Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Depression, shady goings on, and security.

Someone left a brief but succinct comment under last night's post that wasn't too complimentary about James Wade. Presumably the Commentor is an On The Oche subscriber; Wade was the service's antepost tip to win this week's World Grand Prix. Unfortunately, after trading at a ridiculously low price to win yesterday's first round match, Wade somehow managed to get himself knocked out. Hence the offensive comment, I guess.

The result was certainly frustrating, but what I hadn't known until this morning was that Wade has, over a number of years, been trying to cope with the effects of clinical depression. In today's OTO email, Matt referred to the fact that Wade hadn't looked too good on the stage last night, describing him as being, "in a pretty bad way". In light of this, my frustration at not getting a run for our antepost money on Wade has disappeared somewhat. From the very little I know of the condition, I believe clinical depression to be a horribly debilitating affliction and anyone suffering from it has my sympathy. It certainly makes me a little embarrassed by my recent frivolous whingeing at the careless mistakes I've made with my gambling. In fact, looking on the bright side, my error in backing Wade to win the tournament as opposed to the recommended each way has saved me half a point.

Summer Of Football had a winner in Brazil last night, but unfortunately I wasn't on it. I can't quite decide whether or not I did the right thing by not backing the selection.

JP once advised that I never chase a price down on a bet and that if the value has gone, then the wise thing to do is to leave it. Graeme Dand recently imparted the same wisdom to his subscribers. My own rule is that I need to secure a price that represents at least 90% of the advised price when looking to strike a football/sports bet.

The question though, is where do you draw the line when considering what price you can take? That 90% figure I mention is completely arbitrary. I've noticed that the price that Sportyy suggests as the minimum acceptable on his picks is 90% of the price he advises at, but even so, the level of value contained within any one bet is impossible to quantify. You therefore have to think that in this context, any self-imposed restriction to the odds deemed acceptable on a bet is all a bit of a nonsense. Particulary when you set a minimum acceptable price on a bet of 1.83 and don't back it when the maximum found is 1.81, which happened to be the case yesterday with the Summer Of Football tip (in fact James stated today that 1.825 was available, which makes my opting out even more of a nonsense!). It's a tough one though. Do you draw a line and then allow yourself to fall the wrong side of it, even if the margin is tiny? Logic says no. Common sense possibly says yes.

Either way, James was good enough to record the bet for official proofing purposes as being settled at 1.825, a move that reinforces his service's reputation for treating it's customers fairly. His email today certainly made for thought-provoking reading. It referred to Asian betting syndicates - and an implication that the way they work is sometimes "interesting" - and unusual trading patterns during the relevant game itself. It was like the opening episode of a good television drama series, revealing a tantalising glimpse of a world of shady goings on and subterfuge, and which left one wanting to know a lot more.

Finally for today, I want to mention an issue that affects all of us online gamblers. Mat Hare, one time author of an excellent gambling blog (much better than this one, I can tell you!), prolific SBC forum contributor, and portfolio gambler, had his William Hill account abused by an unknown third party. Essentially what happened was that he lost a fair amount of money he held within his online Hills account due to some bastard using the money in the company's online casino.

From reading the thread in the SBC forum, it is as yet unclear exactly how the fraudulent third party gained access to Mat's account. One thing is beyond doubt though, and that is the fact that William Hill are washing their hands of it, refusing to accept any responsibility for the security of their customer's account which quite frankly, I find absolutely disgusting.

I wish Mat well in his efforts to gain some level of compensation. In the meantime, it might be wise to ensure passwords and usernames to online bookmaker accounts deviate from the predictable. It might also be prudent to keep funds held within these accounts to relatively low levels. It can be a nasty old world out there.

Tuesday's Bettin

Oh, dear. Another poor day.

No joy at all with the racing, Winning Racing Systems (Favs) (0/2) and On The Nose (0/1).

Sportyy managed to find one winner (Verdasco to win the 1st set vs Monaco - 6/5) but also suffered two losers. We've talked about the On The Oche antepost bet already, but they had two match bets, one a winner (I.White to beat van Barneveld - 6/4), the other a loser.

Winning Racing Systems: Staked 2pts, -2pts.
On The Nose: Staked 0.5pts, -0.5ts.

Sportyy: Staked 3.5pts, -0.174pts.
On The Oche: Staked 1.5pts, -0.25pts.


  1. The primary reason that I’ve never subscribed to a tipping service is that I think I would struggle to find the time to monitor the release of selections and then rapidly seek out the best available price and get on. I note that over the past couple of weeks in your posts you’ve mentioned that, despite your professional attitude towards your portfolio, you have found yourself making the odd mistake and missing the occasional selection. This does little to inspire me that with my flaky approach to regular gambling I’d have any chance of running a successful portfolio.
    I modelled foreign and lower league football with limited success for a few years until I eventually solved two issues. The first was automating the bet placement part which removed the dependency on me to actually do what the output was telling me. The second was increasing the tolerance intervals for the data that was spat out. This had the effect of tightening my prices and therefore excluding some borderline selections where the value was at its thinnest. However it was the combination of these two where the benefit was really found. When manually placing the bets I would often be willing to take a price that was 90-95% of the stated price. On the face of it there is nothing inherently wrong with this, after all, models are only predictors and have a margin of error right? True, and even at 90% the prices might have represented slight value but (and I’m finally getting closer to the point of the comment) when you use reduced confidence intervals like this you’re getting closer to ‘gambling’. By this I mean it is harder to determine whether you’re actually betting with value or experiencing positive variance in a zero-sum or even marginally negative system. Since automating the process it is set to take a minimum of 98% of the price. Interestingly looking back at bets that would have been placed had these limits been lower, the models would on average been the most profitable had this limit been set at 96%. This is solely based on Betfair prices (as I can’t automate the placement on other platforms) and I know that if I were to look around in a lot of cases I’d find better prices after commission, but there has to be some value attached to time.
    As you mentioned it is all fairly arbitrary and probably devolves to the age old argument of picking value vs winners and no one wants to go through that.
    As a final note, the levels of account security across the online gambling sector is largely pathetic and so sadly Mat’s story comes as little surprise. How people can keep £50K+ in Betfair accounts with their ridiculous security and track record of not siding with customers who claim to be the victims of fraud I don’t know.

    1. Simon.

      Thankyou for taking the time and trouble to post such a detailed and informative comment. Very much appreciated.

      You make a lot of sense and the comment deserves more exposure. Perhaps next week when I have a little more time to comment myself.

      Thanks again,


  2. Fraudulant activity and online gambling go hand in hand. Bookmakers, betting exchanges and poker sites do a good job of covering this up. There is an article in Dec 2010 Smartersig magazine entitled 'Betfair User Security and Your Responsibility' - it's worth a read (in my biased opinion) and is relevant to bookmakers, although based on experience with Betfair.

    1. Hey Anon,

      Fraudulent activity is not really something I'd paid much attention to previously (apart from the other week with my mobile phone contractor) but as soon as I started to look at little more closely at the subject, it soon became apparent that it represents a real problem. A problem of course, that affects everybody with funds kept in a bookmaker's account.

      A subject that needs further exploration, I think.

      All the best,