of 3.6 at Ladbrokes
but the Tweet from the rooftops as the bet came in a winner was to announce not just the win, but that the win was actually at 3.8! Amazing scenes, but a sad reminder of how unfair life can be. Ladbrokes close my account, yet others are given bonuses.
Pleasing maybe, but misleading too. It's as likely that Ladbrokes are adding a bonus to the payout as it is that Sporting Bet allow you to pull back half your stake if the bet turns out to be poor value. Unfortunately, for the records, we really do have to stick with the initial bet, win or lose. The other three bets all lost last night, so NBA Tips are now down 17.22 points on the 2013-14 season.
John Walsh's NFL selections are also having a poor season, with another loss on the weekend, but the NHL is still handily in profit.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Stupid Tap Tree (Anag.)

Despite it being a relatively quiet weekend, with several entrants idle, there were a few notable winners and losers in the FTL.

The big winner was Skeeve whose FTL selections went 7-1 gaining him 8.7 points and vaulting him from 8th to 1st place. Skeeve's Official selections, with several winning doubles, picked up 12.63 although most subscribers could have done even better as the prices he quoted as official were lower than those recorded by Pinnacle and likely others. Forza Fizzer went 1-5 and dropped from the top to 4th. Here's the profitable tipsters to date:

As you can see, a whopping 0.04 points separates second from fourth, and Forza Fizzer is actually just .005 behind Murphy's Law! And for the first time, the top four are all eligible for the cash prizes plus the TFA bounty.

As for the entries in the red, the big loser was Punter's Friend Neil whose 6-28, including midweek, resulted in a drop of 21.69 points and a fall to last place. Peter Nordsted's two entries were the beneficiaries as both moved up two places. Scatter Gun also had a losing weekend. The Football Analyst ended up with a small loss of 0.3 points, but the bounty reduces to £275.

A shocker in the NHL where John Walsh last night had his first losing selection since November 6th:
and arguably an even bigger shock in the NBA, where NBA Tips1 had their first profitable day since November 11th, and only their third profitable day this season, gaining 1.05 points:

Rising Suns Beat The Heat

We have a winner. The quiz question to name the only team to have led in the Fourth Quarter of all their NBA games this season was answered correctly by a couple of people. Charlie was the first to offer an answer:

The Miami Heat must have led in the fourth quarter of every game this season, with three losses by a total of six points. Probably too slow to get the subscription, but then gamblers don't always get out of bed early... Regardless, I enjoy reading the blog and hope you continue for many more years.
A fellow premium (but not super premium) charge payer,
Unfortunately for Charlie, Miami Heat never led in the fourth quarter of their November 1st game in Brooklyn. They came within one point in losing 100-101. 

The correct answer is the Phoenix Suns, and the first person to send in the correct answer was Chris whose email address has now been added to the XX Draws distribution list hopefully a good thing for Chris!

The discussion on whether or not to let positions run continues with Emp having this to say:
This issue is interesting to me because cricket (a sport built for in-play if ever there was one) presents this issue all the time.
I think a good general heuristic is to not add more at short prices to positions that are profitable (could be greened up) unless the position offers massive value. Also, consider that value assessments might be wrong and destructively so at short-prices. An example for those who follow cricket: many were slaughtered by India's effortless 359 run chase against Australia, though the half-time prices as short as they were looked to offer real value on Australia

I agree with Cassini about greening up. Theoretically maximizing EV should matter over bank preservation, but the latter allows you to build up more smoothly, not to mention that people aren't robots and very few can perform perfectly despite large set-backs and swings.
That said, sacrificing value to green up can be destructive and makes no long term sense, so I'd just let it run.
An example of how these things work out when the value is to lay more than enough to level-up is shown below in today's NFL game when I layed the Detroit Lions for more than required:

The decision was vindicated when the Steelers 'roared' back with 'pride' to beat the Lions, although I had given up some of my green by the end to pretty much level up the outcomes. 
Ellis returned to say:
If the 'fair (correct / true) price available' is 1.6 then you are saying that outcome has a 62.5% chance of winning. You can then adjust your position to reflect this % chance.
Not sure what's being second-guessed if you are confident that 1.6 is the correct price?
Nothing is being second-guessed if you do this. My original discussion point was whether, despite believing a price to be fair, traders have a tendency to try to be clever and take a less than optimal approach.

