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Monday, October 21, 2019

Astros enter World Series against Nationals as heaviest favorites since 2007

Mere hours after clinching their second pennant in three years, the Houston Astros were conferred the best World Series odds in over a decade.

Westgate deemed the Astros as -220 favorites with Caesars Sportsbook opening at -235. Even at the lower figure, that’s largest odds for a favorite since the 2007 Boston Red Sox were -240 favorites over the Colorado Rockies.

For the uninitiated, lines bigger than -200 are rarely seen at this level because people don’t often think things will be so lopsided. The implied odds from a -220 line is that the Astros will win 68.8 percent of the time — 70.1 percent if you use the Caesars line. And given how talented the Washington Nationals are, that seems very high.

Any thoughts from the gamblers among us?

QLE Posted: October 21, 2019 at 12:03 AM | 66 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, odds, world series

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   1. eric Posted: October 21, 2019 at 12:45 AM (#5892417)
I'm a former professional gambler, and a big baseball fan...and I have no idea how one playoff team can possibly be a 70% favorite over another in a seven-game series.

That said, lines are initially created based on what the linemakers think will split the wagers in the most profitable way for the book. The lines then of course move based on money coming in. So all that -235 means is that's what the public believes. To the greater sports public, the Astros are a trendy, successful team, while the Nats are an afterthought. It shouldn't be a surprise the Astros are as big a "favorite" as they are. Therefore, if you're in a betting mood, go Nats. At least until the line moves too much.

   2. Walt Davis Posted: October 21, 2019 at 02:38 AM (#5892419)
Using the binomial distribution, over 7 trials, a 70% chance of winning at least 4 is equivalent to a probability a bit under .6 in each game. Now I think it's kinda nuts to think that Astros v Nats is the equivalent of Tampa v White Sox (or some such) but it's not as crazy as 70% might make it sound.
   3. Tony S Posted: October 21, 2019 at 08:39 AM (#5892433)
Not a gambler, but an Astros fan. If I were to wager I'd easily take the Nats at those odds.

   4. PreservedFish Posted: October 21, 2019 at 08:43 AM (#5892435)
That said, lines are initially created based on what the linemakers think will split the wagers in the most profitable way for the book.


Is this easy to exploit? It seems like it would be.
   5. Greg Pope Posted: October 21, 2019 at 09:04 AM (#5892437)
Is this easy to exploit? It seems like it would be.

You would think so. I’ve always heard that you should bet against the Yankees, Duke basketball, and Notre Dame football for this reason. Those teams have so many fans that bet them no matter what, that the odds are set differently than what the casino actually thinks will happen.

Whether this is actually true I have no idea. And whether you could do enough to actually make money considering the vig is also something to consider.
   6. Nasty Nate Posted: October 21, 2019 at 09:13 AM (#5892444)
It might be exploitable, but i assume pros bet higher amounts than fans so they would possibly counteract the effect.
   7. Rennie's Tenet Posted: October 21, 2019 at 09:14 AM (#5892445)
So, is there such a thing as fracking money now? A lot of young guys, working all the time, piling up cash, from Texas or working with Texans.
   8. Spahn Insane Posted: October 21, 2019 at 09:29 AM (#5892450)
The Astros should be favored, but those odds are insane. The Nats' frontline talent is pretty damn close to Houston's, and what 1 said anyway; realistically what are the Astros' chances--maybe 4 in 7?
   9. bunyon Posted: October 21, 2019 at 09:49 AM (#5892455)
It isn't hard to imagine Scherzer and Strasburg having 3 sterling, shutdown games. The Yankees staff held the Astros in check pretty well.

If that happens, the Nats probably win. (Of course, it may not happen).

Basically, I think betting baseball is crazy.
   10. eric Posted: October 21, 2019 at 09:53 AM (#5892456)
Using the binomial distribution, over 7 trials, a 70% chance of winning at least 4 is equivalent to a probability a bit under .6 in each game. Now I think it's kinda nuts to think that Astros v Nats is the equivalent of Tampa v White Sox (or some such) but it's not as crazy as 70% might make it sound.


Correct. And the Nats have Scherzer and Strasburg and home games, as well. The Astros can't be 60% on average for every game. 538 has the Astros as 60% for the entire series, which sounds more accurate to me.

Is this easy to exploit? It seems like it would be.

