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We are here with Dan Fabrizio, President of SportsInsights to talk about his company and the NCAA Tournament.
StatFox: The NCAA field is set, people either have or are filling out tourney brackets and the talk of the sports wagering is at hand. How much fun is this time of year?
Dan Fabrizio: Itís actually stressful for the people on our side of the industry and the sports betting world, but in a positive way. There is so much stuff you have to go through and it is all compacted into a few weeks, but come tonight (Tuesday) and Thursday more so, the games start and you just sit back and just start to watch it. The last few weeks it has been about getting the website ready and all the content. Kind of getting ready for the storm to come through, once that is behind us, it gets really exciting, you get to sit back and watch the games and be a fan.
SF: Sports Insights was created a decade ago, what patterns have you found to be the most common mistakes bettors make this time of year?
DF: The mistakes they make this time of year are the same as all during the year. Itís highlighted more on a national level when these big events happen. The Super Bowl and the March Madness Tournament are the biggest publicly bet events. People bet with their heart, opposed to their brain. They typically bet favorites and Overs, they over-compensate and my company has been able to profit from that because we look into the strategies that play into the human psychology. People are always picking the higher seeds and betting the higher seeds and in this case, blowing the lines up a little bit. We think sports books understand this and play into this thinking, shade the lines a few extra points over the long term. Betting against them (the public), getting extra value of a point or two every time you make a bet, is huge over the course of a season.
SF: Your online visual presentation is some of the best in the industry, especially the easy to read pie charts. How often are they updated?
DF: For our Premium customers, which are our paying memberships, those are live. In terms of time, they updated every 30 seconds.
SF:† Really, that quick. So you have the most up-to-date useful information in the industry it would seem.
DF: We like to think so.† We have brought a lot of new tools to sport bettors and have really taken what were really Stone Age methods. What we have tried to do is play into the financial world and model what they do in and bring those principles into the sports betting world. We think those are very similar places. Like it or not, trying to predict the future of earnings and if Memphis is going to cover tonight are pretty much two of the same thing.
SF: Is your background in the financial world or how did this idea come about?
DF: That is a good question. Not really, I went to school for a Liberal Arts education and took a lot of economics classes. I always enjoyed financials and was interested in becoming a stock analyst. My path just went a different way and some of the guys that work here come from that field, traders and stock analysts and that was the backbone of what we did. We all like sports, so we started seeing similarities here and we started to bring over some of these tools that we are used to value stocks, buy stocks, day trade and things of that nature, to see if they can work in the sports betting world. It actually has worked very well.
SF:† SportsInsights has a number of exciting features, live updates, betting systems and percentages. One that caught my attention was Smart Money Betting System. Can you elaborate?
DF: Sure. The Smart Money Systems is one of our bread and butter systems, something we brought to the sports betting world that has never been seen before and it has to do with the content that we track.† Of course, we do live stats and live odds from sports books, but the thing that we do is the live betting percentages from sports books. We have relationships with the sports books to track the number of bets placed on a game and then also which way their members are betting in the game. We use this to help us decipher line moves. Lines move up and down, when we see the majority of bets made by the public on one team, but the line moves the opposite way, we say that is a Smart Money play. We alert our members to it and monitor it all day and the thinking behind it when you look at 90 percent of the bets coming in is on the home team. Suddenly, without apparent cause, the line moves against the home team, our theory is that a smart money, a large individual or a syndicate type betting ring has just bet one hundred thousand dollars on the game. This type of wager or wagers has caused it to move in the opposite direction and what we do is track it and over the last six years of tracking, we usually hits about 55 or 56 percent. That is all plays across all sports.
SF: That is very good number considering the volume of plays.
DF: It is a way for us to highlight who the big bettors are, guys betting a hundred thousand on a game, they typically know more than the average bettor. We follow them and this information is quantified, thus we can alert our customers where the presumed smart money is being wagered and the side they are taking. Consequently, the idea is to go out there and try to buy that same side at the best possibly price they can.
SF: In last yearís tournament, the higher seeds won 80 percent of all games played in tourney, covering 60 percent of the time.† Do you see this turning around or more of the same?
