Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Favourites (M) Slammed

Wimbledon 2017 ended a run of six Men's Grand Slam tournaments where backing the favourite in every game was a profitable strategy.

Here are the results for backing Grand Slam favourites this year at Pinnacle's prices:

and for the 2016 season:
Conventional wisdom for tennis betting is that in line with the favourite-longshot bias, backing the favourite will result in you losing your money slower than you would by backing the outsider. 

Backing the outsider would have been profitable in Australia this year, simply because of two long-priced winners - Istomin beat Djokovic at a best priced 41.0 and Zverev beat Murray at a top price of 28.0.  

In the eleven Grand Slams (Men) since 2015, an underdog backer at Pinnacle's prices would have lost 181.22 points, 16.47 per tournament, while a favourite backer would be up 14.24 points, 1.29 per tournament.

If you believe in unicorns, Santa Claus, angels or gods, then by backing at the best priced books, your losses would be reduced to 108.02 points on underdogs, and profits boosted to 35.24 points on the favourites.  

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Patsies and Strumpets

Eggmund, possibly not his real name, commented on my Physics Presumptions post:

Hello, nice blog.
I used some of the principles of Statistical Mechanics that I picked up from my Physics degree when writing my Cricket model. It could be that this is the sort of thing referred to as "Physics Presumptions".
A very charitable explanation, and one that in my opinion, isn't supported by the evidence when you consider the individual's writing in more detail. 

Here's his Pinned Tweet:
It's hard to view this nonsense as the product of an educated mind, from an individual who might be into "particle physics" or "Statistical Mechanics". 

To me, it's a nonsensical rambling with the end goal of selling a worthless tipster service to gullible individuals by adding faux intellectual gravitas to the subject. 

Eggmund, (if there was never a King Eggmund** back in the day, there should have been), is clearly a much nicer and more intelligent person than myself, and he continues: 
By the way, I like your principle of Bet-And-Forget. It nicely expressed what I've been looking for for a while as gambling time competes with family time! I'm now working on how I can build positions purely during intervals in test matches, without having to follow games live. Thank you for the tip.
The only person who benefits from betting in-play these days is someone trading the game with the advantage of being court-side / green-side / pitch-side / table-side / etc. If you do not have this edge, and most of us don't, Bet-and-Forget is the only strategy that makes any sense.

It's gratifying to see that this message is finally getting through. Trading sports sounds dangerously simple, an easy way to riches, and back in the early days of the concept it was quite possible to find a trading edge, but the markets have evolved.

One more time - If you are trading in-play, you are competing against others with more information than yourself.

Here are my thoughts from a few weeks back:
You are not going to obtain any information from your TV that hasn't already been seen, evaluated, and acted upon, by others before you.
If you, and I think quite logically you can, assume that these full-timers are not donating their money to the market each day, i.e. they are net winners, how can you, sitting at home, seriously think that you can overcome this disadvantage over the long-term and make a profit?

It's a zero sum game, and as the Warren Buffett quote from yesterday puts it:
"If you've been playing poker for half an hour and you still don't know who the patsy is, you're the patsy."
No guide in the world is going to be able to help you overcome this disadvantage. You are always working with stale information, which would be a level playing field if everyone else was too, but you're competing in markets where others have more current information than you.

It's frankly delusional to think you can be competitive under such conditions.
** I checked - no Eggmund, but we did have a couple of Edmunds and an Eadwig (955 - 959) with an interesting background:
The eldest son of Edmund I, Eadwig was about 16 when he was crowned king at Kingston-upon-Thames in southeast London. Legend has it that his coronation had to be delayed to allow Bishop Dunstan to prise Eadwig from his bed, and from between the arms of his “strumpet” and the strumpets’ mother. Perhaps unimpressed by the interruption, Eadwig had Dunstan exiled to France. Eadwig died in Gloucester when he was just 20, the circumstances of his death are not recorded.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Physics Presumptions

There are worse ways of passing a Saturday night than doing research on behalf of @Statsbet, who prompted me to compare the League 2 Away returns discussed here, only using the Pinnacle odds scraped several hours prior to kick-off rather than the Pinnacle Closing Prices.

