Avoid Drifting In Open Water To Keep NFL Power Ratings Accurate

Last week I talked about maintaining balance within power ratings, and not over reacting by making rash adjustments that are not warranted. While this is something important to keep in mind throughout the season, it is becoming equally important to being paying attention to where things started, and where they are likely to end up.

The best way to illustrate the ideal mindset bettors need to begin developing at this time in the season is to compare weeks three, four and five of the NFL season to running into an open water lake and trying to swim to the other side. At first, there is a ton of excitement running down the beach and diving into the water. That initial excitement leads into a quick and frantic start until it wears off further and further into the water. Soon after beginning swimming, the shore behind disappears and there is a wait for the shore in-front to appear over the horizon. This is often followed by fatigue and a need to get to shore, fast. Often it seems like the last few breaths one can muster get spent trying to make it to a spot where one foot can finally be put down to touch the ground.

The beginning of the NFL season is like running on the beach and crashing into the water. There is a deep understanding of where each teams started and a rash of confidence from bettors was sent into the betting markets with the security of the starting point near. Week three, four and five of the NFL season is when the shore behind disappears and bettors are forced to become increasingly independent. As bettors get further and further away from the shore that was the beginning of the season they are forced to make quick decisions on the spot with no safety net to fall back on. The common beginning of the season handicapping situations (1-0 vs 0-1, teams avoiding 0-2, home openers etc.) are all used up. If strong power ratings are not established, bettors can quickly get lost and disorientated and begin making poor impulse betting decisions which take them off course. The bettors who will stay afloat financially are those who can maintain their pace, don’t panic in rough tides and take the most efficient route from start to finish with the big picture in mind.

Being submerged mentally in the body of water that is the NFL season can cause many bettors not just to make rash adjustments (as we saw last week) but can also cause bettors to get swept into waves of misconception in general. With so much focus and media coverage on each and every game, it can become difficult for bettors to keep their heads above the water and avoid drowning in the perception.

After four quarters of praise from Jon Gruden and the ESPN team on Monday Night, many bettors are now crowning Carson Wentz as the best young quarterback in the league. Nevermind that his success has come against the Browns and an injury riddled Bears defence. The quarterback dilemma which plagued the Broncos throughout the preseason is no longer a worry for most bettors and the defending Superbowl Champs are rated extremely high by most. The fact that both wins were unimpressive despite having a large home field advantage does not factor in.

Bettors swimming in the waters of the NFL season are also very quick to accept anything along the way to keep them afloat temporarily and often refuse to let go despite whatever the fact that whatever they are holding on to may be weighing them down.

There is no example better of this than the Oakland Raiders. Bettors were in love with Oakland at the beginning of the season and continue to back them an extremely high rate (more than $7 of every $10 bet this week is on Oakland at Tennessee). The fact that they have given up 500+ yards in their opening two games of a season is not enough to make bettors let go. Those hanging on long enough may soon sink to the bottom. The same can be said for Andrew Luck and the Colts. The constant unwarranted praise of Luck from sports media continues to cause bettors drifting through the season to swim off course and attempt to grab what appears to be a safety buoy floating in the distance.

All analogies aside, what I am trying to say is, everyone reading this knows where teams started two weeks ago, and everyone has a very good idea of where each team is going to finish at the end of the season. As the season continues, it is important to keep everything in line with the path the teams were set on and not divert their course based on perception. With each week that passes, it becomes easier and easier to become short sighted. Each week that goes by, the markets become stronger and bookmakers become more accurate. This can be used to the bettors advantage. Prices are rarely set based on what a team has done, especially over just a one or two-week sample. Prices almost always get set on what a team is worth. It is better to adjust ratings closer to the markets to keep them accurate, then to move them away to search for a reason to make a bet.

If bettors do not think and act this way, they do not have a chance to make it to the other side. If extra attention gets put into where a team started, and where they are supposed to finish, it is easy to connect the dots in between to keep power ratings accurate and make smart rational betting decisions.

