Wagering: How statistics are revolutionizing sports betting

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Over the years, many sports betting systems have tried to give the gambler the upper hand in any wager.

Whether it’s the regression analysis technique in the final quarter of a football game, or just understanding slot volatility in a casino game, gamblers have shown themselves to be pretty inventive when trying to win a bet.

Among those have been business professor Keith Willoughby, who built a model based on what he called a “regression algorithm” to predict the outcome of NFL and CFL games.

Though the professor’s prediction of a 10-point victory for the Patriots in last February’s Super Bowl was four points off the eventual score, it does show how we’re starting to use statistics to get a better idea of an eventual sporting result.

Since sports games are based on human actions, they offer any betting model many more variables to consider in working out the odds of any given result. And while simple casino games at LadyLucks might have the most basic laws of probability, when we factor in variables of slots volatility, it shows how hard it can be to guess a winning outcome.

However, recent advances in how Big Data is applied to sports statistics now threatens to overhaul the sports betting world.

With technology now able to evaluate players’ actions in real time and provide a wealth of information regarding their performance, it’s spawned a trend for sports fans to bet on the second half of a match, depending upon a team’s performance in the first.

The increasing speed, quantity and quality of data has facilitated a new breed of sports betting enthusiast. Rather than the stereotypical sports fan who lets their emotions make their betting choice, it’s now data analysts picking up the big winnings as a result of their ability to make data work for them.

Although the Patriots’ stunning Super Bowl comeback would have been hard to predict, there were plenty of smart gamblers out there who looked at the math and saw the potential for the unlikely outcome.

Blackjack professional Jeff Ma, for instance, took his experience in casino games and applied it to the Super Bowl to overcome cognitive bias and illustrate how the Falcons’ risky gameplay cost them the outcome.

So although it still might be tough to predict the outcome of any sporting event, with some expertise from the casinos, we all can have a better chance of a winning bet.