Tuesday, 31 January 2012


There is a story I'd like to re-tell, concerning an aged Indian Guru. This was a man who had dedicated his entire life to studying "The Self". He had looked inwards and discovered all the secrets within himself, understanding the true meaning of life, tranquility and inner-peace. And during his journey of self-discovery, he had attained an astonishing level of self-control, including mind-over-matter.

One day, The Guru announced that he would be buried alive in a casket for five days and five nights as a demonstration of this powerful mind control. People were rightly astounded by this declaration, for it was calculated that the casket could only hold sufficient air for a man to survive for three or four hours. How could it be possible that this great Guru would manage to stay in there for all this time?

Anyway, the day duly arrived, the hole was dug, the casket prepared and lowered into the ground ready for the great Master. The Guru arrived shortly afterwards with all his acolytes and followers in tow. He wore a simple light cotton robe and appeared to have the air of someone completely at peace with himself, utterly still and in the moment.

Before he started this remarkable demonstration, he spent 30 minutes with his followers, meditating and stilling his mind yet further. The Guru was a powerful presence and everyone there knew they were about to witness something truly amazing - a spectacle beyond normal comprehension and reasoning.

Finally, the great Guru, climbed into the casket, closed his eyes and then the lid was placed over him and the casket nailed shut. The casket was then buried deep into the ground.

The anticipation and trepidation about this courageous and outrageous act were almost palpable, but the five days eventually came and went, with people from all over India coming and gathering in the meantime at, what had almost become, a holy site. On the final day, the workmen arrived, dug and toiled in the heat of the burning sun, before finally lifting the casket out of the ground. The nails were removed and the casket lid slowly and carefully prised-off.

The assembled throng surged forward, eager for a chance to look inside - but what they saw when the casket was opened was astounding, and everyone gasped in wonder and amazement. Could it really be possible? Could they actually believe their own eyes?

Yes. Indeed. The Guru was stone cold dead.

Okay, so what on earth does this story (a story which, if pushed, I may admit lacks a little veracity) actually have to do with betting? Well, as the title states, it's all about confidence - or in this case misplaced confidence. Our foolish Guru friend over-estimated his abilities, and I'm feeling a bit like that myself right now.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to bury myself underground for five days (although I realise some of you would be delighted at the prospect of me doing so),  but getting over-confident in your betting can be almost as disastrous... Okay, well not really, but you take my point.

Things are going well for you. Your bets are winning, you can't remember the last time you had a loss. You almost feel invincible as you ride the top of the curve. "How can things possibly go wrong now?" you ask yourself. "I've cracked it. I've beaten this betting malarky".

Yes, well, there's a coffin waiting for you just around the corner. Do you prefer teak or mahogany?

The reality is that there is no "beating it". There are peaks and there are valleys. Some people visit the peaks more often than the valleys and some vice versa - but everyone visits the valleys at some point, as sure as eggs are eggs. Enjoy the peaks while you can, and try and stay there as long as possible, but don't get too cocky - as that's the time the fall from grace will occur.

Personally, I've had good periods in the past and felt invincible. And at those times, I have found myself starting to bet on anything. A few years back I even started using the Exchange Games (yes, sad, I know) as I felt that I just couldn't lose. And these are the times when it's possible to do some serious damage to your bank. Up until that point, you may have worked hard and studiously, earnestly striving to build up a reasonable figure, only for this unreasoning attitude to then start blowing it all over some foolish misplaced confidence.

Do realise, this post is more a note to myself than anything else, so please accept my apology if it sounds preachy and condescending. I don't bet on Exchange Games anymore, but my over-confidence manifests itself in more subtle ways. Just staying in the market a fraction too long compared to how I normally would, opening a position when otherwise I would have been more circumspect, that kind of thing. Nothing really that noticeable to anyone should they be looking in. But for me, I notice the change in behaviour, and it's these subtle differences that mark the thin line between success and failure. When the markets are as efficient as they are, the difference between the two is growing ever more miniscule and so changes in behaviour become ever more magnified.

Now all this is not leading up to me reporting a loss... Well okay actually it is about me reporting a loss - but in all honesty I did start writing this post before I started trading tonight. It just happens that the loss tonight is apposite. I did indeed get involved in the Everton v Man City game at a slightly inappropriate time. There wasn't much in it (there never is), but looking back, I was just that little bit too eager - and that over-eagerness was bred from over-confidence. The result: a loss. So there we have it.

I will, however, try my best to take the lesson that is laid out in front of me from tonight's trading. Generally, things are still going well for me right now, but I know that if I don't stay on the path, then I will damage my bank and make some serious backward steps. The valleys will undoubtedly come (and may already have arrived), but if I can keep my bank in as good a shape as possible, refraining from silly side bets, fun bets or opening positions when the conditions are not perfect, then I will be far better prepared for the valleys, and more equipped to navigate myself out of it.

Happily, I'm working from home all this week and so have been able to trade properly tonight (and will do so tomorrow also). Even though I lost money, it still felt good to run my full unrestricted trading methods. I didn't run my bot tonight (well only briefly), as I still feel a little chastened from last night's fiasco.

Soccer: -£124.41 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  -£124.41 


Soccer Showing 1 - 5 of 5 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Soccer / Everton v Man City : Correct Score 31-Jan-12 20:00  31-Jan-12 21:59  -145.52
Soccer / Everton v Man City : Over/Under 2.5 goals 31-Jan-12 20:00  31-Jan-12 21:57  6.12
Soccer / Everton v Man City : Over/Under 1.5 Goals 31-Jan-12 20:00  31-Jan-12 21:57  14.98
Soccer / Ipswich v West Ham : Match Odds 31-Jan-12 19:45  31-Jan-12 21:40  0.25
Soccer / Leeds v Birmingham : Match Odds 31-Jan-12 19:45  31-Jan-12 21:38  -0.24

Monday, 30 January 2012


The Bot's an infiltration unit, part API, part machine. Underneath, it's a hyper-alloy combat chassis - micro processor-controlled, fully armored. Very tough. But outside, it's running on Windows Vista and so fucks-up big time.

Supposedly controlled by living human tissue - flesh, skin, hair, blood... The 600 series was poorly designed. I spotted them easy. But these are new, they look like they can be controlled by humans with sweat, bad breath, everything. Very hard to spot. I had to wait till it moved on my account before I could zero him.

Listen, and understand! That Bot is out there! It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until your bank has been emptied!

... Yes, my new bot ran amok today and absolutely would not stop - managing to pump 84 bets into a Turkish Division One match between Denizlispor and Elazigspor in the space of five minutes. Luckily I caught it before it did any serious damage to my bank as it was on a mission.

What I can't understand is that I had set it to bet with only a single £10, but the figures it was pumping out were all utterly random. I can't make head nor tail of it. Anyway, as I say, I managed to catch it before it's rampant efforts broke me entirely. I shut it down by shoving a pipe bomb in its torso, but that only slowed it down a little. Finally as it crawled incessantly towards another back bet, I had to crush it's skull in my wife's mangle. That finally did the trick.

When it was dead, I closed-off all the opened positions (which were plentiful!) and got away with a red of just £23. Whew!

The rest of the evening was, happily, less traumatic and I'm now in the process of building my T-1000, advanced prototype bot. A mimetic poly-alloy, or liquid metal version. It can't form complex machines, guns and explosives that have chemicals, moving parts, it doesn't work that way, but it can form solid strategic dutches.

Now what can possibly go wrong with that?