Don’t get caught treading water in during the season grasping for anything within reach.

My ratings went 10-5-1 ATS in week one and 8-6-1 ATS in week two. Advantages greater than 3 points went 3-2 ATS in week one and 3-1 in week two. That leaves my ratings 18-11-2 ATS overall and advantages of more than 3 points 6-3 ATS entering Week 3. This week there are six teams with greater than a field goal advantage (New England, Minnesota, NY Giants, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Kansas City).

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Goal Setting – Why It Is Not Just About Profit & Loss

Last week I had to fly to Medellin, Colombia for three days to take care of some family stuff. During the lengthy flight to and from, I got to disconnect from the betting world and spend time catching up on some reading and podcast listening. One of my favourite podcasts to listen to is “Chat with Traders”. Aaron Fifield does an extremely good job at bringing on people involved in trading to discuss the psychology surrounding working in the daily markets. While his show is mainly stock market focused, much of the dialogue discussed applies to sports gambling as well. One episode that jumped out was his interview with Dr. Brett Steenbarger who is a trading coach and psychologist that works with some of the biggest trading firms and traders in the United States. The episode was one hour long and jammed with fantastic information. It was the ending topic in the interview however, which had me sitting in my airplane seat with my head racing rethinking much of my approach.

The topic was goal setting.

In gambling, my only goal since I began was to win money. As long as I can remember, I have had a target number in mind and I chase that figure. I use that figure as motivation and a reason to keep at it every day. I want to get to that goal no matter what it takes. I am sure many reading this right now do the same.

Before this summer, I have never been public with my goals. They were always something that I kept to myself. For no reason other than being transparent, when my clients resubscribed back in June for the three months leading up to football, I made a change in my daily email layout. At the top of my email I began to put my bankroll figures, profit and loss, as well as my “target profit goal”.

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A sample of email to clients with the “points to goal” being the focal point

On June 1st, my soccer betting bankroll was up 19.7% for 2016. From June 1st to September 1st, the length of time I had the profit goal on top of my email, I lost 19.89% and ended up sitting down 0.19% on the season.

Now, lets not take this out of context. Am I saying the reason I lost my entire years profit because I had a different opening to my emails? Not at all. What I am trying to say is that having that goal for everyone to see in daylight, could very well have changed my mindset and altered my process.

Dr. Steenbarger said in the interview, “I am not a fan of goals with a monetary value. Putting the P&L front and center puts the focus on the outcome, rather than the process. Having a fixed P&L goal can alter the process of traders and cause them to miss times when markets offer a better opportunity than others.”

The confirmation to me was in the emails I received from clients. Many clients began noticing I was betting differently and speaking about games in a different manner. One email that stood out to me came from a long time client, Joe L. He sent me an email during the horrific losing streak between June and September asking why the emails seemed different and what was wrong with me!?

Little did I realize at the time what I thought was there to motivate me, was clouding my judgment and affecting the way I bet. When I woke up each morning and began to write my email for the day that contained my bets, instantly four words into the email, I was reiterating the idea of being down in my head, and putting myself under the gun to reach my end profit target.

According to Dr Steenbarger, the most successful traders he has dealt with, who deal with hundreds of millions of dollars on a daily basis, find fulfillment and gratification in different areas of the markets not about profit and loss. If gratification comes only from profit and loss, then psychologically, during draw-downs and losing periods, there is nothing sustainable.

With this in mind, I have made it my goal this NFL season to find fulfillment within the markets themselves and look at other new strategies rather than the focus on my profit and loss. Some of you who read my blog and follow me on Twitter may have noticed a difference in my approach. You may have seen me talking about trading and lead loss/lead recovery stats rather than discussing full games. The reason I am doing this is that it is something new and different that allows me to challenge myself mentally and refuel my curiosity. Trying to find a method to successful trade NFL in play betting markets is a puzzle for me to solve and something to refresh myself mentally and allow me an out from the ever on going prematch NFL betting markets. I think so often bettors get caught up believing that there is only one right path in gambling and expanding knowledge comes from building connections to others who have an in. When in reality, consuming and experimenting with new information and building new strategies is can not only expand the ways to make money, but can improve the efficiency of those with a preferred base strategy as well.

