Monday, 18 February 2013

The Wonder of Asians

For some reason, it seems that whenever the words “Asian” and “Handicap” are mentioned together, then many bettors and traders eyes immediately start to glaze over. Or else, they will profess to understand them and make assurances that they are fully comfortable with them – but then proceed to completely ignore them and never use them.

This is somewhat surprising because often-times there can be more value to be had using an Asian Handicap bet compared to your run-of-the-mill standard bet that we’re all so used to and comfortable with. Also, and perhaps more importantly, Asian bets have the potential to open-up new and different hedging possibilities that can lead to greater profits for all you traders out there, so they really shouldn’t be ignored as they tend to be.

How many people, for example, have you heard discussing a Draw No Bet but never once mentioning AH+0? You’ve probably listened to someone in the last day or so declare that they were going lay some team or another, but I’d be surprised if they also weighed-up if the odds were better on AH+0.5 for the other team.

If you’re not familiar with Asian bets, then you yourself may be muttering under your breath at this point, asking what the hell I’m banging on about – but I would ask you to bear with me. Of course if you fully  understand Asian bets, then by all means quietly pass me (and this post) by and we’ll say not more about it, but if you’re not overly-familiar with Asian bets or tend to swerve them, then perhaps you should spend then next couple of minutes reading. It may just be worth your while.

The Basics:
As the name implies, Asian Handicap betting incorporates a handicap system to adjust each team’s final scoreline, adding or subtracting a handicap value to determine a winner/loser. The idea behind all this is to remove the draw from the equation, leaving only two possible outcomes For example, if Man Utd are playing at home against Reading, then you may see something like this:

  • Man Utd -2.0: Odds of 1.85
  • Reading +2.0: Odds of 2.15

Do bear in mind that I have just made these odds up as an illustration. So if you back Reading at odds of 2.15 and Man Utd go on to win the match 2-0, then that means a win by two goals but then subtract their handicap of -2 goals, resulting in the match ending in a draw as far as the Asian Handicap system is concerned. Under such a situation, your full stake would be returned and the bet considered void. If Man Utd only win by one goal, then you have won your bet.

Actual Result:           Asian Result:

    0-0                  -2 - 0 (Reading win. You win)
    1-0                  -1 - 0 (Reading win. You win)
    2-0                   0 - 0 (Draw. Stake returned)
    3-0                   1 - 0 (Man Utd win. You lose)

Okay, so that’s a basic example, but now I’ll try and provide some practical, day-to-day uses for Asian Handicap bets so that you might start incorporating them into your usual weaponry of tactics.

Draw No Bet:
Forgive me if I start with the most obvious Asian Handicap bet first. But if you like a DNB now and then, it would definitely be to your advantage to also look at an Asian Handicap +/-0 bet also. If Liverpool are playing Arsenal and you see Arsenal +0, then that’s exactly the same as Draw No Bet on Arsenal. This is an Asian bet but there is no handicap applied to either team, and as there is no draw result in an Asian bet, it then becomes a DNB. This is always worth looking at across all the bookies you have accounts with, as you could well better the DNB price found on Betfair. SBOBet are good for this, as are the might Pinnacle and 188.

Lay a team
Instead of laying teamA because you think they won’t win the match, why not consider striking a +0.5 bet on teamB? This positive handicap on teamB means that if teamA don’t win the match (by at least a one goal advantage), then you will win your bet. A draw scoreline of 0-0, 1-1, etc plus the half-goal given to your team by the handicap means your team wins the match.

Back a team
This of course is the opposite of above. We back teamA for -0.5, meaning we think they will win the match. If they do win the match 2-1, then we take -0.5 away from their scoreline, leaving us with a 1.5-1 scoreline. Our team wins and thus so does out bet.

You may be sighing heavily at this point, so I'll leave it here for the moment. In the next post, I'll deal with more interesting ideas such as: If teamA win by at least 1 goal…”, or perhaps “if teamB only manage to lose by 2 goals…”. This opens-up more possibilities and more flexibility. I'll also delve into the dark waters of split Asians, which do seem to intimidate some people.


