January 7, 2016

"I don't quite get the sense of outrage here," says a commenter on an article about fantasy sports gambling.

"You're gambling in a giant pool against thousands of other people with millions of dollars at stake and you're upset that some of your opponents are experts against whom you have no chance of winning? It's GAMBLING. You're going to lose money. If you want to make a decent return put your money in an index fund. If you want to have a laugh with your friends, use a private league like the one described in the last paragraph. But the argument that these sites should be blocking the best players because, well, they're just too good strikes me as a little disingenuous. It's like asking the SEC to ban hedge funds from investing in the stock market because it's too hard for an average joe to make money betting against them. Of course it is! Why should a casual sports fan and gambler be entitled to a game where he competes only against people no better than himself?"

The article, in the NYT, is "How the Daily Fantasy Sports Industry Turns Fans Into Suckers."

41 comments:

rhhardin said...

You have the same odds of going with the inside traders as against them, if you don't know anything.

The Drill SGT said...

Look around the table. If you can't tell who the patsy is, it's you...

Sebastian said...

"But the argument that these sites should be blocking the best players because, well, they're just too good strikes me as a little disingenuous. It's like asking the SEC to ban hedge funds from investing in the stock market because it's too hard for an average joe to make money betting against them. Of course it is! Why should a casual sports fan and gambler be entitled to a game where he competes only against people no better than himself?" Because fairness. In fact, this sums up the Prog worldview pretty well. In life, poor players go up against good players; the good players win more than the poor players; that's not fair; therefore, the poor players should band together and get the "SEC" to 1. ban the best players, or 2. rig the game in their favor, or 3. take away the good players' winnings, or 4. ban the game altogether. Even better: ban the competitive game, but allow a pure game of chance that is bound to create equality among suckers while funding bigger government (the NY state strategy).

Rick said...

Same deal for amateur poker players who want to sit in big money games. If you think your weekly home game, or even a few months at nightly online sites, prepares you to play against professionals you're a fool. That's no reason to prevent people from doing so. Some are willing to lose money for the fun, others are trying to become professionals. Either way it's their business.

David said...

Or play the lottery. It's for the children.

Spiros Pappas said...

Hedge funds are losers. What an awful place to put your money!

Rick said...

“The idea that these sites exist so that regular guys can make a lot of money playing daily fantasy sports is a lie,” [says Gabriel Harber, a well-known D.F.S. podcaster]

Who could possibly think this? Do people think businesses can exist with net cash outflows?

A better description of reality is that regular league winners who believed they could achieve similar but leveraged success feeding off poor players are instead finding out they are the prey. Why should we step in to protect people who intended to prey on others?

Curious George said...

I'm going to get a t-shirt made that says "I don't give a shit about your Fantasy Football team, I just want to watch the game"

Henry said...

The problem is not that the beginner players always lose. The problem is that beginner players are solicited to join with false promises that they can win. When they can't.

As for me, I am a long-time fantasy baseball player and I hate daily fantasy sports. I don't hate daily fantasy because of the moral issue so much as what it's done to sports coverage. As daily fantasy underwrites sports broadcasting, it increasingly drives sports content. And the content sucks. It's like going to a movie and having someone chattering away behind you the entire time about how many awards each actor has won.

MadisonMan said...

Because Fairness.

Terrible reason, every single time.

mccullough said...

No fantasy football participant can predict injuries. Any player can get hurt at any time. Just play the odds based on match ups and hope your players don't get hurt

Unknown said...

Vegas, baby

robother said...

Gambling is huge factor in the success of any publicly reported sport, and other sporting endeavors (e.g., golf). In the long term the only way to sustain interest (watching or gambling) is to keep it interesting (NFL drafts/revenue sharing, point spreads/handicapping).

Allowing geeks with software to play and update a hundred teams in minutes will destroy the continuing gambling interest of customers. Hence the billion dollar advertising campaigns to attract new suckers. Its all a short-term con.

Richard Dolan said...

"I don't quite get the sense of outrage here."

The author of that statement evidently doesn't understand the moral urgency of equality of outcomes for the stupid and naïve when in competition against the smart and sophisticated. He must have played youth soccer in the days before everyone, winners and losers, got the same trophy.

traditionalguy said...

Mega Millions is at 700,000,000.00 dollars. Now that's a Lottery.

Andrew said...

Gambling is only a huge problem when the mafia, err I mean government doesn't get their cut.

Static Ping said...

I can appreciate that people want to compete against other people at their talent level. There's lots of things in life designed like this so those involved better enjoy the experience. There's a reason why there are over-40 leagues and weight classes and such. However, it is a bit much to assume that million dollar pots will not attract professional gamblers.

For that matter, it is a bit much that any competition will not attract ringers. I remember one time playing a free online trivia game with a friend. Neither of us had played it before so we selected the "beginner" room, but apparently we were required to have a third player and so one was chosen for us. The "beginner" had played the game so many times that he had memorized all the answers and won easily. Not fun. What made it rather amazing is that the game was free and there were no prizes. I can appreciate that sort of dedication but it made the game dreadfully boring.

