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[Systems & Strategies] Topic: Indepth analysis of how chasing CAN work 
Leprechaun 


Posted: 4/2/2011 7:35:04 PM On this forum there has been a LOT of debate over if chasing "works" or not. You have doubters (DJ Destroyer and others) and believers (Neilsy, Rizz and others). I almost weighed on this topic a few months back but was too busy at the time to sit down and write a post. It's come up again in kreatture's thread so I thought it might be a good time to address the issue.
Chasing has and will continue to kill many bankrolls. This is why DJ calls it "fatalistic" all the time. He's being a little over dramatic with his semantics...but he is right...sort of. If you don't understand what you are getting into, you're doomed to fail for sure. It takes BIG BALLS to chase...many think they are ready, but few really are. However...if you understand the math and have a statistical advantage entering a chase, you WILL succeed.
Allow me to make a not so quick illustration. This will start very basic but makes a point at the end:
We all know that if you're betting a normal 110 vig that you must win 52.38% of the time to break even. This is given by the simple equation:
breakeven% = y/(1+y)
Where y= the decimal odds (1.1 in this case...or 110/100)
Well, that doesn't sound too daunting...it's just over half the time you have to be right! Ha...we have all learned how tough it is to do that. However, it doesn't stop us from trying...there are a lot of reasons for this, but part of it is simply that 52.38% doesn't "sound" like a tall order. Before we get too far into breakeven percentages...let's talk a little probability for a second.
Lets use the traditional tool for probability, the coin flip, since everybody can understand it's beautiful 50/50 probability. We decide to adopt a "tails never fails" approach and make that our desired outcome. You flip a coin...there is a 50% chance you will be right. Let's pretend I decide to bet on a coinflip and the odds I'm given are to risk $1 to win $1. I'm a gambling man and I like those odds. My breakeven percentage is just 50%...exactly equal to the probability of each outcome. With a little luck and a small run, I may win a few bucks. I have the same odds to win as the house does. But that's why God created the vig. Now they tell me that I have to risk $1.10 to win $1. Well, this just became a bad bet for me and tipped the odds in their favor. Now I need win 52.38% of the time to break even but I only have a 50% chance of getting my desired outcome of tails. This just became a bad bet...but as a gamblers, sometimes we think we can overcome the odds and come out on top.
Nothing about that previous paragraph is surprising...but for some reason, when probability or vig changes, people seem to forget that the same simple principles apply. Most importantly, as probabilty and vig change, so does your breakeven percentage. Just going from 110 to 130 raises your break even percentage to 56.52% (using same equation as earlier). What chasing does, however...is it changes your probability. This has a HUGE effect on break even percentage. In addition, with MLB...the vig is a factor as well.
**********post was too long had to break it in half***************



