Sunday, August 8, 2010

The harder they fall...the higher they bounce. Now's the time when confidence and consistency count the most!

(Please scroll down for selections for Thursday, August 12)

Saturday was a lousy day by any standard - just two wins in 15 picks.

Even the most brilliant betting strategy known to man can't make hay out of a 13% win rate. Keep that up, and I'll soon be bankrupt.

But just like a bookie, I know that numbers rule, and that even the most dramatic downturn will be canceled out by a succession of good days in due time.

And speaking of bookies, the only good news to come out of yesterday's mess is that the pattern of wins was hard on them, too.

Confidence is critical at this point.

It's easy to stick with a plan when everything is going well, but the time we need a solid, effective betting strategy the most is when wins are hardest to come by.

Letting target betting play out in real time, as I am doing all over again right now with the 9-month 7-dog trial behind me, is a nail-biting experience at times.

But recoveries that unfold "before your very eyes" are much more relevant to proving my strategy than historical data, however accurate and verifiable it might be.

The clock's running out for the start of Sunday's games, so here are today's updates:

Monday, August 9 at 11:55am

It's as much as I can do today to get the Monday picks posted!

I keep finding bugs in the new Excel template, and I am starting to wish I had stuck with reliable, old-fashioned Quattro Pro 123BC (the prehistoric version).

It's not that the target betting rules are complicated, far from it, but that my brain is struggling with a new formula language at a time when I'd rather be simply kicking back and counting my winnings.

No winnings Sunday, though, and the slide goes on.

I'm hanging in there regardless, and once I get Excel mastered, I will be able to show why.

Note the comments in the list, an indication that subjectivity is creeping back into the picture.

That's not a good thing. I want the numbers to dictate choices, nothing else. And believe me, I'm working on that...

Update at 12:45pm Monday:

I was in a rush to beat the sound of the window slamming on bets for today's early game and was too late anyway, so now I can add the following!

Betting options promising an even-plus payback enables modifications to the standard target betting rules for table games that reflect two important differences in the indoor and outdoor arenas (OK, hockey's played indoors, but work with me a little here!).

Difference #1: blackjack has a house edge that's around 1%, while sports betting gives the book an edge that's generally between 10-15%. It follows that betting sports, you are not going to win as often, but when you win you will win more (Difference #2).

The casino rule in target betting is that an opening loss in a new series may be followed by a bet as high as PB x 5 (5x the previous bet) because there's pretty much a 50-50 chance that the first loss will be followed by a win and if that happens, the series will be quickly turned around with a profit.

Not so in sports. So, never more than double the opening bet, and after that, redouble only once (-1,-2,-4,-4).

Dry spells generally lost longer in sports betting (and not just because at table games, 100 bets an hour is slow going, and at the bookie's, 100 bets a week makes your head spin!).

I'm talking now about the length of losing streaks: usually, you will see more and longer downturns, making it wise to not just freeze your wager value after a third loss, but to start reducing it.

In the 7-dog trial, and now in the new real-time test of target betting, I double twice, then start going backwards until a win prompts a bet that is not more than 5x the pre-payback value of the winner.

That's the biggest change from table games: At blackjack or baccarat, I will react to a mid-recovery win by going for the whole loss to date (LTD) plus one unit because I have about a 50-50 shot at turning things around with a second successive win.

Betting the book, the odds are 45-55 if I'm lucky, so a little caution is called for.

And please, don't confuse odds with win/loss stats!

Odds are set by the bookie to make losing a very unlikely outcome for him, keeping in mind that in most games, more than 80% of punters back the team at the shortest odds.

That's why the book needs underdogs to win just often enough to keep profits high but not so often that they make nonsense of the odds.

Assume 1,000 $100 bets on a given game, with the favorites at -170 and the dogs at +150; a fave win will give 800 bettors a payback of $59 apiece, $47,200 offset by $20,000 collected from 200 losing dog bets (a loss to the book of $27,200).

Flip the result, and the book pays $30,000 to dog backers and collects $80,000 from folks who were sure the favorite was going to win hands down. Result: a smiling bookie.

Once again, an extract from today's Vegas breakdown, courtesy of, an invaluable online resource for anyone dedicated to the challenge of winning at sports book betting.

In sports, winning streaks are both shorter and less frequent, so the target betting casino rule that calls for the next bet after an opening win to be at least PB x 1.5 may not be as effective and may actually be a liability.

Throughout the nine-month 7DT, I shelved the win progression (WP) rule, and did very nicely without it.

Once the new template is fully debugged, it will enable thousands of sports bets to be "replayed" with minor variations in the betting rules.

This is not about fiddling and twiddling until losses become wins but enables a cool analysis of what's smart and what's not in a betting milieu in which stats do not change significantly from season to season.

Here's how the target betting rules look right now:

1. Take no odds shorter than -110
2. Start each new series with a bet that is half of 1% of your total BR.
3. After a first loss, double the bet, and do the same after a second loss.
4. After three consecutive losses, halve the bet, and do that until the minimum is reached.
5. After a mid-series win, bet the LTD rounded up plus a single unit UNLESS that bet would be more than 5x the previous bet, in which case use that value (example follows).
6. If a turnaround bet is lost, follow rule 3 above, always rounding up in multiples of your minimum.
7. After an opening win in a new series, bet PBx1.5 and keep doing that until a loss.
8. When a loss ends a winning streak, repeat the losing bet value, then apply rule 3.
9. If long odds on a winning bet cover the LTD plus a 1-unit profit (a unit being the minimum bet value) call it end of series (EOS) and start over.