Football: £84.83 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  £84.83 


Football Showing 1 - 6 of 6 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Football / Osasuna v Atl Madrid : Correct Score 30-Jan-12 20:00  30-Jan-12 21:54  50.46
Football / Oldham v Chesterfield : Correct Score 30-Jan-12 19:45  30-Jan-12 21:43  41.16
Football / Oldham v Chesterfield : Over/Under 2.5 goals 30-Jan-12 19:45  30-Jan-12 21:41  8.97
Football / Oldham v Chesterfield : Over/Under 1.5 Goals 30-Jan-12 19:45  30-Jan-12 21:41  4.85
Football / Ivory Coast v Angola : Match Odds 30-Jan-12 18:00  30-Jan-12 19:54  2.82
Football / Denizlispor v Elazigspor : Match Odds 30-Jan-12 18:00  30-Jan-12 19:54  -23.43

Just some of the bets that my bot decided to make
Couldn't fit them all in the picture!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Quick! Get on!

I have a little bit more to say on the subject I raised yesterday.  The subject, if you recall, was picking and choosing your moments, getting involved in an event only when the conditions are right and when you can see a definite advantage to yourself. So, in relation to this,  I have some questions:
1)   You haven't had a bet in a while. Perhaps you've been busy.  You finally get a chance to look at the markets but nothing  really fits your normal method of betting/trading. What do you do?

2)   If you get in late and the event you were interested in is already half-way through. What's your reaction?

3)   You're trading a match, it works out well and you make a few ticks before closing your position.  But then you see the market move dramatically even further in the direction you had predicted. How do you feel then, knowing that you have missed out on a larger win?

4)  You assess a particular market and make a judgment about how it should pan out. For one reason   or the other, however, you decide not to get involved. Later you see your prediction was spot on. What's your attitude?

You may say these are all stupid questions because the answers are axiomatic, completely self-evident. Everyone's reactions and feelings will be the same, won't they? Well, maybe and maybe not. The key to all this, however, is down to the next question:

Based on your feeling to each of the questions above... what do you do next?
  • For question 1) do you have a bet anyway? Or do you switch off your computer?

  • For question 2) do you jump in and try and "recover" what you think you've lost by missing the start of the event? Do you increase your stakes to win the same as you would have done had you been there at the start? Or do you either leave the event alone completely, saying to yourself that you'll get on the next one? Or perhaps you do attempt to trade the event, fully accepting that if you do happen to make a profit, it will undoubtedly be smaller than a full game's trading.

  • For question 3) do you jump back into the market to try and regain what, in your heart, you feel that you should have won? Or do you say to yourself "c'est la vie" and carry on as normal?

  • For question 4) do you have a substitute bet to try and regain what you have lost? Or do you say to yourself that there is a new opportunity just around the corner and maybe you'll catch that one?

Part of this "picking your moments" thing is trying to get away from thinking that you're always missing something good. When you're out or when your computer's not on, perhaps you're missing some amazing betting opportunity, perhaps there are people on there right now making a killing?

Well yes, they probably are. And yes, undoubtedly you are missing an opportunity. Get used to the idea. Stop thinking that you're always missing the boat because a new boat is right around the corner.

So stay disciplined. Set up some simple rules for yourself and try to stick with them. We all "fall off the wagon" now and then, but the bulk of your betting must have some form of order. It must comply to whatever rules YOU decide. Each of us must know what works for us and what doesn't. So stick with that and put aside this nagging feeling that you're missing out on something wonderful. Because the fact is that we are all missing out.

Had another fantastic day in the markets today, winning over £200 overall. Started off early trading the Aussie Open. Managed to trade the first set before, unfortunately, having to go out. I got back a few hours later and was astonished to see it just finishing, so it looks like it was a truly great final. I feel a bit gutted to have missed the spectacle.

Overall,  I think I've finished the two weeks of the tournament just about £7 down, which is not too bad. All my losses were from pre-set bets (the dutch in the winners market and a straight £50 loss on a twin bet where the second part didn't trigger for some reason). All my in-play tennis trading, however, went well and this is not really a surprise. I always feel more comfortable in-play as it's possible to react to what's actually happening, rather than trying to make an overall prediction. I also feel that it's not too difficult to read the play as it progresses.

The football went very well today, and I really feel that I'm going from strength to strength now. Of course this is just the kind of scenario that leads to a large loss so I await that with a resigned smile. The one thing we all know from betting is that it will bite you in the arse just when you think you've cracked it.

Anyway, here's today's results:

Tennis: £14.77 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  £14.77 


Tennis Showing 1 - 2 of 2 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Tennis / Mens Tournament : Winner 29-Jan-12 08:30  29-Jan-12 14:40  0.97
Tennis / Djokovic v Nadal : Match Odds 29-Jan-12 08:30  29-Jan-12 14:39  13.80

Football: £198.60 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  £198.60 


Football Showing 1 - 8 of 8 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Football / Malaga v Sevilla : Correct Score 29-Jan-12 20:30  29-Jan-12 22:28  25.78
Football / AC Milan v Cagliari : Correct Score 29-Jan-12 19:45  29-Jan-12 21:41  26.71
Football / AC Milan v Cagliari : Over/Under 2.5 goals 29-Jan-12 19:45  29-Jan-12 21:19  2.14
Football / Arsenal v Aston Villa : Correct Score 29-Jan-12 16:00  29-Jan-12 17:56  49.87
Football / Arsenal v Aston Villa : Over/Under 3.5 Goals 29-Jan-12 16:00  29-Jan-12 17:18  2.30
Football / Arsenal v Aston Villa : Over/Under 2.5 goals 29-Jan-12 16:00  29-Jan-12 17:17  25.27
Football / Sunderland v Middlesbrough : Correct Score 29-Jan-12 13:30  29-Jan-12 15:29  37.70
Football / Sunderland v Middlesbrough : Over/Under 2.5 goals 29-Jan-12 13:30  29-Jan-12 15:26  28.83

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Jump In, The Water's Lovely!

... And so we do - or most of us do. We jump right in with both feet because we're just sure that everything is going to be okay. But guess what? It isn't going to be okay. Not the first time you jump in - or even any subsequent time.

Yes, of course, I'm talking about your trading experiences. When we first discover the concept of people making money by backing and laying, we're all feverish with excitement, and are like children with new toys that we want to play without end. We see this veritable sea of money swishing and swirling around in the markets and we hold our hands out in yearning, as we want some of it. And it all looks so easy. We think we've found a straight, open path paved with riches, and it will just be a case of strolling along it and gently gathering up all the pots of gold that line its length. Yes indeed, this is Shangrila and, thankfully, we've discovered it.

Unfortunately, jumping feet first into our very first trading experience will, more often than not, result in complete disaster. Those that do jump in feet first but don't crash and burn immediately are only delaying the inevitable, for they will also happen upon a punishing wipeout on subsequent attempts using the initial, unthinking Kamikaze method.

"Okay", you say to yourself after hitting a wall two or three times, "I'll take it a bit more steady. Maybe I'm going in too hard and too fast".

Well, yes. Quite. And perhaps this is the first real step on the road to some kind of realisation or recognition of what it takes, or even what it maybe takes, to actually make some money doing this crazy, solitary, isolationist hobby of ours.

But even then, this is a lesson that many need to keep learning over and over and over again. And for many, it's a lesson they will never learn. Sadly, for many the message will never seep in, and they will keep experiencing the same thing endlessly until they either give-up entirely or go through their lives haemorraging money at, what to them, is deemed an acceptable level of loss.

Some people, however, (the fortunate ones) will eventually allow this harsh lesson to finally permeate through into their stone-like consciousness, and trigger a change in their behaviour patterns. These people are then on the real road - the road where they can, perhaps, start making some money. But even then, it's a hard journey that no one will thank them for going on.

Right, well, I've probably depressed the hell out of you all by now, but I was struck by something today that caught my eye. And, for me, it is VITALLY important when it comes to betting or trading. I popped along to the http://tradingtennis.blogspot.com/ this morning, just browsing  blogland to kill some time, and I came across this short sentence:

the patiant (sic) traders who know when to get involved and how to control them selves after a big win also and just get back to their jobs/routines are on the right track in trading. it's great to work with intelligent people here.

