Sunday, 31 July 2011

A small milestone reached today - thank you all!

Amazingly (to my mind, anyway!) there have been over 30,000 page views of my little blog in just under a year of posting. 

The audience figures show that people from all over the world have found their way to gun's corner of the interweb, from places as far flung as South Korea and Argentina. Thanks to you all for continuing to show an interest and I hope you get something out of my witterings - even if it is only what NOT to do!

Here's to breaking the 100,000 pageviews!!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

I rediscovered the Midas Touch tonight!

As a break from LTD I engaged in a little CS trading tonight, with a half time lay thrown in for good measure.

Benfica played Trabzonspor in a Champions League qualifier and were heavy odds on favourites. A little strategy I have used over the years to great effect is to lay a heavy favourite in the half time markets at odds on prices, trading out after 15-20 minutes. The odds obviously move a lot quicker in the half time market compared to the full time market, and a substantial profit can be made. In this case I laid for £50 at 1.66 and greened up at 2.6 for a profit of over £18. As it happens the match was 0-0 at half time so this was a relatively safe and conservative trade, but obviously a goal to the favourite with this tactic is seriously bad news so there's no point in being greedy!

I also backed 0-0 0-1 and 1-0 in the Barcelona v Bayern match with a view to trading out of 0-0 at 20 minutes. I was able to back 0-0 at 14.6 and laid it at 8.4, leaving the other two to run. Greening at 1-0 Barca left  a nice position on the game.

Two CL qualifiers were 0-0 at half time, and small backs on 1-1 2-0 and 0-2 ensured decent profitability as both finished 1-1! This is a natty little trade to try, and usually works as long as the first goal isn't too late in coming. As it happened in both games the  away side, also the slight underdogs in both games, scored first. This is the ideal situation as a) 1-1 comes in much further than it would if the favourites score first and b) 0-2 is usually much higher than 2-0, so in both cases I was able to secure a small all green on all scores with a nice chunk on 1-1 - in my view (rightly as it turned out!) on the most likely outcome.

There was one obvious scatter gun tonight - the Super Cup between Lille and Marseille in la belle France. As it happened I managed to escape with a small loss as Marseille got a goal back to make it 2-1 before immediately conceding a third whilst my hedge bet was in the process of getting matched. I didn't look at the odds available on the goals markets during the game, and I don't even know if there was an U6.5 goals market - but I'm reasonably sure that if there were it could have been laid at 1.01 just before Marseille got their goal. The reason I mention it? Simple really, from 1-0 at 58 minutes the game finished 4-5!!!!! I didn't know until I checked flashscores to aid my memory with goal times! Absolutely amazing.... French football is usually a tight sort of 1-0 2-0 ish sort of affair. File it in the 'lost opportunities' folder and move on!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

If you didn't laugh, you'd cry...

Actually, due to a fluke of happenstance things aren't quite as bad as they could / should have been as I sit here writing this.

A client running late earlier this evening meant I didn't get home until just over half an hour had gone in the Frankfurt match. I had just watched my SG stakes get matched on the Correct Score market when the game was suspended and St Pauli took the lead. The draw was priced at 3.35 when the market settled, and although I was reasonably confident that Frankfurt would equalise I decided to dip my toe into the market secure in the knowledge that I'd got a green of over £44 on 1-1 to act as some kind of cover. My thinking was that should Frankfurt equalise in short order then although the draw price might dip a bit there would be plenty of time to score a winner. On the other hand, should no Frankfurt goal materialise the odds on the draw would start to drift. In either case the odds on 1-1 had shortened considerably and I knew they wouldn't really drift for quite some time as long as there were no more goals. In short, I was reasonably happy with my position.

Half time came and went, and the consensus in the chatroom suggested that Frankfurt didn't really look like scoring. Over time the draw odds started to drift outwards, 1-1 stabilised and then also started a slow drift. it was decision time, and I decided I couldn't really risk an equaliser with such a slender away advantage. In the context of what was (or, more accuratley, what wasn't) happening in Scotland I decided to take a modest green on the draw at odds of 4, for bank preservation purposes. My plan at that stage was to hold onto the 1-1 until the odds had drifted to just about the price I had backed at and then take a small red screen on CS for a small overall loss on the whole game. The equaliser came with a fair few ticks to go on 1-1, so I decided to stick as I was... with a modest profit on the draw lay and a nice profit on 1-1 with a smaller profit on both 1-2 and 2-1. As it happened the game finished 1-1 to leave me about £45 to the good.

