Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Yet another two goal lead goes begging ..and then...kapow!

I had spotted that Falkirk v Rangers was 0-0 at half time, but the mental note to do something in the second half got lost in my synapses. Until JB pointed out in chat that with 15 minutes to go Falkirk were 2-0 up. I duly laid them at 1.15, and went in again a few minutes later at 1.07 with a fair chunk. Unfortunately I had my traders hat on tonight rather than my punter's hat and greened at 2-1 only for Rangers to equalize a minute or two after I'd hedged my position. The draw was begging to be laid at 1.3 and so I obliged - for Falkirk to run out 3-2 winners. A return on investment of about 400% in ten minutes.

It almost beats working for a living sometimes..

Human nature, punters and tick size = profit opportunity!

Regular readers will know that I'm a big fan of laying with low liabilities. Given a team with an early two goal lead and you'll usually find me laying them in Match Odds and if feeling brave laying Any Unquoted in Correct Score. Neither of these trades are meant to be outright winners, but with the former a goal to the losing side usually results in a nice profit and with the latter time decay forces the price out surprisingly quickly as the market normally totally over reacts with respect to that scoreline.

I've been trading football on Betfair for some years now, and I've often thought that after a goal the price on 'Unders' drops more quickly than the price on 'Overs' rises only to dismiss it as an optical illusion. For those fans of low liability laying, liabilities don't come much lower than in the Over 1.5 market after an early goal has been scored and I've quietly made a few quid doing just that lately. I've also lost a few quid but that's not the issue right now! And I became more convinced than ever that unders drops quicker than overs rises - and - after thinking about it - reckon I know why.

In the premier league season 2010-11 80% of all matches had 2 or more goals, so an early goal leaves the Over 1.5 at very low odds. To see what this means have a look at the chart below. Let's assume the market settles at 1.1 to lay overs, and 11 to back unders. I've reversed the odds of the unders so that they correspond to the overs odds to give the closest to 100% combined implied  percentage chance on both sides of the market.

The yellow boxes represent a perfectly matched market, with the implied chances adding up to exactly 100%. Notice that as the price rises on overs and falls on unders that the figure tends away from the perfect 100%. This is because on Overs at this point the tick increment is .01 whereas on unders it is either .5 or .2 on the prices shown.

The two red figures represent a £100 liability on both sides - i.e. a back of unders for £100 at 11 or a lay of overs for £1000 at 1.1. The two green figures show the hedged 'green' resulting from a one tick move on both markets. The astute trader would rather lay then back on those figures....

Or would s/he?  Let's have a look at what actually happens. Imagine my surprise when I logged onto my trading PC on returning home from work to see the gooners 0-1 down at home to the mighty Shrews! Ignoring any personal preferences a Chelsea man has for the discomfiture of our North London rivals I thought this match might illustrate my thoughts perfectly, and so it proved! The screenshot below shows the 1.5 goals market after the goal:

Notice two things... firstly the market really does expect at least one more goal! I was able to back a tenner at   25 on unders! You can see my hedge lay already in place at 18.5. Secondly look at the discrepancy in the amounts waiting to trade overs compared with unders! I haven't added it up properly but it looks to be about £400 on unders and £15-16k on overs! This makes no sense really.... if you are convinced a second goal will come  your back is sitting the queue at 1.05 or 1.06. You stand a good chance of a goal occurring before your back bet is matched! The brave soul who laid my £10 at 25 stood to lose £240 if there was no second goal, but he definitely got his lay matched!

This next screenshot was taken about three minutes later...

You can see my lay hedge has been matched, I'm the price of a pint ahead of the game, and overs has moved just one tick!

Human nature seems to move us in the direction of betting on something that we think WILL happen. So, with the above 80% stat in mind punters and traders alike back O1.5 at the start of the game, even though it is usually at an odds on price. With a goal early on the traders look to lay their backs off and secure a green book, free their cash up and go off in search of other opportunities. At 0-1 with over three quarters of a match between a premier league team and a lower league team many more punters will pile in with a straight back. The result is this log jam on O1.5 which will take time to clear. Watch these markets, in a big game (and with respect to Shrewsbury, this wasn't a BIG game!) you will see many thousands of pounds getting matched and queuing to be matched on overs.

In the meantime you'll see people like me over on unders sometimes nicking 5 or more ticks in the time it takes overs to move just one! The bigger green on a one tick hedge on overs doesn't now have quite the same appeal, does it?

I've said before that I'm not a mathematician, and I'm sure some people will correct my interpretation of the figures... but I know which way I'm going in this trade in future - all in favour of the larger tick size, quicker matching times and a fast buck!

