For Pete Smaluck, it all started with a pack of baseball cards.
The founder of props.cash, an education and resource tool that helps sports bettors make better player prop wagers using relevant analytics, grew up in a sports-loving household.
His father’s passion for local sports teams in and around the Canadian province of Ontario, such as the Buffalo Bills, Toronto Blue Jays, and Toronto Maple Leafs, quickly rubbed off on Smaluck and his brothers, who collectively descended with their father down the path of sports fandom.
Smaluck grew up playing all kinds of competitive sports — baseball, hockey and high school football — but he and his brothers also discovered baseball cards. Collecting these cards quickly became a passion for Smaluck, who became infatuated with the numbers side of baseball.
“We got obsessed with the player stats on the back of the baseball cards,” Smaluck told Sports Handle .”My brothers were even into sports more than I was. I just had the computer gene, the nerd gene. The stats on the back of baseball cards, I can attribute them to my initial interest in mathematics overall.”
Fast forward many years, and Smaluck has now found his new passion project that uniquely combines his interests in mathematics and sports betting: props.cash.
With nearly 48,000 Twitter followers and thousands of monthly subscribers, Smaluck has built the platform into a valued industry tool in just a year and half since becoming incorporated. The company focused on sports betting education has grown to include 10 employees, prompting the move to a new office in Hamilton, Ontario.
His product is not affiliated with any sportsbooks, and it provides bettors with a fast and easy way to find prop betting data for a $20/month subscription fee.
“Our best customers will be responsible gamblers who can afford long-term bankroll,” Smaluck explained.
How it all started
Smaluck studied math and statistics at McMaster University in Hamilton with the intention of one day becoming an elementary school teacher. But after graduating and then attending a teachers’ college, Smaluck hit a dead end looking for local job vacancies.
With a surplus of teachers looking for work in Ontario, Smaluck was forced to pivot his career path several times. In 2013, he picked up a job with the local Hamilton Spectator newspaper creating interactive digital applications.
An avid PROLINE player in Ontario, Smaluck got the idea to try out some of his newly developed skills using the data from the provincial lottery’s sports wagering platform.
“You know PROLINE, their odds were so bad! You really had to work to find an edge,” Smaluck said, laughing. “I actually tried to build a piece of software in 2014 to do the same thing that props.cash does now, to evaluate props by ingesting the PROLINE data. I just didn’t have the polished developer skills at that time to do what I wanted.”
Smaluck then made stops at startups like Unata, Instacart, and Sandbox Childcare Software. He picked up more valuable developer skills along the way and found he loved being a part of building new companies.
Smaluck then got the idea to build a piece of software to help students learn math using NBA data. He beta tested it remotely with about 50 teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they were enthusiastic about the product. Teachers didn’t want to pay out of pocket for the software, however, forcing him to pitch the idea to school boards. Unfortunately, the timing, once again, was horrible.
“Doing that during COVID, especially with American school boards, seemed impossible,” Smaluck said.
All the while, Smaluck continued occasionally to place small $10 bets on props at bet365, which was operating in the gray space in the province at the time. He then decided to use the education software he developed and apply it to those betting lines.
“These graphs that I had for these kids, I put the betting line through it, and I could start to see the data in a way that was helping me make my prop bets,” he explained. “I told my buddies who I played props with. They encouraged me to throw the data online. I did, and literally people started signing up right away. Clearly, there’s something missing in the market, a product like that, for people not to have insert data into Excel — just to have the data in a way that they need to see it to place a prop bet.”
His product got a lot of growth organically on Twitter because he simply had data others didn’t in the space. It started with NBA data, and then he expanded it to MLB, NFL, NHL, WNBA, and now even esports.
“The nice part about the platform is that it’s consistent from sport to sport. The user interface is the same from sport to sport. If you can understand how to use it for one sport, there’s applications to the other sports.”
— props.cash (@propsdotcash) June 24, 2022
Where it’s going
The launch of Ontario’s regulated iGaming and online sports betting market on April 4 has presented a unique opportunity for props.cash in its own backyard. There are now more props than ever for Ontario bettors to wager on legally with a plethora of sportsbooks.
“The Ontario betting population is unique. They’ve had bet365, they’ve had Pinnacle, for a long time now. They’re further along the curve than a lot of other populations, like in the United States,” Smaluck stated.
“Our product, for people that want to try, want to dabble, in a little bit of betting now that you’re getting some free money (bonus offers from sportsbooks) … allows a way for you to leapfrog to a more beneficial starting point.
“You aren’t starting from scratch when you’re making a prop bet. You aren’t going to look at ESPN box scores, or just using a hunch that a player is hot, to make a prop bet. You can actually, in one click on our site, pick a player and get five or six relevant data points from a historical frame that ultimately determine the lines, and determine the value of a specific prop.”
Smaluck’s product saves users time researching their prop bets. Instead of taking hours to consult multiple websites and data points, props.cash does all the heavy lifting and condenses this information into an easy-to-use platform that’s visually appealing.
The difference between 2022 and 2021 has been pretty stark for José Berríos in terms of strikeouts, as this chart from @propsdotcash — player prop research made easy! — makes pretty clear. Would love to see that 13K guy from a couple starts back return! pic.twitter.com/mq1XO6rXxk
— Andrew Stoeten (@AndrewStoeten) June 15, 2022
“Our tool is an interesting and unique way to look at the data that is specific through the lens of someone placing a prop bet,” he said.
The timing is right as offers have evolved
Smaluck believes there’s additional value and edges in prop markets due to the fact that operators are now simply offering so many of them to bettors.
“The spread and the moneyline and the totals markets, these are old markets that have been picked over and examined at length [by sharp bettors]. There has been thesis upon thesis written on these markets and AI have been running on these markets for a long time,” he noted. “But prop bets are relatively new. Prop bets have a ton more volume. On an MLB night, you may have 1,000-3,000 prop lines on a given night right now. Because of the volume, it’s harder for the operator to have great lines and odds on every one of those.”
Smaluck recalls a distinct prop advantage that became apparent regarding NHL shots-on-goal props at the beginning of last season.
“There was a lot of opportunity for people to bet on a player who had hit eight of his last 10 games and he was still getting plus-money. You wouldn’t see that in the moneyline or spread markets. Obviously, the lines began to mature and you didn’t see the same value towards the end of the season. These prop markets are new, and books are taking time to adjust to them. I think that presents an opportunity for all bettors, but maybe more for the new bettors.”
Another development for props.cash is its recent partnership with Sports Info Solutions (SIS). This arrangement will give the platform access to advanced NBA data that the public can’t get, such as how contested every shot was in a given game, and who was guarding who on every play. Smaluck is excited to get his hands on these advanced data sets to incorporate them into his platform.
We are beyond excited to announce a partnership with @SportsInfo_SIS. Our expertise in data visualization and their rich datasets will unlock a whole new layer of research for the prop bettor this fall.https://t.co/Fd3Fmeg30H
— props.cash (@propsdotcash) July 11, 2022
Smaluck says props.cash has a mission to collect even more advanced data sets and present them in a simple and intuitive way to its users.
“That challenge is out there, and we’re going to try and meet that challenge,” he said.
And Smaluck still hasn’t given up on his mission to become an educator, although his classroom is a lot different, and his students are much older, than he may have initially anticipated.
“I still feel like I’m teaching math, but I’m not teaching math the classical way. It’s a bit different,” he joked.