Sunday, 30 October 2011

Bouncing Back

I like my numbers, and I like my spreadsheet to balance. I wasted a good 15 minutes of my life today searching for a £2.43 difference. I should have paid more attention to the Betfair Forum, where it seems I was not alone in puzzling over this, which turned out to be a gift from Betfair:

Please note that when customers have bet on an Australian Market in the past, which has been a cross-matching market there is a pool of funds which is split evenly between those customers who have bet on those markets.

Betfair then share the pool between those customers. The funds can be transferred back to your main wallet or can be used however you like.
It would appear that the Australian authorities allow Betfair to skim profits with their cross-matching algorithm, but insist that this money is then shared out each year. As someone who rarely bets in Australian wallet markets, this is quite a good return on my money! It does make one wonder how much such a 'dividend' might be on the main wallet markets though.

Still a late night NFL game to come, Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys, but for the most part the weekend results are all in, and overall a pretty good couple of days. Not good enough to make up for Friday night's World Series loss though!

The XX Draw Selections had another profitable weekend, with two winners from five selections raising the ROI for this season to a really rather decent 25.5% after 53 selections. The results, and those of my 'all-in-good-fun' competitors are shown over at Gold All Over, but the summary is here:

One Quadrillion Dollars

For those who love numbers, a good article from the BBC News magazine on the subject of what really is a trillion, and the history of big numbers. When I was a kid, a billion was a million million, but in 1974 that all changed when Britain moved from the "long scale" to the "short scale". 

Unfortunately this move did not make the Cassini family overnight billionaires, although we must have been worth a few bob at one time! France and Italy also switched to the "short scale" before reverting back to the "long scale", which must make things a little confusing during EU meetings. I found it interesting that "English" Canada uses the "short scale" while "French" Canada uses the "long scale".

As for how much is a trillion? The BBC uses the example of a door mat to illustrate the point. One billion doormats approximates to a city the size of Manchester, while one trillion doormats is the size of the United Kingdom.

There is also a brief mention of the power of compound interest, something that should be mandatory teaching in all schools:
Elsewhere, economic growth has driven an inexorable rise in numbers, says economist Andrew Dilnot. "The speed of change you get from quite small annual growth is what catches us all out. If something is growing at 10% a year then it doubles every seven-and-a-quarter years."
The Rule of 72, and a reminder that any positive ROI from a betting method can generate big returns over time.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Cardinal Red - And It's All Over

The World Series Game 7 turned into a bit of a personal disaster for me, as I strayed from the strategy of laying the road team if they take the lead early. I actually used that strategy to get Green All Over, but for some reason couldn't just let it rest. Possibly because it was the last game of the year and I wanted to make the most of the opportunity, I then opposed the Cardinals at various prices as they extended their lead incrementally to 4 runs, but unfortunately the Texas Rangers could never get anything going, and in one game, my profits on the season were reduced by 40% to end slightly below those of 2010. What have I written in the past about greed? Unless it's a stellar weekend ahead, the Premium Charge will not be a factor this week. The Texas Rangers will be feeling even worse than me, after losing last year and coming so close to winning this year, trading as low as 1.02, with the Cardinals twice just one strike away from elimination in game 6. Ouch.

I received an e-mail from Scott who wrote:
Hi Cassini
Another good XX weekend...

As a trained mathematician, statistician, and football trader, what is your opinion on the statistical merits of using a database of previous goal times to make bets on the time bracket of (for example) the first or last goal of the game, e.g. first goal of the game after 25 minutes or last goal of the game after 70 minutes?

You can do statistics and back-testing on anything, but would you have low, medium, or high confidence in such bets if they are backed up by statistics or could one just as easily make the argument that while numbers for total goals, total shots, total shots on target, and match outcomes can be reasonably predicted within certain confidence intervals, the actual timing of those goals is largely random?
Hopefully Scott won't mind me publishing the question, but finding topics to blog about isn't always easy, and this is an interesting question. The answer is that this isn't something I have looked into at all. For me, while a team's rating is likely to hold true over several games, on any one day, anything can happen. By this I mean that selecting the top three teams over a Premier League season is a lot easier than picking a winner on any match day. It's why we watch football. So to break down one single game into even smaller segments and try to predict how things will play out in those few minutes seems even more prone to chance. In my opinion, the prices available on bets such as the first goal after 25 minutes, or the last goal after 70 minutes, are unlikely to offer any value. I'm not aware of any consistently profitable strategy using these bets, except by the laying bookmakers of course.
Somewhat related perhaps, and there was an interesting piece on the BBC web site about statistics yesterday, specifically Liverpool's poor rate of conversion of shots to goals. While the ratio of shots to goals varies across leagues and teams, from Barcelona's ridiculous high of almost 1 goal per 5 shots in mid 2010-11, to Serie A's approximately 1 goal in 12 shots, the BBC article mentioned Liverpool's recent game v Norwich City where they scored one goal from 25 shots. The EPL produces approximately one goal for every 8.5 shots, so whereas over a season, that 90 minutes could be expected to generate close to three goals, in one game, or one part of a game, anything can happen.

Friday, 28 October 2011

"Professional" Gambling

A mid-week loss for Football Elite as Atalanta and Internazionale drew 1-1. Matt commented that:

Atalanta missed a last minute penalty which was a real kick in the gut. A 3.30 point swing on one strike of a ball from 8 yards out. AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
a comment which has me a little concerned about how knowledgeable Matt really is on football, because in my playing days, the spot was a full 12 yards from the goal-line.

A loss for the XX Draw selections midweek too, as Valencia scored in the 82nd minute to beat Real Zaragoza.

Griff has posted his draw selections for this weekend, and they are:
Wigan Athletic v Fulham and West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool
He also provisionally included Tottenham Hotspur v Queens Park Rangers but with the qualifier that: "The Spurs game is borderline - if the price goes above 5 then it's a no bet", it's a No Bet. At the time of writing, the price is 5.4. Incidentally, none of the three matches mentioned are among my selections for this weekend.

We await the selections of the Green Sweater with much anticipation.

Not to make light of Michael Chopra's issues with gambling addiction, but I did find it mildly amusing that the picture accompanying the story on the BBC showed him wearing a Cardiff City shirt with the club sponsor clearly displayed. Someone has a sense of humour.

Somewhat related, and a poster on the Betfair Forum wrote that in reply to the question "What do you do for a living?" his replies of Gambler, Bookmaker and Market Analyst all received different reactions. Someone replied that they would likely be "loser", "scumbag" and "successful intelligent fellow" respectively. There's also the term of trader that could be used, which along with Market Analyst sounds a lot more respectable. The opening post on the same thread included the idea that "many professional gamblers will eventually evolve in to problem or pathological gambling", which is complete nonsense.

