Sunday, 12 June 2011

Lessons Learnt From Last Season

One advantage for anyone following these systems from next season is that this is the second season of football modelling and betting for me personally. Along with a group of others, I followed the original set of systems last season and have gained an enormous amount of info that I hope to learn from for the upcoming this season.

Some of it is very basic and common sense but we also learnt a few gems of info that will hopefully stop others from making the same mistakes as we made last season. This post isn’t going to be an exhaustive post of everything we learnt and I’m sure I’ll think of other things later on which I will mention but hopefully I’ll capture most of the important things here.

Be Consistent – This relates to your staking throughout the season and the systems you follow. The two main errors that people made last season (myself included!) was to take a short-term view of the systems and even shorter term view of how you are staking the systems.

Due to the fact that last season was the first season, I think all of us following started with low stakes and quite quickly realised that the systems were capable of getting near the historical returns. Hence, we increased stakes after a few months and this proved to be a poor decision.

Secondly, due to the fact that there were so many systems that we could follow at the start of the season, it was very easy to pick a system, see it start slowly or make a small loss early on and then see other systems making decent profits. Without a second thought, we’d jump onto the other systems and then watch as they hit a bad spell and the original system we were following would recover!

Both of these things seem like common sense now but at the start of last season, after making very little in the first month or so of the season, it was easy to move systems and then after another couple of months, increasing stakes seemed like the most obvious thing in the world!

In summary, if you are following a system or a portfolio of systems, stick with it throughout the season and more importantly, play level stakes throughout the season. This is probably quite important as there is a clear seasonality pattern in the historical results and live results where returns dip after Christmas. Hence, increasing staking isn’t the best idea for these systems.

No Leverage – If you are playing a portfolio of systems, please remember that the system bets are correlated and in the case of the systems from the same rating algorithm (e.g. 31,32,33), the systems have a very high correlation. Hence, if you choose to follow system 31,32 and 33 for example, then every team that appears on 33 must also appear on 31 and 32. Hence, all system 33 bets will have 3 times your average stake on it.

What you can’t do, is look at the 3 system banks I suggest, sum them up and then decide to play 50% of the overall bank due to the fact you will get some leverage by playing 3 systems!

I struggled last season with the whole leverage thing as I was following a lot of bets and trying to squeeze my bank as far as it could go to allow me to maximise profits with as small a bank as possible. The only thing you do though is put your bank under pressure when things aren’t going well and that’s never a good thing. Stick to the betting banks suggested and assume very little leverage from playing more than one system.

Don’t make up your own way to play the bets! – There was one really good example that sticks in my head from last season. A few guys chose to follow 2 systems (one from each rating algorithm) but only back a team if it appears on either system. This has a fundamental flaw in the logic which they found to their cost quite quickly!

If you are only placing 1pt on a team that appears on either system, then you are likely to be hitting a lot of very weak bets. If a team only appears on one rating algorithm, it is actually a very weak bet. As we can see from the results last season, when a team appears on both systems (e.g. 6-21 or 8-22 etc.), then this is a much stronger bet than a team that only appears on system 22 for example.

The outcome for these guys was that they were following 2 systems that were both profitable but by playing the bets in this way, they were actually making a loss even though both systems were independently profitable! Thankfully, as soon as they told me they were following this strategy, I showed them how bad a strategy it was and they switched to another strategy!

If anyone does come up with an idea of a way to play the bets, it won’t take me too long to pull together the historical results for their strategy and show them the results, so they can ask me for help.

Worst Systems You’ve Ever Seen! – I can guarantee that there will come a time next season when this thought will go through your head! On any given day or any given weekend or even any given month, the systems will go through a bad patch that will be so bad, you will wonder if the edge is gone. If it happens at the start of the season, you will wonder if there was ever an edge there in the first place! (Hopefully that doesn’t happen this season….)

Last season, I think everyone following the systems had this thought at some points and at various times, it did seem like these systems were so bad, they’d never pick another winner.

I think on one weekend last season, I had value bets in 21 different games and didn’t hit a winner in any game! Considering the average odds were about 2/1, it was nearly impossible to do this but the systems managed it.

Like most things in this gambling game, you can’t judge the systems on any day or any weekend and as last season showed, you can’t even do it on any month as the returns can vary so much on a monthly basis.

When these thoughts do go through your head, it’s important to remember why you are following the systems and look at the historical drawdowns and the historical P&L and try to remember that these systems have been there before and come out the other end!

Best Systems You’ve Ever Seen!
– I can (hopefully!) guarantee that there will come a time next season when this thought will go through your head!

It’s been well documented on here and on the blog that the results for the first few months last season were probably as good as anything most of us have seen in the gambling game. The ROI for all systems being tracked was at 25%+ and 7 of the 13 systems had ROI’s above 35% at Christmas time last season! The sample size was only 1,195 bets at that point in time but clearly, based on what the results were then, there were thoughts that I may have built something that could make us all a lot of money! I made plenty of money in the first half of last season myself and I’m not really a big gambler.

I don’t know what will happen this season but I’m sure there will be the odd day, weekend or even month when we look at the returns and think we’re one step to the Holy Grail at this game! The truth is though, if you are thinking like this, a correction is probably due…..

