Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Tennis Betting: How To Find Value On The Lucky Loser Concept In Tennis

Tennis bettors looking to find value in qualifying rounds should be aware of the lucky loser concept. This article looks at whether or not betting markets consider the top ranked player in qualifying’s potential for not necessarily giving their best as they know they will get a lucky loser spot in advance of their final qualifying match, and if there is value backing against them.

What is the lucky loser in tennis?
Wikipedia’s definition of a lucky loser is ‘a sports player who loses a match in the qualifying round of a knockout tournament, but who then enters the main draw when another player withdraws after the tournament has started because of illness, injury or other reason’. This is a very fair assessment of the situation.

The concept of lucky losers is very relevant in Tennis, with almost all events having qualifying matches to give tournament berths (usually at least four) to qualifying players, who do not have a high enough rank for direct entry, but a high enough rank to participate in qualifying.

It’s worth taking some time to note the specific rules for lucky losers in Tennis – in general ATP or WTA tournaments, the top ranked player eliminated in the final round of qualifying is the first player to enter the draw following a withdrawal, and should more than one player withdraw, the second highest ranked loser in the final round of qualifying gains entry.

This has led to some controversy, as well as speculation on Tennis forums and social media, because it is obvious that in some cases, players may well be aware that they will gain entry to the tournament as a lucky loser prior to their final qualifying match. Clearly, these players do not have the greatest incentive to perform to the best of their abilities, and are logically far less likely to fight for a match they don’t have to win.

The top ranked player only has an equal 25% chance of a lucky loser spot in Grand Slams.

Because of this, Grand Slams changed their rules in 2006. Since then, the top four ranked players that lost in qualifying participate in a ballot for the available space following a withdrawal – so the top ranked player only has an equal 25% chance of a lucky loser spot in Grand Slams.

Considering the vast majority of these players start their final qualifying matches as favourite, this article focuses on whether the betting markets take account of the top ranked player in qualifying’s potential for not necessarily giving their best, or whether there may be some viable angles to oppose the highest ranked player (and favourite) in the final round of qualifying.

The following table illustrates the results of backing the highest ranked player in the final round of qualifying in 2013:-
Events
Wins
Win %
P/L based on £100 stake
ROI
ATP
59
39
66.1
-489
-8.29
WTA
50
26
52
-1190
-23.80
COMBINED
109
65
59.63
-1679
-15.40

We can see from the table that backing the highest ranked player in the final round of qualifying was not a lucrative proposition. A loss of -£1679 from 109 bets at level £100 stakes was incurred from the sample, generating a horrific return on investment of -15.40%.

Interestingly, seven of the 25 WTA players that lost received lucky loser spots (28.00%) whilst in the ATP, an incredible 11 of the 20 players that lost made it into the main draw (55.00%). These included Daniel Brands, Steve Darcis and Kenny De Schepper, who all lost when priced at 1.40 or below. In the WTA, Elina Svitolina and Svetlana Kuznetsova also lost when priced under 1.40 and gained lucky loser spots.

Ryan Harrison was the top ranked player in qualifying four times, and won three of his matches. However, Michael Russell lost both of his matches when the highest ranked player, and he gained a lucky loser spot in Memphis last year.

The next logical step, therefore, is to assess some various starting price brackets to see whether opposing players in certain odds ranges is viable.

COMBINED
Matches
Wins
Win %
P/L based on £100 stake
ROI
<1.25
23
19
82.61
-68
-2.96
1.26-1.50
42
26
61.90
-626
-14.90
1.51-1.99
35
18
51.43
-524
-14.97
2.00+
9
2
22.22
-461
-51.22

We can see here that heavy favourites generally did win their matches, only suffering a very small loss from the sample. This is logically the case because these players are more likely to feel that they can get past their final qualifying opponent without overly exerting themselves.

It was the players that were favourites, but were available at bigger prices, that struggled badly.

These players faced opponents much closer in ability to themselves, and clearly from the above sample did not thrive. Returns of investment of -14% and below were horrific, and it is without doubt that in 2013, the prices on the top ranked players in qualifying were not justified.

With such a high proportion of players receiving lucky loser spots after losing their final qualifying matches, the above data would appear to support the theory that there are some instances where players know they will get a lucky loser spot in advance of their final qualifying match, and therefore do not put their best efforts in.



Monday, 10 February 2014

Odds On Betting - Should You Bet On Short Priced Favourites?