What I have started to do this NFL season reminds me very much of growing up and playing golf at a competitive level. Every day I was playing 18-36 holes on the same course and I would go through periods of time where one aspect of my game was struggling. My goal was always to shoot my personal best. I would go into every round with tunnel vision on going low. When I look back throughout my life, the times when I shot my best scores and did my best in tournaments were all during baseball season between April and July. My good results came in these months most certainly because I had balance in my sporting life. I played half of much golf, but I was twice as active physically. Having balance and fulfillment from a different source allowed me to play each sport at a better level, just like having a different challenge in betting is allowing me to win at a greater level in my personal bets (power ratings this NFL season beginning September 9th are 18-11-2 ATS).

So, if there are bettors reading this who are focused on getting to their profit and loss goal more than anything else, I challenge you to try find gratification and fulfillment in another aspect of betting or trading and set a goal to improve your process. If this is something any readers practice already, I would like to hear from you and would appreciate if you dropped me an email below or messaged me on Twitter.

How To Maintain Balance Within NFL Power Ratings

Week two of the NFL season is a difficult week for bettors and bookmakers alike. Each year there is a six-month football hiatus between February and September which culminates in an unloading of finances and emotion on the opening Sunday. This football betting overload almost always results in over analysis and reaction. Bettors over react to what they saw in the opening week and bookmakers over react in judging what they think the bettors saw. Because of this games in week two become hard to price and lines move quickly and often.

This is true again this year as just one game this week has remained static with its price. The average line move per game is a very high 1.5 points. This is understandable considering that last week 11 of the 16 games were decided by 6 points or less – an NFL record. Also, the fact that more than 1/3 of the entire league has quarterback uncertainty (first time starter, new team, injury, suspension) is not doing anyone any favours either.

If you are looking to avoid over reacting and keeping your ratings steady throughout the season, it is important to remember that every adjustment must stay within the boundaries of the season. For most bettors, rating teams from week to week is focused solely on the match-up at hand, and not taking into account the bigger picture. Moving teams within the bigger picture was a lesson I learned very quickly in my time working at Paradise Games. The first time I created a futures market, I priced each team in the NFL based solely on how I thought about how each would perform. I ended up extremely top heavy and priced the market to 175%!

The easy way for bettors to adjust teams accurately and fairly is to stay in line with the seasons win market. This was something I went over in detail last week. The main point in the article was that half a win is worth one point on a neutral field. The reason for this is that an average team without margin priced in would be priced at EV each game, which has an implied probability of 50%. Over the course of 16 games, a team with a 50% chance in each would be expected to win eight games. One point in a margin free price would move the line to -115 (1.87) and leave an implied probability of 53.44%. A team with a 53.44% chance in each would be expected to win 8.5 games (16 * 0.5344 = 8.5).

With that in mind, unless there is an injury or significant change within a team, no adjustment in power ratings from week to week should be more than 1 to 1.5 points at the maximum. It is very rare that a case can be made that a team becomes a full win or a full loss worse based on the performance of one game, especially early in the season.

I weigh week one very lightly. If a team performs poorly in their first game in over six months, it is not time to raise any flags. From week one to week two, I have adjusted the ratings of just five teams in the league, moving each a half win up or down.

The two teams I adjusted down are Kansas City and Seattle. This may be a surprise to many considering that both won their games in week one. However, just because a team won does not mean their rating must go up, likewise, just because a team lost does not mean their rating must go down.

