Monthly Archives: September 2013


Premier League Preview – Week 6


Premier League Preview – Week 6

premier-league-bets-week-6

A disappointing week last week which now puts my prem bets from value finder spreadsheet on -52.90 units. The 2 wins out of 10 came from Swansea and Spurs and my advice to back both with your money almost returned proved much better than my tip of the weekend on United! I was very impressed with Man City and they’re still the team that’s had the most possession so far in the Premier League and I think they are worth lumping on against Villa this weekend. A few results could have gone our way quite easily with Liverpool losing rather than drawing and Newcastle throwing away a 2-1 lead and these two results alone could have been the difference between a profit and a loss.

It’s a good idea to reflect and take lessons from the previous week’s bets and in truth I am pleased with most of them. Hull were pretty fortunate to beat Newcastle in my opinion. The goals were pretty low percentage type of goals and I can still see them struggling. The draw on both Everton and Liverpool were value plays with both games ending in narrow wins and Tottenham and Swansea both showed their class. Arsenal were pretty dominant as expected but I couldn’t back them at 1.36 so I was also happy with the Stoke play there.

I was a bit unlucky with the Villa match with Norwich missing an early penalty but Villa win away again and I perhaps have to acknowledge their away prowess a little more. Sunderland were awful and I definitely overestimated that one but they have a lot of talent in their squad so I won’t be writing then off completely yet. The biggest mistake I made last week was the united one of course with the Red Devils getting smashed (No, not in that way Richard Keys) 4-1. United just couldn’t compete with City possession wise and their midfield was completely overpowered.

United had an unconvincing win against Liverpool in the Carling Cup on Wednesday and I think it’ll be impossible to retain the Premier League with their current squad. Rooney looks rejuvenated and is rumoured to be donning a gastric band as well as the one on his head and with Van Persie beside him they will get goals but the midfield looks very average indeed.

Onto this week then and it all starts with Tottenham v Chelsea at Lunchtime on Saturday. Tottenham have been much more impressive than Chelsea so far and although it’s a tough one to call I make Spurs favourites to win this. Both are struggling for goals in the league but Spurs are firing them in in the cup competitions and are creating lots of chances in every game. I really do think Man City are a banker away at Villa who are without Christian Bentekkers are poor at home. City banged in 5 in mid-week and the team is really starting to gel again under Pellegrini.

I see a straightforward win for West Ham who welcome back Stewart Downing and Fulham look a reasonable price to beat Cardiff at home. I would expect Man Utd who could have the Prem’s MVP, RVP back in the side again to brush West Brom aside but the sheet tells me that 1.3 is too short based on my percentage estimations. This makes sense really as United have been far from convincing so far and I’m not sure they warrant such a low price so early in the season.

I find it a bit odd to see Southampton so low at 1.5 against Crystal Palace. Perhaps I’m paying too much attention to the name and less so to their form and the fact that they beat Liverpool last week. It was only a few weeks agao they lost away at Norwich and they only managed a draw with Sunderland and 9.0s on Palace is where the sheet tells me I think the value is. Arsenal are flying right now and 2.4 against Swansea has to be snapped up. The Swans lost in mid-week to Birmingham in the Capital One Cup and although they did makes lots of changes I can see the amount of games they’ve had to prepare for and play starting to take its toll.

I feel anything could happen in the early Sunday match between Stoke and Norwich. The likely result is obviously the home win but I see a touch of value on the Canaries. Sunderland still without a manager are without Steven Fletcher who has a shoulder problem and Borini is ineligible to play against his parent club. They look like they will struggle against Liverpool who welcome back Suarez and who looked sharp in mid-week. The sheet tells me that 5.5 is a big price on the home team however and stranger things have happened!

Finally Everton v Newcastle looks like a home win on paper but Newcastle are a very unpredictable side with a lot of talent and Everton, aside from Leyton ‘left foot’ Baines aren’t really firing in the goals. A I said earlier, Hull were fortunate to beat the Magpies last week and that loss was their first for 4 matches when they were hammered by Man City. I think the draw is a good price at 4.0s on this one on Monday night.

