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Thread: Why are humans involved at all in bookmaking?

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  1. #1 Why are humans involved at all in bookmaking? 
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    Im sure the process is automated already to some extent at all offshore books, but why arent the lines completely controlled by the inflow of money with software adjusting lines accordingly?

    If someone attempts to place a large bet that would throw the balance way off, then their bet could just be kicked out and be made to call in to see if it can be accomadated.
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  2. #2  
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    This question came up when I was trying to design a sportsbook system. Reasons that automation is not common:

    1) Prior to a few years ago, bookmakers had VERY little contact with computers and were reluctant to use them taking phone bets or even Internet bets, let alone moving lines. Trust is big issue.

    2) Many bookmakers don't have the mathematical background to explain how to move the line precisely enough to spec out a computer algorithm.

    3) One argument against automation was that the wiseguys would alter their betting to manipulate the line move programs to generate "middles" for themselves.

    4) Some books don't want to "balance" the line and rather be lopsided (these are the bookmakers that are gamblers themselves and sweat out the games).

    5) The algorithm may be too complex to surpass a human being that watches the whole Don Best screen and uses intuition/experience. Also, some books give more "weight" to respected players. It is not clear how you encode "respect".
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  3. #3  
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    Interesting question and strong response. I suspect there are some books that rely on some form of automation, but most don't.
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  4. #4  
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    One another note....

    If it does become automated, then eventually, the players will just have computer programs making their bets and it will just be the machines vs. the other machines.

    Eventually, the players will be replaced by cyborg players with implants then eventually full robots.

    Finally, global warming will kill us all, but the robots will keep playing and betting.
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  5. #5  
    RX Senior mvbski's Avatar
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    very good answer Java
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  6. #6  
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    Excellent responses java.
    -lab
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  7. #7  
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    Its actually very simple why not. The old "know your customer" rule. A good bookmaker will identify his talent and move off them, it is vey possible for Customer A(sucker) to bet 20,000 on a game and the BM will not move the line and then Customer b(Billy Walters) bet 3000 and the line move 1.5 pts. The good BM looks at just more than how much is bet on each team. Also limits are never written in stone and always are adjusted, I may have a 3000 limit per game but if I am way over on one side I might allow 10000 on this side to even off. There are to many variables and all situation are differnet depending on who is on the phone. Now a book with all squares may try automated but a book with some talent never could do it.
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  8. #8  
    RX Senior drunkguy's Avatar
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    another problem is that the linesman has to anticipate the cash inflow and set the line accordingly. The majority of the action is going to come in the hour before gametime. You need to anticpate where the late money will be going so you don't get killed on one side.

    Also don't want lines jumping around all week to avoid getting middled/sided.

    Takes a lot more judgement than any algorithm can handle right now.
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  9. #9  
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    CHIPS IS RIGHT. a GOOD BM WILL MOVE MUCH MORE OFF OF A WISEGUY THAN A GUY WHO BETS 10X THAT ON A SQUARE SIDE. nO COMPUTER CAN GET THE JOB DONE EFFECTIVELY IN THIS ARENA.
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  10. #10  
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    I also agree with CHIPS...

    A talented bookmaker KNOWS his customers and moves more off of the person who is behind the bet, rather than purely the amount bet...

    THE SHRINK
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  11. #11  
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    It's like why you can't build a computer to play poker as well as a real pro does. Guts, instincts, tells, and a host of other things come into play a computer will never allow for. It's not the size of the bet but who's behind it that counts.

    Good thread guys....
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  12. #12  
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    just like stock market automated buy/sell programs, but ultimatley those with inside info hold the gold
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  13. #13  
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    Some books don't want to "balance" the line and rather be lopsided (these are the bookmakers that are gamblers themselves and sweat out the games

    balanced action is a bit of a myth.
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  14. #14  
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    I agree, but only to a point.

    And that point was reached a few years ago when Deep Blue beat Kasparov when, for the first time in history, the human world chess champion lost to a machine.

    Java's best point was that of trying to determine the algorithm - but, it's been done a LOT before with FAR more complex trading systems, not only on Wall Street but in private industry. ALL of the factors mentioned before are definitely pliant to being coded as rules in a system - ALL of them, including the Billy Walters factor. You can assign a incredibly detailed rating on a gambler that would allow the computer to shade the line according to who's making the bet, how much, and any of a thousand or so factors determined instantly if you want to go that far. But an expert system is only as good as the expert rules built into it - and that's where the algorithms are so critical.