Seattle entered week one as the highest projected team when combining season win totals with the Pythagorean expectation at 12.5 wins. As a double digit favourite they needed a last second score to beat the Dolphins. While their defence looked strong, it was their offence, particularly their offensive line which made me sure this team was not a full win and a half better than second highest rated Pittsburgh. With five starters on the offensive line playing in new positions, the Seahawks dynamic offence will be severely limited for weeks to come until continuity is developed.

The worry in Kansas City is on the other side of the ball. KC is rated tied for the fourth highest projection in the league combining win totals with the Pythagorean expectation at 9.5 wins, the Chiefs were listed as 6.5 point favourites at home to San Diego. While the Chargers do have a strong offensive line, the absence of Justin Houston and Sean Smith was glaring. The Chiefs, who rely on their pass rush and shut down secondary suffered, failing to generate any QB pressure and allowing the Chargers to put up 27 points. KC still has to find someone to fill the spot of Smith and wont have Houston back until Week 8. Tough times ahead for this typically strong defence.

The three teams I adjusted up were Houston, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. All three have their quarterback situation sorted and played the three best all around games of the opening week. Pittsburgh made their case to be the highest rated team in the league with a big win on the road Monday Night. Tampa Bay showed that they have a ton of continuity on offence and should be at worst considered a league average team. Houston met their above average expectations and showed that their defence is as strong as ever and eliminated any uncertainty about their quarterback and running back.

My ratings in the opening week went 10-5-1 ATS with teams listed at a difference of 3 points or more going 3-2 ATS. This week there are four teams with a difference of more than a field goal, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Dallas and Indianapolis. I have bet two of these games myself and advised clients to do the same. If you are not a client, you can become one here.

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How To Use Efficient Markets To Create NFL Power Ratings

An interesting article was posted by Benjamin Cronin regarding using win totals to predict week one winners. I thought I would take his information a step further and create a league wide power ratings chart that can be maintained throughout the entire season.

Market efficiency is a term in sports betting which relates to how accurate the prices in a market are. The more efficient a market is, the harder it is to beat as a bettor. A market can be more or less efficient based on how much of all available information has already incorporated into the price.

While you can never be certain a market is 100% efficient, NFL season win totals are among the most efficient markets bettors will encounter during a calendar year of betting. This high efficiency is because bookmakers have had north of three months to adjust their prices based on team information and react to how bettors have bet themselves.

For most bettors, the minute the NFL season kicks off, team win total markets disappear in their minds. Ignoring win totals once the season starts is a foolish practice. Because of the high efficiency in the team win total markets, bettors can use this to their advantage during the season by creating accurate power ratings based off the numbers.

Power ratings are something that all bookmakers use to evaluate teams and quickly come up with a starting line for weekly matchups. Each team begins the season with a rating and it is adjusted up or down each week based on team performance. Instead of coming up with a brand new opinion for each team each week, bookmakers collectively build on their past opinions throughout the season.

Power ratings are something that all bettors should create for themselves. By creating power rankings, bettor can focus on making their rankings more accurate as the season goes on. It is easier to be accurate in grading what a team has done rather than being accurate in predicting what they will do. When bettors have their power ratings, they can compare the rating prices vs the market price and make bets without emotion playing a factor.

Creating power ratings for a league can seem a daunting task. Building confidence in power ratings can also take a long time to earn, especially if the season starts off on a losing note. However, as I mentioned above, bookmakers have already done all the hard work for bettors.

Here is a quick method to use the highly efficient win total markets to create power ratings.

First, open an excel spreadsheet and list all 32 teams in the league with their current win total price.

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Second, add in the Pythagorean Expectation for all teams based on their 2015 performance. I have included the values below to save time calculating.

In short, the Pythagorean Expectation is a calculation uses to generate an expected win total for each team based on their points scored and points allowed. Teams that won more games than their expectation can be expected to regress this season. Teams that won less games than their expectation can be expected to improve this season. Factoring the Pythagorean Expectation difference into the already efficient win total market makes the power ratings even more accurate.

