Sunday, 30 September 2012

Betfair Official Rules & Guidelines

After yesterday's debacle with the lack of a suspend after  Gareth Bale scored Spurs second goal at Old Trafford, I thought I'd do a little digging into the whole subject of in-play suspensions. Consquently,  after having several furtive conversations with my inside source at Betfair headquarters (my Betfair Deep Throat, if you like), I have amazingly managed to acquire the official set of rules and guidelines that Betfair employees are given when they have to monitor live football matches.

I have to say, it's a real eye-opener and, in the wrong hands, could prove to be quite an explosive document. Unfortunately, most of the contents I will have to keep to myself, as my inside source has made me promise not to reveal them - but he has given me permission to print small extracts of the document which, even on their own, are really rather shocking. Below is a just small segment:

Betfair Suspend Technician: Official rules and guidelines

You, the technician, should:

  • Arrive at your match control station at least ten minutes before the match is due to begin.
  • Ensure you are relaxed and fully hydrated before a match begins. A great deal of concentration is required throughout a match, so be prepared.
  • Always remember that "discretion is the better part of valour". If in doubt, activate the SUSPEND. An incorrect SUSPEND is much better than a missed SUSPEND.
  • Remember the danger areas. Goalmouth action; a corner; a bad tackle; a breakaway. All these could lead to a goal or a sending-off. Try and anticipate what is going to happen next. Don't worry if this annoys or upsets traders.
  • After a goal has been scored, ensure that the SUSPEND is maintained well beyond the period you think is necessary. Even after the restart, it is sensible to maintain the SUSPEND for at least three minutes. This has the advantage of making doubly-sure that the goal is indeed valid. This will inevitably cause a great deal of unhappiness from traders who are unable to close their trades, and a second quick goal will of course mean that they will lose money - but the additional advantage to Betfair is that we will not be caught by the quick response goal.
  • Do NOT move away from your monitoring station while the match is in-play. If you absolutely do have to step away, ensure the colleague next to you can adequately cope with monitoring two matches at once. If you are helping out a fellow colleague, ensure you are not monitoring more than twelve matches at the same time.
  • Ensure that you stretch and participate in mild exercise at half-time. Climbing frames are provided for technicians to swing from to help them relax their muscles and de-stress.
  • Take five minutes at half-time to re-energise. A selection of bananas will be provided for refreshments, but do NOT eat these during the match itself. Half-time only.
  • Refrain from flinging pooh at your work colleagues. If this should hit your colleague's monitor, it could interfere with their ability to effectively monitor the match. Separate pooh-flinging facilities are provided, but these are only available after you have completed your match-monitoring duties.

As I said, quite a relevation, huh?


On a slightly more serious note, I did receive another comment yesterday on my What a Loser post.

Bonus Bagging29 September 2012 19:11
I don't get these people that try to claim that you, me and other bloggers are all some sort of compulsive liars on ego trips that write bull crap just to make us feel good and claim we win.

Why would we go to the trouble of writing a blog if we are just going to lie? I wouldn't waste my time. I've had 5 weeks of small profits on my football blog, in the past I have always lost, so I'm sure I'll have someone questioning me soon. 

I think these people are cynical 'you know whats,' maybe you could call them trolls, even. I can understand them challenging someone trying to sell their tips, etc, but why just the random blogger trying to write about his/her experiences? 

It these sorts of blogs that help traders in my view. 

It's funny, but when G first asked the question, I didn't take it at all that he was calling me a liar. Personally, I think he was just interested and curious why I only had winners and no losers. It may well be that there are cynical people out there who just want to shoot people down in flames but - and I may be wrong here - I don't think G was that type of person. I think it was a genuine enquiry and nothing more.

I just felt that with his question, it would be a good time to clarify how, why and when I post-up my P/L.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Suspend Monkey Is Tired

I'll try and report properly later, but it's half-time in the Man Utd v Spurs match, and when Spurs second goal went in I had the 3.5 market open.

The goal went in, I looked down at my screen... and the SUSPEND sign was not showing.


I quickly laid Under 3.5 (I had £200 preset), and it was accepted. Huh? Another few seconds went by, and if I had been quicker I could have thrown another order into the market, but I couldn't really believe my eyes.

There must have been at least a ten second delay between Gareth Bale scoring and the SUSPEND appearing.

Don't even know if this market will be settled at full-time, but presently I'm £95 up due to the fella in the picture.

Let's wait and see...


Well, I've been paid (see below), which I'm half-surprised about.

Had these comments on my first-half post:

Anonymous29 September 2012 18:56
Just have to hope your cancelled bet is on the right side with the result at 2-3 , Betfair are sadly a law unto themselves and usually cancel/void bets dependant on if the person complaining is one of their larger customers. 

Someone's already been told 

"o/u 1.5 and first half goals void, the rest on a case by case basis.

no blanket void as yet. "

They may consider leaving 3.5 market as only 2 goals had been scored and they'll consider there no no big advantage to the layers mid suspend. 

If this is true, and I've no reason to doubt it, then it does seem rather arbritrary. Although I'm happy with the "free" money, I don't think I would have been too disappointed had I not been paid. I suppose I would have to place myself in the position of those people who unfortunately had their money taken under circumstances where they would normally expect it to have been safe. Those people must be extremely unhappy right now.

Dean had this to say:

Dean29 September 2012 19:02
It makes a change for it to be a positive from the suspend monkey.

In the past I've had it when they don't un-suspend for ages and a goal goes in and wrecks your position, or they just keep suspending for nothing.

The most infuriating of all is when they change the score after a suspended only to change the bloody thing back about 10 seconds later, as the goal was disallowed, or they were mistaken, etc. 

Good luck and I hope it stands for you - it wasn't my money :)

As just mentioned, it's only positive if you were in a position like mine, where I was able to take advantage of the mistake. I'm only glad I wasn't on the other end.

Football: £164.72 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  £164.72


Football Showing 1 - 10 of 10 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Football / Man Utd v Tottenham : Correct Score 29-Sep-12 17:30  29-Sep-12 19:24  15.42
Football / Man Utd v Tottenham : Over/Under 3.5 Goals 29-Sep-12 17:30  29-Sep-12 18:43  96.31
Football / W Bremen v B Munich : Correct Score 29-Sep-12 14:30  29-Sep-12 16:23  -14.42
Football / Everton v Southampton : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 29-Sep-12 15:00  29-Sep-12 15:33  8.93
Football / Arsenal v Chelsea : Over/Under 4.5 Goals 29-Sep-12 12:45  29-Sep-12 14:42  2.07
Football / Arsenal v Chelsea : Over/Under 3.5 Goals 29-Sep-12 12:45  29-Sep-12 14:40  7.25
Football / Arsenal v Chelsea : Correct Score 29-Sep-12 12:45  29-Sep-12 14:40  27.49
Football / Arsenal v Chelsea : Match Odds 29-Sep-12 12:45  29-Sep-12 14:40  8.42
Football / Arsenal v Chelsea : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 29-Sep-12 12:45  29-Sep-12 13:58  13.25
Football / Quilmes v Belgrano : Match Odds 28-Sep-12 23:10  29-Sep-12 01:20  0.00

Friday, 28 September 2012

Opposition Corner? No Worries.