I think it's only fair to end this post with a wealth warning....


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Trading is sometimes a question of hats

It's not that I have switched career from executive cars to millinery, but rather a question that you must make sure you are wearing the correct hat on before trading your own team! The hats in question today are the 'fan's hat' and the 'trader's hat'.

Manchester United at home to my team, Chelsea. I definitely entered this trade with the wrong hat on! Thinking that a poor Arsenal side flattered MU a couple of weeks ago and that their only match against strong opposition resulted in a hard fought draw during which they looked decidedly dodgy I carried full steam ahead with a Scatter Gun trade. To compound matters I laid U1.5 instead of U2.5 at 1-0 by mistake and got wiped out there by the second goal. Even then the old glasses definitely had a blue tint as I hung manfully on for a late 2-1. At 3-0 by half time the original trade was dead and buried and I only escaped with a modest profit because I took the 'tiger line' and laid Any Unquoted at about 1.3 for £100.

As an aside, laying the AU at 3-0 / 0-3 often pays off - I've said before I frequently do it and think it works for two reasons - first because it's a relatively low liability trade and one which I'm prepared to commit to for at least 30 minutes, secondly because I think most teams adopt a sort of 'job done' mentality at 3-0 and think the game is safe. I was fortunate in this match as Shrek missed a penalty! You won't catch me shedding any tears about that!

On a more positive note, I had my trader's hat on earlier in the day when I laid both Man City and Evian both of whom had two goal leads. Both games finished 2-2. It really is quite staggering how many 2 goal leads are let slip by teams these days.

I was of the opinion pre match that Fulham would test City, and thought at 1-0 and 1.24 that I was happy to oppose the sky blue Mancunians. My only regret was not doubling up on the trade when they went two ahead!

The situation with Evian was a bit different. They were playing Paris St Germain, who have spent the national debt of Brazil on new players this close season. Their two goal lead was not expected - and the odds reflected this fact. Depsite being at home they were 1.3 to oppose at the mid point of the first half time at 2-0. PSG got a goal just before half time, but rather than green it up there and then I decided to let the trade run until it was back to a scratch position and review it then. It was one of those bizarre games where for reasons best known to themselves Betfair suspended the market no fewer than TEN times before the equaliser went in.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Just like buses....

...another one comes along. What odds was Any Unquoted at in this match at 79 minutes, I wonder? I had my trade covered and was awaiting an equalising goal from Juniors when, for the second time tonight, Any Unquoted came in an amazing spell of about 10 minutes. Why hadn't I put just 50p on it, you ask? I don't know why - but I never seem to learn! Amazing, isn't it?

Anyway here's the screenshot....

Monday, 12 September 2011

Don't think many would have seen this one coming..

The Portuguese league is not noted for high scoring affairs, so I backed U2.5 at about 1.6 at the start of the match between Academica and Nacional, scalping it down to give me a nice, safe, green of about a tenner. U2.5 was trading at 1.18 at half time. Thinking the game would be won by a one goal margin I placed a lay of £100 at 1.05 and another at 1.01 - my thinking being that I'd be able to green up after the only goal and improve a bit on my position, a free profit but a tiny £4 profit if it finished 0-0.

The second half got under way and I was flicking between that screen and the others that I had open as time slipped by and U2.5 crept downwards. I remember noting that 3-0 was at about 400 as was Any Unquoted at about 60-65 minutes (approx figures but you get the idea...).

My £100 lay was literally next in the queue at 1.05 when the suspended sign came up. A red to Nacional, followed by a penalty and the only goal of the game as I thought.

But, as the screenshot below shows, that was not the case!

There must be some layers bemoaning the fact that they thought they were buying free money! And my lay was not matched and I left the game alone...oh well!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

So, did it get any better in play?

In short, NO! The screenshot below shows a massive £142 matched just before the end of the game. The annoying thing?? My analysis was spot on and the match finished 1-1. 'Nuff said.

Never mind fan money, please, let's have SOME money!

I've been trading football matches on Betfair for a few years now, and posted a while ago about poor liquidity in some late markets. Tonight's coupon features a classic Scatter Gun trade - Hadjuck Split v Dinamo Zagreb. Bursting with anticipation I hot footed it straight into the Correct Score market just after the game had started to be confronted by this:

Not a single penny matched. Zero, zip, nowt! And we are not talking a 2am BST kick off here either - a perfectly respectable 7 pm BST start on a Saturday night to boot.