Really, it was this part: "... traders who know when to get involved" that caught my attention as this is one of the most important lessons that any trader must learn - and be willing to learn.

As you will have seen from my short posts on the subject here, I know very little about tennis; but I would now consider myself a half-decent trader of football - yet I believe the same maxims apply across all sports when trading, and the one highlighted here is absolutely imperative. I'll say it again:

          patient traders who know when to get involved

Take football (this is, afterall, a blog on that subject). If you trade football, are you one of those people who jump right in? Do you sit down at your computer, set everything up and then just start clicking away immediately? If so, then you are probably a loser with a negative P&L.

A football match lasts some 93 minutes or so, with a fifteen minute break in the middle. This is one hour and forty-five minutes of potential trading (assuming for a moment that you are not pre-match trading). There is an average of 2.5 to 3 goals in a match, with each goal taking perhaps 10 to 30 seconds to score from first build-up to the goal hitting the back of the net. That is no more than 90 seconds of importance in 93 minutes of action. Do you assess a match like that? Do you look for the important times to get involved in a game? Do you look at when and where you can be most effective for the least amount of risk? Do you even bother to ask yourselves these types of questions?

So the message must be "Don't jump right in. The water's not lovely". Look at the sentence from the Trading Tennis blog once again. I make no apology for repeating it as it one of the foundations to being successful:

           patient traders who know when to get involved

In all honesty, are you one of these people? Do you know when to get involved and when not to? Do you pick and choose your moments? If the answer is "no" or "I'm not sure", then I'd say you are not yet in a position to start making money trading.

I had a very good day today and was able to trade more than I had initially envisaged (as I didn't do as much DIY as I was supposed to!). I took a steady, disciplined approach and got involved at appropriate times in the matches I traded. I believe that I'm doing this more and more now, and am starting to reap the benefits. And it's also nice to know why this is happening!

I say again: getting involved at the right times is the key. Don't be impatient. Let the opportunities come to you rather than you trying to manufacture them. Keep your powder dry and choose the times you trade - and do so carefully. Look at this aspect of your trading and improve your performance because of it.

Football: £194.49 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  £194.49 


Football Showing 1 - 20 of 21 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Football / Juventus v Udinese : Correct Score 28-Jan-12 19:45  28-Jan-12 21:40  20.31
Football / Juventus v Udinese : Match Odds 28-Jan-12 19:45  28-Jan-12 21:37  4.28
Football / Juventus v Udinese : Over/Under 2.5 goals 28-Jan-12 19:45  28-Jan-12 21:06  3.72
Football / Brighton v Newcastle : Correct Score 28-Jan-12 17:15  28-Jan-12 19:16  16.80
Football / Brighton v Newcastle : Over/Under 1.5 Goals 28-Jan-12 17:15  28-Jan-12 19:14  10.43
Football / Brighton v Newcastle : Over/Under 2.5 goals 28-Jan-12 17:15  28-Jan-12 19:14  11.31
Football / West Brom v Norwich : Match Odds 28-Jan-12 15:00  28-Jan-12 16:59  0.35
Football / Hull v Crawley Town : Match Odds 28-Jan-12 15:00  28-Jan-12 16:54  0.91
Football / Bolton v Swansea : Match Odds 28-Jan-12 15:00  28-Jan-12 16:52  0.52
Football / Blackpool v Sheff Wed : Match Odds 28-Jan-12 15:00  28-Jan-12 16:52  0.00
Football / Millwall v Southampton : Match Odds 28-Jan-12 15:00  28-Jan-12 16:51  1.32
Football / H Berlin v Hamburg : Correct Score 28-Jan-12 14:30  28-Jan-12 16:24  16.93
Football / H Berlin v Hamburg : Match Odds 28-Jan-12 14:30  28-Jan-12 16:24  1.50
Football / W Bremen v Leverkusen : Match Odds 28-Jan-12 14:30  28-Jan-12 16:22  2.25
Football / B Munich v Wolfsburg : Correct Score 28-Jan-12 14:30  28-Jan-12 16:22  0.35
Football / Augsburg v Kaiserslautern : Match Odds 28-Jan-12 14:30  28-Jan-12 16:21  2.64
Football / Liverpool v Man Utd : Over/Under 3.5 Goals 28-Jan-12 12:45  28-Jan-12 14:40  1.41
Football / Liverpool v Man Utd : Correct Score 28-Jan-12 12:45  28-Jan-12 14:37  27.90
Football / Liverpool v Man Utd : Over/Under 2.5 goals 28-Jan-12 12:45  28-Jan-12 14:32  18.22
Football / QPR v Chelsea : Correct Score 28-Jan-12 12:00  28-Jan-12 14:04  50.46

 Pages: 1  2   of 2 Pages 

Friday, 27 January 2012

Daylight Robbery

That's what happened at Vicarage Road tonight (hmm, that would make it Night-time Robbery). Spurs managed to win this evening against Watford with one shot on goal the entire match. I don't think I've seen them play that badly all season and yet we are through to the next round. Got to feel slightly sorry for Watford, but for all their possession they were largely toothless in front of goal - and that's what matters.

Thankfully I made a few pennies off the match, whilst also nicking a bit on the Bundesliga game.

I have a ton of things to do tomorrow, including more DIY than I know how to handle, but in between all that's going on, I'll try my best to nip in front of the telly and trade a few bits and bobs. I'll certainly make an effort to look at the Liverpool v Man Utd game at lunchtime.

Football: £73.59 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  £71.59 


Football Showing 1 - 4 of 4 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Football / Watford v Tottenham : Correct Score 27-Jan-12 19:45  27-Jan-12 21:42  34.39
Football / Watford v Tottenham : Over/Under 2.5 goals 27-Jan-12 19:45  27-Jan-12 21:41  27.49
Football / Hannover v Nurnberg : Over/Under 2.5 goals 27-Jan-12 19:30  27-Jan-12 21:25  0.27
Football / Hannover v Nurnberg : Correct Score 27-Jan-12 19:30  27-Jan-12 21:23  11.44

Seconds From Disaster

I'm "working" from home today, so I thought I would trade the Djokovic/Murray semi-final, which went quite well for me. I was pleased with my result and also pleased at how I was able to read the match.

What I like about tennis is how demarcated the event is. Each set is like a mini-match and what has gone before doesn't necessarily have any bearing on what is happening in the current set.

After the scrappy first set, it was possible to see Murray getting up a head of steam and so it was easy enough to jump on him at that point. When he won the third set, while they were still in their seats, I could see him almost sighing with relief, and I thought he would "relax" somewhat after psyching himself up. So laid him immediately.

When he started to lose that set, I then greened-up and watched the rest of the match as just a spectator. It was a cracking match with so many twists and turns, and I was still watching the odds even though I was out at that point, and some of the swings were just crazy.

So what is the meaning behind my title today? Well, you know me, after having a successful dabble on the tennis, I thought I'd do some mild experiment on the GGs. I use Betangel for my betting and, although it's just about the most expensive API on the market, I'm very comfortable with it now and can't seem to get on with any of the others.

Anyway, as some of you may know who also use this tool, Betangel comes with lots of excellent little add-on utilities for various sports. There is Tennis Trader,  which allows you to predict the odds after the next point (helpful today), there is Soccer Mystic to show the odds movements on Match Odds, Correct Score and Over/Under markets - and then there is Racing Trader, which provides a graphical view (much like a horse race itself) of each horse's odds, with horses moving closer to the finish line the shorter their odds become (see picture below).

So there I was, trying out Racing Trader for the very first time. I wanted to view the horse race on Betfair video at the same time but, to enable you to do that, you have to place a bet on the event. Even though I knew there was a considerable time delay with BF video on the horses (at least five seconds and maybe more) I thought I would stick £2 on any horse just so that I could watch the race and see how it correlated to the Racing Trader output.