Rick said...

Here's one sample of how the outrage causes people misunderstand reality:

One of the complaints was someone using a script to change 400 lineups in less than an hour which led to big winnings. But how is this an advantage? The script user still had to direct the script, meanwhile the supposed victim had the same opportunity to change his lineup. This is the same amount of effort resulting in no advantage to the large scale player. The only advantage to the script user is against other large scale players using no script or an inferior script.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

...says a commenter on an article...

COMMENTER: person who comments on commentator's comment.

COMMENTATOR: personage who makes original comment.

Follows the rule: higher status merits longer word. (Plebians 'use'; patricians 'utilize'.)

Peter said...

The Potawatomi casino's Web site URL is "paysbig.com," even though the assertion that casino gambling "pays big" for anyone other than the house (and sometimes, although indirectly, government) is risible.

Perhaps there should be mandatory knowledge testing before anyone's permitted to buy a commodities futures contract? I always assumed that those who produce or consume these commodities probably know a whole lot more about them, and the markets for them, than I do. But I doubt they'd mind if I ante up and pull a seat up to their trading table.

Birches said...

When I read the post heading and then glanced and saw SEC in the paragraph, I thought the writer was going to use a completely different analogy. It actually took me a few seconds to process Security and Exchange Commission. Ha ha.

MadisonMan said...

Mega Millions is at 700,000,000.00 dollars. Now that's a Lottery.

Powerball.

I'll buy one ticket. If I win all the money, I'll campaign to be Mayor of Madison. I'll give every citizen of Madison $5000 if I'm elected.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Nobody tell Chris Moneymaker he can't win the WSOP main event. And nobody recognize the average hedge fund doesn't outperform the indexes much of the time.

Otherwise...

Big Mike said...

It wouldn't be the Times without the lede being buried:

Since the start of this N.F.L. season, I have lost roughly $1,900 ...

Mr. Jay Caspian King (parents must have been fans of C. S. Lewis) needs to heed the modern take on an old saying:

"Winners never quit, and quitters never win. But if you never win and never quit then maybe you're an idiot."

Henry said...

roboher wrote:

Allowing geeks with software to play and update a hundred teams in minutes will destroy the continuing gambling interest of customers. Hence the billion dollar advertising campaigns to attract new suckers. Its all a short-term con.

Exactly. And one thing that makes it a short-term con is newspaper reporting on how the con works.

Henry said...

Rick wrote: The script user still had to direct the script...

I don't think that is a necessary assumption.

A script could easily have a queue of players and switch from one to another at the last minute.

rhhardin said...

Take your lottery money and buy out-of-the-money options. The odds are better.

Joe said...

I recently worked for a gaming company. The gaming industry is regulated to a very extreme degree. One of the most important regulations concerns fairness. The regulators insist that anything done in a casino be perceived as fair. This means players need informed, perhaps overly so. I worked on stuff only tangentially related to actually gambling, but even there we often had discussions on how long a message needed to be displayed and/or updated. (Another team worked on a progressive system and once failed regulatory approval because the delay on updating one set of displays was something like a second, versus a tenth of a second.)

With this in mind, Nevada's ban on DraftKings and FanDuel was more than "it's sports betting." As I understand it, Nevada proposed that both companies re-categorize themselves as gambling sites. However, that would cause two problems: it would cause the companies to fall under the auspices of state gambling regulators, which in turn would crack down on the fairness issue among other things, and would violate federal anti-internet gambling regulations.

Ironically, both companies also don't want to be officially classified as a game of skill since that would cause them to fall under another set of various state government regulations.

(BTW, one of the other things are laws in various about what the returns are for various types of wagers and the maximum percentage take for bookies. Given all of this, I don't know how DraftKings and FanDuel are still in business.)

Rick said...

Henry said...

I don't think it is a necessary assumption [that the script must be directed].

A script could easily have a queue of players and switch from one to another at the last minute.


Yes but somehow the player has to get moved up in the queue.

On Dec. 28, I had a phone conversation with Justine Sacco, FanDuel’s director of communications.

Justine has landed:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2955322/Justine-Sacco-reveals-destroyed-life-racist-tweet-trip-Africa.html

Andrew said...

Big Mike

His last name is Kang, born in S Korea. A sports writer for Grantland specializing in Asian sports figures in America. He's Asian, no wonder he has a gambling problem, Asians make Italians look like pikers.

lgv said...

How is this different from a open golf tournament? You pay your entry and compete against others. If you win you get 1st place money. If you suck, you can't complain because the winner was a pro. You knew it was an open tournament when you entered.

Fritz said...

If you're gambling, and you don't know who the mark is, you're the mark.

commander0 said...

