Category Archives: Soccer

England Out

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I used to watch football (soccer if you’re American). It used to be the only sport I would watch. Over the years my love for the “beautiful game” has waned so much now that I’ll only watch it when there’s a big game or a big tournament. And last night I watched England lose to Iceland.


Yep, the nation that has “the best league in the world” (© Sky Sports) lost to a nation of 330,000 people. A bigger difference would be to compare the expected transfers the 2 squads would command. In my naivety/ignorance on footballing matter I thought that 1.5X looked big on England to win. I didn’t bet as I’m not going to bother with something that I’ll have zero edge on.

It wasn’t an enjoyable game of football. Which was pretty much typical of England over the years, check out their performance over the years I’ve been watching them:


Another major tournament ending in disappointment isn’t surprising. Since 1990 they’ve only won 2 knockout games in 90 mins! There’s been a couple of times where England played well and were unlucky to lose (1996, 1998), but mainly it’s been a case of being terrible and deserving to go out.

Would you Hedge?

Would you Hedge?

One of the biggest stories in sports this year is that Leicester City are leading the English Premier league aka “the best league in the world” with 9 games remaining.

I used to watch football, it’s used to be pretty much the only sport I would watch many years ago. Today I rarely watch it, I can’t remember the last full game I watched. Where once I could name West Ham’s reserve left back, nowadays I couldn’t even name more than 4 starters for my own team. One of the (many) reasons that I’ve packed in watching football was the fact that it was the same 2-4 teams competing for honours every season. So that fact that Leicester City are actually 5 points clear at this time of year has piqued that little interest I have left in football.

Anyway… You may have heard this past week about a Leicester fan cashing out his pre-season bet on Leicester winning the league.  Check it out:


First off, yes that is a grown man wearing GK gloves without a goal in sight. Secondly, he actually placed a bet on Leicester winning the Premier league. No matter what crazy, flukey sporting event happens, there always some mug somewhere that had money on it. Even when Germany beat Brazil 7-1 there was someone who had money on that result.

And he wasn’t the only person to place this wager. The other Leicester City fan backed them at 5000/1 pre-season who has also decided to cash out:

So, would you hedge?

Personally, with my bets I very rarely hedge. I’m not going to hedge a winning position so I’m not going to hedge a losing one either. The main issue is I’ll identify a +EV bet in-play, so to hedge I would want to take the opposite side at +EV too, or at worst fair value, which may not actually happen.  When you cash out at a highstreet bookies, the odds that you’re effectively laying at are always worse than the odds they’d be offering to back at. You can see this whenever you place a bet at such establishments then immediately check at how much you’re offered to cash out at, it’s always lower than the stake you’ve just put on.

Let have a look at the odds these guys cashed out at:


They both cashed out after Spurs & Arsenal drew on Thursday, but before the games on Saturday. According to, Ladbrokes were offering 2.75 on Leicester to win the league on the Thursday. So they’ve given up a hell of a lot of value to cash out.

Another example of why retail bookies love the cash out option .

cash out mugs
Another mug

As I’ve said, I don’t know anything about football anymore, so I don’t know what the fair price of Leicester winning the league is. But I sure as hell wouldn’t be cashing out at odds of 3.45 when it’s 2.75 in the same shop.

To lay their bets off elsewhere these chaps would have to get their hands on tens of thousands to place bets elsewhere. More money than the average bloke could reasonably get their hands on.

Obviously a prime motivation for cashing out are the emotional issues. They’d be gutted if their team didn’t go on to finish top, as it’s extremely disappointing when your chosen group of young blokes you’ve never met don’t win a sports event, which would be compounding by not cashing out and thus “losing” a large sum of money.

On the other hand..I’m sure if Leicester hold on they’re both going to be thinking: “what if I hadn’t had bigger balls lost my bottle”…

The Conclusion of A Short Story on Martingale

Following on from this post.

