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Back with a whimper

October 15, 2011 Leave a comment

That holiday was just what I needed. I was able to completely forget about gambling, horse racing and so on and came back utterly refreshed and ready to face the game once more, only this time with a renewed energy. I had reworked my staking before the break and now felt I was in a much better position to make some confident strides forward and show reasonable returns for my efforts. Unfortunately this new enthusiasm didn’t last too long as I soon started taking hits with heavy losses recorded on Monday and Wednesday this week. Sure, part of the reasons behind the large losses were the greater stakes applied to some of the services in my portfolio but that’s not the whole story as one of my lay systems in particular had a stinking few days. And this is certainly not the first time the Lay’em lays have really screwed up my monthly figures. I trimmed the stakes back during September in an attempt to keep a lid on the losses but they are still coming.

Now would probably be a good time to review the system and work out how it could be improved or whether it should be dropped altogether. I have the system rules but it is hard to work out how to change them, if at all, because I don’t have a complete database of racing results on which to test the changes. I have records of the qualifying bets I have placed but that’s not enough as they represent only a subset of possible bets were I to change the rules. I need a system builder to really strip the system down and rebuild it so maybe it’s about time I signed up to HorseRaceBase for a short membership. If I recall correctly they have a short free trial available so I could maybe use that to revamp the system. I just need to find the time to do that and also to analyse the data I have in my spreadsheet to see if there are any quick changes I can make to improve matters until such time as I am able to fully deconstruct the system. I will, of course, post up detailed findings here in due course.

In some ways the recent poor performance of the Lay’em system has been a good thing. It has roused me from my slumber somewhat and made me seriously reconsider what data I record in my betting records spreadsheet and how I present statistics based on that data. For example, the system is a flat laying system but are there any significant differences between the performance on turf and AW? Err, I don’t know because I don’t record whether a race is flat or NH let alone whether it’s turf or AW. But that’s all about to change as I have written some VBA to go back over all my horse racing bets and note the racing code, surface and whether or not the race was a handicap. I’m still not 100% sure how I will use all this information but it’s about time I had a better breakdown of performance for these systems, as well as the various tipsters I follow. It’s about time I knew whether certain tipsters were better on the turf than the AW so that I can also consider varying my stakes depending on the racing code or surface.

And it doesn’t stop there either. When recording sports bets I obviously record which sport the bet relates to but when I display my statistics that information is lost. For example, Sports Bet USA covers the four main sports in the US (American football,  ice hockey, baseball and basketball) but my Stats page only displays the overall performance figures for the service as a whole. I need this information broken down by sport. If the ice hockey (for example) tips are dragging down the overall figures I need to know that so I can think about betting to lower stakes when the service releases ice hockey tips.

This is all fairly noddy stuff and it’s amazing that I haven’t thought to do all of this ages back but I guess when things are working there is a tendency not to tinker. And it’s only recently that it has become clear to me how broken some aspects of my portfolio seem. Of course, further analysis may just show that all I am experiencing is natural variance but at least then I know luck isn’t with me at this stage rather than having to make significant changes to any of my portfolio. It’s better to know where I stand, for sure.

There are also going to be other significant changes to the way I run my gambling but I will come to that shortly in another post as it’s a whole separate discussion to this one.

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Categories: General, Horse Racing, Sports

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings

March 7, 2011 Leave a comment

What’s going on here? Cinema screening the other night, the theatre on Saturday and now an opera reference. Is this some sort of culture overload? Worry not, I haven’t been to see Tosca or La Traviata or anything. No, it’s Italian football rather than music that has inspired today’s title.

I was surfing around mid-afternoon on Sunday, checking how various football bets were going. I saw earlier that Bologna had gone 1-0 up against Cagliari but now it was 1-1. FE Shortlist had picked out the home side on the Draw No Bet markets and Serie A Simplex was on the draw (obviously) so things were looking pretty good. I pulled up LiveScore.com to see how long was left and immediately saw something I didn’t like – it was 1-2. Cagliari had scored with less than 10 minutes left. It looked for all the world like both bets were shot. But hang on…the fat lady was in the wings warming up her vocal cards and BOOM! Out she steps and starts belting out the notes just as Ramirez belted the ball into the net for Bologna’s 90th minute equaliser. I may have applied a little artistic license there having not seen the goal – it could have gone in off his arse from six inches out for all I know – but who cares? That goal turns the Simplex bet from loser to winner and returns the stakes on the DNB wager saving both bets. Woohoo! This Ramirez fella is no Carlos Alberta Vela but he’ll do for me!

