BaseWinner 45 years old with a background in Math & Economics – Inspired by work of Bill James, David Smyth and Nate Silver. Created a model using mathematics & creativity to form the BaseWinner Analytics game prediction and player evaluation formula. We have further developed the Runs Created formula to help price the predictive elements of baseball on a daily basis.

Metrics Mike Former professional poker player with a background in behavioral psychology and game theory.

NFL analytics analyst with a focus on coaching analytics and live in-game betting.

Intro to BaseWinner Analytics

Realistic Expectations The reason why over 97% of people lose at sports betting is at-least partly due to unrealistic expectations. The average recreational bettor is trying to turn $500 into $10,000. The bettor with this mentality will have too high of an average bet size, and will eventually (inevitably) lose his entire bankroll (Over-betting –> Ruin –> Quit –> Another Statistic).

What is possible for yearly returns:

10k into 13k

100k into 130k

This is not a get rich quick process. The illusion of success that many in this industry portray is not reality.

Grinding out a profit is exactly that; a long, slow GRIND. If you enjoy sports analytics, decision analysis, and you are ready to use your brain to out-maneuver the market, this can be a fun, challenging, and moderately rewarding hobby. But do not mistake this for a get rich quick opportunity.

Juicing The juice is a killer. The juice is so hard to profitably overcome in the long run. The winners are winning a lot less than what the losers are losing.

Unless the sport is brand new (before any type of analytics revolution), 20 cent lines are incredibly hard to beat for any type of significant profit. It give so much protection to the sportsbook from ever setting a bad line. Imagine a scenario where the true line for a game should be Team A -150 (and therefore Team B +150). That is the break-even price for this game if they played it 100 times (Team A would win 60%, Team B 40%). The sportsbook can set this line anywhere between -150 and -170, allowing for no value on either side. And even if they do set a bad line at -175, you still are only getting 5 points of true value on the underdog (+155 vs +150). Hard to make any type of explosive profit from this. Winning is an absolute grind. The good thing about baseball is the mass volume of games throughout the season. If you can find 1,000 games with this 5 points of value, you can make 25 units.

As a betting market, we really need to move to an exchange model, where Player A who wants to bet on Team A can bet against Player B who wants Team B (with 1-2 points of juice each side, rather than 10-20). The bookies are the only ones laughing all the way to the bank under this current system.

Uncomfortable Bets Q: Why are you always betting on the two worst teams in the NL? The padres and the marlins??

This is a common question we get from new subscribers. The oddsmakers are, for the most part, good at setting lines. And with the juice, they are protected from ever setting a really bad line. So you have to think: where and how value is created in the market? The answer becomes, the teams that are getting the emotional, reactionary (sucker) action. So this typically takes the form of ugly underdogs, that most of the market doesn’t want to touch. Or against popular teams, that the recreational market likes to bet-on. It’s all about price. This, unfortunately, is a very uncomfortable way to bet on sports. It is also, I think, one of the only ways to be long term profitable.

Most people can’t stomach the required losing that goes along with playing big underdogs. And unfortunately it appears that is becoming one of the only places to find any value in the increasingly efficient market.

We joked about it in the NFL: If while placing the bet, it makes you at least a little uncomfortable, it has a better shot of actually being +EV.

We Don’t Have All the Answers This stuff is hard. It takes real work, introspective & accurate thought, along with a strong stomach.

We put a lot of energy, thought, and money into this. But we certainly do not have all the answers, and this is not a get rick quick system. You are encouraged to take and use the things you agree with, but also be skeptical about the things you don’t. Build your own filters and systems to find a better win rate.

Sports betting is RISKY. We have done well in the past. But that is certainly not a guarantee of future results. The market is a fluid, living thing that is getting more efficient every year. Just because a certain type of play has won for 15 straight years, doesn’t mean it will be profitable in the 16th. The market could change the way it prices things at any second.

Ultimately what you do with this information is up to you (this is NOT investment advice). If this were easy, everybody would be rich. Be careful with bankroll management and never bet money you can’t afford to lose.