The other day, I mentioned that I got hold of the MCFC Analytics data. Simon from If in doubt, call it out did likewise after seeing my last post, and he’s already put up some analysis on something that interested him.

Simon24 September 2012 22:06

One of the challenges when presented with a large dataset for the first time is just what on earth you're going to do with it that will actually add some value. I hadn't stumbled across the MCFC Analytics project until I read this post, I've also just requested my interest in the data set. I don't know what useful information I could gather from it that would help my own betting. A post I hope to write at the beginning of next month will show that I've lost more money betting on the premiership than any other sport/event. I guess by that logic it couldn't make it any worse! However, I always like a challenge and so it will be fun to see what can be done that others might find useful/interesting. I'd be very interested in seeing what you do come up with if you decide to share.

I am indeed happy to share, although I doubt my ability to come up with anything too amazing. And this is one of the problems with this kind of data. It did strike me that despite the absolute wealth of information in this nice bulky spreadsheet that MCFC and Opta have kindly provided, I’m just not sure how much value it’s going to prove to be to an ordinary punter like myself.

The reason I say that is because, unless it’s data that we can readily lay our hands on all the time (like the football-data), then we can only look backwards in time and see what happened last year. We can’t use this data to compare it with what’s happening this year (unless you’re prepared to pay Opta for the privilege) and so we’re unable to spot any trends that are happening right this very moment – and take advantage of them. Having said all that, I still think it’s worthwhile having the data, and it’s still early days so I may well find some decent nuggets of information hidden away.

Actually, there are two things I've found with the data so far. The first is that it appears to be inaccurate! Yes, I've gone through it three or four times and there does seem to be some data missing (although I haven't worked out where). I performed a quick SUMIF on Arsenal's goal count and it came up with the answer of 73. This puzzled me as I was only looking at this recently and several sources have last years goals for Arsenal at 74. Hmm, I dug a bit deeper by checking other team's goal counts and they all come up short. There's the possibility that I've done something wrong of course, but I did just filter the data from within Excel and manually count Arsenal's goals. Still 73. Not very encouraging.

Anyway, regardless of that, it's still possible to glean interesting bits and bobs out of the data. For example, I have already found the answer (for last season at least) to a question that’s long been in my mind. That question was: “How many goals are scored as a direct result of a corner-kick?”

You’ll probably already have some idea of the answer to that question from the title of my post. Yes, surprisingly, corner-kicks are not as effective or as dangerous as most people seem to think they are. Take Aston Villa as the standout example. According to this Opta data for last season, Aston Villa had 218 corners across their 38 matches, and they managed to score exactly no goals from any of them. That’s right. You heard me. Zero goals. They didn’t manage to convert a single corner into a goal. Quite incredible, isn’t it? And if I’m honest, I do slightly doubt the validity of the data that I’ve gleaned from the spreadsheet on this point - especially with the first set of omissions I have mentioned.

However, what makes me think that I have gleaned it correctly is that the other teams in the Premier League did fare somewhat better – although as mentioned, perhaps not as well as one might imagine. Newcastle were the next worst at converting corners into goals, only managing two goals, which equates to a 3.92% conversion rate.

Below is my rather basic analysis, but I'll dig around a bit more and see if I can get deeper into the numbers:


Most Expensive Beer In The World:
I found this mildly amusing. A player getting fined 100,000 Euros for opening a can of beer. Now that's what I call hard punishment:


Ryder Cup:
I'm not really much of a golfer but I do enjoy watching golf on TV and I am having a dabble on the Ryder Cup this year. I'll be running some straight bets, possibly with a view to trading-out, but we'll see how they go.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

What a loser

After my last post, I received the following comment:

G24 September 2012 14:11

Dude - your returns are excellent - all winners - do you ever have any losing trades or do you just post the winning ones?

I suppose it makes sense to make clear my policy on posting-up my P/L. I don't religiously post each day's proft and loss because, if I have nothing to say on a particular day, then I won't just post for the sake of a P/L. Instead I'll just skip that day. Sometimes, like yesterday, I'll post-up the last three or four days worth (if I remember), but a P/L and nothing else, as has been discussed before, is decidedly boring so I try to refrain from doing that. This will mean that some losing days and some winning days won't show up on the blog. That's just the way it is. This blog is not meant as a full record of all my betting activities (I use a spreadsheet for that), but rather the P/Ls are just there to give a 'flavour' of what I've been doing. And for my money they do add a bit of context.

On the question of whether I only post-up my winning days, erm, no. The commenter is obviously not a regular reader (and he should be ashamed of himself for that) as if he was, then he would surely have seen some of these entries:
I'm by no means suggesting you read all these, but each and every one of this random selection show losses. I also have countless days where I may have come out marginally green but which also contain losses. So the point is, I think I'm being fair and balanced in the way I post up my P/Ls. It's warts 'n all blog.

Having said all that. I do win more than I lose (otherwise I wouldn't bother) and therefore there will inevitably be much more profits shown than there are losses. And of course I will make absolutely no apology for that!


Also received this rather dubious comment from Al about my view of the pre-match handshakes

AL24 September 2012 14:18
i think shaking hands is all part of the sport. to do away with it is ridiculous.

As I mentioned in my reply, I was not suggesting footballers should never shake hands. That would indeed be nonsensical. But foisting the idea upon them (not that they need it foisting) and making it a ruling that they must shake hands even before a ball has been kicked.. well I don't see the benefit of that.

After the match, the players shake hands, and at that point it has meaning and worth - mainly because the players themselves are deciding to shake hands. They're not being directed to do so, like schoolchildren.


No Smug Feeling
I've just finished trading this evening, and had the Fiorentina v Juventus match on in the background. Even though the game ended goalless, Fiorentina had some amazing chances and, in my view, were so unlucky not  to get the scalp of Juventus.

So I lost my bet, but with all things considered, I still think it was a decent bet and so have no regrets. My only real regret is that I couldn't come on here and act like the cat that got the cream. Winning the bet would have been nice, but the kudos of calling the game right... now that would be priceless :-)

Note, the P/L below shows a profit, but I struck my Fiorentina bet on Pinnacle and so lost money this evening.

