Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Is this a 'Light Bulb Moment'?

I've spent some time mulling over the comments made by Rob and Lamb in repsonse to my post discussing how the SG trade is best suited to goals later rather than earlier in a match. The points made are very valid, and it occurs to me that entering most trades at the beginning of a match might not be the most efficient way to leverage these scorelines.

The whole premise of the trade is that there are two (relatively) evenly matched teams, and that the expectation is that there will be around 3 goals in total. Assuming this assessment proves to be accurate the obvious question is 'when do we expect the goals to be scored?' Unfortunately my crystal ball is still back at the dealer's undergoing warranty repairs, so I am unable to find the answer! However, experience tells me and intuition suggests that in a close contest the early stages are likely to consist of some probing and pushing, both teams feeling the other out like two boxers testing each other for reach, strengths and weakensses. In qualifying games I am working on the assumption that most will still be 0-0 after 30 minutes.

At the half hour mark the 1-1 price will have barely moved at all, whilst 1-2 and 2-1 will have drifted a little bit, as would 2-2. But three other scores would have steamed quite a bit - namely 0-0 1-0 and 0-1. There seems little point to me in getting involved with 0-0. If the game is destined to end that way, so be it. With the possible exception of people actively trading 0-0 as a speciality it is any correct score trader's nightmare - so my intention it to ignore it.

I have therefore formulated a little trial and it works like this. I am going to back 1-0 0-1 and 1-1 at the outset for a fiver each. If the game is still 0-0 at half an hour I will then add 1-2, 2-1 and 2-2 to the mix with £2 stakes, taking whatever odds might be available to me. If the match is still goalless at half time I reckon that by greening both 0-1 and 1-0 that I'd be able to cover the £6 stakes on 1-2 2-1 and 2-2 or pretty close to it. I'd then have a properly formed SG, including 2-2, owing me the princely sum of around a fiver. I know from experience that matches with a goalless first half often result in good wins for the SG, so that would be a great situation to be in.

That leaves two other possibilities. Firstly that a goal goes in before the second tranche of bets have been placed. Unless the goal is ridiculously early I reckon the trade should be scratchable if desired by greening both the odd goal score and the 1-1. My more probable course of action, however, would be to hold fire, let both scores' odds steam a bit more and then re-assess. Obviously at that stage I run the risk of 0-2 or 2-0 and a wipeout from what could still have ended up being a winning trade.

What about a goal after the second tranche of bets have been placed but before half time? The answer, I suspect, depends on the scoring team.

If the home team or favourites (which could, of course, be the away team) score first then my inclination would be to let the whole trade run for a while. The one goal score and would continue to steam, and 1-1 would probably stay roughly where it is, maybe even drifting a little bit. With the passage of time, unless the market believes the leaders are totally dominant, 1-1 will start to come in as well. I think that whatever might happen later I'd green 1-0 / 0-1 once the entire £10 invested on those two scores could be recouped - in other words I'd be in the same position that I would have had using the old method, the difference being I'd have better odds on 1-2 and 2-1 as well as having 2-2 covered.

If the away team or the underdogs were to score first it is my belief that the trade would then be in a fantastic position. After letting the market settle it would not surprise me to find that a decent green screen could be achieved there and then if desired, maybe leaving a nice big lump on 2-2. But that is probably not the route I'd take... The 0-1 1-0 would have been backed at higher odds than the same score on the favorites / home team so almost certainly I'd green that score as soon as the market had re-settled and then proceed in time honoured fashion.

Most of the above is, at this stage, conjecture. Unfortunately the month end pub quiz beckons this evening so I won't be able to try it during the mid evening matches and haven't decided whether or not to trade the late Latin American games. But I am sitting here having written this post with an air of optimism for this ammendment to what I believe is already a winning trade.

Time will tell....

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Think I'm going to try going purple.

Yet another loss (small but annoying and completely unnecessary) due to Betfair suspending an in-play  game.

I've never really understood why they have to 'manage' football markets anyway. They don't suspend cricket after a wicket, rugby after a try or x-factor after (another) useless act. So why  do they have to suspend football after a goal, red card or the merest hint of the side netting bulging / ref scratching his backside?

If they must 'manage' it - then please can they do so? Not just leave people unnecessarily out on a limb.

The game in question featured those two giants of world football, Nacional Asuncion and Tacuary in Paraguay. The match was 1-1 after 8 minutes - crying out for a little lay of u2.5. Now I appreciate that is a risky trade to enter, but it's something I frequently do and look to exit after 10-15 minutes. Getting close to my exit point, the game was suspended. I shrugged my shoulders and flicked between GT and Flashscores to see who had scored and, to my considerable annoyance, it became clear that I'd been locked out of a profitable trade yet again by this company who supposedly put customer service and satisfaction at the top of their priorities. Right.

