IFBC Sparks Age Old Debate: Man vs Machine

International Football Betting Conference

The first annual IFBC was held in Costa Rica on August 4th of 2017, and it was a relatively small gathering of a handful of gaming industry executives, professional handicappers and media personalities.

The first speaker was Teddy Covers, who gave some solid advice about betting futures. Perhaps his most insightful comments were in regards to bankroll management. Teddy says: “Bet more when you are winning, and less when you are losing“.  Great stuff from Teddy, he should patent that.

Perhaps the most interesting speaker was Ed Feng from ThePowerRank.com.  He played on racial stereotypes, introducing himself as the Asian who is good at math. He claims that he’s used a PHD from Stanford to create a computer model that can successfully predict winners at a rate as high as 70 percent.

Could you imagine the possibilities? What would you do if you had a computer model that allowed you to win 70 percent of your bets? Take down a few casinos, buy an Island, date a Victoria’s Secret model? I am sure that everyone out there could think of thousands of things they would rather do than speaking at the IFBC, telling the sportsbooks how you plan to beat them.

Lets think about this for a second. The sportsbooks are the ones paying for this conference. They paid the airfare for everyone who came to speak today. If they thought for even a second that this guy had a computer model that would beat their odds, they would be paying him to keep quiet, rather than paying him to speak.

Man vs Machine

Ed Feng isn’t the first guy to come around claiming he can predict games using a computer program. This has been a common theme in the sports handicapping industry for the last 20 years.

There are a long list of handicappers who have claimed that their entire strategy comes from a computer program. Can you name any of them?

Chances are that the average person can’t name a single professional handicapper who picks games based only on a computer formula. Those same people are likely familiar with the names of traditional handicappers like: Jim Feist, Marc Lawrence, Ben Burns, or two time Hilton Contest winner Steve Fezzik.

This is not to say that statistics and analytics aren’t an important part of handicapping, but that it takes a certain expertise and human element to be a successful sports bettor. There are things you can pick up while watching a game that aren’t quantified by any statistics.

The reality is that if computers could beat the sportsbooks, it would be the end of sportsbetting as we know it. The books would be forced to close their doors rather than accept the heavy losses. If anyone truly had a program that was guaranteed to win, they would be a fool to speak about it openly.

Computer programs that beat the odds, are right up there with unicorns, hookers with a heart of gold, and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.


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