Bet of the weekend – Arsenal to beat Swansea at 2.4 with William Hill






Gruss – Betting Assistant Review


Gruss – Betting Assistant Review

Gruss Betting Assistant Review

One of the most exciting things about exchanges like Betfair and Betdaq is that they allow you to connect directly to their API system and to bet automatically using 3rd party software or even your own code. For the majority of us writing our own code to do this is not within our levels of expertise but luckily there are third party applications out there who do this for you. Gruss’s Betting Assistant software application is one of the very best out there and excellent value for money at just £6 month or £60 for the year.

Low cost solution for automated betting and trading

Created by Brothers Gary and Mark in 2004, Betting assistant is an excellent low cost solution for people looking to take their betting or trading to the next level. Whether you just want faster refresh rates of the odds available (Betfair’s are very slow), to be able to green up with one click or you want to completely automate your betting or trading activity, Gruss can almost certainly improve your betting experience. Betting Assistant compatible with all the latest Windows operating systems from XP onwards and is very straightforward to install and get working.

Gruss’s software looks a bit techie and I can see many being put off by its slightly unpolished look but give yourself a little time to figure out the software and you’ll reap the rewards. There’s all sort of functionality built into the standard settings. Betting Assistant allows you to lay the field or lay at any odds criteria you wish and functionality in the form of terms familiar to stock market investors like stop losses, trailing stop losses and fill or kill functionality are also available. Using Gruss will really get your mind working overtime thinking about new strategies and possibilities.

Speed is crucial most in play trading and those who have attempted to bet in play on the horses will know that it’s pretty much impossible using the Betfair interface. Software like Gruss is definitely advised if you plan to trade horse racing in running. Gruss also has in built functionality for dutching and a very useful ladder interface showing the full depth of the markets for those that like their trading.

Huge time saving with automation

Most bettors quickly learn that it’s easier to find an edge trading in play but this often comes with a huge time cost and if you can automate some or all of your trading that can only be a good thing. There are some who will claim that they can’t automate their trading because much of it is based on gut feel or instinct but much of this ‘instinct’ will be based on things that can be quantified. Things like the start price of the selection, time remaining, the quality of the event etc. are all possible to track. With a little hard work and you could find yourself increasing your profits by removing emotion and temptations to cut winning bets/trades early.

If the standard functionality isn’t customisable enough for you then there is an option to connect to excel too. Here you can set your own triggers just by writing simple formulae in certain cells. This sounds more complicated than it is and it is something I managed to pick up pretty quickly despite knowing little code and not being proficient in excel.

Excel integration for added flexibility

Again the spreadsheet also looks a little daunting as when you load up a blank excel sheet by selecting “log current prices” using the software, the sheet becomes full of market data. It is however, only 3 fields that need updating for you to get your conditional bets working. These are stake, odds and trigger which is the conditions that need to be met for your bet to be fired into the market. You can see these marked in red in the screenshot below and your trigger could simply be a range of odds you want to lay at. So in pseudo code you’d say if odds are less than 1.3 output “LAY” and that is your trigger. The trigger only ever needs to output the words “BACK” or “LAY” when your conditions are met and this fires your bet at the odds and stake specified.

It’s a simple as that and it will only be as complex as you want your trigger to be really. If you are struggling with creating simple formulas in excel then Google is your friend as they say but you can also post a message on Gruss forum for help specific to the software. There are many members who are glad to help out and Gary himself often responds directly too.

Gruss Excel Sheet

Help manual could be better

So, what are the downsides to Gruss? Well there aren’t many in all honesty. As is common with developers the help manual isn’t as informative as it could be. I think ideally Gruss are in need with a technical author to make a proper job of the help manual but in many ways the help provided on the forum makes up for this short fall. One has to remember that the software is only £6 a month though and the type of people who will benefit most from a third party API product like Gruss will be the intuitive type who are happy to learn about the software themselves.

Free 30-day trial

You can trial Betting Assistant free for 30-days which is plenty of time to decide whether the software is for you or not.