Football: £82.47 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  £82.47


Football Showing 1 - 5 of 5 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Football / Leeds v Everton : Correct Score 25-Sep-12 19:45  25-Sep-12 21:38  17.75
Football / West Ham v Wigan : Correct Score 25-Sep-12 19:45  25-Sep-12 21:37  5.19
Football / Leeds v Everton : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 25-Sep-12 19:45  25-Sep-12 21:24  10.81
Football / Cottbus v Paderborn : Correct Score 25-Sep-12 16:30  25-Sep-12 18:20  9.88
Football / Cottbus v Paderborn : Match Odds 25-Sep-12 16:30  25-Sep-12 18:20  38.84


I could lay-off my Portsmouth bet to be relegated now without trouble, but not yet having come out of administration, and thus yet to receive their points penalty, I think I'll just leave it alone. Portsmouth are in real turmoil at present. They are £61 million in debt and there is a fight between rival bidders, including the prospect of legal action, to take control of the club. Consequently, they are still only providing one-month rolling contracts to their skeleton playing staff.

This from BBC today:
"PKF weren't able to confirm PST as preferred bidders because its offer has no substance," Chainrai said.
"[PKF] realised that once you start the due diligence on the trust's offer, there is no actual money in place and there are about 30 of them all trying to run it.
"You can't run a business like that.
"We have the money and experience needed to take the club back where it belongs."

The issue of Portpin's experience at Portsmouth, however, could work against Chainrai.
For most fans, community leaders and the local media, he personifies a fall from grace that saw the 2008 FA Cup winners change hands four times in the 2009-10 season and become the first Premier League team to enter administration.

Portpin controlled Portsmouth's parent company at the time of this dramatic financial collapse, and it was Chainrai who appointed an administrator to halt an HM Revenue and Customs winding-up petition.

Describing himself as a "reluctant owner", Chainrai claimed he was only acting to protect his "investment", a £17m loan - secured against the club's assets - to former owner Ali Al Faraj.

In October 2010, Portsmouth, now shorn of a large chunk of its £135m debt, emerged from administration with Portpin in charge again, only for Chainrai to sell the club in June 2011 to Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov.
Six months later, Antonov was arrested for alleged bank fraud and the holding company he used to buy Portsmouth was placed in administration.

Within two months, the club also entered administration. The supporters' trust alleges Portpin controlled this process, too, which means it falls foul of the owners' and directors' test - a rebranded version of football's infamously ineffectual fit and proper person test.

Under the new system, anybody who has been a director of a club that has suffered two insolvency events since June 2004 - or two clubs that have had an insolvency in that time - is disqualified.

So far, the Football League will only say it is in talks with Birch about the legal status of the respective bids, but the "next stage is for him to select a preferred bid for the board to consider formally".

Pressed on this by the BBC, Chainrai said he had heard "the same rumours of people claiming this and that" about the post-Antonov administration, but denied Portpin had anything to do with it.

But his claim runs counter to details PST has sent to the Football League.
"Portpin's past actions have caused the club to twice go into administration, which is why we have written to the Football League formally on this matter now the time for them to make a decision is coming closer," said PST spokesman Farmery.

Former chief executive David Lampitt, now chief executive of Supporters Direct, the organisation that promotes community ownership of sports clubs across Europe, is believed to have made it clear that Portpin was the primary mover in Portsmouth entering administration again.

This would appear to put the Football League on a path to a legal dispute with Chainrai, a well-worn route some PST supporters believe is behind PKF's sudden change of heart towards Portpin as well.
With Portpin's strongest card being the mortgage it holds on Fratton Park, any move to take it from Chainrai was likely to end up in the courts, an expensive business for an administrator under pressure to secure the best return for creditors and his partners.

For his part, Chainrai says he is willing to spend whatever it takes to get Pompey back up the league ladder.
"The club has no value in League One. Everybody knows that," he said.
"So I'm going to put money in to return them to their glories and then sell the club. But who knows? I might enjoy it so much I won't sell it.
"I'm not reluctant anymore. I've changed my mind." 

Monday, 24 September 2012

Information Overload

Without any real notion of what I was going to do with it, I requested and have subsequently acquired the MCFC Analytics data for last season. For those of you that don't know, this includes every bit of Opta data for every Premier League match played last season, which amounts to quite a hefty volume of data (8.2Megs).

Looking through the list of logged events, I find myself somewhat overwhelmed by the different stats that have been recorded. Of course we have things like goals, own goals, shots on target, that kind of thing (indeed all the things we're used to having), but this data goes well beyond that.

Blocked shots, chance conversion/goals-to-shot ratio, shooting accuracy, pattern of play for goals/attempts,  goal assists, second assist/key passes, chances created, passes, pass completion, dribbes/take-ons, tackles,  clearances, blocks, interceptions, duels, fouls, goalkeeper catches, punches, drops, and on and on it goes.

Not only that, most of these stats are then subdivided further into categories of even finer granularity. For example, passes are subdivided into:

Chipped pass, headed pass, launch, cross, flick-on, pull-back, lay-off, through ball, etc

... and then divided again into length of pass: short/long, short medium/log

Wow, quite an impressive array of information. And now that I have my hands on it, I feel obliged to do something with it and try and analyse this data in a way that will prove helpful and beneficial to me. The only thing is, I haven't quite worked out how I'm going to do that. Yet.


I realise that with the Hillsborough commemorations, the Evra-Suarez handshake was reduced down to mere sub-text, but it was nonetheless interesting to note how Luis Suarez - the obvious love child of Freddie Mercury and Basil Brush; a man who can almost literally be knocked down with a feather - had finally been inveigled into shaking hands with Patrice Evra. 

I suppose it's good that they've finally managed to put the whole sorry saga to bed and move on but, in my view, the whole plastic "staging" of this handshake has only helped render the pre-match handshake routine even more irrelevant than it already is. The whole concept of the pre-match handshake was flawed from the start - some executive's "vision" of a brighter future for football, and of course while high-profile failures such as this are riding high in the press, those in-charge will ride out any storm to avoid losing face... but I wouldn't be surprised if this lame and meaningless idea is quietly dropped at some time in the future. Perhaps when people are less likely to notice.

And don't get me started on the whole John Terry thing. Taking 11 months to get off their arses to hold a hearing that has been made pointless and futile by the court hearing... Well it's beyond the pale.


Onto actual betting, my trading P/L from friday and over the weekend is below. I've also started my straight betting now, but as I'm betting across various different bookies, I'll just report how this is going in the more traditional way. 

Fink Tank:
Nothing too amazing for my Fink Tank selections. Three wins and three losses for a very small profit. Current stats are:

ROI: 12.75%

My Bets:
Excellent start for these so far.

