2014 - Round 25 : Taking Every Opportunity

In Finals series of years past, MoS' wagering has been generally subdued, so this week's flurry of activity by all three Funds on the two available contests came as a surprise.

The Head-to-Head Fund lobbed two 6-7% wagers on the Home team favourites, both priced only just attractively enough to permit its wagering at all. The Line Fund was happy to take the same two teams giving a bit over a goal's start each, and the Margin Fund saw fit to take the Cats by 1 to 9 points and Fremantle by 10 to 19 points.

These eight wagers, together, put over 5% of the original Recommended Portfolio funds at risk, an aggregate I wouldn't have believed was possible in a Finals week, especially one in which only two games were on offer.

A review of the history of Week 2 of the Finals since 2000, however, suggests that wagering on the Home teams is, if nothing else, swimming with the tide of history. In that period, teams finishing in any of the Top 4 positions on the final home-and-away season ladder have failed to progress from the Semi-Finals only twice in 28 attempts.

That said, the two failures (Port Adelaide's loss to the Hawks in 2001, and West Coast's loss to the Pies in 2007) did come in 3rd v 6th fixtures, which is what this week's Cats v Roos game represents. The record for the other fixture, 4th v 5th, shows the 4th-placed team prevailing on all six occasions.

Back to the betting then, or more particularly the Ready Reckoner where we find that both games carry similar upsides of around 3.5%, and similar downsides of around 2.5%.

Maximum upside in the Cats' game would be triggered by an 8 or 9 point Cats win, and maximum downside by a Cats loss of any magnitude. In the other game, Fremantle could deliver the largest return through winning by 10 to 19 points, and inflict the largest loss by losing by any amount. For both games, victories will be sufficient to realise at least a small profit.


There's not a lot to discuss about the Head-to-Head Tipsters this week as they're almost unanimous once more in their opinions about both contests, the lone exception being C_Marg who's sided with the Roos in Friday's game.

So, with only three games to be played after the conclusion of this weekend, Bookie_9 is assured of at least a tie on the end-of-season MoS Leaderboard. Barring an extremely unlikely set of three contraran tips it is, in fact, assured of outright victory.

This also means that Bookie Knows Best will fall short of the top spot on the MoS Leaderboard for yet another season making it three years in a row that it's failed to achieve that position.

C_Marg aside, the Margin Predictors all also have the two Home teams winning, though there is a surprisingly high level of disagreement about the size of those victories. H2H_U10 has the Cats winning by 28 points and so represents one of the Extreme Predictors in this game, the other being C_Marg who has the Cats losing by 3 points. C_Marg is also an Extreme Predictor in the other clash, assessing Fremantle as only 4-point favourites. It's joined in its Extremism by Win_7 in this game, which predicts Fremantle to win by 40 points.

In absolute terms, the distance between the margin predictions of MoS Top 2 Predictors, PredCombo_7 and Bookie_LPSO, is only about 3 points, which is insufficient to make much of a difference to the current 18-point gap.

ChiPS' outlying predictions can be attributed largely to its relatively elevated Ratings for the Away teams in both contests. It Rates the Roos higher than the Cats, and Port Adelaide higher than Fremantle and, as a consequence, for HGA estimation purposes treats the Roos and Port Adelaide as being the Home teams.

The elevated Ratings for the Roos and Port therefore have two effects on the assessed margin prediction, one direct since the difference in Ratings is an input into the margin calculation, and the other indirect via the HGA component. (Note that ChiPS does, however, still recognise the Interstate Status benefit for Fremantle in its game.)

The result for the Cats is that it has:

  • a negative Rating Difference
  • a marginally superior Form Difference 
  • a negative HGA (ie the negative of the Roos' HGA when playing at the MCG)
  • no Interstate Status benefit

It is therefore predicted to lose by about 3 points. Without the HGA adjustment it would have been projected to win by about 3 points.

For Freo, the decomposition is:

  • a negative Rating Difference
  • a negative Form Difference 
  • a positive HGA (ie the negative of Port's HGA when playing at Subiaco, which for it is classified as "Other")
  • a +5.6 point Interstate Status benefit

It is therefore predicted to win by about 4 points. Without the HGA adjustment it would have been projected to win by about 8 points.

C_Marg's alternative take on the outcome of the two contests is mirrored in C_Prob's probability assessments, which make it Extreme Predictor in both games. H2H_Unadj is the matching Extreme Predictor in the Cats v Roos game, and WinPred occupies the position in the other game.

This week, for only the fourth time this season, the probability assessments of H2H_Unadj differ from those of H2H_Adj. This has come about, as it always does, because H2H_Unadj's probability assessment for the Home team exceeded the TAB Bookmaker's by over 25%. In such cases H2H_Adj's assessment is set equal to the Bookmaker's assessment plus 25%.

The Line Fund algorithm rates the Cats as very likely to prevail on the Line market, and Fremantle as being less likely but still more likely than not.