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Betting on ITF tennis tournaments using statistical models


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Hi all,

in this thread I'll be sharing the results of my bets on ITF tournaments which I place using a model-based approach.

Why ITF?

ITF tournaments (lowest tier of professional tennis) seem to be an imperfect betting market where information is often scarce, so I assume bookies do not always know exactly what they're doing when they're offering odds. For Challenger/ATP/WTA tournaments my approach didn't work so well (albeit on a small sample) so I stopped betting there and concentrated on ITF. I bet on both men's and women's tournaments (no W60, W80, W100 because they attract a player field of a comparable level to ATP challengers which I find hugely unpredictable). The best bookies for ITF tournaments are bet365, Betclic. Bwin and Unibet occasionally also offer ok odds.

What does my model do?

It's a relatively simple Logistic Regression that predicts each player's win probabilities. Following main factors go into the model:

  • ELO rating (several versions calculated with different formulae - some place more weight in recent form, others are more influenced by long-term results)
  • Recent changes in ELO rating
  • Players' form on the surface played
  • Head-to-head (overall/on surface played)
  • Home advantage

Additional factors I apply on top of the model as an "expert judgment" are:

  • Are "rising talents" involved in a match? (they tend to have ELO rankings lower than their true level)
  • Are players from different playing fields involved? (In case 2 players meet, one of which mainly plays in Challengers and the other in Futures, the ELO of the Challenger player tends to underestimate his relative level because he plays in a stronger field; similarly, players from the Asian fields tend to be weaker than their European/American counterparts with the same ELO)
  • Has the model performed well with the players I'm betting on/against? (if I bet against Roger Federer twice this week and he wins both times, I'm not likely to bet another time even if the model recommends me to)
  • Do players have sufficient match form? (I won't bet on a player who hasn't played for 6 months if the model recommends me to)
  • Tiredness (I won't bet on a player who yesterday played a 4-hour match).

The probabilities generated by the model are then compared with to odds. I only bet on odds between 1.4 and 2.9. For higher odds, I found the model to be unreliable, for lower odds it just doesn't make sense as I live in Germany where all winnings on betting are taxed 5%. To account for model risks I apply an additional margin of conservatism to select my bets.

So if the model tells me that Player A wins with 60% probability, the lowest odds I want to take on Player A would be (1/0.6)*(1/0.95)*1,1=1.93. The (1/0.95) multiplier accounts for the betting tax, the 1.1 multiplier accounts for model error. In case I'm really convinced by the players' stats I might accept odds of 1.85-1.90.

The model is calibrated on an extensive history (ITF men's and women's matches starting 2001).

Final words

The 5% tax makes profitable betting in Germany pretty much impossible, so I only bet small amounts for fun. In this thread, I will show both profit before and after tax so people in other countries get a realistic view of the model performance. So far after ~950 bets I have achieved an ROI of around 7% before tax and 2% after tax which I find decent. I will always bet the same amount, let's say a symbolic 5 EUR on each match. Let's hope I can maintain my ROI after I start posting. I also hope this thread attracts some tennis betting enthusiasts, especially those who use statistical/ML methods and are willing to share their secrets because I truly believe a scientific approach can make betting profitable.

Edited by kuklachert
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First results: I will post totals/ROI at the end of each week.

Hi all, in this thread I'll be sharing the results of my bets on ITF tournaments which I place using a model-based approach. Why ITF? ITF tournaments (lowest tier of professional tennis

Roundup of the first week: Total stake: 45.00 Total winnings: 52.45 (50.08 after tax) ROI: 16.6% (11.3% after tax)

First results:

19 hours ago, kuklachert said:
  • Dusty H. Boyer v Simon Carr, M15 Cancun, 5 EUR, 2.10 with bet365 - Lost
  • Arlinda Rushiti v Victoria Kalaitzis, W15 Monastir, 5 EUR, 1.50 with bet365 - Void, returned 5.00
19 hours ago, kuklachert said:
  • Marsel Ilhan v Khumoyun Sultanov, M25 Nonthaburi, 5 EUR, 1.48 with bwin - Won 7.40 (7.03 after tax)
8 hours ago, kuklachert said:
  • Cadantu v Miyazaki, W25 Trnava, 5 EUR, 2.36 with Betclic - Won 11.80 (11.21)
  • T. Boyer v Dzhavakian, M15 Sharm El Sheikh, 5 EUR, 1.93 with Betclic - Won 9.65 (9.17)

I will post totals/ROI at the end of each week.