So David’s football Martingale system wasn’t exactly a resounding success, he had lost around £30,000. So it was back to the drawing board…and the answer was clear: try the same system on roulette!! No more looking down every league table in the world looking for who had the fewest draws. Plus you can play roulette constantly at all hours of the day!

David signed up online to a famous bookmaker, made a deposit and got some welcome bonus. Then started with his £1 bet on a third of the board, so numbers 1-12 for example. If that bet lost he would double up and bet £2, and keep doubling up his stake until he got a winner, just like he did with the draws.


Within an half an hour of playing for the first time he was up around £3,000. His wife came into the room where he was playing on his laptop and he told her that he was up £3,000 and that there must be a problem with the website, so he would have to continue playing all night. Honestly. As he had won so much money so quickly he actually thought that there was a problem with the website that he needed to quickly exploit with his fool-proof system!

Sorry, another facepalm meme.

His wife returned half an hour later to find out that he had lost all that money. “You idiot”, was her reply before she convinced him to log off before any real damage could be done. Which is some pretty solid advice. Unfortunately she couldn’t keep an eye on him at all times.

Some weeks later at the office I passed him on the stairs. I was walking up and he was walking down.

“Alright David” I said.

No reply.

Not even eye contact. He didn’t even blink and looked really flushed. With all my powers of intuition I could tell he was pissed off, big time. At the top of the stairs I went into his office that he shared with a couple of chaps. So I asked “Hey, what’s up with David he looks a bit…”

I was cut off by this almighty scream from the toilets downstairs:


David had lost £11,000 on online roulette in a few minutes during his lunch hour, and had just had a momentary breakdown in a cubicle. It was the final time he tried his Martingale system.

I think it was around £36,000 of debt that David ended up on his credit card as a resulting of his Martingale betting. He was earning a lot of money so it “only” took him a few months to pay it off. As I said in the first post he knew that you would hit a losing run that would leave you heavily in the red, and yes I did warn him about it. But he also said that his problem with the football betting was not having the balls during the losing run to put the next bet on! But the next bet would have been for him to place £16,000 on a draw, losing which would lead to doubling the total loss to £32,000.

Basically he didn’t have a full grasp on betting 101 subjects such as probability, variance, ”the long run” and you know, having an edge. I remember him saying that with roulette you had the best odds of all the games in the casino, ie the odds were the closest to the true odds of all their games. The way you should look at it is that the casino always has the edge, so don’t even bother especially with a system like this.

Trivia Question of the Week

Last week I asked:

In football/soccer/kickball who was the last team to win the English FA cup wearing striped shirts?

Just to be clear, this was the shirt they were wearing in the final, which may not necessarily be their usual home strip.

If you got this one unaided that you have my respect; in was Coventry City all the way back in 1987!

New question, as Wimbledon’s on lets have a Tennis one, much easier:

During the open era who are the only 2 ladies to win the singles calendar Grand Slam (all four major tournaments in the same calendar year).

A Short Story on Martingale

Many years ago in a city far away, your beloved writer had this job and had this manager. For the story I’m about to tell, I’m sure this manager would wish to remain anonymous…

So David had this betting system. If you’re like me, then you will immediately begin rolling your eyes around upon hearing the phrase “betting system”. His system was a Martingale system.

He would start by placing a £1 bet with odds of over 2.0 (evens). If the bet lost then he would double up, so the next bet would be £2 on something, again, with odds of over 2.0. He would double up until he got a win, and then he would start all over.

Sounds great…in theory. Eventually you’re going to get a win which will cover all your preceding loses to leave you in profit. The problem was that you are going to hit a run which will blow your bank, leaving thousands of pounds worth of debt on your credit card. And the funny thing was, David actually knew this! He knew the risks involved with this betting system, but it didn’t stop him.