Of course, many people describe themselves as professional gamblers based on the fact that they are unemployed and gambling is all they do (O'Dwyer for example) where nothing whatsoever about their approach is professional. Collecting dole money and steadily losing it on-line does not count as being a professional gambler. I'm basing my opinion of the comment being nonsense on the more limited definition of professional gambler which is someone who has grasped the concept of value, is actually successful at 'gambling', and actively chooses it as a career. Anyone of that ilk is unlikely, in my opinion, to evolve into a pathological or problem gambler. If anything, they are more likely to do the complete opposite, which is to get bored with it all and walk away.

Finally, a comment from Jon on my ideas on the make up of a 20 team Premier League were promotion and relegation to be scrapped. Jon wrote:
How can a pointless ZDS record have any bearing on who should make up the new closed shop Premier league?
Well, I would hardly call the illustrious ZDS trophy "pointless", but I am prepared to concede that an extra condition should perhaps be added, which is that teams qualifying via the ZDS route must also have made it to the last eight of this season's League Cup (to show consistency). That should quieten the protests.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Elo Ratings Update

Perhaps not surprisingly, Manchester City's emphatic win at United on Sunday has seen City climb to the top of the EPL Elo Ratings.

Swansea City continue to prop up the ratings, with Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers the next two. Promoted teams continue to be the lowest rated teams in all five leagues, with Novara, Granada, Ajaccio and Augsburg. Because promoted teams have now earned rating when they enter the top division, there's a necessary element of subjectivity in the initial rating, so it's interesting to see how they settle in after a few games. Usually the top promoted team is started off around mid-table, and a couple have slid a little, QPR down to 15th, Evian Thonon Gaillard to 16th, but Real Betis, Atalanta and Hertha Berlin are holding their own for now. The weaker promoted teams continue to be at, or near the bottom with only Rayo Vallecano improving their position by more than one spot. Next season, I shall start the top teams off a little lower.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

No XX Draw Selections Tuesday 25/10

My e-mail provider seems to be having problems today, or I am doing something stupid, but for my XX Draw Subscribers, there are no selections from today's limited menu of fixtures. I will run the numbers on the Wednesday matches and send out an update later.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Forte And 4-2

Another weekend in the books, (actually, it's been over for a while, but I forgot to hit the Publish Post button yesterday) and Sunday ended up being my best day so far this month. My two XX Draw selections found one winner as Cagliari and Napoli drew 0-0, but Blackburn Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur let the side down, finishing 1-2. Still, two winners from three this weekend, (17 from 47 for the season) and the ROI for the season is a very respectable 26.8%.

As mentioned previously, it's interesting comparing results with others, and Green Pullover (that's him to the right)

and Griff have both thrown their hats into the ring. With an ROI of 18.9% from 35 bets, GP is looking at a Silver medal, while newbie Griff has only four proofed selections to date, with one winner and a current negative ROI, but it'll be a while before the ROI means anything on such a small sample. Still good enough for the Bronze medal. Peter Nordsted's "Game Of Two Halves" may well turn out to be a winning strategy, but it seems like a lottery to me, and one that has yet to produce a winner from six selections. Peter has some good ideas, and six games is nothing, so the jury is still out on this approach.

Football Elite found a winner in Hannover '96, who beat Bayern Munich 2-1. Hannover were recommended with the draw, so essentially a Bundeslayga that came in at 3.1, and a small profit on the weekend's selections. The Bundeslayga system also had a winner on Friday with Werder Bremen failing to win (an XX Draw selection) but Borussia Dortmund won easily enough v Koln.

October is usually an average month, but this one has already surpassed that benchmark with seven days still to come. The six months from October through March represents 68% of my profits since 2006, but the immediate future is looking bleak. As regular readers know, the NBA is my trading forte, and with no end to the dispute in sight, (another two weeks almost certainly to be cancelled at any moment), it's looking like a lean year for the kids and their Xmas presents. The dogs will soon be released into the wild to fend for themselves, (a little unfortunate for them since they weigh a combined 12lbs) and it'll be toast and Bovril (Marmite for Mrs. Cassini) for dinner every night with three cups infused per tea bag rather than the standard two.

The silver lining is that I have started to look back at my former favourite trading sport, the NHL, which in my early Betfair days was a nice earner for me, except that the introduction of the 8 second clock in 2006 not only eliminated the snipers from Canada, but took most of the in-play liquidity with them. Why the extra three seconds should apply to games in the south as well as in Canada, I'm not sure. Anyway, in the same way as I enjoy the challenge of finding value in football, it's the same with ice hockey, only a little easier because there's the 'no draw' market.
The baseball World Series was perfect last night when visiting St Louis went 2-0 at Texas early on, and went too short. An ideal situation where I would much rather oppose the leader, and get behind the home team, than try to ride the winning wave to the beach. It took until the eighth innings for the Rangers to take the lead (4-2), but by that time I was already Green All Over. As the score moved first to 1-2 and then to 2-2, there's just too much time in baseball to ponder what is the worst that can happen, and the primitive trader instinct to 'protect the bank' versus 'hang in there for the kill' usually wins, and I trade out too early. I like to think I am only cashing out at value, but between you and me, I suspect that on such occasions I am offering my fellow traders a very fair deal. That's just the kind of chap I am.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Blue Moon Rising

Back to the Barcelona v Sevilla match yesterday, and Average Guy from Betfair Trading Challenge wrote earlier today:

Came home from an errand and unbelievably Barca 0 - Sevilla 0 with 15 minutes to go and I laid the draw for €40 @ 2.0.

Stupid me, I had decided there was no issue with the concept but I broke the staking rules(my own), I should have laid three tranches of €10 @ 2.0, 1.5 and 1.25. Max Loss = 17.50 but I blew it of course. By the way Messi missed a 94th minute penalty but a stupid trade is still a stupid trade. I still think the bet was a good one if properly structured but my impulsive behaviour was the undoing of the trade.
I wouldn't agree that the undoing of the trade was impulsive behaviour, but would suggest that the market stayed too short on Barcelona, and that the value was in backing the draw at this stage of the game. Not always the case however. Sometimes for kicks, I look at what games are being recommended for the Football Trading System, aka Lay The Draw, and yesterday included Newcastle United v Wigan Athletic. A little cheeky of me perhaps, but as the price on the draw hit 2.0, I knew that several followers would now be desperately backing the draw to reduce their losses at around this price, which for me made it the perfect time to strike and lay the draw. Newcastle scored in the 81st minute. My point here is that at 2.0 or thereabouts, the draw can be value to back or to lay, and clues as to where the value is can be found if you look around.