Needless to say the third goal came just before half time. And, immediately afterwards, as if by magic, the rest of the markets related to the game re-opened.

Let me make one thing clear. I am not annoyed about losing money on this trade. I'd laid O2.5 at 1.1 for £100 so it was only a tenner, and anyone daft enough to lay O2.5 at 1-1 after less than ten minutes is leading with the chin! What I am annoyed about is that I was denied the opportunity NOT to have lost that tenner, or even some of it, and to have made a nice return on it. And for what reason? Almost certainly because they 'lost' their data feed. Flashscores didn't. Livescores didn't. But Betfair did. Great.

The latest edition of Geeks Toy facilitates trading on Betdaq I believe. I am going to explore this. People will undoubtedly tell me there is no liquidity and not as much choice over there. I am open minded about that at the moment (I've even got a sneaking suspicion that there might be the odd couple of hundred quid sitting in my account - really MUST try to remember my password!). As most of the trading I do involves a maximum exposure of £20 or so I'm not too concerned about the possible lack of liquidity, but if Betfair continue to cheese their customers off as they've been doing for  a couple of years now, perhaps that situation will change.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Slow burn trades and last gasp goals

Anyone who has been reading my ramblings for any time, or who has tried the Scatter Gun trade for themselves will appreciate the fact that the trade works to its peak performance with later, rather than earlier, goals.

Because of the frequency with which the 3 scores end up as actual results you can usually, if you wish, escape with an acceptable loss up to about 65-70 minutes. But, long term, you'd almost certainly be better of sticking with the trade at 0-0 or 1-0  / 0-1 or even 2-0 0-2 because of the number of late goals. Over the last few days three games have produced late goals to turn potential losses / scratches into nice profits. Last night in particular saw Godoy snatch a late 1-2 against Boca and the match between Banfield and Argentina Juniors progress from a nice 1-1 to an amazing 2-2 in the final few minutes.

The frequency of late goals is the main reason why I so strongly advocate smallish stakes for this trade...and that, for me, is a mindset thing. If I'm considering a maximum £20 loss (usually a lot smaller so that is a rarity) I'm a) more likely to stay in beyond what would normally be deemed a sensible exit point b) not likely to get panicked into precipitate action as soon as a goal is scored and c) able to withstand the odd total wipeout without unduly impacting on my bank or, more importantly, my confidence.

With effect from1st December I'm going to start recording just my SG trading activities on the spreadsheet I shared with you a few posts ago - then hopefully I'll be able to better assess the long term possibilities of this trade. I won't turn this into a 'P&L' blog so Cassini and co can sleep easy - rather to see if any trends develop which might help in match selection or whether my current 'blanket' approach is adequate..

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Whoops a diddly daisy!

Made a bit of a cods of a trade tonight, and did something I don't think I've ever done before.

Having made a lovely green by laying U4.5 at the start of Valencia's demolition of Genk I decided to splash out a speculative tenner from that win by backing AU on the Correct Score 2 market at 13 at half time. At 7-0 I thought it was time to green up. For some reason I can't quite reason out I decided to do it on the Betfair screen rather than on GT. As the market formed I was amazed to see AU at 1.67. A couple of taps on the old calculator gave me my lay stake which was duly placed to give, I thought, a £50 green. Fantastic. Crowed about it in the green room, back slapping all round from the boys.

Then I flicked the same market open on GT to see no green, AU at 8 and a £10 red.

I'd laid the right amount on the correct runner in the wrong f@@@@@g market!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

For a second or two I thought GT had broken...

...but I should have known better! GT doesn't break - the reason there were only half a dozen games showing for tonight is because Betfair have the smallest in-play coupon I think I have ever seen, and all bar one of those games is in Latin America which kick off that much later in the evening.

So what have we learnt from the International Break? For me, a number of things...

1) Spain are not invincible. Watching the first half of the England game highlighted the massive skill gap between the two teams as far as I am concerned. Spain were calm and controlled, pinging the ball around England's midfield with unerring accuracy. On the rare occasions that England wrested the ball away from Xavi and co the seemed to pass or lamp it straight back to them. At 1-0 down, however, especially as time ebbed by, Spain lost their composure and seemed vulnerable. True, they had enough chances to equalise and probably even to win but some stout defending and off colour finishing allowed England to hold on.