DF: Personally no. Itís really about the spread for us, this is what is funny this time of year with our strategies, we need bad teams to do good things. From our strategy, we are not going to need number one North Carolina to win any games; rather we just need them to not win by 20 or 30 points when they are playing these lower seeds. You know I feel a little bit more of an even field this year. In our studies, we have looked at since 2003, the one and two seeds have actually gone 16-22 which is actually about 42 percent against the spread, so over the last five tournaments, we are seeing that they are winning, but not winning at the rate they need to cover the spread.†
Our theory is sports books tend to over-value these teams and so do the sports betters consequently. One of hardest things to do is to root for a really bad team like Mississippi Valley State
, because it goes against human nature to think that way. What weíre looking for is the public being on UCLA
and hoping they canít cover the 32 points the last I checked. With our stats and the research we have done in the last couple of weeks getting ready for the tournament, one thing that has come to our attention has been the one and two seeds have really not done that well in the tournament in terms of covering. We think the sixth and seventh seeds have done particularly well over the same time period at 31-17 against the spread over the last five years. This is pretty impressive. That is really one of our theories that we try to do is look at, inefficiencies where you can measure pricing mistakes consistently.
SF: Third-seeded Wisconsin opened at 13.5-point favorite and currently sits at 11 or 11.5 points at most sports books, against lightly-regarded Cal-State Fullerton, who is making first tourney appearance in 30 years. Is this the type of contest that fits SportsInsights methodology?
DF: This is the type of situation that I look at, the betting is pretty even on it, (checking matchup) so my feeling would be that somebody really likes Fullerton. Typically our feeling is to look for a bigger public percentage on Wisconsin, I think most people think they are going to win the game, now the question is are they going to cover the11 or 11.5 points. The Badgers opened up at a higher number that typically an institutional bettor or a large bettor weíll call him ďsmart moneyĒ, came in and took Cal-State Fullerton and really liked the value. Wisconsin is great team. Usually if a line looks too good to be true, we tell them to stay off the game or go against it. Had I seen a much higher percentage on Wisconsin, 60-70 percent of the bets coming in on the Badgers and the line moves against them, I would have really circled that game. Right now I just say it is an interesting line move, we will see what ends up happening in terms of the public action coming in.
SF: What is the best time to use this information?† I know that that each situation is somewhat different, is there a general time period that you would get a better feel in terms of the money moves?
DF: Yes. I always tell people to wait until an hour before the game. That is when you will see the most data points in terms of what people are betting and most bettors being the general public wait until half hour or an hour leading up to the game. The window is usually an hour or so on a normal weekday night when most of the information comes in, you will see the most glaring situations where you can make money and typically the lines go in your favor. The general theory is you bet the favorites early and your underdogs late, because the public money pushes the favorites, meaning there are better opportunities to buy on the plus end and the underdog as you wait closer to game time.
SF: Until now the questions have been relatively easy. Now itís time for 60 Minutes, Mike Wallace questions. Who makes the Final Four?
DF: Let me pull out the crystal ball here. This is kind of a funny situation for us because we are going to need bad teams to do good things. When I fill out my brackets usually I am just picking teams that are higher seeds and related factors. I think UNC looks really good this year; I donít think there isnít anything they can not overcome. I think they will be able to kind of walk through that pretty easily. I personally like Georgetown coming out of the Midwest, Iíve seen them play the Big East tournament, though they didnít win the tournament, they have Roy Hibbert at center and they have good guard play, plus I believe they can play defense with anybody. Obviously Kansas is the in the Midwest bracket whom the Hoyas will have to get through, I think they can do it. Really, the sleeper for me would be Texas, out of the South and UCLA out of the West.
SF: Who cuts down the nets the evening of April 7th?
DF: Oh Man, that is even tougher. I havenít made that decision yet. That is kind of a game time decision.
SF: Is there any other information you would like to pass along to those reading this interview?
DF: That is a really good question. What I would like readers to know is what our business has always been when we started it was to help sports betters.† It wasnít to take advantage of them. That is one thing that I really like about StatFox, I have been watching this company since day one and they have similar approach as we do about information statistics, to help bettors make decisions and using analysis. This is fundamental in other industries like the financial world, to make better decisions. This is kind of what we have done and we try to use better information with live odds that are the fastest in the industry. We have built all these products on top of it, as betting tools and strategies. We are trying to bring this whole industry and I believe StatFox is like this also, to a higher level. Instead of guys sitting in their boiler room making phone calls and telling you all about who there ďwinner of the dayĒ is, we are trying to look at this as an intelligent investment opportunity where you can actually make money at this if you spend time and perform due diligence. This is what our company† believes we do, to bring this into a much more positive light and make this whole industry of sports betting an investment level activity, as opposed to something you just do as a weekends and just have fun at. You can both enjoy it and make money at it.