ROI: 42.83%
ROC: 11.42%

Football: £202.15 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  £202.15  
Football Showing 1 - 17 of 17 markets 
Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£) 
Football / Man City v Arsenal : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 23-Sep-12 16:00  23-Sep-12 18:00  29.64 
Football / Man City v Arsenal : Correct Score 23-Sep-12 16:00  23-Sep-12 17:59  31.23 
Football / Man City v Arsenal : Over/Under 1.5 Goals 23-Sep-12 16:00  23-Sep-12 17:42  3.09 
Football / Liverpool v Man Utd : Correct Score 23-Sep-12 13:30  23-Sep-12 15:27  32.45 
Football / Liverpool v Man Utd : Over/Under 3.5 Goals 23-Sep-12 13:30  23-Sep-12 15:26  3.58 
Football / Liverpool v Man Utd : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 23-Sep-12 13:30  23-Sep-12 15:09  9.88 
Football / Juventus v Chievo : Over/Under 1.5 Goals 22-Sep-12 19:45  22-Sep-12 21:15  61.94 
Football / Birmingham v Barnsley : Over/Under 4.5 Goals 22-Sep-12 17:20  22-Sep-12 18:52  4.47 
Football / Birmingham v Barnsley : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 22-Sep-12 17:20  22-Sep-12 18:39  -120.57 
Football / Birmingham v Barnsley : Over/Under 1.5 Goals 22-Sep-12 17:20  22-Sep-12 18:33  2.98 
Football / Swansea v Everton : Over/Under 3.5 Goals 22-Sep-12 12:45  22-Sep-12 14:41  5.21 
Football / Swansea v Everton : Correct Score 22-Sep-12 12:45  22-Sep-12 14:39  27.42 
Football / Swansea v Everton : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 22-Sep-12 12:45  22-Sep-12 14:26  23.41 
Football / Blackburn v Middlesbrough : Correct Score 21-Sep-12 19:45  21-Sep-12 21:38  36.65 
Football / Blackburn v Middlesbrough : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 21-Sep-12 19:45  21-Sep-12 21:33  33.41 
Football / Union Berlin v FC Koln : Correct Score 21-Sep-12 17:00  21-Sep-12 18:51  14.51 
Football / Union Berlin v FC Koln : Match Odds 21-Sep-12 17:00  21-Sep-12 18:51  2.85 

Saturday, 22 September 2012

All good things come to an end

I made £60(ish) backing Over 1.5 goals at 1.65 in the Juventus match tonight about 30 minutes in to the game (could have backed it at 3s before they scored their first goal), but a couple of things struck me while watching this match on ESPN.

This is now 43 matches unbeaten for Juventus stretching back to May 2011 which, by anyone's standards, is quite incredible. They went through the whole of last season without defeat and have seemingly carried on where they left off last season.

But watching this game, before they scored in the 63rd minute against an unimpressive Chievo side, it was possible to feel the tension building-up. The pressure and burden of continuing this amazing run was palpable and, for my money, it's now like the sword of Damocles hanging over these players. Of course after the first goal, they relaxed, quickly got a second and then strolled around the football field without a care in the world.

The thing though is this record is now a huge, fat, swollen boil and its just quivering like a jelly, ready to be lanced. From what I saw, the Juventus players will be pleased when it is finally lanced.

And so we move on to Juventus' next match on Tuesday, away to arch-rivals Fiorentina. The home side have a decent record at their own ground, and their revamped side today in preparation for Tuesday's match shows us the import they are attaching to this forthcoming fixture.

Having said that, Juventus don't appear to have found this ground particularly difficult in the past, and they also rested some players this evening with one eye on Tuesday's match - but as Gundulf might say, I've just got a hunch that this astounding record of Juventus is almost at its end. I'm not saying that Juventus will definitely lose on Tuesday, but a midweek away match against a rival side with a strong home record looks like a reasonable candidate to me. It's just the kind of match where these kind of records tend to fall.

Fiorentina can be be backed at 3.85 at the moment, or you could lay Juventus on Betfair at 2.1(ish).

I'm not in any way suggesting you follow me in on this, but I'm having a little fun straight bet of £100 on Fiorentina to end this run. If I lose, well it will be no great loss, but if I win then I will feel rather smug at having picked out the end to this unbelievable run. It will be interesting either way to see what happens.

Friday, 21 September 2012

The Old Ones Are The Best

Found some of the old football quotes online again recently. There are a few new ones added, but even some of the old ones made me laugh again.

Don't know how many of them are apocryphal or not, but it doesn't really matter even if they are:

  • "That’s great, tell him he’s Pele, and get him back on" – John Lambie, Partick Thistle Manager, when told his concussed striker did not know who he was.
  • "The ageless Dennis Wise, now in his thirties" - Martin Tyler.
  • Terry Venables - If history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing.
  • Kevin Keegan - Argentina won’t be at Euro 2000 because they’re from South America.
  • "That pass was only an yard away from being inch perfect" Murdo McCleod, who just wouldn't sound the same in metric.
  • Metro Radio - Julian Dicks is everywhere. It's like they've got eleven Dicks on the field.
  • "Martin O'Neill standing hands on his hips, stroking his chin." - Mike Ingham.
  • Tom Ferrie - Dumbarton player Steve McCahill has limped off with a badly cut forehead.
  • Reporter: Can I ask you about Augustin Delgado [an underperforming player Strachan had purchased for Southampton] Strachan: I've got more important things to think about. I've got a yogurt to finish by today, the expiry date is today. That can be my priority rather than Augstin Delgado.
  • Vinnie Jones - Winning doesn't really matter as long as you win.
  • Phil Neville - The Brazilians were South American, and the Ukranians will be more European.
  • Ian Rush - I couldn't settle in Italy, it was like living in a foreign country. 
  • Ruud Gullit - We must have had 99 per cent of the match. It was the other three per cent that cost us.
  • Paul Gascoigne - I've had 14 bookings this season - 8 of which were my fault, but 7 of which were disputable.
  • "With Joey Barton, you know what to expect. He's going to come strong in the tackle and come in your face" - Philippe Senderos
  • Glenn Hoddle - When a player gets to 30, so does his body.
  • Barry Venison - I always used to put my right boot on first, and then obviously my right sock.
  • Bryan Robson - It wasn't going to be our day on the night.
  • Lawrie McMenemy - When you are 4-0 up you should never lose 7-1. 
  • "He's carrying his left leg, which to be honest is his only leg" Steve Coppell reporting, presumably, from the Paralympic Football Competition.
  • David Beckham - I definitely want Brooklyn to be christened, but I don't know into what religion yet.
  • Jonathan Woodgate - Leeds is a great club and it's been my home for years, even though I live in Middlesbrough. 
  • David Coleman - If that had gone in, it would have been a goal.
  • On being asked what he would be if he wasn't a pro footballer, Peter Crouch replied 'a virgin'.
  • Alan Green - It was the game that put the Everton ship back on the road.
  • "If you gave Arsene Wenger eleven players today and told him to pick his team, this would be it" Andy Gray leaving the Arsenal boss with little room for manoeuvre.
  • "Well, Harry, fifth place last season, how can you better that?" Fergus Sweeney, demonstrating his grasp of the basic principles of league tables.
  • Ugo Ehiogu - I'm as happy as I can be - but I have been happier. 
  • Stuart Pearce - I can see the carrot at the end of the tunnel.
  • Peter Jones - Sporting Lisbon in their green and white hoops, looking like a team of zebras.
  • Reporter: "Gordon, Can we have a quick word?"  Strachan: "Velocity!"
  • Alan Ball - I don't believe in luck... but I do believe you need it.
  • "He says he will walk away from the game when his legs go" Andy Gray, never one to hang around when he's outlived his welcome.
  • Mark Viduka - I would not be bothered if we lost every game as long as we won the league.
  • Ron Atkinson - Well, Clive, it's all about the two M's - movement and positioning.
  • Mark Draper - I'd like to play for an Italian club, like Barcelona.
  • Ron Greenwood - Playing with wingers is more effective against European sides like Brazil, than English sides like Wales.
  • "Barnsley have started the way they mean to begin" Chris Kamara easing his way into the game.
  • "Chile have three options. They could win or lose." Kevin Keegan, numerically challenged.
  • "If I was still at Ipswich I wouldn't be where I am today" Dalian Atkinson showing that there's nothing geographically challenged about him. 
  • "It's good to have a new face in the dressing room to bounce things off" Lawrie McMenemy hinting at what may happen to the half time teacups.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

