Archive | November, 2012

All-nighter delirious blog update

30 Nov

Just spent an all-nighter trying to get this presentation for class completed.  The job search is on hold during finals.  Unfortunately, that means this blog is going slower than usual as well.

Soon enough it will be over and there will be some more hockey in store.  I already have Amsterdam, Cologne, Prague, Vienna and Bratislava on the travel agenda over the holidays.  There are also a couple MOL League games that I will be attending as well.  Lots of updates to come after this two week period.

Despite my lack of sleep, I plan to live update the MOL League action tonight from the comfort of my home.  The games are:

DAB Docler – Ujpest:  DAB has not lost at home yet this season (yikes)

Brasov and Ferencvaros – in this week’s EuroHockey.com article, I called this the Game of the Week.  Both teams need points and they need them from each other.  Brasov was on fire over the weekend.  Ferencvaros can come alive at any point – though I don’t know how well of a travel squad they have these days…important matchup nonetheless.

Csikszereda vs. Miskolc:  Miskolc has the second spot by a game.  Csikszereda moved into third because of a slumping Novy Zamky.  This could be a potential first round playoff matchup.  The winner could get the home ice…which makes a huge difference if you have to play one or more games on the road eight hours away.

Follow me on Twitter and on this blog for live updates.  Enjoy your weekend!

#Monday thoughts

26 Nov

A quick post on this Monday before I delve back into my final exam studies.  This sports stuff is so much funner than school!

Three weeks from now I will be on vacation, so got to keep my eyes on the prize.

My Monday thought, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, is being thankful for how nice people are.  This blog is part of a reaching out effort to network for a future in sports.  In the meantime, I have been in contact with a lot of people that I have been out of touch with.  I also have met a lot of new people in the past two months that have been very helpful in my pursuits.  I am thankful I decided to do this project and I feel stronger than ever about my future.

Ok-back to studying.  I hope everyone is excited for the coming holidays.

#Sunday shout outs!

25 Nov

Final exams on the horizon, so I have been updating a little less frequently.  Nevertheless, spread the love to your friends.

Thanks to my new blog followers this week.  Check out their sites:

jennifermdarling
http://Thereisnosuchthingasamoralorimmoralbook.Booksareeitherwellwrittenorbadlywritten.
DrAnthonysBlog
http://dranthonysblog.wordpress.com

A couple new Twitter followers this week as well.  Follow them too.

Twitter is a silly thing by the way….for every new follower I gain I lose an old one.  I guess live Tweeting annoys them.  Not even sure who unfollowed me…just an interesting observation watching the numbers go up and down.

Viralul Zilei by FmyLife.ro

Social Tourist Tips for City Trip Budapest. Recommendations populair things to do for tourists and locals.

Author and Publisher of A to Z Guide to Hockey Terms book and Hockey Terms app for iPhone: http://tinyurl.com/HockeyTerms

 

“Ultras” in European sport. #Italians at it again against #UK fans. Does this happen in North America?

23 Nov

Earlier this week, the British press reported on a horrific incident prior to a European football (soccer) match in Rome between Tottenham (UK) and Lazio (Italy). The link to the Guardian article is here if you want to read the whole thing.

The story in a nutshell is that 50 or so Italian “Ultras” dressed in modern suits of armor and equipped with knives bats, and other bludgeons, went into a bar where Tottenham fans were known to be having some drinks and unleashed an attack on the patrons. Several were stabbed and beaten and had to be admitted to the hospital. Others luckily got away unscathed. The bar was also badly damaged in the incident.

An Italian newspaper covering the incident stated the scene looked like “urban warfare” and the worse was feared (read: murder).

I found out about this from Twitter. A Canadian hockey player tweeted about the incident and exclaimed this was the difference between European and North American sports. In North America, you can wear your teams opposing jersey and be fairly safe, with a verbal assault or beer thrown on you here or there. At first, I completely agreed….but then I thought that our games are not completely without violence.

To be fair, Canada had a crazy riot in Vancouver in 2011. In a preseason baseball, there was huge fight out in California. The Philadelphia Eagles have notoriously rowdy fans and even had a courtroom to process illegal offenders in Veterans Stadium. I have had friends who were not allowed into several bars during the Stanley Cup playoffs in Pittsburgh while wearing a Red Wings jersey. To my Canadian friend’s credit though, we do not get a gang of 50 people in protective gear and premeditate attacks on opposing team members. This gets me back to the Ultras….