Fizzer asked:
Cassini, In this example, I'm interested to know how you would approach it if the value price was still with the Thunder. If, for example, the Thunder price was 1.7 would you bet more on the Thunder because there was value in doing so or, because preserving your bank is important, would you stick with the +2300/-600 position given that, in your fair odds situation there was a 37.5% of losing. (I'm assuming the 3rd option of hedging or leveling up at bad odds is not a consideration because you are giving up value).
If the value was on the Thunder at 1.7, I would look to load up slightly green-heavy on them, except that as Emp cautions in his comment, adding at odds-on might be the optimal play, but unless the value is 'massive' it might be better to act as if the price were correct. 1.2 might be a value price to back at, but it's a brave man who would add on at that price. 1.7 is better, but still odds-on. 

As for levelling-up at bad odds, I am sure I have done this in the past, and probably will do again. As a non-robot, if I have been in a bad position all game, the tendency is that, should the opportunity arise to get out with little damage or even a small profit, it's very tempting to do this at the first opportunity, even if the correct play is to hold the position. It's frustrating to lay a team early at 1.3 for example, and then watch them take a big lead and trade for ages in the 1.0x range. Then the game tightens up and the price comes out to 1.3 and the feeling of relief can easily trump the knowledge that 1.3 is really not a value price to back at. We're all different, and only the professionals can be expected to make the optimal play every time, but it's a lot easier to make the right decision if your stakes are 'sensible'. 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Rose-ier Betting Results

I believe that on many occasions, and indeed quite recently, I have mentioned that one of the hazards of betting pre-game on basketball is the impact on prices of team news after your bet has been placed.

I kindly shared this advice with the good folks over at NBA Tips1 earlier this month, after they were caught out on an Oklahoma City Thunder game in which Russell Westbrook's appearance was uncertain.

Not for the first time, it appears my advice is falling on deaf ears, this time involving a Chicago Bulls game and the always doubtful / possible Derrick Rose.
After advising a one unit stake to their hundreds of followers, the NBA Tips1 people seem to think that one hour before tip-off it is possible to contact Sporting Bet and halve your stake. It isn't. Once a bet is struck, save for palpable error, or some irregularity, it is a done deal. You can trim your position by taking the other side, but if you are looking to do that, the odds on the other side will have shortened.

Tipsters cannot change their bets after they have been published for several hours! If you choose to tip pre-game in a sport like basketball, this is a risk you take. You can't reduce your stake just because you don't like news that comes after the bet is struck.

Of course, on occasion team news will work in your favour, but calling Sporting Bet to double or triple your stake at the original odds won't be successful either.

In my opinion, to maintain any credibility at all, bets and P&Ls have to be recorded as posted. I didn't follow their selections last season, but if this massaging of the numbers took place then, it would certainly help explain a total that appears to be quite remarkable.

NBA Tips show a loss on 2013-14 (including pre-season) of 11.94 points. My numbers tell a different story, and will now be at least 0.5 points lower unless NBA Tips1 do the right thing and record using the original stake size of one unit.

Try calling your stockbroker and reneging on an order you've placed - "Oh, sorry - I just saw the latest results and I'd like to halve the market order I placed four hours ago please".