That goal means the Serie A Simplex system is active for just one team now: Inter Milan. They didn’t even come close to drawing at home to Genoa (it finished 5-2) so the bet on that one to end all-square was obviously a loser. In other football news there were winners in the shape of Man Utd to get most bookings against Liverpool along with Lazio and Levante to win on the DNB markets. Bets on Marseille on the same market plus straight wins on Freiburg and Hercules were all losers.

It seems odd to start with the football results rather than summarising the day’s racing but it just fits better this time round. That said, there was a bit of a ‘fat lady’ moment in one of the day’s races in which I had an interest. I ended up losing a fair old chunk on Flighty Mist in 3.50 at Sedgefield. It looked like Wee George put in a late challenge but couldn’t quite get there so ultimately no joy as my lay on Flighty Mist ended up a loser. That was the only losing lay of the day but both my backs lost for daily figures of 9 from 12 generating a loss of 2.84pts. My very own Market Leaders had another good day though with an odds-on shot (Qalinas) getting turned over adding to another short-priced selection (Lightening Rod) losing. Got to love fixed liability at times like that.

I had a few sports bets on Sunday too. Sports Bet USA went 2 from 2 on the ice hockey – about time this service hit some winners – but with Wakefield failing to get close to Bradford in the rugby league the bet on them with a handicap of +16pts was a loser.

Overall a profitable day but only because of that late equaliser for Bologna. It’s becoming something of a familiar tale isn’t it?

Work, damn you

March 3, 2011 2 comments

Can we try and make this quick as I am a long way behind where I wanted to be right now? It was one of those mornings this morning where pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong. My keyboard kept going dodgy despite several changes of batteries (it’s wireless), one of my monitors kept flicking on and off (I find it difficult to work without two screens now) and a few changes to one of my data sources meant that the bespoke software I use to select the system qualifiers for much of my portfolio packed up. Just what I didn’t need this morning.

It went wrong in one of the worst possible ways too. Finding the bugs took a little while, especially the more subtle ones, but they were all relatively quick and easy to fix. However, the performance of my software nosedived once I had fixed the bugs and I couldn’t tell whether it was my changes or the updates to the data source that had caused the problem. After a quick bit of cheap and easy profiling (OK, I just added in some timers to various routines) I found the problem was outside of my control and that the code would take as long as it took. Bugger! This is the same software as I use for Unity Racing so sending out the information on that front was delayed too as I was forced to just let the code slowly work its way through the day’s races in the hope it would soon finish. Maybe it’s time to start considering alternative commercially available solutions.

All that messing about this morning meant I didn’t manage to update my spreadsheet with yesterday’s results until after lunch today. It seems yesterday ended up as a breakeven day with not a great deal to report. Avonrose winning the 5.30 at Wolverhampton set me back a bit, taking away the profits I had built up prior to that race as that was a Lay’em qualifier. The 6.40 at Kempton was the only other race of real significance I guess. Pelmanism winning there cost me a few quid but it was a much better result than Boragh Jamal (a Lay’em qualifier at 10.0) being awarded the race. I thought Best Trip had it at one stage but that’s what comes of following races via the Betfair markets.

Levante got a second-half equaliser against Real Sociedad to scupper the second Football Elite midweek bet – 0 from 2 there then. Bet Bank Alerts fancied Villarreal to cover the Asian handicap of 1.0 against Hercules but a 1-0 home win was only enough to return stakes.

There was no poker yesterday as I was watching England v Ireland in the ICC World Cup. Don’t laugh, the Irish played really well. England batted well – for the third game running – but bowled and fielded like a pub side – for the third game running. A well-deserved Irish win I thought, but then I didn’t have money on the match. When Ireland lost their 5th wicket they are backable at 400s on Betfair while Skybet offered 1/2000 on England, the shortest odds I can recall seeing a bookie bother offering. Some people sure got their fingers burned there I’d say.

Massacre!

February 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday afternoon started in the worst possible way with a four horse dutch (selections by A List and Northern Monkey) going wrong in the 2.10 at Lingfield, a double-figure outsider edging out two of the dutched runners into the also-ran places. That was an expensive start to the day, but always a possibility I guess. When multiple tipsters are playing in the same race you can end up backing several runners but leaving yourself exposed to a lively outsider, something that has been happening all too often this year it seems.

A few minutes later Reindeer Dippin – a qualifier on the Classic Lays and NHPM lays systems – won the 2.15 at Newcastle by a neck. That was another expensive race. This was followed by a small odds-on winner in the form of Captain Chris pulling a small amount back.

