Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 2012 is yet another "green" month for Target Sports, and to date we've turned $5,000 into $185,000. Beat that, Wall Street!

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Please see note at bottom!


January is shaping up to be another profitable month for Target Sports (it's just a matter of whether or not the win for the first month of 2012 is over or under $6,000!).

We had a bump or two along the way, but the pattern of wins and losses has settled down into a relative walk in the park since I gave up on trying to match each day's big bets with the shortest odds available.

Month after month, the message from the numbers is that random selection rules!

Every time I try to out-think the process, I get into trouble, so from now on I'm sticking with letting the dogs lie where they may.

For a while I ditched +100 as the lowest acceptable qualifying marker (aka even money) and bumped the floor up to +105, based on my discovery that even-money bets had cost us more than $40,000 since this transparent pretty much daily trial began more than 18 months ago.

Then I looked a little closer, and realized that the damage was done while I was listening to dissenting voices and straying from the original random concept.

All this began almost three - or is it four? - years ago when a globe-trotting gambler whom I refer to from time to time as "Peter Punter" began blasting me with e-mails suggesting that sports betting was a far better milieu for Target than casino table games.

His reasoning was that handicappers (known as cappers) all over the Internet are claiming win rates of 65% to 85% vs. a theoretical win rate of just over 49% for anyone betting money at blackjack or baccarat.

The fatal flaw in his reasoning was, of course, odds.

Cappers can claim those seemingly impressive win rates because most of the time they play it very, very safe and tout favorites.

And if your (say) 75% WR consisted of picks averaging odds of -200 (1/2 in the odds system I was brought up with), what looks good in a boastful headline on the web site is less than stellar down on the bottom line.

My initial advice to Pete was that he ignore cappers altogether and focus solely on underdogs, selecting them randomly and applying some modification of the Target rules to detemine daily bet values.

He ignored me, and over a period of a few weeks, lost his shirt.

The first open trial I set up (selections posted and e-mailed well in advance of game times) picked just seven dogs a day, and limited the bet spread from 1 to 100 ($5 to $500).

I accepted propositions at pretty much any odds, reasoning that although bets at +150 and higher (that's 2-3 in English) would win less often, their high paybacks would make up for their relative scarcity.

Wrong!

The one good thing (and it was a very good thing) that came out of that first trial was that it enabled me to accumulate a lot of valuable and insightful statistics.

In the current Target Sports trial, we have defied negative expectation by turning an overall bookies' edge of a tad under 10.0% into a win that represents 8.0% of our total action.

Along the way, I received all sorts of advice from sports and math experts, including a finger-wagging lecture that the 10% bookies' edge I could expect consisted of the rake on both sides of every proposition, and would not necessarily be reflected in a comparison between the number of losses vs. the number of wins.

Bollocks!

Bookies expect to win 55 out of every 100 bets, and that's exactly the way it has turned out with the 5,067 bets we have put in play as of January 30, 2012.

The exact bookies' edge at this point is 9.7%.

We have risked a total of $2.32 million since July 24, 2010, so our $185,570 win to date in hard cash, not fancy percentages, is, as I said, eight percent of our total action.

I count that as a resounding success, and I challenge any of those own-trumpet-blowing cappers to match it!

That's not to say we didn't have some scary moments. Last summer, when I was hindering random selection with the application of what seemed like common sense, caution very nearly cost us our (by then) six-figure bankroll.

We started out with random selection, then got greedy: That's the bottom line.

It's also correct (but not fair) to say that if we'd hit a $100,000 slump from the outset, then Target Sports would never have got off the ground.

As it is, we never used up our initial $5,000 buy-in, which had $20,000 in reserve.

Target's one irreversible failure has been the "5-a-day" trial which I spun off from the primary experiment just before its first anniversary last July.

I try to pay respectful attention to the views of others, and quite frequently, I would hear suggestions that 20 bets a day is just too many.

I'm not relying on hindsight when I say here and now that I never agreed with that - my contention (which is firmly on record!) was that we might be better off expanding the trial to as many as 50 bets a day, if at any time there were enough +100 to +140 qualifiers.

The only thing that stopped me from doing that was the logistical nightmare of expanding my Target Sports template to accommodate all those added bets.

It took me weeks of fussin' and cussin' to set up a model that rolled bets over from one day to the next and indicated all the things that matter, line-by-line and bet-by-bet.

More bets mean more days when multiple small wins help soften the blow somewhat when one or two big bets go south, and I surmised that the opposite would be true of a short list.

And that was how it turned out.

It all went well for about six months, and then stats and probability caught up with us.

The cost was about $8,500, which technically should be trimmed from the primary trials profits.

But I don't want to do that because the losing project was a separate experiment, even though the five bets picked out were always the first five selections on any day's big list.

Perhaps when winnings from the long list top $210,000 I'll make the necessary adjustment.

Then again, perhaps I won't.

After all, I don't factor my casino winnings into the bottom line for Target Sports, even though the profits are attributable to the same betting strategy.

The monthly wins chart above has been going out most days for weeks with a max exposure figure of -$217,000 for October, 2011, an error that was belied by all the other data in the summary. Somehow, my Target Sports model added up a succession of much smaller numbers month by month to get that awful grand total, and the idiot who wrote the workbook (me) didn't spot the screaming error until today. My apologies to any subscribers who may have felt pain because of the mistake.

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._