Don’t overstake – This one really is common sense but simply, there is no point in overstaking these bets.

For those wanting to follow systems 31-33, 6-32, 21-31 or 6-21-31 next season, the bets will be posted up free of charge in the SBC forum but will also be made public on the blog and also to any subscribers to my other systems. Hence, there is no reason to overstake these bets. I don’t quite get why people overstake bets which are given out free of charge as surely the staking should take into account the subscription fees.

Secondly, even if there is a fee for the other system bets that were proofed last season, it will be cheaper than most other subscription services. Again, this should be factored into the staking and there is no need to look to maximise profits in a season. Think of this as a long-term strategy to make money!

The New Systems Are Unproven – I don’t mind repeating what I said the other day to the guys who followed my bets last season but simply, anyone who is taking the TFA bets seriously this season should remember that the 6 new systems are completely unproven.

If given a choice of following the systems from last season or the new systems for this season, you have to really follow the ones with live results under their belts. That isn’t the same as me saying that no one in here should follow these new systems this season but at the end of the day, I have 11 systems with a season’s proofed bets and 6 systems with no proofed bets. If given a choice, you should always go with the systems which have proofed bets.

However, for all I know, the new systems might have an amazing season next season and the systems from last season might bomb completely. I don’t know what will happen but I know that I won’t be playing the same stakes on the new systems as I’ll be playing on the systems from last season. Others choosing to follow some of my systems next season should have the same idea.

For those only interested in my new systems (after all, these are free and being posted on here next season), then I suggest they play very small stakes or even paper trade next season. There is no rush for these new systems and after the time and development that has gone into this project, there is no rush to make substantial profits during a trial season.

And lastly……

Don’t blame me! – Anyone choosing to follow the system bets are in the very same boat as me when it comes to trying to make a profit from the footie. All I can do is share all the historical results, try my best to make sure the modelling is sound and then work very hard to find the bets, track the results, tweak the systems and so on.

If my ratings suddenly go down the tubes and no longer work (seems to happen with footie services every so often!), then I won’t be held responsible for the results. I have 9 years now worth of results that show that my ratings and systems have an edge but one day, that edge might evaporate and I’ll be left with a bunch of useless and outdated systems. I’d like to think that would never happen as I track everything so closely and as soon as I thought this was a possibility, I’d pull the plug on the project. However, I can never be sure that this methodology will work forever and therefore, there will always be a chance that the ratings stop working as well as before.


  1. Hi Graham.

    I've been an avid reader of your blog since it was mentioned across at The Portfolio Investor blog.Before I comment,I was wondering if you have heard from Rowan about why the blog has stopped being updated?It was easily the most enjoyable blog in terms of tracking daily P&Ls and he had a gift for writing entertaining and informative posts.If the blog is gone,it will be sadly missed.

    I've been reading your thread on the SBC forum and I can see your frustration at the lack of posts on there.I would ask you to remain positive and I'm sure members are waiting to see what your next move is with the football service for your other systems.I followed a selection of football tipsters last season and I'd only give pass marks to Skeeve and Football Investor.Both services had a very good season and Skeeve in particular excelled himself once more.Aside from these tipsters,everyone else I followed had a poor season and I dont think I'll be alone in wanting to give your systems a go next season.

    I still have a few questions which I hope you can answer.I will also send my email address in a separate comment in case you prefer to not publish this post and reply via email.

    Looking at last season,the systems 6,7,8,21,22 all performed poorly compared to previous seasons.Do you think this was a one-off or would you say last season's results were indicative of what may happen next season?I dont understand why anyone would follow these systems next season after last season.

    Like many I assume,I will be concentrating on systems 6-21,6-22 and the like this season.Have you looked at how these 6 systems perform in a portfolio?If not, can you take a look.Can you also take a look at how systems 7-21,7-22,8-21 and 8-22 perform in a portfolio too please?I like these systems but I would prefer over 500 bets a season for a football system.

    You mentioned the idea of only backing homes on one of these systems as a possible way to achieve a high strike rate, 10%+ return. As you may already know,Football Investor runs a strike zone system featuring these types of bets (including bets from top European Leagues).Last season,it provided a very nice return for my portfolio.Can you look at devising a portfolio of home bets from the systems please that will generate around 200-300 bets at an ROI of 10%?Backing 50 homes in a season isn't a system I'd follow.

    I disagreed with a comment on your last post regarding leverage and the fact you don't get much leverage with these systems in a portfolio.Surely you would look at the performance of the portfolio and then calculate the betting bank as a result of the longest losing run the portfolio has encountered.You wouldn't do as you suggest and sum up the betting banks for each system.

    That's the main questions I have at the moment.I hope you can find the time to answer these.


  2. Hi Peter.

    You won’t know this but I wrote a big reply in the comments section at my lunch break today and when I tried to post the comment, blogger was playing up (again!).

    It now says there are 2 comments (before I posted this!) but only your comment is showing. My other comment has got lost in blog space somewhere.

    I won’t write it again as I’ve mentioned it at the start of my post tonight instead. :)

    As for Rowan, I'm still in regular contact with him. The last I heard, he was still mulling over what direction he wanted to take the blog in and that's why he has taken a break. I agree completely with you that it would be a shame to see his blog disappear.

    Cheers for reading.