We are building a community who want to think critically about players, teams, and the betting market. If you enjoy sports analytics, decision analysis, and you are ready to use your brain to out-maneuver the market, this can be a fun, challenging, and rewarding hobby.

Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction

In 2010, Advance Research Projects Activity (IARPA) started a four-year forecasting competition among thousands of ordinary people and experts to determine the core traits and behaviors that lead to the most accurate forecasting results. Here is a summary of what they found along with how we use the principles in our Clear Data Sports handicapping process.

Superforecaster Principles:

#1 Break The Question Down Into Smaller Questions

Before making a prediction first you must present a question:

How many piano tuners are there in Chicago?

The question itself may be overwhelming and virtually impossible to make an accurate prediction in this state. But if we break the question down into smaller questions that are more manageable and easier to answer, we can then make a more accurate estimate when we bring the answers to all these questions together.

Here are some examples:

What is the number of pianos in Chicago?

How often is a piano tuned in a year?

How long does it take to tune a piano?

How many hours a year does the average piano tuner work?

Let’s look at the first question we just presented:

What is the number of pianos in Chicago?

These questions are still somewhat tough to answer, so let’s make it even easier to answer by breaking it down into even smaller questions like:

How many people are there in Chicago?

What percentage of people own a piano?

How many institutions own a piano in Chicago?

With a little bit of research and some estimating we can create answers to these questions. Here are the results of our imaginary example.

Estimated number of people in Chicago: 2.5 million

Estimated percentage of people that own a piano: 1%.

Estimated number of institutions with pianos in Chicago: 25,000.

With some simple math (2.5 million people times 1% plus 25,000) we have an estimate of 50,000 pianos in Chicago.

Continue to use this process for all your questions. Break down tougher questions when necessary into easier to answer smaller questions. Once you have finished answering your questions, consolidate your information using some basic math to create an initial prediction.

This is the foundational process Superforecasters use to predict something as accurately as possible.

Clear Data Sports Application: Rather than looking at Team A vs Team B, we investigate how Team A’s offense will do against Team B’s defense, and visa versa. Looking as far into the actual matchups as we can.

Takeaway #1:

Break your question down into smaller and easier to answer questions. Then research as much as possible to get as accurate as possible answers to these questions. Estimate your answers when you can’t get exacting information. Merge your data from your smaller questions using some basic math until you have your initial prediction.

#2 Find The Base Rate

Question: How likely is it that the Renzetti family has a pet?

Current information of the family:

They live in a small house at 84 Chestnut Avenue in New York.

Frank Renzetti is fourty-four years old and is a bookkeeper.

Mary Renzetti is thirty-five years old and works part time at a day care.

They have one five year old child named Tommy.

Frank’s mother also lives with the family.

This information may be helpful in finding answers down the road, but don’t focus on it at the start as it can bog you down and give you a less accurate estimate. In the beginning you want to downplay the situations’ uniqueness and instead group it with similar types of situations and ask a broad question about that group to get a base rate.

You would want to ask a question like:

“What percentage of American households own a pet?”

Answering a question like this gives you a base rate to start from before getting into the finer more unique details of the particular situation in question.

Clear Data Sports Application: How likely is it that Home Team A will win (given a certain situation)? We use the base rate of home win percentage of all of the Home teams in that situation as a starting point.

Takeaway #2:

Ask a question about a broad group that your particular situation falls into to downplay its uniqueness and get a base rate to start from.

#3 Get Into The Details

Now that you have a base rate to start with, you can start to get down into researching the details. Again, break questions down into individual manageable components that will be easier to answer than the larger questions within the situation.

Don’t get lost in aimlessly researching countless aspects and factors. You want to create questions that are targeted and purposeful that will get you closer to a more accurate prediction in the end. So before you start to research some topic that seems to be related to your question, ask yourself, “Will the information I gather from this research help me increase the accuracy of my prediction?”

Clear Data Sports Application: We add detailed information to increase the accuracy of Home team win prediction in baseball. Information such as:

What is talent BAR number of Starting Pitcher

What is talent BAR number of opposing starter.

