MrPogle2
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February 12th, 2024 at 10:29:13 AM permalink
I am betting on horse racing. The house edge is about 10%. Applying my "system" I am 3.8% in profit over 1720 level stakes bets.

What are the odds that I have a working system vs I've just been lucky?

Any opinions (preferably backed up with some mathematical evidence) gratefully received.
SOOPOO
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February 12th, 2024 at 12:08:15 PM permalink
Quote: MrPogle2

I am betting on horse racing. The house edge is about 10%. Applying my "system" I am 3.8% in profit over 1720 level stakes bets.

What are the odds that I have a working system vs I've just been lucky?

Any opinions (preferably backed up with some mathematical evidence) gratefully received.
link to original post



So if you’ve been betting $1 you are up $65 after 1720 bets?

It depends on the odds on the bets you’ve made. If you are only taking favorites with low odds then it is more likely you have a good system

If most of your bets are extreme longshots then it is more likely that variance has been on your side.

Are these all ‘win’ bets, some place or show bets, exactas, perfectas, etc?
MrPogle2
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February 12th, 2024 at 12:16:22 PM permalink
Thanks for the reply

Yes. 1720 x $1 bets has resulted in a profit of $65.

As to the odds. The odds vary a lot but I would guess they average about 4/1. The bets are win-only except where a very long shot is picked (25/1 or longer) when the bet is made each-way. Each-way is generally 20% of the win odds paid on the first 3 places.
lilredrooster
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February 12th, 2024 at 2:09:19 PM permalink
.
if you do have a methodology to beat racing in the long run that would be extremely impressive

there are 𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙮 𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙮 𝙛𝙚𝙬 who can legitimately claim that

largely because of the gigantic takeout -

.
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MrPogle2
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February 12th, 2024 at 2:37:04 PM permalink
Indeed. That is why I have no confidence that I am one of the "very very few".

I was hoping that someone may be able to calculate the likelihood of my results being just chance. (e.g. tossing heads 3 times in a row doesn't arouse suspicion but doing it 35 times in a row is more likely to be bent than lucky.)

The other problem I have is that my 1720 bets represents nearly a year of betting because only a few horses qualify each day. So the data gathering is very slow with no prospect of modelling or simulation. I guess I'll just having to keep going and see if I'm more than 100 up in 12 months. :)
SOOPOO
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February 12th, 2024 at 2:51:46 PM permalink
Quote: MrPogle2

Thanks for the reply

Yes. 1720 x $1 bets has resulted in a profit of $65.

As to the odds. The odds vary a lot but I would guess they average about 4/1. The bets are win-only except where a very long shot is picked (25/1 or longer) when the bet is made each-way. Each-way is generally 20% of the win odds paid on the first 3 places.
link to original post



I’d say it is most likely your system will beat random guy throwing darts at the program. I don’t think your results are good enough to be sure your system is enough to beat the high vig.

But if I was you, I’d start betting real money on it and see what happens.

I’m not good enough at the math to figure out how many standard deviations from the norm your results are. There are a dozen or so members here who are. Hopefully they can chime in.
lilredrooster
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February 12th, 2024 at 3:08:20 PM permalink
Quote: MrPogle2

Applying my "system" I am 3.8% in profit over 1720 level stakes bets.


your idea of betting just on stakes races is a good one

those horses are more consistent and more predictable

if you analyzed your results of just high level stakes - Grades 1, 2, and 3 -

you might find your profitability is greater

I've done a similar thing - I'm not going to claim I beat racing - but I definitely did much better on high level stakes races

.
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MrPogle2
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February 12th, 2024 at 3:18:01 PM permalink
Quote: lilredrooster

Quote: MrPogle2

Applying my "system" I am 3.8% in profit over 1720 level stakes bets.


your idea of betting just on stakes races is a good one


Apologies, I didn't make myself very clear. By "level stakes" I meant that I was betting 1 unit each time and not varying the size of the bet.

I agree with you, though, that better class racing tends to go more to form.
OnceDear
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February 13th, 2024 at 2:29:40 AM permalink
Quote: SOOPOO



But if I was you, I’d start betting real money on it and see what happens.