The one-click tab on Betangel was showing me the default stake was set to £2.00, so when the race started, I clicked on a horse and sat back to watch how it all panned out. Then I saw a £200 liability on all the horses except the one I'd chosen. Whoops, the default stake was indeed £2, but I had failed to click in the little tick box to accept that, and so instead had placed a bet on this unknown horse at my usual football trading stake of £200.

AAaaah! What was worse was that I immediately saw the odds for my chosen horse drifting up into outer space. Fuck-a-duck, what on earth was I doing?

At this point I had a £40 red in the space of a few seconds. I forlornly shoved in a close order for the same odds as I'd backed at, and then sat back and watched my horse on the Racing Trader graphical display moving backwards. It then made a short recovery before drifting off at warp factor 9.

I was shaking my head in disbelief at my stupidity. I had been so happy with my tennis trading and then blown my own brains out in ten seconds flat by not making a basic check. With all hope lost, I slowly looked back at the Betangel one-click screen to view the full confirmation of my madness - but then was mightily surprised to see a zero liability!

What had happened? Well, by some miracle of fortune, during the very brief spell of recovery that my GG had made, my lay order had amazingly been filled. According to the Racing Traders interface, the recovery didn't get back far enough to hit my initial odds, but obviously they did.

Well, what a truly lucky escape. I can't tell you how relieved I am. If I accept a bet and that bet goes on to lose, then of course I'm annoyed, but accept it as part of the risk that I have knowingly undertaken at that point. This was different though. This was a pure mistake, plain and simple, and if I had lost £200 because of it, I would have been down about that for the rest of the day.

So,  all-in-all, I've had the Gods smiling on me today. A good trading session on the tennis, and then a reprieve on the horses when there seemed to be absolutely no way of one occurring.

Perhaps I should start calling myself Lucky Jim from now?

Tennis: £46.84 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  £46.84 


Tennis Showing 1 - 2 of 2 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Tennis / Mens Tournament : Winner 29-Jan-12 08:30  27-Jan-12 13:38  2.45
Tennis / Djokovic v A Murray : Match Odds 27-Jan-12 08:30  27-Jan-12 13:37  44.39

BTW, the other £2 here is from my Winners market dutch. This didn't work at all. When Tsonga lost, I greened-up the remaining two parts of the bet for, as you can see, £2.45, but lost $13 overall on this market.

I should be back posting again tonight after the Spurs game against Watford.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

A Good Kick Up The Arse

Yes, this is precisely what I need right now as, unfortunately, the laziness, ill-discipline and brainless betting have continued right where I left off last night.

All a bit embarrassing I'm afraid, but the way I'm going, I'm heading for a large loss just around the corner - and it's doubtless what I need and deserve right now.

Got back home this evening and sat down to watch the Italian Cup match between AC Milan and Lazio. The away team scored an early goal, so I leapt straight in without any real consideration of value, goal expectancy, the way the game was going or any other factors that any decent trader should be aware of - and immediately backed Under 4.5 goals at 1.30.

Well, after 18 minutes and three goals scored, it wasn't looking very good and I faced a straight £200 loss. And, as mentioned, if this had happened then I would have fully deserved it. No question about it. I was so annoyed with myself, I didn't even try to hedge my position in any way.

Anyway, as luck would have it, there were no further goals until late in the game, by which time I'd managed to trade-out for a £4 profit. After that, my discipline happily returned and the remaining profits were steady and properly risk-assessed.

I'm sure these things probably go in cycles, but at the moment I'm making lots of mistakes and yet getting away with them each time. On another occasion I could have been £500 down from the way I've behaved this week.

So, I'll try and be a good boy for the rest of the week. Hard work and a steady approach for this weekend's F.A. Cup matches.

Football: £52.04 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  £52.04 


Football Showing 1 - 6 of 6 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Football / Levante v Valencia : Correct Score 26-Jan-12 20:30  26-Jan-12 22:16  7.24
Football / AC Milan v Lazio : Correct Score 26-Jan-12 19:45  26-Jan-12 21:44  40.66
Football / AC Milan v Lazio : Over/Under 4.5 Goals 26-Jan-12 19:45  26-Jan-12 21:41  4.67
Football / AC Milan v Lazio : Half Time/Full Time 26-Jan-12 19:45  26-Jan-12 21:40  -6.00
Football / AC Milan v Lazio : Half Time Score 26-Jan-12 19:45  26-Jan-12 20:33  2.59
Football / AC Milan v Lazio : Over/Under 2.5 goals 26-Jan-12 19:45  26-Jan-12 20:05  2.88

Oh, and I do realise my recent posts have been a little on the dull side, but stick with it and I promise to have something more to your liking very shortly. So watch this space!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Lazy Gambler

What a lazy git. There I was, sitting in the pub, a nice pint of ale in my hand watching the Liverpool v Man City match tonight, with not a problem in the world.

"Hmmm, the game looks lively. I'm sure Liverpool will score more in the second half. I know, I'll lay the current score."

Fire-up the Betfair app on my mobile, tap, tap, done deal.

Yes, as I say, lazy, lazy, lazy. This is just the kind of thinking that separates gambling hobbiests such as myself from professional traders (not that I ever want to become a professional). It's the too-easy diversion from the path that surely makes the difference.

I suppose, if I'm honest, I just wanted to add a bit of extra interest into the game for, as entertaining as the match was, as a neutral, it just needed a little something to "pep it up" a touch more. And yes, what perfect way to achieve that than to put some of my children's inheritance on the line (as Theo Paphitis might say) and have a bet for fun... And actually it did help; It did add a little bit of extra spice and made the game more interesting. Also, luckily (and hand on heart, I have to say it was pure 100% luck), the match went my way and I won my bet.

As a hobbiest, however, I have to admit that I did feel a tinge of disappointment with myself. On a Saturday - which is often my main trading day - I can spend a whole day trading and come away with less than I won tonight. This is not to say that toiling all day should always be redeemed or that quick wins are not welcome, but if the idea is to slowly and steadily build-up a bank using a strong, disciplined approach, then my actions today are most certainly not the way forward.

Okay, that's enough of the self-rebuking. I suppose, in the final analysis, there's not too much wrong with a fun bet for people like me. Either way, win or lose, it's not going to affect the food I put on the table or threaten the roof over my head, so maybe I should not take it all too seriously. Maybe I'm just being a pussy.

Soccer: £104.77 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  £104.77 


Soccer Showing 1 - 1 of 1 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Soccer / Liverpool v Man City : Correct Score 25-Jan-12 19:45  25-Jan-12 21:41  104.77

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Greed Is Good

Despite the picture, I'm not actually talking about Gordon Gecko from Wall Street today. No, instead I want to discuss the current Spurs manager - the lugubrious, loveable rogue, Harry Rednapp.

Yes, dear old Harry, the man with the hangdog expression and more chins than a chinese phonebook. With the kind of face that only a mother could love, I have the sneaking suspicion that he only named his secret Monaco account after his pet bulldog as, with the similarity in appearance, he was hoping that Rosie the dog would be up before the beak instead of him.

No oil painting he may be, but there is no doubt in my mind that Harry Rednapp has been a godsend for Tottenham Hotspur. After first having pulled them out of the mire, he's steadily led them into the upper echelons of English football in the space of three seasons. Not particularly known for his tactical “nouse”, he nevertheless has the ability to inspire and motivate his teams, and he’s bought well and his team have gelled together marvellously.

Yet this is a man in the same mould as Terry Venables, coming from the same “old-school” style of management where business was conducted in a “different” way (to put it politely). You might call it a kind of “back-alley” type of management – a quick deal here, a brown paper bag there. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, stick it in my sky-rocket and say no more, my son.

