Black cat in a Ballpark

Random enough headline? I picked up a book called “How to Find a Black Cat in a Coal Cellar” after encouraging review by James Butler of Betfair Pro Trader. And the review didn’t lie, it is a good book and I can wholeheartedly recommend it. And as mentioned by James in his review, while it is written from a viewpoint of analysing tipping services nothing prevents one from using the same ideas when analysing homegrown systems and strategies. I plan to use these tests for my own systems later on but as a practice run I will begin with analysing a betting record I have from last year.

At the beginning of my betting life I ran a tipster proofing blog in Finnish. One of the tests and the longest running one was for a service called Sports Picks Buffet. Service collected tips from several sources and then chose best bets based on ratio between opinions of different tipsters. Service alternated between seasons with MLB and NBA and during my test all tips were for baseball. Buffet was ran under a pseudonym and fake Phd credentials which person behind the system came clean about a short while after my test concluded. Currently the service is run under a presumably correct name and shortened name of The Picks Buffet.

First. lets look at basic info about the betting record. There were total of 336 bets over roughly a three month period and all were baseball moneyline bets. During the test period meagre profit of 6.38 points or return on turnover of 1.90% was achieved. Strikerate during the test was 60.12% and average odds were 1.71. In the chart below you can see how bets unfolded.

As you can see, there was an healthy upwards trend in the results, which was followed by a decline and a new climb. Profits never rose to any extreme heights.

How about statistical significance? Testing this was biggest takeaway from the book I mentioned at the beginning of the post. Anyway, for these bets we can calculate a p value of 34.04% meaning that there is over one third of a chance that results above are purely due to chance alone. Black cat book recommends a conservative limit of 0.01% and when value should be below of that for results to be considered statistically significant I think it is safe to say that these results are not.

If we were to draw a normal distribution with average results above we would get a figure as below. But ofcourse there were many bets above and below of 1.71 that was the average. Betting with odds of 1.71 and fair odds of 1.66 there would still be a 26% chance of negative return.


(Sport) Picks Buffet is priced at pretty expensive 125$ per month and I don’t think these results quite justify that kind of a pricetag. Especially when there is service providing basically a same kind of service for cheaper. I haven’t personally tried this, but based on info on their site it could be used in similar way. So to me Scamdicappers seems to offers the same thing, only for multiple US sports and for 50$ per month.