“David is an incredible person and I am happy that we became friends. His understanding and knowledge of statistics and sports betting are simply amazing. When I started betting in 1998, a lot of bettors made a lot of money only because bookmakers made a lot of mistakes. But the world is changing and bookmakers are smarter than ever. Reading news, watching the games and betting on so-called winners is not enough anymore. if you want to win at sports betting, it is crucial to use statistics and find a value. The ability to identify a value is a skill limited to a certain few. David is one of those few, that has the knowledge, skill and the ability. His projected lines and statistical models are unique, that’s why when anyone asks me which site I recommend to follow it’s his site and his projected lines. He will give you that extra value, that you need for winning. Not only, that you will meet one of the smartest guys in the business, he is also one of the nicest. Hands down!”
 
MB, Underdogchance.com

Article about professor David in NY Post: Meet the stats professor who’s beating the house on NHL bets

Should you hedge your bet?

Here is a question I get asked quite often from people who have a pending parlay or future bet: “Should I hedge my bet?”

In order to make sure you understand clearly what I’m talking about, here is a concrete example. On May 23rd when the Pittsburgh Penguins were up 3-2 in their semifinals series against Ottawa I made a post about how I believed the Penguins to win the Stanley Cup at -105 (decimal: 1.95) was providing value. Since then they have proceeded to eliminate the Sens (it wasn’t easy!!) and are now up 2-0 in the finals against Nashville. The series price at William Hill is Pittsburgh -600 Nashville +400.

Should I hedge my bet by betting Nashville at +400 (decimal 5.0) to guarantee myself a profit? My short answer is: NO. The only exception would be if I truly believe the +400 line on the Predators is inflated and therefore provides value. Otherwise, why would you waste your money on a bad bet?

Those who hedge such bets do it for one common reason: they want to lock in a profit so they can sleep better. They want to avoid the situation where their bet eventually loses and they curse themselves for not hedging. I’m a statistician, so based on the numbers only my advice is to avoid hedging because in the long run you will maximize your bankroll that way. Otherwise you will leave money on the table.

Sure, the Penguins might end up losing the series and I could tell myself “what an idiot, I could have secured a profit by betting Nashville at +400 earlier!!” But if you follow my recommendation to avoid hedging many times (say, on 500 occasions) I’m sure your bankroll will be bigger than if you had done it every single time.

Think of it this way. Suppose that you have made the following bet: risking 100$ for a potential profit of 110$ that the next coin flip will land on “heads”. It’s pretty unlikely that you will be able to find a guy who is crazy enough to accept such a deal, but that’s not the point here. Let’s just assume we do have such a pending bet.

Suppose a second guy comes up and makes the following proposition to you: “If you’re interested, you could risk 106$ on “tails” for a potential profit of 104$ with me. So if “tails” comes up you will win 104$ with me but lose 100$ with the first guy for a net profit of 4$. And if “heads” comes up, you’ll win 110$ with the first guy but lose 106$ with me, still for a net profit of 4$. So basically, you are guaranteed to be 4$ richer!! Do we have a deal?”

You should decline his proposition. He is asking you to risk 106$ to win 104$ on a bet that clearly has a 50% chance of winning. You should never accept odds below 2.0 when you have a 50% win probability, and in this case we are getting 1.98 odds (210 / 106).

My Penguins example above concerned a future bet. The same concept applies to parlays (also called “accumulators”). Suppose you made a 5-team parlay and the first four teams have won. You might be tempted to hedge the last bet to make sure you will win some money, but you shouldn’t (unless you are convinced the line you are considering betting provides value, which would be surprising since you originally bet AGAINST that team when you made the parlay bet!).

The sports betting book that I am writing will answer many more questions like these. It will start by covering the basics about odds and probabilities, before explaining “arbitrage betting” and “value betting” which are two great ways to increase your bankroll. I’ll also cover money management and present several winning strategies on different sports. If you would like to suggest topics (or specific questions that you would like answered, like the one from this article) to include in my future book, I will be very happy to hear (professormj@hotmail.com)!

Professor MJ

Professor MJ: NHL PLAYOFF SERIES PREDICTIONS – THE FINALS (finally there!!)

This is why the NHL playoffs are fun: you never know what’s going to happen. Upsets are more frequent compared to other major sports like the NBA. We are now set for the Finals, which features the team with the fewest points among those that qualified for the postseason: the Nashville Predators. Prior to this year, the franchise had won only three series, while losing nine. They had never reached the Conference Finals, but they are now that close to winning their first Stanley Cup ever. Their fans are going crazy and they deserve it. They’ve been waiting patiently for such a long time and they never let their team down.

Meanwhile, the Penguins are the usual suspects when it comes to the NHL Finals. This year will mark their fourth appearance over the past 10 postseasons. They have won four championships in their franchised history: 2016, 2009, 1992 and 1991.