The leagues don't turn the fans into suckers. They are suckers to begin with. I've been playing fantasy sports since Okrent et al invented them. In the beginning we used real money for the salaries (a whopping $260) but for the last ten years or so I have been playing totally free on Yahoo. Almost all gamblers are suckers by definition.

Big Mike said...

@Andrew, you're right my bad.

Henry said...

Rick wrote:

Yes but somehow the player has to get moved up in the queue.

This is a trivial algorithm. Say you're betting on multiple baseball games. You know starting pitchers and ballparks days in advance. You do some analysis (with help from your stats-collecting webcrawler) and identify good hitter-pitcher-ballbark combinations (splits). You create a list of wildcard players -- obscure players that have good splits in specific conditions that can earn you a lot of points if they actually play. You get a list of players being recommended by the touts that you should avoid (they'll be popular with the amateurs). You place your bets based on your software's recommendations. Several hours before game time starting lineups are posted online for each game. You are alerted when this happens. Run-of-the-mill fantasy players use mobile apps like OwnersBox, but you have your own script that grabs the starting lineup feed and pre-processes it for you. You can make a manual change, but if you are betting on hundreds of games, your script will ensure you make no clear misses. If player A doesn't start, play player B.

Up to now your opponent can still keep up via OwnersBox or some equivalent. Maybe your opponent is glued to game feeds on MLB.com. But then, minutes before the first pitch, a lineup changes again. Some player tweaks a muscle in batting practice and is benched. Or, an opposing pitcher is late to the game and won't start. Your script is monitoring all of this. It sees the live lineup posted minutes before game time and takes over. Player C is substituted for player B.

Your opponent's envelope for successful competition is now very small indeed.

gadfly said...

Not so sure that index funds are a good place to put your money this year so far. When China goes bust, so goes the world.

What really has to be emphasized is that stock market investments are just about as risky as most forms of gambling where the great majority of players are taking it on the chin. As for experts dominating the market, who can turn the market faster than pension funds with their computer buys and sells. Glorified day traders!

So everybody dig deep and play the Power Ball Lottery. The pool is now over $600,000 million and a single dollar can win it all.

Sammy Finkelman said...

1/7/16, 12:40 PM

Mega Millions is at 700,000,000.00 dollars. Now that's a Lottery.

At this point it is a bet with a long run positive outcome.

The payoff is $428 million (if taken in a lump sum) but the odds against winning are only 298 million to one. Of course you'd have to buy 298 million tickets to be sure of winning.

Except wait - each Powerball tcket costs $2, not $1. Not such a good deal. I think the jackpot would have to reach a billion dollars for it to be a sound bet, theoretically.

But that only workd if you can buy all the possible combinations.

Voltaire did something like that.

http://www.nytimes.com/1985/09/05/opinion/l-how-voltaire-made-a-killing-in-the-lottery-238061.html

But the philosopher Voltaire achieved the dream of every lottery player in 1729 - and without asking for permission. The City of Paris held a lottery to repay municipal bonds - a separate lottery in each district of the city. For various reasons, the prize in each district was greater than the total cost of lottery tickets. Voltaire saw that if he bought all the tickets in a district, he would be sure to win. With a group of his friends, he did just that. The scheme continued till at least 1730 (Haydn Mason, ''Voltaire, a Biography,'' Johns Hopkins, 1981). The syndicate made about 7.5 million francs - worth much more than $41 million today.

Voltaire made many more speculations, mostly profitable - but this was the most spectacular and the basis for all the others; it made it possible for him to be a philosopher who lived like a king.


Zach said...

Questions of fairness aside, the leagues would prefer if more of the money were churned back and forth between the suckers, rather than being won by a few informed gamblers who aren't going to have any allegiance if the suckers go somewhere else.

Remember, slot machines return 99% of the money they take in, and they make money hand over fist.

Rick said...

Henry said...
Rick wrote:

Yes but somehow the player has to get moved up in the queue.

This is a trivial algorithm.


As is your opponent changing a single lineup.

Your script is monitoring all of this.

It is almost certainly false that information is live-read into the script and triggered automatically. This setup creates a high risk of action on misinformation particularly since most information is generated in likelihoods rather than certainties. Meanwhile the benefit of saving the minute or so of time is negligible. Since you only have to execute one change within the script and lineups are due an hour before gametime there's almost no circumstance where an auto-change would have a different result than a human triggering a script update.

It is likely your script is set up to alert you when breaking information is released. But this is no different from monitoring MLB.com or betting websites latest information twitter accounts.

Joe said...

"Remember, slot machines return 99% of the money they take in, and they make money hand over fist"

Actually most slot machines return about 94% of the money they take in for a particular sub-game and denomination. (A few games in some jurisdictions go down to 89% and some games may approach 96%, but that's relatively rare.)

Zach said...

Actually most slot machines return about 94% of the money they take in for a particular sub-game and denomination. (A few games in some jurisdictions go down to 89% and some games may approach 96%, but that's relatively rare.)

Good to know, but I think my point still stands. A slot machine that returns nothing to most players won't make much money.