For the five seasons where the data is available, the results are as above. Closing prices beat the earlier prices (let's be clear that these are not "opening" prices), but over the past two seasons betting earlier has been the optimal strategy, possibly because someone revealed this simple system and the money consequently floods in towards kick-off, driving the price down. Or possibly not.

If you follow @Statsbet on Twitter, you'll find that he crosses paths and swords with some strange characters out there. 

One such individual is setting up a tipping service for next season, the cost:
Will be £50 per Calendar month for model data covering 6 leagues this season. Only accepting 10 clients to begin.
Only £50 a month! This sounded like a bargain, except that no verifiable results are to be found, and when asked how publicly available data could provide him an edge, the response was a nonsensical:
My interest was short-lived. If anyone knows what "physics presumptions" means, please let me know. My money, and I hope all of yours, shall also remain private. 
Call me old fashioned, but when someone admits to having no money, and is looking at betting on in-play football in China, it sends a message of cluelessnes and desperation rather than one of success. A few minutes later:
Imagine my surprise.

Closing Lines

Rodolfo commented: 

In recent weeks Joseph Buchdahl has published several articles on the importance of beating the closing odds. Do you consider beating the closing odds as an important factor whether particular betting strategy is profitable or not? Have you ever recorded closing odds yourself on a regular basis?
Long-time readers of this blog will know that I am a firm believer in the importance of beating the closing odds, which is why I became so excited when Joseph added Pinnacle's Closing Prices to his football sheets dating back to the 2012-13 football season.

As Joseph explains:
Closing odds reflect the largest amount of information about matches, and the maximum number of opinions being expressed through wagering on that information, and hence are most likely to be the most efficient.
As a part-timer, I have never had the time to record closing odds myself, but fortunately for all of us, Joseph has now filled the gaping hole in this area. 
Readers will know that one of my favourite sports for betting is baseball, and several years ago saw this quote on a forum discussion about closing prices:
In all free markets - pricing efficiency is generally enhanced with the addition of market participants and incremental information over time. The MLB wagering market is no exception. The closing line is generally a sharper number than the opening line. The fact that a winning MLB handicapper beats the closer more often than not is not the reason he's a winning handicapper but rather a reflection of his being a winning handicapper. He has the ability to identify the smart side of the early (weaker) number. More often than not, his good judgment will be confirmed by the subsequent line movement. His early wager will thus, more often than not, have a value edge vis a vis the ultimate closing number. It's as simple as that.
Anyone who is profitable in MLB over more than a half season without beating the closing price more often than not - who thinks he is good - is mistaking good luck for good play. And to any of you who believe that beating the closer is a meaningless or overrated measure of a good handicapper - I can only say you are wrong - and assure you that the Las Vegas books would agree with me.
So the importance of beating the closing line has been clear to me for several years and is why my MLB, NFL, NBA systems etc. all use the closing prices. In reality of course, it's impractical to place all bets at these closing prices, (sometimes you'll get lucky, other times not so lucky) but it's always the benchmark to be used when evaluating a system. It also allows others to easily verify the results. 

One of the many problems with measuring a football tipster's edge is that the prices they claim are often, to put it favourably, somewhat arbitrary. Prices move throughout the days leading up to a match, reacting to new information and money coming in to the markets. This allows someone to cherry pick the prices they record their results against. 

It is why my own selections and results were recorded using Pinnacle's prices wherever possible. This consistency and transparency was a welcome improvement to the opaqueness of others, but three seasons ago, was still less than perfect. 

Prices were scraped, at best several hours, and at worst, several days before kick-off, thus the role of luck played a bigger part than it should - for example, the late news that a star player would miss the game wasn't reflected in the odds used. The most extreme example is the scraping of a price on a Friday afternoon for a game on Monday night. Clearly less than ideal.

The long overdue addition of Closing Prices for football means that everyone now has a standard to measure their performance against. Be wary of anyone who doesn't report their results against this benchmark. 

