Michael Pryde is a full-time professional sports punter operating a data-driven model that finds value in the massive market that is US sports.
He joins us on the podcast this week to discuss how it all works for the Sports Predictor Model.
- How a quant model can beat the market
- Why baseball is such a good sport to bet on
- Key team and player stats
- The two best betting options
David Duffield: Good to chat again Michael. Just for the people that may have missed it last year can you run through the summary of how you go about it with the Sports Predictor Model.
Michael Pryde: Basically the Sports Predictor Model is a statistic driven analysis of each sport. Basically we just crunch the numbers into an algorithm and that spits out whether some bets are good bets. Or whether some bets have value or not, compared to the Vegas bookmakers. We’ve developed the system over 3 ½ – 4 years now which has proven to be quite profitable. It’s going well.
David Duffield: So you do this full time and also with the help of some of your brothers?
Michael Pryde: Yes so I do it myself, and Matt. We do it full time now. I started full time about 2 ½ years ago. And he started full time about 12 months ago. So yeah, we’re both full time.
David Duffield: Who’s the boss?
Michael Pryde: Of course, me. I’m the one who’s talking, so me.
David Duffield: So I wanted to get you on this time of year to talk baseball because pretty much anyone who’s had a bet by now has probably heard of Moneyball and that whole approach that revolutionised things almost a decade ago now, I’d say. Things have really evolved since then but from what you do, why is baseball such a good sport to bet on?
Michael Pryde: I mean the baseball is quintessentially what our system is about. It’s such a high volume of fixtures every year. And pretty much any stat is easily available. I mean, this year there’s over 2400 fixtures. If you can imagine that’s like 12 or 13 AFL seasons in six months. It’s such a high volume of games and within those fixtures there’s 3 markets we can bet on. Head to head, line and totals.
We’ve found over the last 2 seasons that on average we probably have a significant enough value to bet 1 in 10 markets and that’s proved to be really profitable. That’s also why baseball is so good, because of the profit.
The last 2 seasons we’ve had remarkably similar results. In 2013 we had 106 units profit at a strike-rate of 56% and last year we made 107 and a half units profit at a strike-rate just short of 55%. We’ve had about 1400 bets over those 2 years.
But in terms of developing statistical trends and an algorithm that’s successfully sustained profitability in sports gambling, baseball is the ideal platform really. And the ideal sport.
David Duffield: So you mentioned the high volume of fixtures and the availability of stats. That’s some of the positives, then one of the challenges can be in such a big market it tends to be more efficient. How have you gone about finding profitable angles and putting that together into the algorithm to find value bets?
Michael Pryde: Well, I almost look at it the other way and think there are so many markets and so many markets everyday that there’s bound to be, not flawed markets because there’s never a flawed market, but markets where you can get value in. I mean we only find about 1 in 10 markets but that’s enough for us to have a bet.
They’re putting out up to 45 markets a day, everyday for 6 months. Not every market is going to be as tight as it potentially could be. We believe anyway.
David Duffield: Are you looking mainly at team stats or is it player stats because I know that with baseball, one of the benefits is, as you mentioned before, the availability of stats but also the fact that although it’s a team game but it’s really a 1 on 1 battle, pitcher and batter.
Michael Pryde: Yeah, that’s what makes baseball so unique compared to most other sports, is that the match is basically 9 innings of 1 on 1 match-ups. Obviously the fielders play a part, the catcher plays a part, but basically it’s the batter ersus the pitcher.
And that’s why we find it so successful is because we treat every player and team as a unique stat almost. Obviously the most important single factor for a baseball game is the pitcher. The starting pitcher. And they probably have a similar importance to say a quarterback in the NFL. In terms of how important they are to an overall system. It’s not even just the players and teams, every stadium is unique as well.
For example, I think it’s the Coors field in Colorado. The home of the Colorado Rockies. Year on year, every year, they have the most home runs hit. Most doubles. Most triples. So every time you see a totals market in Colorado it’ll be 1 1/2, 2 runs higher than the average. So that’s kind of an example, extreme example of how every player, team, stadium is so unique when it comes to making a bet.
David Duffield: What about relief pitching? Because obviously the starting pitcher you’ve got all the data there. Relief pitching can chop and change depending on who the manager wants to choose. And they might come in really early in the game, they might come in really late. So how does a quantitative model factor that in?
Michael Pryde: Well, we make it a statistical analysis on how far a pitcher going to throw into a game. And then from that which relief pitcher is more likely to pitch for how long after that. If that makes sense. So obviously you get games where the best pitcher in the world is going to get hit early and get taken off but they’re the outlying games.