Example: A mid-series win leaves you with an LTD of -$411 at a time when your minimum is $25; your next bet should be $411/25 rounded up = $425 plus a single unit (your win target) = $450, but it should be limited to 5x your previous bet if necessary.

As I said, simple rules. I just wish automating them for multiple bets via an Excel worksheet was as easy as it ought to be!

Tuesday, August 10 at 2:45pm

Still waiting for that bounce - and please, no smart remarks about dead cats...

I am as happy as I ever was with the algorithm that drives target betting, but with more bets on each day's lineup, I am becoming increasingly concerned about the selection process I am using.

It's tough for any betting strategy to stay ahead without a reasonable win rate, which I estimate to be somewhere between 43% and 45% (and higher wouldn't hurt).

Now I'm looking at casting an even wider net - something I would not have dreamed of a couple of months ago - and hedging some bets to pump up the WR.

No details yet, but going strictly by the numbers and avoiding the poisonous taint of subjectivity, expanding daily bet blocks over the past 10 days woulda pumped the WR from 41.5% to 45.5%.

The sample is tiny and inconsequential and I need to research this idea by querying the entire database. But big oaks from little acorns grow, blah blah blah.

Here are Tuesday's picks:

Wednesday, August 11 at 9:20am

Tuesday was a kinder day for target betting, with seven wins in 16 bets.

But as always, bets on the day after sky-rocket when turnarounds are incomplete, and in spite of all the totally predictable recoveries I have seen in the past, big fat wagers are nail-biters.

I guess the strategy is akin to a complex, cold-blooded game of Whack-a-Mole, with many more mallets and multiple moles.

Because the selection process is deliberately unemotional and objective, there are days when I look at how picks have lined up with large bet values and worry that if I had had the choice, I would have done things differently.

Today, for example, I'm counting on a run-line bet on the Washington Nats at +180 to give me a turnaround, and everyone knows the Nats are probably the worst team in baseball.

I'm happier putting $1,625 on the Arizona Diamondbacks to give me an underdog win at +115, for some reason.

The truth is that over time, random selection is no better or worse than the subjective process we think of as expertise, which may be bad for our egos but is demonstrably good for our wallets!

Once again, I look at the target betting template after several more hours of debugging and feel confident that now I have it right.

We'll see.

Picks for today, Wednesday, August 11:

Thursday, August 12 at 2:15pm

Wednesday gave target betting another welcome "bounce" and the green line on the chart clicked upwards another notch or two.

No surprises, but good news for all that.

In spite of all the slumps and recoveries I have seen since I started this, with downturns always obliterated in due time, whenever that line heads south, I can't help wondering if this time the hole will prove bottomless.

We're a long way from out of the woods (still in the red with over $4,000 in combined LTDs to be recovered) but believe me, I would not be revisiting the real-time experience if I didn't have faith.

The Excel template seems to be bug-free, at least until the next time, but even the Office 2010 version is giving me some major headaches, slowing down to a crawl and hanging up and sometimes even crashing with depressing regularity.

I can see keeping the day-by-day bet tracker in Excel but relying on wonderful, antediluvian Quattro Pro to do the nitty-gritty work.

Maybe it will turn out that greedy old Microsoft has built a treacle factor into the Home and Student version of Office 2010 that will disappear if I ever break down and upgrade to the Business level.

Don't want to do that. I'm a Student, after all, studying statistics and gambling at Home!

Here are today's picks. Early games are long gone, but as always, the selections were e-mailed out well ahead of game times.

Friday, August 13 at 4:15pm

Let's hope that paraskevidekatriaphobia (the fear that Friday the 13th is always an unlucky day) doesn't prove justified today.

First, today's target betting picks:

I'm not all the way through the woods with the Excel template, partly because the program keeps wigging out on me in spite of my 6MB RAM 'n my Intel Core Duo whatevers, but also because I keep finding earwigs in the formulas.

That's why I'm not crowing about yesterday's notional win, shown at the top of the bet list above.

Problem is, I have egg on my face for posting a recommendation that the next bet should be redoubled twice after two successive mid-recovery losses.

That has never been a weapon in the target betting arsenal and I think I must have been sniffing something when I said that.

The bet after a loss should only be PB x 2 after an opening loss or run of losses, simply because at the start of a new series, the bet value is at minimum, and after a failed turnaround bet, it could be in the high hundreds or low thousands.


I have learned already (I'm quick that way!) that betting way more than seven picks a day is a very different proposition than backing seven dogs, day after day after day.

So, I'm working on those glitches, and cautiously celebrating the fact that so far (since July 24) multiple bets mixing ML and RL picks seems to be a step up from the 7DT that just ended.

Here's something that has nothing to do wth sports betting:

When my much-loved iPod Touch was stolen in June, I was well on my way to racking up a half million bucks in funny-munny profits at one-thumb blackjack, in spite of a house edge that was so far out of whack with real-life negative expectation for a single-deck game that it was almost a joke.

As you can see, target betting is still trouncing the BJ app, and MobilityWare still hasn't done anything about the daffy algorithm behind it, probably because most people expect to "lose" and don't bother to look at the stats.

Have to say I'm happy to be away from the daily casino grind. Mini-blackjack (very mini) is my antidote to withdrawal symptoms...

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. One more piece of friendly advice: If you are inclined to use target betting with real money against online "casinos" such as Bodog, spend a few minutes and save a lot of money by reading this._