The Manchester derby is in-play as I write this, and City lead 1-0, and United are down to 10 men. With the pre game probability (according to the market) of Manchester United scoring no goals 0.18 and City scoring no goals at 0.28, (implying 0-0 should be priced at 19.35) laying the 0-0 draw at 14 seemed good value. Of course it's not that simple, as it fails to account for the mutual dependency on the opponents, a problem that has caused me to put my value spreadsheet on-hold for a while. While it wasn't performing too badly, a system that finds value in laying every short priced favourite, every Over 2.5 in Germany, and every Under in France is not what I am looking for. The basic Poisson distribution doesn't work well for low scores in football, hence the need for a correlation factor, which clearly needs to be a little smarter than what I currently have in place.

City have just won 6-1, which means a second loser for Football Elite this weekend. Two more XX Draw selections in action today, as well as Griff's Blackburn Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur. Green Pullover has decided to join in the fun and compete for the unofficial title of Top Drawpicker, and it is just a coincidence that he picked the weekend of a 9.0 winner to announce his entry. Not so good today though, with a predicted draw at Old Trafford going down in flames by a five goal margin. Results for the season to date updated over at Gold All Over. Pully has Brighton v West Ham as another draw pick tomorrow.

A History Of The Betting Shop

The article below isn't new, it was written over three years ago and published in the Independent on Grand National Day, but it is interesting reading to men of a certain age. I was reminded of it while looking at the Betfair Forum in an idle moment. "Our national love affair: a history of the betting shop - Stan Hey explains how bookmaking went from wagers in the backstreets to pleasure palaces in the high street.

Depending on your point of view, they are either the equivalent of the wardrobe through which you enter a Narnia of wealth and enchantment, or of Dr Caligari's Cabinet, full of horrors and disturbing visions. The former was represented in February by the £1m-winning, eight-horse accumulator of Mr Fred Craggs, placed at the William Hill shop in Thirsk. This was the biggest betting-shop payout in history. The latter was embodied by punter Graham Calvert, who lost a High Court action to recover £2m of losses incurred, he claimed, after his bookies had failed to enact his "self-exclusion" request to stop him betting.

The betting shop is neither extreme, of course, but its supporters and detractors are equally fierce in their praise or condemnation. Today – when the Grand National generates the biggest betting draw of the year, with Britain gambling an estimated total of £300m, mostly in betting shops – will polarise the pro and anti camps.

Supporters will point to the harmless entertainment the shops provide to people who, otherwise trapped in drudgery, can pop in to watch a bit of sport and try to win some money. The naysayers will point to the real possibilities of addiction and to dark pits of debt for people trying to escape whatever their plight may be by gambling. An element of this constituency was also infuriated by the recent opening of betting shops on Good Friday for the first time, even though there was no racing in Britain to bet on – punters had to get their fix from French and German courses, football and greyhounds. The prohibitionists and religious observants have lost the battle, for with the global reach of shops and betting websites, gambling in Britain is now a 24-hour activity, worth more than £30bn annually to the economy.

When betting shops were legalised on 1 May 1961, up to 10,000 opened within the first six months. Nearly 50 years on, there are scarcely fewer in operation and nearly every high street in the country seems to have at least one, most of them modernised and respectable, standing cheek by jowl with the butchers, chemists and building society branches. Like it or not, betting shops are now an established facet of the British landscape.

"I climbed the rickety wooden stairs to Jack Swift's first-floor betting office in Dover Street, off Piccadilly. On that first day of legal betting shops, this tiny emporium was glorious bedlam, packed out with punters shouting their horses home. The place was filled with cigarette smoke but that day a breeze of fresh air wafted into the lives of British punters. Gambling was being dragged out of the Dark Ages, when the only legal bets were made on the racecourse, or the phone. Street betting had been rampant and everyone knew it. Bookies' runners ferried bets between punters and bookmakers, collecting in pubs and clubs (commonly in the urinals), and on street corners."

This is how Channel 4's ebullient betting guru, John McCririck, recalls that moment in 1961 when betting shops came into being. OK, it's not exactly Martin Luther King's "Free at Last" speech but it does give a flavour of how Britannia began to loosen her corset from the 1960s onwards. And this first act of social reform came from a Tory home secretary, "Rab" Butler.

Big bookmakers rushed to open shops and take advantage of the legislation that had knocked their street-based competitors out of business at a stroke. Some of the illegal bookies made it through the new vetting procedures, established by the 1960 Betting and Gaming Act, but a lot of them found that the capital required to set up premises, pay staff and "go straight" was beyond them.

The existing betting firms had run their businesses for on-course clients and for those with the financial (credit) and technical (telephone) means to place off-course bets. Scotland's most famous bookmaker, the Glaswegian John Banks, was in no doubt about the value of being on the high street, however: "Betting shops are a licence to print money."

Not all of them wanted to embrace the world of mass betting, partly because of the capital investment required. One of the godfathers of English bookmaking, William Hill, who had started his business in 1934, wanted nothing to do with betting shops, only buying into them in 1966.

The other source of the reluctance was Rab Butler's insistence that betting shops should have "dead windows", blacked-out or shuttered with no visible enticements to prospective punters. Butler noted in his memoirs that "the House of Commons was so intent on making betting shops as sad as possible, in order not to deprave the young, that they ended up more like undertakers' premises".

A small personal narrative kicks in here. My father worked for English Electric in Liverpool, a vast factory on the East Lancashire Road that in the late Fifties/early Sixties employed around 15,000 workers. One summer night, when I was about eight, he took me for a ride in his Ford Popular from our house in Dovecot to an art-deco pub called The Bow & Arrow in the sedate suburb of West Derby. He left me in the car for a moment as he went inside, carrying a small bag. I saw more cars pull up and more men go inside. Moments later, a scene reminiscent of the Keystone Cops ensued, as men fled from the pub, with many of them jumping out of windows.

I never did find out exactly what had happened that night but my best guess is that a delivery of punters' money was taking place to a bookmaker when tax officials decided to make a raid. I had clearly been used as a decoy, as no one would suspect a man with a small child in tow of such skulduggery.

The fact that one of dad's best friends at the factory left to set up two betting shops, and for whom he went to work as a settler (the person who works out the winnings of a bet) on Saturdays, convinced me that they had been in cahoots as runners inside English Electric. (I should also add that there wasn't a family holiday that didn't take in a trip to a racecourse en route.)

What clinched the case, however, was my dad's objection to having a betting shop open about 10 yards from our house. I can remember him saying: "I know the sort of people who'll be in there ... and I don't want them next door."

This element of seediness was assigned to betting shops at birth, some of it wilfully imposed by authorities, some of it inevitably inherited from the association of betting with rough behaviour and fecklessness. No wonder many bookmakers opted for the euphemism "turf accountant".

