With the end of the 2013 Champ Bros sports betting synd only a few weeks away, the EPL has delivered us a little Xmas bonus. The win wasn’t without its share of tense moments, but the reward is always worth the stress.

I have been using my soccer draw theory for most the EPL season so far when it has been my turn to bet (each alternate week with Kenny), and even though the dividends so far haven’t been great, I know that mathematically this system will work over time and I just needed to ride out the lean periods to hit the win that arrived this week.

The basic premise of the system, as has been outlined before, is simple. There are 3 outcomes in a soccer match; home win, draw, away win. So to make a ‘good bet’, the odds have to exceed the number of possible outcomes. In the EPL, this bet is always provided by the draw.

My approach is to cast a net over the games that I think will be draws and then group them into multis. My preferred method is to pick 5 matches and then group them into 3-leg multis, which creates 10 combinations to cover all bets. With $50 to bet, this then requires 10 bets @ $5 each.

Below are some of the other combinations that could be used:

3 matches – 2-leg multis = 3 combinations

3 matches – 3-leg multi = 1 combination

4 matches – 2-leg multis = 6 combinations

4 matches – 3-leg multis = 4 combinations

4 matches – 4-leg multis = 1 combination

5 matches – 2-leg multis = 10 combinations

5 matches – 3-leg multis = 10 combinations

5 matches – 4-leg multis = 5 combinations

5 matches – 5-leg multis = 1 combination

6 matches – 2-leg multis = 15 combinations

6 matches – 3-leg multis = 20 combinations

6 matches – 4-leg multis = 15 combinations

6 matches – 5-leg multis = 6 combinations

6 matches – 6-leg multis = 1 combination

Now the idea of putting on 10 or more separate bets and getting all the combinations correctly covered might seem a bit daunting, but Sportsbet.com.au allows you to choose how many draws you want to bet on, and then choose ‘doubles’ or ‘trebles’ which automatically groups all the possible combinations for you, where you then decide how much you wish to wager on each individual bet.

So for my preferred method, I choose the 5 draws I want to group, select ‘trebles’ and then $5. The 10 combinations x 3-leg multis are then automatically grouped and the total cost is $50. Too easy.

So in the EPL last weekend, I did my usual research on which teams are drawing the most home and away, how much the teams have been scoring in recent weeks and where the teams are situated on the ladder. When choosing the 5 matches to bet on each week, the easy approach is to exclude the top 5 teams and see how the other matches look. There are also some teams, namely Everton (the draw kings of recent years), West Bromwich Albion, Southampton and Stoke that are drawing the most so far this season, and then there is Crystal Palace and Fulham, who only have 1 draw each so far, making them the teams to avoid.

It became apparent fairly quickly that this week looked good for draws, with the teams I ended up choosing meeting most the criteria above, with the most significant factor being that the teams in each match were situated close together on the ladder.

If there are only a few matches that fit the criteria in the EPL, I will extend my research to the English League Championship or the Australian A-League and look for matches fitting the same criteria. This requires a bit of extra work, but it really only takes about 10 minutes or so once you have the resources at your disposal, like league tables and previous results. We like the ESPN FC league tables as with a click you can see which teams have drawn the most overall, at home or away.

The 5 matches I chose to draw, and their odds, were:

West Ham v Sunderland – 3.30

Newcastle v Southampton – 3.30

Cardiff v West Brom – 3.20

Hull v Stoke – 3.20

Norwich v Swansea – 3.25

- The odds are from Sportsbet.com.au

So for each match, the odds were above 3-1 which makes them all ‘good bets’. How this plays out for 3-leg multis or trebles is where my system gets its power from.

If we take the 3 best odds from these matches, we get 3.3 x 3.3 x 3.25 = 35.39. With 27 possible outcomes from the 3 matches, we are getting odds of just over 35-1. Professional poker players or casino gamblers would back this scenario every single time, as they know that profit is made by making ‘good bets’ over long periods of time. There will always be occasions where the losing streak may exceed the odds of winning, but these are accounted for as standard deviations from the mathematical expectation and in the long run they will even out, and theoretically end up in your favour. What the ‘good bet’ also allows for is some leeway in the payout frequency. With 27 possible outcomes, you would have to win it once every 27 bets to make money, but when you are getting over the odds, you only have to win once every 35 weeks to still make a small profit.

The math and computer science PhD poker players, like Chris Ferguson, run simulations of millions of hands to get their data and devise their poker strategies (as well as incorporating Game Theory), but in the real world you can’t play that many hands in a life time. To put this in perspective, the final table of 9 players in this year’s 2013 WSOP main event played 261 hands to determine the winner. They are creating mathematical models that will work in simulated poker, but when applied to shorter time periods in the real, you won’t always get the expected results, thus you have to ride out the lean times having faith that the strategy is sound. Poker pros like Ferguson only need a slight edge in the odds to gamble, knowing that if they are pushing their money in with a 51% chance of winning the hand, over time they will be in front. So to get odds of 35-1 on a bet with 27 possible outcomes is a gold mine waiting to be plundered.