Talent Run Projection of Home Offense.

Talent Run projection of Away offense.

BAR talent for relief pitchers Home

BAR talent for relief pitchers Away

Takeaway #3:

Further break down your situation into more manageable questions and make sure the questions you ask will aid in increasing the accuracy of your final prediction.

#4 Merge The Base Rate With The Details

Comine #2 with #3 above.

Clear Data Sports Application: Base rate is Home winning percentage. This number can be narrowed down by taking component analysis vs. win percentage on scatter plot analysis. Method can be executed with specific component analysis or combination analysis (ie. BSR probabilty projections for each game) to see which elements or combination has more correlation and therefore more predictive value.

Takeaway #4:

Synthesize and merge your base rate data with your detailed research into an initial prediction.

#5 Look At Your Information From Multiple Perspectives

The Superforecaster takes their initial prediction and puts it on trial in multiple ways to make sure nothing is overlooked and it is as accurate as possible.

Get Critiques from Colleagues

Present what you’ve learned and your reasoning behind your calculations to your colleagues for additional perspectives, critique, and input.

Objectively Scrutinize Your Own Work

Write your whole analysis down. Review it objectively and scrutinize it.

Ask yourself questions like:

Do I agree with this?

Are there holes in this? Should I be looking for something else to fill this in?

Would I be convinced by this if I were someone else?

Try to put some time in between your initial assessment and your critique of it. Ideally a few weeks if possible. This will give you a more fresh and objective perspective.

Re-Evaluate the Question From Scratch

Assume that your first assessment isn’t complete or not completely correct and try to assess it from a different perspective. This second estimate you get is then merged with your first estimate to get an even more accurate estimate than the initial one.

Approaching the question from these two opposing perspectives will give you different results due to each one putting you in a different frame of mind during your research and analyzation. Once you have gathered your data and created a forecast from these two different perspectives merge and synthesize their results to get a more accurate forecast.

Superforecasters don’t use just one or two of these tactics for each prediction they make. They use many of them and then repeat the process to further refine their prediction. Don’t stop forecasting after just one pass through.

Clear Data Sports Application: What is the probability that a Home team will win when their pitcher is rated in top 20% (lower good side) and they are facing an offense whose production number is in bottom 20%.

Takeaway #5:

Use whatever tools you have available to assess your results; get feedback from colleagues, re-evaluate your work. Look at it from different perspectives. Gather more data. And do it all over again.

#6 Think Probabilistically

By default, most people think about outcome possibilities with only two or three settings.

Setting 1: It is going to happen.

Setting 2: It is not going to happen.

Setting 3: It might happen.

Superforecasters don’t think this way. They think probabilistically, in percentages, realizing that a two or three setting approach is not very accurate and forecasts must be further refined.

The more granular and probabilistic you get in your thinking and defining your estimate, the more likely your estimate will be correct. The most accurate Supeforecasters forecast down to one-tenth of a percent. They are more accurate than their colleagues that forecast down only to single percentage points.

Clear Data Sports Application: The Basewinner line maker computes probability to the last decimal. Also, the probability formulation can be adjusted based on historical evaluation of its results.

Takeaway #6:

Think probabilistically down to a granular level. Calculate your predictions down to one-tenth of a percent.

#7 Update Your Forecast When New Data Is Discovered

Coming to your forecast is not final. As new data comes to light, you must apply it and update your forecast whenever possible. Superforecasters update their forecasts much more frequently than regular forecasters and are more attentive to new data.

Clear Data Sports Application: Basewinner numbers are constantly updated during season to accurately reflect talent level at game time.

Takeaway #7:

Update your forecasts frequently and when new data is discovered.

#8 Don’t Let New Data Skew Your Forecast

Though it is important to be attentive to new data, be mindful not to give it too much or too little weight when recalculating your forecast. The best way to avoid this is to update your forecast with new data often and adjust it in small increments.

Clear Data Sports Application: Clear Data numbers are constantly and carefully adjusted based on the time frame that the CDSA team has determined to have advantageous predictive value.

Takeaway #8:

Update your forecasts with new data often and in small increments.