Just one quick answer to a comment:

Neil Daley18 February 2013 20:19
I've also been experimenting with MySql and PHP. Works great once you get it going. Have you managed to automate the process of getting data from straight into you database or do you download it first?

I haven't attempted to automate retrieving the data (yet) as I need to insert it into an Excel sheet first so that I can amalgamate that data with the score time data that I hold. I can then insert a fully-enriched data set into my database.

I'm really getting to grips with it all now and am well down the road to having what I want. Working-out how to code-up all my algorithms in SQL and/or PHP will take some work but I'm well on track.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Exchange? What Exchange?

Have you typed-in recently? I have and, over the last couple of days sometimes it comes-up with the exchange site that we all love/hate, - but more often than not it's also directed me to their "lovely" new fixed-odds "sportsbook" site with only a small button on the top-left to allow people to go to the exchange? Today, we seem to have the exchange back at the forefront, but what will appear tomorrow, I don't know.

Look at the screenshot here. Can you see the tiny little "Go to exchange" button?

So, perhaps the exchange is being relegated to only a bit-part player in Betfair's new and improved vision? If so, then it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Their selling point, their originality and innovation was the exchange. It was ground-breaking at the time and is still the reason that they have so many regular customers betting and trading on their site. So to suddenly plonk that summarily to one side and push the fixed-odds side and start swimming with the throng of other standard bookies out there, well it all seems rather bizarre. How are they going to differentiate themselves from Ladrokes, William Hill and Bet365? What do they have to offer straight punters that aren't being fully serviced by the normal high-street bookies already? And can they really be advertising the "best odds", but then direct people to the fixed odds site where they most certainly do not have the best odds? I don't think so.

Okay the good stuff first. Pinnacle are by far and away the best bookies out there. Winners seem to be welcome, the given odds are good, it's possible to get large amounts on without being restricted or banned, they have really decent Asian offerings and cover a large selection of sports and markets. All excellent stuff and well done to them.

Oh, and by the way, if you're one of those people who often submit straight bets on Betfair, then my advice to you would be to stop doing that immediately. Take away the 5% (or slightly less) commission that you happen to give to Betfair, then the odds really do not compare to those offered by Pinnacle. If you were to transfer all your straight betting to Pinnacle lock, stock and barrel then, over the long run, you will win more money with Pinny than you could ever do with Betfair. Trading is another matter of course, but when comparing straight bet value, then it's not even a competition.

As you may have guessed, there is a "but" in all of this. Pinny themselves I have no bad word to say... but as for their website. Well, that's a different matter altogether. Any of you who have Pinnacle accounts and do any regular betting on there will may well be familiar with this particular page:

It drives me absolutely batty. Select a country and a league, spend fifteen or twenty seconds selecting one or two events and markets on that page, add-in your stake, then click submit. Oh, sorry, the money-line has changed in that time, and consequently the site has silently wiped-out all your stakes and so you're submitting no bets. Aaargh!

Now I do realise that Pinny is extremely price sensitive, but often this "refresh" of the odds doesn't even move the odds at all. It's simply a wipe and start again, but for punters who don't jump on a page, select their markets, enter their odds and submit within a few seconds, then there's a decent chance that they will have to do it all over again as their actions weren't within the designated "window".

This is slightly ironic of course as their website is just about the slowest site I've ever been on. I once saw a snail stuck in super-glue inside a wind-tunnel making more headway than Pinnacle's website. It's shockingly sluggish (or "snailish" should I say?). For all the money that must be passing through the site, I'm sure they could invest a few pennies to get someone to design a site that doesn't piss people off.

The Ultimate Football Database
Like many of you out there, I have a whole raft of spreadsheets and workbooks that I use to help me with my betting and trading. Many of them have been developed over a long period of time and are quite rich in features and heavy with data. However, some of them have now started to creak a little as I'm asking a little bit too much from them and they are not really up to the job.

