SEC Football Blogger

Monday, January 31, 2011

SEC Football Blogger

I Hate Signing Day

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 04:17 PM PST

I Hate Signing Day This is the time of year when I lose my blogging fastball. In the post Senior Bowl pre-signing day morass where the only thing that really seems to matter is the capricious whims of a man-child and what hat he is fixing to put on. This isn’t going to be an [...]

Sports World

Sports World

Henson edges closer to recall

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 07:24 AM PST

Despite only just returning to professional rugby following nearly two years out of the game, Gavin Henson has trained with the Wales squad ahead of next month's Six Nations. The Saracens' centre made his debut for his new club on Boxing Day, in the win over Wasps before playing nearly an hour last weekend against Sale. Henson was then one of 40 Welsh players put through their paces by national team conditioning and strength coach, Adam Beard.

The former poster boy of Welsh rugby will have to prove to Beard that he can still cut the mustard at the fitness levels required in international rugby. The 28 year old hasn't played for his country since 2009 and will be hoping to continue a run in the Saracens' team before the squads are announced later this month. The Six Nations betting suggests it should be tight championship, and Henson could make the difference.

Henson may have to play out of position if he is going to have any chance of making the squad for the England game in the opening game of the tournament. Jamie Roberts and James Hook are heading the queue for the number 12 jersey and Henson may have to focus on outside centre if he wants a quicker route back in to the team.

If Henson can mount a late charge for Wales' Six Nations squad then it would give the side a boost after what was a disappointing autumn. Most other players wouldn't be anywhere near the national team after behaving how Henson has over the past 18 months or so. The fact that Gavin Henson is close to being recalled says a lot about how highly he is rated by the Welsh management.

Unlucky Fehily could miss rest of the season

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 06:58 AM PST

Racing's fickle finger of fate has ultimately proved far from kind to popular Irish-born jockey Noel Fehily who has now been told that the injured wrist he sustained in a fall at Newbury in November will not heal in time for the Cheltenham Festival, and indeed may result in him being out for the rest of the season, writes Elliot Slater.

Fehily, stable jockey to Charlie Mann, was the rider that champion trainer Paul Nicholls turned to when his stable jockey Ruby Walsh took a crushing fall and sustained a broken leg at Down Royal at the start of November. Walsh remains on the sidelines, but is expected to return to race riding in mid-February.

Having been offered such a golden opportunity Fehily soon showed that given the right material he is possibly as good a rider as there is anywhere in the British Isles at present. Showing a fine mixture of judgement and strength, he booted home a string of winners for Nicholls, most memorably partnering the rejuvenated Master Minded to an impressive victory in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase. That win came during a brief spell when Fehily returned to ride having suffered damage to his wrist some weeks earlier when falling from Nicholls' Rivaliste at Newbury.

Maybe if he had stayed on the sidelines a little longer and given his wrist more chance to recover, the damage sustained in the Newbury fall would not have been so nad, but in truth, it's impossible to know. What is for sure is that Fehily, (during his all too brief spell as main rider to the Nicholls yard), showed that he has got what it takes to be up there with the cream of the crop. Those who bet on horse racing will be wishing him a speedy recovery.

When he does return to full fitness, it is to be hoped that National Hunt trainers and owners don't forget that here is a man well capable of getting the best out of a horse whether its over hurdles or fences.

Latest transfer news

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 03:35 AM PST

Press Association Sport is reporting that Birmingham City are close to signing Curtis Davies from Aston Villa.

Sources at St Andrews admit they expect a deal to be completed for the central defender within the next 24 hours.

It is thought that the move will be a straight cash sport deal worth around £3.5million.

However, the two clubs are also discussing a potential swap deal which could see City winger Sebastian Larsson plus £1.5million winging its way to Villa Park.

Meanwhile, Birmingham manager Alex McLeish has also not hidden his desire to sign a striker in the January transfer window.

He failed in landing Robbie Keane and Kenny Miller, and has now turned his sights to former Newcastle forward Obafemi Martins.

Speaking about any potential move, McLeish said: "The board are trying very hard to bring someone in and are working around the clock in terms of negotiating with people.

"After a couple of disappointments, I prefer not to discuss anyone publicly until the i's have been dotted and the t's crossed in any deal."

Boro line up move for United striker

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 03:32 AM PST

Middlesbrough are considering lining up a loan move for Newcastle United striker Xisco.
The 24-year-old has only scored once for the Magpies in 11 appearances and spent most of the last sport season on loan at Spanish side Racing Santander. There, he scored three goals in 23 games.

The frontman cost Newcastle £5.7million when he signed from Deportivo La Coruna in August 2008 and it is fair to say that he has flattered to deceive on Tyneside. His signing proved to be the final straw for then-manager Kevin Keegan and his fractious relationship with the recruitment arm of the sport club, headed by Dennis Wise.

The move to Boro could hinge on who will pay his wages, with Middlesbrough only willing to cough up a proportion of his reputed £50,000+ a week salary. However, with time running out before the transfer window closes, the Teesside club is hoping their offer will become increasingly attractive.

Boro are also reportedly interested in Hibernian winger Merouane Zemmama as they aim to upset the odds and pull away from the Championship relegation zone.

