Verified Sports Tipsters:
Posted 16th June 2013
Performance Review 11th June 2013 - 10th June 2014
Last year I posted an annual summary of tipsters' performance since completing the August 2001 to June 2012 data analysis for my book How to Find a Black Cat in a Coal Cellar: The Truth About Sports Tipsters. The 11-year record revealed that sports betting tipsters, on average, were doing little more than picking out fair prices, with an aggregated standardised yield across 247 tips records of just 1.13% from 161,564 verified picks. The follow-up year 11th June 2012 to 10th June 2013 faired a little better with a yield of 2.08% from 12,902 verified picks. Was 2012/13 a statistical outlier or a sign that tipsters were improving? Let's take a look at the latest year's analysis.
From the 11th June 2013 to the 10th June 2014 a total of 65 tipsters have been verified, 23 more than the previous year, which submitted a total of 16,959 picks for verification, an increase of nearly a third from 2012/13. Unfortunately the increased level of verification was not reflected in performance. Aggregated together, and standardised to take into account their different staking preferences, these tipsters delivered a yield of just 0.55%. More than half (36) were unprofitable, again reflecting previous years. 43 of the 65 submitted more than 100 picks. Of these, 20 were profitable, 23 were not. 8 of them submitted more than 500 picks. Of these, 4 were profitable whilst 4 were not. The summaries are shown in the table below. As for last year, the final column estimates the probability that a profitable record could have occurred simply by chance.
Of the 29 profitable records, just one - Insider Betting - was estimated to be statistically significant (at the 99% level) using the P-value calculator (see Luck Versus Skill in Sports Betting), with less than a 1-in-100 probability that such a performance would occur simply by chance alone. In truth, as reported last year, this estimation method loses reliability where tipsters are advising tips across a wide variety of odds and/or stake sizes. As in 2012/13 the performance of Rugby Tipster was much better than is reflected in the table here. This is similarly true for Cycling Odds and to a lesser extent Maths Punter. Despite this, none of them were significant at the 99% level, although one may reasonably question whether such significance testing should be applied to an arbitrary period like 12 months. [As any professional bettor knows, performance can vary from year to year, and one statistically insignificant year is not necessarily a sign of a lack for forecasting ability. Conversely, statistical significance over a 12-month period is equally not necessarily absolute proof of anything other than luck.]
As if to emphasis the point just made, consider the remark I made in last year's post: "In my opinion... Investbetting [is] likely to represent [a] genuinely skilful betting advisory [service]." This advisory service was the best performing tipster during the June 2012 to June 2013 year. By the start of September it had issued just 28 more picks, profitability had stalled completely, and the service was suspended. By the end of October, I received information that it would be resuming against shortly. It never did and within a few months the website had disappeared altogether. Doubtless, the tipsters responsible have gone on to try other tipping projects, but we are left here with a feeling that regardless of whether Invest Betting had just been lucky or had indeed demonstrated a genuine forecasting talent, once the losing run set in, management of confidence, professionalism and motivation became a completely different ball game.
Fortunately, the other tipster I considered last year to be offering something real beyond luck is still going strong today. Rugbytipster is now second in Sports-Tipsters' overall verification league table. Its success is clearly built on focusing on specialist niche markets, although the down side will be reduced staking limits with bookmakers.
In addition to Rugbytipster the other service I have long term hopes for is Math Punter, the tennis specialist. Whilst not yet statistically significant at the 99% level, its profit trend is consistently moving in the right direction and I think it surely only a matter of time before its long term true potential is revealed. Although the yield is not spectacular, it should nonetheless be observed that it has been achieved exclusive betting prices from Pinnacle Sports, the hardest of all bookmakers over which to find a long term advantage. Indeed, Pinnacle Sports themselves recognise "winners" as those who consistently beat their closing odds, which Math Punter is clearly doing.
Parise continues to be a slow burner for those interested in ice hockey (including American and European), and less so Tips For Betting (tennis specialist) Winabobatoo (English and Scottish league football), although Winabobatoo's owner, Mike Lindley, rightfully acknowledges the difficulties of showing profitability season after season, as is evidenced by its long term verified profit chart. Promising newcomers include Cycling Odds (for its specialisation) and Tennis Value Picks, although I have seen enough time series of tips to know that its spectacular growth trend after 130 or so picks may very well be full of lucky wins too. We just have to look at what's happened to PSBets and Sportyy to understand that. Habemus Picks might also be another tennis winner but I still feel it's too early to tell. As for the rest, I'm either unconvinced by them or consider them to be largely irrelevant with any short term profitability unlikely to be sustained over the longer term. Additionally, some of them have now predictably disappeared anyway. As always, however, these are just my opinions, and you are all welcome to form your own.
As in previous years, and as already illustrated with Rugbytipster and Cycling Odds, the minority sports continue to outperform everything else. As the table below illustrates , the ranking is exactly the same as for 2012/13, the most significant different being that football has overall proved to be unprofitable this year. US Sports, as always, is utterly hopeless, and is in stark contrast to the proportion of tipsters on the Internet claiming to offer you profit, more profits and yet more profits from their tips in these sports. At the risk of sounding jingoistic the majority of them are American and almost all of them are either fake or lucky in the short term with absolutely no understanding of uncertainty and randomness. I've yet to find a genuinely talented US sports betting forecaster who is capable of delivering anything even close to 5% over the long term. The market is so saturated with opinions and money that the chance of one actually choosing to have his or her picks independently verified is tiny in the extreme.
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So overall just 0.55% profit over turnover was achieved from the 16,959 verified tips advised. The aggregated profit chart for all records is displayed below. Really just a series of random walks.
The chart below shows how the t-test scores of the 65 tips records for 2013/14 year are distributed. [Anything around 2.3 represents statistical significance at the 99% level; negative t-test scores are for loss making tipsters.] Anyone familiar with the statistics will recognise the bell-shape immediately as a normal distribution. When we see such distributions, we can be pretty confident we are dealing with a system that is to all intents and purposes random. In other words, there is little in the chart to suggest that there is anything much more than chance that is accounting for the spread of loss-making and profit-taking by these 65 tipsters over the 12-months period. Some are lucky, some are unlucky, and the majority congregate closely around an average no far from break-even. The fact that the average is slightly positive could mean one of three things: 1) the population of tipsters is marginally better than the average mug punter population; 2) the population of tipsters is better at using an odds comparison than the average mug punter population, thereby finding arithmetic betting value of the order of 0 to 1%; 3) There are a few skilled tipsters that carry the rest of the dart throwing monkeys with them, pushing the average a bit higher than it would otherwise be. Arguably all three possibilities are having an influence, although I suspect the last two are the more significant ones.