SoccerDude: Lord Of Time

What do you think of my new title? Quite snazzy, huh?

So, from now on you can stop addressing me as SoccerDude or that guy over at Football Trader's Path or that wanker. No, from now on, it's a three-way fight between Dr. Who, Rod Taylor in H.G. Wells' The Time Machine and my good self.

The reason? Well, I have gone and invented a real life time machine, and I'm willing to let you all come along for the ride. That's right. I want you to strap yourselves in and let's embark on a fantastical journey together.

Okay, I'll stop with all the bollocks and start talking some sense. Seeing as you’ve all been such a good bunch of readers since I started my little blog, I thought it was high time that I gave you all a little treat. My blog has only been going properly for ten months or so, but in that time I’ve been lucky enough to build up a solid readership, which I’m really very grateful for. Initially, when I first started posting entries at the end of last year, there were days when I received no visitors at all and I felt like I was just writing into the ether – which indeed I was.

Since that time, however, I’ve managed to steadily build up a regular number of readers and, based on current projections of 8,000 to 9,000 visitor per month I'm heading for around 65,000 to 70,000 hits in my first year. Personally, considering the appalling slow start I made, I think that’s pretty good.

Anyway, with all you long-suffering regular visitors to my blog, I've decided that a little reward is well overdue. It’s just my way of saying “thank you” for popping in. Unfortunately I don’t have a chocolate cake large enough to go around all of you (and judging by some of your waistlines, that may be a blessing), so instead I’ve built a time machine from an old Excel workbook to share with you all – absolutely free of charge, and simply offered out of the kindness of my heart. You can’t say fairer than that, can you?

What’s it all about?
A few years ago, someone posted on one of the forums, asking for any links that showed the league table at any point during the season. These “snapshots”, the poster suggested, could be handy for some types of analysis. Well, I didn’t respond to the poster as I knew of no such web site, but in my mind I heartily agreed that this would be a cool thing to have at hand. So with that in mind, I decided to create my own version of what this poster was talking about, using the data available from football-data, some stickyback plastic and a small dose of Excel. It didn’t take very long, was fun to do and – speaking personally – I’ve found it quite a useful little tool. Thus was born the League Table Time Machine.

In truth, I did build this time machine quite some time ago but it was never properly finished and I allowed it to fall into disrepair, but I recently stumbled upon it hiding in one of my folders and thought I'd take another look. I liked it, so I've spruced it up a bit, combed its hair, cleaned its milk-bottle glasses and neatly-pressed its short trousers. In other words I've given it a little freshen up.

How it works:
The Time Machine can be downloaded towards the bottom of this post. First-off, when you open the workbook, you’ll have to enable macros within Excel, if you don’t have it enabled by default. Nothing will really work properly if you don’t do that. I originally wrote it at work when they had Office 2002, and so for compatibility with any of your old versions, I’ve left it in that format. If you decide to save it in 2007 or later format, do remember to save it with a .xlsm extension.

Within the workbook, I’ve created several worksheets named 2004-05 up to 2011-12 and I’ve plonked league data from the football-data website inside them. To show you how things work, I’ve put some Bundesliga data in the 2004-05 sheet and League One data in the 2006-07 sheet. All the rest contain Premier League data. I’ll explain later why I’ve done that shortly, but regardless of that you should be aware that these are all data-only worksheets and you can change or add to these as you like, so long as you stick with the worksheet naming convention. Alternatively you could simply copy-and-paste different data from different leagues into the existing worksheets. It really doesn’t matter.

The “brains” behind the whole thing is in the “Time Machine” worksheet. When you open the workbook onto this sheet, you will see a yellow section at the top. In that yellow section are three things that you need (and are able) to change. You don’t need to fiddle with anything else. These three controlling items are:
  • The Year field (cell C2). Once you click into the cell, it will become a dropdown menu. This allows you to select one of the available datasheets mentioned previously. When you select a sheet, The Time Machine will automatically size the league table appropriately and display the league name (in G6). This is the reason that I placed different league data in the 2004-05 and 2006-07 sheets. If you select those years,  you will see the league resize automatically and the name of the league change.
  • The “Selection” field (cell C3). This states whether you want to view the league table as overall points, or only the home table or only the away table. 
  • The “Time Slider” field (cell K2 to M2). This is the actual time machine in action. Just grab the slider and move it right and left, or you can click the arrows to move one day at a time. 
As you pull the slider to the right, you might notice it’s a bit “laggy”, and there is some delay before the tables start to react. In some cases the delay can be quiet pronounced. I’ve reduced the raw data down to the bare essentials but, beyond that, there’s not much I can do about this so you’ll just have to put up with it. Anyway, regardless of that, when you do drag the slider, several things start happening at once:
  • The Date field (C6) starts changing 
  • The Week No field (C7) will also change if moved far enough 
  • The league table will react, and teams will move up and down as you move through the season. 
Once you get beyond five matches, there is also another (perhaps lame) feature that I’ve added-in. This is the Prediction area, which you’ll find in columns Q and R. It’s fairly rudimentary in its calculations, simply extrapolating each team’s current points tally throughout the season to what they should theoretically get at the end of the season. The Q column shows the points the predictor thinks they will get, and the R column shows how far away from reality that prediction is. For example, if I go to the 2011-12 year and move the “Time Slider” across so that the date moves to 31 December 2011, I can see Man City sitting on top of the table and their points tally at that moment in time was 45. The huge brain of the predictor comes up with the stunning prediction of 95 points at the end of the season, but the R column is showing a red -6 figure. This means that Man City actually finished with 6 points less than the predictor suggests. If one team actually finish with more points than the predictor suggests, the figure will be green.
As I say, it’s a little bit lame, but you may find it helpful in some way.

