The move comes despite the picks winning +19.23 units over 18 weeks, according to the company’s numbers, citing the service’s unsustainability.
“While I am still confident that our picks can beat the market, I am not confident enough that it can beat the closing line given all the line movement our picks generate,” Schwimer explains, without substantiation, in JAMBOS Picks’ 2019 Year-end Review.
The quick ending to the pick-selling service isn’t exactly what Schwimer had in mind when he gained some valuable mainstream media exposure at the outset, but others saw the writing on the wall as soon as he started pitching JAMBOS Picks.
The first pitch
Encouraged by success betting on college basketball games in Las Vegas in December of 2018, Schwimer, who is also a contributor on ESPN’s sports gambling program Daily Wager, entered the touting space aware of its many criticisms.
“I will use the harshest language possible: The industry is disgusting, it’s heartbreaking, it’s just awful,” Schwimer told Bloomberg in August, a few weeks before the launch of JAMBOS Picks’ 17-week plan, comprised of NFL, NCAA Football, MLB, and NCAA men’s basketball games, began. Price tag: $3,000.
Historically, tout services have been more akin to snake oil salesmen, hiding behind manufactured win rates and hefty subscription fees, than sharp bettors with an edge against oddsmakers.
JAMBOS still had the hefty subscription fees — those unwilling to dole out $3,000 could purchase smaller 1-week packages for $250 — but Schwimer’s pitch was different.
On top of leveraging a team of Ivy League-educated data scientists and the backing of big-name investors, Jambos was the “first-ever sports betting subscription service to put their money where their mouth is,” according to a promotional video that is still posted on JambosPicks.com and pinned on Jambos’ Twitter account.
Jambos promised to deposit $10,000 back into subscribers’ accounts if their recommendations lost money after 17 weeks. Similar refunds, adjusted for price, were promised for the smaller packages.
“I care about showing the world that we can predict outcomes of games in sports better than any person or group that has ever been around,” Schwimer told Sports Handle at the time. “That is the goal.”
Though records of picks weren’t released until February 2019 and along with it a vague “certification,” Jambos claimed their picks finished +189.5 units with a record of 850-601-25 between December 2018 and April 2019. For the 2018-19 college basketball season, Jambos says it had a winning clip of 57.5%
Despite Jambos’ promises, an impressive five-month record on display, and Schwimer’s acknowledgment of the tout industry’s faults, many in the sports betting community remained skeptical of his quest to revolutionize the tout industry. In their eyes, Schwimer was just throwing a curveball with more spin.
Through the first four weeks, JAMBOS Picks was +2.54 units, leaving four of five packages with a small profit after fees. These numbers relied on subscribers betting the soft opening line that Jambos locked in for record-keeping purposes, which wasn’t always easy. It also required subscribers to bet past Week 2, which was the first week of picks for the $3,000 17-week package and the worst week in JAMBOS history, recording losses of -19.77 units (-$5,931 assuming each unit bet was $300, per JAMBOS’ recommendation).
A larger challenge for bettors was finding the means to bet all of Jambos’ picks. With Jambos recommended unit of $300 per bet, a bettor needed a substantial bankroll to make it through the downswings and to bet as many plays as Jambos was sending out.
We have made some significant updates to our NCAAB model. Hopefully it improves performance. Only time will tell. https://t.co/J3unz1EA5E
— Michael Schwimer (@mschwimer) December 3, 2019
JAMBOS advised subscribers to “open the email as soon as it is sent and immediately place that bet at the sportsbook we recommend, or another book with the same available line.” That meant risking as much as $15,000 at an offshore sportsbook (JAMBOS sent picks out based on opening lines at Betcris) on a given day, or a legal US sportsbook for those that were shy to bet offshore.
By Week 14, the picks were down -27.78 units. With time running out for JAMBOS Picks, Schwimer said that his team had made some significant updates to their college basketball model that was down -38.38 units over 467 plays.
Fast forward a month, Jambos’ picks were back in the black, in large thanks to a +23.82 unit Week 17 and a +10.18 Week 18, making their selections +19.23 units through 18 weeks of the service.
Win or loss?
According to Schwimer, this was a win for JAMBOS.
Answering whether JAMBOS achieved its goal of providing financial value to its subscribers, Schwimer writes, “We sold picks for 18 weeks in 2019. During those 18 weeks, our picks ended up +19.23 units. If subscribers paid for each week individually, and bet the recommended $300 per unit, they would be +$3,369 (including fees and refunds).”
What about those who purchased the 17-week package, which provided picks from Week 2 through Week 18?
You won’t find the number highlighted in the year-end review, but the 17-week package was up +10.74 units. That would be $3,222 (assuming the subscriber bet $300 and had access to identical lines as JAMBOS), leaving $222 after the $3,000 fee.
Some might argue that’s an awful lot of work for a little return.
Writing on the wall
Days before releasing its year-end review, JAMBOS and Schwimer hinted that the service would likely be coming to an end.
Subscriber feedback is indicating that users are having increasing difficulty acting on our exact recommendations due to rapid line movement. We will continue to monitor in the coming weeks before making any decision on how to best move forward with our service.
— Jambos (@JambosPicks) December 24, 2019
A week later Schwimer tweeted, “Unfortunately, pros/books have subscribed and built bots that move lines on release. We will have to stop selling picks very soon as not in best interest of subs.”
While JAMBOS is no longer selling picks, Schwimer has seemingly parlayed the controversial, now-discontinued tout service (which he says is less than 5% of the company) into more opportunities for his company.
Most recently, JAMBOS announced a partnership with multi-tenant B2B sports betting services provider, Metric Gaming. It’s unclear what the partnership entails, but “the two firms expect that the partnership will help make the most of opportunities presented by the emerging US market.”
Whether Schwimer’s claim about sportsbooks and pros using bots and Jambos’ picks to quickly adjust lines is true, or simply a PR stunt to save face as some critics suggest, is difficult to verify. You probably have your suspicions.
The truth is that even if JAMBOS Picks, or any such tout service, had an edge, this is likely how it would end.