They are unbeaten in five games under boss Tony Mowbray and face Scunthorpe United and Crystal Palace - two of the league's bottom three - in their next two matches.

How big should your bankroll be?

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 03:07 AM PST

A common question on poker forums and in poker magazines is from players asking how large their bankroll should be for a specific stake. Like most questions about poker the correct answer is "it depends." There are so many variables in poker that what is the correct answer for one person could be completely wrong for another, but below are some guidelines for various games and variants.

The most popular form of online poker, whether using the betfair promo or not, is short-handed no limit Hold'em so it only seems fair to start with this discipline first. When I first started playing poker a few years ago there were people who said 20 buying, that is the most you can buy in for which is usually 100 times the big blind, but in today's game you need a little more than that. As the aggression of player and skill levels have increased so has the variance and therefore your bankroll requirements. I would suggest at least 30 buy-ins for short handed games but you could probably get away with 20 at the full ring games.

Those looking ahead to Betfair Poker Live note that another popular form of Hold'em is sit 'n' go tournaments (SNG), another discipline that has become much more difficult to win at due to the increased skill levels of players and the information that is available on how to play them mathematically perfectly. They are still beatable but you should now have around 65 buying, including rake, as a SNG bankroll and even then you should be prepared to move down when the inevitable downswing hits.

Multi-table tournaments carry the highest variance of them all and the days of needing a 100 buyin, including rake, bankroll are long gone. Ideally you should have at least 200 buyins in your MTT bankroll if you want to ride out the extreme swings in results that tournaments produce!

Other factors that should influence your bankroll size include whether or not you can afford to reload should you lose or is this money the last available to play with. Obviously if you cannot afford to reload then you need to be more conservative with your bankroll than someone with an abundance of funds available. Another fact is how you handle the swings mentally. If you tilt easily then keeping a larger roll should help prevent this from happening regularly than a shorter roll would.

Profiling errors

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 03:05 AM PST

Whenever you sit down at the virtual felt or at the poker table at your local casino you will almost always begin to figure out which players are tight, which of your opponents are loose, who plays aggressively and who is passive. This is called profiling and everyone does it but because each individual is completely different it is quite difficult to profile accurately and mistakes are often made.

Although those using betfair promo note that there are dozens of mistakes you can make whilst profiling an opponent there are three that are the most common. One is the so called primary effect and entails you giving too much weight and significance to the first set of observations you make. For example, you may see a new player at your table playing almost every hand and assume he is loose-aggressive but he may be on a rush of cards or may be creating this image for himself so that he can tighten up and get paid off with his big hands. This is a common problem because a good poker player often changes gears to throw their opponents off the scent.

Those looking ahead to Betfair Poker Live London note that another common mistake is the so-called Halo Effect, though this is more weighted towards profiling players in a live environment. It is human nature to assign positive attributes to people we deem to be good-looking and negative ones to those who are not so fortunate in the beauty department! Do not fall for this, especially in this day and age where many fresh-faced internet poker prodigies may only be 18-years old but are highly aggressive, in the poker sense of the word, and may have played hundreds of thousands of hands so will be quite experienced.

Finally, humans are guilty of stereotyping which does not bode well when trying to profile opponents. Most people would expect the flat-cap wearing 75 year old man to play loose-passive where you would often be correct to assume the young man clad in poker room clothing was a solid player. However, you will often be wrong.

When profiling opponents make sure you do so with a clear head, without the influences of anything else other than what you have seen and allow your profiles to be fluid and change to extra things you observe, rather than being rigid and set in stone.

Tips for the Christie's Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 01:57 AM PST

The Christie's Foxhunter Chase is one of the oldest races at the Festival. The first running in 1904 was won by the 6/4 favourite Palmy Boy and The Christie's Foxhunter Chase is the only race at The Festival open to trainers who are not full-time professionals or hold a permit to train their family's horses. Run straight after the "main" Gold Cup the amateurs have their own chance to show off their talents in their own Gold Cup. Run over the same 3M 2.5F as the main event this race produces an interesting mixture of horses and trainers. On the equine front we often see a plenty of older experienced chasers who are nearing retirement but are still capable of turning in a good performance taking on the young pretenders who have taken on all-comers in the point to point field and are looking to make the leap to race under rules.

The race also produced the first lady jockey to win a race at the Festival - Caroline Beasley successful on Eliogarty in the 1983 Christie's Foxhunter Chase. Since then the race has been won four times by women - Katie Rimell on Three Counties in 1989, Polly Curling on Fantus in 1995, Fiona Needham in 2002 on Last Option and Rilly Goschen on Earthmover in 2004. Anyone looking for Paul Nicholls horse racing tips may want to look elsewhere, as the trainer has only landed the race once during his career.

There have been several dual winners of the Foxhunters but never a triple one and if there is a race for veterans at the Festival then this is it, as three of the five thirteen year olds to win since WW2 have come in this event.