I’m not good enough at the math to figure out how many standard deviations from the norm your results are. There are a dozen or so members here who are. Hopefully they can chime in.
link to original post

I'm not good enough at the maths either, but you should study up on kelly criteria. That will balance your risk of ruin with optimising profitability IF you have an advantage.

Empirically you've estimated your advantage at x=65/1720 = 3.7%. We'll work with that.

Now, set aside a bankroll of whatever you are prepared to lose. let's give that a value of B. Whatever your bankroll becomes, re-evaluate B for the next wager.

All as I understand it... And I'm no expert on kelly, but this is a simplification.

Now if you were making even money bets according to Kelly, you would wager x=3.7% of your remaining bankroll each time. If you won or lost, your next wager would be 10% of your newly increased or decreased bankroll. Thus if your system is successful, your bets would increase steadily and vice versa.

But if you are wagering on horses that are not paying even money, you multiply your wager by the probability of winning. That means that any win at any odds will increase your bankroll by the same amount.

So if wagering on a horse with odds that give it 1/4 chance of winning, your wager on that horse becomes 3.7% x1/4 x B

Maybe a better expert will fix up my simplification.
Psalm 25:16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Proverbs 18:2 A fool finds no satisfaction in trying to understand, for he would rather express his own opinion.
MrPogle2
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February 13th, 2024 at 4:21:40 AM permalink
Thanks for this.

Stake management is something I need to investigate once I am convinced I actually have an edge. Obviously, no staking plan can overcome a house edge so I'm trying to establish one thing at a time but having looked at Kelly I'm not sure it will be possible to apply it.

Kelly seems to rely on knowing both offered odds and estimated probability of winning and the only estimate that I have is 103.7%. Does it make sense to apply this blanket value to every bet? Kelly seems to suggest that you need to evaluate this on a bet by bet basis.

There is also something else that bothers me a bit about adjusting stakes based on current bankroll. My system obviously generates far more losers than winners (hence the slim potential edge) so I worry that when a winner comes up the inevitable previous string of losers will have supressed the stake so much as to negate the win somewhat.

Of course the main issue is that in the unlikely event that I actually have a system that can reliably make $65 a year, I'm going to have to turn $1 bets into multi-100 dollar bets to have a useful "income". I'm not sure I have the nerve for this and (in the UK, at least) bookmakers don't tolerate steady winning of significant amounts and close accounts when it happens.
SOOPOO
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February 13th, 2024 at 4:52:37 AM permalink
Quote: MrPogle2

Thanks for this.

Stake management is something I need to investigate once I am convinced I actually have an edge. Obviously, no staking plan can overcome a house edge so I'm trying to establish one thing at a time but having looked at Kelly I'm not sure it will be possible to apply it.

Kelly seems to rely on knowing both offered odds and estimated probability of winning and the only estimate that I have is 103.7%. Does it make sense to apply this blanket value to every bet? Kelly seems to suggest that you need to evaluate this on a bet by bet basis.

There is also something else that bothers me a bit about adjusting stakes based on current bankroll. My system obviously generates far more losers than winners (hence the slim potential edge) so I worry that when a winner comes up the inevitable previous string of losers will have supressed the stake so much as to negate the win somewhat.

Of course the main issue is that in the unlikely event that I actually have a system that can reliably make $65 a year, I'm going to have to turn $1 bets into multi-100 dollar bets to have a useful "income". I'm not sure I have the nerve for this and (in the UK, at least) bookmakers don't tolerate steady winning of significant amounts and close accounts when it happens.
link to original post



How many days did it take for your system to find the 1720 bets you made?
MrPogle2
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February 13th, 2024 at 5:13:28 AM permalink
331 days. 45 of those days identified no horses for the day.
SOOPOO
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February 13th, 2024 at 5:55:07 AM permalink
Quote: MrPogle2

331 days. 45 of those days identified no horses for the day.
link to original post



Ok. Now I got it. At a 3.8% +EV with only around 5 bets a day available, if you can make $1000 bet on each, you will make less than $200 a day. If you can still keep your regular job and this just adds to your income it’s great.