You would think so. I’ve always heard that you should bet against the Yankees, Duke basketball, and Notre Dame football for this reason. Those teams have so many fans that bet them no matter what, that the odds are set differently than what the casino actually thinks will happen.

Whether this is actually true I have no idea. And whether you could do enough to actually make money considering the vig is also something to consider.


All lines are based on money coming in. The book wants to make money. That's why "even" is -110 on either side. Then if it moves it becomes -130/+110 and so forth(*). The betting public essentially sets the line. A successful sports gambler has to both 1) know more than the average result of the betting public (which, many economists would probably agree, is difficult in and of itself), and, 2) Know more by enough to overcome the vig, which is extraordinarily difficult.

The vig is less in online books, but you're taking additional risk as well as betting against more serious money.

To give a simple example, if one were to always bet at -110, you'd have to win 52.4% of bets on what's considered coin flips just to break even. Even if you could win 60% of the time, then for every $100 you bet on average you'd profit by $14.55. At which point you'd have to give $343,642 of action in a year just to make $50,000 (on average, highly variable) with no bennies, plus all the crazy work you'd have to do to maintain your edge. Moral: gambling is a hard way to make an easy living.

(*) For anyone who doesn't know what that means, -110 means a person would have to bet 110 to win 100, whereas, say, +110 means someone would win 110 on a bet of 100. So if two teams in a single game are both -110 then if there's one equal-sized bet on each side, the casino takes in, say, $220 (both bet $110), but would only have to pay out $210 since they'd pay back the $110 initial bet + $100 winnings to only one of them. For the -130/+110 scenario, they take in $230 and pay out either $230 or $210 depending on who won. The lines move so that the casino can put themselves in position to maximize their expected earnings; sometimes it can be profitable either way, other times it's hugely profitable if one side wins and a slight (by casino standards) loss if the other side wins.

   11. Rally Posted: October 21, 2019 at 10:38 AM (#5892468)
A 70/30 split is exactly what you should expect when a 107 win team plays a 93 win team, when the 107 win team has home field advantage.

Formula doesn't change much if you play the series at a neutral site, then the split is 69/31.

Astros won 107 with a 107 pythag. Nationals won 93 with a 95 pythag. Using 95 for Washington I get odds of 67/33.

It isn't hard to imagine Scherzer and Strasburg having 3 sterling, shutdown games. The Yankees staff held the Astros in check pretty well.


Sure, but they'll be matched up with Verlander and Cole in those games. Not hard to imagine a Smoltz-Morris outcome, or more recently, Carpenter-Halladay.
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 21, 2019 at 11:09 AM (#5892481)

That said, lines are initially created based on what the linemakers think will split the wagers in the most profitable way for the book.


Is this easy to exploit? It seems like it would be.



The adage I've heard are that teams like Notre Dame, the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, etc. always have lines a bit bigger than they should be because people (fans of those teams) tend to put more money on them.

Showtime had an interesting series about gambling, and the one guy they followed that seemed to know what he was doing said he bet heavily on obscure college basketball games because the linesmakers split the wagers in a way the casual fan would think, but he tried to figure out every detail about Kent State vs. Central Michigan to have an advantage.
   13. Astroenteritis Posted: October 21, 2019 at 11:23 AM (#5892488)
I know Vegas usually sets odds to get even money on both sides, but I see this series as much more even, so I think the Nats are a good play. I know enough to know that I don't know enough to be a betting man, though.
   14. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 21, 2019 at 11:29 AM (#5892490)
I'm sure this is a dumb question from a non-gambler, but I just looked this up and...

Nationals World Series odds: +180
Astros World Series odds: -220

Huh?
   15. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 21, 2019 at 11:35 AM (#5892495)
I'm sure this is a dumb question from a non-gambler, but I just looked this up and...

Nationals World Series odds: +180
Astros World Series odds: -220

Huh?


That just means the actual odds are 2 to 1. The +180 and -220 simply reflect the bookmakers' take.

(EDIT: coke to eric, even if what he wrote wasn't in direct response to your question.)
   16. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: October 21, 2019 at 11:36 AM (#5892496)
That said, lines are initially created based on what the linemakers think will split the wagers in the most profitable way for the book. The lines then of course move based on money coming in. So all that -235 means is that's what the public believes. To the greater sports public, the Astros are a trendy, successful team, while the Nats are an afterthought. It shouldn't be a surprise the Astros are as big a "favorite" as they are. Therefore, if you're in a betting mood, go Nats. At least until the line moves too much.