Last time out saw a quality Foxhunters with 16 of the 24 runners coming into this off the back of a win either under rules or in the pointing field and that contributed to one of the better runnings and winners from the past few years. Having just won the Cheltenham Gold Cup the Twiston-Davies stable delivered another blow here with all the way winner Baby Run who was third the previous year. Under his typically attacking ride he had his rivals stone cold from a fair way out and though he made a mistake at the last his rivals were legless.

Second was Kilty Storm, winner of two points and a decent hunter chase at Leopardstown in his last three starts, he travelled well in a handy position and had every chance, but he could never quite get on terms with the winner as hard as he tried – still a cracking effort. Reach For The Top completed the 1-2-3, successful in a point last time but having his first start under rules in almost three years, had question marks against his stamina but he wasn´t ridden as though thought a doubtful stayer, racing handily and having every chance.

The only other horse to mention is the other joint favourite Roulez Cool who had some very decent form in France but appeared to have run his race when brought down four out with his race run.

From a betting point of view it is definitely the younger horses that you need to concentrate on, as 18 of the last 20 winners have been aged ten or younger. Horses over ten really do have an appalling record in the race considering that in the last 20 runnings of the race they have supplied nearly half of the runners and produced just two winners. One of the tried and trusted patterns in successfully selecting the winner of the Foxhunters used to that you had to look for a runner that had won its last outing – that system took a little knock early from 2000 as four winners came about that had been beaten on their last start. But good news, normal service has been resumed and both Cappa Bleu in 2009 and Baby Run in 2010 were successful before winning this race. Although a lot of people will be looking at the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2011, this race could offer value.

With last year's winner making all it is always interesting to look at how other winners were ridden and six of the last 15 winners have made virtually all the running – so if you find a front runner that is fancied it is worth considering.

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Five questions on the January transfer window

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 05:54 AM PST

My brother works at Heathrow . . . Why different end times? In England today, the transfer window finishes at 11.00pm. In Scotland it ends at midnight. Are we to assume that in the depths of the Highlands of Scotland people may struggle to complete administration in the cold climate? Or that Scottish clubs simply [...]

Football Weekend in Numbers

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 05:47 AM PST

Arsenal spot on, Spurs need a striker and an expensive window 4 – Number of years since Spurs last lost by four goals. Yesterday was the first time they have done so under Harry Redknapp 14 – Number of penalties awarded to Arsenal in all competitions this season 9 – Goals combined by Jermain Defoe, [...]

Guest Post January: The Life and Times of Avram Grant

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 05:27 AM PST

Finishing off our month of guest posts (excluding any late submissions!), Ben Williams of upper90magazine ponders Avram Grant’s existence. ‘Avram’s Arse’. That’s the phrase coined by the Israeli media to describe the luck of Avram Grant. A trail of good fortune seemed to follow him around Israel’s 2006 undefeated World Cup Qualifying campaign, as though [...]

Newcastle reject £30 million for Andy Carroll from Liverpool

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 03:47 AM PST

Holding on to the future or snubbing a top-class defence? Woah-oh-oh. Transfer deadline day is not looking like being as dull as usual. With Fernando Torres on the verge of a move to Chelsea, Kenny Dalglish is eager to blow any stereotypes of Scottish thriftiness out of the water with an over-inflated bid of which [...]

Liverpool accept offer from Chelsea for Fernando Torres

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 02:36 AM PST

He’s on his way Fernando Torres appears to be on his way to Chelsea. Mirror Football’s Darren Lewis said on Twitter that an offer for the Spaniard had been accepted by Liverpool. The overnight speculation – amid reports that Torres left the club’s Melwood training ground in tears yesterday evening after a meeting with Kenny [...]

Top five players Tottenham are supposedly about to sign

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 02:03 AM PST

Spurs and Liverpool set to dominate transfer deadline day 1. Sergio Aguero Harry Redknapp has apparently launched a £38.5 million (€45 million) for the Atletico Madrid striker. While that triggers a release clause in his contract, the deal has hit a stumbling block over an additional £10-13 million tax fee due to the Spanish government [...]

Fulham keeper David Stockdale breaks off pre-match warm-up to co-commentate on his golf

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 01:44 AM PST

ESPN: Experts at Sidetracking Players Needlessly Normally professional footballers are creatures of habit before matches, systematically working their way through carefully honed pre-match routines. But not Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale. He spent part of his pre-match warm-up hovering behind ESPN’s crazy pitchside desk to see if they were showing the highlights of an excellent golf [...]

Best photo of the weekend: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini gives Notts County boss Paul Ince a kick up the backside

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 01:37 AM PST

You cheeky League One upstarts Talk about kicking every ball for your players. Paul Ince and Roberto Mancini both went for this one on the touchline during yesterday’s FA Cup clash between Notts County and Manchester City. Ince may have cheated slightly by using his hands. Mancini showed good awareness and had got himself into [...]

Top 10 conclusions FA Cup fourth round weekend 29-30 January

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 01:31 AM PST

1. OTP is wondering just how many Get Out Of Jail Free last-gasp FA Cup penalty cards Arsene Wenger has up his sleeve. Cesc Fabregas’ late spotkick saw the Gunners past Huddersfield just as he had earned a replay against Leeds in the previous round. 2. Saddest sight of the weekend: Michael Owen’s post-match interview. [...]

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