Thus, I've decided to spend much of my time recently to writing a new all-singing-all-dancing database for all my lovely footy stats. Indeed, I’m finding myself spending every spare minute in the design/redesign and coding of the whole thing – which will at last combine all the usual football data, my prediction algorithms and – more importantly – all my score time data into one huge beast of a database that will surely result in me ending-up a multi-millionaire and driving my yacht around the Caribbean islands. Or perhaps not. We’ll have to wait and see.

For those technical people amongst you, I’ve decided to use MySql for my database and PHP for my access into it – and I have to say it’s great fun. I’ve been spending hours poring over my tables, re-shaping and normalising them, and all the tweaking and honing is going well. I’ve also managed to cobble together a working mechanism to automatically pump all the data from plus all my score time data into to one CSV file so that I can load a full and rich data set for each match directly into my database in one go. Once I have five years worth of data for all the major leagues around Europe in place, I will be a happy man indeed, and it will then be a case of maintenance. It's quite a big project but one that I'm sure will be well worth it when it's finally finished.

As a consequence of said database, I haven't been as fully focused on my trading as I perhaps I should. It's wrong, but I find myself already looking forward to next season, where my new database will be ready to unleash and hopefully bear fruit.

Below is the last seven days P/L. Profits are decidedly small but that's the way it goes sometimes.

Football: £203.14  Total P&L:  £203.14

Football Showing 1 - 20 of 27 markets
Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£)
Football / Tottenham v Newcastle : Correct Score 09-Feb-13 12:45 09-Feb-13 14:41 32.73
Football / Tottenham v Newcastle : Over/Under 3.5 Goals 09-Feb-13 12:45 09-Feb-13 14:41 4.34
Football / Union Santa Fe v Arsenal FC : Correct Score 08-Feb-13 22:10 09-Feb-13 00:26 2.40
Football / Watford v C Palace : Correct Score 08-Feb-13 19:45 08-Feb-13 21:43 20.33
Football / Watford v C Palace : Over/Under 3.5 Goals 08-Feb-13 19:45 08-Feb-13 21:17 11.23
Football / Watford v C Palace : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 08-Feb-13 19:45 08-Feb-13 21:14 0.00
Football / Monaco v Le Havre : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 08-Feb-13 19:00 08-Feb-13 20:31 2.94
Football / Nimes v Laval : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 08-Feb-13 19:00 08-Feb-13 20:28 0.05
Football / Auxerre v Tours : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 08-Feb-13 19:00 08-Feb-13 19:24 -11.00
Football / France v Germany : Correct Score 06-Feb-13 20:00 06-Feb-13 21:52 16.18
Football / France v Germany : Match Odds 06-Feb-13 20:00 06-Feb-13 21:52 -10.00
Football / England v Brazil : DRAW NO BET 06-Feb-13 19:30 06-Feb-13 21:32 23.85
Football / France v Germany : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 06-Feb-13 20:00 06-Feb-13 21:32 -1.81
Football / England v Brazil : Correct Score 06-Feb-13 19:30 06-Feb-13 21:26 22.90
Football / L Orient v Southend : Correct Score 05-Feb-13 19:45 05-Feb-13 21:44 28.02
Football / L Orient v Southend : Over/Under 1.5 Goals 05-Feb-13 19:45 05-Feb-13 21:44 1.02
Football / Gillingham v Wycombe : Correct Score 04-Feb-13 19:45 04-Feb-13 21:40 13.91
Football / Gillingham v Wycombe : Over/Under 1.5 Goals 04-Feb-13 19:45 04-Feb-13 21:40 15.32
Football / Man City v Liverpool : Correct Score 03-Feb-13 16:00 03-Feb-13 17:55 17.25
Football / Man City v Liverpool : Over/Under 3.5 Goals 03-Feb-13 16:00 03-Feb-13 17:37 15.44
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