Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Correct Score Overview

What is the exact scoreline going to be for the next match? This is the intriguing question pondered over every day by tens of thousands of bettors and traders, swarming all over the Correct Score markets offered by internet bookmakers and betting exchanges, all trying to find a winning system. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most difficult answers to get completely right. In the betting/trading world, there are many people who are able to assess a game and determine, with some degree of accuracy, who will win a particular match (or fail to win) – but the ability to correctly guess the final score of a match has proven a much trickier proposition, even when a sea of algorithms and mathematics are applied to it.

The real beauty of this market, however, is that you don’t always need to be exactly right. You can be “roughly” right and still make a profit; you can use “ranges” or you can even try to avoid the correct score and still make money. A trader can also turn around a losing position within the Correct Score market as it offers such a wealth of permutations. And it’s this amazing flexibility that makes the Correct Score market possibly the single most popular one for generating ideas and strategies. It’s a market with the most effort, most tactics and most convoluted methods applied to it in an attempt to come up with a winning and profitable system. Afterall, with 17 scorelines to back and 17 to lay*, the possibilities of conjuring up a fiendish and cunningly-devised system are endless, aren't they?

Today I’ll look at some of these common and popular strategies for playing this market, and try to objectively assess the merits, or otherwise, of each strategy. Before I do that, it's probably a good idea to be aware of how the odds move within each scoreline throughout a match. Now obviously this can vary considerably depending on the particular merits of each team playing, but I’ll look at a couple to give you an idea of movement:


Odds Movements:

Very Strong Home Favourite:
If we have a game involving a strong favourite at home (say Arsenal at home the other night, who were on offer at 1.33), then generally while no goals are scored, 0-0, 0-1, 1-0 and 2-0 will all begin to move in from kick-off. The 3-0 scoreline may also move in a little, depending on the amount of action within the game. The 1-1, 2-1 and 1-2 scorelines should remain relatively static, whilst all the others will steadily go out - some quicker than others.

If there are still no goals by 40 minutes, then 2-0 will start to move out, although 1-1 should still hold relatively stable. The 0-0, 1-0 and 0-1 scores will continue to come in. By 50 minutes, the 1-1 will start to move out, and ten minutes later, the 1-0 and 0-1 will also reverse their trends and start back out. The 0-0 scoreline of course continues to come in.

If the strong home side score in the first 15 minutes of the match, then 1-0 will go out slightly (as further goals are expected), 2-0 and 3-0 and AU will shorten, 2-1 will stay static, while 1-2 will fly out. If the away side score first inside 15 minutes, then 0-1 shortens dramatically, as does 0-2, 2-1 and 1-1. The 3-1 scoreline also shortens somewhat, whilst AU doesn't move a great deal.


Evenly-matched sides:
Let's look at the same scenarios for evenly-matched teams. The 0-0, 1-0 and 0-1 scorelines will move in, as usual. The 1-1 score will remain largely static, as will 2-0 and 0-2 (maybe some slight shifts either way), but the 2-1 and 1-2 scorelines will head out. Around the 30-35 minute mark, 2-0 and 0-2 will begin moving out. 1-1 will also start moving away, but at a slower pace. If the home side score inside 15 minutes, then 1-0 will shorten, as will 1-1, 2-0, 2-1 and 2-2. 1-2 will lengthen slightly. AU will shorten. If the away side score first, the reversible scorelines shorten (0-2, 1-2).


Okay, so knowing generally how the odds move, let's now look at some of the most popular strategies. Unfortunately, despite their multitude, there are no methods or strategies (that I know of) that can guarantee a profit each and every time. Some are high risk, and some provide a hedged level of safety, but all can win and all can lose, depending on the situation.


Strategies:

Laying 0-0:
I suppose we had better get this one out of the way first. It’s not much of a strategy, but this infamous bet has attracted the same kind of attention and notoriety as its Match Odds brother, Lay The Draw. It's certainly the most well-known, and probably the most commonly-struck bet of any kind in the Correct Score market. It also seems to be heralded and derided in equal measure, often dividing opinion amongst the betting community.