Turning to Scotland, the game seemed so flat and devoid of chances that I left my 0-0 1-0 and 0-1 bets in place, greening 0-0 at half time for a green of just under £15. I greened  the other two scores at about 60 minutes as after that time it is reasonable to expect a slow drift on the odds as time passes by. The even money point on the draw came at about 65 minutes, and I took advantage of the quick drop from 2 to 1.8 with a larger than stake back on the draw, before reversing that and leaving myself with a total of just over £47 loss on the draw and + 10 on a win to either side. The game finished 0-0 so I ended up a total of £20 down in round figures on the match.

So the first two games traded properly probably couldn't have been much trickier, and I count myself fortunate to have escaped not only unscathed, but slightly ahead. 

How much more difficult would it have been had I laid the draw in the German match at the odds discussed last night? And how would I have dealt with it? In my LTD experiment so far I have simply taken a small loss or profit after a goal to the underdog, but had I been in the game properly I would have 'metaltoned' the game - about which more another time. 

For now, I'm tired and more than a little miffed that I managed to select two completely duff games to put all this into practice with, but at least I'm still smiling!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Monday 25th July - pre Trade analysis

I've picked a couple of matches for tonight to continue the LTD theme.

First up is Eitracht Frankfurt v St Pauli in the Bundesliga 2. I love trading this league, and a quick glance at some stats shows why: according to 25% of games last season ended 1-1 2-1 or 1-2, and less than 8% of matches were goalless. Investigations of the two teams' recent results suggest this game should have at least 1 goal, and Frankfurt SHOULD win the game..

The Match Odds:

At 4.1 the draw is perhaps on the high side from a laying point of view, but in my opinion is worth pursuing based on the evidence of form and analysis. I will lay it for £25 to a liability of £75 ish.

At the same time I am going to run an SG on this match, but not from the start of the game as the odds on 2-1 are too low. At present the situation is shown below:

The 1-1 and 1-2 odds are fine, but I will delay entry into the CS fray until we've got odds of at least 11 on 2-1 - probably about the 20 minute mark by which time I'd expect 1-2 to be north of 20 and 1-1 to be around the same odds as kick off. If an early goal prevents this I'll trade Match Odds according to whomever scores it. If I invest £15 in CS together with a liability of £75 on MO I'm starting trading with a reasonable amount exposed - but I'm happy to do this as I'm sure there will be at least one goal. Famous last words?

More difficult to call is the second game, an SPL fixture between Dunfermline and St Mirren. Goals in matches between these two sides have been relatively rare, but both show reasonable net finding abilities in recent matches involving other sides. At 3.6 the draw odds are eminently layable, and I will do so for a stake of £50 giving a liability of £125. My feeling is that this game will be a low scorer, and as such I will be backing 0-0 1-0 and 0-1 for £5 each at the start, looking to trade out of 0-0 at 20 minutes leaving a healthy position on the other two scores. So total liability at the start of the match will be £155 - but again I'm of the opinion that I can cover that all off in play. We'll see.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Fewer games - different approach

A return to profitability from just a handful of games today. I was working today and only traded a few five o'clock kick offs due to family commitments. After last night's bruising encounter with a 0-0 featuring arguably the world's best club, I judiciously decided to leave the friendly between Galatasaray and Inter Milan alone! Just as well, as, predictably, there were no goals there either!

For the rest of the matches I did very brief research, enough to satisfy my curiosity that both contenders looked capable of at least one goal. In those games where the home team or favourite if the away team score first I took the approach of removing the draw liability from the match, leaving larger profits on a winner, and a £10 profit on the draw. In this small sample the number of 1-1's worked against that decision and more would have been made with a straight greening after a goal. The screenshot below shows tonight's trades..

A quick glance at the results above shows the frequency of 1-1 results. That result is why I like the Scatter Gun trade so much, and it occurs to me that more money would have been made with that strategy over the past few days than LTD has produced. Unfortunately I didn't record the relevant CS odds, but working on odds of 7.2 for 1-1 and 11 for 1-2 2-1 and £9 stakes the games so far produced a loss of £77 - but just on those games that produced one of those three scorelines. Had I traded the SG on these 75 games I am absolutely positive I would have turned a profit, and a decent one at that! After all, a further 7 games finished 3-1, 1-3 or 2-2 and a profit would have been all but guaranteed trading the SG on those!