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Third, the final step is simply adding the two columns together and create the expected wins column for 2016 which you will use for creating point spreads. Then create a fourth column to round each figure to the nearest half win.

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Now that each team has their adjusted win total determined, the ratings can be used to generate point spreads. A general rule to follow is that for each half win a team is better than their opponent, they should be favored by 1 point on a neutral field.

The reason for this is that a moneyline for a typical 3 point favourite in the NFL is -145. The implied probability of a -145 moneyline is 59%. If an average NFL team is expected to win 8 games over the course of the season, then a team favoured by 3 points in each game would be expected to win 59% of their 16 games, or 9.5 games. If you subtract 9.5 wins from a team valued 3 points better than the league from an team considered average at 8 wins, you get a difference of 1.5 wins, or 0.5 wins per 1 point.

Here is what the point spread looks like for all 16 games this week using these power ratings.

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There are six teams in week one, Denver, Tennessee, NY Jets, Jacksonville, Seattle and New England which have a difference of more than field goal compared to the current point spread.

Throughout the season I will continue to update these ratings each week. After week three, Net Yards Per Play will be incorporated into the ratings. A detailed article on Yards Per Play betting along with a review of last years results will be coming up in the near future.

I work with clients on a day to day basis to help them improve their betting results. Subscribers get my daily market analysis in which I identify pre match betting opportunities, trading strategies and discuss my own personal bets. Each bet I make is made following a staking plan which makes it easy for clients to equate my suggested risk to their bankroll. All of my subscription offers can be viewed here.

11 Tips For Trading NFL In Play Betting Markets

NFL Season is quickly approaching and bettors are looking for any edge they can get. While the usual power rankings and stats are all examined from every angle there is one strategy that bettors and handicappers alike are ignoring.

Trading in play betting markets.

If you are reading this post from outside of the United States, you are likely well aware of what sports traders are and how they operate. Chances are you probably know someone who trades sports betting markets as their full time job. If you are reading this from inside the United States, I am sorry to tell you, but as far as gambling is concerned, you have been missing out on betting opportunities for many years now.

With no betting exchanges opening their doors to US customers, the thought of trading in play betting markets has never crossed many American bettors mind. However, betting technology in the United States had been catching up to the rest of the world little by little and there are now enough in play betting options for trading football to be considered a sustainable and profitable alternative to the ups and downs of traditional betting.

Here are some things you need to know if you are planning to enter the highly profitable world of in play sports trading this upcoming NFL season.

Trading is very different from gambling

Despite what you may see in movies or hear from handicappers on television, trading is not just a sophisticated term for gambling. Sports traders bet against the market and other bettors, not against the house. The object of trading is to bet a team at big odds in hopes that the price will shorten (or vice versa) and then bet the other side to reduce risk and possibly guarantee a profit. The biggest challenge that new traders will face is accepting that when trading, their wins and losses are not determined by the final score, but rather determined by their decision making to enter and exit the market. A different mindset is needed to find opportunities where the market can work for you, rather than you trying to outwork the market.

Trading rewards the patient and mentally tough

There are numerous traders that make a ton of money trading sports even though their sports knowledge is very limited. This is often the case because being patient and mentally tough is a far better asset to have than a wealth of sports knowledge. This was proven during an experiment that was carried out in a popular mini series called “Million Dollar Traders”. A wealthy hedge fund manager selected twelve people with no prior trading knowledge and gave them one million dollars of his money to trade with for one month. By the end of the series, only three people had the patience and mental toughness to make it through the entire month without quitting. The highest earner during the trading period was a single mother who out gained other long time professionals.

An average NFL game has nearly three ties or lead changes. With ties and lead changes come big swings within the market and opportunity to make loads of profit. Those that are willing to wait out those swings and enter and exit the market without emotion will have the best success. If you want to be successful trading in play betting markets, self control, patience and mental toughness are the best three assets you can have.