CLICK HERE to try Betting Assistant for free.

 






Premier League Preview – Week 5


Premier League Preview Week 5

Premier League Preview – Week 5

Last week saw the introduction of my value finder spreadsheet that can be used to create value in an unbiased fashion by entering your percentage estimates for the 3 outcomes and the odds and letting the spreadsheet do the maths! It’s a method I used before for over half a season in 2012 when I managed a return of 23.20% and hope for similar results this time around.

A profit was obtained last week albeit a small one of 4.2% and it could have easily been much better. This is using level stakes and it was a loss using Kelly stakes but my estimates have always performed better to level stakes and so I shall be sticking with these for my bets. I guess that means I’m good at knowing where the values lies but not quite as good at quantifying the edge.

This week the sheet has advised 3 draws on the Liverpool v Southampton, West Ham v Everton and Chelsea v Fulham matches. All 3 of the favourites in these fixtures are struggling to score freely right now and I’m particularly happy to back the draw at 3-1 and nearly 5-1 in the case of Chelsea. Mourinho’s Chelsea look a bit of a mess and the aging Eto is yet to score in his first 2 matches despite him being given the nod ahead of Torres. Liverpool are over reliant on Sturridge and have now lost creative Coutinho for 6 weeks. They seem a bit lightweight up top having created very few scoring chances in their matches so far. Everton are in a similar predicament and have had 2 0-0 draws in their first 4 matches already.

Aston Villa are unpredictable and seem to do well away from home but Norwich are in good form and their price looks too big with home advantage. Benteke is proving hard to keep out but Villa’s open style still leaves them vulnerable at the back. Sunderland have had a poor start but so have West Brom and my estimates see the value on the away side in this one.

On Sunday Arsenal are the league’s form team at the moment and I’d be surprised if they didn’t beat Stoke. Giroud is like a new signing and now that they’ve added Ozil to the mix things are finally looking up for the Gunners.  My estimates however have slight value on the Potters though and odds of 10.5 are very big for a team in good form that have caused Arsenal problems in previous seasons. Swansea and Spurs both look like they should win their away games and I reckon a bet on both at an average of evens should see your money returned at least. Both teams played in the Europa league on Thursday but have managed to rotate very effectively, especially in the case of Spurs who rested Soldado.

Finally to the Manchester Derby on Super Sunday and I definitely see the value with United. Both had god wins in Europe and I don’t think we can read too much into this. But I feel United are the more settled of the 2 teams with new managers. Man Utd also have the bigger goal threat in Robin Van Persie and Rooney is starting to look rejuvenated too. Man City have lost to Cardiff and were outplayed by Stoke last week too and at a price of 3.6 the value has to be with last season’s Champions.

 

My Bet of the Weekend: Man Utd +0.5 at 1.77 with Bet Victor

 






Palpable Error


Palpable Error

Betting Slip

Image by Gene Hunt (flikr)

Coral failed to pay out winnings of nearly £10,000 for a winning accumulator placed on the World Cup Qualifiers last Tuesday, the 10th September 2014. The trio of bets was for France, Serbia and Argentina to score 3 or more goals which they duly did. The man who placed the bet, Oshane Grant from Bristol said he had more than his usual stake on and placed £100 on this bet. He therefore knew the odds was out of line with the norm but isn’t that what we are looking for when we hope to profit from a bet? Incidentally Oshane is unemployed and perhaps this raises more important questions!

Bookmakers do reserve the right to void bets that are “palpable errors” which basically means an obvious mistake and Coral have therefore acted within their terms and conditions. They admitted that a clerk had mistakenly given him the odds of the three teams all scoring four or more goals – rather than three.

The odds here were wrong but it’s not uncommon for bookmakers to offer stand out prices that are higher than the rest of the market to attract money. So when does it become a palpable error? Is it also only if it wins? I wonder how you’d get on if you placed one of these bets for it to lose and then tried to claim that the odds on the bet were wrong so the bet should be voided.

