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on 26 September 2009
Averaging Football

This is a book listing statistics which may, or may not, be of use to you depending on your own style of betting.

Chapter 1 begins with a general introduction to odds and value, stating that to be profitable over the long-term one needs to be able to identify "wrong prices". Chapter 19 (4 pages) concludes the book with a summary of a few skills which makes a bettor successful (such as questioning selections to see if any important information has been overlooked, maintaining patience through tough spells). Every chapter in between briefly analyses some form of betting market (example: who will win, who will score, how many goals, corners, cards), showing statistics on European football for the past 10 years, thus explaining why bookmaker offered prices are set as they are.

If you are new to football betting some of the information may come as a surprise: for instance, a team which is losing by 0-1 is 6% more likely to score the next goal than the winning team (if there is a next goal). Other information is more obvious: for instance, teams promoted to the Premier League fair less well than teams promoted from Division One to the Championship. Pullein provides the statics as proof.

Pullein clearly "knows his onions". But is this guide useful? I cannot imagine ever using the information in the book to formulate my own market prices. To do so I would want first hand access to the data so that I could run my own analyses; this book does not give access to that data (how could it?). So instead it identifies that data which may be relevant to making a tissue.

In short, this book averages historical data and presents it as proof that football follows statistics. And that's what statistics generally do - average the past to predict the future. By doing so, Pullein hopes to identify bookmaker (or Exchange) prices which are incorrect and profit from them in the long term.

What does this mean for the bettor? If you want to use statistics to predict the future you need a database full of historical data; then you can trial ideas and back test. This book gives a rough idea as to what stats can do. By itself it cannot help with your (my) betting.

What is not covered in this book? Betting in circumstances where data does not exist (like in-play betting: Team A down to ten men losing 0-2 in a must win cup game with 33 minutes left on the clock, awful weather conditions, playing against a weakened opposition who've score two lucky goals).

The question of using statistics to predict the future is probably outside the scope of this comment. But for me, statistics simplify the game too much and can therefore miss glaring opportunities. As an example Pullein says: "I make myself aware of a team's results over the last 6, 12, 18 and 24 games, as well as the last 32. The last six, on their own, I would almost always ignore, no matter what they were". I find the last 6 games to be the most important, giving a clear indication to how well a team is really playing and what can be expected in the future. By the time the average stats have caught up that detailed knowledge has long since changed. And this is a weakness with statistics: projections need a lot of data before they become meaningful, and then one must ask if results from 36 matches ago really have any significance today? Paradoxically, Pullein believes they do. Averaging football data results in average projections, a method which misses crucial short-lived data.

As an aside, statistics can also lead us to draw completely wrong conclusions. For example, Pullein states of Steven Gerrard: "Liverpool have won 58 per cent of the Premier League games in which Gerard started and 56 per cent of the games in which he played no part - a difference of just two per cent... even the best players, on their own, contribute less to a team than you might imagine." There may be dozens of separate or combined factors which explain that analysis (like strength of opposition, partnerships within the team, need to win/draw) all of which are not examined. Instead Pullein jumps straight into a far-fetched conclusion. "Lies, damn lies, and statistics."

A more appropriate name for the book would be: The Definitive Guide to Averaging Football.

