The Marriage of Sports Betting, Analytics And Novice BettorsBy Robert H. Mann | Published: March 27, 2018 at 12:55 pm
The prospect of expanded sports betting in the United States presents great opportunities for sports fans who may have shied away from their local bookies or offshore websites operating in the black market. It also presents major opportunity for sports analytics companies offering predictions or data sets aimed at informing sports bettors.
Successful sports bettors understand the risk/reward equation and have made an honest self-assessment of whether they are a recreational player who wagers more for the enjoyment and added excitement of watching a game, or one who seeks to rely on winnings as an income source. For any kind of player, sports wagering requires various skillsets and decisions. One such decision is where to access information and data, including predictive analytics, and then how to use it. Most successful Nevada sports bettors have at least one trusted data source and many have numerous ones.
Many such analytics websites already exist, some of them serving the daily fantasy sports (DFS) world, some of them advising sports bettors, some straddling both areas. But like DFS operator DraftKings, all parties will likely pivot or offer more products specifically serving sports bettors, an audience likely to be quite a bit larger than the one interested in DFS.
Expanded Sports Betting In The United States Means Analytics Providers and Sports Bettors Would Have More Customers, and More Information Sources, Respectively
SportsInsights/Action Network, TeamRankings, NumberFire, RotoGrinders, Rotoworld, and RotoQL are among the numerous established websites (for fantasy or otherwise) available to players as a means of assistance in determining which bets to make and which to pass.
RotoQL CEO Justin Park, co-founder of the DFS-centric website, hopes to soon join the scrum for Nevada-style sport wagering information customers with BetQL, a new product soon to roll out in an effort to assist customers who are eagerly awaiting the expected chance to legally join the regulated sports betting market in the U.S. (A decision on the fate of the federal ban on sports wagering outside Nevada is forthcoming before the end of the United States Supreme Court’s current term ends in June.)
According to Park, the new site will not sell picks and will focus on providing data designed to aid players in what he call “bet discovery.” That is: where’s the value on the betting board and how can it be accessed. He told SportsHandle he expects the new site to cater to both experienced and casual players and wants to show new players how they can make their initial deposit into a sports wagering account last a long time. He stresses bankroll management as a key element for any new player seeking to become a successful sports bettor.
Park said, “Our goal is assist users in accessing the pleasure in winning a bet by using our data to form your own conclusion.” He says DFS will remain important in the sports wagering market place even if Nevada-style sports betting expands nationwide because the fantasy games allow friends to compete against themselves in a social setting and that the social aspect of these DFS leagues will remain a vital part of the marketplace.
For Entertainment or For Profit?
Paul Bessire, an original founder and now the CEO of the popular sports information website Prediction Machine, says new entrants to the sports betting world must decide if they are in the “entertainment mode” or the “investment mode.” In other words, if they are a recreational player or looking to really turn a profit.
He advises sports bettors, once they make that honest determination, to seek out a source for data as well as analysis on the games they wish to bet and try to gradually learn the betting nuance that goes along with it. Bessire, 36, holder of a Masters of Science degree in quantitative analysis, doesn’t object to a newer sports bettor buying picks because he says the psychology of betting requires some people to have someone to blame their losses on.
However, Bessire believes, along with others now investing in the myriad of newer websites that provide data for sports bettors, that the player with the most information and analysis has a huge advantage over someone who is just making an under-educated guess. He notes that experience counts for bettors and although a veteran coach such as the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick or the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich may instinctively know what to do based on experience rather than data, for sports bettors utilizing statistics and simulations, such as those performed by Prediction Machine, more often will produce winning wagers by minimizing a casual fans common overreliance on favorites and recent outcomes.
[Also see: Sports betting 201: Exotic bets, Hedging, Middles and More]
One only has to look at the statistical reliance employed by Major League Baseball and the trend in which data-driven general managers are calling the shots from the executive suites instead of the manager on the field, to better understand Bessire’s point.
“The sports betting market is very smart and should not be underestimated,” Bessire said. “A prospective player must understand exactly what you are wagering on and if you don’t like the market for a bet, stay out of it.”
Sports wagering analysis helps the player flush out the “inefficiencies” in the marketplace, according to Bessire. He advises, “Focus on what you know and take a gradual approach to determine what strategies work for you.”
Some Basic Math Is A Must
Gill Alexander, the wagering podcast pioneer and a current program host at the Vegas Stats & Information Network (VSiN), the Las Vegas-based sports wagering, multi-channel platform, advises new players to treat sports betting seriously even if you’re in it primarily for fun rather than profit. He believes newer players should stay in the legal markets in the U.S. as the hopefully become available and avoid offshore sites. He said, “Also, wait to see how the math works out in individual states. The math (the cost of making a sports bet) must be advantageous for bettors.”
“Rely on numbers,” Alexander advises, “and that means different sites for different sports. “Fangraphs for baseball for example, will give a bettor information that most mainstream media outlets will not.”
As one of the original proponents of statistical-based sports analysis, Alexander, 49, advises caution when entering any betting market and says when it comes to buying picks or accessing analysis, “Players will do better by acquiring the analysis and then making your own decisions. That’s a better way to go. It just depends on how deeply you want to get into it.”
Alexander, who hosts a morning show on VSiN, “A Numbers Game,” (10 am-Noon ET), cautions newer players to keep in mind that bookmakers usually have to post a number and price on every game, but bettors don’t have to get into every market. “That’s our biggest advantage,” he told SportsHandle.
According to Alexander, there’s lots of free analysis available for players, but if you feel you need additional help, buy what you need to place winning bets. He also alerts new bettors without a mathematical background to be a “math understander.”
“It’s not necessary to understand the formula behind a particular play” Alexander said. “The numbers help a player better understand what they are watching. What is skill-based and what is random?”
With baseball season coming up, Alexander reminds bettors that “it’s an individual game disguised as team sport” and statistics can produce winning plays better than any other sport.
Prospective sports bettors in a regulated U.S. market will have a significant amount of predictive analyses to consider. The high number of websites now offering it for free or for a fee seems to foreshadow a groundswell of interest in sports wagering. Many new players are predicted to quickly dive in and enjoy the process for fun, profit and, hopefully, both.
Robert H. Mann, a 30-year resident of Las Vegas, is the industry writer and columnist for Gaming Today newspaper and GamingToday.com. His opinions are his own and may not reflect those of SportsHandle.
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