Bringing sports betting into the age of data analytics

21 Jan

This is a guest post by Bob.

Las Vegas ushered in a golden era of gambling, a true “adult playground” for the world. But times are changing – gambling has come a long way from all-nighters spent at the craps table, a pretty cocktail waitress making sure your gin & tonic remains bottomless. In this digital age, gambling is increasingly sophisticated, data-oriented, and virtual – millions, if not billions, of dollars are lost and won in front of the computer in the family den. All Slots casino online is one of the many such virtual casinos allowing users to play traditional casino games such as poker, slots, and roulette, as well as a huge selection of online games.

Let’s look at sports betting, specifically NBA games. In the old days, you call your bookie before a game, making your bet based on both teams’ records, players, and of course, your gut feeling. A few more unscrupulous instances included having an “in” man, most notably disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who bet on games that he officiated. The lucky ones guessed correctly, and walked home with a payout. The unlucky fellows? Well, there will always be another chance in the next game to win big.

Guessing – that is the key word here. Beyond basic player statistics, there was no data for bettors to make objective, informed decisions on. Times have changed. With the introduction of player analytics and other advanced statistics, bettors now have a wealth of information about players and teams, that give them a much more robust ability to analyze player performance. In the end, unexpected things may, and often do, happen. But if you know that Lebron James shoots midrange jumpers 70% of the time when a defender forces him to go left, and he shoots a 25% field goal percentage on midrange jumpers, that can be a very key piece of information when placing a bet. If he plays a top defensive team, like the San Antonio Spurs, advanced statistics can tell you that his usage rate (measuring how many of a team’s possessions a player uses) drops by 15% when playing the Spurs compared to any other team. In addition, his Player Efficiency Rating (measuring a player’s net effectiveness per minute) plummets by 10%. To translate the context of what those statistics mean, they indicate that the Spurs defense is able to force James to pass the ball to his teammates, limiting his efficiency and overall effectiveness on the game. 

Those are just some of the metrics than can be used to determine a player’s performance. But sports betting also involves understanding a team’s dynamic – after all, basketball, like many other sports, is a team sport. Take, for example, the Golden State Warriors, who have been to the NBA Finals two years in a row.Las Vegas bookies have rated the Warriors at -130 to win the NBA Championship. That means that a $130 bet on Golden State to win would yield a payoff of only $100 should you win. Those odds of a team winning are unprecedented – even the 1997/1998 Chicago Bulls (who won 62 games) warranted only -125 odds.

Why so much confidence? Well, it’s because of Golden State’s prize offseason signing of Kevin Durant. He fits seamlessly into the Warriors’ offense, in what has become known as their “Death lineup”. At any one time, the Warriors can trot out a lineup of 5 guys who can all handle the ball, initiate their offense, and shoot from anywhere on the court.

Data and analytics that make us better bettors. This isn’t your grandfather’s gambling anymore.

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