Here are the correct numbers from NBA Tips with the bets as first recommended:
Speaking of the 'right thing to do', Danny had this to say after last weekend's FTL sponsored by TFA table updates:
Cassini thanks for the FTL update. How you are able to manage all these entries is an organisational miracle in itself!
With regard to the FTL, I think it would only be fair to award 12 points to anyone who backed West Brom at Chelsea on Saturday, seeing as the Chelsea penalty decision was one of the most SCANDALOUS in the history of the game and a total fraud in my opinion. I think it only proper that FTL stands up for fair play and as the politicians like to say 'It's the right thing to do'.
I think Danny has a point. All my losing XX Draws now have a recommended stake size of 0.01 units, while the winners should be backed with 10 units each. By my calculations, these selections are now in profit by 324.39 points. Call your bookmaker and let them know that modifying stake size after the fact is now standard industry practice.

John Walsh added yet more money to my account last night with a winning selection of the New York Rangers over his previous night's selection Montreal Canadiens. He writes:
Couldn't help but laugh at you not wanting to be disrespectful to the Oklahoma City Thunder. I believe you mentioned that Golden State is your favorite basketball team. Do you feel like you disrespected the Warriors?
I bet on the Montreal Canadiens last night and against them tonight. I'll let you know if Lars Eller calls me out.
John does have a point. Yes, I did disrespect the Warriors! Never good when the sporting outcome you want doesn't match the best financial outcome. Having had the Warriors as "my" NBA team for several years, I am all too familiar with their hot and cold streaks, and having seen the Warriors give up a 14 point lead to trail by one, that knowledge no doubt influenced my decision to not fully level up. There may have been an element of emotional insurance there too - the joy of a win balancing the lost cash, and maybe the thought of going in too heavy on the Warriors and I would jinx them. It's all very complicated. I have to say though that I did not get £900 of pleasure from the win. A game 7 win in the Finals might have come close, but game 9 of the regular season? Nah, nowhere near. Gambling is so much easier when you have no allegiance / emotions though.
Golden State Warriors 2017-18
Football now, and on a quiet weekend, Skeeve had an excellent day in the FTL sponsored by TFA. He hit four winners from seven, and two draws from two. Punters' Friend Neil did not fare so well. Having crawled back to being down by just 4.47 after last weekend, Neil hit a paltry 4 from 25 yesterday, following on from 2 of 9 in midweek. There could be some more red after the updates. The Football Analyst had four winners from eleven, while Hofs Hackers also had the two Skeeve Conference draws (Chester v Luton Town and Barnet v Cambridge United) for a profitable weekend. Updated table when the prices are out there.

Finally, quiz time - with the first loss of the season for the Indiana Pacers last night (or was it only half a loss?) there is only one team who has led in the Fourth Quarter of every game this season. Name them. A free XX Draw subscription (includes Cassini Value and Bundeslayga selections) for the remainder of the season to the first person emailing the answer to. calciocassini @ 

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Equalising Formula

L commented on my past post about levelling up your profits (or losses) writing:

Nice stuff
Is possible to specify mechanically the risk reward ratio of bets in this case variable hedge? For example, at twice the rate sell 50% stake etc...
It is an easy calculation to determine how much you should lay to level up your position. Basically it is the difference between your green and your red, divided by the price, so if you are in the position I was in, Warriors -£600, Thunder +£2,300, Thunder price 1.6, the formula of (Difference) / Price tells you the amount to lay is £1,812.50.
Difference = £2,900 / 1.6 = £1,812.50. 
If you lay this amount, your red of £600 on the Warriors goes to a green £1,212.50, while your green on the Thunder reduces from £2,300 to £1,212.50.
It's easy to set up a simple spreadsheet to input your three variables, and output the amount to lay.

Ellis Rayner said:

If you believe 1.6 was a fair price then how about loading your greens to reflect that? 1.6 = 62.5% so based on your figures about £1,420 and £850
I'm not sure what Ellis is suggesting here by 'loading my greens'. Sounds like something my Mum used to do with my dinner. My What If? formula shows that laying £1,450 would leave a situation close to what Ellis suggests, but when you leave your outcomes significantly different with a fair (correct / true) price available, one is in second-guessing territory, which is a land I am trying to leave.