Leprechaun 


Posted: 4/2/2011 7:35:39 PM *******part 2**********
A chase is simply betting on two (or more) outcomes instead of one.
Let's start with two to keep things simple. Calculating the probability
of two succesive events occuring is very easy...you learned this in 3rd
grade: you multiply the probability of the two independent events
happening. When flipping a coin, there is a there is a 50% chance of
heads, so the probability of two heads in a row is 0.5 x 0.5 = 25%.
Very simple. That means that if we love to gamble (and we do!) that if
we want tails to come we have a 75% chance of that happening once every 2
flips. Now the chaser is getting excited...75% chance of something
happening sounds a lot better than a 50% chance, doesn't it?? Well, it
will cost you to get that 75% chance. If the vig is still 110 to bet
on those two events, now your break even percentage changes
dramatically. It jumps to 77.32% (not going to write out the
equation). If you have a breakeven percentage of 77.32 but a probable
outcome of 75%...it doesn't take math skills to know that's a bad bet...
just like betting on one flip and having breakeven percentage of 52.38%
was a bad bet. Nothing has changed except that a 75% chance of winning
sounds a lot better than a 50% chance of winning.
Well, let's take the example one step further. We do some simple math
and realize that if we chase for three straight coinflips, tails has a
87.5% chance of coming up (1(0.5x0.5x0.5)). Wow...87.5% chance of a
win sounds great!! Hold your horses though...our break even percentage
has now jumped to an astounding 89.2% (not gonna write out the
equation). We are still making a losing bet, even though 87.5% sounds
so good. People get enticed by these numbers but you see
mathematically, it's not a winning bet. You need to raise you
probability of winning to atleast 89.2% to even have a chance.
Ahhhh...but there is more. You forgot about the vig. In MLB...it's a
huge factor. If your vig changes from an average of 110 to an average
of 140 (quite possible as many chase systems in MLB tend to lean
towards favorites), your break even percentage for a 3 game chase jumps
to 92.77%.
I think the point is becoming clear now. For just a 3 game chase in
MLB, with an average line of 110, you need to find a system that hits
over 90%. Not easy. For a 6 game chase, the break even percentage for an average of 110 odds is 98.82%!!!
You have to be damn near perfect in that case or you WILL lose. If you
find a system that hit's at 99%, then you have a mathematical chance.
This is part of the reason I would never do a 6 game chase...because DJ
is right about those...it's not a certainty, but the odds are VERY high
that you will eventually get wiped out. What's more is that the deeper
you decide to chase, the more you put on the line. Would you rather
your chances of losing be 10.8% with 8.29 units on the line (3 gm chase
at 110), or your chances of losing be 1.2% with 83.44 units on the line
(6 gm chase at 110)?? The answer to that question lies in the hands
of the individual of course...but for most long term gamblers, no bet is
worth risking 83.44 units.
If you're going to chase, the best strategy is to identify a system that
will give you a better probability of winning than the break even
percentage. It's not impossible but it can definitely be done. If you
find this situation you can exploit it quite well...especially in a
sport like MLB where you have such a large number of games.
Another way to beat the chase odds is with different money management
strategies. The numbers I've shown above are for a straight martingale
chase. Using labby, or other MM can tip the scales in your favor as
they change your break even percentage. It's difficult to identify
these and find one that works, but quite contrary to what some may
think, it CAN be done...it is just extremely difficult.
Chasing is not for everybody, but mathmetically, it can definitely
work. If you are chasing deep, you can quickly end up with more units
on the line than you're comfortable with. Even in a short chase, unit
swings can be large and this is often viewed is a negative for the long
term. Personally, I believe if you have some solid numbers, that is, if
your probability of winning is higher than the break even percentage,
then there is no doubt that a chase CAN be profitable and with a good
money management strategy, you won't wipe out your bankroll in the
process.
Leprechaun 


sambuca frank 


Posted: 4/2/2011 8:59:16 PM IF YOUR PROBABILITY IS HIGHER THAN BREAK EVEN PERCENTAGE, THERE IS NO NEED TO CHASE. GOOD ARTICLE LEP! 


RaleighDevil 


Posted: 4/2/2011 10:04:15 PM I am running two chase systems for MLB. Worked well last season. I might start a thread next week, depending on some other things in my life.



702underdog 


Posted: 4/3/2011 12:56:48 AM Interesting read, thanks for sharing your insight. 



dj_destroyer 


Posted: 4/3/2011 2:45:24 AM I don't really want to get into it because I've shown the proof in many other threads but the facts remain: if you have an edge over the house, you don't need to chase as it just adds unnecessary risk. If you don't have an edge, chasing only compounds the problem.
There was a time once when I thought chasing was the way to go, but some smarter people showed me that I was wrong. If you fancy yourself intelligent and/or a serious sports investor (not trying to sound condescending) and you think chasing works then just keep reading until you think otherwise.
If you look in the right places and talk to the right people, it won't take long to negate chasing theories but don't stop reading until you no longer believe in them. Again, I'm not trying to sound condescending but the laws of mathematics show that chasing is fatalistic... and that's not semantics, that's life. 


Vividjohn 


Posted: 4/3/2011 5:06:49 AM chasing works in some casino games. but i have not found it to be successful in sports betting.
the one guy on another site. where he handicapped (a pro guy) went undefeated. he chased his picks 7 games .that proly works.
a blend of handicapping and chase.



Vividjohn 


Posted: 4/3/2011 5:08:36 AM 7 bets at 10 bux to win. was around 1280. if u lost ur 7th game.
lol



Vividjohn 


Posted: 4/3/2011 5:10:51 AM most chases should have a term on them. at ur 4th bet or possibly 5th bet.
possibly 6th bet depending on the game. (casino) and the initial amount wagered. and the house limits. 


Vividjohn 


Posted: 4/3/2011 5:30:04 AM yeah. i just checked that guy is stil undefeated. amazing. 



