1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

A gambling thought experiment

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Dick Whitman, Apr 7, 2015.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I read the New Yorker's story this week on leagues like Fan Duel and DraftKings, and it got me to thinking, because I think that anyone could probably succeed at those sites, and even become wildly rich, given the time to crack them.

    I would like to try something. I would like to pick one college basketball team next year, in a mid-major conference, and follow them so closely that I know them better than Vegas, and then clean up.

    Could I do it? Could I make a killing on, say, Evansville? What about five seasons of Evansville, to avoid any small sample size issues?

    What say you?
  2. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    Back when I covered/followed the CAA, I didn't clean up or make a killing, but I did pretty well. Better than usual.

    It might be hard to pick one team and do that, though.
  3. Mr. Sunshine

    Mr. Sunshine Well-Known Member

    What were the odds Reacher would be the first one to comment?
    JackReacher likes this.
  4. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

  5. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    A buddy had similar comments about the Atlantic 10. There seems to be a bit of a sweet spot between "too small" (I don't think there are betting lines for the really minor college games with tons of variance) and "too large" (leagues and programs that get tons of media attention). Haralabos Voulgaris seemingly does something similar for the NBA - he allegedly wins about 70 percent of his bets because there are so many games on a nightly basis, times a season worth, that a good portion will invariably feature skewed lines.
  6. Layman

    Layman Active Member

    Don't know about hoops, but I've had pretty consistent success with MAC football. Particularly during the conference season. There seems to be 2-3 games a week, that just stick out.
  7. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    I think it's doable, but you need to follow the league, not one team. First, you'd struggle to get to know that team well enough, quickly enough to really make a killing. And without knowing the rest of the league, knowing the one team is pointless. So I think closely following a mid-major conference is a way that you could even out the odds or even work them into your favor. Of course, you have to beat the vig, too, so you really need to be right about 65 percent of the time to make any decent money.
  8. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Are you going to go full spreadsheet data analysis? Or are you just going to watch the games and loosely take notes?

    Because if you're watching, you're going to develop some level of attachment that will color your judgment.
  9. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    You'd very, very, very, very likely lose money -- I say that with a high degree of certainty. This is something I have looked at very closely, and I say it as someone who spends almost every waking hour looking at various markets and trying to find inefficiencies that can increase his odds from less than 50-50 (with costs). ... to slightly greater than 50-50 (in which case, you can grind money out of something).

    There are several things working heavily against you:

    1) These markets -- and with gambling lines / odds you are talking about a market -- are way more efficient than most people realize. There was a time back in the 1970s and into the 1980s, when there were far fewer participants, and the oddsmakers were setting lines based on their "gut," and not adjusting based on the factors they do today -- how much money is coming in, where it is coming from, etc. Those lines COULD be exploited, and there were some people over a 10 to 15 year period who made boatloads of money doing it -- including Billy Walters and the legendary "computer group." Today, that just isn't the case. There are way too many participants (liquidity fosters efficiency), and like most very liquid markets, it is nearly impossible to successfuly compete on information. There are always going to be people with better info than you. There will always going to be someone better capitalized than you, who can buy more expensive computers to do analysis, pay a team of people more in the know for information, etc. Or someone who is more willing to do something illegal than you are to get an edge. And all of that is typically built into the modern-day gambling lines, which is what makes them pretty efficient on the whole.

    2) Then there is the obvious. With straight-up gambling, it isn't just coin flip odds. Standard juice is -110 -- i.e. -- the person you place the bet with takes 10 percent right off the top. This makes it so that to break even -- on that standard juice bet -- you need to be right at least 52.38 percent of the time. Your odds are worse than that on many other types of sports bets. That 52.38 percent on just standard juice bets aren't the worst odds in gambling. But enough so that over any given amount of time, you can expect to end up lighter in the wallet UNLESS you have better information than the mass of other people who are gambling. And I know that isn't likely (I could get more into this than I did). Either way, the 52.38 percent is way more to overcome than most people seem to realize.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2015
    sgreenwell and doctorquant like this.
  10. three_bags_full

    three_bags_full Well-Known Member

  11. Killick

    Killick Well-Known Member

  12. JC

    JC Well-Known Member

    There was money to be made in hockey by using analytics a couple years back. Vegas has caught up now.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page