Renowned Tennis tipster, Nishikori, has a fascinating betting record where he has achieved a decent sample size of bets (just under 3,500) with an ROI of 9%. But what makes it all the more interesting is that over his years of tipping he has negative expected closing line value (CLV) against Pinnacle's closing odds.
So how has he been able to achieve such great results? Is it luck? Or, is the Tennis betting market just very inefficient? Well, we got the chance to ask Nishikori the big questions in our interview below!
How did you first figure out that you had an edge in Tennis betting?
There is not a specific moment when I realised that I had an edge. I started betting in Tennis around 2005. Initially I had my ups and downs, well more downs than ups, but in a couple of years I started winning consistently. As time went by, the number of bets I made grew and my results surprised me on the upside, I began thinking something nice with Tennis betting was going on. I was progressively increasing my stakes and at the end of the year I could earn a second salary. In 2016, I started sharing my bets publicly in Pyckio and some months later I became a PRO Tipster. With the passing of the years my track record as a tipster reassured me on that fact, that I had an edge in Tennis ATP. However, I never was 100% confident. At the end, profitable betting consists of beating both the bookmaker margin and the market, which is really complicated. But the market learns and edges don’t last forever if you are not able to improve your research and betting skills. I can perfectly remember when, many years ago, around 2010 or even sooner, the market scarcely priced many things that every serious tennis punter considers nowadays. For example, the market did not price correctly the odds on a player who was better ranked than the other one, but was playing one day on clay in Europe and the following day on a hard court in the USA. Those were great and easy times for those few who were analysing the tennis market thoroughly. Now, even though you have all the info available about the players, the tournament, the weather... it’s not enough; it doesn’t make you a long-term winner. To be successful you need something else than the access to all the relevant information.
My experience in Pyckio helped me improved as a bettor. When you bet for others and not only for yourself, your analysis is more deep, you are more tight and you don’t do over-betting, one of the bad practices that even successful punters have experienced sometimes, me included. In fact, my experience as a tipster has helped me in my personal betting. With the exception of some value bets that I cannot share because the liquidity is very low, I only bet what I tip. This discipline helps me in my personal betting account.
Talk us through your process for finding tips and why you have an edge in Tennis?
As I wrote in this article, I honestly recognise that I don’t work with a system that select my picks; I don’t have a robot that converts my variables into a probability or rating for the two players, that then I can compare with the bookmakers’ odds implied probability. The way I select my picks is quite simple. I study all the information of both players, about the tournament and some “market factors” and then I decide if the odds offered by Pinnacle Sports in any player are too high in my consideration. Before seeing what the available Pinnacle odds are, I decide the minimum price over which I would bet. I do it in this way because I don’t want the prices to influence my thinking process.
Why do you not provide tips for smaller Tennis tournaments?
I don’t even bet personally in these kinds of tournaments because I don’t want to put my results at risk. I think I know the type of bets that, on average, make me win money in the ATP. But I’m not sure if betting at tournaments where the determinants are somehow different, I would conserve that edge. Moreover, I use to have some kind of “feeling” for the players I bet on, because I follow them and I watch some of their matches... It’s a sentiment that, per se, is not the main reason to decide any bet, but it’s an additional factor that helps. And this would not be possible with many of the players in the challenger or ITF circuit, that I do not know.
On the hand, the liquidity in these smaller tournaments is very low and I would completely trash the prices if I tipped here. So definitely, it’s not worthwhile to me to devote time to these minor tournaments.
How much do the odds on a game affect whether you provide a tip or not? Do you care much about value?
100%. If you don’t care about value you won’t win in the long run. I am often convinced that one player is going to win a match but I don’t bet because it’s already in the price. In fact, I normally do the opposite; I use to bet on players I think will lose, but whose implied probability in the odds is too high to me, compared to what I think is the real probability.
How do you measure the success of your tips? Simply based on wins/losses? Or beating Pinnacles closing line?
Yes, I measure it with my real results, not with the Pinnacle closing line. I think that my track record is long enough so that I can affirm win/losses are more a measure of success than the closing line. I am talking particularly about my tennis tips, not about betting in general.
Having said that, I do prefer to make bets that beat the closing line by far, because is where I have achieved my best results, as this table shows.
However, the closing line is not all in my opinion. Betting analyst, Joseph Buchdahl, analysed my results in this article written for Pinnacle about the efficiency of the Tennis market. He affirmed that “it might be reasonable to conclude that using closing prices in tennis might not offer a perfect means of predicting tipster or bettor performance”. And I really think so. From time to time I see some closing lines in Tennis I am quite sure are very far away from efficiency. I know this is a totally subjective statement that cannot be proved by no means, but I think my track record may, at least, give me the benefit of the doubt.
