Data Analytics for Sports Betting: Winning with Science

Some things just go together.

Mac and cheese. Peanut butter and jelly. Bacon and more bacon.

Two of the most obvious? Sports and betting.

Competition breeds prediction

Any time two people or groups go up against each other in any sort of contest, everyone else, by nature starts to try to decide who will come out on top.

It’s what we do.

And I know that you know what the first thing is that people do next…

They try to find an edge.

Some kind of advantage.

Some way to stack the odds in their favor.

Aside from all the illegal ways to get the edge, the best way to make the most of your wagering chances is data analytics.

Historically based predictions

So what does data analytics have to do with sports betting? A lot.

Data analytics is merely looking at the history of something (in extreme detail) to predict what will happen next.

It’s really that simple.

So do we have history to look at in sports. You better believe it. We’ve got tons.

There are records of who played who, which players were on which team, if it was light out or dark out, hot or cold, weekday or weekend, underdog or favorite, lefty or righty, only child or youngest of 10, rookie or veteran, and on and on and on.

The point is, people in sports love stats.

And that love of stats benefits us.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics

Statistics can be churned and twisted and made to show almost whatever you want them to show. This is a harsh reality of the data world.

But beneath all those lies and stats, there are patterns.

That’s where we want to go.

If you look at history, you may not always be able to see the truth, but you will almost always be able to see trends.

And trends help us predict the future outcomes of similar events.

The more detailed the historical statistics, the more accurate the predictions can become.

Now remember, predictions are not guarantees. They are just telling you that something is likely to turn out one way or another.

If there was a (legal) way to KNOW the outcome of sporting events, we would stop watching them and they would go away.

We watch them and follow them and bet on them BECAUSE we aren’t sure who will win.

But the statistics, as they get more and more specific, can increase the odds for us.

And greater odds is what we want.

Huh, what are the odds?

So we have all this data. All this history of past, similar events. How do we use that?

Well, one thing about data is that it is just data. it’s of very little use unless you do the right things to make it useful.

In order to make it useful, you need things like a data analytics program and someone who knows how to analyze data.

If you know what you’re looking for and you have the tools available, you need to start off by asking the right questions.

In the movie Moneyball, Brad Pitt’s character, Billy Beane asks his team of baseball scouts and recruiters a question.

“What do we need?”

They make some assumptions and tell him something along the lines of “we need to replace Giambi.”

Giambi is one of their players that got traded.

He says NOPE.

Then he tells them that what they actually need to do is recreate the aggregate.

Here’s what he meant.

Giamgi had a batting average of .324. That’s really good. It’s hard to just get another player with a batting average that high.

But what they ended up doing was find three players that together recreated what they lost with Giambi

They each played their part and got on base enough to “recreate the aggregate”.

The stats can be used to find the key components that make the difference between wins and losses.

Fantasy leagues

Most professional sports leagues these days have some kind of fantasy league.

What is a fantasy league?

A fantasy league is an imaginary sports league where virtual players or teams compete against each other using real players’ stats.

So each time these teams play each other, the statistics from the real athletes are measured against the stats of the other athletes who were chosen to represent the opposing fantasy team.

So real people pit the real statistics of real players in a fantasy game.

When the players and teams are picked, it’s all based on predictions made from stats.

Fantasy leagues are all about data analysis. All those numbers are used to set the odds of particular players and teams of players that will never actually meet each other on the field of play. It’s literally points of data competing against other points of data.

Conclusion

So remember the next time you are thinking sports and want to bet that your team wins,

It’s all about the data.

You can bet on who you think has the best uniforms if you want. You can just always bet on your home team if you want to be loyal.

But if you want to win, analyze the data and play the numbers. Data analysis will show you the highest probability outcome.

The algorithms who predict the odds don’t care who wins. It’s not personal.

It’s data analytics.

And not only is the data already being collected, in most cases, it’s already there for you to look at.

Many web sites and services have give you the ability to look at different metrics and compare data points to figure out the best bet.

So use the data. Determine the probabilities of various outcomes. Place your bets.

And remember, with betting on sports, you will never be sure of the outcome, but using good data analytics, you can calculate the odds, and bet in a way that highest probability predicts your biggest chance of the most profits.

Good luck. Or should I say good data?

Either way, have fun.

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