As the matches unfolded over the 2 nights, the draws kept occurring. After Saturday’s games I already had 3 out of the 4 draws, which meant I had a guaranteed return for one of the trebles.

The results at this stage were:

West Ham v Sunderland: 0-0

Newcastle v Southampton: 1-1

Cardiff v West Brom: 1-0

Hull v Stoke: 0-0

The treble already won equated to 3.3 x 3.3 x 3.2 x $5 = $174.24. I was a bit disappointed that the Cardiff match didn’t end in a draw, but the results so far were in our favour and some money was already in the bank. With one match to go on the Sunday, it held a significant return for us if it ended in a draw, as it would create 4 winning trebles overall with the combination bets.

With Kenny watching the Norwich v Swansea match live on Foxtel in Perth, and me keeping track of the score on the net, we got to 1-1 at half time after a blinding long range equaliser by Hooper from Norwich at the 45 minute mark.

I rang Kenny up and he gave me blow by blow updates in the 2^{nd} half, where one shot on goal hit the cross bar and Swansea’s keeper Vorm made some miraculous saves to keep the home team at bay. When the full time whistle finally blew, the score hadn’t changed and we got our 4^{th} draw and landed a very healthy return on the $50 outlay for the week. We were nervous wrecks by the end but the sense of elation that winning brings never gets old and it sure as hell beats the sense of deflation you feel when your bet gets rolled (mind you, we still get excited winning $5 on a greyhound).

Norwich v Swansea: 1-1

Now for the fun part! With the 4 combinations @ $5 each, we ended up winning the following:

3.3 x 3.3 x 3.2 x $5 = $174.24

3.3 x 3.3 x 3.25 x $5 = $176.96

3.3 x 3.2 x 3.25 x $5 = $171.60

3.3 x 3.2 x 3.25 x $5 = $171.60

**Total $694.40**

If the Cardiff game had of also ended in a draw, we would have collected on all 10 combinations for a return of $1716.16! Maybe next time.

This is the second time there have been 4 draws in a week in the EPL 2013/14 season, and there has also been 5 draws once, after 16 rounds so far. So with 22 rounds still to go, there is a good chance there will be 4 or more draws again, and if we are lucky enough to be on them, this will put us on track for the expected returns for the year.

Now there is something else to keep in mind. If we round the win up to $700, we got a return of 14-1, so we have to achieve this every 14 bets to make a profit. Of course if we get some 3 draw wins along the way of about $170 then this gives us an extension of 3 extra weeks each time. If we do happen to pick all 5 draws and win around $1700, then this would be at 34-1 and would only have to be achieved every 34 weeks, or nearly once a season, to make money. If you hit it twice in a season or 3 times in 2 seasons, you will be way in front.

In the past few seasons these are some of the key draw results:

2011/12 – 7 draws once, 5 draws twice, 4 draws six times and 3 draws seven times

2012/13 – 6 draws once, 5 draws four times, 4 draws eleven times and 3 draws three times

2013/14 – 5 draws once, 4 draws twice and 3 draws five times (after 16 weeks)

So if this season catches up over the rest of the fixture to anywhere near some of the draw results of the previous two seasons, there is some money still to be made in the remaining 22 rounds of EPL soccer.

Another approach, if you are an aggressive gambler and are prepared to score a win less frequently, is to just bet on the treble, or 4-leg or 5-leg multi outright. If I had been good enough to pick all 4 draws this week and bet $50 on the 4-leg multi, I would have done very nicely.

$50 x 3.3 x 3.3 x 3.25 x 3.2 = $5662.80

So if you fancy yourself as a soccer tipster, you would only have to get this right once every 113 attempts, or once nearly every 3 seasons if you are placing one bet of $50 a round, to make some serious money. And with 4 or more draws occurring 28 times since the beginning of the 2011/12 season, it is possible that you could have achieved this feat more than once in that time.

Now let’s say the Cardiff game was a draw and you had a 5-leg multi of all those games as some sort of tipping genius, you would have won $5662.80 x 3.2 = $18120.96 for your $50 bet. You only have to land this best once every 362 bets to make a profit, or once every 9.5 seasons if you are placing one bet a round. There have been 5 or more draws 9 times since the beginning of the 2011/12 season, so if you lucked out and got one of those 5-leg multis, you’d have another 7 years to do it again to be way in front, or another 9.5 years after that to break even.

Actually, after looking at the previous year’s results and the expected payout for getting lucky, I think I’m going to change my system and just go the hack!

Beaner