Experiment to find which trading strategy works best for you

In traditional gambling, there are limited outcomes. In each game there is only one team that covers the spread, and the total points either go over or under the posted total. Most strategies get created around the premise of predicting the winner or final score. When it comes to trading, there are hundreds of different ways to make money in every game played. Quickly after you begin trading, you will notice there are strategies that suit you and your personality better than others. The first two questions you have to answer are rgearding the duration of your trades and how much you want to risk.

Trading strategies can be long or short

A common long trading strategy is known as swing trading. A swing trade where you make a bet expecting a significant event to happen in the game to drastically change the odds. An example of swing trading would be betting on a team trailing by a touchdown or more that you expect to come back and tie the game or retake the lead.

A common short trading strategy is known as scalp trading. “Scalping” is betting on a team to do something that has a very high probability of occurring for a minimal gain.  An example of a scalping would be betting on a team that has the ball on offense inside the red zone. The chance of them scoring at least a field goal is very high. If bet before a score occurs, then a small profit will be earned.

Trading strategies can be low or high risk

An example of a high risk trading strategy is called creating a free bet. Creating free bets is a strategy in which the trader backs a team before the game begins with the intention to eliminate his liability should his team get ahead and leave a free bet. This strategy can produce big profits quickly, but it can also cause a lot of frustration if the team bet before the game fails to get ahead and or win the game.

An example of a low risk trading strategy is called hedging. Hedging is a strategy in which the trader bets a team before the game begins or in play and then removes more than his liability for the opposing team to ensure he wins or loses an equal result regardless of who wins the game. Hedging is great for slow, sustained bankroll growth, but it requires a ton of discipline and self control, especially on losing trades.

Stats are less available, but more meaningful

Human beings naturally creatures of habit and tend to perform the same way in high intensity situations. This is why in trading knowing certain stats can provide plenty of confidence when entering and exiting the market. Unfortunately, most stats that are available online focus on the final score and not specific situations within a match. Therefore, some extra work is needed to be done to get a clear picture of how situations are likely to unfold. Here are some key stats to follow when trading football.

Lead recovery

Lead recovery is the most popular trading stat in football, as well as any sport. It directly corresponds with the most popular entry point for traders into the market, backing a team at big odds. Those researching lead recovery in football should look to see how coaches and quarterbacks have performed when playing from behind.

Lead loss

Lead loss is another very popular trading stat in all sports. Lead loss goes hand in hand with lead recovery and can be used not only to show when a team may be priced too short, but also serves as confirmation to back a team that is trailing where the odds may be listed too high. Those researching lead loss in football should see how coaches and defensive coordinators have performed when playing with a lead.

Answer percentage

Answer percentage is looking at how quarterbacks and coaches respond on the drive immediately after their opponent scores a touchdown. This is a high pressure situation and will often cause a big swing in the market and present an opportunity for a big profit, especially if it is late in the game. This stat is used best when the team you are looking to back is trailing.

First drive success

First drive success is an important stat to research if your trading strategy revolves around identifying front runners. Knowing how motivated and aggressive coaches and quarterbacks are early in games is very important if you are looking to back a team before kickoff and create a free bet quickly in play.

If you are interested in following these stats and trading strategies throughout the NFL season, then I recommend joining my free text message list. Each weekend I send text messages out to over 1,200 subscribers and identify where the best trading opportunities are based on the four stats I mentioned above.

Commitment gets rewarded

Trading in play betting markets is certainly not for everyone. But, those who dedicate time to it and stay committed and disciplined over the long term will get rewarded. Once you make the jump into trading over traditional betting, you will be kicking yourself for not trying this sooner because the profits are so much greater and the swings are much easier to handle. Throughout the season I will be sharing my trading thoughts and examining different strategies here on this blog and my podcast. I encourage you to subscribe so you do not miss any new posts or podcasts. I hope that you will share your trading stories with me as well during the season. One thing I have learned is that the more open and honest you are with your trading and results, the quicker you can improve and get better.