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On 2/8/2020 at 9:16 AM, kuklachert said:
  • Podzus v Rybakov, M25 Palm Coast, 5 EUR, 2.00 with Betclic - Won 10.00 (9.50)
21 hours ago, kuklachert said:
  • Barrios Vera v Sakamoto, M25 Lima, 2.20 with bet365 - Lost

Today's picks:

  • Davies v Farmer, M25 Barnstaple qualifiers, 5 EUR, 1.90 with bet365
  • Desperrier v Dentoni, W25 Grenoble qualifiers, 5 EUR, 1.72 with bwin
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12 hours ago, kuklachert said:
  • Dzhavakian v Caldes, M15 Sharm el Shekh qualifiers, 5 EUR, 1.45 with Betclic - Won 7.25 (6.89)
  • Brouleau v Arcangioli, W25 Grenoble qualifiers, 5 EUR, 2.75 with bet365 - Lost
  • Miklova v Kubareva, W25 Trnava qualifiers, 5 EUR, 1.45 with Betclic - Won 7.25 (6.89)
12 hours ago, kuklachert said:
  • Tverijonas v Little, M25 Barnstaple qualifiers, 1.44 with bet365 - Void
  • Matas Ortega v Damas, M15 Palmanova, 1.54 with Betclic - Won 7.70 (7.32)

New picks:

  • Stevenson v Tessa, M15 Sharm El Sheikh, 2.50 with bet365
  • Papik v Bouzige, M15 Sharm El Sheikh quals, 2.25 with bet365
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Results:

On 2/10/2020 at 9:43 PM, kuklachert said:
  • Stevenson v Tessa, M15 Sharm El Sheikh, 2.50 with bet365 - Lost
  • Papik v Bouzige, M15 Sharm El Sheikh quals, 2.25 with bet365 - Lost
On 2/10/2020 at 11:09 PM, kuklachert said:
  • Shimizu v Routliffe, W15 Hamilton, 1.50 with Unibet - Lost
On 2/11/2020 at 8:49 AM, kuklachert said:
  • Kocevar-Desman v Massara, M15 Heraklion, 1.84 with Betclic - Lost
  • Bouquet v Amoros Ramos, M15 Palmanova quals, 1.70 with Betclic - Won 8.50 (8.08)
On 2/11/2020 at 11:26 AM, kuklachert said:
  • Gutierrez v Arreche, M25 Lima, 1.51 with Betclic - Lost
  • Rybakov v Bergevi, M25 Naples quals, 1.98 with Betclic - Won 9.90 (9.41)
15 hours ago, kuklachert said:
  • Noguchi v Karimov, M25 Aktobe, 2.08 with Betclic - Lost
8 hours ago, kuklachert said:
  • Muntean v Danilina, W25 Grenoble, 2.75 with bet365 - Lost
  • Desperrier v Murray Shahan, W25 Grenoble, 2.37 with bet365 - Lost
  • Bouquet v Zhurbin, M15 Palmanova, 1.89 with Betclic - Won 9.45 (8.98)
4 hours ago, kuklachert said:
  • Slobodshikov v Andreev, M25 Naples, 2.43 with Betclic - Won 12.15 (11.44)

A disappointing couple of days, every close match went the wrong way, but these things happen.

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On 2/11/2020 at 8:39 PM, kuklachert said:
  • D. Demidova v Nefedova, W15 Antalya, 2.37 with bet365 - Void
8 hours ago, kuklachert said:
  • Harris v Bellucci, M15 Heraklion, 2.75 with bet365 - Lost
  • Sakharov v Tabur, M15 Grenoble, 1.55 with Betclic - Won 7.75 (7.36)

Second time this week, my pick loses after being 5-2 up in the third set. But I'm not surrendering 🥊

 

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19 hours ago, kuklachert said:
  • Lazarov v Tajima, M15 Antalya, 1.72 with bwin - Lost

A fitting end to this week, the match again being decided against me by a couple of points. Weekly summary:

Total stake: 125.00
Total winnings: 106.95 (102.10 after tax)

Totals since thread start:

Total stake: 170.00
Total winnings: 159.40 (152.18)
ROI: -6.2% (-10.5%)

Going on a small break, will continue posting towards the end of next week. Hope you'll miss me. 😄

Edited by kuklachert
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