Punters don’t have the luxury of claiming palpable errors, even when an extra 0 is added to a slip online or we’ve accidentally hit the lay button instead of back and is it fair that bookmakers should have this kind of insurance?

Coral did pay Oshane what they believed were the best odds elsewhere in the market and this came to £1,216.67. So we are only talking about a difference of £8,000 here. Small change to bookmakers and it could do them more harm than good in terms of trust and negative publicity.

If bookies like Paddy Power can afford to pay out bets that haven’t actually won yet they must believe that it benefits their reputation and results in customer loyalty. Obviously if Coral had just paid out straight away there wouldn’t have been any publicity but if they had then decided to reverse the decision a day or two later that might have benefited them long term.

Perhaps Paddy Power could have honoured the bet on behalf of Coral, now that would have been a great PR stunt!






US Open Analysis


US Open Analysis

US Open Louis Armstrong Stadium

It’s a week now since Rafael Nadal heroically beat Novak Djokovic in the US Open final and I’ve decided to take a look back and see whether it was a typical US Open tournament or not and how it compares to previous years.

Tennis Trading forms a large part of my betting activity but I didn’t trade as much this year for various reasons. The main one being me valuing my sleep much more than previous years! There were however matches particularly WTA ones that I know I would have entered expecting a comeback by the losing player and a possible flip flop in the odds but these comebacks appeared few and far between.

The Sultan at Centre Court Trading also reported he had a streak of 22 losing trades in a row where he was expecting comebacks that just didn’t materialize. Trading can seem easy at times and losing streaks not typically as large as with betting but trading is also subject to variance and big losing streaks although less likely, are possible.

I think it’s important not only to remember this but to try and find some sort of reasoning to prevent this in future. US Open courts are among the fastest and favour the bigger servers making rallies shorter on average and perhaps this makes the tournament less favourable for trading.

I decided to do a comparison of some of the stats from this year’s US Open tournament with the previous 4 years. The data was taken from tennisdata.co.uk and I did some of my own calculations on it using excel. The profit/loss is worked out from a 10 unit level stake and the odds used are from Pinnacle in all years except 2009 where only bet365 data was available. You can see the results below:

 

US Open Analysis

 

The first thing to note is that you can rack up some pretty big losses backing underdogs at level stakes and it would make sense to err on the side of backing the favourite on average. I have seen profitable tipsters around the internet who do well looking for value on outsiders in smaller tournaments on the tour that had bad US Opens and these stats would suggest it’s much better to steer clear from underdogs in the US open. I would expect the results in the other slams to be similar particularly at Wimbledon and will do some further analysis on this soon.

This year’s men’s tournament was in fact the only year that backing underdogs to a level stake returned a profit in the last 5 years. I doubt there’s anything in this and it’s just variance. One extra big winner on an outsider can turn this from a loss to a profit.

What I do think is interesting is the number of straight sets victories. In the men’s the last 2 years have been considerably lower in the mid 50’s compared with mid 60’s in 2009-12. I’m wondering if there is a reason for this. Serve has certainly been less dominant in the last few years and it is possible that the courts are slower here than they have been previously. This would lead me to believe that there could have been some pretty decent trading opportunities in the men’s game this year.

There were 97 straight sets victories in the women’s which is higher than any of the previous 4 years. This confirms to me that it was a particularly poor tournament for trading WTA and with the number of straight sets victories consistently high for the women I will certainly trade this tournament much more cautiously in future years.

Another thing to note is the fact that there were no retirements in the women’s US Open this year! I not only find this incredible but also the fact that the number of women’s retirements have been lower than the men’s in all of the previous 4 years tournaments too. Women are notorious for medical timeouts and although I have no stats on the number compared with the retirements I’m pretty confident that backing women who do call for the timeouts would prove a profitable strategy.

Overall, there are some differences but this year’s US open doesn’t seem to be too different to previous years and it is clearly a tournament for backing favourites. It’s quite remarkable just how little variance there is between the number of favourites winning compared with the number of underdogs especially in the women’s tournament. You are basically looking at just short of 100 favourites winnng out of 127 each year and it’s important to remember this when betting/trading the US Open. It will be interesting to see how these same stats compare in the other 3 grand slams which I will also begin work on.