Example of Predictor being overly-generous (by 6 pts) to Man City

What use is it?
Okay, so what is the purpose of this fabulous time machine? Initially, when you start playing around with the slider, it feels like fun and it’s quite cool to zoom through the season and see how each team rises and falls within the league, but there may also be some more practical uses for it. For example, you may want to consider using it to:
  • Check which teams regularly have good/bad form when playing at home/away. You can snapshot particular months and then change through the years to see if there is any variation. 
  • Pick a spot in the season (last day of the year is a common one), see where each team is and then see how they fare at the end. If picking a spot and then clicking through the years, do check that the date hasn’t moved on a couple of days when you change years. 
  • Check how far out the predictor is when one/two/three months away from the end of the season. If only two or three points out, perhaps this could be useful. 
  • Spot trends of overperforming/underperforming teams. The red and green cells in the R column column could be helpful here, allowing you to spot early point tallies that will probably not be sustained. Use these to analyse the current season. 
  • Spot any positional trends that could be used. For example, 10th place at the end of the year rarely seems to improve on the predicted result. 
  • How often do teams escape relegation with one/two/three months of the season remaining? 
So on and so forth. I'm sure you lovely intelligent people get the idea. Just play around with it and see if any little scenarios pop-out at you.

How could I improve my time machine? Well, there’s quite a few things I could do really. I may at some point get around to doing them, but who knows:
  • Make the year selection based on the worksheets actually present. Currently, I’ve just created a list of years and those sheets may, or may not, exist. If it doesn’t exist, a warning is issued, but it would be better to knock-up a bit of VB to grab the list of available sheets instead. 
  • Write it in C# or C++ 
  • Have the data automatically downloadable, instead of having to add it all in manually. 

This time machine, although completely fabulous (as I'm sure you'll agree), is generally intended to be run on previous year's data, rather than the current year. It will of course work on the current year, but there are some considerations.

First, because it creates a dynamic list of team names from the raw data, the manner in which it does so means that, unless each team has played at least five matches, the table won't populate properly. That's something to be aware of as you may say, "Huh? How come there are only 17 teams in the Premier League?" It will be because not enough games have been played.

Also, the second part of the Predictor will of course be meaningless as it has no way of knowing what each team's final points tally is going to be.

One other limitation is that this table is not going to work for the Scottish Premier League, which runs a split league format after 33 matches have been played. The overall table doesn't make any sense after that point.

Okay, so, here it is for your delectation. The workbook is called LeagueTableTimeMachine.xls, and I’ve popped it in a zip file.  Hopefully it will prove to be useful to some of you, but after downloading it and deciding it’s a pile of crap, don’t be embarrassed to delete it from your PC.

I promise not to get upset.


By the way, what a cracking match tonight between Real Madrid and Man City. Amazing at the end.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Double double toil and trouble

Round about the caldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!

Hope you enjoyed my little bit of Macbeth there, but I thought it appropriate after Dave's comment on my last post:

gundulf14 September 2012 20:35
Get the cauldron bubbling, Eddie!

I must admit to being a bit lazy there - ie I did feck all research to back it up (but then, you knew / suspected that!) 

But, you have done the work for me. The figure you quote of 1.73 is, in truth, a little lower than I usually am able to lay at in these situations - it's generally in the 1.8 to 1.9 region, depending on the team. 

I wouldn't suggest for one moment that anyone should get involved in a trade like this without regard to who is playing, in what competition and at what stage of the season. Neither would I suggest it as a trade to necessarily let run to its conclusion, although your research suggests that you could with the home sides in the Prem if not the away side.

However, raw data researched or not, my own records show my forays into this area to have been profitable to a degree that makes it more than a worthwhile trade to enter, which was really my point.

I'll let you keep your head mate, no offence taken. I'll be more selective with my throw away lines in future, I promise!

I suppose the interesting thing about all this is that, if straight betting, then grabbing all the stats you can lay your hands is probably the best way forward as they can help to point you in the right direction. They can tell you if an idea is profitable or not or whether you have an edge or not.

But if you're trading... well that's a different matter. This is a well-worn subject so I won't bang on about it too much, but the fact that Dave say's he's profitable using this approach is cast-iron proof that when you're trading, you can beat the stats. Team A are terrible away from home, so it may not be wise to back them when they're away. Okay, but can I still make money when I break the game down into segments? Do the stats still hold true within each segment or do they become largely meaningless?

Maybe team A is indeed crap away from home, but maybe they're not fit enough and run out of steam during the second-half. So maybe I can back 0-0 for the first ten minutes and make a profit. Maybe I can lay the home team for a short period and make some money. Maybe I can lay home/home and make some money.

The stats, on the face of it, say Dave is wrong and that he shouldn't touch AU at 3-0 during half-time. But when trading he can beat the odds because he always has the option to change his trade or close it altogether.

Nothing wrong with straight betting of course, and I've started my own little straight betting approach this season, but trading offers more flexibility and more chances of taking advantage of opportunities as they arise.


I'll try and post a bit again later, as I'm a bit short of time at the moment.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Nice Guys and Throw-away Lines

Had a comment on my last post, which I’ll reproduce here:

1. Anonymous13 September 2012 16:53

I read your blog most days and would normally agree with your thoughts but this piece I find to be completely wrong. Murray seems to me to be a shy individual who shows grace in defeat and victory. His interview with sky sports straight after victory showed yet again what a non arrogant, hard working guy he is. You have to remember that nowdays we have a hawkeye which means about 80% of the arguments are now defunct. Imagine Mr McEnroe today or Mr Connors what would they have to argue about? Henri Leconte was a genial guy who showed how much he enjoyed tennis but what did he win?

If you want to talk sad montone people please point the finger at Tiger Woods who must be the saddest and most miserable character around. Mind you he is not a bad golfer either...

