Sunday, 27 August 2017

Vorp and the primitive source of an edge

I've been meaning to comment on a couple of Cassini's blog posts since I've read them four weeks ago, but August is unfortunately quite a lot to handle as National League teams will have played as many as seven games in 24 days and I obviously need to spend a bit more time analyzing a 1st round game than, for example, a 28th round game. I've also traditionally implemented a few new elements into my match analysis and, as always, I'm wondering how on earth have I managed to stay ahead of the industry for so many years without those elements. I may have just been lucky for the past eleven years.

Anyway, in the first of the two posts over at Green All Over, Cassini wrote:

Miguel referenced an old post of mine from almost 18 months ago, which highlighted the challenges of finding an edge in the top leagues where you are competing with the likes of Starlizard... As it's the eve of a new season, and most readers will forget this as soon as they've read it, I thought I might share a thought I had regarding the lower leagues. Back in May I mentioned that: "If you go too far down the football pyramid, you run into problems not only of liquidity, but also the problem where the VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) of certain key players becomes critical". Many of you will be familiar with Skeeve, who has been profitable in the National League since forever. How does he do it? By studying the teams in great detail. See this post for an example. Since there are so few people studying this league to the extent that Skeeve does, he gets himself an edge. Most of us don't have the time for this level of research and analysis however. 

I wouldn't say that VORP (it kind of sounds like a name for a baby dragon - look at little Vorp burning those daisies; I may have analyzed a few games too many today) is the only thing that gives me an edge, but it's surely an important element. As far as the time for this level of research and analysis is concerned, well it's what I do for a living.

Miguel Rodrigues commented:

Skeeve example is the perfect example for the ones with a exclusively mathematical based approach who look at subjective analysis as a primitive source of an edge. I agree that the likelihood (and I experienced this myself in the early phase of my betting journey in La Liga) for that type of approach (subjective) working in the main European Leagues in the long haul is slim to none (insane market competition and know-how, better resources employed by the bookies in the opening lines, less average deviation between openers and closers, etc.) However, if you understand the sport, the league and teams, particular characteristics and most importantly are willing to work harder researching for more information than anyone or the majority, you can be one of the market leaders and earners in a medium / lower level league. You just have to ensure that: a) you have information that is not included in the line and / or b) you process the current information available and recognise market over /under reactions better than anyone else. Football teams are "stock prices" and although the odds efficiency in the main leagues is so strong that is difficult for the experienced bettor to see if the price is currently 5% off with subjective analysis, that is very doable in lower level leagues and I can not emphasise the example of Skeeve too much. In betting there will always exist spots for the guy who is willing to outwork and out-learn the competition, at least in the next 5 years. The problem with subjective analysis is it's usually a low volume approach and difficult to use great staking methods like Kelly, but should not be viewed as a primitive source of an edge. I will end this long comment with a quote from Joseph Buchdal: "There is no right or wrong approach to seeking a betting edge. Ultimately, the best one is the one that works for you, one that returns a profit. However, what each approach has in common is a shared aim of finding "value" in the odds, where the true chance of a win is greater than that estimated by the bookmaker".

I can only agree with Miguel - very well put, sir. Personally, I need to see a price that's at least 10% off to get involved nowadays and I obviously think it's possible to stay ahead for a bit longer than five years (have I ever mentioned my eleven consecutive... I have?), but still - an excellent comment.

In the second of the two blog posts, Cassini added:

Unfortunately I have little to disagree with Miguel about regarding his thoughts. One thing I would say is that regarding the line "football teams are 'stock prices'", I think Miguel means that publicly traded companies are like football clubs (some clubs are indeed publicly traded companies) while stock prices are like betting prices in that they are the opinion of the market based on all "relevant" information. Relevant here is a combination of past public information, breaking new public information, and private (insider) information. Knowing along with everyone else that City beat United 2:0 three years ago isn't a lot of use to you. Knowing that a star player for Barrow (assuming they have one) slipped in the shower this morning, suffered a concussion and will miss tomorrow's game is useful. Installing hidden cameras in the bathrooms of non-league stars is not practical, or legal, but plenty of people have contacts who can provide information before it becomes public.

"Assuming they have one"?! After all that Byron Harrison's been through with his ankle in the last seven months, jokes about him slipping in the shower and suffering concussion in addition to a recent surgery seem particularly cruel. Sorry Byron. As for Cassini, shame on you, mate. Shame on you.

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