Right now, in more places than you probably think, there is a college kid updating an Excel spreadsheet that has hundreds of columns sorted by game and team and handicapper and pick.
The spreadsheet is labeled simply, “LVH Supercontest consensus.”
The college kid is compiling picks from both “winners” and “losers” and even past contest champions, searching for patterns and trends and streaks, streaks that he hopes will help him predict future outcomes.
Is the effort a pointless one? Why, of course it is, and for reasons too countless to list. But consider:
- The LVH Supercontest does not consist entirely of professional bettors. There is a healthy mix of wiseguys, squares, casual bettors and math geeks, in addition to coin flippers who are hoping to get lucky. The entry fee—$1,500—has led people to draw the incorrect conclusion that the contest consists of the “best” sports bettors in the world. While the contest field is unquestionably better than your typical Las Vegas $50 pick ‘em, the guess here is that at least 25 percent of entrants compete in teams. In short, the entry fee is more affordable to the “typical bettor” than you might think.
- The SuperBook displays all picks publicly and provides the consensus. That alone should tell you that Jay Kornegay, the sportsbook’s director, isn’t fearful of you taking the information he provides and using it against him. If fading or following the consensus—or if tailing the picks of the “top” contest players—were profitable, wouldn’t everybody do it? And if everybody did it, wouldn’t the SuperBook be struggling? Wouldn’t the contest cease to exist? And yet, the picks get posted every week and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
- Contest lines are static. A handful of games moved a full point from open to close and a few games moved more than that. A point or two either way can drastically affect the contest consensus. As an example, 227 people bet the Ravens +2.5 and 126 people took the Eagles. If the contest line had been the closing line (Eagles -3), it’s possible that upwards of 400 people would have been on the Ravens.
- Picks must be entered at least 24 hours in advance. Because of this, all contest players are at a potential disadvantage because they can’t take into account gameday injury updates, line moves, etc. Also worth noting: Each week, anywhere between 15 and 20 percent of contest entries are submitted on Thursday. In that context, a reasoned person would question the overall “value” of the opinions we’re trying to extract meaning from.
A classic example that illustrates the pointlessness of tailing contest consensus picks occurred this past weekend. Through Week 1 of the Supercontest, 10 entrants went a perfect 5-0. In Week 2, nine of them will finish with a losing record.
Tommy Sinatra went 0-5 in Week 1 and followed up his effort by posting a 5-0 record in Week 2. Steve Fezzik, a two-time LVH Supercontest champion, is currently 2-8. (The overall field, according to View From Vegas, is hitting at a combined rate of 48.92 percent.)
Handicapping handicappers is harder than it looks, and unless we’re mistaken, the next profitable betting strategy derived from Supercontest standings will be the first.