Every roulette table is manufactured to precise and strict standards. You cannot continue losing money hoping a miracle will happen; it does not work like this in the gambling world.
To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in. Visitors are allowed 3 free articles per month without a subscriptionand private browsing prevents us from counting how many stories you've read. We hope you understand, and consider subscribing for unlimited online access. The clearest example is roulette, where there are 36 red and black numbers plus the green numbers 0 and in the U. In that way, it guarantees itself a profit.
The bookies always ensure that the odds are in their favor. But setting these odds is harder than those for roulette because the calculations are trickier. And that raises a tantalizing possibility. Is it possible to come up with a better way gambling gals calculate the odds, and thus beat the bookies?
Today we get an answer thanks to the work of Lisandro Kaunitz at the University of Tokyo and a few pals, who have found a way to consistently make money from the online betting market for soccer. But their work comes with a serious caveat. Kaunitz and co say that as soon as the bookies became aware of this success, they prevented the researchers from betting further.
Gamblers have long toyed with schemes to beat the odds, but success is rare. They typically employ teams of statisticians to study historical data for a sport like soccer and then develop sophisticated models to determine the appropriate odds for each game. Kaunitz and co say that as far as they know, nobody has been able to beat this system by developing superior statistical models. But despite this sophisticated approach, there is a weakness in the way bookmakers work.
Sometimes large numbers of people can bet on a particular outcome for reasons that are unrelated to the odds—that team might be more popular than expected, for example. In that case, the bookmaker is set for a large payout if that outcome occurs. So bookmakers can hedge their bets by offering more favorable odds on gambling sayings of good luck opposite outcome.
In this way, they attract bets that cover at least some of the potential losses. Kaunitz and co say this process also creates an opportunity for anybody able to spot it. Their method is straightforward. They start by assuming that bookies themselves are good at setting odds and that the prices they offer are an accurate reflection of the real probabilities of a win, secrets to online gambling, or loss, plus their own margin.
In that case, a good measure of these probabilities is a simple average of the odds offered by all the bookies—a kind of wisdom of the crowd. This gives the average odds, which Kaunitz and co say is a remarkably accurate reflection of the real probabilities.
Then it is a simple matter to analyze all the odds being offered and to find the outliers. Kaunitz and co next work out how favorable the outlying odds are. If they are good enough, then the bet should pay off, at least in the long run.
They built a Web crawler that gathered the odds offered by online betting companies on soccer games around the world. They calculated the average odds, found any outliers, and then worked out whether a bet would favor them or not. This simulation paid out 44 percent of the time and delivered a yield of 3.
An important question is whether this result could have been pure chance. Could they simply have got lucky? So the team compared their results to 2, simulations in which they placed bets randomly on the same games. In that case, the bets paid out 39 percent of time at a return of That allowed the team to calculate the likelihood that their first result was a fluke.
That gave Kaunitz and co good reason to think their method would work in the real world, but there was a problem. Ordinary punters cannot always bet on closing odds, which can vary significantly from the odds given in the run-up to a game. So Kaunitz and co decided to simulate this, too. The way odds vary in the run-up to games is not publicly available, so the team created a bot that collected these odds from betting websites around the world from September to the end of February Then they tested their approach in this data set.
The results were even better. Their bets paid off Curiously, a random betting strategy on the same data yielded a return of 0. This is important because it allows them to check whether the quoted odds are actually available with an online bookmaker.
Indeed, they discovered that about 30 percent of the time, the odds had changed by the time they attempted to check online. In those cases, they discarded the bet. But the strategy was still profitable. After three months of paper trading, their bets retuned a profit of 5. During that period, their bets paid off Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the number of bets they placed was significantly less than during the paper trading period.
But their story comes with a sting. Kaunitz and co are clearly unhappy: The team points out that this kind of practice could be illegal. And they call on governments to properly regulate the gambling industry and to prevent this kind of practice in the future. Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.
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