Friday, November 20, 2009

"Your betting strategy works more than 99% of the time in a casino, but always crashes and burns. The same thing will happen with sports betting."

Sometimes, I can't help but wonder if every effective method of beating the odds is not automatically targeted by casino snipers seeking to blow away any breakthrough with well-aimed disinformation.

Then I remember that I couldn't care less.

It's been said that casinos don't need to bad-mouth betting methods because the odds and player psychology are in their favor and they are sure to win in the end.

But even that is an industry-serving load of twaddle. The casinos will cheat if they have to in order to beat winners, and the gambling-dependent gaming control boards will always be right there beside them in the front line.

The "independent" gambling "watchdogs" know which side their bread is buttered, and just like the casinos they pretend to "control," they are very fond of a little extra jam to go with it.

I'm frequently reminded that table limits will always doom any betting strategy to an inglorious end.

No amount of data demonstrating the falsity of that argument can ever have an effect, any more than it can alter the attitude of people who say they would rather have loads of fun betting their way and losing than being miserable betting my way and winning.

Whenever I find myself thinking that losing can't possibly be fun, I spend an hour or two in a casino for a quick refresher course on how exciting and entertaining a sound thrashing can be.

But I do my research as a spectator only, because I'm one of those oddballs who hates to lose.

The only way target betting can come to grief is if it is inadequately funded.

Table and house limits are not a problem, because the statistics that predict a certain turnaround are unaffected by suspending play until the required next bet can be placed without interference.

Running out of money definitely IS a problem.

Betting underdogs has a lot of appeal not just because it delivers steady profits but because it is a stealth method that flies smoothly under the gambling industry's anti-winner radar.

Its greatest asset is that when an underdog pulls off a "surprise" (a surprise to 85% of punters but rarely to bookies) it always pays better than even money.

So losing more bets than you win is less of a challenge than at a table game in which the best you can hope for is a buck back for a buck bet.

I have laid out all the numbers in earlier posts, but am happy to provide the latest update from my ongoing "7-dog Trial."

Thursday was a rare dog day, with favorites bested 58% of the time, and it added another $500 in profits to take the 19-day total past $3,000.

Overall, "dogs" have won barely two out of every five bets. But target betting has ensured that even that statistically poor showing has not hurt the bottom line.

There have been some nerve-wracking down days, especially at the beginning of this open demonstration, and there will be again.

But just as statistics (aka "The Math") predicted, dogs will always recover and make sure that those inevitable setbacks are temporary.

To date, the deepest "hole" has been just over $1,400, making a win of more than $3,000 a very comfortable return on exposure.

Other numbers that matter are total action of a little less than $21,000, making the win almost 15% of all bets won and lost, and an average return on "dogs" of +138 overall, indicating a payback of $1.38 on the dollar.

Remember that a 40% underdog win rate (DWR) requires an average payback of +125 to enable a flat bettor to break even, 45% needs just +112 and 50% makes money above +100.

More importantly, target betting is a whole lot more effective than betting the same old same amount every time.

Worth considering, though, are these charts from my just-completed database for the 2008-09 NBA baskeball season.

Even readers with teeny-tiny screens on wristwatch net-books should be able to discern the less than subtle difference between the result of betting flat on underdogs (the green line!) and backing favorites all the way (that would be the red line).

Favorites wreak havoc with the bankroll because although wins outnumber losses, they return a tiny premium on the money risked.

And, of course, every wrong bet costs 100% of the wager.

As I keep saying, it's the arithmetic...

Click on the image to enlarge it

Saturday, November 21:

Five of Friday's seven "dogs" ended the day with their tails between their legs, costing us $580 and wiping out Thursday's winnings.

It was the eighth losing day in 20, and no doubt the red total that ended a five-day winning run will prompt the usual chorus of aha!s and told you sos!

Today's picks are a motley bunch (Knicks and Bucks, Canadiens, Thrashers, Panthers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes) but as always, I am ignorant of their prospects and have relied on the experts to make my choices for me.

That's what betting by the numbers is all about: No experience or wisdom is required, just enough dough to cover the bet values demanded by the target betting strategy.

The method is of course anathema to diehards who have to believe that their intuition and inside knowledge (courtesy of the slew of sports stats available on the 'Net every day) trumps a simple odds-based selection process.

I sympathize, I truly do.

And as I have said before, perhaps at some point down the road there will be an opportunity to blend the two methods, accepting or rejecting qualified picks with the help of educated guesses.

Meanwhile, it's just about money...and confidence.

The Saturday set puts $1,500 in play, covered by almost $2,500 in winnings since the open experiment was kicked off, tipped off, pucked up or whatever on November 1.

Hopefully, today will prove a better day than yesterday, but as in any long-term investment scenario, gains are always preceded by (hopefully smaller!) losses, and there is rarely any such thing as a sure thing.

I know a guy who claims a 70% success rate at picking stocks and trades millions of dollars back and forth every year.

He is far more of a gambler than I would ever want to be, but his method, like mine, is primarily numbers-based: he's not interested in annual reports, market trends, or tipsters' inside info.

What he does is look for stocks that are declining in value because Big Money is dumping them, but are being snapped up in small chunks by buyers who see real long-term value in their reduced price.

The result on those twin Bloomberg screens that people like my friend squint at all day long is a red value line headed south east, and a white buy line slowly inching up in the opposite direction.

Those stocks are underdogs - shares in companies that the herd will bet against because a superficial glance at them suggests that there's no quick and easy money to be made from them.

The screenshot below should help put the dogs-only sports betting challenge in a rational, unbiased perspective!

An important reminder: The only person likely to make money out of this blog is you, Dear Reader. There's nothing to buy, ever, and your soul is safe (from me, at least). Test my ideas and use them or don't. It's up to you.