Question. When you make a bet on long odds, and the line later moves, do your odds move, or is your bet locked in?
   17. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: October 21, 2019 at 11:36 AM (#5892497)
"It's in the bag." -- A.R.
   18. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 21, 2019 at 11:45 AM (#5892503)
Question. When you make a bet on long odds, and the line later moves, do your odds move, or is your bet locked in?

Your bet is locked in, and if the line moves enough you can "middle" it by then betting the other way. If the final point differential of the actual game winds up between the points you got and the points you gave, you've got yourself a double winner. IIRC a lot of bettors successfully did this in (I think) the 1979 Steelers-Cowboys Super Bowl, where the opening line of 4.5 dropped to 3.5, and the Steelers won the game by 4. Of course you're almost never going to win a double bet like that, but OTOH the most you can lose is the vig.
   19. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: October 21, 2019 at 11:51 AM (#5892505)
When you make a bet on long odds, and the line later moves, do your odds move, or is your bet locked in?

You get whatever the odds were when you make the bet. It is like the stock market.
   20. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 21, 2019 at 11:53 AM (#5892508)
The +180 and -220 simply reflect the bookmakers' take.
But why wouldn't they be of the same magnitude in opposite directions?
   21. Nasty Nate Posted: October 21, 2019 at 11:56 AM (#5892511)
But why wouldn't they be of the same magnitude in opposite directions?
The difference is the bookie's or house's profit. They are not doing it for the giggles.

Edit: Or maybe you're asking why it isn't listed as +180 and +45. If so, I don't know the answer to that.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: October 21, 2019 at 11:57 AM (#5892513)
A 70/30 split is exactly what you should expect when a 107 win team plays a 93 win team,

Assuming equal competition (I'm assuming you did the math right) but the NL won the inter-league this year (550 wp). The NLE was +24 (I'm gonna guess they played the ALC) and the Nats were +8. The Astros (against NLC) were just +2. (Astros vs ALC were +8 in more games; Nats +2 against NLC ... so all pretty equal on that front.
   23. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 21, 2019 at 11:58 AM (#5892514)
Fun with cherry picking:
Paul Hembekides @PaulHembo

The Nationals played their 50th game of the season on May 23. Since that date...

Nationals
82-40 W-L
+203 run differential

Astros
81-41 W-L
+192 run differential

This is a coin flip series.
   24. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 21, 2019 at 12:04 PM (#5892519)
The difference is the bookie's or house's profit. They are not doing it for the giggles.
OK, so the profit is built into the odds calculation rather than the house just taking a certain percentage of the action? I was thinking it worked like the rake in poker, but apparently not.
   25. eric Posted: October 21, 2019 at 12:12 PM (#5892525)
OK, so the profit is built into the odds calculation rather than the house just taking a certain percentage of the action? I was thinking it worked like the rake in poker, but apparently not.


Correct, it's built in. If you had two teams, one at -200 and the other at +200 then with a 200 bet on the favorite (200 to win 100) and a 100 bet on the dog (100 to win 200) the house would take in $300, and pay out, either way, $300 (the bet plus the winnings to one of the bettors). There's no profit in that. So by making it -220 and +180 then with equivalent bets the house takes in $320 ($220 to win $100 and $100 to win $180) and has to pay out either $320 or $280, so the house now breaks even when the favorite wins and profits by $40 if the dog wins.

However, uneven betting can mess all that up. So the book's only job is to keep moving the line around so that the money coming in is fairly even so they can profit either way, or put themselves in position where one side (preferably the favorite) results in a large win, while the other side results in a small loss.
   26. PreservedFish Posted: October 21, 2019 at 12:20 PM (#5892529)
I wonder what % of sports gamblers actually understand what "+180 and -220" really means. There are so many idiots out there. I'm smart and I've read this thread and I can just barely wrap my mind around it for a few seconds before losing it again.
   27. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 21, 2019 at 12:23 PM (#5892532)
A 70/30 split is exactly what you should expect when a 107 win team plays a 93 win team, when the 107 win team has home field advantage.