IF you are bankrolled enough for possible losing streaks.

If my $1000 is too high to be tolerated by the books, tell me what you think won’t get you blocked. I think if you are just making 3.8% there will be enough losing bets to provide cover, but I really don’t know how closely they look at horse bettors.
lilredrooster
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February 13th, 2024 at 6:51:18 AM permalink
Quote: SOOPOO


If my $1000 is too high to be tolerated by the books,
link to original post


in horse race betting - parimutuel wagering - which means "against ourselves" - the size of the bets is not restricted in anyway
at least not at the racetracks and the online racebooks
the losers pay the winners after the takeout is applied - if a person makes a very large bet it just means all of the other winners will be paid less

it's possible that a casino sports book would accept horse racing bets and not place them into the pools - just pay whatever is indicated - and they might restrict the size of the bets

but I don't really know about that - anyway - anybody could simply open an online racebook account and bet however much they wanted to

.
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MrPogle2
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February 13th, 2024 at 6:53:15 AM permalink
I don't know either. I suspect that that they just look at your profit/loss profile over a few months rather than the number of wins and losses.

However, last year I was excluded by a huge on-line casino for a trivial amount of money by simply being very, very lucky 3 weeks in a row. It rather implies that they are very vigilant in monitoring this stuff.
OnceDear
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February 13th, 2024 at 6:54:33 AM permalink
Quote: MrPogle2

Of course the main issue is that in the unlikely event that I actually have a system that can reliably make $65 a year, I'm going to have to turn $1 bets into multi-100 dollar bets to have a useful "income". I'm not sure I have the nerve for this and (in the UK, at least) bookmakers don't tolerate steady winning of significant amounts and close accounts when it happens.
link to original post



You're in the UK? Snap!
Let's do stuff in £££££s
$:o)

You just need to spread your action across bookies, online and in shop.

Meanwhile, I think you just had good variance.

pop your wagers and payouts into excel so a column becomes 'wager profit' then use the standard deviation formula on that column.
multiply the stdev value by number of wagers to show your profit compared to the std dev of your profit.

You'll end up with something like

profit =£67 +/- stdev of £150
I.e your 67 profit sits in a range of expected values of maybe -83 to 217


Anyhow..... back to money management betting a fixed, modest percentage of rolling bankroll is the only way to let any edge work. If you flat bet, the limit to BR growth is suppressed. you need to embrace the variance or edge, whichever it is.
Psalm 25:16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Proverbs 18:2 A fool finds no satisfaction in trying to understand, for he would rather express his own opinion.
MrPogle2
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February 13th, 2024 at 7:06:23 AM permalink
Quote: lilredrooster


in horse race betting - parimutuel wagering - which means "against ourselves" - the size of the bets is not restricted in anyway
at least not at the racetracks and the online racebooks



In the UK this is called TOTE betting and I suspect that using this system I wouldn't be able to turn a profit. When I place bets I choose the best odds I can get from about a dozen on-line bookmakers. They all offer a deal where if the SP is better than the odds I have taken, I get the SP instead. The TOTE gives me a price that is calculated based on the whole betting pool so is undeniably "fair". However there is no chance of getting a "better than fair" price, which I often do. I expect that this would wipe out my slim edge.
MrPogle2
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February 13th, 2024 at 7:16:14 AM permalink
Quote: OnceDear



pop your wagers and payouts into excel so a column becomes 'wager profit' then use the standard deviation formula on that column.
multiply the stdev value by number of wagers to show your profit compared to the std dev of your profit.



I'll give this a go tomorrow.

A quick question.

Given I have made $65 from $1702 but the odds I was being given only offered me a likely return of 90% of $1702. Is my "profit" $65 or $235? After all, if my system was just random horses I would have returned $1532 and I have done $235 better than that.
SOOPOO
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February 13th, 2024 at 8:30:49 AM permalink
Quote: MrPogle2

Quote: OnceDear



pop your wagers and payouts into excel so a column becomes 'wager profit' then use the standard deviation formula on that column.
multiply the stdev value by number of wagers to show your profit compared to the std dev of your profit.



I'll give this a go tomorrow.

A quick question.