Inside, the betting shops of the 1960s were no brighter than their front windows. A mesh grille would guard a Formica counter, behind which the bookie would sit, smoking. The racing pages of the Sporting Life or The Daily Mirror would be pinned up around the walls. And somewhere would stand the "board-man". It was his job to mark up the results, and also the prices for races as they drew close to the off, so that punters could "take" a price if a horse's odds were shortening. The board-man, and everybody else for that matter, got their information from "the blower", a wire service from Extel, which relayed the prices from the racecourses and added a commentary.

Once the "off" was called, punters stared up at the speaker, imagining themselves to be out of their dull, urban world and away in the fresh air of a countryside racecourse. The commentaries from the blower were nothing like the frenzied, breathless accounts we get in betting shops today when, ironically, we can now see what is taking place, but rather bland, staccato bursts of information, without any hint of drama or emotion – perhaps that was another secret directive from government: don't get the punters excited.

It wasn't until 1986 that further gambling legislation allowed betting shops to be "improved" – the provision of hot drinks, albeit from a machine; brighter interiors, with seats for comfort; and, best of all, television pictures from the racecourses.

By this time, four major firms had grown to dominate the betting-shop market – William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Mecca. The Tote, the state-owned on-course pool-betting facility – about to be put up for sale by the Government – was also buying shops in the high street. Such was the success of these operators that they became the subject of corporate mergers and takeovers, the sort of event that happened to industrial or retail companies.

Mecca, owned by Grand Metropolitan, merged with William Hill in 1988, while Ladbrokes' chief executive, Cyril Stein, was making a name for himself as an aggressive, almost renegade City operator. Ladbrokes would eventually tie up with Hilton Hotels. In 1989, William Hill was acquired by the film and leisure conglomerate Brent Walker. Further takeovers in the 1990s, first by Nomura and then by the venture capitalists Cinven/CVC for £825m set up the company for a public flotation in 2002, at 225p a share. By 2004, William Hill was in the FTSE 100. Less than 40 years on from the world of "rickety wooden stairs", betting shops had become a seriously big business.

"I joined William Hill in 1973 and worked as a member of the now extinct species of board-man, chalking or writing up the odds and results on the shop's display boards. I even invented a method of writing up an 'in-running' commentary on the race itself for my customers before I became a settler, and then a manager. This was a job I enjoyed for two or three years before moving into the PR and media side of the company."

Graham Sharpe's journey from the boards to being the most high-profile of all bookmaking PR men (he hosts and sponsors the annual William Hill Sports Book of the Year awards, and produces a regular list of wacky bets for the public to nibble on) reflects the assimilation of betting shops into our culture and also the way their employees could rise into management from the shop floor.

Mr Sharpe, and his counterpart at Ladbrokes, Mike Dillon, are smart enough to have succeeded in any business, and they are both well-enough respected to have the ear of racing's authorities. They could probably seek high office, but both love the daily rough and tumble of betting, having cut their teeth in the shops.

"I met some splendid characters while working in the shops," says Mr Sharpe, "not least the bus driver who would park his vehicle outside and then come in to place his bets, leaving his passengers wondering when they would reach their destination. On another occasion a manager came back from a long lunch, slightly on the woozy side, to find a crowd of punters wanting payouts from unsettled bets – he promptly started a cake-throwing fight with them!"

Matters were not so frivolous in betting shops when the National Lottery, and its attendant scratchcards, started in 1995. "The lottery had a significant adverse affect on profits," Mr Sharpe observes. Those who had two or three quid bets in the shops hoping to win 10 back could now bet for jackpots of over a million pounds. The lottery created hysteria for a while, with people who had never placed a bet in their life queuing up in their corner shops before the Saturday-evening deadline. Indeed a recent government survey on gambling revealed that among people who bet, 57 per cent still use the lottery, and 20 per cent buy scratchcards, with 17 per cent loyal to horseracing.

In the past decade, several measures have been taken to rebalance the nation's gambling instincts. Tax on betting-shop wagers was cut from 10 per cent to 9 per cent (creating a live Sudoku puzzle for punters and settlers alike), and then eventually abolished in 2002, in favour of a tax on the bookies' gross profits.

Rules regarding betting on football were relaxed – the "minimum trebles" stipulation, whereby punters had to include at least three matches on their coupon, was dropped, allowing bets on single matches. With the growth and reach of satellite coverage, football betting became a major element of the gambling constituency, especially with big hitters in the Far East who think nothing of having a £100,000 bet on a live Premiership game. Clients such as these usually have huge deposit accounts, from which the firm draws their stakes, and they deal directly with the bookmakers' trading rooms, not with their shops. If you look in most betting-shop windows now, the advertising they display mostly features odds for football games.

More recently, betting shops have been allowed to install what the trade calls FOBTs (fixed-odds betting terminals) and what some would still call fruit machines, or more graphically, one-armed bandits. And then there is "racing" from such computer-generated courses as Portman Park (a gag, I guess, about Portman Square, former home of the Jockey Club) to fill time before the real racing starts.

By the turn of the century, the betting shop had developed a cyber-twin as most of the big bookmaking firms began to realise the potential of online betting, and the betting exchanges – Betfair, Betdaq – opened up.

Victor Chandler, the smartest of British bookmakers, both sartorially and intellectually, had been at the front of the march into the digital age. His wholesale move to Gibraltar, rendering his clients' bets offshore, and therefore tax-free, forced the Treasury into their adjustments on betting duty. The volume of telephone business was soon matched by trade on the internet – Mr Chandler went on to sell 41 of his betting shops to Coral but at the same time, invested heavily in two up-market "betting lounges", all marble-floors and leather chairs, one off Park Lane in London, the other in Dublin.

"There seemed to be a gap in the market for an upmarket shop, where customers could spend an afternoon betting in the height of comfort," Mr Chandler said, though he confirmed a continuing interest in the high street betting shops.

But could Mr Chandler's underlying instinct be right? There is a new generation of punters who only know web, electronic or telephone betting. They sit up all night gambling on distant tennis matches, or playing online poker, or jousting in a cyber-casino. To these guys, a betting shop is a relic of a former age. Who needs cash in a cashless society? When their money counts most, when they reach executive positions, will the betting shop be finished?

The figures suggest not – the four biggest companies still seem strongly committed to betting shops. William Hill currently runs more than 2,250; Ladbrokes has 2,350; Coral owns 1,600; and totesport manages 540. And there are groups of expansive firms showing no loss of appetite for shop-based betting. Betfred won the bid to have several units inside the new Wembley Stadium. Perhaps the biggest mover on the scene is Paddy Power. Formed in 1988 by the merger of three Irish bookies, they have, according to one business analyst, "done about all they can in Ireland, and are looking to England for their future development".