Walt touched on this. But I don't think that people have completely absorbed the fact that the losses from all of the terrible AL teams who weren't trying translate into wins for the AL teams who were trying. The Twins, for example, probably don't win 100 games against a balanced schedule - e.g., on their front page standings, BB-Ref includes something called SRS (Simple Rating System) that purports to account for strength of schedule - this rates the Twins (0.7) below the Cubs (0.8) and the Nats even with the Yankees (1.0).

The Astros are, of course, a really, really good team who should be favored in this series (SRS = 1.4). But 107 regular-season wins may overstate exactly how good they are (not to mention: the Nationals just beat a 106-win (SRS = 1.7) team two rounds ago).
   28. Nasty Nate Posted: October 21, 2019 at 12:34 PM (#5892537)
I wonder what % of sports gamblers actually understand what "+180 and -220" really means. There are so many idiots out there. I'm smart and I've read this thread and I can just barely wrap my mind around it for a few seconds before losing it again.
A lot of time the betting is just point spreads so you don't really have to understand the money line.
   29. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 21, 2019 at 12:53 PM (#5892545)
Yeah, of the 4 major sports the money line is usually used just in baseball, at least by most non-professional gamblers.

Although not always. A friend of mine the other night at the pool room, who for some inexplicable reason is a diehard Deadskins fan, told me he'd bet $100 against $350 on the Skins to beat the 49ers outright.

He should've just taken the 9.5 points, as the Niners won by 9 to 0 and didn't cover the spread.
   30. SoSH U at work Posted: October 21, 2019 at 01:02 PM (#5892549)
The Astros are, of course, a really, really good team who should be favored in this series (SRS = 1.4). But 107 regular-season wins may overstate exactly how good they are (not to mention: the Nationals just beat a 106-win (SRS = 1.7) team two rounds ago).


Yes, the NL has been the stronger league the last two years (largely due to the number of AL teams not trying compared with NL clubs doing the same). Also, team quality is not static over 162 games. To a certain degree, the item Moses linked to is cherry picking. On the other hand, it's not hard to imagine that the Nats of October 2019 are simply a better team than the one that was playing on May 1.

   31. Rally Posted: October 21, 2019 at 01:18 PM (#5892556)
Astros were 15-6 against the 3 terrible ALC teams. Also 18-1 against the Mariners so the Mariners were 67-76 against non-Astros. That's embarrassing.

Nationals were 15-4 against the Marlins.
   32. Busted Flush Posted: October 21, 2019 at 01:36 PM (#5892567)
This is an interesting thread. I’ve got some questions about how the over/under works. I’m not even sure if this is a thing in MLB, so I’ll use the NFL as an example.

So, if tonight’s MNF game has an over/under of say 40, does that line ever move based on betting trends? Or is the payout just double your bet ($100 bet wins you $200)?

Also, if the total score is 40, it’s just a push and you get your bet back? If that’s the case, why don’t oddsmakers always pick an over/under with .5 so there is always a winning and losing side?
   33. Nasty Nate Posted: October 21, 2019 at 01:41 PM (#5892571)
So, if tonight’s MNF game has an over/under of say 40, does that line ever move based on betting trends? Or is the payout just double your bet ($100 bet wins you $200)?
For over/unders, the number itself can change and/or the moneyline associated can change.

So if the odds for both over and under of 40 are -110, it change to -120 for one and even for the other. It can also change to, say, 39.5 and keep the -110 for both, or even some combo.

It's true actually for regular point spreads too.
   34. Howie Menckel Posted: October 21, 2019 at 02:25 PM (#5892583)
a few items:

- saying that "the house just wants to get equal money on each side, to guarantee a base profit" is so 1990s. there are times now where the oddsmakers set a line knowing full well it might get 65 percent of the action on one side. but if they still love that line, they will dangle it and "take a risk." except they win more than they lose that way, too.

- one of the biggest challenges for horse racing in the U.S. is that a large bet DOES change the odds on a horse, and that you don't know your exact odds until post time. so if someone bets 25 grand on the second favorite in a crappy race, both that bettor and his like-minded pony players will see crappier odds post.

the solution to this is what is known as "exchange wagering," where you get the locked-in odds at the time you make the bet (the other feature is that you can bet on a race in the middle of a race, as on the internet you instantly find someone offering particular odds at that second). it's standard practice in the UK and has been for many years. but in the U.S., only New Jersey (of course) features exchange wagering.