Given I have made $65 from $1702 but the odds I was being given only offered me a likely return of 90% of $1702. Is my "profit" $65 or $235? After all, if my system was just random horses I would have returned $1532 and I have done $235 better than that.
link to original post




Great question. Here comes a great answer.

Your profit is $65. That is unequivocal.

Your skill at picking winners is $235. Which is QUITE good, by the way!

It’s analogous to this question…..I can pick the correct team in a 50-50 game 51% of the time. Have I beaten the bookies? The answer is no, as the normal ‘vig’ needs around 53% to show a profit.
OnceDear
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February 13th, 2024 at 10:12:43 AM permalink
Quote: MrPogle2

Quote: OnceDear



pop your wagers and payouts into excel so a column becomes 'wager profit' then use the standard deviation formula on that column.
multiply the stdev value by number of wagers to show your profit compared to the std dev of your profit.



I'll give this a go tomorrow.

A quick question.

Given I have made $65 from $1702 but the odds I was being given only offered me a likely return of 90% of $1702. Is my "profit" $65 or $235? After all, if my system was just random horses I would have returned $1532 and I have done $235 better than that.
link to original post



I've not got my stats head on, but your profit is $65 ( or £65) and in the absence of any skill your expected profit was -170.

Because of variance, that -170 would have been in a range. Without doing any maths, the expectation might have been -170 +/- 300 and maybe you've just naturally had a good result well within expected range.

It sounds like you have a fun way to wager which MIGHT have an edge. If I were you, I'd ramp up the wagering a little and carry on. Whatever you do, don't take any winning results as a confirmation of your prowess. Just enjoy it while it lasts.
If you lose, shrug, but don't chase losses.
Psalm 25:16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Proverbs 18:2 A fool finds no satisfaction in trying to understand, for he would rather express his own opinion.
audionut
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February 21st, 2024 at 11:18:29 AM permalink
Very impressive, MrPogle! Are you using a bet exchange, or a regular book???

I have wished for a VERY long time that the horsebook would FINALLY offer fixed odds on the races. (I think they do in Australia?) It's just about impossible to find this in the USA (unless I'm missing something).

There is nothing more annoying then placing a bet, and then find the odds actually changing ONCE THE RACE HAS STARTED!!!! And then to see if you would of followed the "new" odds, you would of won.

The track seems to be in a bit of a slump here, and I believe this is why.

Like the cockroach said to the dinosaur, "adapt or die".
blackjacklad
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February 21st, 2024 at 2:01:12 PM permalink
Based on 1720 bets with a 3.8% yield and average odds of 5.0 there is a 78% chance you have an edge, and a 22% chance what you're seeing is just randomness.

You can download a simple p-value calculator here: https://www.football-data.co.uk/
MrPogle2
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February 21st, 2024 at 9:00:35 PM permalink
Quote: audionut

Very impressive, MrPogle! Are you using a bet exchange, or a regular book???

I have wished for a VERY long time that the horsebook would FINALLY offer fixed odds on the races.



I'm using a regular book but the "best odds guarantee", which is readily available in the UK, is pretty valuable. You can often see odds double/halve and you get the better price regardless.
MrPogle2
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February 21st, 2024 at 9:05:14 PM permalink
Quote: blackjacklad

Based on 1720 bets with a 3.8% yield and average odds of 5.0 there is a 78% chance you have an edge, and a 22% chance what you're seeing is just randomness.

link to original post



Thanks for this. That is just what I was looking for. It's nice to know that I probably have an edge even if it's too small to replace the day job.
Last edited by: MrPogle2 on Feb 21, 2024
MrPogle2
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February 21st, 2024 at 9:34:48 PM permalink
I've had a brief go at playing with the p-value calculator and I have a question which is the same as a previous one.

If I set my yield to zero I get a value of 0.5 which (I think) means expected value. However, if I can break even at the bookies I am overcoming their edge so I'm doing better than expected value. So, in terms of generating a p-value should my yield be my actual profit plus the house edge?
Last edited by: MrPogle2 on Feb 22, 2024
SOOPOO
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February 22nd, 2024 at 4:51:18 AM permalink
Quote: MrPogle2

I've had a brief go at playing with the p-value calculator and I have a question which is the same as a previous one.