Below is the summary to date:

This coming week I will continue to look at LTD, but will concentrate on just one or two in-play matches per evening and see what I can come up with using the Match Odds and Correct Score markets with the occasional dalliance into unders and overs!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Those digging around looking for the Holy Grail....

.... needn't put the spade away just yet!

It had to happen; tonight trading with real money would have been a nightmare situation. Here's the spreadsheet detailing today's trades:

That's 15 games for a £450 loss! Or £30 per game down, and it's all down to the numbers catching up with me. The main culprit was the friendly pre-season match between Hadjuk Split and Barcelona. One of the premises of this little exercise was that there was to be no pre-match research, so I don't know if Messi and co were playing or whether Pep fielded the under 10's. Whatever, I would think most traders would not have a problem with the concept of laying the draw involving these two teams. Which brings us to the major problem - not so much the fact that it finished 0-0 but rather taking the game on at odds of 5.8 and having no cover whatsoever other than tightly crossed fingers!

As the notes say two games over consecutive nights in the Republic of Ireland also finished 0-0. These were league games, not meaningless pre-season curtain raisers, and both featured strong favourites. In fact the 8 games 'traded' so far that finished 0-0 have cost an average of £213 each, working to lay stakes of £100. The effect these games have had on the whole exercise can be seen by looking at the summary below:

It is interesting to note how the average winnings have slid from a healthy £20 odd on day one (albeit with the losses understated by £100 on that day) to the rather uninspiring amount of £1.35 per game as of close of play tonight. When you put that in the context of the liabilities involved, and the time spent hunched over a PC the conclusion that you can't rely on blanket LTD alone as a money making trading strategy is crystal clear.

I can't say that I'm surprised, or indeed disappointed, that this has happened. I expected a glitch or two, but a night like this really explains why football trading needs generally to be considerably more than a mechanical exercise.

I do believe LTD can be a highly effective trading method, and from here on in I'm going to change tack in the days leading up to the major leagues starting up. Still paper trading, but with a couple of tweaks.

Firstly - research. It won't and can't be too detailed as most of these games have no precedence to get a track record from, but I will at least have a look at scoring trends of both teams - after all the key to the trade is a goal or two!

Secondly, and this is difficult, I'm going to try to assess how easy it is to get some free 0-0 cover pre-match. This is difficult to paper trade as I know from past experience that getting matched on some of the smaller games pre kick off can be extremely difficult - and you need to get matched on both sides of the market obviously - you don't really want to be taking a £100 0-0 back in play as we all know an early goal is all but guaranteed if you do!

Thirdly I'm going to take some trades in-play. Maybe these will involve the unders / overs markets, the CS market or something more off beat - we'll see.

Lastly I'm going to experiment with how best to react to goals...especially if the underdog scores first. If the favourite scores and leaves a nice potential green is there any mileage in simply taking all or most of your liability on the draw out of the market leaving larger potential wins if the game is not drawn, with a small loss, profit or scratch on the draw?

One thing I'm definitely going to do for real from hereon is to place a little trade at just over evens on the draw and green up three minutes or so later at 1.8 ish. A quarter of these paper trades have required a lay at either 1.8 or 2 - and I honestly can't think of one in which a goal was scored between those odds!

LTD 22/7/11

A mixed day today, and one where the lay and leave approach weakens considerably. That said several of the games showing very small profits / losses could have been worked a lot harder in-play - and were I trading for real and not constraining myself by the terms of this exercise profits would have been a lot higher. There seems to have been more games than usual where the underdog takes the lead, and blindly trading out might not, in reality, always be the smartest move.

Today's results:

You will notice that I have changed the trade out position to decimal odds 2, and be assured that the results have been amended to include the extra £100 loss from the previous post as mentioned above.

And the summary:

One more day of this hedging after a goal then I'm going to try other methods to see how the results might be improved (or not, as the case might be!).

Friday, 22 July 2011

LTD Observations so far....

I had a couple of questions in my mind about yesterday's analysis of laying the draw.

The first, and most obvious one, concerned the merits of hedging across the board at 1.8 (or other odds, more of which later) or leaving the loss sitting on the draw to catch late wins. When I 'what if'd' my spreadsheet with a fully hedged bet the result, so I thought, was clear cut in favour of leaving the big loss on the draw. Two things now make me question this....