I didn't watch the following match against Costa Rica. But I did take advantage of Spain's discomfiture at being 2 goals down at half time by laying Costa twice in the second half, to be rewarded by a bit of a last gasp equaliser.

2) Fabio still doesn't really seem to know what sort of team he is trying to build. I really struggle with the concept of 8 or 9 changes in one of the last competitive matches before an international tournament, and struggle even more with the silly number of substitutions allowed. Perhaps it's my imagination but it seems to me that he is following a sort of throw mud at the wall in the hope that some sticks approach.

3) Germany are unpredictable. Struggling against the Ukraine one minute (another successful two goal lead lay by the way) and ghosting past a much better team in the Netherlands the next.

4) I really ought to find another sport to trade when the footie cards are so dire!

Ideas on a postcard, please.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

What a glorious thing INDIRECTion can be....

Having come up with what I thought was a reasonably accomplished yet simple to use spreadsheet to record a month's trades on I sat down during the enforced boredom of the International Break to force myself to write a Year to Date sheet on which to record the twelve months of the calendar year. At the outset I considered how best to do this and ended up drawing up two sheets - one for analysis of the financial side of trading, the second compiling a (hopefully) useful set of basic match and trade statistics.

Then I began the tedious task of typing the formulae.... =Jan!C10 ... =Feb!C10....=MarC10... which, with over 200 formulae to be entered, soon became too much for my incredibly feeble attention span when faced with tasks like this. Thinking there must be an easier way - and voila! - the INDIRECT function offered exactly what I sought. The syntax, however, was as clear as mud and there were several bouts of good old fashioned Anglo Saxon oath muttering before I came up with this:

...and then this:

The data is a bit sparse at the moment, but I will return to these two sheets as time goes by to see what, if anything, detailed analysis can bring to bear on my trading the Correct Score, Match Odds and Goals markets.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Go against the market... that's where the pot of gold is sometimes to be found

A near enough verbatim quote from yours truly in the green room last evening..."Uni Cat should be a routine home win..." I therefore didn't lay them at 1.4 or so. I didn't take 0-0 on at 30 and I refused to get involved in Under 2.5 at nearly 4.

Magallanes won 0-1 with the goal coming at 85 minutes.


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

You cannot manage what you don't measure.

A mentor of mine from years ago when I was involved in managing a sales team of direct sales representatives used this line all the time. In a commercial setting it is, of course, absolutely necessary to measure your progress against target, your expenditure, turnover and profit / loss. Why should sports trading be any different?

I keep being asked what the SG strike rate is and what the return is and whether it's a long term viable strategy or a lot of misses punctuated by the odd big hit. And I didn't really know. Because I wasn't measuring it....although I suspected it to be profitable.

About the only benefit of these blasted international breaks with their associated appalling in-play coupons is the it has given me the time to come up with a spreadsheet to measure the success of the SG so I can metaphorically look people straight in the eyes and say 'Yes, it's profitable'.

At the moment I have only completed the Monthly sheet, detailing the trades and featuring a Summary section. The next task, as I while away the evenings until proper trading can resume, is to write a YTD summary sheet to collate all the monthly trades in one place so some useful analysis can be undertaken.

This is the main record portion of a monthly sheet:

You can see this allows me to record the basic match details, date, combatants and result as well as whether the match was over or under 2.5 goals. It then allows me to enter stakes and returns on 3 markets, the correct score, the goals markets and the match odds market. I rarely use all three in a match and very rarely go outside of these core markets. I have decided to record just the main stakes but to record all profit. The profit (or loss!) figure is therefore potentially exaggerated in relation to staking as I'll often scalp the CS or one of the goals markets. I decided to record it that way not because I wanted to show an unrealistically high ROI (although that is the truth of it in some matches) but because I wanted a simple and graphical way to see how the trade panned out as I traded it.

There are then three columns to record some useful facts - did the game at any point hit 1-1 (the magic score and the cornerstone of the trade), did I get a back on the 2-2 scoreline, and was it a 'Set and go' trade - i.e. a punt with no in-play trading at all. There will only be the odd one or two of these but it's something I'll sometimes do with the late night American matches.

Finally the last three columns show the overall picture for that game, and automatically show Green for a profitable trade and Red for a losing trade. I toyed with the idea of a 'Comments' field but decided that with my appalling discipline record that was probably a step too far!

The data from the above sheet is then collated in a Monthly Summary section which is shown below:

This is largely self explanatory, but the impact of the game hitting 1-1 really stands out for me as the outstanding conclusion from the detail of the matches.