The reason it's so popular is that it's quick, easy and - enticingly - feels like it could be the road to easy riches. As we all know, football matches are all about goals, so guessing/betting that at least one goal will be scored is surely a good idea? ...Well, perhaps. The most obvious problem of course is what happens when no goals are forthcoming: the bettor then faces a total wipe-out of their stake, leveraged to ensure an extremely hefty loss.

Furthermore, it should be borne in mind that the given odds for any particular match will generally be an accurate reflection of that scoreline being achieved. Betfair markets are notoriously efficient, so it’s probably not a good idea just to say to yourself, “Ooh, I can lay this at 9s. I’ll have some of that”, because you’ve made no evaluation of whether this constitutes value or not.

Lay the 0-0 scoreline in the French second division (Lique 2) and the odds can be as low as 7 or 8. Lay the same scoreline in a match involving Barcelona at home, and you can often be looking at lay odds of 25 to 30.  Which one is value? Probably neither. The question then is, would you be willing to risk £2,500 or more just to win £100? I certainly wouldn't, but the answer of course is that some people are.

So, blind laying of the 0-0 will almost certainly lead to the poor-house, but could there be any situations where this can actually be a "good" bet? Well, the answer is yes, of course there are. For example, let’s suppose you have a match where the starting odds quickly decay after kick-off. But then the home team start playing magnificently, hammering the away side into submission, hitting the woodwork and getting involved in a rush of goalmouth melees. Well you may feel that laying 0-0 under those circumstances is a decent option. And I might tend to agree with you. In the past I have personally layed 0-0 when this kind of scenario is playing out, and I'm sure I will do so again in the future. But either way – and be under no illusions here - this is straight betting and NOT trading, and the risk already outlined above will always be there.


The Assessed Lay of 0-0:
Perhaps not much better than the blind version of this bet, but by analysing the stats to see who starts games slowly, who scores for fun in the second-half of games and who concedes easily as their fitness begins to falter - all these kind of things can only help to improve your hit-rate when laying 0-0. You could also use Poisson to calculate the percentage chances of each scoreline being achieved. If you do utilise pure Poisson, you should ensure that you increase the probability of 0-0 and 1-1, and reduce the probability of a 1-0 home win and a 0-1 away win. This is because the Poisson model is known to under forecast 0-0 and 1-1 draws and over forecast 1-0 and 0-1. There are also other well-known algorithms that you could use to calculate the goal expectation and, again, these would all help you to make a more reasoned selection for you to lay 0-0.


The Time-limited Lay of 0-0:
Some people believe that, whilst there may be no real value in a straight lay of the 0-0 scoreline, there might just be some value for a limited duration. Different periods of a match have different likelihoods of goals being scored, so directing a lay towards those periods could prove profitable.

The idea here is to set a maximum liability for all bets of this type, and then to place a lay of 0-0 someway through the match, starting at the optimal time for goals to be scored. This lay stays in place until the defined liability is reached, at which point the bet is reddened-up. If a goal is scored whilst the lay is in place then obviously the bet is won.

This bet is favoured by some due to its targeted nature and for its defined liability, managing risk a little more wisely than a straight lay of 0-0.


Other Time-related bets:
Placing bets within the Correct Score for a defined period of time is not only restricted to the 0-0 scoreline. For closely-matched sides or when the goal expectation is low, another common approach is to back the 0-0, 1-0 and 0-1 scorelines. When in-play, the odds for all these scorelines will shorten, providing a trader with an opportunity to green-up after fifteen or twenty minutes. Some traders even wait until half-time before greening-up. An early goal will of course blow two parts of this bet out of the water, leaving the trader with a red position, but this will be dramatically less than any lay of 0-0.


Backing 0-0:
If you back 0-0 (perhaps using the scalping techniques detailed below) and lay off the same amount a few ticks later, this can provide you with a free bet on this scoreline. From this advantageous position, you then have a few options. You can either leave it there and hope for the game to finish 0-0, you can watch the odds drop further, allowing you to green-up a reasonable figure across all scorelines, or you could wait for the odds on 0-0 to drop further and then lay that scoreline using only the green you have on 0-0 as your risk. Additionally, this could be used as insurance in an in-play trade of other scorelines.