We can make a judgment that a pitcher is going to pitch 5, 6, 7 1/2 innings and then from that the relief, whatever combination it is will relief pitch from that. And also you can treat the relief pitching almost as a unit in a way because a lot of the time they might only pitch for one out. Or one of them might pitch the rest of the innings. Sometimes you treat it as a unit. And it varies from team to team.
David Duffield: Do you find that it varies much at home versus away? I know some batters and some pitchers are recruited on the grounds of their home stadium really suits their style. Does it change much for whether they’re either batting or pitching at home versus away?
Michael Pryde: Yes because every stat we have is determined on where the game is at. What time the game is at. And even to a smaller degree, the weather of the game. That’s one of the initial platforms we work off. Into then determining each team and player stats. So in a way it would. Yeah, so it is important when determining each unique stat.
David Duffield: And with the head to head bets, do you find that you’re backing mainly the favourites or mainly the underdogs? Or is really just a combination of both?
Michael Pryde: It’s probably a combination of both. We probably, in the line betting we probably back the underdog a lot more. That would be usually plus one and a half runs. And then in the head to head, it’s usually the favourite but not always. And it’s not necessarily an away team more than a home team either. But mostly a favourite for a head to head and an underdog for a line bet.
David Duffield: And just for those that are new, with the minus one and a half or the plus one and a half, it means if you’re the away team and you’re down 3-4 then it should be the bottom of the ninth, essentially game over. So that plus one and a half comes into play.
Michael Pryde: Yeah, and that’s why taking the assumption that the away team is more often than not the underdog. A lot of the time that works in your favour. Because they can get 9 innings in while the home team can only get 8 and half. So that’s usually quite a bit of a benefit.
David Duffield: And what about totals? You talked about Colorado and the fact that a lot of runs are scored there. But totals, whether it’s unders or overs when do you use them?
Michael Pryde: We actually, the majority of our bets are usually totals. They usually make up about 75% to 80% of our bets. And as such make about 85% of our profits so that’s good.
But the totals are different for every game and every team obviously and we find that to be the easiest market for us to find significant value compared to the bookmakers. Because in itself it is a very, I mean it’s a total isn’t it. So it’s purely the addition of the stats. We find that the total bets are the most profitable and most accessible for us.
David Duffield: And what about getting your bet on? One of the joys of US sports is that it’s a bit different than local racing in that you can actually get set for a massive bet if you so desire. When do you bet? Who do you bet with? What do you recommend there?
Michael Pryde: We bet pretty much mostly through Pinnacle Sports and Matchbook. They probably offer the best combination of enhanced odds and higher limits. So I think Pinnacle offers around $15,000 for a line and head to head bet. And about $13,000 for totals market. They offer, if you’re betting $15,000 a game you’re doing pretty well so yeah.
Pinnacle Sports is probably the best one and then Matchbook would be the one below that. In our opinion anyway.
David Duffield: Yeah, I’d like to think everyone has heard of Pinnacle. They’re massive and like you said, you can get really good bets on. But can you just talk the guys through Matchbook in case people haven’t heard of them?
Michael Pryde: That’s the exchange betting website, so you get basically offers. You can get offered a price for a certain market. The only problem we find with Matchbook is they don’t have as high a limits as say Pinnacle would. And that’s pretty much the only reason we would prefer Pinnacle but Matchbook is very, very good and very efficient.
David Duffield: Yeah and growing, thankfully so it’s going to be an even better alternative over the coming years. What about the Aussie corporates? Do you even bother wasting your time with them?
Michael Pryde: We don’t but occasionally they will have actually better odds sometimes. Like they might have a special or something like that. But they generally don’t have the limits and the enhanced odds that those other two would have.
David Duffield: You talked earlier about how you’ve basically been doubling your bank over the last 2 baseball seasons. That’s a great return, but have you made any refinements from last season to this one?
Michael Pryde: To tell you the truth, it’s probably naïve for us to think that we don’t have to because everyday, every week, those bookmakers are making refinements. They’re making things tighter and as such we have to follow suit. But we haven’t strayed too far from what proved successful last year. But that’s not to say that everyday and every week we’re not working hard to make our system better because we have to. We’re up against such a lucrative market, and such a competitive market. We’re always refining and working to improve our system.
David Duffield: Excellent. Is there anything else people should know about baseball betting or the Sports Predictor Model?
Michael Pryde: Not really apart from that it’s profitable.
David Duffield: All right well, thanks for joining us again. I hope people got something out of the discussion and if you like baseball, great, you will really enjoy the service.
If you don’t, you can still make really good money and it’s very simple to follow in that there’s an email that comes through, the bets are already on a spreadsheet and you just plug in the prices that you get. And like I mentioned before you can actually get a bet on. Really appreciate your time, Michael and all the best for the season.
Michael Pryde: Cheers, thanks for having me.
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