Leprechaun 


Posted: 4/3/2011 10:13:47 AM QUOTE Originally Posted by dj_destroyer:
I don't really want to get into it because I've shown the proof in many other threads but the facts remain: if you have an edge over the house, you don't need to chase as it just adds unnecessary risk. If you don't have an edge, chasing only compounds the problem.
There was a time once when I thought chasing was the way to go, but some smarter people showed me that I was wrong. If you fancy yourself intelligent and/or a serious sports investor (not trying to sound condescending) and you think chasing works then just keep reading until you think otherwise.
If you look in the right places and talk to the right people, it won't take long to negate chasing theories but don't stop reading until you no longer believe in them. Again, I'm not trying to sound condescending but the laws of mathematics show that chasing is fatalistic... and that's not semantics, that's life.
DJ...thanks for replying. I appreciate the input.
You made me realize that I forgot to add something in my original post. Chasing is not some sort of holy grail...nor is it necessarily the "way to go" as you put it. It's just an option, that's all. No one should use any given tool as an exclusive method to choose games, play a system, or as a money management strategy. My aim was to show that if you look at the numbers, chasing can indeed work. I was not trying to advocate it OR denounce it. There have been situations where I've chased and other times when it didn't fit my approach. The point is that if anyone chooses to use this strategy, they should be aware of what they are getting into. I was hoping to show people that while chasing can work, if you need something to occur over 90% of the time, you're probably barking up the wrong tree.
I also forgot to mention something else...looking for an edge is only part of the reason a strategy may or may not work. The chances are pretty small that you'll actually find a way to have a bet that has a higher probability of hitting than your break even percentage. Most of the time, we try to make that gap as small as possible. I hope people saw in my example that adding successive events to increase probability and therefore, shrink your gap, can be extremely dangerous if you don't understand what you're getting into as losses have an exponential effect.
You state that if you have an edge on the house that chasing only introduces unnecessary risk. This can't be true if the number of successive events being analyzed are what give you the edge in the first place. Of course, if you can find an edge without needing a series of a events, that's obviously preferable. With each successive event, risk definitely goes up, but as I said in my original post...the desire to deal with that is completely up to the individual. Some people have the stones and don't mind the volatility. It has nothing to do with chasing, but that's why you have poker guys like Gus Hansen that succeed. He likes the risk. There are a lot of guys like that. It might be frustrating when they win sometimes but it doesn't make them wrong...they just have less aversion to risk than the average Joe.
It doesn't take Ph.D in mathematics to understand anything about the laws of probability. There's nothing in my original post that anybody with a highschool education couldn't understand or figure out. We don't need to seek out mathematical genuises...let's use our collective intelligence to get it all straight right here. If you have a true mathmetical example of why chasing can't work as a thoery then please post it here, because I have yet to see you show any examples. That's the purpose of this forum and this thread...to share information and try to learn from others. I'm human as the next guy, and there may be things I don't see or understand fully so I look forward to the discussion.
Leprechaun



therizz 


Posted: 4/3/2011 10:21:58 AM I agree with Lep and DJ both. I believe chasing can work given a mathematical advantage and proper money management. However, if you can find an advantage at a single level of play that is where you should focus and decrease risk.
I think generally when discussing chasing people assume martingale money management. I learned my lesson very quickly that this is can be "fatalistic" for even relatively short chases. However, using a multi line labby system for money management effectively spreads out your betting burden between different level of plays. You may be making a similar wager on game 1 of a chase as game 3. You can always split numbers to keep the plays in your comfort level. As long as you are winning a decent percentage your lines will cross off, losses will be recovered, profit made, etc. Just like in flat betting or your unit sizes can be adjusted up or down depending on your comfort level (by splitting lines).



Leprechaun 


Posted: 4/3/2011 10:28:17 AM QUOTE Originally Posted by Vividjohn:
yeah. i just checked that guy is stil undefeated. amazing.
John. Thanks for the reply. This 7 game chase that AceAce is on is neither impressive nor a testament to why chasing works as a theory. It does just the opposite...it makes people believe that this strategy will work. It baffles me that that thread has been so popular over the years and people point to it as a reason chasing works. He is a VERY good capper...there is no doubt about that, but there is no mathematical basis to his chase besides the fact that he thinks (rightfully so) that he's very good. Eventually, he'll lose 7 in a row. It might take a long time, it might take a short time. There is no way of knowing when it will happen, but that type of chasing is exactly what you shouldn't do. If I throw darts at a board, statistically I have a 99% chance of not losing 7 in a row (note...not an exact calculation)...but it WILL happen if you have no edge. The only way he would never lose would be if he had the ability to pick 100% of games correctly, which is obviously impossible. Please reread my post if you don't understand this because it's important. If your probability of winning is less than your break even %....you WILL lose eventually. The length of how long it takes to happen can fool you into to thinking you have an edge. If you did one bet a day, it might take 3 years before you lose...but if that one loss erases 3 years of work...how good was your system? I could have the exact same success after 2 days and save quite a bit of time and energy.
Leprechaun