Power, which has 58 British shops, mostly in and around London, announced profits of £55.2m for 2007, half of this coming from online operations. But its UK shops also made money and it wants twice as many by 2011. Power has come a cropper with some of its advertisements. A poster showing two old ladies crossing a road in front of an oncoming truck, captioned "What are the odds?", drew general complaints. But there was an absolute storm when an advert depicted Jesus at the Last Supper sitting in front of a pile of gambling chips. Yet Power prospers.

"Betting shops will survive, even in a competitive market and a tougher era of regulation," says Tom Kelly, of the Association of British Bookmakers. "People like betting offices. There's a clubby atmosphere, human contact, the thrill of watching sport, and inter-relating with shop staff."

"They are still very much the main part of our business," Mr Sharpe emphasises, "and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. They are more comfortable and well-equipped than ever before. The personal touch, mingling with like-minded people, betting, and especially being paid out in cash, all these things appeal to the public; as for the smoking ban, it has probably increased custom rather than diminished it."

Typically, Mr Sharpe can't resist offering me a bet: "The shops have been going since 1961, so you can have 1,000-1 with me that they will have disappeared before 2061..." Yes, but Graham, I'll be 110 by then.

These I have loved

Kirkby Stephen, A tiny, one-man shop in a Cumbrian village

I was watching a film being made near by but nipped in here for the first day of the Cheltenham Festival in 1986 to place a £5 win patent, a seven-bet combination. When the first leg, River Ceiriog, won the Supreme Novice Hurdle at 40-1, £205 was running on two more selections. I worried that I might put the shop out of business. They lost, and the shop was saved.

William Hill, Charlotte Street, London

Between the late 1970s and mid-1980s, my co-writer, Andrew Nickolds, and I worked near Charlotte Street. This was our local bookie. Apart from the odd win, we learnt swear-words from Greek tailors and Italian waiters.

Surrey Racing, Chiswick High Road, London

The scene of one of my best wins. Three legs of a "Lucky 15" (one accumulator, four trebles, six doubles, four singles) came up in January 1989, winning £1,360. The settler killed the euphoria by telling me it would have been over 18 grand if the fourth horse had managed to win. To this day, I have still never won a complete "Lucky 15".

H Backhouse, Silver Street, Bradford-on-Avon

Back in 1990, my new home town's betting shop was a throwback to 1961, with bare walls, mesh-grille, ancient board-man, and a one-bar electric fire.

Janet, the first woman bookie in England, glowered at her clientèle if small bets or badly written slips were proffered. This was the scene of my most traumatic near-miss, involving a £10 win, 11-match accumulator on European Cup games.

The two early kicks-offs that I rushed to include went down – but the other nine results were right. Had I left the first two off the coupon, I'd have won more than £87,000 – £87,567.08 to be precise.

Fortunately, the shop has since moved to smart, new premises, so the physical reminders have gone.

Ladbrokes, Paddington Station, London

Gaudy and over-lit, but an essential venue on trips to London. Bet on arrival in the morning, collect – occasionally – on the way back in the evening, and you might be able to afford First Great Western's ludicrously expensive walk-on fares.

Roby Racing, Derby Lane, Old Swan, Liverpool

This was the shop where my dad worked on Saturdays.

Bob Paisley, the assistant-coach and later Liverpool's most successful manager, was a regular customer. This connection enabled me to get interviews with Paisley early in my sports-writing career, but the great man kept his racing tips to himself.

Betfair In The News

Analyst lets the cat out of the bag

Industry observers focused on a note from analysts at Numis Securities earlier this week which revealed that online betting exchange Betfair plc is planning to introduce a fixed odds betting facility in the second quarter of 2012. The new product will run alongside the company's traditional exchange product, giving punters a wider choice.

The note opined: If Betfair came to dominate fixed odds sports betting, in the same way it currently dominates overall sports betting, then it has the potential to more than double group profits.

The calculations are highly speculative. The new system could let Betfair tap into the advantages offered by fixed-odds betting, such as greater selection, earlier bets & more multiple wagers.

The move follows an announcement by the company back in April this year that it had launched live dealer gambling to its internet casino operation, using Playtech technology & beamed in real time from studios in Riga, Latvia (see previous report).
Betfair’s Exposure of ‘X Factor’ Scam Shows Need to Fight Cheats By David Altaner
Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Betfair Group Plc’s system, in which customers bet against each other online, has been singled out by rivals as potentially making it easier for cheats to use inside information. The company’s response is to cite the “X Factor.”

In April, the U.K.’s Gambling Commission found three Virgin Media Inc. employees had misused access to company data on telephone voting on last year’s edition of the television talent show to bet on which contestant would be eliminated. They were caught after Betfair flagged suspicious betting patterns.

“If they’re trying to hide their identity, they can’t do that at Betfair,” said Susannah Gill, a Betfair spokeswoman. “All our systems are online, unlike traditional bookmakers. We know exactly who our customer is, where their bank account is. We can provide that to sport.”

While all betting companies have a clear interest in combating cheats, for Betfair the stakes may be even higher. The online gambling company’s betting exchange system, which allows betting on a horse to lose, is unfamiliar enough abroad to make it a tricky sell to regulators, making it harder for Betfair to expand abroad. The system isn’t allowed in France or Italy.

“This is a relatively new product, it’s not well understood outside the U.K.,” said Geetanjali Sharma, an analyst with Espirito Santo who has a “sell” recommendation on Betfair. “It is extremely important they monitor betting patterns to ensure there’s no match fixing, no money laundering, no collusion.”

European Regulation

Betfair and competitors including Ladbrokes Plc hunt evidence of suspicious betting to help regulators. To grow, European gambling companies need countries such as Spain, Greece and Germany to approve betting rules flexible enough to let them make a profit. To help sway officials, they set up monitoring systems to hunt evidence of cheating and match fixing, said David Forrest, a University of Salford economist.

“Everyone’s very keen to be good corporate citizens, because everyone wants to persuade the courts and the European Commission,” said Forrest, who studies match rigging. “They’re all saying they should be the one to protect consumers -- that’s the great battle over betting in Europe.”

Concerns about betting and game fixing are growing, as the World Lottery Association estimates that illegal gambling is $90 billion worldwide. Two Pakistani cricket players are on trial in London on charges of conspiring to take bribes to fix plays in a Test match against England last year.

Of 197 cases of suspicious betting logged with the Gambling Commission between September 2007 and March 2011, 125 were reported by betting companies, according to licensing body data.

X Factor

In the ‘X Factor’ case, the commission voided bets totaling more than 16,000 pounds ($25,200) after Betfair’s integrity team, which can monitor up to 6 million transactions daily, reported suspicious betting patterns. The outcome of the competition last year, won by singer Matt Cardle, wasn’t affected, the commission said.

Betfair has eight people monitoring bets in London and four in Hobart, Tasmania, while Ladbrokes gives the job to its traders, who set odds. William Hill Plc wouldn’t give details, referring questions to the company’s annual report.

