Saturday, August 14, 2010

The primary test of a viable, reliable betting strategy is not how much trouble it can get into, it's how deep a hole it can get out of.

Please scroll down for target betting selections for Monday, August 23

Trouble, after all, is the name of the game in gambling.

(And I'm very sorry, Teacher, for ending a sentence with a preposition).

The Plus Money system that "Peter Punter" was briefly hopeful about had a stunning ability to lose money, but not a hope in hell of getting it back as long as bet values were calculated as a fixed percentage of a dwindling bankroll.

It is plain common sense that if you bet progressively - or regressively! - smaller amounts in a downturn, the upturn you hope will eventually save your bacon will have to be huge to get the job done.

Losing streaks are, of course, a fact of life.

So are winning streaks.

In a game that is relatively close to a 50-50 proposition (blackjack with a house edge around 1% is a 49.5-50.5 option, for example) wins will pretty much balance out losses over time.

Not so in sports book betting, where the bookie's edge is at least 10%, and often far more.

It therefore follows that whatever the so-called experts may choose to argue, only progressive betting can conquer negative expectation and deliver a consistent long-term profit.

It can't be any old progressive strategy, of course.

It turns out that if a regular old Martingale had been used throughout my nine-month, seven-dog trial, the overall loss would have been in the hundreds of thousands.

Instead, target betting pulled off a win that averaged out at almost $10,000 a month.

And that's without doing what the promoters of TOM (the other method) did, tweaking and twiddling results from the 2009 baseball season until a huge "win" could be claimed for a strategy that could never, ever duplicate that success against future bets.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but not when it is used to produce fraudulent results.

The 7DT played out day-by-day for the best part of a year, and the only rule change that applied was one I predicted in the very beginning: expansion of the betting spread to comply with a target betting rule that has been in place for decades.

As things stand, I am satisfied that the sports book modification of target betting, which recognizes a "house edge" that is at least ten times greater than the negative expectation for table games, is viable and proven so.

What I am concerned about right now is the bet selection process.

For the last few weeks, I have been enthusiastic about the potential of run-line bets as a means of improving the overall win rate achieved by backing underdogs only (less than 42% at the end of the 7DT).

After three weeks, RL bets don't look so good!

Their WR since I rolled out the new betting template is barely 30%, and their notional cash position is a LOSS of almost $4,000.

"Dog" bets, on the other hand, have a WR since July 24 of 46% and are collectively $10,000 ahead.

Three weeks is not much of a test period, it's true, and I will keep going with this indefinitely.

I'm just a little less optimistic now, is all!

Here are selections for Saturday, August 14 (a longer list of bets in the wake of damage done on Friday the 13th!):

Sunday, August 15 at 8:30am

Saturday was a diem horriblis, as the Queen of England might have put it, swallowing all our profits, digging into the preliminary bankroll and putting target betting more than $10,000 behind its best win since July 24.

As I said before, it's easy enough to dig a deep hole. Getting out of it is what counts.

In a rush today with games starting early as usual on a Sunday, so here's the bare bones version of today's picks:

Update at 10:10am Sunday:

The day's pick list looks a little tidier this way:

My primary focus right now is improving the bet selection process.

It has to be entirely numbers-driven, but it's clear that since July 24 the net has been way too wide.

I have to settle on a middle ground between TOM's scatter-shot approach, and the all-dogs method I used before.

Throughout the 9-month 7DT, I fought in vain to eliminate subjectivity, at least on days when more than seven prospects fell into my +100 to +180 range.

I don't want to have to make choices, so for now I am assuming that tightening the range is the best option.

The objective is to make the process so simple that selecting the bets, then placing them (online or at one of my neighborhood casinos) takes an hour a day at most.

For many punters, that would take most of the fun out of sports betting - they love to agonize over and analyze statistics until their eyes cross, thereby (they hope) improving their win potential.

I'm betting that "letting the bookies do the choosing" can match or even improve on an expert's win rate, keeping in mind that I am still reluctant to accept selections paying less than even money.

As I have commented before, assuming InvestaPick's records are accurate, that service seems to do quite nicely with bets at odds as short as -120.

Two of IP's three funds claim a win rate above 50%, a number that would smooth out the roller-coaster ride that makes target betting a little too exciting at times!