#9 Have A Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is the belief that your abilities are largely the product of effort. You can “grow” to the extent that you are willing to work hard and learn.

A fixed mindset is the belief that we are who we are and abilities can only be revealed, not created and developed.

For example someone with a growth mindset that thinks they are bad at math believes if they put the work into it, they can become better at it. But with a fixed mindset, a person believes that being bad at math is a trait of theirs that cannot be fixed so they feel it is pointless to work on it and try to improve it.

Clear Data Sports Application: The betting markets can be beat with a consistent process and the right data collection and analysis.

Takeaway #9:

Have a growth mindset.

The Strongest Predictor To Becoming A Superforecaster

The data from the four-year study shows that one who is committed to belief updating when new information comes to light, and also committed to self-improvement are the strongest predictors of becoming a Superforecaster. These are followed by a distant second to intelligence.

Continue working on self-improvement and be willing to update your beliefs when new information comes to light.

These Are Not Absolutes

These traits are a broad generalization of Superforecasters. Not all Superforecasters have these traits or are strong in all of these traits. Someone weak in one area can compensate with strengths in another area. Don’t think you have to have all these traits to be good at forecasting.

Not All Questions Are Equal

Some domains and questions are easier to make a more accurate forecast than others. It is much easier to accurately forecast what the weather will be like tomorrow, than what it will be sixty days from now. Accurately forecasting what a family member will have for breakfast tomorrow is much easier than accurately forecasting who will win the Super Bowl five years from now.

Don’t treat all domains and questions as having the same difficulty to accurately forecast. Some domains are tougher to more accurately forecast due to their nature and how far out into the future the forecast is.

How To Become A Superforecaster

#1 Just Do It

You can’t just study and read to become a good forecaster. Learning to forecast requires trying to forecast.

#2 Accept Failure As An Opportunity To Learn and Grow

Practice needs to be informed practice to improve. Feedback on what you do, good and bad, is essential to improvement. Accept failure as part of the learning process instead of letting it hold you back.

#3 Analyze and Adjust

Careful and self-critical analysis of an outcome is essential to becoming better at forecasting. Be critical of yourself and your work.

#4 Continue to Persevere

Don’t stop when you make a mistake or fail in some part of your work. You must persevere. When Superforecasters make a mistake or fail, they get up, dust themselves off and get back to work.

Superforecaster Traits:

Cautious

Humble

Nondeterministic

Actively open-minded

Intelligent and knowledgeable with a need-for-cognition

Reflective, introspective and self-critical

Numerate

Pragmatic (vs Big Idea)

Analytical (capably of seeing multiple perspectives)

Dragonfly-eyed (value multiple perspectives)

Probabilistic

Thoughtful updaters

Good intuitive psychologists (aware of and able to compensate for common biases)

Growth mindset

Grit

How much should I bet each game?

The Kelly Criterion is a key concept for the successful player. The formula shows you exactly how much you should bet, based on your total bankroll size, probability of winning, and payout of the bet.

For simple bets with two outcomes, one involving losing the entire amount bet, and the other involving winning the bet amount multiplied by the payoff odds, the Kelly bet is:

where:

f* is the fraction of the current bankroll to wager, i.e. how much to bet;

b is the net odds received on the wager (“b to 1″); that is, you could win $b (on top of getting back your $1 wagered) for a $1 bet

p is the probability of winning;

q is the probability of losing, which is 1 − p.

To Simplify: Check out this Kelly Criterion Calculator if you don’t want to whip out the pencil and paper: http://www.albionresearch.com/kelly/

It’s important to note that formula above is for a single independent event. That formula needs to be adjusted if you have multiple bets in play at the same time. Since we routinely have MLB games occurring at the same time, here is another simultaneous event Kelly Criterion Calculator we use: http://www.sportsbookreview.com/betting-tools/kelly-calculator/

Key Concept:With the Kelly criterion – because you are always betting a fraction of your bankroll rather than a set figure – it is theoretically impossible to ever go bankrupt. You will also be maximizing your return by increasing your bet size as your total bankroll increases.