For my mind though, this persona of Harry's allied with this current court case against him could turn out to be very good news indeed for all us Spurs fans. If we can presume for a moment that Mr. Rednapp is able to avoid a spell at her Majesty’s pleasure for any wrongdoing that may be proven, then it must be reasonable for us to assume that the English F.A could well be put off by the news of all these back-door dealings and shenanigans. When they do finally come to consider who is going to replace Capello, then his name may well be struck from the list of potential candidates after this unsavoury business. After all, this was precisely the reason that Terry Venable’s tenure as England manager was curtailed, wasn’t it?

All this is, of course, pointless conjecture on my part. There is no way to know what may, or may not, go on within the walls of the F.A headquarters or what machinations may take place between now and appointment time. But for any Spurs fans reading this, it may well be a case of “greed is good”… because it may help Tottenham to keep hold of a top-notch manager and help sustain the momentum that he's so ably built up.


The title of this post is "Greed Is Good", but you will see from my P&L tonight that I have been anything but greedy. Relatively low figures but I'm still happy to even have a P&L: normally on Tuesday and Wednesday it doesn't exist at all.

With a more stable than usual internet connection in my hotel, I managed to do some cautious trading on the Carling Cup match tonight. My usual trading methods are, as I've mentioned before, not something I like to pursue whilst away from my broadband - but having a hamstrung connection does lead me to explore different ways to trade, which is always interesting.

Tonight, for example, I dabbled with small stakes in the "To Qualify" market, which is something I've never done before and it was something of an eye-opener. If any of you have never traded this market before then can I suggest you take a look. There are some definite possibilities there and the odds move in a completely different way to all other markets, ebbing and flowing before finally settling out around evens for each team up to the penalty shootout.

I also tried out a different technique on the Correct Score market. As mentioned at length on a previous post, this market has almost boundless possibilities, and trying new ideas out is always well worth doing, even if they fail.

By the way, Palace did well to hold out as long as they did tonight, but Cardiff were deserved winners.

Football: £35.86 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  £35.86 


Football Showing 1 - 4 of 4 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Football / Cardiff v C Palace : To Qualify 24-Jan-12 19:45  24-Jan-12 22:31  7.49
Football / Cardiff v C Palace : ET - Correct Score 24-Jan-12 19:45  24-Jan-12 22:21  10.49
Football / Cardiff v C Palace : Correct Score 24-Jan-12 19:45  24-Jan-12 21:46  14.58
Football / Cardiff v C Palace : Match Odds 24-Jan-12 19:45  24-Jan-12 21:42  3.30

Monday, 23 January 2012

Fag Packet Calculations

Following on from my post on how to calculate the score probabilities using Poisson, it is my intention (at some point) to go through and describe a detailed method of how to calculate each team's attack and defence ratings, and the home advantage.

Unfortunately I'm quite a lazy person, so I wouldn't hold your breath for too long. I will get around to it (I'm sure) but at this stage I just couldn't tell you when.

Anway, when I do finally get round to it, I will attempt to show you how to calculate the following:

  • Home attack ability
  • Home defence ability
  • Home advantage
  • Away attack ability
  • Away defence ability.

With these elements calculated, we can then derive the home team goal expectancy as:

    µhome = A1 x D2 x H
    (where A1=Home attack ability, D2=Away defence ability and H=Home advantage)

and the away expectancy as:

    µaway = A2 x D1
    (where A2=Away attack ability and D1=Home defence. Note there is no home advantage for the away side!)

... But, as I say, this is all quite an undertaking and, quite frankly, I can't be arsed at the moment. I did, however, come across something on my laptop that I must have copied quite some time ago. It's from The Times Fink Tank (I believe I offered this as a good link some time ago), and in this short article some "fag packet calculations" are provided to help the feckless arrive at attack and defence ability figures, along with a home advantage figure. These can then be used in a Poisson calculation.

In all honesty, I have absolutely no idea how accurate or inaccurate these rather broad brushstroke calculations are (although I'd be surprised if they do work well), but I thought that, for those who cannot wait for me to get off my backside and show how I do it, or for those that may find the full answer a bit too difficult, then this "dummed-down" version might just be the ticket.

So please note, this is not mine. It is from the Times Online (although I cannot tell you when). I haven't asked permission to reproduce this here, so if they complain I will have to take it down. In the meantime, here it is:

I am going to use tomorrow’s big FA Cup fourth-round tie — Liverpool v Everton — as an example.

First, you need to understand home advantage. A study of 3,257 games suggests that the average team away from home against average opponents score 1.1 goals, while at home they score 1.49 goals. This produces a critical number for the DIY Fink Tank. If you divide 1.49 by 1.1, you get 1.36. For every goal you think your team would score away from home, they would score 1.36 at home.

Right. Next step. And for this you just need the league table. You are going to calculate how many goals your team score and concede per game at home and away, and how many your opponents score and concede per game. This allows us to get ratings for both sides in attack and defence.

Let’s say you are a Liverpool fan. At home in 2007-08 and 2008-09 the team have scored 60 goals in 30 matches — an average of two per game. We want comparable ratings for both sides, so for the moment we are going to pretend that both sides are away from home. So divide that two goals per game by 1.36. You get 1.47. Jot it down.

Now look at Liverpool’s away goals. They have scored an average of 1.43 goals. Taken together with the home average of 1.47 goals that means Liverpool score an average of 1.45 per game. That is their attack rating. You can do the same for Everton. Their attack rating is 1.21.

Repeat the exercise for defence. The only thing you need to remember here is what to do about home advantage. Don’t forget that when Liverpool concede goals away from home it is the other team who had the home advantage. So the goals scored against Liverpool when they are away need to be divided by 1.36. For defence, then, we get a rating of 0.6 for Liverpool and 0.86 for Everton.

What now? For Liverpool multiply 1.36 by Liverpool’s attack rating (1.45) and Everton’s defence rating (0.86). You get an expected number of Liverpool goals of 1.7. For Everton multiply their attack rating (1.21) by Liverpool’s defence (0.6). You get 0.73. So 1.7 plays 0.73, an average scoring game with Liverpool in the driving seat, essentially expected to win by a goal.

Home Team
Attack: HGF = 2.00 / 1.36 == 1.47 + AGF = 1.43 (avg == 1.45)
Defence: HGA = 0.65 + AGA = 0.88 / 1.36 == 0.64 (avg == 0.64)

Away Team
Attack: HGF = 1.85 / 1.36 == 1.36 + AGF = 1.21 (avg == 1.28)
Defence: HGA = 0.95 + AGA = 1.12 / 1.36 == 0.82 (avg == 0.88)

Home attack X Away Defence (1.45 * 0.88 ) == 1.27
Away attack X Home Defect (1.28 * 0.64)    ==  0.81

Goal difference is 0.46. Therefore (48.16% probability for Liverpool win)

If you had a computer and a spreadsheet you could now use something called the Poisson distribution to get the probability of a Liverpool victory. The graphic shows how probable different scores are and it follows this common distribution.

But you are in the pub, so maybe it is difficult to work an Excel sheet and perhaps you don’t know what the Poisson distribution is anyway.

Here is the quick cheat method. Liverpool’s expected goal difference is 0.97. Multiply this by 21 and then add 38.5. You can do this (expected goal difference times 21 plus 38.5) for almost any side to get the probability of victory. It gives you a 59 per cent chance of a Liverpool victory. Not a bad estimation at all.

There you have it. The Fink Tank on the back of an envelope.


Traded the Morocco v Tunisia match (much more entertaining than most of the pundits had forecast) and also the Southampton v Leicester match. Bit annoyed with myself on this last match as I could see how well Leicester had started the match, but I was hesitant in doing anything about it and then Leicester scored. If I hadn't prevaricated, I would have made a really healthy profit. Still, the evening was okay, so I suppose I should be thankful for that.