Match fixers generally avoid markets such as the U.K., where data is reported to regulators and sports bodies, according to Detlev Zenglein, head of competition analysis at Early Warning System, which monitors sports betting for FIFA, soccer’s world governing body.

However they may be tempted to wager on Betfair because of the appeal of betting against another customer, who may not be as well informed as a bookmaker, he said.

The company itself is “quite open with us; good collaborators,” Zenglein said.


Betfair takes a 2 percent to 5 percent fee on customer wins, while traditional bookmakers win when their customers lose and vice versa.

“The consumer doesn’t know who they’re betting against,” said Mike O’Kane, business director for Harrow, England-based Ladbrokes, of Betfair’s system. “You could be betting against somebody who knows something.”

Betfair officials say the company’s systems provide better information than traditional bookmakers, where a wager could be in cash registered on a paper slip at a bet shop.

“Setting up a Betfair account is like setting up a bank account,” Gill said. “We have all the information on you your bank does, which makes hiding corruption in sports incredibly difficult.”

The company’s data can be particularly useful to regulators, because it can point to whether people with inside information are wagering, said Paul Scotney, director of integrity services and licensing at the British Horseracing Authority.

“You can’t know a horse is going to win; you can know it’s going to lose,” he said.
Betfair takes a 2 percent to 5 percent fee on customer wins?

I wish!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Messi Finish

Following on nicely from yesterday's post regarding ultra-short big name teams, and today brought us another offering with Barcelona as low as 1.13. Were Barcelona hosting Granada? In fact, they were at home to an unbeaten Sevilla team, who sat in fourth place in the official table, and sixth place in the unofficial Cassini ratings - and by either measure were not too shabby a team. Yes, Barcelona had won every home game to nil so far this season, but they had played no one of any quality. Those crazy enough to back at such a price probably thought they had escaped disaster with a 90' penalty, but Messi missed and the game ended 0-0. The price is slow to move in these types of games, but once it gains some momentum after half-time, it moves fast.

Had the penalty gone in, no doubt Messi would have run around like an idiot, crossing himself, and thanking his god profusely in post match interviews, yet strangely, when he misses, there is no suggestion that god must have had money on Sevilla today. It must be quite upsetting to be a devout follower of such a fickle god.

No XX Draw selections today, but a draw for Griff as Wolves came back from 0-2 down at home to Swansea. Peter Nordsted's 'same number of goals in each half' went down as Bolton lost to Sunderland, a game which was also a loser for Football Elite, who went for Bolton at 2.3.

The World Series resumes in Arlington, Texas tonight, tied at 1-1 after the Rangers rallied with three outs remaining to beat St Louis. The momentum is with Texas.

Tomorrow sees the NFL in London, Chicago Bears v Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and there may be some interest in a couple of other football games in London and Manchester.

Lay The Name

A great start to the weekend's investment, with subscribers to the XX Draw Selections already nicely ahead as Augsburg and Werder Bremen drew 1-1, a match where the draw was available as high as 4.2 pre-game on Betfair.

I then had a similar experience to Gundulf over at Betfair Football Trading who, like me, saw that the Brazil U-22 team was incredibly short at 1.07 / 1.08 versus Cuba. Now this they come as a surprise to many readers, but I am not an expert on U-22 football, and for once, I am not being modest. I'm really not an expert on everything, but one thing I do know is that when Brazil are involved, the name alone attracts money regardless of the gender or age group the match is, but having been burned with laying the favourite in Copa America games this summer, I watched with no involvement, chastising myself as each minute without a goal passed. Finally I got involved and made a little, what turned out to be easy, money, but it could have been a lot more.
I also took advantage of the Draw at 1.36 with 87:30 on the clock. Really? This seemed huge value. The game ended 0-0. Gundulf did have a good quote which I shall shamelessly steal and repeat here, which was
"I'd much rather be out of trade wishing I was in it, than be in a trade wishing I was out of it".
I certainly appreciate the sentiment of it - not winning is better than losing, defend the bank and all that, and it can be a sickening feeling to be in a losing trade with seemingly no way out, but watching a 1.08 climb to 1000 is mildly annoying to say the least. Unless you backed it of course.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

English Premier League Franchise System

It appears that Drawmaster has not gone forever, but is simply no longer featured on, and been modified to be a more selective system available on Premier Betting. I didn't see the selection of Newcastle v Tottenham Hotspur before this past weekend, but Pete's credibility is not in any doubt, so I have updated the numbers over at Gold All Over. Eliminating the requirement to find three draws a week is something I have been suggesting for a while now, and Pete must have realised that the only way to shut me up is to agree with me and do it.

As predicted yesterday, both European games between 'my' teams were close, but in the end a 92nd minute goal meant that neither game ended as a draw.

There has been a lot written in the press over the past few days on the (hopefully remote) possibility of scrapping relegation from the English Premier League, and while the idea is nonsense, it does make for an interesting discussion which 20 clubs should make up such a closed shop elite. weighed in with some ideas:

1) Based on success (league titles in English history), the 20 would be: Manchester United (19 titles), Liverpool (18), Arsenal (13), Everton (9), Aston Villa (7), Sunderland (6), Chelsea (4), Newcastle (4), Sheffield Wednesday (4), Leeds (3), Wolves (3), Huddersfield (3), Blackburn (3), Preston (2), Tottenham (2), Derby (2), Man City (2), Burnley (2), Portsmouth (2), Nottingham Forest (1). (NB: Forest get the nod over other sole title winners Sheff Utd, WBA and Ipswich for being most recent, 1978).

2) Based on most points in the Premier League era (only 1992-93 onwards considered as this would be PL closed shop), the 20 would be: Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Tottenham, Everton, Newcastle, Blackburn, West Ham, Manchester City, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Southampton, Bolton, Fulham, Coventry, Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday, Wimbledon.

3) Based on the biggest grounds (because you want big teams getting big revenue because the spoils will be shared), the 20 would be: Manchester United, Arsenal, Newcastle, Sunderland, Manchester City, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, Tottenham, West Ham, Middlesbrough, Derby, Southampton, Sheffield United, Coventry, Leicester, Blackburn.

4) Based on brilliance of individual players in history (number of Footballer of the Year wins by club), the 20 would be: Liverpool (11), Manchester United (9), Tottenham (8), Arsenal (7), Leeds (4), Manchester City (3), Chelsea (2), Everton (2), Stoke (2), Wolves (2), Preston (2), Blackpool (2), West Ham (2), Blackburn (1), Sheff Wed (1), Ipswich (1), Nottm Forest (1), Fulham (1), Derby (1), Burnley (1). (With other winners Luton and Bolton, 1 each, missing out for being too long ago).
Personally I would like to see an automatic spot for all winners of the prestigious Zenith Data Systems Cup, provided that they meet the requirement of placing in the top 32 of the all-time Premier League table. Actually, better make that top 34 assuming the decision will be made this season. Sorry Reading.