Recommendation: Read as an introduction to how bookmakers set prices for various football markets.
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on 5 May 2010
If you want to try your hand at football match / goals prediction this well researched / stats packed book is informative about the "hows & whys" on how to do it.The tables & equations are great for putting together spreadsheets / software for match outcome / goals scored / scoreline forecasting.The reasoning is explained for every approach in a clear & informative manner.Highly recommended.
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on 18 October 2014
If you have no idea about how soccer odds are derived, then you could learn something from this book as Pullein demonstrates that past results are a useful guide to predicting future matches. However, the various tables and formulae provided have no betting value whatsoever. For example, let’s say that you use knowledge gleaned from the book to evaluate that Man Utd have a 70% chance of winning their next match. The odds, however, suggest that the market believe they have a 65% chance. Who’s more likely to be correct, Pullein or the market? (I know who I’m more inclined to trust!) The answer is that you don’t know – the book provides no analysis of how reliable these formulae are, which renders them useless. Why bother calculating from tables when the average odds from a comparison site will give you a very good estimate of the likely outcome probabilities? The statistical models used by professional sports bettors and bookmakers are much more sophisticated than the ones in this book (think Premier vs Sunday League difference). And, of course, the odds also reflect opinions on player availability, motivation, fatigue and market sentiment. This book discusses these critical factors onlyin passing or not at all. There is insufficient discussion of money management for a beginners guide and no market analysis at all – the chapter on predicting scores, for example, doesn’t make clear how little value there is in this market. The full page ad for a well-known bookmaker, right in the middle of the book, confirms, for me, that this is the sort of book that ‘they’ like – the sort that creates bettors with a little bit of dangerous knowledge. If Pullein really knows how to profitably bet on soccer, he’s not giving away his secret here – this is certainly no definitive guide.
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on 28 December 2012
A easy to read well written book giving an insight to the subject - HOWEVER it is very stats based and while the stats are given in the book they are two years out of date (review date 12/12) so may not be as applicable as it seems.
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on 8 October 2015
As a beginner, this book definitely gave me an insight on how to approach sports betting. I've been keen on trying to understand how it works and how to select the right bets. There is so much information to consider if you're souly not relying on luck. With guidance from this book plus some investment into looking at stats and news updates I actually won my first bet on Sportytrader, they provide previews on all premier league matches and relating some of the concepts of this book, I won!!!! Goes without saying, I was happy. I will re-read different sections of the book to guide me further... Let the winning begin!!!!
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on 19 March 2013
great book, lots of tips. was bought as a present and the receipient was very happy. have not won any money yet though!
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on 21 August 2013
Kevin Pullein is in the wrong business. There, I said it. But this is not a criticism - he has such a way with words that he's wasted as a mere tipster. A career as a government spin doctor is surely more his thing - he even looks the part, with his grey goatee (that he strokes whilst thinking of yet more bland football statistics he dedicates large swathes of text to).

I say this from experience. At a loose end one night, I stumbled into a bookmakers, and after blowing £200 on the greyhounds I read the Racing Post, desperate for a tip to win my money back. And it was there I found Kevin, whose kind words and beautiful prose, over the course of multiple paragraphs, convinced me that AS Bari were absolute certainties at home to some other Serie B side. Convinced of this outcome, I lumped on, went home, and went to bed.

The next day I was in shock. A final score of 1-1. How could he be wrong? His advert for football tips described him as "feared" by the betting industry! I was at least thankful I hadn't spent a fortune ringing up his premium tipline.

Wondering if this was simply a blip, I took to reading his Racing Post articles whenever possible, and a pattern emerged. He'd use diagrams, graphs, bar charts, and statistics to prove something would definitely occur, only for it not to occur. Using my detective skills, I googled his name, and multiple forums appeared - all of them criticising his abysmal tipping. The best of which asked the question "should Kevin Pullein be sectioned?"

You may think this is a harsh outcome. But it isn't just his terrible tips - Kevin is a man who dedicates paragraphs and charts to explain what you already know. He once expertly pointed out that playing against 10 men is indeed easier than playing against 11, he's bizarrely written that teams need fewer English players to succeed, and today he's used a scatter diagram to show that the more a team spends on players, the more league points they get. In general. But not all of the time.

With such insight, maybe he really should go for a job in government after all...
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on 7 November 2013
I recommended for someone that want to bet on premiership specially.

it as a lot of statistic and many theories supported by that statistic
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on 17 April 2012
I have only had this book for a few days so have not yet read all of it. From what I have seen it is a very in-depth book, and may be difficult for anyone who is not into figures and statistics to get the best out of it.
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on 25 November 2013
I brought tih book for my husband as a present. It has come in very good contition. He said it lookd like a very good book.
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