June 23, 2021

How do you know when you’re onto a winning strategy?

I've been testing a system recently and it's been emotional, a bit of a roller coaster.

Do you get that feeling when you follow something that seems to work, it keeps making profit, but you just keep expecting it to fail.

I’m quite positive about most things but have to be cynical about betting systems and tipsters, to stay safe from losses and to protect readers that trust our opinions.

What follows is the story of how a recent test of a system panned out.

This first chart below shows the results to one point stakes after 176 bets, the ROI was 12.5% after commission.

This chart shows the results of real bets placed at a few seconds before the off at whatever price was available at that time.

The bets were all placed on auto pilot into Betfair by a spreadsheet linked to the Betting Assistant software.

After I had programmed the spreadsheet, I had to do nothing except check the results.

176 bets are a good test of any system, right? I thought I was on my way to a nice side income.

This next chart was after 589 bets.

Now we are pretty much down to break even a minus -0.7% ROI

And I'm thinking it was a false dawn, but it's all automated let’s see what happens next.

After 777 bets we've had two new highs and optimism has returned, we are now at 4% ROI, not huge but this will do for something that requires zero work.

I can turn over lots of money every day and make 4% on everything I turn over, onwards and upwards! This time next year Rodney…

Let’s keep going and start thinking about a bigger bank and bigger stakes.

Fast forward now to bet 906 and as you can see there were a few false dawns, but we ended up at minus 0.18 points which over 906 bets is as close to breakeven as you will get over this many bets (0.01% ROI).

I'm a pretty stubborn, positive thinking hang in there sort of guy, but after 906 bets I now feel sure the system I am following has no advantage.

I mean 906 bets and still at zero, more or less. But that positivity, that hope of easy money I suppose has me thinking why are there only big profits before returning to zero? The chart is one sided there are no 30 point drops, no big losses that return to zero only gains that drop back down.

So, what can we learn from this?

Well first up, you can’t judge a system, strategy or tipping service on just one or two hundred bets. Anything can look good over a short period, it's called variance.

Second if something is near breakeven after a close to a thousand bets the selection method is probably no better than random.

Third, if you see me on the street throw a few coins in my hat, joking I only tested to very small stakes and ended up pretty much where I started, but they were all real bets.

What do you make of it?

Should I carry on for another thousand bets?

Darren Power


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Steve Carter

Steve Carter is the Associate Editor of On Course Profits magazine. He has relied on his betting skills and knowledge for his income for the past 15+ years. He specialises in horse racing and football betting & trading and knows what it takes to make a living from betting. He is always looking for new angles for himself and On Course Profits readers.

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