Monday, August 16, 2010 at 12:10pm

Today's a keep it simple day:

Sunday was irritating!

Seven right bets out of 12 did not line up with larger values, so the sum total was another small dip into the bankroll.

Target betting's time will come. It always does.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 at 11:20am

Monday was a thin baseball day as usual, but with an add-on from WBA we managed four right bets out of six picks total.

The boost to the current target betting bankroll wasn't much ($400 and change) but some progress was made, at least.

It's all about timing, as always - right picks have to line up with the big bets or it's possible to win more bets than you lose and still slide further into the hole, as we did over the weekend.

Today's picks, in plain-and-simple format:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 at 11:00am

The battle to create the perfect Excel multi-series bet calculator goes on, with the fancy goodies in the 2010 spreadsheet still just about outweighing the familiarity of the 1997 alternative!

I have learned that there is a big difference between tailoring a worksheet for thousands of random outcomes that can be refreshed at the touch of a key, and creating one for data that comes in oh-so-slowly in real time.

I have stopped posting Excel screenshots for current bets because when an error in a formula is exposed and then corrected, it will sometimes drastically change the numbers shown on screen.

The actual bets that I place day by day are not relevant to this exercise: What has to be demonstrated (as with the 7-dog trial) is that the same set of rules, consistently applied over a long period of time (for example, nine months!) will achieve a positive overall outcome.

It's not the rules that keep changing as I struggle with this challenge, it's Excel's interpretation of them.

And, of course, it's not the program's fault: I am solely responsible for the content of each of those pesky conditional formulas, and the mistakes are mine, all mine!

Meanwhile, I am getting some great feedback from transferring my databases over to Excel little by little.

I have had the same information at my fingertips for years, but only lately have I started to take a serious interest in the comparative merits of underdog and run-line bets, and the relevance of odds ranges.

Here's a little nugget: Bet a certain range of dog options in the 2009 baseball season and the win rate (WR) woulda been 46.0% for flat bets, without the profit-building benefits of target betting.

Bet the same range throughout the 2009 NHL (hockey) season, and the WR would have been...45.8%

Apply the range to the current MLB season, and the WR is 41.58%

Should we conclude from this that underdogs are statistically certain to stage a dramatic comeback between now and the 2010 World Series? Probably not, but in both the full-season 2009 MLB and NHL databases, dog wins overall held steady at 46%.

In the current baseball season to August 15, the number is 45.2%.

We can improve the WR number by widening the range of "bettable" odds, but then we see a big change in the flat-bet value of those dog wagers.

We have to strike a balance between more wins bringing in less dough, and fewer wins at better odds, which sounds like a statement of the obvious, but is a truth that's lost on the vast majority of sports book punters.

Where's the sense, for instance, in backing primarily favorites in pursuit of a 65% WR when the average payback for all those short-odds picks is -160 or 63 cents on the dollar?

Back favorites if you must, but never place a bet at odds shorter than -120.

Here are today's picks:

Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 7:35am

Short and sweet today!

Keeping it simple again today, and crossing my fingers that stripping down the auto-bet template and virtually starting over has done the trick.

(Not that it's a trick: a trick is when you claim your strategy can win close to a half mill in one baseball season, then it goes pear-shaped almost from the first game the following year! Not much of a trick, come to think of it...).

Right now, using the rules published long ago (but with the double-up error corrected), target betting is up by about 75% of its opening BR, and its win is equal to about 12% of total action since July 24.

Today's picks:

Saturday, August 21, 2010 at 3:25pm

Still battling with the Excel instant bet calculator!

I'm beginning to think I would be better with a stubby #2 pencil and a clean napkin...

Today's picks:

Sunday, August 22, 2010 at 9:40am

Saturday was a satisfying day for target betting: seven right picks out of 15 might not sound like much, percentage-wise, but when the wins line up with the big bets, as they did yesterday, the inevitability of the effect does not make it any less gratifying!

More about that in a day or so.

Meanwhile, Sunday's picks (just in time!):

Monday, August 23, 2010 at 2:25pm

Took a hammering yesterday but we're still ahead of the game.

Thin schedule today, but hopefully it will bring more winners for target betting.

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._