Friday, May 28, 2010

Luchametric MLS Weekend Fixtures Handicapping: Crew, Houston, RSL, and San Jose


Nordecke Luchador has evolved over the last year into its own unique brand.  From the heady daze of Gonzo Crew fanaticism, we now offer EPL and MLS statistical analysis, EPL, MLS and World Cup handicapping as well as tactical insight into the beautiful game.

In the spirit of Kaizen, the Japanese virtue of "continuous improvement," we offer our latest data chart for our loyal readers.

To the left are this weekend's fixtures in the MLS.  For each match we provide the moneyline and the decimal odds.  Next, we provide our readers with how these odds translate into probabilities.  For example, in the first fixture, D.C. is being given +175 or a 36% chance at a home win;  Chivas is being given +192 or a 34% chance of an away win.   IMPORTANT! Punters should always remember that these percentages should be compared to the historical probabilities that 50% of all professional matches end in a home win; 25% in an away win; and 25% in a draw--unless there is a substantial difference in team strengths.

So, for this fixture, the books have lowered the chance of a D.C. home win by 14 percentage points and raised the chance of a Chivas road win by 9 percentage points.  The chance for a draw is thus around 30%.

But we go even further.  The fourth column tells the prospective punter the percentage payout of their wager.  Thus, a successful bet on D.C. will earn you 175% of your initial bet; a successful bet on Chivas will earn you 192%.  So a $10 bet on D.C. gets you 17.50. Nice.

But wait! We then provide you with our own analysis of the value of the wager.  As a general rule of thumb, smart punters should compare the probability offered by the books to their own estimation of the probability of bet being successful.  Continuing with our example, we need to ask ourselves the following: "Ok, all things being equal, the home team should win 50% of the time. However, D.C. is a weaker team than Chivas.  That means that the chance of D.C. winning is less than 50%. The books say that it's as bad as 36%.  Do I think its worse or better than 36%?"

Answer?  If you think there is a 5% or higher difference between the probability offered by the books and your own independent estimation of the probability of a team winning, then that bet is most likely what the professional punters call "a value bet."  Here's why.

If the books say D.C. has only a 36% chance of winning, but you think their chance is actually 41% or higher, then the amount of money the books are offering you is actually higher than it "should" be.  Remember, the higher the probability of a win, the lower the books pay out.

Further, a value bet is one where the amount of risk is "worth" the potential payout.  Bookies want to offer you less money for your risk than is "fair" or "real."  So, if you can find a match where you believe the books have it wrong and the actual probability of your team winning is higher than they've determined, then you've found a bet that will pay out more for your risk than the books would pay out if they had gotten the odds right in the first place.  In D.C.'s case, the books have set the odds at 36% and are offering you a payout of 175%.  If the books thought the probability was 41% or greater, they would pay winners less than 175%  As such, if you've decided that D.C. actually has a 41% chance or higher (let's face it, Chivas isn't very good) then taking D.C. to win at home would be a value bet. 

But what does Nordecke Luchador think about this match?

Our final column provides you with our advice for every match this weekend.  Our recommendations are based on A) our determination of the value of the odds being offered; and B) our usual statistical comparison of the two clubs including the Luchametric power rankings.  If we recommend a team, we think its a value bet with a high probability relative to the risk.  This week, we think C-Bus, Houston, RSL and San Jose all fit the bill.  And we think the D.C. v Chivas match should be avoided like the plague.

And remember, we don't recommend parlays ever.  Do your homework and pick your spots.  For example, Donovan is up with the USMNT.  We think that makes the Crew an even more valuable bet against LA than the numbers alone might suggest.  However, Houston is being given a 68% chance of a win, and we think it's definitely even higher. Indeed, this match probably represents the bet with the highest probability and the lowest risk of the weekend.  But the probability of both Houston and the Crew winning in a parlay is a rather low 30%.  If you bump the Crew's probability up to 51%, the parlay would still only be at 35%.  The probability of Houston, the Crew AND San Jose all winning? 17%.  RSL actually represents the wager with the highest value (in our view) as the payout is 69% on your wager (compared to 46% for Houston) and we think the probability of a RSL win could be as much as 10 percentage points higher than what the books have it at.  That's some sweet action.

Finally, it's important to note that we've excluded draws in our chart because draws never, ever offer high percentage probabilities nor value bets.  That's a maxim of betting on soccer we've learned from our secondary research (seriously).  And you can take that to the bank. C-Bus 'till I die!

No comments: