Subject: Index in your Inbox |006| 26/11/2019: Probabilities & 'PB Players'

After concentrating on a big bug bear of many FI traders in the last newsletter (Player Positions), we thought it'd be wise to focus on something that's been interesting us in community. You often see people saying things such as "____ is too expensive for a ____ only player". First space, insert any player - and second space, insert PB, MB or IPDs.

Liam, Trader, Buzzing paul, Ginger Pirlo and I are back, and this time we're doing something interesting. This newsletter is once again, themes. This could be anything. Absolutely anything. Hit me up on twitter @FiGuide if you think you've figured it out, or just tweet it out with the hashtag #Indexinyourinbox 

If questioned, I’m pretty sure all traders would agree that any player playing in a match day illegible league have a shot of winning match day dividends. We’d also agree that some are more likely to win than others too but do we oversimplify this idea? The separation between “IPD players” and “PB players” seems to be a mental distinction but is it a correct one?

It seems to be forwards especially that suffer from being dubbed IPD players because of their frequency of winning goal and assist dividends over their ability to win performance dividends but being good at one certainly doesn’t hinder the other and here’s a few statistics to help prove how important goalscoring really is for forwards.

Of the 63 forward positional wins this season, only nine of them have managed it without a goal. Broken down into 4 Bronze, 1 silver and 4 gold days respectively. Now, the ones winning on Gold days without a goal were Messi, Insigne, Deulofeu and Callejon. It’s clearly worth arguing that these guys may well be “PB holds” but the tendency to think of players like this as better for winning matchday dividends isn’t always the case. The probability of winning as a forward isn’t just about the probability of having a good base score, but also about the probability of actually scoring alongside it. This is what makes the likes of Messi and Neymar so valuable in this market because their ability to do well in both areas is phenomenal and I think sometimes we try too hard to portray others as this type of player, putting more emphasis on “base” than an ability to put the ball in the back of the net.

A few examples of this are:

  • Gerard Moreno has won match day dividends on 3 occasions, only Messi (4) has won it more (Ronaldo, Depay, Kane, Griezmann have also won 3 times)
  • Munir El Haddadi has won 2 gold match day forward dividends as well as one star divided, yet it’s unlikely anyone would call him a “PB Hold”
  • Ciro Immobile, Robert Lewondoski, Dries Mertens and Karim Benzama have all hit 200+ three times so far this season, the same as Lorenzo Insigne, more than Kylian Mbappe (2) and Paulo Dybala, Nabil Fekir and Suso (1), yet the latter would be the once most thought of as “PB Holds”

Obviously base is important and the belief that some of these “PB holds” “only need one goal to win” can be very true, especially in the case of midfielders and defenders (which I’m sure someone else will have written about!) but the point I’m trying to make is the emphasis on how often that goal is going to come, especially as a forward could be much more important. If it’s just brewing for weeks on end and only comes around once in a Blue Moon then you may be waiting a while for any returns, which when you look at the prices of those players branded PB holds, could be very costly. Importantly, goals are ultimately the decider of matchday dividends for forwards on most occasions and just because a player is cheaper and doesn’t consistently post 150+ scores without a goal doesn’t mean they should be completely discounted from probability to win match day dividends. Especially when they’re producing Stella performances with plenty of goals and assists regularly. If anything, the fact that these players earn a bucket full of in-play dividends in their attempts to win match day dividends probably makes them more valuable than they are currently being viewed. Long story short, don’t let yourself be tricked by mindless categorisation of players without really considering the probabilities of scoring and winning dividends!

Every club or group on the internet ends up having it’s own jargon and FI is no different!

One of the short hands that is used a lot is “PB player” or “IPD player” and it can be quite useful. Humans like to put everything into boxes because it makes them easier to understand quickly.

On when reviewing a player I might for example say something like “with his recent goal threat, he’s looking likely to score every game right now so can be a solid IPD pick with a good run of fixtures. But, he’s not a brilliant performance player so you can only expect occasional challenges for performance wins.” (Icardi, in case you tried to guess who it was!).

That would make him primarily an “IPD player” in shorthand. It’s not wrong to say it but we should understand that it’s a bit of a shortcut that doesn’t give the full picture.

For starters, we shouldn’t just estimate his IPD appeal alone when assessing his value. Prospects of any dividends count towards a players “true value”.

So his chance of a couple of big scores and a performance win or two per season is helpful. As is his (slim?) chance of a good transfer rumour and a shot at some media later on.

We just need to take account of all these factors when assessing the price. So if I knew the player was purely for IPD and had no realistic prospect of any performance wins or any realistic prospect of media, I’d be willing to pay much less, probably not anymore than £1.20 and ideally well below £1.

