Thursday, February 14, 2008

There is no such thing as a sure thing



Flashback to 1973: The Miami Dolphins were 16-0 before the superbowl. Yet they were underdogs! As a naive kid I did not understand this. My dad explained to me that the Washington Redskins (the other team) had a harder schedule. Even so, if you win every game you must be doing something right. I thought it was a sure thing!!- They WON so I was right! Unfortunately I did not bet my dad on the game.

Flashforward to 2008: The New England Patriots were 18-0 before the superbowl. They were favorites! As a naive adult I just assumed they would win. My father-in-law explained to me that the New England Patriots won some games they should have lost. Even so, if you win every game you must be doing something right. I thought it was a sure thing!!- They LOST so I was wrong! Fortunately I did not bet my father-in-law on the game.

Flashback a little bit to just before Superbowl 2008. Past history indicates that superbowls almost never have an exciting finish. As naive adults, my father, my father-in-law, and I just assumed there would not be an exciting finish. We thought it was a sure thing!!- The game HAD an exciting finish- so we were wrong! Fortunately, we did not bet on this.

Flashback a little bit to just before Superbowl 2008. Past history indicates that superbowls almost never have an exciting finish. As naive adults, my father, my father-in-law, and I just assumed there would not be an exciting finish. We thought it was a sure thing!!- The game HAD an exciting finish- so we were wrong! Fortunately, we did not bet on this.

Actually you can't bet on there will not be an exciting finish since its not that well defined. By contrast, you can bet on (I am not making this up) the first touchdown will be scored by a player from one of the top 100 schools via US News and World Reports rankings.

4 comments:

  1. Either confused or unimpressed10:54 AM, February 14, 2008

    what is the point of this post?

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  2. i dunno, read the title

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  3. I'm pretty sure you could bet on the spread, which is pretty close to betting on how exciting the game will be.

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  4. Speaking of bets on the superbowl, it was interesting to read that Las Vegas sports bookies lost $2.6 million taking bets on it. Unlike paramutual betting at race tracks where the 'bookie' is guaranteed never to lose, the individual bets are based on the 'line' (margin of victory) at the time of the bet is placed, with a fixed percentage going to the bookie if the bets are balanced on either side of that line. So... if you are a bookie trying to adjust the 'line' is there a good online strategy based on the bets coming in over time? It does not seem so without knowledge of the underlying distributions.

    Separately, I recall rooting for the Dolphins back then because they were the AFC team (growing up close by, my team was the Buffalo Bills with O.J. Simpson), but I recall that it was a mind-numbingly boring team to watch and the game itself was exceedingly dull despite the 'close' 14-7 final score. A typical first down for Miami took three plays, two runs by Larry Csonka and one by Jim Kiick (or vice versa), totaling 11 or 12 yards.

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