Ironically I took a call from a Betfair customer service chap the other day asking how they could improve the site and or their service. His words to me were along the lines of 'we know there is a small problem with liquidity in one or two football markets' and that they are 'actively looking at ways to improve the situation'.

May that day come sooner rather than later on this evidence. I haven't looked but my suspicion is this isn't the first completely empty market and won't be the last. No wonder revenue and profits are down - I wanted to place just £9 or £10 into this market and couldn't.... poor show.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Fan money - don't you just love it??

I am English, and although following the national team brings more than its fair share of heartache I love it when they win. I enjoy trading England matches much more than I do watching though! The reason? Loads of over optimistic patriotic money saturating the markets!

My suspicion is in truth that this money is around in games involving big clubs as well - ie Chelsea, Arsenal and Man U fans piling in on their teams (and loads of other teams I'm sure!). But with England games all those fans come together and lump on the national team thereby exaggerating the effect.

I had no doubt that England would win, and neither did the majority of traders and punters. But match odds in these games seldom offer much in the way of margin. But, at 1-0 after 35 minutes the Any Unquoted price was 4. Irresistible. That figure means that according to the market, with only 55 minutes roughly of football remaining, that England stood a 25% chance of getting three more goals (or, indeed, of Wales getting 4!). In my opinion that was way too optimistic so I laid AU for £25 with a liability of £75.

For a concise but insightful view on trading where the value lies, rather than on what you think is going to happen, have a look at Cassini's post about the match odds market in the same game.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Does anyone else get nagging voices inside their head?

And I don't mean the missus reminding you of jobs that need doing, or the sort that cause you to go beserk with a pick axe!

No, I'm referring to the little voice that says 'Charlton are too low at 1.83' as tonight's match with struggling Sheffield Wednesday was about to start. As young Wright-Phillips put them a goal up after three minutes it seemed my voice was telling me porkies tonight. A frenetic start, a goal to the good and seemingly an easy victory. The only question was how many more they'd score. They didn't score any more. But Sheffield Wednesday managed one in the second half.

So if I thought they were a value lay at 1.83, what were they at 1.25???

But by then I'd told my voice to shut up and go back to sleep and an easy trade became a slightly more challenging affair.

What really frustrates me is that this isn't the first occasion that my little voice was spot on, and this isn't the first occasion that I've totally ignored it on. Doubtless there will be others.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Someone made a catastrophic error last night...

...but, for a change, it wasn't me!

The Argie Bargies were waiting for (any/some)thing to happen in the All Boys match when Athletico GO went 0-1 up against Fluminese who were substantial pre-match favourites. One of the AB stalwarts noticed that 0-2 was available to back at 40! Quite a few of the guys climbed on, but unfortunately by the time I'd caught wind of it the money had disappeared. By all accounts a substantial amount was matched leaving that layer with a monumental liability!

There was much debate over the state of mind of that particular punter, with the most popular argument being that he was three sheets to the wind and that drinking and trading do not mix! I think the more likely explanations are that he meant to offer 40 on 1-0, but put it on the wrong scoreline, or that he meant to offer a cheeky back at 40 rather than a lay.

As an aside, for anyone newish to this trading malarkey who is wondering why he might have wanted to offer to lay 1-0 there is a rational explanation. Let's assume you'd laid 1-0 at odds of 7.2 for £100 pre-match. Your liability would be £620. Obviously at 0-1 your lay has been successful, but your £620 is still tied up until the end of the match. If someone can back 1-0 at 1000 for £2 they lose that £2 from their winning lay BUT free up the £620 immediately to go and make some more money with it elsewhere. That is why there is nearly always a couple of quid on the lay side of any defunct correct score. In case you wondered. That doesn't fully explain this situation though as no one in their right mind would back a dead score at 40!

Giving this brave soul some credit for not being paralytically drunk when he entered the trade, he probably wished he was when the score became 0-2 in the 62nd minute. And there it stayed until the 83rd minute when Fluminese found their shooting boots and turned the tie round to win 3-2. I bet there were a few choice words being uttered at a trading station somewhere in the world!

Three lessons here for me:

1) Take advantage of other people's mistakes and if you spot an obvious one jump on it quickly.
2) An earlier post refers - yet another two goal lead goes up in smoke in a matter of minutes - keep an eye out for these and again take advantage of relatively low liability lays
3) The power of the chatroom. On this occasion yours truly was too slow out of the blocks to take advantage of this opportunity, (having a smoke probably!) but several people did because one of the many pairs of eyes in there spotted it and pointed it out. Subs are £25 per month, jumping on this with a tenner at 40 would have paid several months if you had stuck with it and exited at 0-2!