- over/unders and point spreads can - and do on occasion - move several points, depending on intensity of betting by the public and/or by the pros. but as noted, you get whatever the odds were at the time you bet. and as 33 suggests, in a popular game where 3.5 or 2.5 point spreads may weight the pool heavily, a solution for the books is to "raise the vig" either there or at the +3/-3 level.

apparently Nevada's mobile options suck, but NJ I think is up to 18 legal mobile sportsbooks. a pro would download them all, and shop around for the best odds. sports betting is such a narrow window for profit that an entire season's success could be based on regularly snagging an extra half-point here or there, with the occasional extra W providing the entire overall profit margin.
   35. Nasty Nate Posted: October 21, 2019 at 02:36 PM (#5892587)
- over/unders and point spreads can - and do on occasion - move several points, depending on intensity of betting by the public and/or by the pros.
and of course depending on other factors such as weather and injuries. If Tom Brady gets hurt getting off the plane in New York right now, the books will change the lines/spreads for tonight's game immediately rather than waiting for the actual bets against the Patriots to come in.
   36. Joey B. Posted: October 21, 2019 at 02:58 PM (#5892589)
I made great money back in '03 when most people assumed that the Yankees were going to easily roll right over the Josh Beckett Marlins. The line for that series was crazy too, probably in part because of all that Yankees fan money.
   37. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 21, 2019 at 04:08 PM (#5892605)
To a certain degree, the item Moses linked to is cherry picking. On the other hand, it's not hard to imagine that the Nats of October 2019 are simply a better team than the one that was playing on May 1.
I wouldn’t call it “cherry picking” when your sample includes a bit more than the last two-thirds of the season, and the discounted 1st part of the season included injuries to Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon & Juan Soto, as well as the use of some long gone bullpen drek. The last two-thirds of the season seems like a more accurate measure of the now-healthy Nationals, and to the extent that bettors don’t realize that they may be missing an opportunity.
   38. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: October 21, 2019 at 05:03 PM (#5892639)
Somebody (this is what a Kindle does, you never remember the author/title) wrote a very interesting book recently on how betting on baseball is the best sports play, and post #26 reminded me of why, despite seeing little action relative to football, etc. Anyways, it was a very enjoyable read. I found myself at the Indy OTB downtown today for lunch, cashing in a modest two team college parlay from the weekend, and was so very close to laying a little on the Moneyline (Nats) for this series. Couldn't do it. It was -235.
   39. Walt Davis Posted: October 22, 2019 at 12:53 AM (#5892704)
FWIW, Astros 18-8 against Bal, CHW, KCR, DET; Nats 9-5 ... so again pretty close. How the Nats managed to win only 2 of 4 from the O's (and after they got good) is a mystery but those records are pretty close too.

Somebody mentioned the Twins which is a bit unfair. It's true they went 50-26 in the division but they also went 23-11 against the ALW and 20-12 against the ALE. They were 4-3 against the Astros and 1-2 against the Nats and 10-10 against the other AL playoff teams and 1-2 against the Braves. They hung in just fine against the good teams. (Contrast to the Indians last year who decimated their division and played around 500 against everybody else.)

And it looks like the Nats' entire ALC schedule was after they got things sorted out. They went 12-4 so that partly fueled their rise. Anyway, with the ALC their inter-league partner and the O's their rivalry partner, both the Nats and Astros got to beat up on some pretty bad teams.
   40. Howie Menckel Posted: October 22, 2019 at 01:43 AM (#5892706)
Somebody (this is what a Kindle does, you never remember the author/title) wrote a very interesting book recently on how betting on baseball is the best sports play

for experts, it is. for the average Joe?

used to be NBA because of the brutal travel schedule (um, bet against the team playing on the road for a 3rd straight night in the 1970s), but the easing of the sked and the sharpness of the bettors apparently has leveled the playing field there.

   41. PreservedFish Posted: October 22, 2019 at 08:53 AM (#5892715)
I wouldn’t call it “cherry picking” when your sample includes a bit more than the last two-thirds of the season, and the discounted 1st part of the season included injuries to Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon & Juan Soto, as well as the use of some long gone bullpen drek.


Sorry, what you're arguing here is that it is cherry-picking, but that he chose the appropriate cherries.
   42. Sunday silence Posted: October 22, 2019 at 12:05 PM (#5892832)
HOwie really does know wagering, everything he said is spot on from what I recall.