Football: £54.54 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  £54.54 


Football Showing 1 - 3 of 3 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Football / Southampton v Leicester : Over/Under 2.5 goals 23-Jan-12 19:45  23-Jan-12 21:45  19.34
Football / Morocco v Tunisia : Correct Score 23-Jan-12 19:00  23-Jan-12 20:57  29.82
Football / Morocco v Tunisia : Over/Under 2.5 goals 23-Jan-12 19:00  23-Jan-12 20:45  5.38

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Tennis Update

Despite my marvellous day today (see post below), I should temper this with a small reality check, and detail my failings on the tennis. Rob the Builder and The Sultan will be pissing their pants (and can happily say "I told you so"), but I do have some losses.

First-off, my dutch of Murray, Nadal and Tsonga has not really worked out (so far), as their prices have hardly moved at all. This has been somewhat of a surprise to a novice like me, but does show me that, instead of backing these players and hoping for their prices to come in, I would have done better laying them all instead. Djokovic has come in slightly, but the other five behind him ( Federer, Murray, Nadal, Tsonga and Del Potro) have all remained largely static. This means I could have layed all of these players for virtually no risk in the first week, and then traded-out at that point for a scratched trade if they all happened to be still in the competition. If one of them had unexpectedly lost, then I could have traded-out for a profit. I'll try this on the next tournament.

For the moment, I will let Murray and Tsonga play their next matches and hope they can both make their way into the quarter finals. If they both manage this, then I will trade-out at that point regardless. Presently my dutch is showing a loss of £3. If either of them lose, then I will of course be looking at a red trade.

As for my other attempts, I had my 93p win at the start of the tournament, then lost £50 on a trade that I must have setup incorrectly because the second part of the trade did not trigger while I was asleep. Looking at the match and how it played-out, it should have triggered, but I don't know what went wrong there.

Then lastly, I tried to trade the game between Dolgopolov and Tomic, and made a couple of judgment errors to end up with a £3 loss. Beyond that I haven't really found the time to do anything else. Because I'm either working or trading the footy during the day, and because of the time differences, I haven't really attacked the tennis like I would have liked (I suspect it's only proper tennis traders that really have), but I hope to increase my efforts on this as the year goes on.

Tennis: -£52.70 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  -£52.70 


Tennis Showing 1 - 3 of 3 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Tennis / Dolgopolov v Tomic : Match Odds 20-Jan-12 08:00  20-Jan-12 12:00  -3.63
Tennis / Llodra v Bogomolov Jr : Match Odds 19-Jan-12 00:00  19-Jan-12 03:30  -50.00
Tennis / Azarenka v Watson : Match Odds 16-Jan-12 00:00  16-Jan-12 01:21  0.93

Successful but depressed

Absolutely mammoth day today, where everything seemed to go right for me... except of course for the most important thing, which went horribly wrong. Ho-hum.

Had my best day of betting in recent memory and feel more than satisfied with today's trading - but still feel down and depressed about the Spurs result, even though it wasn't entirely unexpected. I keep replaying in my head Defoe sliding into the box in the last few minutes and missing the goal by a few inches. That would have put us 2-3 up and who knows what would have happened then. Instead, our man-mountain Ledley King gave away a stonewall penalty and that was that.

There was some compensation, of course, when Arsenal went down against Man Utd. This means none of the teams behind us have made any real headway, so hopefully we should still be okay for a Champions League spot.

On the betting, without really knowing why, I took a more aggressive approach today than I normally do. I wouldn't say that I went crazy with my risk, but it felt right at the time to increase my exposure on certain scenarios for defined periods of time - and thankfully it all paid off.

So, a very good day's trading all in all.

Soccer: £466.09 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  £466.09 


Soccer Showing 1 - 10 of 10 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Soccer / Arsenal v Man Utd : Correct Score 22-Jan-12 16:00  22-Jan-12 17:57  38.56
Soccer / Arsenal v Man Utd : Match Odds 22-Jan-12 16:00  22-Jan-12 17:57  112.49
Soccer / Arsenal v Man Utd : Over/Under 2.5 goals 22-Jan-12 16:00  22-Jan-12 17:43  32.62
Soccer / Rayo Vallecano v Mallorca : Match Odds 22-Jan-12 15:00  22-Jan-12 16:52  76.65
Soccer / Man City v Tottenham : Correct Score 22-Jan-12 13:30  22-Jan-12 15:32  38.38
Soccer / Man City v Tottenham : Match Odds 22-Jan-12 13:30  22-Jan-12 15:24  85.91
Soccer / Man City v Tottenham : Over/Under 2.5 goals 22-Jan-12 13:30  22-Jan-12 14:48  27.42
Soccer / Man City v Tottenham : Over/Under 1.5 Goals 22-Jan-12 13:30  22-Jan-12 14:46  18.79
Soccer / Palermo v Genoa : Over/Under 2.5 goals 22-Jan-12 14:00  22-Jan-12 14:38  1.35
Soccer / Bologna v Parma : Match Odds 22-Jan-12 11:30  22-Jan-12 13:25  33.92

Saturday, 21 January 2012

My Little Botty

Okay, you've got me. The title is just a lame excuse to put up a picture of a cute arse. The weak pun actually concerns my new bot, which has performed well today on it's first unveiling. This of course means very little as it needs to be run for a considerable length of time. When I back-fit my automated system it makes a profit, but we'll see how it performs in reality. Just small stakes at present. I've had more false dawns than I care to mention, so I'll go cautiously.

I did my Heathrow run this morning, but with a delayed arrival I missed the first half of the Norwich v Chelsea game. The second-half proved okay however, so I shall not complain. I did get to see the whole of the Bolton v Liverpool game, which turned out to be something of a roller-coaster ride for me. The game just didn't pan out how I envisaged it at all (which is the beauty of football, I suppose).

Even before I could get involved, a goal was scored, so I went straight onto the Under 4.5 market. This was a big mistake as the goals continued to fly in. I could, with hindsight, have left the bet in place for a rather large win, but I wasn't about to risk that amount of money and traded-out on that for £7 loss.

The Juventus match is just about to start, so I may have a go on that, but for now, I'll wish you a good evening. The mighty Spurs play against Man City tomorrow. I fully expect City to win, but I will still watch the match full of hope.

Football: £131.21 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  £131.21 


Football Showing 1 - 17 of 17 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Football / Bolton v Liverpool : Over/Under 4.5 Goals 21-Jan-12 17:30  21-Jan-12 19:26  -7.30
Football / Bolton v Liverpool : Correct Score 21-Jan-12 17:30  21-Jan-12 19:24  33.89
Football / Huddersfield v Brentford : Over/Under 2.5 goals 21-Jan-12 17:20  21-Jan-12 18:04  0.01
Football / West Ham v Nottm Forest : Match Odds 21-Jan-12 15:00  21-Jan-12 17:02  4.05
Football / Rangers v Aberdeen : Match Odds 21-Jan-12 15:00  21-Jan-12 17:00  -3.21
Football / Reading v Hull : Match Odds 21-Jan-12 15:00  21-Jan-12 16:56  2.38
Football / Leeds v Ipswich : Match Odds 21-Jan-12 15:00  21-Jan-12 16:56  0.27
Football / Wolves v Aston Villa : Match Odds 21-Jan-12 15:00  21-Jan-12 16:56  3.20
Football / Birmingham v Watford : Match Odds 21-Jan-12 15:00  21-Jan-12 16:54  3.12
Football / Everton v Blackburn : Match Odds 21-Jan-12 15:00  21-Jan-12 16:53  3.97
Football / Fulham v Newcastle : Match Odds 21-Jan-12 15:00  21-Jan-12 16:52  9.52
Football / Wolfsburg v FC Koln : Match Odds 21-Jan-12 14:30  21-Jan-12 16:22  5.22
Football / Freiburg v Augsburg : Match Odds 21-Jan-12 14:30  21-Jan-12 16:22  1.36
Football / Nurnberg v H Berlin : Match Odds 21-Jan-12 14:30  21-Jan-12 16:22  3.49
Football / Hoffenheim v Hannover : Match Odds 21-Jan-12 14:30  21-Jan-12 16:18  1.99
Football / Norwich v Chelsea : Over/Under 1.5 Goals 21-Jan-12 12:45  21-Jan-12 14:42  15.23
Football / Norwich v Chelsea : Correct Score 21-Jan-12 12:45  21-Jan-12 14:40  54.02


Just finished the Atalanta v Juventus game, which I found incredibly hard going. I'm not really sure why, but I kept dipping in and out of different markets and didn't feel particularly comfortable in any of them (as you can see below from the small amounts on each). At one point I was going to give up because things just didn't feel right (perhaps I'm over-tired), but I decided to persevere and have come away with a small bit of profit on the game.

