Monday, 18 March 2013

Just how long is long term?

What have the following services in common?

On The Nose
Football Elite
Football Investor
On The Oche
Personal Info

They are all services that either have been, or are, a part of my portfolio and which at some point in time have been listed in the Secret Betting Club's Hall of Fame of elite tipping services. That is not the only thread that binds them though, for they are also services that have suffered what might be termed a "poor" season or 9 to 12 months' of results, but which have to a greater or lesser extent recovered to produce a good level of profit. I assume there are other services that you could list alongside those I have named that have shown similar traits. These are simply the ones that spring to mind as I type.

I think there is a natural tendency to give a football betting service a season to prove it's ongoing worth, or a racing service 12 months, but I'm beginning to wonder whether this is a long enough period of time from which efficient conclusions can be drawn, especially if the service in question has previously demonstrated a significant edge over the bookmakers. Obviously any Hall of Fame service should be deemed to have done just that, otherwise why would it be a member of those services that are independently recognised as being among the best in the tipster world?

When we start to look at betting as a serious vehicle for investment as opposed to something we do for a "bit of interest" at the weekend, we are taught that it is a tough, tough game to succeed in, and one that unless embarked upon with eyes set firmly on the long term prize, is doomed to fail. Which is all very well and good, but no-one seems to be able to tell you how long term, "long term" is.

My own definition of what constitutes a long term period is lengthening, getting longer as I grow in experience. I've been bitten badly not once but twice, by not exercising enough patience with a service. I have mentioned before the first time I fell into this trap, dropping On The Oche from my portfolio when the SBC dropped it from their Hall of Fame, only to see the darts expert go on to make seriously good profits. I believe the roi for the lifetime of the service is still north of 30% which, even in these days of ROC perhaps being the more important unit by which to measure success, is still pretty darned impressive. As you know, I went back to On The Oche with cap doffed, sheepishly asking, "Please, Sir. Can I have some more?" Fortunately Matt, who runs the service, is no Victorian orphanage taskmaster and let me back in.

Now to most people, this experience would have taught them a thing or two, but it would seem that I'm not as smart as most people. The very same thing happened last summer with Football Investor. The SBC dropped it from the Hall of Fame after a season of poor results, and I dropped it from my portfolio. If you don't know how well Football Investor has subsequently performed this season, then I'm pretty sure you can have a good guess. 200+ points profit across the spectrum of systems offered! It may well be that come the summer, this particular Prodigal Portfolio Investing Son will yet again be doffing his cap and asking for forgiveness. It might be said that to give up on one tipping service prematurely be regarded as a misfortune, but to give up on two just bloody careless!

To give myself a bit of a break, it was these experiences that encouraged me to be more patient with On The Nose, so perhaps, a little belatedly, I am learning. Like I said last week, I have now altered my sights - I now want to be looking at two year's worth of results before giving up on a service. If, after two years are up, and if performance has not been strong enough over this period of time, then I do believe dropping a service from the portfolio is a decision more easily justified. Two years still may not be sufficient on a statistical basis to rationalise such a decision, but the fact is that there is a plethora of good, proven services out there. Too many really to hang on to an underperforming service forever and a day. We as punters are blessed too, in that the SBC do a heck of a good job finding the good services, testing them, and then recommending them. In this context, perhaps two years is too long to stick with someone who isn't performing, but we can't have it all ways.

More thoughts on this subject tomorrow, time permitting. In the meantime though, all comments welcome...

Sunday 17th March
A quiet betting day for a Sunday, and one that produced a small loss.

Another very nice winner for The Football Analyst E3-E7 (Espanyol (DNB) vs Malaga at 3.16) amongst the two bets, but this proved to be the only winning bet of the day. Summer Of Football rounded off a horrible weekend's betting with another loser (0/1), Football Elite's one wager lost, and there was no luck for Sportyy either (0/2).

The Football Analyst E3-E7: Staked 0.5pts, +0.29pts.
Football Elite: Staked 0.5pts, -0.5pts.
Sportyy: Staked 2.5pts, -2.5pts.
Summer Of Football: Staked 1pt, -1pt.


  1. I always stick up this link on this topic - - as I think it sums up everything perfectly. It's written from a traditional investment angle rather than a sports betting angle but substitute the word "money manager" for "tipster" and it's the same basic theory.

    Matt (FE)

  2. Cheers, Matt. Much appreciated. I'll draw attention to the article in the main blog.

  3. Hi Rowan,

    While I do agree with you that it is wise to have set rules for your portfolio I do think there are factors you are not taking into account with your 2 year time limit (disclaimer: any such limit will be arbitrary and the stuff below will get a little technical).

    As an example let's take Summer of Football which I have in my portfolio as well.

    Last year James produced 424 picks and we know his average odds is around evens. His ROI was 8.4%. To test whether he has an edge based on last year I have done the following:

    I run 100 simulations in Excel of 424 variables with even odds and mean 0% (no edge). In betting terms we have 100 tipsters, who each have provided 424 picks and who has no edge. The results show 3 of these (3%) has delivered better results than James and 97 has delivered worse. Thus it is fairly safe to say that James has an edge.

    If I do the same calculations with 9/1 as the odds I find that 27 tipsters with no edge will actually have outperformed James. I am sure you already know this but for higher odds services you will either need a larger sample, a higher return or some qualitative assurance to say if they are any good.

    Conclusion: I think your 2 year time limit is good, however, it also need to be calibrated against the number of tips supplied. In my opinion, one of the main advantages of the new approach from Football Elite is thus that if Matt still has an edge (which I suspect) it will take a shorter time-period for it to be revealed and his seasonal results will be less luck based.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to write in, Stephen.

      You're right of course (although I don't think you need me to tell you that! :) ) and you highlight an area of weakness of mine that I'm well aware of but which over time, I hope to tackle.

      Anyway, great Comment and if I may, I'd like to address it properly in the main blog.