Thanks for the comment. A couple of good points in there but also a little bit of confusion. First-off, totally agree  about Tiger Woods. He’s not a very endearing character and there aren’t many people around who seem to feel sorry for him with regards to his self-inflicted woes. Also, I think our commenter has a point about Hawkeye, in that it is a fine argument-settler. This will inevitably lead to less tantrums and arguments. Fair enough. All decent points.

The rest I will have to argue a bit with however. Murray is shy and shows grace in defeat and victory. In interviews he shows how non arrogant he is. Okay, that may all be true, but none of that is relevant to what I was saying. At no point did I suggest that he was arrogant or that he lacked grace. I also didn’t say that he wasn’t a nice or decent guy. He may well be. I said he was cheerless and gave nothing of himself to the viewing public. 

The shyness thing may be an answer, and if indeed he is struck low by huge waves of shyness whenever he speaks then perhaps I'll give him some leeway, but I can't honestly buy that. Maybe at the beginning of his career, but still? After all the cameras that have been shoved in his face over the years? Surely that would be something you would simply grow used to?

The last thing I would like to object to is that our anonymous friend makes a good case for saying that Murray is a nice guy, graceful in defeat, non-arrogant, etc - but then he seems to attack his own argument by saying that Leconte was a genial guy but he never won anything. Are you saying that you can't win if you're a nice guy? Haven't we just made a case for Murray being nice? Don't understand that bit.

Anyway, as I've said already, thank you for commenting and reading the blog. It's appreciated.


Throwaway Statements
Maybe it’s the anal retentive part of my personality, but sometimes little throwaway statements that people make often catch in my mind like a fingernail snagged on a woollen sweater. I was reading Gundulf’s blog today, and by any standard it’s a good, intelligent blog and always worth reading, but in his discussions about laying at low-liability, he casually threw in this statement:

The nice thing about trading rather than selecting an outcome and running with it is that you don't have to stick with the trade. Many more games that are 3-0 at half time end at that score or 3-1, 3-2 etc than go over four goals.

Hmm, is that last part really true, I said to myself. Do more games that are 3-0 at half-time end-up with the winning team still on three goals? Well, this immediately stuck in my brain, and I just had to check out the veracity, or otherwise, of this casually lobbed-in sentence. 

Now I’m sure having me picking over and analysing his individual words is about as welcome to Dave as a turd in a swimming pool, and if he’s annoyed by it then he’s more than welcome to tell me to go and boil my head, but some things do need checking in my view.

Okay, well I only had a look at the Premier League so it may well vary from league to league, but since the 2005/06 season and excluding the current season, there have been 50 matches that were 3-0 at half-time. Of those games, 33 went on to become AU, which is 66% or fair odds of 1.52. Just in case Dave was talking about 0-3 as well, I have included those in my analysis too. There were 19 matches that were 0-3 at half-time and seven of those finished AU. That’s 36.84% or odds of 2.71. Overall, that’s 40 out of 69 (58%) matches going on to AU, or odds of 1.73.

Many more games that are 3-0 at half time end at that score or 3-1, 3-2 etc than go over four goals.

Sorry Dave, but unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be true. Generally there may be less goals in the second-half as the winning side take their foot off the pedal, but it does appear that this coasting team will often still manage to pop another goal in before the final whistle blows.

As I say, I've only analysed the Premier League, so perhaps Dave takes advantage of other leagues where the stats differ - but then again this may be this "hunch" thing that Dave has discussed on his blog previously. Either way, I trust you don't feel I'm being unfair by looking at this, but it just interested me.

Breakdown of analysis below. First column shows how many matches were 3-0 or 0-3 at half-time.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

You Will Be Assimilated

Well old granite face has finally won his first Grand Slam, and I suppose it would be churlish not to congratulate the
miserable, mono-toned, characterless Scot on his fine achievement (especially as I won a few pennies from him last night).

Of course, there are now a great many people saying that the "haters" should crawl back under their rocks and keep quiet now that Murray has hit the peaks, but I think these people are missing the point. If there were any Murray-haters who genuinely thought he was never going to win a slam then, okay, we can all point our tommy-guns at those people and laugh at them as we drill them full of holes... but I think the majority of people who don't like Murray do so simply because, outside of his actual tennis play, he gives so very little of himself to the watching public. Murray is genuinely a man who runs the gamut of emotions from A to B (Wimbledon tears excluded).

And I don't know about you, but I expect a little bit more from my tennis players than that. Okay, tennis is not played-out in the interview room, I grant you, but it is supposed to be an entertainment. Murray's tennis play is undoubtedly outstanding and many of you will argue that this is all the entertainment he's responsible for providing. He's not a clown out there to make us laugh, afterall. He can simply let's his tennis do the talking. Alright. Fair enough. But as far as I'm concerned tennis holds a special position in the pantheon of sports simply because it's been so blessed with such amazing characters down the years. These special characters that, even now, I hold dear in my heart, have led the way and shown us all how tennis should be played - not with  faces wreathed in stern solicitude but with a display of love and pleasure of the sport in which they are participating in. Based on what has gone before, an additional responsibily now lies with today's players as far as I'm concerned.

Nowadays of course, the automaton approach is deemed acceptable and has become the norm in tennis, but for those of us older than twenty years of age (and I just about qualify), tennis still has vivid memories of a sport that one minute was spun tight with unbearable tension, and the next was cracked asunder with gushing relief, outrageous unconventionality, comic violence, or wild genuine humour. Laughter was not a stranger in the tennis courts of yester-year when we were graced by players with real character such as Becker, Henri Leconte, Connors and Ilie Năstase. Back then, even the "gentlemen" players like Newcombe and Laver had something about them which today's faceless tennis pros seriously lack. And Murray is the absolute epitome of all that's missing in today's tennis professionals.

There were indeed quiet and business-like players back then, let's not kid ourselves, but players like Borg or Tanner complemented the more erratic players, providing a pleasing contrast. The serious players were the cake and the entertaining players were the fruit and nuts, making a deep, rich fruit cake full of flavour. Nowadays, there are no fruits and no nuts, and all we're left with is a dull, dry hard sponge that's difficult to swallow. Our Mr. Murray is unfortunately the prime example of this unappetising aspect of tennis.