If I set my yield to zero I get a value of 0.5 which (I think) means expected value. However, if I can break even at the bookies I am overcoming their edge so I'm doing better than expected value. So, in terms of generating a p-value should my yield be my actual profit plus the house edge?
link to original post



It depends what your goal is. If it is to prove you have a system that will make you money, you need to only include your profit.

If it is to prove you are better than someone making random picks, you would include profit plus house edge.
MrPogle2
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February 22nd, 2024 at 6:57:56 AM permalink
Thanks. That makes sense.
blackjacklad
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February 22nd, 2024 at 3:50:26 PM permalink
When calculating the p-value think of the yield as your expected value minus 1. So in this case it should be 0.038.

The p value isn't an indication of your expected value, it's an indication of whether your results are caused by the randomness in a too-small sample size or not. Over 1000 bets might seem a lot, but depending on the average odds and the yield of the results, even 10000 bets might not be enough to say with confidence whether or not you have an ongoing edge.

I would consider a p-value higher than 0.05 to still be in the territory of an opportunity I wouldn't risk any serious money on.

If you're making money from online bookies in the UK and your results are inclusive of BOG then even if you have found an edge you will have to get creative sooner or later, due to the fact that the bookies will limit or close your account. Bricks and mortar bookies tend to have less generous odds, but depending on what your angle is you might still be able to turn a profit from them and spread yourself across lots of shops in order to maintain anonymity and avoid them accurately profiling you.

Exchanges are great because they have the best odds. As to whether the long-term value of exchange odds is better than the long-term value of bookies odds with BOG included, I'm not sure.
DJTeddyBear
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February 22nd, 2024 at 5:19:33 PM permalink
I know little about horse racing, and even less about how to calculate this, but...
Quote: MrPogle2

... So the data gathering is very slow with no prospect of modelling or simulation...link to original post

I would think that there is historical data available that can be used to simulate or model this.

I also image that the data might show the opening, closing, high and low odds, while your history probably rarely includes making bets at any one of those values, which would mean any model/simulation would not produce reliable results.

Of course I'd bet that the cost of getting that data makes this whole project not worth the effort.
I invented a few casino games. Info: http://www.DaveMillerGaming.com/ ————————————————————————————————————— Superstitions are silly, childish, irrational rituals, born out of fear of the unknown. But how much does it cost to knock on wood? 😁
MrPogle2
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February 22nd, 2024 at 10:29:31 PM permalink
I did think about historical data but, you are right, it isn't easy to obtain and it doesn't provide an order of magnitude more data. Unlike, say, roulette horse racing changes over time so data more than a couple of years old may not be useful and any working system may lose its effectiveness in the future. Things like roulette can be simulated to billions of plays but sadly horse racing can't be simulated at all. Ironically, its the fact that roulette is so simulatable that means we can prove it can't be beaten and so can happily give up trying. Horse racing can't be proven to be unbeatable so people like me are cursed to stick at it.
MrPogle2
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February 22nd, 2024 at 10:53:16 PM permalink
Quote: blackjacklad


Exchanges are great because they have the best odds. As to whether the long-term value of exchange odds is better than the long-term value of bookies odds with BOG included, I'm not sure.
link to original post



Me neither, however I have to pick one or the other. In terms of gathering data, results from an exchange are not repeatable and require a lot of effort from me. Is now a good time to bet? Are the odds likely to lengthen or shorten in the next hour? Does the current price represent value?

As I don't know the answer to any of those questions it just adds more variables to my fundamental question of whether or not I actually have an edge. Over a great many bets the variance created by the exchange probably averages out but I don't have that many bets. Anecdotally, I would say that exchange prices are better than SP at race-start but worse than those available at 10am. At some point between 10am and race-start, a better price than BOG is probably available on the exchange but I can't spend all day waiting for it and would only recognise it in hindsight anyway.

