ALFA DATA BLOG


Thoughts on the start of 2019/20 season


All main leagues in Europe have started, with the premier League already in Game week 4, while Serie A has played only 2 Game weeks. We have already started collecting data on all the major European Leagues, even if our predictions are not yet stable enough to start making predictions for all of them.

The start of the season has already shown some big surprises, with many unexpected results, especially in Premier League, Eredivisie and Primeira Liga


The biggest surprise is the home defeat of Tottenham vs Newcastle. The odds for that outcome were 14 to 1. At 11 to 1 comes another away win (1-2 of Venlo vs Utrecht in Eredivisie). Same odds for the home win of Gil Vicente vs Porto (another 2-1 result). Betting on these 3 results separately would have returned 11 times the total stake (for example betting 10 units on each bet would have returned 330 units).

But after all it's not that simple. Those results need to be identified before they happen and it is definitely difficult to understand when and where the odds offered by a bookmaker are underestimated. If we have a chance to find one place where they might be is definitely in those rare events (in statistics they are called tails of the distribution) that are bu definition hard to predict.

According to the bookies Newcastle win away at Spurs is the type of result that happens only once every 13 times. If one thinks that this type of events happen more often then a betting strategy to exploit this would be to bet on the highest odd event every game week. Most of the time the bet would be lost but the returns on a winning bet would more than offset the losses.

League Bets won Amount won
Serie A 2 +3
Premier League 1 +13
Bundesliga 0 -15
La Liga 0 -15
Ligue 1 1 -1
Eredivisie 2 +1
Primeira Liga 2 +28
Scottish Premiership 0 -20
7 -6

The table above shows the result of a strategy that bets on the match with the highest odds at each game week. The results are mixed. Primeira Liga is the most profitable one under this strategy, while Scottish Premiership is the less profitable one. In general, making 2 right bets at high stakes is enough to turn a profit. Unfortunately, applying this strategy, at least in the first games of the season, does not guarantee a profit. In fact the overall amount lost on all 8 European leagues is 6 units.

Primeira Liga seems to be the League where such a strategy would make a bigger profit. Would it have been profitable over the course of 2017/18 season too?

If one started with a bankroll and followed the strategy of betting on the highest odds at each game week last season in Primeira Liga the net result would have been a loss. The final bankroll would have been 148 €, a loss of more than a quarter the initial bankroll. It is worth noticing that the biggest gains could have been made in the first months of the season, with some great results at the beginning of the season and a peak bankroll at 250 €. The strategy is not profitable over the course of the season but it actually may be well suited for the start, where the estimation of odds for extreme results is not as accurate as it may be at the end of the season.

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