P/L from yesterday as I did trade the Under 21 match also

Football: £87.89 | Tennis: £33.79 | Tote: |  Total P&L:  £121.68


Football Showing 1 - 3 of 3 markets

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Football / England v Ukraine : Over/Under 2.5 goals 11-Sep-12 20:00  11-Sep-12 21:53  4.46
Football / England v Ukraine : Correct Score 11-Sep-12 20:00  11-Sep-12 21:53  44.59
Football / England U21 v Norway U21 : Over/Under 1.5 Goals 10-Sep-12 19:00  10-Sep-12 20:57  38.84

Monday, 10 September 2012

Draw-Loss and Draw-Win

After the frivolities of the weekend posts, I thought it was about time to get back to something a little more substantial. I don't know about you, but with only the lower leagues playing at the moment, it all feels a bit too quiet for my liking. This picture, for example, was taken outside a top Premier League club only yesterday. Peaceful, huh?

We have the first tranche of World Cup qualifiers of course, but I can't really get too excited by these and am frankly looking forward to when the proper football fires back into life again next week.

In the meantime, however, I thought I'd endeavour to ply you with some little snippets of information, just to make sure you're still paying attention.

As bettors and traders, we're always looking for little patterns or sequences that could possibly help us with our profitability, so I thought I would look at one of the most heavily-studied patterns to see if we could squeeze any advantage out of it. Every man and his dog looks at latest form to see if it can yield some insight into the next game's result, but is there any real point in doing so?

Some people have suggested that if a team loses a match two games ago and then draws their last game, then that points to an improvement in form and perhaps they are due for a win in the next game. By the same reckoning, if another team wins their match two games ago but only manages a draw in the last game, then this could indicate a waning of form, and maybe that team will lose their next game.

Not exactly rocket science, is it? But let's try and flesh these rudimentary ideas out nonetheless. Now at this point, there may be many of you saying to yourself, "Well this is just the triad stuff that he's already discussed and provided tables for" (HERE). That's true to a certain extent, but this is slightly different as I'm not taking home and away matches into consideration. I just want to see if there are any trends between the last two matches of each team. No other factors will be taken into account. Also, the tables I provided for the triad stuff was all stolen and, to be honest, I don't know what data was used to compile them. This time, I will be mining our information from all the freely-available data.

So anyway, the questions I asked myself were of the type: "Should a home team playing a match with a Draw-Loss record beat an away team playing with a Draw-Win record?" Time for a little spreadsheet, methinks!

Okay, so I analysed 6,600(ish) matches and paired each two-match sequence together so that I would get a string like "DLDW". The first two characters are for the home team (latest match first) and the second two characters are for the away team (again, latest match first). Then I assessed each possible sequence and determined the 1X2 percentages based on these 6,600 matches. For a bit of fun, I also decided to include the Under/Over 2.5 percentages as well. I wasn't really expecting to see any patterns of figures of significance, but thought I would take a look anyway.

Ideally I would like to have run some regression on these results, but due to the nature of the data, I didn't really see how I could. I'm sure the more analytical of those amongst you would be able to manipulate the data in a superior manner to me, but to my unprofessional eye this seems okay for now.

There are 81 possible combination of WDL sequences when joining the home and away team's results (nine pairs of nine), so the downloadable spreadsheet shows the 1X2 and Over/Under results for all these combinations across the sampled 6,600 matches. I've highlighted high percentages in green and low percentages in orange, and have done so based on the following (admittedly rather arbitrary) criteria:

  • Home - green above 55%
  • Home - orange below 36%
  • Draw - green above 31%
  • Draw - orange below 20%
  • Away - green above 37%
  • Away - orange below 20%

You may well decide that these thresholds that I've plucked out of thin air need tweaking, and if so then be my guest and tweak away.

So, are there any decent headlines from all this? Should we be looking at specific sequences for specific results? Well, first-off, as a sanity-check, the 1X2 figures look about right, with 46.77% ending in a home win, 26.53% finishing as a draw, leaving 26.70% as an away win. There are also a few obvious sequences such as WWLL giving a 70.09% chance of a home win - but those of you expecting to see confirmation that a DL or DW sequence means an impending win and loss for those respective sequences, then you'll be disappointed to know this is not really the case.

On all the home DL sequences (that's DLLL, DLLD, DLLW, DLDL, DLDW, DLWL, DLWD and DLWW), only the DLLD sequence appears to provide an increased probability for a home win (58.18%). Some of the others favour the away side. And if you had hopes for DLDW (meaning that the home side were coming in to form while the away side were losing form) then you'll be surprised to know this showed more likelihood of an away win, with H=42.31%, D=19.23%, A=38.46%. I suppose it just shows how dangerous hunches can be (Gundulf take note!).

The away DL sequences didn't fare any better I'm afraid, with more advantage being shown to the home team than the away team.

Okay, so I've told you about the unexpected or the disappointing, but is there any good news in all this? Well, if you look at the spreadsheet attached here, I suppose you could say that all those percentages that have been coloured green or orange "could" be good news, but we need to take a closer look, and we'd need to check if the given probability is better than the odds provided in reality.

Results Checking:
Using the table I've provided, I separated-out only those green and orange sequences and then placed imaginary £10 bets if the following criteria were met:

  1. Bet on home if sequence is one of the green home win sequences, and draw and away are not one of the green sequences, and if the implied home win odds are better than the actual odds for the match.
  2. Bet on draw if sequence is one of the green draw sequences, and home and away are not one of the green sequences, and if the implied draw odds are better than the actual odds for the match. 
  3. Bet on away if sequence is one of the green away win sequences, and home and draw are not one of the green sequences, and if the implied away win odds are better than the actual odds for the match.  

Due to boredom over this exercise, I only ran this against three season's worth of results. These were:
  1. Premier League 2010/11
  2. Premier League 2011/12
  3. Championship 2011/12

These are the results from these three seasons:

Woo-hoo, we've made a profit. After placing £4,420 worth of bets, we're £324.90 in profit. That's an overall ROI of 7.35%. However, before we start getting too excited, there are one or two things to consider.  Firstly, the ROI is not high and, when combined with a relatively smallish number of bets for each season, we're subject to the vagaries of variance. These figures could just as well have shown a loss. Also, three seasons-worth of results is by no means sufficient. If we wanted to be more satisfied that looking at sequences in this way is valid, we'd certainly need to back-test against many, many more seasons.

However, on a positive note, these are results purely based on the stats. No consideration is given to teams, the importance of the match, whether teams have just got back from Europe, yada yada yada. Also, as mentioned I plucked the threshold figures out of my head, so these are more variables that could be changed and tweaked Definite room for manoeuvre.

In reality, I don't know many people who would be prepared to risk their money on such a rudimentary method as these WDL sequences - but perhaps if used in conjunction with other methods that you use, there could be some benefit in considering past win/draw/loss sequences in this manner.

You will notice that, although I included Under/Over figures in the spreadsheet, I didn't bother back-testing those. The number of sequences was small, so it could be that the variance will be even greater. But either way, this could be a nice exercise for the reader to pursue.

I'll expect all your homework to be by this time next week.