So my 20 would be Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Everton, Aston Villa, Newcastle United, Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers, Derby County, West Ham United and Burnley. That's 17, with spots for any two-time European Champions and any team who has won the Zenith Data Systems Cup, has won a minimum of three play-off finals, and which has the first five letters of their name comprise all consonants.

The 20th club? Probably Preston North End, since I like unique last names and Stanley, Argyle, Alexandra, Vale, Dons, Orient and Rangers aren't even close to consideration. Huddersfield, Portsmouth, Southampton might have a claim, but not strong enough to oust any of my top 20.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Einstein On Value

TFM had a comment and a question:
Hey Cassini, great blog, I've been enjoying reading it every day. Just wondering, what do you consider a value bet? i.e. what % of the price on Betfair are you willing to get involved at?

What I mean is when the price on Betfair is 4 and you calculate that the odds should be 4.1, obviously that is not enough value for you. At what point does it become value, 4.2, 4.3, 4.8 etc.?

Cheers, and keep inspiring thought!
The answer is that after taking into account commission, if the 'true' price is 4.0. then anything above 4.0 is arguably value. The problem, as we all know, is that we can't be sure on one individual event, that our true price of 4.0 is true, so it is necessary to build in a bit of a buffer, which for me is typically around the 10% mark. 4.0 is a bit of a long-shot for my liking, at least for a punt, but at 2.0 I will look for a price of 2.2 or above. The way I have my spreadsheet set up allows me to adjust the percentage so that I can see how other values work.

Czeching In

With the European games going on this week my full XX Draw selections won't be available for a couple more days, but Griff has two selections from the EPL this weekend: Wolves v Swansea and Blackburn v Spurs. With neither Wolves nor Swansea involved in European action, I can say that for me, this match is not close to being a contender for a draw. Griff's last two selections were a little off the mark last time as Bolton v Chelsea finished 1-5 and Fulham v QPR ended 6-0 but his reported strike rate prior to that over the past three seasons was 36.88% from 301 matches and an ROI of 31.37%. Obviously those numbers are slightly down now, but I have lost the Drawmaster as a benchmark for my XX Draw Selections so I shall use Griff's selections for now.

Some very short prices in tonight's games as Peter Webb notes:
Barcelona are an amazing 1.05 to beat Plzen this evening. We have Chelsea at 1.12, AC Milan 1.27 and Porto 1.30.
There's little downside to opposing teams at prices in the 1.05 range and you could always be in for a Plzeňt surprise...

There's only one Europa League game tomorrow featuring two of my followed teams, which is Udinese v Atletico Madrid, and at 2.66, Udinese are decent value.

And finally, what is Mr. Layaway talking about here?:
You will see the Markers in the Betfair screen shot, these Markers were subject to some discussion on Cassini's excellent Blog on Sunday night, if you are not a reader of his Blog then you should be as he is one of the best out there.
ONE of the best? The man is clearly crazy.

SOT 0 Goals 1

While the lay of Bayern Munich proved a winner yesterday, it was a first to be entering in to the spreadsheet a Shots On Target total which was less than the Goals Scored. Napoli's one goal was an own goal, but another winning bet even if the manner of victory was a little unusual. This game actually showed up as an XX Draw, but that's a method for League games, whereas the European games are more of academic interest. Bayer Leverkusen v Valencia is another such selection today, and Olympique Marseille v Arsenal isn't too far from being another one. I'll probably watch the latter match and take a position on Under 2.5 goals at around 1.89, before concentrating on Game One of the 107th World Series between the Texas Rangers and the St Louis Cardinals. Hopefully liquidity will be strong.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Overreaction - It Happens

Hard to believe I know, but after all these years, I still make mistakes. Last night it was the final game of the weekend's American Football schedule, New York Jets v Miami Dolphins. After laying the Jets early (after exactly 8 seconds of action, the lay price dropped from 1.3 to 1.26 all because of 17 yards) and had around £300 on each side. Then, as is my wont, I dabbled with a few 'hopeful' bets, and then forgot all about one of them, which of course later got matched when it was no longer a good deal for me. The gambler in me wanted to let the bet run, but the trader said to take the loss, so the £300 became more like £200, all because of a lack of concentration. It happens.

Anyway, back to the 17 yards I mentioned, and what happened was that on the kick-off, the return was brought out to the 37 yard line, whereas the standard starting point is the 20 yard line. So with 59:52 left to play, the New York Jets chances of winning the game went from 76.9% to 79.4% all based on one play and 17 yards? The market often overreacts, but that move was one of the crazier price movements you'll see in these games. In the end, it would have paid to have listened to the gambler in me, but we're not at home to Mr. Gambler.

I have updated the ratings after the completion of the weekend's matches last night, and although there are four matches featuring two teams from my five leagues, the only one that is tempting for me is to lay Bayern Munich (1.97) at Napoli, who are generously priced, no doubt in part due to their defeat at the weekend at home to Parma. It happens. I have Bayern Munich at 2.27 and I'll rely on the numbers rather than overreact to one bad result.

Our old friend Slicer, he of the non-existent Holy Grail Bet, posted a comment on the Betfair Forum on the subject of the Martingale staking system, which was:
FACT- A Martingale System will always be profitable at around evens if:
1) There is no house limit.
2) You have an infinite amount of money.
3) You have an infinite amount of time.
Nothing new there except for one small flaw in his logic, (not the first time that has happened to him), which as someone pointed out is:
FACT - if you have an infinite amount of money, you cannot increase your wealth by betting, Martingale or otherwise.
Hard to argue with that.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Dan Wheldon (1978-2011)

A sad day for British sport with the untimely death of two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon at the age of 33 in Las Vegas. Although I am not a big fan of motor sport, I did hear that he'd been in a serious accident, but then the news appeared to be that all drivers injured in the 15 car crash were conscious and alert.

Trivial stuff in comparison, but it was already written so here's my meaningless update for Sunday.

No luck for the two XX Draw selections today, but two from six this weekend, and I'll take that any day. Football Elite had a winner with Chievo +0.5 v Juventus at 1.8 (a rare dip into odds-on territory for Matt), while Pete Nordsted's third selection of his new Game Of Two Halves (GOTH) system went down as Arsenal v Sunderland finished with an odd number of goals. An unusual day in Serie A, with the first five games all finishing scoreless. A good day for laying teams or the GOTH system, but not a good day for anyone laying the draw. My Value spreadsheet went for lays in Italy today, except for one team - Lazio - who beat city rivals Roma with a 90th minute goal.
Not all leagues fared so well unfortunately, but I'll post up the full results in due course. American Football now with what is expected to be a relatively even game between the Chicago Bears (1.85) and the Minnesota Vikings (2.16). Next week, the Chicago Bears come to London, where their tourist snapshots of St. Paul's Cathedral might be less than perfect with the Occupy London protesters in the foreground. As someone commented on the BBC page:
They make St. Paul's look horribly untidy. Couldn't they have chosen somewhere like Essex?

