[ Rouleur Derby ]

Rouleur Derby Report No. 6

Friday, March 19, 2010

In this Rouleur Derby Report:

1. March Madness

2. Coming up: NRC team standings

3. The penny stock anomaly

4. Recruitment tips



I hope you've been saving your sick days, because you're about to come down with a case of the Milan-Sanremo Mumps! To be followed by Flanders Fever! Uh-oh ... Are those symptoms of Paris-Roubaix Peritonitis I see?

Yes, classics season is in the big ring and it's hard to not be excited. I get the fantods just thinking about it.

Saturday's Milan-Sanremo will be a special race for Rouleur Derby because it will be our first monument. I've instituted a bonus for this and other other monuments (Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Leige-Bastogne-Leige), with the winners getting a 1.25x multiplier. If you would normally earn 10 points from a win, you will earn 12.5 points instead.

This bonus will be 1.5x for the grand tours, and it won't apply in the event that "Other" wins yet again.

Place your MSR bets here. The deadline is tonight at midnight, Chicago time.

Observant game theorists will note that the bonus is a departure from Rouleur Derby's principle of being "zero sum." Ordinarily, every point you win must be lost by another player. With the bonus, points will be won out of thin air, so to speak. But I think it's worth it to put more emphasis on the big races and to encourage more action there.

In other words, just by playing the monuments, the odds are in your favor.

By the way, Lance Armstrong this morning announced his withdrawal from Milan-Sanremo with a reported case of gastroenteritis. Hard to say what turned his stomach more: The acute douchebaggery of Tony Kornheiser or the prospect of facing Alberto Contador at next weekend's Criterium International. In either case, he has been scratched from the MSR propositions and bets have been refunded.


Next week I'll make my first foray into domestic racing with National Racing Calender team standings. Last year's winners were Colavita and Tibco. What are the odds they'll repeat? We'll find out!

Learn more about the NRC.

The NRC series starts Thursday with the Redlands Bicycle Classic, but I'm going to keep betting open through April 11 for the men and April 17 for the women. That makes Redlands a gimme, but it will give more players opportunity to take part.

Yes, that's right: I'll be covering both men's and women's racing. As far as I know, this will make Rouleur Derby the first enterprise in the world to ever make book on women's bicycle racing. I believe this is a significant step forward for gender equality.


In the stock market, a "penny stock" is a near-worthless, thinly traded, lightly regulated stock that, because of its low value, has near limitless potential for profit -- however improbable that profit may be.

And that's one way to look at what has happened with some of the long shots in Rouleur Derby. The long shots are getting very little activity, and as a result their payouts are soaring into the four figures.

Let's look at how this happens.

Let's say that 100 points have been bet into the Tour de Mount Aigounal. Poor Lebusque is such a long shot that nobody has bet anything on him. Then a shrewd player notices this and places the tiniest of wagers. Say, a 1/100th of a point. If Lebusque wins, this player will win the entire pool -- all 100.01 points. Or, a 10,001:1 return on his investment. Thus, Lebusque's payout would read 10,001. Crazy!

Let's say a second player comes along and makes the same bet. Now each player would split the pool equally. The payout would be 5,001:1. Less crazy, but still ludicrous.

Let's say a third player comes along and feels better about poor Lebusque's chances. This player bets an entire point. Now there's been 1.02 points bet on Lebusque and the total pool is 101.02. The payout would be 99:1. Finally, something close to true probability.

If Lebusque were to win, the first two players would win .99 points and the third would win 99 points. (Aproximately .01 points would be lost to rounding.)

Now you understand why those long shots are so volatile, and why a 5,000:1 shot isn't likely to stay that way for very long.

This also should point out how just because a rider has a payout of 5,000, he won't necessarily pay out 5,000 points. More than likely, he'll pay the winning players 5,000 x .01 = 50 points.

Since this anomaly came to light, I've made the minimum bet a tenth of a point. This will still result in some silly payouts, but it will require at least a modicum of risk.

Finally, I should note that this anomaly will largely disappear as we get more players. We have about 50 active players, but I'd like to see us hit a thousand. Then the odds will truly reflect the hive mind and game play will improve considerably.

To that end ...


Here are three tips for recruiting more players to Rouleur Derby.

A. Show up late to your next social gathering. Apologize by saying, "Sorry, I got wrapped up with Rouleur Derby. I can't tear myself away from it!"

B. When you register for your next race, slap $20 on the table and say, "I'd like 10 on me to place and 10 to show, please." If the official gives you a queer look, say, "Oh, I'm sorry. I guess I've been playing too much Rouleur Derby. I meant to say, 'One for the Cat 5 race.'" (If, on the other hand, the official slides the money into his pocket and draws his index finger across his nose, then you know everything's "jake.")

C. Spread the word via the Twitter and the Facebook. Brag about your picks, try to rattle your foes, attempt to disinform the masses. You can use http://tr.im/rderby as a short URL.

That's it for this week.

Play well, have fun, tell a friend,