When I first attended my first soccer match in Budapest we encountered a wall scrawled with “solo ultras” in spray paint. I initially thought Ultras might have been the team mascot. Ultras are actually the crazy, fanatic, super fans.

Image

A weathered Ujpest Ultras sticker on a light pole outside of Ferenc Szusza Stadium north of Budapest.

Ultras have even been studied academically. In the linked study, Ultras are described as a European phenomenon that do “not deliberately set out to commit violence”. They consider themselves the ultimate fan and demand attention from the club. They also spend a lot of money each game on elaborate pyrotechnic demonstrations (often in excess of 4,500 Euros per game). Seeing the pregame demonstrations in person, I must admit they are pretty amazing, but anything similar is strictly prohibited across the Atlantic.

Ok-so the problem is not all of the Ultras. But, in specific countries, Ultras are an issue. In Hungary, some Ujpest and Ferencvaros fans have been known to meet in a location away from the security of the game to brawl. If people want to get together and voluntarily beat each other, it is a little weird I suppose, but they are all adults. The problem is with innocent by-standards being harmed.

If these incidents are rare, then the police rightfully should look at them as a few bad apples and prosecute them as necessary. A major problem arises when there are multiple incidents and the government allows matches to continue. It appears some Middleborough fans were attacked in Rome in the same manner prior to a match against AS Roma in 2006.

What’s worse? Some Eastern European teams disguise their sports fandome for nutcase right-wing political ideology. In Czech Republic and Serbia, there have been recent incidents monkey chants at black players on opposing teams. I wrote about these issues, as well as the anti-Semetic incidents in Hungary in a soccer match against the Israeli National Team. Government’s have been complicit in some instances by not investigating when they should and implicit when their governments share a similar ideology (Hungary’s third largest party, Jobbik, are deeply anti-Semitic and anti-Roma).

So what should be done? UEFA has begun punishing national teams for their behavior (Croatia fined $100,000 for racist chants against Italy this summer). I think this is the right direction.

On that note, I think all games in Rome should be suspended after at least two wild incidents over the past seven years. You could argue that punishing all football fans because of 50 thugs is unneccessary. This is no longer about sports, but for keeping the safety of innocent tourists. Rome has a huge tourism industry and if they cannot protect their tourists, they should dissuade them from coming until they can address the problem. Punishment must include self-policing from the teams and from the real “Ultras”. I believe it will take the courage to suspend all games by the government, preventing these cowardly acts until proper action can be made.

#Moneypuck Wednesday. How bookmakers make money using probabilities.

21 Nov

The blog post will be a little slow over the next few weeks because of final exams.  My plans to pursue some research to determine winning or losing teams will have to hold off until after 13 December.

However, I was thinking that I could still do some reading and sharing in the meantime.  Thinking of probabilities, I wondered how casinos determined their odds (probabilities of a team winning) and how they made money off of it.  So, I went to everyone’s favorite research site…Wikipedia.

My thought was that if they enticed people more with giving the team most expected to lose really good odds, then people would feel like taking a risk would be more worthwhile because of the payoff to loss ratio (risk taking is a whole subfield on its own in economics).  But, the bookie/casino would lose a ton of money if the underdog won and the payoff odds were too disproportionate.  I suppose there is an equilibrium between risk taking and odds making.

Anyway, here are the basics on odds….it is the probability a team will win based on certain situations:

In considering a soccer match (the event) that can be either a ‘home win’, ‘draw’ or ‘away win’ (the outcomes) then the following odds might be encountered to represent the true chance of each of the three outcomes:

Home: EvensDraw: 2-1

Away: 5-1

These odds can be represented as relative probabilities (or percentages by multiplying by 100) as follows:

Evens (or 1-1) corresponds to a relative probability of 12 (50%)
2-1 corresponds to a relative probability of 13 (3313%)
5-1 corresponds to a relative probability of 16 (1623%)

By adding the percentages together a total ‘book’ of 100% is achieved (representing a fair book). The bookmaker, in his wish to avail himself of a profit, will invariably reduce these odds. Consider the simplest model of reducing, which uses a proportional decreasing of odds.