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Moving Markers

I'm not sure if I have interpreted this correctly, but Lay Away For A Profitable Day was bemoaning the number of matches on a Saturday and wrote:

Most, if not all, of my Lays in the 1x2 markets are predetermined by a strict set of rules so it makes it easy for selection purposes, the problem is on a Saturday there are an awful lot of games that qualify and these markets are changing all of the time up to kick off.
I also put down "markers" these being the prices I would like to be matched at, however not everybody agrees with my interpretation of prices and they don't always get matched and I therefore have to adjust them as the time ticks towards kick off which on a Saturday can take up a lot of time.

The first part makes perfect sense. Your selection method identifies say one in ten matches as offering value, so on a Saturday when there might be 100 plus games in the leagues you follow, there will be around 10 bets. I guess I'm confused about the "putting down of markers", whatever that means, and then adjusting them. This very much sounds like identifying a price as value, not getting matched at that price and then adjusting the price you will take, i.e. betting at less than value. This is crazy. Unless there has been a change in circumstances causing the probabilities to change, it is far better to have a "No Bet" than it is to have a bet at less than value. Bets should not be placed because of what you THINK might happen, but on the basis of the PROBABILITY that it will happen. If the odds are not in our favour, don't bet.

As soon as I have priced up the five leagues I follow, I put bets into the exchanges, often at a better price than I think is value, but never at lower than value. I check throughout the week, and will move my unmatched bets down if they are unlikely to be matched, but again, never to below the value price. If the market price is less than value, then the spreadsheet says "No Bet" - for example, as shown in Yellow below for the recent Sochaux v Toulouse match.
Sochaux were value at 2.85 (or higher) but at the 2.66 available, this was a No Bet.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Weekend Half-Time Report

With no Drawmaster selections today, it would appear that Peter Nordsted has switched to a new strategy called "Game Of Two Halves" where Pete looks for games where the total goals in each half are the same. I can't say this is an area that I have looked at, but the first selection of Liverpool v Manchester United finished 0-2 (1st half v 2nd half), and the second pick of Stoke City v Fulham also finished 0-2. Arsenal v Sunderland is the third pick tomorrow. I can't say it's a bet that has any appeal for me. Too much of a teaser bet for my liking and I'll be impressed if this turns out to be a long-term winner, but Pete wrote a piece explaining his logic on

Football Elite found a winner with Stoke City (2.22) who beat Fulham 2-0, but Getafe v Villareal was a losing selection.

The XX Draws have had another four results this weekend so far, and two winners, both at 3.65. The first was what could be described as rather fortunate, as Mallorca were trailing Valencia 0-1 before being awarded a 93rd minute penalty. The second was the purest of winning draws, with Granada and Atletico Madrid playing out a 0-0 draw. ROI on the season is now at 24.6%.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Odd Numbers

(Scatter) Gundulf wrote:
Nice trading there Cassini! I've no interest in or knowledge of NFL (and will keep it that way!) but one question if I might... why the odd amount laid? Perhaps I'm too much a creature of habit but I always lay to a round stake or round liability...just wondering whence came the £518 / £1713!?
Would you believe that 518 is my lucky number? 5 is the number of toes on my right foot. 1 was my age on my first birthday anniversary, and 8 is considered a lucky number in Chinese culture - because it sounds like the word meaning to generate wealth. I used to have a BMW 518i and of course 518 can be expressed as
which makes the number somewhat special, and 5 for 18 was also my best bowling figures (or were they my top two batting scores? - I forget). Of course, while all that is very believable, the truth may be that the odd amount was simply the result of several forays into the battle, where my lays were matched in unpredictable amounts.

Not the only unpredictable thing about betting on sports, I've noticed.

Griff stopped by to say he would like to remain in third place behind the XX Draws and Drawmaster selections in the friendly Best Draw Stakes. He actually didn't phrase it like that, saying:
Just a quick note there are no draw selections from me for this week in the EPL.

The Drawmaster is currently at an ROI on the season of 10.4%, while the XX Draws are at 18.6%.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

NBA - No Basketball Action

I make a point of not stressing about things I have no control over, and when the NBA owners and players settle their dispute and start playing again is one such issue. There was an AP article which covered most of the bases - excuse the mixed sports metaphor - but in my opinion missed one important section of the community who will also be suffering collateral damage with the lockout. The full, original, article is here, but I have added a new section, a massive improvement in my humble opinion.
In the grounds of his palatial stately home in the English countryside, I spoke to world renowned NBA trader Cassini about the lack of basketball.

"It's rough," Cassini said, glancing toward his monitor. "It's painful when it's out of my control."

Last week, the NBA cancelled its pre-season, and on Monday, Commissioner David Stern wiped out the first two weeks of the regular season as his millionaire players and even wealthier owners failed to agree on how to split revenue and cap salaries.

Sure, players are temporarily out of work and will have to find ways to maintain their skills. But Kobe Bryant has the luxury of potentially signing with an Italian team to do that, earning a big salary until the labor unrest settles.

Others aren't as fortunate. The loss of one game, let alone 10 or maybe all 82, will have a devastating impact on workers with jobs dependent on pro basketball's six-month-plus season. A few teams have already trimmed their staffs and more layoffs could be forthcoming if the discussions drag on. Then there are those who don't work directly for an NBA team but who still depend on the excitement the league brings to town.

Ushers, security personnel, parking lot attendants, concession workers, restaurant employees and sports traders all stand to have their hours cut or join the country's 14 million unemployed.

"I do feel that the players and owners are being incredibly selfish" said Cassini, as he lay by the pool sipping on a glass of the finest champagne and nibbling on black caviar and truffles.

"Basketball is my top sport for trading" he added, before revealing that his hope for a place in the Sunday Times Rich List 2012 was now in some doubt. Back in 2004, Latrell Sprewell famously turned down a 3 year, $21 million contract extension saying that he "had a family to feed", and Cassini can certainly identify.

"Already, I have been forced to make cuts. My full-time household staff is down to just Mrs. Cassini, and we have had to cut out the daily Duck Foie Gras lobes that we loved so much. The maid, pool boy and chauffeur have all had their hours cut, and this really is a tough time." When it is suggested that other needed cuts might be the hedges and grass, Cassini admits the gardener is on "gardening leave".

When pressed as to how much the stoppage will actually cost him, Cassini is coy. "It's so vulgar talking about money, but let's just say that the XX Draw selections had better keep winning, or it'll be Margate next summer, not Necker Island."