As things stand, at approx. the same time each morning I generate my picks and take the best odds available from about 10 bookies who offer BOG. This gives me the most repeatable strategy for the least effort. If I had a much bigger profit margin this might not matter but, as my margin is wafer thin, I suspect that consistently getting fair-to-good odds does.
SOOPOO
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February 23rd, 2024 at 5:48:48 AM permalink
Quote: MrPogle2

Quote: blackjacklad


Exchanges are great because they have the best odds. As to whether the long-term value of exchange odds is better than the long-term value of bookies odds with BOG included, I'm not sure.
link to original post



Me neither, however I have to pick one or the other. In terms of gathering data, results from an exchange are not repeatable and require a lot of effort from me. Is now a good time to bet? Are the odds likely to lengthen or shorten in the next hour? Does the current price represent value?

As I don't know the answer to any of those questions it just adds more variables to my fundamental question of whether or not I actually have an edge. Over a great many bets the variance created by the exchange probably averages out but I don't have that many bets. Anecdotally, I would say that exchange prices are better than SP at race-start but worse than those available at 10am. At some point between 10am and race-start, a better price than BOG is probably available on the exchange but I can't spend all day waiting for it and would only recognise it in hindsight anyway.

As things stand, at approx. the same time each morning I generate my picks and take the best odds available from about 10 bookies who offer BOG. This gives me the most repeatable strategy for the least effort. If I had a much bigger profit margin this might not matter but, as my margin is wafer thin, I suspect that consistently getting fair-to-good odds does.
link to original post



Great post. I hope you realize that the overriding question you are trying to answer is the last sentence of your first paragraph.
DOES THE CURRENT PRICE REPRESENT VALUE?
If you believe it does, AND can quantify that value (e.g., I have a 10% edge on this bet), then you can use Kelly to tell you how much to bet. You needn’t worry about trying to guess which way the line MIGHT move if you have value NOW.

Of course it’s smart to shop for the best line; why wouldn’t you if it is easily available to do?
blackjacklad
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February 24th, 2024 at 2:49:00 AM permalink
Have you kept a record of enough of the relevant data to be able to check what your return would have been if your bets had not been eligible for BOG? Or what your return would have been if you'd chosen to take SP rather than the current price? Potentially you could turn a profit by placing lucky 15's in William Hill or Betfred shops, if you can generate 4 selections per day. With the concessions they offer (boosted odds if only 1 of your selections wins, boosted odds if all 4 win) these can be great value.

Also worth noting that you can download historical data from betfair free of charge. As it's the most liquid exchange it's the best representation of the fair price at any given time (though it's not a completely efficient market), so it can be useful for backtesting ideas.

https://historicdata.betfair.com/#/home

I've yet to turn the downloadable data into something usable - annoyingly it doesn't come in a spread sheet format - but I will once I find the time.
MrPogle2
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blackjacklad
February 24th, 2024 at 3:40:06 AM permalink
Very interesting. I'm afraid I don't have enough information on my actual bets to make use of Betfair's historic stuff. I'm also wary of investing too much effort in trying to prove something that may not be true. I think I'll just plough on and see what the empirical evidence reveals. There is also the risk that my "system" will be discovered (in an automated, data analysis sense) by the bookies ever more complex computer systems. They must surely be using AI by now to generate early prices when they have no market yet to guide them. At this point the prices on my horses will drop by a few percent and my edge disappears. This has happened to me before...

In the late 1980s, fixed-odds football (soccer) betting took the form of a paper coupon that you picked up from the bookies and filled in with a biro. It contained about 60-70 matches for the Saturday and, because it was printed on Thursday, the odds couldn't change. The prices for each match were based on the relative quality of the two teams involved but highly unlikely outcomes had odds that never varied. They used to offer 66/1 on any match having a scoreline of 3-3 and for about a season and a half my cousin and I would bet £1 on every match resulting in this scoreline. Almost every week one match would oblige and some weeks 2 or 3 would. We were coining it in until one week the odds offered dropped from 66/1 to 50/1 and our system died overnight. It didn't help that we were turning in ridiculous looking coupons with every line filled in whereas most punters had about a dozen entries on theirs. Even in those days, there was enough feedback to plug leaks in the odds-setting mechanism. It wouldn't take them a season and a half nowadays.
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