    Also, trusting a computer for bookmakers probably won't happen, but if the industry ever does get legalized in the U.S., then you can bet eventually you will see expert systems created. By the corporations.
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  15. #15  
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    I asked a buddy of mine about a particular line that he made. I thought his line was HORRIBLE. IMO it should have been even odds but he had it 2-1. When I asked him why, he gave the same reason as the last few people have talked about. He knew how his customer base would bet. That's where people like myself come in and can take advantage
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  16. #16  
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    "ALL of the factors mentioned before are definitely pliant to being coded as rules in a system - ALL of them, including the Billy Walters factor. You can assign a incredibly detailed rating on a gambler that would allow the computer to shade the line according to who's making the bet, how much, and any of a thousand or so factors determined instantly if you want to go that far."


    The second Billy realizes his account is flagged and moved 1.5 pts by a computer and not a BM, he will bet the wrong side in that account and have 10 new accounts opened to bet the other side, cant happen with computers unless its all squares!
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  17. #17  
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    And as to Java's point: "2) Many bookmakers don't have the mathematical background to explain how to move the line precisely enough to spec out a computer algorithm."

    It isn't necessary to ask a bookmaker - all you do is create a tracking system, most of it by computer and some by notes, that completely detail the bookmaker's decisions during the day, day by day, week by week, until you've got a good idea of why he does what he does. Then, you create a prototype system, then run testing on it using the SAME data you gathered, seeing if the tests results match the real life results, correcting and adjusting as you go, then back-testing. When you finally have a system to 'go live' with, you first run it in parallel with the current system, further shaking out the bugs. BUT, you will always leave an override for every game which can be set by a human being in case of unanticipated problems, which even humans run into from time to time. And you keep after it, until it works. Lot of time and money, but doable.
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  18. #18  
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    Chips - wrong. Expert systems can be coded to detect myriads of patterns, and you can code expert rules to flag those patterns as 'Billy Walter' red flags, either holding the bet for manual approval or refusing it or limiting it, just as a human would.

    We're not talking coding a simple loop like 'PERFORM VARYING A FROM 1 BY 1 UNTIL A > 10' - these can be extremely sophisticated systems - which is why I'm saying I think you'll only see them when corporations really get into it.
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  19. #19  
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    This is what I like seeing on our forum guys...

    This is shaping up to be one of the most informative threads I have read in awhile...
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  20. #20  
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    I hope they can't design software to find siddle and Nirvana seekers.
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  21. #21  
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    Somehow, out there after the midnight hour, I just KNEW you were out there waiting to deliver a 'pancho' line

    speaking of punch, I'm beat - later
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  22. #22  
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    Jazz- The computer wouldnt know what hit him in time to adjust, a guy who is a complete square, who has lost 1.5 mill last year betting and is allowed to bet 50k a game can be apprached by Billy, use those limits and make a quick score before the program knew what happened. Just like a robot can drive a car and be programmed to go on green and stop on red, but guess what sometimes humans run red lights and when a light is green if you just go becasue "programmed" to go, you will crash.
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  23. #23  
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    I just happened to find this. I'm not sure if it's relevant to this thread.

    http://www.acesplaces.com/irving.htm
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  24. #24  
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by chips:
    Jazz- The computer wouldnt know what hit him in time to adjust, a guy who is a complete square, who has lost 1.5 mill last year betting and is allowed to bet 50k a game can be apprached by Billy, use those limits and make a quick score before the program knew what happened.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    How could a "live" BM adjust any better than a computer in this situation. The line-moving algorithms can have flags go off when someone is betting off their normal betting pattern, for larger amounts than normal, etc.

    What Jazz is saying (and I agree 100%) is that you can write a program that could do the job of a good linesman, but it would take a TON of work, research, refining, etc.
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  25. #25  
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by sportsadvisory:
    I just happened to find this. I'm not sure if it's relevant to this thread.

    http://www.acesplaces.com/irving.htm<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    very sketchy site... I was trying to see who this group was. when you click the small "xx" on the bottom of the page, you get:


    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Makers of WART STICK and CORN STICK!
    WART STICK and CORN STICK are the only wart, corn and callus removers on the market today

    sold in EASY TO USE STICK FORM!
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    WTF?
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