This technique can also be used pre-match for a considerably lower risk. If it is felt the 0-0 scoreline odds are too large, then this can be backed with the hope that it will steam before the start of the match. Indeed this is a very popular strategy not just for the 0-0 scoreline but for several scorelines. Sometimes a goal fest is forecast and the high scorelines can get overpriced, but as the match draws closer, a more reasoned view is taken which can cause all these larger scorelines to shorten. Again, the trader can either green-up across all scorelines or use the green they have on a particular score to use in-play.



Hmm, Not that kind of Dutch



Dutching:
This is backing all scorelines that are most likely to happen for an even profit. If, for example, the market is expecting a home win in a game with two goals or less, then a Dutch of 0-0, 1-0, 0-1, 2-0 and 2-1 may be struck, ensuring the same profit whichever one of these scorelines the game finishes on. The advantage of this bet is that you cover a lot of ground, but the disadvantage is that the more ground you cover (the larger the percentage of the book), then the greater the risk-to-reward ratio becomes. You should also be careful about backing too many scorelines, as an Overs or Unders bet could prove to be better value.

Dutching can be used in a thousand ways, using any selection of scorelines that you want. Trial-and-error is the best way forward using the information on odds movements that I've already provided. A home win with a high goal expectation? Then you could Dutch 2-0, 2-1, 3-0, 3-1 and AU. Looking for a trade at a later date? Back 0-0 (as an insurance bet only), along with 1-1, 2-1 and 1-2. When the market moves out further, also back 2-2. These are basic examples, but come up with your own if you can.

For some, dutching is a staple Correct Score bet. It also has the advantage that you can trade-out of it after a defined period of time or the bet can be left to run.


Bookmaking:
The opposite of the above strategy, here we effectively Dutch lay those scorelines we feel least likely to occur. Taking the same match profile as just mentioned, we would bookmake the 0-2, 0-3, 1-3, 2-2, 2-3, 3-2, 3-3 and Any Unquoted scorelines. If the match finishes with any scoreline other than these, then the bet is won. This has the same advantages and disadvantages as mentioned in the dutching strategy. Like the dutching strategy, the bet can also be traded-out early if required.


The Tracker:
No, this is nothing to do with mortgages, but more to do with tracking the current score and the two next possible scores along. With the average number of goals scored around 2.5, this strategy is often utilised after two goals are scored. At that point the current score and the next two possible scores along are backed. Greening-up or selecting additional scorelines is then a matter of reacting to events within the match - which of course means the match should be watched whilst trading.


The Home Win Predictor:
With ten or fifteen minutes remaining in the match, the match is drawn or the home team has a goal advantage. The away team has it’s back to the wall as the home team continually surge forward, seeking another goal. You can see that either the away team will hold-out or the home team will pinch a late goal. Okay, so dutch the current score and the next home win scoreline – but weight the current scoreline so that you have a scratched position should there be no further goals.

The obvious risk here is when, against the run of play (and how many times have we heard that phrase?), the away team run up the other end and score a surprise goal. Under those circumstances you would have a full loss of stake.


The 1-1 Trade:
What if the strong favourite playing at home go a goal behind early in the game? What should we do? What happens to the odds when this happens? After the Unsuspend, the current scoreline will settle where the 0-0 was before the goal, and gradually begin decaying in the same manner. Laying this is essentially the same as laying 0-0 at that point. But what about 1-1? What happens to that?

Well, the market strongly fancies an equaliser, so 1-1 will begin decreasing nicely in price. This provides an opportunity to trade with less risk than the lay of 0-0. Backing 1-1 – especially if the home side are attacking – causes a decent drop in price, allowing you to lay it off later. If the home side do equalise and you have an open position in the market, then this will lead to even greater profits. The risk here is a second goal from the underdog, but you can either live with this risk or else place a small covering bet on the away team's next score.


Let's Go Scalping!



The 2-0 Scalp:
A popular strategy. With a home favourite, this is a reasonably safe(ish) way to scalp the Correct Score market. From kick-off, this price will start to come in, so backing first and laying off a few ticks later should yield decent profits whilst also offering a greater possibility of having an open position when/if the home team score. This will then lead to greater profits. The risk is the same as many of these strategies: namely if the away team should score first. If you have an open position during such an event then you'll suffer a full loss. Scalping however is about getting into the market at the right time (i.e. when the away team do not have the ball).