The not-so-odd fact is that most oddsmakers do not work with a fair book, but they work with the concept of an ‘overround’.  Check out this example:

Home: 4-5
Draw: 9-5
Away: 4-1
4-5 corresponds to a relative probability of 59 (5559%)
9-5 corresponds to a relative probability of 514 (3557%)
4-1 corresponds to a relative probability of 15 (20%)

By adding these percentages together a ‘book’ of 1111763%, or approximately 111.27%, is achieved.

The amount by which the actual ‘book’ exceeds 100% is known as the ‘overround’:  it represents the bookmaker’s potential profit if he is fortunate enough to accept bets in the exact proportions required. Thus, in an “ideal” situation, if the bookmaker accepts £111.27 in bets at his own quoted odds in the correct proportion, he will pay out only £100 (including returned stakes) no matter what the actual outcome of the football match. Examining how he potentially achieves this:

A stake of £55.56 @ 4-5 returns £100.00 (rounded down to nearest penny) for a home win.
A stake of £35.71 @ 9-5 returns £ 99.98 (rounded down to nearest penny) for a drawn match
A stake of £20.00 @ 4-1 returns £100.00 (exactly) for an away win

Total stakes received — £111.27 and a maximum payout of £100 irrespective of the result. This £11.27 profit represents a 10.1% profit on turnover (11.27 × 100/111.27).

In reality, people use models of reducing more complicated than the model of “ideal” situation.

Sneaky!  The books are cooked!

Remember that when you are betting on games that you are not looking alone on the best probabilities, risk taking behavior and good payoffs.  Your bet is part of a larger over round scheme put together by smart math folks that are going to make money for the casino…and most likely make you lose yours.  Not to mention, the profits are made off by the combination of games and odds in a certain period of time.  That means there is the crazy combination of cooking the books for a whole set of games in all sports where profitability is maximized overall for the entire set of games.

On that note, anyone want to put a friendly wager on an over/under on the NHL agreeing to terms to end the lock out by the end of the year?

MatLab, the gym, hockey as respite, upcoming final exams, the never ending job hunt and other #Monday thoughts

19 Nov

These final weeks of the year are starting to get crazy.  Whoever pioneered the field of Industrial Organization is a genius.  I don’t mean that in a good way, like going to get beers is a genius idea (which is a genius idea every single time).  I mean this guy/girl has to seriously be a certified genius.  I spent nearly a full weekend in the computer lab trying to use MatLab.  My engineering friend told me he had entire semester-long classes on MatLab.  Me – 2 hours of MatLab instruction.  I am expected to be able to make loop commands with 3D arrays and blah, blah, blah.  The kicker is, others can do this stuff I am in class with.  It is impressive!

What it meant for me is a missed hockey game on Sunday.  Look, I am volunteering and taking stats.  I meet usually with angry coaches on a team that doesn’t win very often.  But, hockey games have become a respite for me from the day-to-day classes and studying.  The game I missed: the boys won.  Maybe I am a bad omen….

My wife also convinced me to join the gym.  So, with finals starting in three weeks the schedule is becoming a bit of a mess:

No room for error.  Take too long in the lab, miss the gym.  Take too long with homework, miss a class.

On top of all this craziness I am still trying to find a summer internship.  I am still sending out a bunch of emails.  Of course, I also need to make some time for blogging.

Thursday hockey.  Friday should be awesome – date night with the wifey!  Saturday we are celebrating Thanksgiving with some friends.

Lesson:  always make time for leisure.  Work hard, play hard!

#Sunday shout outs….and the perils of being a PhD student

18 Nov

First, the perils of being in this economics program.  Ok, look, things aren’t so bad.  It sucked not being able to watch hockey on Sunday because I was in a computer lab all weekend.  Hard work never hurt anyone though.  The team I cover, Ujpest, picked up 4 points this weekend!  Still a long way to go, but the teams above them lost as well and they have a rivalry game Thursday.  If they are going to make up ground…now is the time.

Quick Sunday shoutouts

Had a couple new followers this week.  Everything is helpful!  If you read this and you know someone who might want to work with someone like me…I am in the hunt for internships.  Pay the shout out forward!

Blogs

Check these two out!  Thanks for following me guys:

turkischland
http://turkischland.wordpress.com
Burndog
http://berniewiebs.wordpress.com

Twitter

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The sport of hockey has a long history of pride, tradition and recognition that is often captured and symbolized by a hockey puck.@HockeySciTech iPhone app.

Japanese student who loves Washington Capitals. Does the lockout end yet?