Friday, January 8, 2010

The question isn't whether or not dogs will come out on top...but when! Sooner or later, the math will take care of us (and the bookies, too).


As the screen snap above shows, Thursday's dismal dog performance left us almost at breakeven with the best win to date a dim and distant memory and unrecovered LTDs adding up to almost $13,000.

A disaster?

According to all those dognostics out there, ruin is imminent, no doubt.

But the truth is that we were almost two grand in the hole 10 days before Christmas, and 11 days later, we were close to $5,000 ahead.

The difference is that right now, target betting has us at the max, which means a new high is just ten units away, and total recovery is 26 units away in a "game" in which even money payouts are the very worst we can expect, assuming we don't lose.

When I set this ball rolling on November 1, I deliberately set the max at just 5x the min to see how a low and slow approach would fare, knowing that my spreadsheet models would give me feedback on the effect of a higher cap.

Spread has always been key to the success of target betting, which in table games demands a max at least one thousand times the min.

In this milieu, there's no need to spread as wide as you must against blackjack or baccarat, but 5x may delay recovery more than lovers of steady profit might like!

I plan to leave the 7-dog test at that low 5x, but here's what "woulda" happened with a wider spread:

Saturday, January 9 at 2:30pm:

Underdogs did much better yesterday with about a 50% win rate overall, but it was a treadwater day for us because we only managed three right picks out of seven.

Today's bets are all on ice because the NBA had only two qualifiers and the NHL schedule offered a slew of 'em at more sensible prices.

Here they are: Montreal Canadiens +105, Toronto Maple Leafs +120, Florida Panthers +125, Atlanta Thrashers +130, Anaheim Ducks +130, Minnesota Wild +145 and St. Louis Blues +130.

Early on, I would settle for the first seven prospects at +180 or less, and that may turn out to be the better way to go.

But for the last few weeks, I have tended to go with the seven options with the lowest prices.

It's worth noting that backing every entry within the +100 to +180 range since November 1 would have put us in a very deep hole by now, with a 5x min cap on the maximum permitted bet.

As the max rises, the hole gets deeper until 40x, when the percentage "hold" of all action jumps to 7.0% and keeps rising as the cap climbs.

The ratio between the amount won and the amount bet is of critical importance.

A $10,000 win is much more of an achievement if it is 5% of the total amount of money in play than if it is 0.5%, and I beg to disagree with anyone who argues that any win is a good win.

You have to be ready to spread wide to score a "hold" that is a decent percentage of the total action or churn.

Target betting's objective has always been to ensure that we win more when we win than we lose when we lose, and piddling wins that do not move us substantially closer to our goal amount to wasted opportunities.

People who scoff at all betting strategies as a matter of principle jump on wide spreads as proof that the house can't be beaten without impossibly high bets, but given the long-term reliability of underdogs and their better-than-even paybacks, I do not consider 50x or even 100x to be unrealistic.

I have always said that the tighter your spread, the worse are your chances of winning in the long run, and the sports book setting does not change that.

The big difference is that when bets get high, they can be parceled out among several bookies, and for sure that is something that cannot be done at blackjack or baccarat!

It is a fact that it takes money to make money.

What I have learned since this new chapter in the target betting saga opened last August is that sports betting offers a far less hazardous milieu than the inside of a casino.

It is also much less time-consuming and tedious.

I marvel at punters who can spend hour after hour at the tables, and then claim a long-term success rate.

It takes me about a half hour to get antsy, and more than two hours of play on any one day is too much for my delicate constitution.

Sports book betting requires a fraction of that time - and if you're willing to flout the casino-backed laws against online betting, you don't even have to pull on shoes and leave the house!

Sunday, January 10 at 9:15am:

A rip-roaring comeback by "ice dogs" Saturday did not move us much further out of the red, because in spite of nine underdog victories in 13 hockey games (69%) we nailed only four of them.

Oh well...

It was, of course, a great day for the bookies, a fact that should bring a warm glow to all our hearts.

Today's picks are a mixed bag: (NFL) Arizona Cardinals +115, (NBA) Toronto Raptors +105, New Orleans Hornets +100 and Miami Heat +110, (CBB) Temple +115, (NHL) Ottawa Senators +110 and Dallas Stars +105.

