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Graphical Analysis
of Punting Strategies
using BetGrapher

In this article I hope to show you how I use BetGrapher to analyse punting strategies graphically. There is an old proverb "A picture is worth a thousand words", and in the analysis of punting strategies this is very true. There are a lot of statistical tests that you can run when trying to analyse your punting and I have run many of them myself. However the most common means of analysis I use these days is simple graphical analysis. BetGrapher is a program which I use extensively to help me analyse and manage my punting activities. I find that I can often tell at a glance whether a strategy I have been following is performing as expected, and if not, I can take remedial action.

Case Study

The case study I am going to work is a current strategy which I have been paper trading for a few months. I developed this strategy back in February / March this year on data to the end of January. The base performance was 1178 bets, S/R = 29.5% and POT = 25.5%. On the face of it, a pretty reasonable strategy, and one that I would hope could perform to that level. Here is the graph of the performance over that time, with the blue line representing the profit.

My initial point of concern was the period between bet number 600 and bet number 900. This was 300 bets where the strategy was going through a poor run and losing. Clearly the peak at bet number 600 was due to a long priced winner, however studying the graph it can be seen that if this horse had not won, the graph was still increasing nicely before bet 600 and after bet 700, so the strategy still appears to be profitable without this winner.

Rolling Bet Sequences

The sequence of 300 bets between 600 and 900 produced a loss, so I decided to have a look at every sequence of 300 bets over the entire data period. This "rolling sequence of bets" is one of the very powerful features of BetGrapher. It allows you to monitor every single sequence of an adjustable number of bets, in this case 300 bets. This means that it works out the S/R and POT for the 300 bets between bet 1 and bet 300, then the sequence from bet 2 to bet 301, then bet 3 to bet 302, and so on. It then graphs these sequences.

The reason I look at rolling bet sequences is that where you enter a sequence is very important to the initial performance of your betting. Someone who entered the above sequence at bet number 600, at the very peak of the run, would have to wait for over 300 bets before they were into profit on the strategy. On the other hand, someone who entered at bet 800, at the low point of the run, would have been in profit immediately. The same strategy, yet two completely different results. The graph of the rolling 300 bets is shown below.

The two horizontal lines represent the long term S/R (red) and long term POT (blue).

The effect that the longshot at about bet 570 has on the strategy is clearly visible from this graph, and this graph also highlights another longshot winner at around bet 970 - one that I had originally missed when looking at the graph of the profit.

The significant points about this graph are that in the early stages, for the first period of the strategy, each sequence of 300 bets was only producing around 10% POT, and as low as 5% POT. So it is highly likely that you could commence betting this strategy, and 300 bets later could only be doing somewhere around the 5% to 10% POT. Another significant point of interest is that there were very few sequences of 300 bets that produced a loss, and this loss was quite small at worst around -6% POT.

Without the two longshot winners, I would expect this strategy to perform around the 10% to 15% POT range, and I consider this to be worthwhile with the large number of bets this strategy produces.

Rolling Time Sequences

Another useful way to look at past history is to consider rolling day sequences. This is similar to the rolling bet sequence, except that it graphs the S/R and POT over every sequence of X days. Since I like my strategies to be profitable over every 3 month sequence, I generally graph strategies over rolling 90 day sequences. The graph of these are below.

This graph provides me with a few more reasons to be hesitant about this strategy. There are many periods where the strategy is in a loss for 3 months in a row. Since I often review my punting in 3 month chunks this strategy would be coming under regular review. Using the BetGrapher software I had to increase my time period to 6 months before there were any sequences where there were no losses. While I am willing to bet long term profitable strategies over 6 months while they lose, I doubt that I would do this for new strategies. While this strategy may (or may not) be profitable, I am wondering whether it would be bettable.

To bet or not, that is the question

Given that there were a few negatives about this strategy, I put it on my paper trade list, where I review it's performance regularly but don't actually bet the selections. This policy has saved me many thousands of dollars over the years by avoiding those strategies which simply never work going forward, regardless of how good or consistent they look over past data.

Reviewing the strategy six months on

Well it's now early September and I have been paper trading this strategy for some time. The performance of the strategy over that period of time is 319 bets for a S/R of 21.6% and a POT of -8.8%. While it is currently in a loss situation, the strategy has been in profits for periods of the paper trading, and so the question is whether the strategy is likely to return to profits or not.

The graph of the entire performance to the end of August is shown below.

The downturn that has occurred since beginning the paper trading is clearly visible, but in some respects is similar to that of the downturn from bet 600 to bet 800. In fact, at around bet 1400 it looked as though the strategy was recovering and would emulate the recovery experienced around bet 900, but the graph has since gone south again.

The rolling bet sequences

The real clue to the performance of this strategy comes from the rolling bet sequences. I have had 319 "paper" bets on this strategy, so I compared the actual performance of my "live" 319 bets to all the previous sequences of 319 bets. I set the reference S/R (flat red line) to my actual S/R of 21.6% and the reference POT (flat blue line) to the actual POT of -8.8%.

This graph tells the story better than any test I know. The actual S/R is clearly much lower than what it has been for every single sequence of 319 bets in the past. The moving red line only approaches the flat red line near the end, which are the actual bets. The same story applies to the POT. At no time previously was there a sequence of 319 bets which produced a loss. There was one point which basically broke even, but the actual performance is -8.8%. At one stage during live betting the 319 bet sequence actually produced a -20% loss which was significantly lower than any previous result. (Yes, this includes some of the pre-live bets but is still worth considering.)

Conclusion

It is quite obvious that this strategy is not performing anywhere near it's previous performance. I have stopped paper trading this performance, but have put it on a review list where I will review it's performance after 12 months. Some of the ideas in this strategy are good ideas, and I may pull the strategy apart and rework it in a few months time. It is possible that one or two "tweaks" will turn the strategy around, but I don't hold out much hope.

Regards,
Chris Stebbing.

BetGrapher is available for purchase at an introductory price of AUD$99.00. Please click here to purchase BetGrapher. A Demo version containing the data used in this tutorial is available for download from my forum. Click here to go to the forum page.

 
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