Sunday, October 24, 2010

Walter Football

I run a small NFL Pick'em league where you have to pick the winner against the spread. It's just like in Vegas, though without the free drinks and smoking.

To gain an edge against my opponents, I wrote a small program that uses the line and home field advantage to create some synthetic numbers based on data I get from USA Today. So far I'm 44-41 using it.

I've been looking for some other data to add into my algorithm and in the process came across Water Football. If you think I get a bit nutty with data (e.g. my yearly golf scores, puts, greens and fairways hit are recorded in a spread-sheet), this guy has crazy stuff.

His picks take a bit to get through each week as he writes a novel for each game. But if you're really into Pick'em leagues, this guy is the bomb (technical term). He has his weekly and yearly winnings (he must play online or live in Vegas), which I find interesting to look at. I'm not sure if they are real, but he did admit losing over $1000 last week, so at least he has some humility if he's lying. Looking at the results, I think he's probably being fairly honest.

If you have a few minutes (more like a hour) to waste, check out his site. Good stuff if you're into fantasy sports and Pick'em leagues.


Adam said...

Do you think vegas has an edge because there is not easy access to sports statistics?

Mac Noland said...

I don't think so. From what I understand, Vegas does not really care who wins. They simply want to set the line so that the money is even on both sides. They make their money in the form of a commission for hosting the betting market.

It's actually a very interesting business. It's basically a futures market. If we can get on the future revenue of movies (there is a new futures market for movies) then I don't understand why we can't legally bet online for sports futures.

Adam said...

I'm guessing there is an art to setting the line. They need to be sure there is equal money on both sides. They can slide the line based on bets but they need some stats to set the initial line. Otherwise they'd lose.