But for a strong “IPD player” with some positive other factors, maybe a good transfer or a small but not unrealistic chance of a big performance score, I’ll be prepared to pay a bit more, maybe even up towards £1.75. Beyond that, I’d want to see some real strength in performance scoring.

Emphasis on realistic though. Of the thousands of FI players, the vast majority don’t have a realistic chance to win, outside of the absolute best game of their career. The odds of predicting when that big score would be are extremely long and in my opinion, just not worth betting on.

So I don’t personally sign up to the “every player has a chance to win and therefore everyone has value” line. It’s technically true but does it help us? Not really, because I don’t believe the opportunity cost of holding a wide selection of weak players in the hope of one of them hitting an extremely rare win is worth it.

It’s a bit like the poker player playing a hand where he has a 0.2% chance to win. He just wouldn’t do it because he’s not stacking the odds in his favour. Yes he can win in the same way you can win the lottery. It’ll be a champagne moment if it happens. But the rest of the time you will be on the Lambrini.

Where the player has a realistic chance of 2-3 big scores a season and is at a very cheap price, that’s different and it can be worth a shot. But I would not bet on odds lower than that.

On “performance players” it is, thinking about it, quite an odd thing to say! But I do use it as short hand. But, almost without exception, a good performance player is going to be delivering at least some and probably decent IPD returns as well.

So, the IPD returns are another thing that pushes the price upwards even though the prospect of performance wins are (rightly) considered the more valuable factor.

At the end of the day, this all comes down to price versus potential dividend returns, which is ultimately the basis of the true value of a player on FI. Where those dividends come from? Doesn’t matter so much.

And I think it’s why there has been such fantastic value in the “IPD” space so far this season. In the clamour to sign up “performance players” both in advance of the new season and especially since the dividend increase, “IPD players” were often left undervalued and begging to be bought up by savvy traders.

In many cases, the percentage capital increase on these lower priced players can dwarf what is being paid for the current big guns.
But this is just another example of how ignoring the hype and looking elsewhere pays off so often. If people shift towards IPD, then before long, maybe the value is somewhere else.



I think a lot of traders really struggle to view the platform probabilistically. We should always be thinking about how likely things are to happen.

A very simple, probably crap example - if you buy a player now, because you think they’ll potentially get linked to a club in January that causes a surge, then you really should be thinking about the probability of them being linked to said club. If you buy X, and you think there’s only a 10% chance of them being linked to a club, then maybe you should be reducing your stake there. Likewise if you think there’s a player of a similar price, with similar upside - but their chance of being linked to another club is 60%, then that’s definitely a better bet.

The reason why I’ve started with probabilities, is because this is the reason I think traders rigidly bucket players into MB/PB and IPD.

Whenever I’ve used the term ‘PB’ player, I’ve always used it to reference a player who is most likely to return dividends via performance buzz. I think a lot of people have bucketed IPD players for example, as simply that ; IPD players, without considering the probability of them winning in the other dividend category.

At a very basic level, a player’s value is split mainly across their potential to win PB/MB over their career. That’s how FI price players, so that’s really how they’re valued.

Now IPDs, they complicate things. Because that 30 day cycle is about 36ish times shorter than the 3 year hold associated with all players. The commission however, remains the same - meaning that squeezing value out of IPD players is more difficult. There are certainly players however, that definitely derive most their value from IPDs. There are prolific goal and assisters that have a very small chance of winning PB (match day dividends), but nonetheless, there’s a chance!

A thing that Football Index SOTD said on a podcast about 6 months or so ago, was that he splits player values by their likeliness to win the 2 main dividend categories. If you take a £2 player, what % of their value do you think is derived from PB and MB? Then, how does (or do they at all) IPDs impact that player’s value?

Overall, I think for traders to really maximise their abilities - we really should think probabilistically. It’s not really natural, but the more you do it - the more likely you are to pick ‘winning bets’.

Back to the futures - Buzzing Paul

This week’s Back to the Future(s) will be distilled slightly differently. I need your help; I am at the end at the end of the bottle.
So far in this series we have covered:

1) The highest score in my database
2) The highest base score
3) The highest score by a non-starter
4) The lowest score by a starter
5) The highest score from a player not yet available on #footballindex

Now, I must ask for your suggestions of players/ performances you would like me to cover.

My dataset covers the following:
1) EPL from 2011/12
2) Other Top 4 Leagues from 15/16
3) UCL from 18/19
4) UEL from 19/20

As always, Ill take feedback and suggestions on @BuzzingPaul or on the IndexGain slack community.


Ginger Pirlo's Short Term Game

What’s an IPD player?

There has been a bit of debate around IPD players and what they are worth at the moment that has created the theme for this month’s newsletter. My take on it is pretty straight forward that a pure IPD player, usually a forward sometimes a midfielder, shouldn’t be as valuable as a player with PB to his game who is likely to score an IPD on top.