I know the more I beat the closing line, the better my results will be. But I don’t think there is a very strong correlation, as we can see above, at least in my own experience. If I order my picks by EV, my results to date show that the half of my data set where the EV is lower (average of -5.7%), I have achieved a +6.8% yield. And overall, my yield is around 9% in nearly 3,500 bets, whilst the EV is slightly negative, always margin removed. The following chart is also quite clear and demonstrative. The CLV does not follow my real profit line. It will be interesting to see this data with a larger sample, let’s say 5-6000 picks, although I don’t think it will differ too much.
Does it make you feel uneasy that over roughly 3,500 picks your expected value is negative?
As I explained above, not at all, although I am conscious that on average higher CLV bets are going to produce higher yield. But as Joseph Buchdahl said, I’m convinced the Tennis market is not as efficient as other markets like Soccer. And more important is the fact that you chose your shots. Should I bet in all the games, even a not very efficient market would kill me. But I select the bets where I think the market is wrong. This optionality runs in favour of the bettor.
You say that nowadays you are trying to find more higher EV picks, is that because you are concerned about your past results against Pinnacle’s closing line?
I said this some months ago because, as I explained, my highest yield was achieved where the EV was higher. However, I have had to lower the priority of this measure in the interest of my subscribers. My client base has been increasing progressively and there comes a time when my picks are moving the market a lot. Therefore, I have increased my liquidity requirements to launch a pick, in order to protect the odds as much as possible. My picks are sent now with minimum 1,500-2,000€ of liquidity offered by Pinnacle. And this means that I bet near the market close, only some hours before the event starts, where finding high EV picks is much more complicated.
Your ROI increased significantly after roughly 2,500 bets and so has your EV. Why is that?
Although I constantly try to improve my bets selection process to overcome a potential yield reduction driven by a larger number of followers, as I bet more near the close, surely that ROI increase is just random. I think I can provide a 8-10% long term yield at tipped prices. Much more than that is luck. EV has increased lately because now I impact the closing lines more than before. This is surely because of the higher client base and maybe because Pinnacle is now tracking our bets???
Are you happy with your sample size? Are you confident in saying that randomness and variance has played out in your results already?
Yes. With 3396 bets, a 9% yield and 2.57 average odds, the p-value is 0.000016 or 1 in 53,685 probability that my betting record has arisen as a result of chance, assuming I have no skill.
Do you get on your own bets first before sending them out to your followers? If so, how does that affect the price you get vs your customers?
Yes. But I don’t bet tens of thousands of euros, which would drive the prices down significantly. I first bet myself trying to affect the odds as less as possible. Sometimes I even bet at the exchanges, although the Pinnacle prices might be a bit higher. My personal ROI is around a couple of points higher than that of my published results. My record in Pyckio is only made with Pinnacle prices. But I bet before and I also use the exchanges. This is why my yield is higher.
Do you think Pinnacle is the sharpest bookmaker for Tennis? If not, who is?
Yes, no doubt.
Exchanges though, price the probabilities better near the market close, when liquidity is the highest, because the longshot-bias does not exist.
What is your staking strategy? And why does this work for you?
Flat stakes. Initially I used to bet more at the lowest odds and vice versa, and my approach was closer to a target profit staking strategy. Later on, as I saw my results were higher at the longest odds I switched to a riskier strategy. I didn’t do flat stakes though, but an intermediate option between target profit and level stakes. And since a couple of years ago, I do only flat stakes. I have now a decent sample that shows the best results are those bets made at the highest prices. I know it’s riskier and drawdowns are higher but I am quite convinced it’s the most profitable strategy in the long run. I personally do a 1.5% stake on a rolling bankroll.
Has your service been verified by any independent tipster verification website?
Yes. I have 3 types of verification:
There have been many cases where tipsters have falsified their results and some also make most of their money through affiliations with bookies. What do you think about tipsters in general and how their illegitimacy has affected your service?
This world is unfortunately full of scammers. I know there are some tipsters who have affiliation with bookies, mostly on a revenue share deal. This is not ethical, but I would differentiate between 2 groups of tipsters. First, those tipsters that want indeed send profitable tips to their customers but know they might not win and/or are conscious that their followers also bet on sports and events different to those where they tip. And a second group of tipsters that have absolutely no scruples, who falsify their results and try to deceive their followers showing “luxury” pictures or fake screenshots of super high profits. These tactics seem to work with those newbie bettors who do not know the betting world very well. About how it has affected my service, not too much honestly. My service is more oriented to bettors with high banks who bet in Pinnacle and the exchanges, while the above mentioned fraudulent practices use to be suffered by more novice bettors who bet in soft bookies.
Are you affiliated with any bookmakers? If so, why?
I do not have any kind of affiliation with any bookies. I would only be open to a deal like this if a bookmaker that do not limit winners (Pinnacle and very few more) or a broker would pay me a fee on the turnover of the clients I referred, but not on a revenue share deal.
Where can people find you and subscribe to your service?
You can find me here.
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