The bets he was placing were all on backing the draw in football (soccer for my friends in US). Now he wasn’t exactly analysing as much data as he could get his hands on, to calculate the percentage chance that a draw was likely to take place between 2 teams. And then see if he had an edge over the bookie’s odds. No, to hell with that, that’s far too much hard work. David would just look at the fixtures for the day, FROM AROUND THE WHOLE WORLD(!) and see if there’s was a team playing that was “due a draw”.


I shit you not. Not only have we got a story about Martingale, we have a story about the gambler’s fallacy too. We’re all about efficiency here at Winners Win.

So Davey boy would look down the league table and check out who had the fewest draws to find out who was “due” a draw, and that prompted each bet.

He told me how he hit that inevitable losing run that lead to him placing £8,000 on 2 mediocre Premier League teams to draw. He was actually in a crowded pub watching this game on TV in an early kickoff, near the stadium of the team that he supports, and he was about to watch his team play later on. He was there with his mates who knew that he had £8,000 on the live game on TV ending up a draw. Word soon got round the pub that our guy was “balls deep”, as the kids would say, on the draw. Just into injury time and the score is 1-1. Things are looking great:

  • That awful, stressful, but totally expected, losing run is about to come to an end.
  • And David is about to be roughly £5,000 in profit, after taking into account all previous loses.
  • And better than that: David is about to earn the respect & envy of a pub full of drunk football fans!

Get a picture of that situation in your head.

Form a clear mental image…

Now imagine how he felt when one of those teams scored a winner with the last kick of the match.

A punch to the gut, or even a sharp, swift kick to the happy sacks would be more pleasurable than that experience. That £8,000 loss adds to a total loss of £16,000. And a crowded pub is there to witness your agony.


He said that after that game had ended he was sat on the floor with his back against the bar, with his head in his hands as strangers would come up to him to pat him on the shoulder to try and comfort him. He didn’t even bother going to watch his own team play that afternoon.

He wasn’t ready to throw the towel in just yet with this system, after enough time had passed for him to get over this he started from scratch betting £1. He didn’t want to carry on with the next bet in this sequence which should have been £16,384.

But it ended with the same results. Eventually he hit a losing streak that required him to be placing a lot more money than what he was comfortable with on one bet. He finished his Martingale system betting on the draws down about £30,000 in total… So he did what any rational individual would do: he tried this system on online roulette.


To be continued…

Football Fan Logic

Years ago I used to love football. I was a season ticket holder for a number of years and used to watch every game on TV…unless Stoke City were playing.

Nowadays I never watch it, but I still keep abreast of what’s going on. So I thought I’d write a short post about the stupidity witnessed yesterday…

Yesterday Liverpool played at Arsenal in the Premier League. It was sold out, but some fans weren’t happy that they had to pay £64 for a ticket (not to mention the cost of transport and any other addition costs such as food/drink etc). Supporters from most clubs in the EPL aren’t happy about the rising costs of ticket prices, especially since the announcement of the Premier League’s £5billion TV rights deal.

There were protests before the game where some supporters entered the stadium 10 minutes after the kickoff, and there were the following banners displayed:

Embedded image permalink
£5bn and what do we get? £64 a ticket


Basically these fans are saying:

  • We really like watching football
  • We’ve already bought this expensive ticket
  • We demand that you make tickets in the future cheaper

 Ok then.

Perhaps a group of people should organise a demonstration outside Apple HQ with a similar argument: we like our latest iphone, but we demand that you make future iphones that we’re going to buy cheaper…

This is similar to the constant gripe by parents that simply have to buy the latest expensive football kit for little Tommy every season.

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to cast dispersions over the IQ of your average football fan. If you’re not happy with paying £64 for a ticket, then don’t. Those were the cost (of some) of the tickets for a televised game, and it was still a sell out. You don’t have a divine right to watch your team play at a price you’re completely satisfied paying. Paying for your ticket then whinging about it, or engaging in a half-hearted, self serving protest by missing the first 10 minutes isn’t going to achieve anything.

– decent rant that, sorry there wasn’t anything to do with betting though