[ Rouleur Derby ]

Rouleur Derby Report No. 4

Monday, March 8, 2010

In this Rouleur Derby Report:

1. Murcia and Paris-Nice prologue

2. Tirreno-Adriatico: Show me the points!

3. A discussion of the morning line


Typically I'll be filing reports on Fridays, but there's so much going on this week, I'm going to have to do a twofer.


I covered the Murcia stage race with two Lance-centric propositions: Will he finish in the top 10, and will he beat Bradley Wiggins? The answers were yes and no, respectively. The top 10 finish was an underdog at 2.3:1, but it's a case where some homework probably paid off: With the Italian and Spanish teams not participating, a top 10 for a 38-year-old was not that far-fetched.

Yesterday the Race to the Sun kicked of with an 8 km prologue. For the third consecutive race, "Other" won. In retrospect, this wasn't all that shocking, given the unpredictable nature of prologues in general and in the Paris-Nice prologue in particular. And many of you saw it coming: The morning line had put "Other" at 15:1, but it closed at 2.2:1.

I concede there's something unsatisfying about a victory from "Other." I include it as an option because I want to guarantee a winning outcome from each proposition, but it would be too unwieldy to list all 180 riders. Nonetheless, my choices of favorites obviously leave something to be desired.

One attractive solution would be to remove "Other" and change the question from "Who will win ..." to "Who will place highest from the following ..." In the case of the prologue, the winner would have been Levi Leipheimer at 15.1:1. What do you think? On the one hand, it would guarantee a winner without resorting to "Other." On the other hand, there's something inelegant about all that verbiage.

Meanwhile, the What Will Jens Do special got a lot of action, much of it coming after the prologue, yielding dead-even odds of 2.0:1. It makes sense: On the one hand, Jens is just a few seconds off the lead, so he'll get a short leash. On the other hand, what leash has ever been forged that dares to contain Jens Voigt? If the man wants your Twinkie, the man takes your Twinkie. If the man wants a five-minute gap, the man takes a five-minute gap.

In other developments, you'll notice more and more information on the pages of completed races, including the actual outcomes, the biggest successful bets and an accounting of how you personally did.


Italy's Tirreno-Adriatico stage race kicks off Wednesday. This one appears wide open, as there's no time trial or particularly mountainous stage to sort the wheat from the sprinters.

As a result, there will be many options available to you. I recommend betting small -- fractions of points are allowed -- and spreading your risk.

Bet on the GC at http://rouleurderby.com/race/tirreno-adriatico/

I'm also introducing a "show" proposition. I was planning to wait on this, but T-A seems to call for it, so I paid the code monkeys some overtime and rushed it into development.

The "show" proposition will be separate from the straight-up "win" proposition. It works the same, but riders will pay out if they come in 1st, 2nd or 3rd. The pool will be split equally among the top 3, so in theory the payouts will be approximately 1/3rd of the "win" payouts. What you see is what you will get: If you bet a rider to show, the payout is the same whether they win, place or show.

There will be no "Other" option on show propositions.

I'm not sure how this will play out, especially since we still have a modest play group. One more reason to invite all your friends.

Bet on show at http://rouleurderby.com/race/tirreno-adriatico-show/

Note: I haven't found a complete start list, so don't be surprised if there are scratches. Betting closes at midnight Tuesday night.


One of the issues I'm wrestling with is the volatility in the early stages of a proposition.

For example: Say there has been 40 points bet into the Tour de Mont Aigoual. If a single point has been bet on Lebusque, his payout would read 40:1.

Now, if I'm a shrewd player and I see that, I'm going to spot 40:1 as a bargain. Lebusque has *at least* a 1 in 20 chance of winning. So I bet 5 points on Lebusque. Now there are 45 points in the pool, and 6 points have been bet on Lebusque, yielding a payout of 7.5. What da heck!?

One of the things I've done to mitigate this volatility is maintain a "morning line." This predicted payout is displayed until there's been a minimum amount of betting. For Paris-Nice, this was 100 points. The thought here is that after 100 points have been bet, there will be more stability and payouts won't swing as much.

However, I sense that people are reluctant to bet until they get more of a sense of how the other players are betting. As the Paris-Nice prologue showed, the final payout can vary greatly from the morning line. (Truth be told, the house's bookie isn't all he's cracked up to be. I may let him go.)

So for Tirreno-Adriatico, the minimum action will be 50 points. Let's see how that affects play.

Let me know what you think. How does the payout volatility affect your play?

I'll note that this is an issue unique to the current state of the game. Once we have hundreds or even thousands of players, the swings should disappear and the wisdom of the crowds will prevail.

Until next time,

Play well, have fun, tell a friend,