Andy nailed the classic example of when the line changes and the bookies lose from both sides, that super bowl IX thing w/ steelers/cowboys.

THe classic horse racing example of a large bet changing the odds might be the horse: Sweet Northern Saint c2005. He was always the classic wise guy horse but he never seemed to win. If you studied his races he had the speed to get in front but he never seemed to get the idea that he needs to stay there, he just looked around waiting for other horses to go past him. SOmeone dumped like a 2 million dollar bet on him a few minutes before post time in KY derby. He lost predictably, his problems remained with him his whole career which was rather unusual. Like going off as 1:5 favorite and still losing..
   43. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: October 22, 2019 at 12:36 PM (#5892861)
Tennis is where gamblers looking for opportunities based mostly on knowing which players can be bribed to tank a match. Stats work has taken away a lot of knowledge gaps where someone who was really working a sport could find an arbitrage opportunity
   44. Howie Menckel Posted: October 22, 2019 at 07:42 PM (#5893060)
per 42: when I witnessed a Jersey cartel spend an afternoon making high-stakes, high-volume horse racing bets, one of them lost hundreds on a favorite. guy told me he'll make a profit off the result.

how? he said he could see that this was one of a small group of racehorses who will never win. they are fast enough to do it, so when they "drop in class" (facing slower horses, basically), it can be tempting to bet that horse because he has faster splits than any rival.

now, in NJ and in the UK, you can bet on a horse to NOT win. so this guy said he can pound against this horse for the rest of his racing days by taking action from other bettors in the exchange pool who want to take money from anyone who doesn't believe that horse - the favorite - will win.

per 43: Professional tennis is going on the same route as MLB plans to do - significantly trim the number of participants, thereby allowing for better wages for those who can actually then make closer to a decent living. but tennis motivations very much are because of that rampant match-fixing at low levels.

the smarter of the new US states are refusing to take action on lower-level foreign sports leagues. it costs them a bit of tax revenue, and the operators gripe because they want gambling opportunities on the board 24/7/365.
   45. Esoteric Posted: October 23, 2019 at 08:39 AM (#5893280)
Wonder what those odds look like now.
   46. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 23, 2019 at 09:07 AM (#5893291)
538 has Nats with a 59% probability of winning now.
   47. Red Menace Posted: October 23, 2019 at 02:17 PM (#5893493)
I'm seeing Nationals +105, Astros -125. You'd probably get slightly better odds at a legal shop.
   48. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 23, 2019 at 02:29 PM (#5893499)
538 has Nats with a 59% probability of winning now.


Fangraphs still has the Astros w/ a 55% chance of winning the World Series. Fangraphs really, really, really likes the Astros - as in, "they're historically great" (see the concurrent thread on Hall-of-Famers playing in the current World Series).
   49. Nasty Nate Posted: October 23, 2019 at 02:35 PM (#5893503)
It must be rare for a 1-0 baseball team to be a gambling 'dog to win a 7-game series. Maybe the Marlins were in '03. It probably happens frequently in the NBA.
   50. Zach Posted: October 23, 2019 at 08:00 PM (#5893604)
Tennis is where gamblers looking for opportunities based mostly on knowing which players can be bribed to tank a match. Stats work has taken away a lot of knowledge gaps where someone who was really working a sport could find an arbitrage opportunity

I read an interesting book by a guy who basically operated as a stringer inputting point by point score updates slightly faster than the internet broadcast. Paired with an automated betting script, that was enough for the syndicate to make consistent money.

I have no interest in betting, but if I did I think that's the point where I would tap out. When the other guy is hiring teams of stringers to get the box score slightly faster than you, it's time to admit you're outgunned.
   51. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: October 23, 2019 at 08:08 PM (#5893607)
50--just a more modern version of past posting.
   52. PreservedFish Posted: October 23, 2019 at 08:09 PM (#5893608)
I have no interest in betting, but if I did I think that's the point where I would tap out. When the other guy is hiring teams of stringers to get the box score slightly faster than you, it's time to admit you're outgunned.