This may seem obvious but to some it may not be. It also doesn’t mean I am 100% correct, it’s still a matter of opinion. What someone is willing to pay for something makes it’s value. If someone wants to pay over £2 for a player in a hot streak of scoring goals, they will. We can all say whether it’s right or wrong, but one man’s bottle of plonk is another man’s Dom Perignon.

To define an IPD player is basically a player who doesn’t have any PB scoring qualities but can score a goal or assist. I am resisting to use names for this, so let’s just say if a forward called A.N. Other finishes a match with a PB score of 120 after scoring the winning goal and he played the whole 90 minutes, you can say this lad is an IPD player.

As his PB score is literally just the GWG amount, with win bonus and a pass or two and nothing much else. His chances of winning PB are pretty slim. Especially on a Gold day. He would have to score a hat trick with maybe an assist in there to even give it a shot.

So, seeing as Dividends are the only real currency to give any player on the Index value, you can see why he shouldn’t be worth that much, in theory. I don’t think this is going to open up too many minds, as traders already have a decent grip on that and think similar. Where the water goes a bit murky it seems is defining who is an IPD player and who isn’t.

The only way to know is to look into a players score regularly. What was once an IPD merchant, may now have added PB qualities without you noticing. Mr A.N. Other used to only have the goal and assist points on his PB score but lately his scores have improved. There is a certain Lazio striker that has gone through this transition in my mind.

I used to look down on his price even though he was a regular goal scorer but as I am transfixed on the market on any given match day, my beady eye has seen that his PB scores have actually been decent. So, what was once a player I have never even considered owning before, is now sat in my portfolio as we speak.

In terms of his value, my thinking was thus. Does he have decent fixtures over the next 30 days? Yes. Does he have the PB capabilities to win on a match day? Yes. Is he in red hot form? Yes. He was priced under £2 which was reasonable to me as an individual price as well as compared to the market as a whole, so I bought him.

Since then, he has scored 4 IPDs and had a chance of winning PB divs in both matches thus far. He also has more games to come where he can do the same before the 30-day IPD window shuts and the winter break comes. This player is someone I put in the “in-between” category.

He isn’t a pure IPD merchant, but he also doesn’t have amazing PB where just a goal can see him win PB like a Messi for e.g. Will I own him beyond the 30-day IPD window? Highly unlikely. Was he value when I bought? Well he is up 18p in cap app and has brought home 4p of IPDs so I would say so.

Does he have value now for someone else to buy in at his current price? Who is to say? He may go onto win star man in the next game day or he may not score a goal again for the next few weeks. The market is about timing as much as anything else.

If we could all predict the future, we would all get rich. I could sell this lad one day and he gets a transfer rumour to Man Utd the next and skyrockets. A player’s value is what someone else is willing to pay. If I list my Lazio striker and no one buys him, the market dictates he isn’t worth buying at his price. Even if I disagree. Even if I think they are wrong.

One thing is for sure though, study the market if you want to have consistent success. We can all get lucky here and there by making a trade that went up and we sold at a profit. But was it logical and sustainable? Do you really know why you made money there? Or did you get lucky?

I sent a tweet out not long ago about a player who is nothing but an IPD player getting a huge rise and was sitting at an eye watering price that other PB forwards could only dream of. He got a minus score in the first match he played after this rise and I couldn’t resist showing it.

It’s important to stress I waited until he had played before expressing my opinion, as his performance spoke for itself even without my two pence worth.
I got some negative feedback from some, mainly as they don’t understand what I am eluding to above, but the point was this player had no business rising to the price he did and if you lost money on it you should have been smarter with your money and used it elsewhere. Those that made money from it were either smarter than you or got lucky.

In an ideal world all traders will be able to tell who is an IPD player and who is a PB player. We don’t have an ideal world, so the trick is to be smarter than most. You won’t get lucky all the time. 

Research, Resources, Tools & Tips:

Audio Content:
  • FigCast Ep 109: Awesome PubCast Special with £100k portfolio man Soccer index and Former FI employee Nick Morris
  • FigCast Ep 110: Another PubCast, this time with Buzzing Paul (from this very newsletter!), Frosties and Chris Askew
  • State of Play Ep 24: On my other podcast, Mohammed Ali joined us to talk all things Ligue 1, and give us his top 5 players to watch in 2020!
  • State of Play Ep 25: Rocco Fasano joined to discuss Pochettino / Mourinho, as well as giving an in depth look at Serie A
  • The Athletic launched football podcasts today, and they're totally free

Video Content
  • I made a video on Opportunity cost on Football Index - check it out here
  • Good video here from Tifo about offsides

Written Content


Have a great couple weeks trading! Give us some feedback on twitter, email or other about the newsletter. Even if if you hate it, let us know :) 

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