The inevitability of dogs repeatedly staging comebacks that put them at or above an overall DWR of 45% was dramatically confirmed yesterday - gamblers who risk their money in the stock market would call the phenomenon "a correction."

It bears repeating: When favorites win, it's bad news for the bookies, and bookies are not in business to hear bad news.

Monday, January 11 at 3:25pm:

I'm feeling bad about the fact that I have not updated the Google spreadsheet since before the holidays, and I will get to it as soon as my new laptop allows me to edit the master file!

The lack of new data has nothing to do with the way underdogs have performed of late...we fell into a hole in mid-December, and shot out of it under rocket power in a week or so.

Sunday was a disappointing day that put us back in the red by four units or so, so I am hoping for better things from the following selections for today:

(NBA) New Orleans Hornets +110, Toronto Raptors +110, Atlanta Hawks +170
(NHL) Minnesota Wild +120, Colorado Avalanche +140, LA Kings +110, Nashville Predators +150.

Tuesday, January 12 at 3:50pm:

A much better day Monday: Four wins out of seven, worth from +125 to +170.

I had an e-mail from "Peter Punter" a while back drawing my attention to one of what I assume must be several online "sports mutual funds" (hoodathunkit!).

When I finally got around to checking it out, I was amazed to discover that the bulk of the listed "investments" return less than even money.

Pete disparaged the fact that the method shown calls for doubling up to six times after a loss (32.5, 65, 130, 260, 520, 1040) but I was less troubled by that than by the poor return on favorites.

Oddly, when a high bet (say $1,040) wins with a 91% payback, no effort is made to recover the rest of the loss to date, and the next wager falls back to the minimum with the series still in the red.

Still and all, the promoters of this very slick investment opportunity claim returns that would surely disappoint the vast majority of gamblers, but are far better in percentage terms than anything now available from banks or mutual funds based on stocks and bonds.

A year or two ago, a Wall Street investor would dismiss risking money on sports by reminding us that it's a more dangerous game than buying and selling shares.

Hardly anyone believes that any more!

It's not that sports betting or casino gambling has somehow become safer, just that the Great Recession has shown us that trusting banks and brokers is no smarter than rolling the dice in Las Vegas.

I'm back on high speed Wi-fi later this week and will update the 7-dog trial spreadsheet at Google docs by Thursday afternoon at the latest.

Meantime, here are my dog picks for today, Tuesday:

(NBA) Houston Rockets +125 and LA Lakers +135
(NHL) Carolina Hurricanes +120, NY Islanders +125, TB Lightning +140, Columbus BJs +120 and Edmonton Oilers +100.

Onward! Upward!

Wednesday, January 13 at 4:20pm:

Today's (absolutely legitimate!) excuse for not getting my dog picks posted ahead of game times is that Charter Communications promised me that by 2:00pm I would be back on Wi-fi and would be able to get the job done on my new laptop.

Two o'clock came and went, then three, then four, and there's still no sign of the techie who's standing between me and a world wide web accessible faster than at snail's pace.

Is there a worse ISP anywhere than Charter?

Consumer Reports says not, and every time a new list is compiled ranking national companies according to such little details as quality of service and customer care, Charter ranks at #40 or below. Out of 40-42 companies, that is...

In our little alpine valley, Charter is pretty much the only game in town, and I guess that makes them even less reliable than they are in big cities where they have plenty of competition.

Hardly seems possible, but that's the way it is.

Today's dog selections: (NBA) NY Knicks +120, Indiana Pacers +160, San Antonio Spurs +110 and Miami Heat +125
(NHL) FL Panthers +140, Pittsburgh Penguins +105 and Boston Bruins +115

I took some time out today to delve deeper into the "sports investment fund" that Pete pointed me towards, and I have to say I'm impressed.

I haven't checked the claimed results against the record yet, but given a win rate that is only fractionally more than 50%, there is no reason to suspect book cookery.

It's a very smooth, clean-looking operation, and it would seem to support my long-held belief that venturing good money on sports results does not have to be any more dangerous than trusting bankers and brokers.

I'll have more on that topic when my HS modem is winking and blinking again (I just heard the sound of a Charter truck backing into my driveway...or hope I did!).

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.