I'm going to veg-out in front of the telly now, and have a glass of wine. The Adjustment Bureau is on Sky so I'll park my brain and give that a go.
Soccer: £26.83 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  £26.83 


Soccer Showing 1 - 5 of 5 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Soccer / Atalanta v Juventus : Over/Under 2.5 goals 21-Jan-12 19:45  21-Jan-12 21:42  4.29
Soccer / Atalanta v Juventus : Correct Score 21-Jan-12 19:45  21-Jan-12 21:41  14.70
Soccer / Atalanta v Juventus : Match Odds 21-Jan-12 19:45  21-Jan-12 21:41  3.20
Soccer / Atalanta v Juventus : Over/Under 1.5 Goals 21-Jan-12 19:45  21-Jan-12 21:29  3.10
Soccer / Atalanta v Juventus : Half Time Score 21-Jan-12 19:45  21-Jan-12 20:36  1.54

Friday, 20 January 2012

The year of the dragon

Not too much to report this evening, except to say that I'm utterly exhausted. It's been one of those days where everything has been going on at once. In between a full days work of my own, I packed my wife off for the weekend, ran the usual taxi service for my eldest daughter and helped dress my youngest up in Chinese costume (including having to do her makeup), as her Brownies group were celebrating the Chinese New Year - which I believe is actually this coming Monday. It's around 11:00pm now and I've just come in from Tesco after buying a mountain of groceries (I can't say I enjoy all these domestic chores).

In between all this I did squeeze in an hour or so of trading earlier, and managed to lose a little and win a little, so may as well not have bothered.

So, apologies for this rather vacuous and trifling post, but I'm completely shagged and so am going to have an early night. I have to pick someone up from Heathrow tomorrow and so will be up at 6:00am. With any luck I may still be able to catch most of the Saturday games, but we'll see.
Soccer: -£10.71 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  -£10.71 


Soccer Showing 1 - 4 of 4 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Soccer / Sampdoria v Livorno : Match Odds 20-Jan-12 19:45  20-Jan-12 21:37  49.80
Soccer / Mgladbach v B Munich : Correct Score 20-Jan-12 19:30  20-Jan-12 21:25  -74.70
Soccer / Mgladbach v B Munich : Over/Under 3.5 Goals 20-Jan-12 19:30  20-Jan-12 21:06  12.25
Soccer / Mgladbach v B Munich : Over/Under 2.5 goals 20-Jan-12 19:30  20-Jan-12 21:02  1.94

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Where Are Your Eggs?

Don’t worry, this is not a personal, anatomical question. I'm not going to ask you to participate in some kind of bizarre "cough-and-wobble" test; and the question is not in the same parlance as “Do you dress to the left or the right?”

Cassini from http://green-all-over.blogspot.com/ kindly referenced my last post again today, but I did spot in his comments section this from Rob the Builder (I hope both Cassini and Rob don't mind me quoting it here):

I spent a while reading Eddie's piece. Heavy going but nice to see some real detail and thought on a blog. But doesn't his example show one of the limitations of calculations. However good the maths, I didn't see the formula include whether De Jong and Barry were holding down in midfield, or whether Mancini was 'going fo it' with Johnson, Balotelli, Silva and Aguero.

Correct, there was no formula for this (hang-on while I knock one up) but Rob does raise an interesting point that I feel is worth pursuing. And it's all to do with our individual approach to betting/trading.

If I use some of the well-known "ready-made" systems such as Poisson, Rateform, Goal Supremacy and like, or whether I spend some time to generate my own (hopefully) unique stats based on a self-created system, the question remains as to how best should I apply them? I mentioned a short while back that (for me at least) it would be heaven to be able to fully automate all my betting activities. Just press a little button in the morning, then check again in the evening to see how much profit I had made. Ooh, lovely. I'm sure we'd all like this idea - and doubtless there are some clever individuals out there who have managed to create just this situation.

One of the keys to being able to achieve this wonderful scenario is to have an algorithm that you can solidly rely on - and more importantly solely on. No account can be taken of which players have been selected, what their motivation levels are, whether one team has just appointed a new manager, or any other non-mathematical criteria. The algorithm has to stand alone and must succeed alone with no other factors involved.

Most people however (and I include myself here) are not in the enviable position of having a fully-automated solution, and so need to work a bit harder and use manual intervention. Of course we can still use any of the ready-made systems or any of our own bespoke systems to help us make our decisions, but we then have to complete the process manually.

And it's at this point that we have a distinct advantage over our fully-automated counterparts. Here, before placing our bet, we can introduce other factors that a push-button approach is unable to do. Our systems may tell us that team A will easily beat team B and that the offered price appears to be good value. Okay, all well and good. But then we can also look at other factors such as team selection, motivation and the like to "flesh-out" any selections that we may decide to make. Some of these additional criteria will ultimately override the mathematical ones and cause us to drop the bet.

Anyone who does not use a fully-automated system but who is relying solely on an algorithm or mathematical equation to make their selections is, in my opinion, a fool. They are missing a trick and their P&L will undoubtedly suffer from it. Why wouldn't you use everything that is available? It doesn't make any sense.

So to answer Rob's point about there being no formula for who's playing, or how the team is set out... well yes there is a formula: it's just in your head and created on-the-fly when you assimilate relevant match information. And this "formula" should be used each and every time AFTER having applied a mathematical approach.

Eggs all in one basket is not good, as the cliche states.


Traded the Italian Cup match between Inter and Genoa this evening, and have a loss to report. I think I can happily blame my wife for this though (well, you can't honestly believe it's my fault, can you?).

She's going away for a couple of days and was buzzing around like a blue-arsed fly, trying to get all her stuff together.

"Where did you put the holdall? You know the one with the black along the side? I need it now."

Yes, I think you know what I'm going to say next. I decided to "just slip away quickly" from the match to sort out her problem. I placed an exit order which I assumed would get filled in the next ten seconds or so and then walked out of the room. The rest, as they say, is history.

Okay, don't try and tell me what I should have done. I know full well. I was in Baghdad when you were still in your dad's bag, so I don't need telling...

Hmm, then again, it looks like I do.

Soccer: -£143.56 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  -£143.56 


Soccer Showing 1 - 1 of 1 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Soccer / Inter v Genoa : Over/Under 2.5 goals 19-Jan-12 20:00  19-Jan-12 21:48  -143.56

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Poisson For Dummies

There has seemingly been quite a lot of discussion of Poisson on various threads recently, and I've seen more than one person state that they find it too complicated to use or that it's too opaque to understand. This may well be true, but Poisson offers a lot of benefits and so, in my view, is worth making an effort to understand. Not only can you calculate your own percentage probabilities for each scoreline, but you can then go on to group all the home win, away win and draw scorelines to provide you with percentage probabilities for the match odds also. Unders and Overs calculations can also be made based on the raw information.

