"Beating the spread" is not the same thing as "winning." All this shows is that The Boston Globe is pretty good at setting the spread.


Shouldn't this post be titled "Professional Spread Makers are Pretty Good"? There are only 2 pundits which are outside of the profitability range of a standard 10% Las Vegas spread (Freeman and Eisenberg), and Freeman has a very small sample.

Nick Ryder

Does a 50% success rate vs the spread make them bad, or does it make them equally good as the betting house?


Folks taking bets (either professional sports books or bookies) include a vig in the line, which means that you need to win above a 50% clip to maintain profitability.


In general, sports suffers from an East Coast media bias. East Coast teams often get more coverage (and love) from sports experts. Star players also sometimes warp expert judgements. Single players make for good articles and stories, and I think their influence on the probability of winning can often get overstated. Team sports are about teams, not superstars. Together, I'd imagine they could routinely lead to some bad picks.


The table appears to be incomplete. Surely some of the experts' picks pushed (that is, the result of the game was identical to the spread, in which case the pick neither won nor lost).


A push is considered a loss since "the house" still collects its premium. Pushes make sportsbooks happy since, on the pushed game anyway, they collect from everyone.


The "House" will collect on a push ONLY if it is mentioned in the bet. For example some parlay cards. A push typically results in a "void" bet. If you have a 3 team parlay off the board a push will reduce the bet to a 2 team parlay.


I'd be more interested in seeing how accurate the spreads are to real game results.


The spreads may well be lousy predictions but still be good spreads, since they are trying to attract an equal number of bets on both sides, insuring a profit for the sports book, rather than predict the score of the game, which is what sportswriters, fans, and bettors do. The book's spread is a prediction of the betting public's behavior, rather than the game itself.


Not only are so-called experts bad, but so are most computer models. In graduate school, I proposed a variation of the semi-strong efficient market hypothesis: that no outside can beat the spread on a risk-adjusted basis using publicly available information.

Eric Williams

What makes this even more interesting, is that Frank DeFord was right with his prediction based on time zones for ALL THREE of the games this season,

Well done Frank, you're quirky method actually really did beat the professionals all season long.


Don't know much about football (or spectator sports in general), but I do wonder exactly who annointed these people as experts? Do they actually have money riding on the outcomes, or are they just pontificating?

Now if we really wanted to know how good experts were at predicting the results of games, we might ask how many sports books go broke every year.


If they are forced to pick all the games every week, that doesn't mean much. No real gamblers bet on every single game. However if they just chose a few games to give their opinion on, then these are bad.


The "Spread Makers" do not base the spread on what they think a team will win by. They base it upon public perception of the two teams in order to get equal action on both sides. That way they will collect no matter who wins. Example below:

Jim Bets $100 on the 49ers -4, he loses, books gets $100

John Bets$100 on the Ravens +4 he wins $91 book gets $9

Jim gets $0
John gets $191 (his $100 + $91 0f Jim's"
Book gets $9


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