All the trades you see entered so far are real trades made this week - nothing is made up or 'manipulated' and now I've finally written this (it's only taken me 4 years to wake up to the importance of jt!) I can't wait to see just how good or bad this SG really is!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

So, so close.... a chunky win.

Dripping low liability lays into a market is an old favourite of mine and I thought, for a few sweaty seconds, that it had paid off big time tonight! A match featuring an old 1-1 favourite of mine, Univerida Catolica in Chile, was 0-0 at half time. I drip laid into the U3.5 goals market until I had a £13 liability and a £750 win should it come in.

I honestly thought the whole punt (it's not really a 'trade', is it?) had gone west even when Espaniola took a one goal lead in the 70th minute - the U3.5 didn't budge off 1.01 so there was no way out. As Uni Cat away from home are perennial favourites for a 1-1 result I was comfortable laying 1-0 to cover my £13 liability on the lay. Sure enough the equaliser came on the 88th minute. So I was in a scratch position.

I don't know if it's my imagination but I'm convinced Betfair markets take a lot longer to reform than they used to after a suspension. Whether or not, no sooner had the Geek's Toy bar turned green again than it went red again. Initially I thought the game had finished. But no - Uni Cat had taken a 1-2 lead! Suddenly I was offered a green of over £50 - so I pressed the green button. And ended up chasing the bloody price down until I was left with just over a pound on unders and over £500 on overs when it suspended again. There followed a period of confusion (in my mind, at least!) until it became clear that the match had, indeed, ended.

So a scratch turned into about a £15 profit! An excellent result really as it had looked like a total loss for quite a long period of time! I know I've written before that I don't NEED the money I make from trading. But £500 is £500 and tax free to boot! Even if I had been unable to come up with a suitable project to use the money I'm sure Mrs Gun would have had some ideas (assuming she somehow found out about it!) - and it would have been damned handy just before Christmas. But it wasn't to be!

The key point is that to 'nearly' be right can still produce a result. Even if it does sometimes lead to a disappointment.

Friday, 4 November 2011

A two goal lead is never enough until the final whistle blows

Three games in the Europa League that I'm aware of yesterday evening in which two goal leads evaporated! PSV v Happoel at one point was 1-3 and ended 3-3 (what odds that score at the off I wonder...?). AZ 0-2 up at Austria Vienna at half time pegged back to 2-2. And finally our own Birmingham City snatching a 2-2 after Brugges took a two goal first half lead.

Sure there were other games where 2 goal leads stood or were extended, Fulham and Braga for example. As both were firm odds on favourites I would expect that at 2-0 or 3-1 both could have been laid at very low odds. Would there have been any point? As it turned out no, but, as always with trading you must consider both the maths and the implications of further goals.

Turning to the maths first... and this is simple... if you lay at just under evens you need to win more times than you lose to make a profit. If you lay at 1.2 you need just a 21% strike rate to be ahead, and if you lay at 1.05 that strike rate drops to just 6%. But that's gambling talk - and this is a trading blog :-) so let's consider what a goal or two, or indeed no goal imply for the trade.

I got home from work last night and the first of the in-play early kick off Europa games to catch my eye was the PSV match - with, incredibly, PSV 1-3 down at home. Happoel were available to lay at 1.44. Bearing in mind that 50 minutes had passed this in itself suggested a PSV fightback was very much on the cards so I was happy to take them on and oppose them. A 59th minute goal from PSV enabled me to take a handsome profit at Happoel's odds flew out to 2.46.

As has been said on here and elsewhere apart from goals and red cards time decay is the major reason for odds changes in football matches. But with over half an hour left I knew the Happoel price would stay in that region for a good fifteen to twenty minutes as long as there were no goals or cards. As it transpired Happoel did get a red card just after 70 minutes which probably slowed the steaming of their odds as full time approached. Sure enough the equaliser did eventually arrive, but I was long gone by then.

The point I'm labouring to make is that when you enter a trade like this you need a plan. Decide what to do if the losing side score and stick to it. You can 1) green up once the market settles (as I chose to do in this match) 2) reduce your liability on the leaders to nil or what you consider to be an acceptable loss to leave a nice green on the draw or the current losing team or 3) let the whole thing run in expectation of an equaliser. The other thing to decide BEFORE entering the trade at all is how long you stay in / how much loss you take before getting out of the trade if there is no goal.

It's probably fairly safe to assume that if you enter a trade like this and a two goal  lead becomes a three goal lead that your trade is dead and buried!

These opportunities present themselves on a daily basis. If it's an area of trading that you wish to explore why not try with low stakes and watch how the market behaves and what you can learn from that. I promise you it's a fun and exciting trade and potentially a very profitable one with a relatively small downside.