So, as you can see, Poisson can be a good little fishy and one well worth feeding. So, with that in mind, I thought I'd try and give a numpty's overview, a dummy's guide to calculating your own Poisson values. I'll take things slowly and explain as much as I can, assuming that you know absolutely nothing. If this feels too condescending then that’s just tough titty. Go and read something else instead.

First, let’s face up to the full horror of the Poisson equation. Here it is:

                                                      µx  X  e
      P(Man City scoring x goals) =      --------------

Urgh! What’s all that? Looks evil. I can’t understand any of that. I was always shit at maths.

There there. Calm down. Take a deep breath and we’ll go through it all steadily. It’s not as hard as it looks if we break it down. First of all, you’ll notice that I’ve used Man City as the example in the above difficult-looking Poisson equation. No particular reason for this other than the fact that they tend to score lots of goals. Let’s suppose they are playing at home against Wigan and we want to work out the probability of each scoreline occurring. Well, in order to do that we initially have to determine the probability of Man City scoring x number of goals in the match.

Aha! So that little "x" symbol in your horrible Poisson equation can be replaced with the number of goals we’re interested in?

That’s right. For example, say we’re interested in working out the probability of City scoring two goals, then the equation becomes:

                                                      µ2 X e
     P( Man City scoring 2 goals) =      ------------

Hmm, it’s looking at bit better already. Carry on. I’m getting interested now.

Okay, I will. You see that funny µ symbol? Well that’s a placeholder, in this case for the goal expectancy for Man City. So how do we derive the goal expectancy? Well, this is important but we’ll have to talk about that later. For now let’s plug in a random value of say 2.59. This means our equation looks even more simple:

                                                         2.592  X  e-2.59
     P( Man City scoring 2 goals) =      ------------------

Holy cow Batman, this is starting to make a little bit of sense. Would you like to explain more?

Well alrighty then. Looking at the equation again, we can easily split what we have into three parts: the top two are multiplied together and then divided by the bottom one. The three little components individually are:

1.       2.592
2.       e -2.59
3.       2!

So let’s attack each one in turn to make it easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. In the first item, the small figure 2 above the 2.59 means “raised to the power of 2”. So for this case we take 2.59 and times it by 2.59. We wouldn't do this in every case however; it depends on the power that you're using. If you use Microsoft Windows, then the calculator will have these symbols on it (ensure you select “view/scientific” from the calculator drop-down menu):

  • x^y
  • x^3
  • x^2

Did you find them on your calculator? In the order given, these mean “any number raised to the power of any other number”, then “any number raised to the power of 3” and finally “any number raised to the power of 2”. Using the Windows calculator, we can use the last of these (on this occasion) and derive the answer of 6.7081. If the number of goals we’re interested in was four, then we’d have to use the first of these (x^y).

1.       2.592 = (2.59 X 2.59) = 6.7081
2.       e -2.59
3.       2!

Okay, onto the second items now. The e symbol is a mathematical constant (for reasons that you don’t need to trouble your pretty little head about). We can simply swap it for the value of 2.718281828459 so that makes our little mini-equation: “2.718281828459 raised to the power of -2.59”. The answer to this is 0.07502. Okay, let’s pop that in:

1.       2.592 = (2.59 X 2.59) = 6.7081
2.       e -2.59 = (2.718281828459 X -2.59) = 0.07502
3.       2!

Wow, we’re nearly there! I’m getting excited.

Yeah, alright, calm down you wanker - they’re only numbers. We're now left with item number three above, and this is the mini-equation “2!”

Yes, alright, you rude bastard. What does 2! mean then?

It means 2 factorial. Many people get their knickers in a twist about factorials but they’re not difficult.

0 factorial is: 0       = 1 (Note, 0 factorial equates to 1)
1 factorial is: 1 X 1 = 1
2 factorial is: 2 X 1 = 2
3 factorial is: 3 X 2 X 1 = 6
4 factorial is: 4 X 3 X 2 X 1 = 24

...and so on and so forth. Not difficult at all. So our factorial is the third example I’ve given here, giving us the answer of 2.

1.       2.592 = (2.59 X 2.59) = 6.7081
2.       e -2.59 = (2.718281828459 X -2.59) = 0.07502
3.       2!      = (2 X 1) = 2

Okay, if you're still with me then we are ready to re-assemble our Poission equation with all the symbols replaced by actual numbers:

                                                                               6.7081 X 0.07502
      P( Man City scoring 2 goals) =       ------------------

So, the probability (P) of Man City scoring 2 goals is: (6.7081 X 0.07502) / 2 = 0.2516.

Hurrah! We’ve done it

Well, actually all you did was sit on the sidelines and make stupid noises. However, using this same system, we can now calculate the likelihood of Man City scoring any number of goals. Here is the table of the results using the same method:

   Man City

Number Of Goals
6 or more

Okay, there’s lots of numbers here, so I hope I haven’t lost you. If you are confused, go back through what has been covered so far and try and understand each step. Don’t move on until you have grasped each bit. If you take it slowly, then it should make sense.

Whoohoo! We’re finished!

Erm, no we’re not I’m afraid. From the table above we now have the percentage probability of Man City scoring any number of goals. Unfortunately we also need to do this for Wigan. For the away side, much like the home side, we also face the problem of how to know their goal expectancy (µ) but for now let’s say it’s 0.52. I’m getting tired now, so I’ll just reproduce the table above for Wigan based on 0.52:


Number Of Goals
6 or more

Tada! Now it gets interesting, because we can reference these two tables to work-out any scoreline that we like.

Okay, Johnny Big-Bollocks. so what are the chances of Man City winning 2-0?

Easy. Look at the number of goals column in the Man City table, find the value of 2, and then look across at the probability column. Do the same for the Wigan table. If your brain isn't the size of a pea then you should get: 0.2516 (Man City) X 0.5945 (Wigan), giving us an answer of 0.1495762. This is the percentage chance of that scoreline occurring. Finally we just need to use this figure to divide 1 to get our calculated odds (1 / 0.1495762) = 6.68.

Okay, so using a raw Poisson calculation we’ve come up with odds of 6.68 for a 2-0 scoreline, so we could rush along to Betfair and see how our calculation compares with what is on offer in the Correct Score market.

Of course, you’ll want to automate this all as much as possible. If you have any knowledge of Excel then this is the perfect platform for automatically generating all these calculations and providing you with ready-to-eat odds. If you don't have any experience of Excel then, well... you're a bit shagged. Either way, you’ll have to work out for yourself the best way of automating all this. Just bear in mind that Excel has done all these nasty calculations for you and has wrapped it up in a nice little formula called POISSON(). I have shown you all this so that you know what it's doing.

Okay, well, there are outstanding issues that I haven’t talked about, and they are non-trivial issues too. These are:
  • How to calculate the actual goal expectancy values for each team.
  • How to adjust the Poisson calculations for the increased accuracy. As mentioned in my overview of the Correct Score market a few posts back, Poisson under forecasts 0-0 and 1-1 draws and over forecasts 1-0 and 0-1 wins.
Unfortunately these are large subjects in their own right and there’s no way I’m going to start banging on about them now (although I may do so at a later date). In the meantime you might want to Google them.

Hopefully, however, this step-by-step first introduction to Poisson has helped you to start thinking about generating your own stats. Poisson is well-known and heavily used in football betting and, whilst not the most supremely accurate forecasting method, is certainly accurate enough to help raise your win rate above most general punters out there. Using it may help also to get you interested in stats in general, which can only aide you in your betting activities.

An explanation of goal expectancy can be found here in my post imaginatively called Calculating Goal Expectancy. This is not the ideal solution, but may give you a starting point.