The recovery didn’t last very long though as by the time the 2.45 at Newcastle was run I had laid another winner, Battle Group winning by a short head. Yurok, the 8/11 favourite, traded at 1.10 or less on Betfair too but still lost out to the horse that qualified on all three Unity Racing lay systems.

The damage had been done by this point and I was pretty glad to see the rest of the afternoon play out for a roughly breakeven position. I was stood behind figures of 5 from 17 and a loss of 23.14pts but in cash terms the result was several times worse than the previous day’s profit on the horses, despite a net points gain. That’s the ‘beauty’ of having different bank sizes and points values I guess.

Things away from the four-legged bank drainers were a little better. Three from four on the football but only a small profit of 0.96pts as FBD were playing some safe low-odds trends this week. Bet Bank Alerts went for a couple of rugby punts too. Wales (-5) on the second half handicap was a loser but England (-5) on the full match handicap was a winner at evens so these bets broke even.

Saturday was seriously expensive and just a few days back I was thinking that there hadn’t been a significant profit/loss figure posted for a little while. I got my wish, but why did it have to be a loss?

A 25/1 winner for breakfast

February 26, 2011 Leave a comment

I was out with friends from mid-to-late afternoon onwards yesterday so for the second day running I bunged a load of bets on to cover the period I was away from my PC and crossed my fingers. I don’t like working in this manner as then I can’t follow price movements etc so usually miss some bets (lays mostly) as my orders on Betfair lapse or I get lousy prices on some horses that are matched. But sometimes life comes ahead of work and at least I do have the option to leave orders on Betfair so can continue betting while I am out.

When I am out and about and have bets on I tend to check Betfair mobile a few times to see how things are going. I tend not  or place many bets that way as the platform’s not all that easy to use when you’re used to the website but it does a job. It’s hard to work out your daily P&L via the mobile app though so I end up estimating how things have gone most of the time. My estimates yesterday had me down as winning a few quid, nothing too special but a profit at Betfair all the same.

Betfair is only half the story though as I also had a few backs on with traditional bookies. I can’t be bothered to go round all the firms I might have had a bet with, logging in to my accounts with them via my phone to see how things went. And if I look down the racing results I often forget whether I have backed or laid a horse so I will see the winner’s name, it may ring a bell but I don’t know whether to be happy (because I backed it) or sad (if I laid it). I am lost without my PC, with all the spreadsheets and web access to all the bookies and Betfair.

Had I gone to the effort of checking all the bookies yesterday evening I would have found a 25/1 winner on the NailedOn AW system with Bet365. As it happens I only learned of this welcome winner this morning. That horse (Vertumnus) made the difference between winning and losing as it seemed that odds-on shots were getting turned over when I backed them but short-priced (albeit odds-against) runners were winning readily when I had laid them. Final figures of 20 from 33, up 28.72pts on the horses.

There was also an ice hockey bet to be had last night, Atlanta Thrashers tipped to beat Florida Panthers by Sports Bet USA. It didn’t happen and I am beginning to slightly doubt the wisdom of Oxon Press changing the successful formula they had with the Linebacker service and wondering whether the systems/tipsters they use for the other US sports are really up to scratch. Time will tell I guess.

It’s oh so quiet

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Sorry. There’s not much happening on the betting front so I have been using the time to do a few other bits instead. Take yesterday for example. I had a hospital appointment in the morning (which I obviously would have attended whether things were busy for me gambling wise or not) but when I got back I saw from the online text commentary that the Netherlands were giving England a bit of a game in the cricket World Cup so I watched the end of their innings, grabbed a bit of lunch and then settled in to watch the English reply. With so few bets to place yesterday afternoon I could afford to do this but it’s not something I intend to make a habit of.

It worked out quite nicely for me though, I got to see some good cricket, dodged a winner on the lays as I wasn’t at the PC to chase the price up having left an order and picked up a tidy profit from the rest of the lays with the horses I had singled out all losing. A clean sweep of 7 from 7 yesterday then, up 6.15pts.

Away from the horses there were a couple of football bets to follow. FBD had a couple of recommended bets for the Blackpool-Tottenham game but I only placed one of them – time of first goal to be before the 28th minute which was a winner thanks to Charlie Adam’s 18th minute penalty. The second bet I disagreed with the reasoning behind. The analysis FBD included in the email looked at under 3.5 cards which was occurring in something like 75% of games for both sides but the recommended bet was under 2.5 cards. As it happens only two cards were shown so the bet was a winner but I wasn’t on. I checked the lines and pretty much everyone was offering under/over 2.5 cards but with the analysis showing under 3.5 was only happening around 75% of the time I skipped the bet and I would do so again.

