Can you predict the outcome of a sporting event?
The answer is “Yes” – bookmakers do it all the time. When you look at the odds listed at the best Thai sports betting site, you know that, aside from telling you how much you can expect to win, they also express the probability of either outcome of a sporting event. The odds are not put there at random – they are based on probabilities that are calculated based on huge piles of historical data.
Sports and big data
If you have ever watched an American sports TV channel, you may have noticed that the commentators are always ready to cite every bit of information there is to know about one athlete or another – literally everything from their results in the last season to their shoe size and marital status. Like all other people in the world today, athletes also generate incredible amounts of data that can be fed to algorithms. And based on this data, algorithms can make predictions about the individual performance of an athlete in the field.
But when these algorithms are fed the same huge piles of information about every member of both teams participating in a football match, for example, trends can be observed – and these trends can be translated into betting odds. As in money.
It may surprise you to know how many data analysts work in sports analysis. And the results can be amazing. Sportsradar, the leading provider of real-time sports data feeds, and Amazon’s ML Solutions Lab, have created an algorithm that can predict whether or not a player will score a goal in real time, with a 75% accuracy. Considering how often tipsters are wrong, this is a remarkable result.
What is tracked?
Sports data companies track a truly surprising number of things during sporting events. Aside from the obvious things – score, possession, faults, free kicks, and such – they also track the speed of players, the number of times they touch the ball, the types of strategies they use for offensive or defensive play, and so on. The information is then processed and forwarded to media outlets like TV channels and sports betting operators to increase the engagement of the fans – and in the case of the latter, to fuel the entire in-play betting service.
Keeping things clean
Aside from offering sportsbooks a continuous flux of information that they can present their users, big data can also help keep sports clean. Only this time, the ones monitored are not the athletes and the teams but the bettors themselves.
Sports betting operators keep records of their users’ betting habits – not the individuals, mind you, but the masses – and they forward their information to an organization called the International Betting Integrity Association. The IBIA has the role of monitoring the betting patterns for unusual spikes, thus pinpointing any unusual betting patterns that can indicate match fixing. And when they detect suspicious activity, they report it to the appropriate authorities, thus helping keep sports clean, and betting an activity not for the benefit of the few but for the enjoyment of the many.