A Closing Line for the Over / Under markets would be a nice addition too if Joseph is reading this.

Finally, Football Investor Stewboss clarified things, writing:
Sorry if I got the wrong end of the stick re your draws betting. Perhaps you should have replied to my last tweet
With everything else that's going on in my life right now, correcting a minor misunderstanding by one person on Twitter wasn't particularly high on my list of priorities. It became more important when repeated in a comment, but we're all on the same page now.

Friday, 14 July 2017

A Slightly Better Bettor

Stewboss commented on the Filter Bursting post with:

"Secrets are secrets. An edge shared is still an edge halved. If I give or sell you a secret then it's no longer a secret."

That would be true if indeed you were placing the bets yourself but as you've already informed me that you haven't I don't see why you're so keen to keep it a secret. I'm not that bothered personally as I have created my own version with slightly better results than yours :-)

Maybe you could introduce an paywall version of your blog for those in the know so to speak !!
I'm not quite sure where Stewboss got the idea from that I wasn't using this system myself. 

In response to Stewboss's initial enquiry about my Draws, I did say that I hadn't updated my own ratings in almost two years.

This was a very time consuming activity whose rewards were not justifying the additional time over a more basic single filter system.

With regard to the less time consuming Draw system, I stated that "it was a loser last season anyway!", but unfortunately for my wallet, that didn't mean that I hadn't followed the system.

Anyway, a minor misunderstanding, and good for Stewboss that he has a Draw System with improved results over mine, although some clarification on 'slightly better' is needed.

Are we talking ROI% or points?

Looking at the past five EPL seasons (i.e. those where the Pinnacle Closing Price is available), the highest ROI for backing the draw with one filter is 150.4%. Unfortunately this was from just seven selections, which across five seasons isn't too useful.

In terms of points, the best single filter for backing the draw returns a profit of 82.65 points (from 710 bets), while the best ROI from a filter generating an average of at least one bet per round (i.e. 38+ a season) is 21.5%, from 294 selections.

Filter Bursting

Jameson wasn't the first to ask:

hi. what is the second filter you applied for draws? 1st is ip 25+, and second?
Unfortunately, as I told Stewboss, since this filter has added value in each of the five EPL seasons for which we have Pinnacle Closing price data available, the filter will remain proprietary. A great man once told me:
Secrets are secrets. An edge shared is still an edge halved. If I give or sell you a secret then it's no longer a secret.
How valuable is such a 'secret' though? 

Some of you undoubtedly noticed that the number of Draws in last season's Serie A was the lowest since 1995-96. Of the 50 top flight seasons in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain during the last ten years, only four have been lower, and two of those were in the traditionally higher scoring Bundesliga where you'd expect fewer draws. 
Unsurprisingly backing the Draw in every Serie A match last season would have been costly as usual, but the benchmark (matches where the Draw probability is 0.25 or greater) would have again been improved by applying the filter, reducing a loss of 35.01 points to a loss of just 8.99 points. 
It was the same story across Europe last season, with the filter adding a total of 133.54 points to the benchmark:
An ROI% of -1.61% isn't usually something that sets the pulse racing, but it's a whole lot better than the -12.37% on the benchmark.

One swallow doesn't make a season though, and one season doesn't make a golden goose, so I looked back a couple more seasons to see if the pattern held. 
As you can see, it did, turning a benchmark loss of nearly 150 points into a profit of over 100 points. 

For the five seasons for which we have Pinnacle's Closing prices, the results are here sorted by league / season Draw percentage:
While the correlation between the Draw and returns is obvious, the (usually) added value of the filter isn't apparently influenced by the Draw percentage.  

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Drawing Blind

Football Investor Stewboss asked me via Twitter "will you be revisiting your Draws system on the blog anytime soon?"

I think the Draws System he refers to is the one I mentioned early last season in this post.