Bet Bank Alerts came up with a Europa League double involving one of yesterday’s matches (CSKA Moscow v PAOK Saloniki) paired with Man City to beat Aris Salonika. Having checked out the odds available on both matches (and the fancied sides were heavy odds-on) I felt the best value was to be had by splitting the double so backing CSKA in their match and parlaying the return on Man City. As it happens CSKA and PAOK drew 1-1 yesterday evening so there are no returns to play on the Man City game. I guess that’s saved me the bother of that then.

With so few bets I haven’t felt an urgent push to update this blog with yesterday’s results so this post was delayed until such time as I had completed the updates to a website of mine. But that’s all done now (I think), as is this update, so I can get back to Betfair.

Carlos Alberta Vela – I love you!

February 20, 2011 Leave a comment

I don’t often use exclamation marks but I think this weekend, today especially, deserves one.

My betting on Saturday afternoon was going along nicely then I hit a couple of late winners on the lays and lost all the profit I had built up previously that afternoon plus a bit more. It’s irritating when that happens but happen it does so one just has to suck it up and get on with things really. The bulk of the damage was done by Night Lily in the 5.10 at Lingfield, a Lay’em qualifier at 9.80 (15/2 SP) so quite a costly winner as that system carries one of my larger banks. I finished with figures of 22 from 32, down 1.32pts on the horses but despite the small points loss it was not a cheap afternoon.

The football was a different story as the total loss of 727.71pts on Saturday afternoon really doesn’t tell the whole story. I was out Saturday evening (which is partly why this post covers the whole weekend) and by the time I had to go out my football bets were looking pretty good. I’d struck eight football bets that day and a few had been settled as winners already with a couple left to play that evening (the Inter-Cagliari and Zaragoza-Atl Madrid games I think). The one that mattered was the Inter Milan v Cagliari game in Serie A as those two are the only two teams outstanding on my Serie A Simplex system and as a result I had staked over 700pts on the draw. Which didn’t come, the game ending 1-0 to Inter, so still that system rumbles on with the stakes getting ever higher. They need to get a lot higher to get to the scary Wolves staking levels though. Anyway, 4 from 8 on the football but in terms of cash loss it was pretty small.

I also had a bit of interest in a couple of ice hockey matches on Saturday – one in the early hours, one later in the evening – thanks to Bet Bank Alerts. One winner, one loser for a small loss (0.17pts).

But Saturday was just the warm-up act for Sunday. Sure, Saturday was the busier day but Sunday was so, SOOOO, much better.

Let’s get it out the way – West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers. Yes, it took an injury-time equaliser to come off but it did.

I was out for lunch with friends this afternoon and didn’t want the outcome of this bet either way to spoil my time with them so I waited until we had parted before checking the scores. I was very restrained in my reaction when I found out the score but god was I happy. That Vela goal was worth thousands to me – and I haven’t even seen it! I really can’t quite put into words have relieved I am at that those two sides drew this afternoon but my relief at that is probably matched by my relief that I wasn’t watching the match, or at least following it online.

So that’s it, the scary staking is over. The omens were all there for a draw today and I am particularly pleased that I got a decent price on it – an average of 3.68 on Betfair bearing in mind it had been clipped in to around 3.40 when I looked this morning.

That magnificent football win was topped off by a decent day on the horses too. Things didn’t go to plan in the 3.55 at Kempton when a three horse dutch for ProBandit’s A List, one of which was also a Northern Monkey tip, found one a touch too good scuppering the bet. That seems to be happening a lot recently illustrating the fine line between winning and losing. A little luck going the other way and ProBandit would probably be a few points up this month not nearly 9pts down on my figures. Pretty much everything else went to plan though, including some nice results on my own Market Leaders lay system. I operate that to fixed liability staking and today it saw two 4/6 shots turned over along with a runner at 5/4 – happy days.

On top of all that Bet Bank Alerts is guaranteed another small winners as they tipped up John Higgins to win the Welsh Open snooker. I’m on each-way at 6/1 albeit only for half a point but it’s still at least a 1pt profit with the chance of more although he is 5-3 down at the time of writing.

This feels like a really badly written post and part of me is annoyed by that and wants to rewrite it while part of me doesn’t care as I made a killing on that Premiership match. The latter part wins out I’m afraid.