In a comment on yesterday's post Anon kindly pointed out that I had made a mistake on one of the losing games, meaning I was showing a loss of £100 instead of £200. That changed things slightly.

The second point to consider was that a late goal does not of course rule out a draw! Bearing in mind that the exit point is usually somewhere between sixty and seventy minutes depending on the game there is a lot of potential for a 'gotcha'. So, prudence dictates that one ought to lay the leading team after a goal to cover some, if not all, of the liability sitting on the draw. In a Polish game tonight the away team scored at 75 minutes. They were 1.3 or so to lay even at that late stage, so to cover a liability of £180 would have cost £50 odd.

Taking both these thoughts together I am now minded to hedge completely, take the loss like a man and move on!

Which brings me to my second question... what odds to bottle out of the trade at??

Talking about this subject in chat earlier on I encountered one of those little gems of information that belonging to a community of traders sometimes imparts. Jon, aka Lambretta, said I should look at the 1.8 odds because it takes only 3 minutes or so usually for the draw odds to drop from 2 to 1.8. Now I've never timed it, but Lamb's a stats man and I am totally confident that he is right... and it makes sense if you think about it. Evens (decimal odds 2) is a tick size change figure - i.e. the odds change from .02 to .01 per tick. That is why the draw (and other outcomes) hover around evens for quite some time as traders try to take advantage of that minuscule difference. Once the barrier is broken the odds fall away quite quickly. Now, if it's 0-0 at the time the draw odds reach evens the chances of a goal in the 3 minutes or so it takes for them to drop to 1.8 are tiny so it makes much more sense to use 2 as the trade out point.

So now I am at the crossroads again! Changing the trade out odds to 2 probably tips me back in favour of putting all the liability on the draw rather than on hedging... so I'm going to work on that over the next few days.

For the benefit of those who hadn't spotted it, there's a simple trade buried in that rambling paragraph above! Back the draw at evens for £100, hedge out three minutes later at 1.8 for a green of £11.11 or lay for £100 at 1.8 for a free bet of £20 on the draw! Simples!

Some thoughts on an old chestnut - Lay the Draw

One of the best things about betting exchanges is that they provide you with the opportunity to lay (oppose, or bet against) an outcome. Effectively you are providing someone's potential winnings, whilst scooping up their stake if their selection is wrong!

In a 15 horse race it is easier to pick a horse that won't win than it is to pick a winner, surely?? So why not just lay an outsider in every race and after a year retire to Barbados a multi millionaire? Sounds like a plan, doesn't it? The answer, of course, is that your potential liabilities are high. If you lay a horse at 14 / 1 for a £100 stake you will need to pay out £1300 if it wins. Ouch!

With a football match there are only three potential outcomes, and the odds on offer reflect this. One of the oldest trading strategies on the exchanges is to lay the draw. This is effectively the same as backing both teams to win. In the premier league just under a third of the matches are drawn, and unsurprisingly the draw odds at the start of a match are usually between 3.5 and 5 on Betfair. Blindly laying the draw is a guaranteed loser, but if we are smart and trade the draw it can be very profitable. The idea is to trade out of the match after a goal. This a) locks in a profit (or small loss) and b) frees your money up for another trade.

There are two major potential banana skins awaiting the draw layer. The first, and by a long way the worst, is the dreaded 0-0 result. The other is that the underdog scores first and the draw price doesn't move sufficiently to yield a profit, and in many cases will actually shorten as the market expects an equaliser.

As an academic exercise I have been paper trading laying the draw in a totally blanket fashion over the last few days. My brief was to hedge out once the market had settled as soon as the first goal was scored - simple as that. If no goal was forthcoming then I'd back the draw at odds of 1.8 for the same amount as I'd staked the lay for. If the match remained 0-0 there would be a heavy loss on the trade, but should a late winner arrive it would be a scratch trade. I conducted NO pre-match analysis and did no other trading during the game - so the results you see on the screenshots are really simplistic, idiot proof, trades.

This shot shows a summary of the individual matches:

This next shot shows a summary of the 31 matches 'traded' in this way:

Some interesting observations can be drawn from looking at these 31 matches, and I'll return to this over the next couple of days, but for now I'll close with a screenshot showing the breakdown of Premier League fixtures from the last season:

For now, just look at roughly how close a sample the 31 matches traded are in terms of home and away wins, draws and 0-0 games to a whole season of English top flight football....