 






Backing the 0-0


Backing the 0-0

Backing the 0-0

We’ve already discussed the value that can be found backing horses at big prices in our blog post about pricewise but the tipster currently sitting at the top of our tipster table is Crackpot who selectively backs the 0-0 score line in football matches. His profit is almost double that of pricewise and his ROI is currently a very impressive 27.25% and I think it’s worth investigating this strategy further.

Backing the 0-0 is a very unpopular strategy and laying the 0-0 much more common. Let’s face it no one actually wants to watch a football match with no goals and few of us can remember the last 0-0 we watched. Let’s face it they’re not very memorable! They do happen however but do they happen more than the odds suggest and are they more likely when Andy Carroll is playing?

Crackpot’s ROI is 27.25% after 189 bets

Crackpot has managed to find 24 0-0’s out of 189 which doesn’t sound particularly impressive.  It is after all a strike rate of only 13.3%. With 0-0’s usually priced at 9.0 to 12.0 indicating a likely percentage of 8 to 11% this doesn’t seem like  a huge edge but at these prices the effect is very powerful and his overall profit is 580.50 units (from a 10 unit stake). As mentioned earlier this is a return of 27.25%! To get profits of this kind from odds on selections would be more difficult to achieve and require much more capital.

Crackpots winning prices range from 6.5 to 19.0 (2 extremes) with the average price 11.2. His wins have come from all over Europe but the most fruitful has been England and France.

I decided to take a look at the 0-0 percentages from these 2 leagues in the last 5 seasons.

England – % of matches ending 0-0

  Prem Champ L1 L2
2008/09 11.05% 9.6% 5.8% 7.79%
2009/10 8.42% 7.25% 8.15% 7.25%
20010/11 6.58% 7.25% 5.8% 8.7%
20011/12 7.11% 7.43% 8.15% 6.34%
20012/13 9.21% 6.7% 6.88% 8.88%
AVERAGE 8.47% 7.65% 6.96% 7.79%

 

France – % of matches ending 0-0

  Ligue 1 Ligue 2
2008/09 10.53% 10.26%
2009/10 8.95% 11.05%
20010/11 11.58% 11.05%
20011/12 7.11% 10.26%
20012/13 8.68% 10.79%
AVERAGE 9.37% 10.68%

 

Over 10% of games finish 0-0 in Ligue 2

In England the top division appears to be best for backing the 0-0 score line but in France league 2 is better than league 1. I think this is down to the style of football that is played in England and the 0-0 is generally more likely in France who play more of a patient style of football. This then means that in lower divisions where strikers and attacking play poorer the 0-0 is more likely. I think is likely to be the case in Italy too. The French second division is by far the best for backing the 0-0 with over 10% of matches finishing this way. If you can consistently get odds of 10.0 or more on the 0-0 in this league you should be in the money!

The final percentage varies a fair bit from season to season and one has to remember that a league season only consists of a few hundred games and each season on its own is not a big sample size. The variance with such bets is obviously pretty big and the losing streaks with such bets can be very demoralizing but by staking sensibly and not paying too much attention to the weekly P/L it’s possible to gets some big returns on your investments.  Remember Crackpots’ average price was 11.2 which indicates just over 9% likelihood of a 0-0. Across the 2 leagues this looks pretty accurate with France slightly above this on average and England slightly below. So Crackpot doesn’t seem to be getting prices that are well above what they should be on average and it’s clear that being selective is important here.

Good time to back 0-0 in Championship this season

Crackpot doesn’t back 0-0’s blind and takes care in looking at the stats to discover which games are likely to be low scoring or more likely to be low scoring than the odds suggest. Odds on unpopular selections like the 0-0 score line are generally pretty accurate as we’ve demonstrated and they don’t get backed down like odds on shots do. So it doesn’t take much to do slightly better than the odds and beat the market. I should add that currently the English Championship has only seen 1 0-0 after 59 games (over 10%) and it could be a good time to selectively back the 0-0 in this league.