Back then I mentioned that:

Backing the draw in the (conveniently exactly) 1,000 matches where the implied probability of the Draw was 0.25 or greater at kick-off would have boosted your account by 49.22** points, and you can all work out the ROI% on that.
I also mentioned a simple additional filter which can be applied to both reduce the volatility and increase the profits, and published the table below showing the results of blindly backing the Draw in all English Premier League matches, applying the Draw filter (IP 0.25+) and the second filter. 
Unfortunately for Draw backers, last season saw the second fewest Draws in the last eleven seasons, and the third fewest in the top English division in the last 30 seasons.
It's hardly a surprise then, that the numbers for last season reflected this. 

Blindly backing the Draw in every match would have cost you 38.92 points, using the draw filter would have lost 37.08 points, but by applying the second filter, the losses are reduced to just 4.51 points, which in the circumstances, almost seems like a win! A five year ROI of 12.25% for a simple system is excellent, and unless Draws are heading into a long-term decline which seems unlikely, the profits will soon be back. 
As I mentioned to Stewboss, last season was very much a season for Home teams, not just in the EPL but across the top leagues in Europe where the percentages were strangely consistent everywhere, Homes up, Draws down (if you'll pardon the expression): 
That Homes in the EPL would leap to 49.21% the season after the lowest percentage for English top division homes (41.32%) since the Second World War, makes it all the more surprising.  

For the record, blindly backing the Home win in the top five leagues in 2016-17 would have won you 97.80 points, an ROI of 5.36%

Eliminate the longshots with an Implied Probability less than 0.1 and the ROI climbs to 7.3% (130.31 points from 1,781 selections). 

** All calculations use Pinnacle's Closing Odds courtesy of Jospeh Buchdahl's excellent Football Data website.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Hotties Cooling in July

Favourites in MLB have been discussed here many times in the past, with many of you aware that the reverse favourite-longshot bias present in baseball for many years is no longer observable.


This post here from 2015 is one example of my comments, and although 2016 saw a loss when backing shorties, it was miniscule with 279 bets recording an ROI of -0.1%

The 2017 season to date has seen good profits from backing favourites, with May's +23.60 points a record monthly total, at least since 2003.
The All-Star break doesn't seem to help hot favourites (I use 1.5 as the definition of a hottie). 
July 2016 was nothing short of a disaster, if betting losses can ever be classified as a disaster in the whole scheme of things (probably not), but it's noticeable how profits start well enough with the new season, drop off in May and again in June, before struggling in July. August is like a new beginning, with profits then declining again in both September and October (which has only a few regular season games).

A couple of other simple, and not very original MLB systems, revolve around the idea that after two home losses, a home team will be motivated to win the third series game and are a value bet to avoid the home sweep. What this idea doesn't take into account is that if there were any such bias, it would long ago have been identified and the prices adjusted as necessary. Nevertheless, it's a fun play which wasn't much fun in 2016, but what may happen with systems such as these is that after a losing season, people drop them and move on to the latest hot system.

So far in 2017, backing all home teams in game three after losing the first two games is +11.83 points (ROI 12.1%), and in games where the home team is favourite, are +13.35 points, an ROI of exactly 20%.   

Little Puffy Balls

Conspiracy theorists across the globe have been analysing the comment posted earlier this week by Rap, and linking it to the lack of recent posts on this blog:

Have you ever felt so unproductive at some point in your life? Wherein all you’re doing throughout the day was tapping and swiping the screen of your phone; sugarcoating your miserable life online through filtering apps to make it look awesome; and staying up all night to surf the web without any valid reason behind but for plain vanity purposes.
Your life has become an endless scroll-react-share-comment-tweet since the invention of social media platforms. But without this breakthrough, people cannot converse as easy as a few clicks away. And your crush may message you, “hey!” all of sudden. You’ll then freak out; you’ll be at a loss for words. While your attention is on the seemingly impossible scenario, you didn’t notice that your mom is already inside your room which gives you a mini heart attack. And that’s it. That’s when the trouble starts. You’re doomed to be berated by your mom at the top of her lungs wherein every single sharp word of rampant rant she utters has 0.0001 interval in between. She’ll scold you for not doing the chores but you wouldn’t mind her at all though.
However, she figures it out and quips, “your little puffy balls have an undeniable chemistry with your phone; that’s why you got those two bags of Prada under your eyes and you flaunt them shamelessly. Bravo!”
If that’s the situation you’re usually in, you are one of the 58% of the Philippines’ growing population that spends long hours on social media. Today’s generation is gradually turning into a part of technology. They’re more afraid of network connectivity issues and low battery life than what challenges the world has stored for them from which they’ll learn. In fact, they feel pleasure every time they receive reactions and messages, and other things called “instant gratifications.”
Truly, social media has changed the way we live. But don‘t wait until the bridges between your social and personal relationships are burnt.
Every aspect in your life are at risk. There’s no application to solve the problem with which only you can deal. Set a time limit. Prioritize more important agendas and ask yourself, “do I really need social media for this?” before gluing your eyes to the screen. Otherwise, get offline and live every moment of your life. Break free from the addiction.
As is the case with almost all conspiracy theories, the suggestion neatly summed up by Jamie's follow up comment:
@ Rap's comment. With impeccable spelling and grammar like that, is it Cassini in disguise? It may explain the absence.
...is off the mark, but Rap's thoughts were well written. The days of my Mum being anywhere near my room are long gone, and she was never likely to make reference to my "little puffy balls". 

As I related to a few enquirers asking if all is well, the answer is yes and no. I'm perfectly well myself, although sliding inexorably towards old age which is at best mildly depressing, and at worst quite terrifying, a fate made all the more unsettling by the decline of my father who was earlier this year diagnosed with Alzheimers, a fate I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. 

So family has been the priority recently, with betting and blogging about betting not the priority in life that it once was. Not even close. 

Ian Erskine, who many of you will know by name, if not in person, has also been through a bad spell of family issues and other problems, but is bouncing back as reported in his latest blog post Time to Resume.

Apparently even those who should know better aren't immune to the less desirable who prey on the vulnerable in the world of betting:
I also got ripped off by a guy who claims to make money on horses to people which was partly my fault but will leave that for another blog post as this guy is bad news for people and I have been working that behind the scenes with the police also involved and need to wait for the time I can discuss that, these things do drag on.
Adding to Ian's woes, apparently the 2016-17 football season wasn't a good one for Ian:
I am well aware the last year has not been great, Will has struggled, some of the footy struggled and this game is about making money.
The reason tipsters "struggle" is because there are too many entrants in the markets these days who are far better financed and resourced than any one individual. For sure the over-rounds are so tight these days that over the course of a season, one can get lucky, maybe over the course of two or three seasons, but inevitable the laws of probability will catch up with you. 

Many of you will know that I have for many seasons been attracted to the Draw, and enjoyed the challenge of comparing my Draw selections with those of others, although there aren't too many others around. 

One such was Pete Nordsted's Draw Picks which appear to have quietly vanished in late March for some reason. If anyone knows where the full season's results can be found, I'd be interested to see them. The last reference to them is here, when they were struggling a little with an ROI well into double digits at -13.7%.
Both Ian and Pete refer to odds sheets or stats sheets. The claim by Pete is that:
These sheets contain all of the IPL matches played on the grounds since 2012 and are useful in finding trading angles particularly after the power play.
I'm not too sure what a "trading angle" is in this context, presumably it's similar to an edge, but it's a big stretch to claim that publicly available data and knowledge can possibly give you an edge over anyone else.  
Aside from my family issues, June is usually a quiet betting month anyway, with baseball the main interest, yet even with 11 winners from 13 selections (the T-Bone System had a good month, with a winning run ended at 16 last night) the profits amounted to just 0.12% of my total investment gains that month. 

That number isn't typical, with gains from more traditional investment vehicles hitting a record high at the same time as my betting was significantly reduced, but it does make it all too apparent that at my stage of life, spending too much time trying to make a few extra quid from betting isn't justifiable. 

One bit of good news from last month was the arrival of granddaughter number three, with my son's efforts from last September finally coming to fruition, albeit a little prematurely with her arrival 12 days ahead of schedule.