Some punters will not bet on odds on horses. It must be the fact that any winnings will be less than the stake put on the horse and this to some punters seems 'bad value'.
Odds on horses are not necessarily bad value. Bad value is where the price you take is less than the true odds chance of the horse winning. Thus it follows that good value can be had if you can get a price better than the true chance of a horse winning.
You should never be put off a selection because of its price. A horse can be a value bet if he is 10-1 or 1-10. If the bookies are offering a price that is higher than what you accurately estimate it to be then you have a value bet and should not ignore it.
This week punters knew a good thing when they saw one and lumped on Summer View in the DH Lawrence Conditions Stakes at Nottingham on Monday 11-Jun-01. The horse was sent off at 1-40 but had touched 1-50 in places. There were recorded bets of £6,600 to win £200 and one punter placed a £1000 bet to win just £25.
What was more interesting was the Tote pool for that race. The Tote guarantee a minimum return of £1.05 regardless of the size of pool or SP of the horse. This means that if the bookie price is shorter than 1-20 you are guaranteed to have value because the tote cap the price at 1-20. In effect you can buy money - as long as the horse wins of course.
The win pool for that race was £78,000 yet the proceeding race attracted only a few thousand. This shows that smart punters crushed the pool. They were taking advantage of a flaw where the Tote would guarantee to give you odds of 1/20 whilst the bookies went 1/40.
Odds On Winners and Losers
The shortest price winner over the years was Victory Spin running in May 1999 at odds of 1-66. The shortest price losers were Jizyah (1-10) who came 2nd in a 2 horse race in April 1993, and Luca Cumani's Ood Dancer (1-10) beaten 3.5L by Claire's Dancer in a 4 runner race in may 1996.
The following table shows the results of all evens and odds on horses running since 1993 on the turf and all weather. Each row shows the Win% and profitability of betting SP and on the Tote for each SP.
SP
Wins
Runs
True%
Win%
£1 SP
£1 Tote
ROI% SP
ROI% Tote
1-5
30
35
83.3%
85.7%
£1.00
£2.00
2.9%
5.7%
2-9
35
42
81.8%
83.3%
£0.70
£1.40
1.7%
3.3%
1-4
33
47
80.0%
70.2%
£-5.75
£-5.90
-12.2%
-12.6%
2-7
50
71
77.8%
70.4%
£-6.50
£-7.50
-9.2%
-10.6%
30-100
24
32
76.9%
75.0%
£-0.80
£-0.90
-2.5%
-2.8%
1-3
94
127
75.0%
74.0%
£-1.98
£1.40
-1.6%
1.1%
4-11
66
92
73.3%
71.7%
£-2.24
£-2.00
-2.4%
-2.2%
2-5
108
147
71.4%
73.5%
£4.20
£3.40
2.9%
2.3%
4-9
135
208
69.2%
64.9%
£-13.60
£-16.60
-6.5%
-8.0%
1-2
182
288
66.7%
63.2%
£-15.00
£-15.60
-5.2%
-5.4%
8-15
67
118
65.2%
56.8%
£-15.49
£-14.50
-13.1%
-12.3%
4-7
174
300
63.6%
58.0%
£-26.82
£-29.40
-8.9%
-9.8%
8-13
153
267
61.9%
57.3%
£-19.14
£-27.90
-7.2%
-10.4%
4-6
277
497
60.0%
55.7%
£-34.41
£-43.10
-6.9%
-8.7%
8-11
296
550
57.9%
53.8%
£-37.92
£-52.00
-6.9%
-9.5%
4-5
329
632
55.6%
52.1%
£-39.80
£-44.70
-6.3%
-7.1%
5-6
132
298
54.5%
44.3%
£-56.44
£-60.30
-18.9%
-20.2%
10-11
352
659
52.4%
53.4%
£13.32
£-3.50
2.0%
-0.5%
Evens
969
969
50.0%
48.8%
£-23.00
£-42.20
-2.4%
-4.4%
Totals
3010
5379
67.2%
63.8%
£-279.67
£-357.90
-5.3%
-5.9%

In total there were 5379 evens or odds on runners. 3010 won and returned a loss of 5.3% betting to SP. The Tote returned a slightly worse loss of 5.9%. It seems that it is better to utilise the Tote only on the very shorter priced runners.
The table shows similar results to our SP analysis article of last year. That table, using just turf data, proved that the shorter the price the less of a loss is made. Bookies take less of a margin on shorter priced horses and cramp the odds on higher priced horses.
What is interesting is the 10-11 SP band. You would have actually made a 2% profit betting every runner with this price. This is not a statistical blip it is to do with the generosity of bookmakers believe it or not.
There were 969 Evens horses, 659 10-11, 298 at 5-6 and 632 horses that started 4-5. It is clear that the bookies don't like to offer prices of 5-6 possibly because the fraction is not easy for laying amounts of cash, thus they make many horses 10-11 whereas they should really be going off at 5-6.
This is opposite to the 33-1 phenomenon where bookies make far too many real 40-1 horses 33-1. Look at the SP analysis table for 33-1 and 40-1 and see the skewed figures. Whilst it is the weight of punters money that makes the market it is the bookies that have the ultimate say in whether a horse is 5-6 or 10-11.
Summary
Never bypass a bet because a horse is odds on, or less than say 2-1, as some tipsters advise. A value bet is a value bet whatever price range it is in. If your methodology is sound and you only bet value bets you should not fail to make a profit with odds on horses.
Odds on horses can offer an opportunity to buy money if your willing to risk a high amount of cash. The tote pool should not refuse a sizeable bet and they guarantee to pay £1.05 to the pound what ever the SP. Lookout for rare races where the favourite is at an extreme odds on price and back it on the Tote.