Saturday, March 19, 2011

Six months of silence, but now to celebrate all that time off, the sound of me blowing Target's trumpet!

I have spent most of the time I saved by not blogging almost every day digging into sports betting trials based upon a mix of archived and real-time results from games that were actually played, not random output from simulators.

I'd love to be able to claim that I have learned all kinds of new stuff since the last post here on September 25, but all that has really happened is that the theory and philosophy that I have been spouting over and over since the blog began early in 2009 has been confirmed.

I haven't changed my belief that it is impossible to win consistently without occasional heart-stopping risk.

And my opponents have not stopped saying that as long as you lose more bets than you win, it is impossible to win at all.

I should say at this point how grateful I remain to for the invaluable service they provide, and add thanks to for their daily schedules, which I recently started to use regularly because they show not only current odds from multiple sports books, but also each day's opening numbers, team by team.

It really is helpful to know which direction "The Money" is pushing odds on propositions that fall into the +100 and up qualifying range that I established soon after stepping back from casino table games to test Target Betting as a viable means of beating the bookies.

Most of the time I have been away from the blog, I have applied a "dogs only" range of +100 to +125, but just this week I decided to widen the filter a little to a cap of +140.

I did that because the stats that have accumulated in the 2,200 or so bets placed since the ongoing real-time began last July 24 told me to.

It stands to sense that when you choose to play out a real-time test of a betting strategy before an audience, you will feel obliged to listen to and sometimes even (gasp!) accommodate criticism, and I have learned that very few people Out There like the idea of putting their bankrolls at risk, even when the outcome looks like this:

I understand, I truly do! When you get $60,000 ahead and all of a sudden, you hit a tailspin in which almost every selection gets thrashed by the favorite day after day, it's tough to back your faith with $40,000 or more of the profits that took weeks to accumulate.

Even the old "It's the bookie's money, not mine" argument sounds hollow when you have had all that green stuff actually in your hands and counted it into tidy piles before having to push wads of it back across the sports book counter.

Unfortunately, even bookmakers and casino operators - the guys with the long-term numbers indisputably in their favor - suffer downturns once in a while, and coping with them without contemplating surrender or suicide is an essential part of their business plan.

Whoever said You can't win without losing wasn't being a smart-ass: He was simply telling the whole truth and nothing but.

I will say again what I have hollered here many times: If you respond to pressure on the bankroll by reducing the size of your bets in the mistaken impression that you will thereby keep risk under control, you are far more likely to lose everything than if you stick with the Target rules.

I did cave into outside pressure and try tying bet values to a maximum percentage of the available bankroll, predicting from the outset that there was no way it could work.

I knew primarily because it's common sense, but also because of the swift and total failure of a Las Vegas handicapper's "Plus Money" system, which crashed and burned in less than two months last summer because of a rule that capped bets to 3% of a rapidly-dwindling bankroll.

It was kind of like a platoon of soldiers under heavy fire being ordered to conserve their RPGs and respond instead with a barrage of rocks and sticks. Conserve your ammo when the battle heats up, and you're likely to be toes-up before you get a chance to use it. And what the hell is ammo for, anyway...?

I started out last July selecting bets in the order that they were listed on each day's schedule - in other words, not selecting bets at all.

That was to test my belief that the more subjective we are when we put our money down, the more likely we are to pick losers. Let the bookies choose for us, I said - they know more than we do anyway!

I still rely almost entirely on the bookies' numbers (the odds), but for months now, I have applied the shortest odds to the biggest bets.

So for example, if a given line or series in trouble requires a next bet (NB) of $8,000 and teams that qualify according to my +100-plus range are quoted at odds that are all over the place, I will look for the team that the bookies say is the likeliest winner that day.

After all this time, there remains no doubt in my mind that the only way to beat "The Book" in the long run is to back only underdogs.

Plenty of people disagree, but the mathematical truth is that if you accept paybacks at less than even money and set your bet values in a manner that is essentially random rather than systematic, you may win more bets than you lose, but eventually the bookies' rake of 10% or more will swallow your bankroll.

A typical Saturday for Target Betting vs. the sports book looks like this:

And as with the Target rules that began to evolve more than 30 years ago, we know going in that we are going to lose more bets than we win, so we have to be sure that we win more when we win than we lose when we lose.

Before today's finals are in, the tally since last July 24 is 1,009 winning bets worth an average of $688 apiece, and 1,218 losers costing us an average of $463.

The shortfall between winners and losers amounts to a negative expectation of 9.4%, suggesting that with total action of $1.19 million over 211 days - an average of $535 per bet - we "should have" LOST $111,860.

We didn't.

Because our average win value exceeded our average loss value by more than 30%, we trounced that 9.4% "bookies' edge" and turned it into a 10.9% "hold" of our total action.

Put another way, we WON $129,500.

And we haven't stopped counting yet.

Sure, there have been some really rough times along the way, and every once in a while, it looked as if the bad guys were going to reclaim all our winnings.

But let's put this whole thing in perspective: Last July 24, we began with a notional bankroll of $25,000 but put just $5,000 of that into play.

Since then, that opening bankroll - "our money" - has been exposed less than $2,000 - and the profit total I just quoted does not include the original $5,000 investment.

We could at any point have taken the money and run.

But the whole idea of applying Target rules to sports betting is that it has to be an ongoing project, one that may take a licking now and then while repeatedly bouncing back and keeping those profit numbers ticking ever higher.

The one substantive change I allowed to the rules was my own idea, so no one else can claim any blame: As the bankroll grew, I let the minimum bet value grow with it, from a start-up $25 after each turnaround or new series to 0.1% of the available BR, rounded up in $25 increments.

That may have contributed to those deep slumps you see on the chart above, because when a progressive betting method is applied to a number 5x or more the opening minimum, in a downturn the zeroes multiply a whole lot faster.

I have since mended my ways and reverted to a $25 minimum whenever end-of-series (EOS) is achieved. Right now, that more timid approach has shaved about $3,000 from the win to date - but we won't know until the next killer slump comes along whether or not abandoning the "tweak" was the right thing to do.

There's much more about all this at

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._