I came close to perfection with my Conference Finals’ picks (Nashville in six games and Pittsburgh in six games). Let’s see if I can hit the bullseye this time.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS VERSUS PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Series price: Predators +144 vs Penguins -160 (decimal: Predators 2.44 vs Penguins 1.625)

Previous round results:
-Nashville eliminated Chicago in four games, St. Louis in six games and Anaheim in six games.
-Pittsburgh eliminated Columbus in five games, Washington in seven games and Ottawa in seven games.

Let’s start the series analysis with the injury report. Nashville will be missing its regular season leading scorer, Ryan Johansen, throughout the series. Forward Kevin Fiala will also miss the entire series with a fractured femur. As for the Pens, they are still without their best offensive defenceman, Kris Letang, but should get forward Patric Hornqvist back for either Game 1 or 2. Mike Fisher should be back in the lineup in time for Game 1.

These teams played twice in the regular season: Nashville won 5-1 at home back in October, while the Pens got revenge with a 4-2 win at PPG Paints Arena in January.

The Penguins have four of the top seven postseason scorers in the NHL: Malkin leads the league with 24 points, while Crosby has 20, Kessel 19 and Guentzel 16. Did you know that Crosby has a very surprising -1 rating in the playoffs? Speaking of plus/minus ratings, Nashville has five of the top 10 players in this category! Filip Forsberg leads the pack with +17. He’s been great thus far and he is riding a seven-game point streak.

Pittsburgh started off the postseason by eliminating two of the top four teams in the entire league (in terms of points). They went on to beat Ottawa which finished 12th overall and they are now facing the team that occupied the 16th spot. That’s a pretty odd route they had to take.

During the first three rounds, the Predators have allowed only 29 goals in 16 games (which equals 1.8 goals allowed per game). Goalie Pekka Rinne leads the league both in goals against average (GAA) and save percentage so far. After suffering an injury in warm-ups before the very first game of the playoffs which cost him to miss more than the first couple of rounds, Matt Murray came in to relieve Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 3 against Ottawa and he hasn’t been benched since then. His numbers have been impressive: he has not allowed more than two goals in any of his four starts, while posting a 1.35 GAA and a 0.946 save percentage.

Experience is definitely on Pittsburgh’s side. From the 2008 to the 2016 playoffs, Nashville played nine series compared to 22 for the Pens.

You have to wonder how much the Johansen injury will affect a Predators’ offense that already had much less firepower than Pittsburgh’s. I’ve got major concerns after watching the clinching series Game 6 in Nashville, where the Ducks clearly outplayed the Preds with 41 shots versus only 18. However, I do favor Nashville’s group of defencemen and their goalie, but not by a very wide margin.

You’ve got to feel bad for Shea Weber. He played his heart out during his first 11 seasons in the NHL with Nashville, going through some tough times. He got dealt to Montreal prior to this year and he now sees his former team reach the Finals. He must be feeling mixed emotions: happy for his former teammates, but disappointed he can’t be part of the dance.

FINAL PICK: I picked the Ottawa Senators to upset their rivals in the first two rounds, but I felt like I had to go with Pittsburgh to end their fairy tale ride. A similar situation is occurring here as I went with the Preds to eliminate the Blues and the Ducks, but I am predicting the feel-good story to end right here. My heart would prefer witnessing a team hoisting its first Stanley Cup ever, but it’s my head that makes the final call: Pittsburgh in seven games.

From a betting perspective, I am staying away from the series price. I’d love to provide a strong recommendation because it’s more fun than just saying “don’t bet”, but it wouldn’t be fair to you. My goal is always to try to maximize my reader’s winnings and in this case it means staying away.

Enjoy the Finals, guys!

Potentiel value bet on a NHL Future?

Several bookies have the Pittsburgh Penguins at -105 (decimal 1.95) to win the Stanley Cup, which means this bet has value if its probability is greater than 51.2% (1 / 1.95). Let’s see if it appears to be the case.

To me, that’s a good bet. Based on the current odds (“series price”), the Pens have at least an 83% chance of winning their series against Ottawa.

Now, if they do get past the Senators, they will face Nashville in the Finals. My best-guess is the series price would be at least Pitt -200 vs Nashville +180. Why? 1) The Pens were around -260 to win the series versus Ottawa before it began. 2) Ottawa and Nashville had similar records during the regular season (Ottawa actually finished with more points, but their goal differential was worse than Nashville’s). If you agree with this reasoning, then odds of -200 +180 indicate that Pittsburgh would have at least a 64% chance of beating the Predators.

For Pittsburgh to win the Stanley Cup, they need to eliminate Ottawa then Nashville. Overall probability = 83% * 64% = 53%. Recall earlier how I mentioned we need Pittsburgh to have at least a 51.2% chance of winning the Cup for this bet to be valuable. Well, we are above that figure, and I feel like I was fairly conservative with my numbers.

I’d love to hear your feedback, feel free to let me know if you agree or disagree with my estimates! Have a nice day all!

Professor MJ