I finally looked into those FanDuel Draftkings daily betting sites recently. Thought it might be a fun hobby. Apparently casual fans have absolutely no chance, none at all. It's just donating money to the professional gamblers with fancy computer programs that you have no chance of beating. And the sites have shown no interest in setting up a safe space for amateurs to compete against each other.
   53. Howie Menckel Posted: October 23, 2019 at 09:58 PM (#5893701)
two VERY different issues there.

in the mid-2010s - so a couple of years ago - Daily Fantasy Sports experts were basically 1 percent of the players and 95 percent of the winners.

it was WAY worse than online poker (now only legal in NV, NJ, and DE, and soon PA), because poker pros can't be bothered playing small-time games in real time. I have witnessed several of them playing 10-12 Texas Hold'Em hands at once - but they can't play 1000.

in DFS, though, a team of Wall St-level analysts can produce "super teams" - they access the very latest changes in weather, injury reports, and so on, on top of their clear expertise anyway. and they CAN play 1000 games with those lineups, basically.

FD and DK have made modest attempts to keep the Great White Sharks out of the minnow pool, but anyone risking real money on DFS who is not a pro deserves to get ravished, at this point.

but both DFS companies also are now in on sports betting in states like NJ. in just a year, the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack has become the biggest book in the world (aided by NYC money).

straight-up sports betting is basically a 5 percent profit margin for the books, over the long haul. so if you bet $10,000 over the course of an NFL season, your most likely result is a loss of about $500. a 5-month hobby that costs you that much might be palatable to some, especially because you might break even or even win a little money (or lose a grand. but if you could lose more than a grand on straight-up bets, then just do the Costanza "opposites" gambit and profit!).

the real problem for compulsive gamblers, I think, is the siren sound of the "parlay bets." If only you can get all 5 of your picks right, a fortune is yours!

spoiler alert: you won't get 5 right. and if you think you'll likely get 4 against the spread - well, NJ books are (temporarily) offering a refund of you get 4 out of 5 for a reason. you can easily lose 10 or 15 parlays bets in a row, and now your row is Skid. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

bottom line: play DFS among friends, for small amounts, or enter a "free to play" contest that functions like a lottery. you won't win anything, but all it will cost is your time.

I don't recommend sports betting, either, to anyone who has any hesitation. listen to the hesitation.

simple definition is, "if I lose every single wager today, this week, this month, am I still okay financially?"

if not, whoa. dial it back.

yes, you won't lose every bet. but you're getting too close to the sun. stop flapping those wings so hard.

now, time to unfreeze the WS game to see if my 2 bucks on the Nats tonight might pay off!
   54. Zach Posted: October 23, 2019 at 10:04 PM (#5893706)
51 -- sure, but you're still outgunned.
   55. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 23, 2019 at 10:06 PM (#5893707)
in DFS, though, a team of Wall St-level analysts can produce "super teams" - they access the very latest changes in weather, injury reports, and so on,
Other than injuries, how could any of the type of information they could gain an advantage on possibly be correlated strongly enough with single-day individual player performance to make them dominant?
   56. Zach Posted: October 23, 2019 at 10:43 PM (#5893723)
I think the idea is that it's very easy to grind out small advantages with automated betting.
   57. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 23, 2019 at 10:51 PM (#5893732)
Right, but it's not really an advantage when the info you gain has no real predictive power. Is there anything (other than injuries) that moves the needle enough to reliably show up in single-game performance?
   58. PreservedFish Posted: October 23, 2019 at 11:07 PM (#5893765)
I think the injury or late scratch situation just adds insult to injury because the advantage is so stark. If I'm cooking dinner when they announce that Altuve isn't starting tonight, I miss out and my lineup is sunk. The pro updates his 1,000 lineups within moments.

But even if there's no information disadvantage, the pro is going to beat the amateur. Sure if it was one-on-one you might get lucky some day, but it isn't, it's your one lineup and every other chump's one lineup vs his thousand lineups, every one of those thousand put together with more craft and expertise than yours.
   59. Howie Menckel Posted: October 23, 2019 at 11:16 PM (#5893780)
I think that in the abstract, it's reasonable to wonder how much of an edge the DFS pros really have.

and then a couple of NFL seasons started, and the 1 percent devoured nearly everything in their path. the DFS companies weren't thrilled with the publicity, but they didn't deny what happened.