The Current Score Scalp:
Bank Health Warning! Scalping in this way tracks the current score, with the idea being to take a few ticks here and there. The importance of this type of trading is to have an open position in the match for as short a time as possible (or for as long a time as possible when there is no risk but the odds are still falling). The no risk periods are shots ballooned over the bar, substitutions and injuries.  The difficulty arises when you open a position and find yourself unable to close it properly due to sudden action. As just mentioned, this is high-risk trading and should be confronted with a large measure of caution.


Book Completion:
Another common strategy. Betfair Correct Score markets are generally 2% above (for backs) or 2% below (for lays) a 100% book. This is the overround, which is much greater on the high street bookermakers. To complete a profitable book you either need to back all the selections under 100% or lay them all over 100%. Some people back those scorelines that will inevitably steam once the match gets underway, and then back the remaining ones that should drift at higher odds than are currently available. In other words, they put an offer in for those driftable scores and wait for their scores to get matched. This should be done without using the "keep bets" option because, if a goal is scored before being matched on all scorelines, then it would not advisable to leave money in place for scorelines that cannot ever occur. If all selections are eventually matched, however, then you will have completed your book at less than 100% for a guaranteed profit.


The Alternative:
A selection of correct scores can also be satisfactorily used to replace another market entirely that you were originally intending to back or lay, only with (hopefully) greater value. Let’s say that you have assessed a match as a low-scoring home win and you want to back Under 2.5 goals; well this could perhaps be replaced by backing (dutching) 0-0, 1-1, 1-0 and 2-0 instead. By leaving the out the 0-1 and 0-2 scorelines from the equation, you are of course increasing your risk but you are also potentially increasing your profit using a judgement on the shape the game may take.


Pick-‘N-Mix:
The Correct Score market can also be used in conjunction with other markets. Backing or laying a correct score (or several correct scores) also effectively negates the possibility of some other event occurring in other markets, which could be used to your advantage. Using this pick-‘n-mix approach, it’s possible to work-out a comfortably hedged position. So what do I mean by this?

Well, if you back the 1-0 scoreline on the Full-time Correct Score market, then you are also effectively saying that (as an example) a Half-time Correct Score of 0-2 will not occur. The two are mutually exclusive. You may not actually be thinking this precise thing when making your bet, but if your bet wins then the Half-time 0-2 has to fail. As it happens (in this particular instance) the reverse is also true.

If you back the Full-time Correct Score of 2-1, then backing Home Win-Both-Halves absolutely cannot succeed (as any Win-Both-Halves bet can only succeed if the winning margin is two goals or greater). Or if you back the Full-time Correct Score of 1-1 then you have, in essence, also bet against (but not actually bet against) a Half-time/Full-time back of Home/Home.

Using this logic, we can then think of a Correct Score bet as a kind of “soft backing or laying” of selections in another market - and these may be useful to you. For example, the three most common results in the Half-time/Full-time market are Home/Home, Draw/Home and Away/Away. If you are interested in dutching these three by all means do so, but you could also consider backing the first two along with 0-1, 0-2 and 1-2 instead. Could this lead to greater profits? You'll have to work that out for yourself, but either way you can see how certain scorelines can "replace" or cover selections in other markets.

These pick-‘n-mixing of different markets to build-up a position can be extremely powerful if given a bit of thought. Many of your ideas here will ultimately be negated by the powerful accuracy and efficiency of the markets, and by the countless bots out there scouring the markets to close-up profitable positions… But if you’re creative and able to look at these cross-market opportunities using an abstract perspective, then there may yet still be opportunities waiting to be taken advantage of. It’s just up to you to find them.


Summary:
Well, I suppose that's about it. I could go on with countless other strategies, but I'm getting bored now (as I’m sure you are) and you get the point anyway. The main issue here is that the Correct Score market has huge potential, and for every strategy that you can come up with for a single scoreline, there are a dozen others waiting to be considered. So the message must be to take some time and carefully consider all the options available to you. It's a fabulous market to get involved with and can provide a good degree of satisfaction if you can master it, or conjure up a winning strategy.

Good luck to all of you.