It sounds obvious but when looking for value in the 0-0 markets look out for teams that are struggling for goals but also teams scoring the odd goals but who aren’t having many shots on target. Matches that involve sides that will set up not to lose usually against superior opposition are also good candidates. The recent 0-0 draw between Cardiff and Everton was certainly not unexpected for example with Everton lacking striking options and now playing a more patient style under new manager Martinez. If you don’t trust your own jusdgement you can also get Crackpot’s 0-0 selections sent directly to your email by following him here.

Draw offers the best value on average

If the 0-0’s too patient a game for you then perhaps try the draw. In a blog post I did a while back I proved that the draw is the most accurately priced outcome based on the best price available from the bookmakers for Premier League matches. There are some sites on the internet that says the draw doesn’t offer any better odds than any of the other two outcomes but the below suggests otherwise. Backing it blind would do you the least damage of the 3 selections and in the last 2 out of 5 seasons you would have made a slight profit. Backing the home win blindly was the next best with aways proving to be the worst value on average. So if you are unsure about the outcome of a premier league match go with the draw or failing that err on the home side.

Here are the stats I generated from football data to prove this. It shows the average implied percentage of the best odds available compared the actual percentage of the outcome and the difference:

 Home stats:

Season Avg Home Odds % Actual Home % Diff
2008/09 46.16 45.53 -0.63
2009/10 46.67 50.79 +4.12
20010/11 46.61 47.11 +0.5
20011/12 46.75 45 -1.75
20012/13 46.69 43.68 -3.01
AVERAGE 46.56 46.42 -0.15

 Away stats:

Season Avg Away Odds % Actual Away % Diff
2008/09 29.68 28.95 -0.73
2009/10 30.47 23.95 -6.52
20010/11 29.11 23.68 -5.43
20011/12 29.62 24.47 -5.15
20012/13 29.98 27.89 -2.09
AVERAGE 29.77 25.79 -3.984

 Draw stats:

Season Avg Draw Odds % Actual Draw % Diff
2008/09 27.08 25.53 -1.55
2009/10 25.82 25.26 -0.56
20010/11 26.36 29.21 +2.85
20011/12 25.59 24.47 -1.12
20012/13 25.89 28.42 +2.53
AVERAGE 26.15 26.58 +0.43

 

Make sure stakes can survive long losing runs

It is important to reiterate the importance of sensible staking when backing such unfavourable outcomes. You are going to experience long losing streaks so expect them and remain patient. It is likely that you will need to play with much lower stakes than you usually use. Not many of us can afford to keep putting £10 on our bets after 30 or 40 losers so think what is a realistic amount for you carry out this strategy. If you use Betfair you may want to take a look at our blog post that demonstrates how it’s possible to bet less than the £2 minimum stake on Betfair too.

I have access to all the data from football-data.co.uk stored in a database which I’m able to query in seconds. If anyone would like some more 0-0 stats or similar let me know and I can get these for you.






How to bet less than £2 on Betfair


How to bet less than £2 on Betfair

The minimum amount you can place on Betfair’s betting exchange is £2. There are times when you might want to bet less than this on a longshot or if you are trialling a new strategy and there is a way you can do this. You basically need to make a bet, modify it which then splits it into 2 smaller bets and then you modify one and cancel the other. Here are the exact instructions with screen shots:

1) Make a bet that is unmatched for £2 e.g.  at odds of 1000 to make sure it isn’t matched.

 

£2-at-1000

 

2) Then you update the stake to £2 plus the amount under £2 you actually want to bet, say 50p for example so £2.50 in total.

 

split-bets

 

3) This creates 2 separate bets, one for £2 and one for 50p. Cancel the £2 one and then adjust the odds for the 50p one to the odds you want so you can get your bet matched.

 

50p-bet

 

And there you have it a 50p bet matched!

Please note that this workaround doesn’t work on Betfair’s mobile app.