I actually know a guy who won $1M in one of those DFS contests, fwiw. he did not just "get lucky."

meanwhile, my second straight long-odds Nats bets looks fairly good right now.

would be an interesting "board" for a high-stakes player. if Nats hold an 8-2 lead, I have won the first two games and I also have the Nets at almost 2 to 1 to win the Series.

the pro can hedge 6 ways to Sunday on that set of bets if he likes, ensuring a profit or letting it ride. for them, it's just all about the numbers.
   60. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 23, 2019 at 11:19 PM (#5893787)
every one of those thousand put together with more craft and expertise than yours.
But that still doesn't answer my question - what is this supposed "craft and expertise" based on? One-game player performance, at least in baseball, is just far to small of a sample size to be predicted with any reliability. The "expert" doesn't have any meaningful knowledge that a well-informed fan doesn't, where "meaningful" is defined as something that has a consistent and noticeable correlation with outcomes.
   61. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 23, 2019 at 11:20 PM (#5893788)
I think that in the abstract, it's reasonable to wonder how much of an edge the DFS pros really have.

and then a couple of NFL seasons started, and the 1 percent devoured nearly everything in their path. the DFS companies weren't thrilled with the publicity, but they didn't deny what happened.
I could see it being different for football than for baseball, and the "expert advantage" being much more real.
   62. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 23, 2019 at 11:41 PM (#5893808)
My friend wrote a book about DFS. He learned from some of the “pros” and ended up winning one of the hockey championships (took home about $80k I believe). But he concluded that more popular sports have too much money at stake and therefore attract the sharks who he didn’t want to compete against. I think after some bad publicity the companies have changed some of the rules to limit the advantages of the sharks — such as limiting the number of lineups you can play at a time.

Dueling with Kings is the book for those interested. Author used to be a Red Sox and then a Yankees beat reporter.
   63. Howie Menckel Posted: October 23, 2019 at 11:51 PM (#5893816)
I think after some bad publicity the companies have changed some of the rules to limit the advantages of the sharks — such as limiting the number of lineups you can play at a time.

yes. but of course that "limitation" can be managed. takes a lot of steel fencing to keep the Great White Shark out of the pool.

and to clarify, I was specifically talking about football.

you're doomed in DFS in any sport, but especially NFL.

and for the pro sports bettors, MLB is the easiest for them to beat.
   64. PreservedFish Posted: October 24, 2019 at 12:32 PM (#5893970)
But that still doesn't answer my question - what is this supposed "craft and expertise" based on? One-game player performance, at least in baseball, is just far to small of a sample size to be predicted with any reliability. The "expert" doesn't have any meaningful knowledge that a well-informed fan doesn't, where "meaningful" is defined as something that has a consistent and noticeable correlation with outcomes.


You're not just picking the best 10 players or whatever, the website prices the players based on expected performance and you have a salary cap. That introduces a second factor (cost) that is just important as the first (performance) and the guys with big computers and 60+ hours a week to devote to this are able to find deals much better than the harried weekenders. If Altuve is benched, the pro doesn't just choose the next best 2B. It could cause a chain of reactions that results in choosing a different catcher and starting pitcher too, all done in an instant.

But even with performance ... my best estimate of a player's performance today is to look up his in-season ZiPS projection, look at the pitcher he's facing, and make a guess. Right now, I have very little confidence in your guess of whether you'd prefer an exceptional hitter facing an exceptional starter or a mediocre hitter facing a mediocre starter.

If you can automate sophisticated analysis of these and other legitimate factors - is it hot outside? is the bullpen taxed? does this team shift? is the umpire hitter or pitcher friendly? is a key defender injured? - you can make a number of incremental improvements that in the aggregate become significant.

Doesn't mean you can't win today, but over a period of months, you'll lose.
   65. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: October 24, 2019 at 01:23 PM (#5893992)
I got 12-1 odds for the Nats to win in 5 so feeling good about that. Also already won my intentional walk prop bet plus picked the hitter in Soto.
   66. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: October 24, 2019 at 01:48 PM (#5894011)
Somebody (this is what a Kindle does, you never remember the author/title) wrote a very interesting book recently on how betting on baseball is the best sports play
for experts, it is. for the average Joe?


Trading Bases:... by Joe Peta. He chronicled his handicapping system on the 2011 season. I don't view the book, nor did I read this book as some sort of a self-help guide to gambling, but a persuasive case for why baseball betting is (less dumb)than football or hoops wagering.

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