*There is of course usually a “Correct Score 2” market also.
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Update:
Dave from http://soccercompounding.blogspot.com/ has kindly provided these additional ideas for the Correct Score market. These both look like good ideas to me. Thanks Dave:

1) On high liquidity matches 0-0 usually stays just about static for 10 or maybe even 15 minutes. This gives two opportunities.. firstly for a relatively cost free lay of that score to catch the early goal that makes a mess of so many carefully crafted CS trades. Secondly, if you can get the timing right, jump on 0-0 as the last of the early layers are exiting and ride the market down as the price falls off the metaphorical cliff. Wealth warning with that one, of course!

2) Lay 1-1 just before half time if match is scoreless - as you say it starts drifting at about 50 mins - so a time limited trade on that market is quite profitable and where a goal doesn't necessarily bring disaster!

16 comments:

  1. A most excellent overview of the CS markets and a few angles I hadn't looked at before. Many thanks for posting this.

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  2. I knew it would be an epic, Pete!

    Very well written and interesting overview of Correct Score trading.. I'll pop a couple that I use sometimes into the mix if I might..

    1) On high liquidity matches 0-0 usually stays just about static for 10 or maybe even 15 minutes. This gives two opportunities.. firstly for a relatively cost free lay of that score to catch the early goal that makes a mess of so many carefully crafted CS trades. Secondly, if you can get the timing right, jump on 0-0 as the last of the early layers are exiting and ride the market down as the price falls off the metaphorical cliff. Wealth warning with that one, of course!

    2) Lay 1-1 just before half time if match is scoreless - as you say it starts drifting at about 50 mins - so a time limited trade on that market is quite profitable and where a goal doesn't necessarily bring disaster!

    Be interesting to hear of other little CS moves that people might utilise..

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  3. Thanks Dave and Peter. You have both encouraged me to pop my head back above the parapet.

    Dave, thanks also for the additional strategies. If you dont mind I will add them to the bottom of the entry as an update.

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  4. superb piece of work and plenty of food for thought.

    Gun has said that its "epic" which I don't think does it justice!

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  5. Thanks for your comment, Geoff. It's much appreciated. I was a bit apprehensive about posting it, but it's been well-received... (so far).

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  6. When did I become Alan? And why wasn't I told? :-)

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  7. I was pissing myself when I saw that Gun................I mean Alan :-)

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  8. Whoops. Sorry about that Dave. I'm not really sure where Alan came from. I don't even know any Alans. I will correct this when I get in.

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  9. The spooky thing is Alan is my late father's name...

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  10. I've gone through your posts, one by one, and am so impressed. The stuff you've shared with us readers is very generous. It already made me money tonight.

    There are plenty of people trying to sell less informative stuff than you're giving away.

    I've written for money, and so feel qualified to assert that your writing itself is top work. It's well punctuated, spelled and expressed. What a relief from the usual bloggers who spell losing, "loosing", for example.

    May you prosper.

    Jim

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  11. Hi Jim

    Thanks for your lavish compliments. Much appreciated. It's funny that you mention the "loosing" phenomenon as it's one of the things that most annoys me when it comes to other people's blogs. Considering suffering a loss is something we have all experienced, it's surprising how many people don't know how to spell it.

    Once again, thanks for taking the time to comment.

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  12. Good ways of making small pocket money here, thanks for sharing the information. I suppose you could apply different strategies to different leagues.

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  13. Food for thought. Thank you very much.

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  14. An excellent post. You've helped countless lost souls who would have otherwise been required to study price fluctuations for weeks on end to get a grip on this market.

    Thank you and may the force be with you!!

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  15. Do you generally exclusively for this blog or you do that for any other Internet resources?

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  16. Love the article, some interesting ideas which i will think about. I have been fascinated by this market of "dutching" correct scores for a few months and have experimented with different systems. As with the name of my blog/twitter, "conservabet", I'm quite conservative i.e. careful when I bet, so I had been focusing on low scoring games that I would put 3 bets on:

    1. Under 1.5 Goals @3 or higher
    2. A correct score of 2-0 @8.00 (approx.)
    3. A correct score of 1-1 @7.00 (approx.)

    the 2 scorelines are just examples, if the strongest team was the away side, I'd put a team 1-2 for them for example. So if the scoreline is under 2 goals, you get your money back, hopefully one of the other scores would come in. Just a trial right now, to experiment in different leagues. Cheers!

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