Before I start, may I just say to all Aston Villa fans out there, there is absolutely no shame in losing to Bradford City. No shame at all. Oh no.
Now that declaration is out of the way, let's have a look at how the sports betting half of the portfolio is lined up for the year ahead...
I mentioned when talking about Winning Racing Tips in the racing services preview I wrote last week, that Football Elite was the first sports tipping service I joined. FE is one of those services that is a joy to follow when doing well, and one of the most testing when not. When results are going our way, the ease with which we can get good money into the market, and by boxing a little bit clever can generally secure odds very close to and often better than those advised, allied to a low workload - there's an awful lot to like about following Matt's service. However, generally speaking in life, the strength of something is very often also it's weakness, and so it is with Football Elite. The low turnover (and thus low workload) means that losing runs tend to extend over a fair amount of time, testing the psyche of the follower in a way that not so many other services do. It also makes a service vulnerable to variance in a way that leaves higher turnover services untouched - if there are only around 100 bets in a season, then get on the wrong side of variance and a whole season, ie. nine months of football betting, can easily be adversely affected. This naturally leads to even the most patient of followers to question whether the tipsters methods have changed, if they are as cute as they once were, and whether perhaps the bookies have adapted over time and no longer make mistakes in their pricing up of the markets played in. Being honest with you, at some point or other I have asked these very questions (to myself) of every single tipster I've ever followed. So far, Matt for one, has always come up with the right answers.
The Football Analyst
I'm sure Graeme expected a lot more from his systems than what they have given him so far this season. Certainly I did, although due to the staking system I've used, I've never felt that I'm on some wild rollercoaster or that losses had begun to get out of control. They certainly haven't, and when I look at the figures I've achieved by following TFA since going live a season and a half ago, I'm still enjoying an roi in excess of 20%. So let's put a relatively small sample of bets provided this season into the correct context here, and remember too that results overall across the various systems are far from the worst I've ever seen!
Graeme wrote a fascinating post on his blog the other day. It talked about how on reflection, perhaps TFA portfolios ought to have embraced a little more diversification than some followers opted for this season. I would include myself in that bracket, as I'm only following Systems 7/22 and E3/E7, and this leaves me vulnerable to the same threats from variance that I was talking about with FE. This is something that I have no doubt will be addressed in the summer. Regardless though of results this season, TFA is a service I remain massively excited by and I am totally convinced of it's huge potential.
By the way, that blog post I was talking about. It is very much worth a read for reasons other than those I mention. There's all sorts of fascinating stuff in there.
Summer Of Football
I was impressed by a very sleek 2012 review that James sent out to members this week, and I feel it reflects the way the service has developed as a whole, even from the time I first started following last spring. It was great fun riding the wave that was midsummer, when it seemed that SoF couldn't pick a loser were it trying. It was less fun in November, when the reverse appeared true. Thing is, to a relatively new follower such as myself, it isn't half gratifying to see a service go through a really bad patch, not lose the plot, stay consistent, and come out the other side, which is what seems to have happened. The core strength of SoF, as I see it anyway, is that it produces a pretty high turnover of bets so that even if roi is relatively low (historically under 10%), the actual points profit and ROC, given an average year, is high. 2012 saw an ROC of 143% achieved, which is outstanding.
There's no getting away from it. The first half to the 2012/13 season has been disastrous. Skeeve has not panicked at all. Naturally disappointed at results I'm sure, but no sense of real crisis, and in fact Skeeve exudes a very real confidence in his ability to turn it all around, a confidence that I imagine is borne from experience and having having seen it all before. Certain adjustments have been made - I am no longer following the Shortlist picks and Skeeve himself has just tapered the staking slightly on some bets from five points to four - and the hope is that the second half of the season proves much kinder. One thing is for certain; I know for a fact that no-one will be working harder than Skeeve to put things right.
On The Oche
The last few months were a little disappointing for OTO too, and 2012 as a whole didn't reach the heights of the previous year. The thing is with darts though, is that more than any other sport, the margins between success and failure are so very, very fine. I would say that Rich, the tipster, has demonstrated a massive edge in the sport which becomes apparent when conducting any analysis of the service over what might be deemed a decent amount of time. Ally this to Matt's approach to running the service, which has seen some alterations to the format I experienced when a member two or three years ago - and in so doing freshening the service up a little - then I believe we have a winning combination. I guess that it is possible for an edge to be eroded over time, but with an roi running at north of 30% over five years, it has some way to fall to be one that has disappeared completely. I'm rather hoping it hasn't been eroded at all!
This service quietly goes about it's business. Nothing flash, backing a lot of odds on shots, and you get the impression that before issuing a bet, everything around it is given very careful consideration. And then each month you read Scott's monthly review which includes a breakdown of the rois of each sport covered since the service started. At the end of December the overall roi across the site was 15%, football running at 12%, darts at 12%, and antepost horse racing bets at 22%. Pretty impressive, huh? After a good month, I often look back and wonder how I'd made as much as I had. December was a prime example - just seven bets, six winners and an roi of 70%! Because the bets are few and far between, you don't get sudden rushes of profit; it's more a slow accumulation. That's fine by me, and although with the low turnover ROC is never going to run away with itself, there is a very clearly defined niche in the portfolio for The Sportsman.
The star of the latter part of 2012, and without it I'd have been in a real mess. Dani has written an article on the blog (that you can find on his website) that is well worth a read. He is realistic enough to know that not every subscriber is going to be able to get the best odds on each selection, but I must admit, since subscribing in June, I have never failed to secure at least the minimum odds advised. Not once. My roi since subscribing is lying at nearly 10.5%, and bearing in mind I got off to a bit of a horror start (June produced a small loss, July a very big one), I'm very pleased with that and I think the figures show that you can get a good return from the odds attainable. The blog ppst produces a breakdown of where the profits have come from, and the thing that struck me was that if anyone is looking for a really good, free service, you could do a heck of a lot worse than follow Sportyy's Spanish footie bets.
And there we have it. Now we just need to make some money. I've no doubt over the next twelve months, there will be times when my feelings towards some services will change. Ultimately though, and to sound like a football manager adept at talking only in cliches, this is a results business. The harsh reality is that if results are poor, there will ultimately be a time when the wise thing to do is to srop following. That is the pressure that all tipsters work under. They know that the success of their service in commercial terms is massively reliant on the results they produce, which is of course the way it should be. It would be great if I could get to the end of this year with the whole portfolio looking exactly as it does now. Here's hoping.
Finally today, a quick note that it's been a good one. Northern Monkey found another maximum bet to go in at a good price, and although The Value Bettor isn't an official part of the portfolio, mention should be made of his performance today. Two winners from two bets at 10/1 (backed into 11/2) and 11/4 (backed into 2/1). Go read his blog for details.