When Winning is Skill - and a Free Pick

So you look through a list of handicappers and see a bunch of statistics, but which ones are based on skill and which ones are throwing darts and getting lucky?   The first thing you should look for is the number of non-correlated picks.  That means if there's a pick on the side, run-line, and first five innings of the same game, that counts as 1 pick, not 3 picks.  So the record might say 3-0, but you have to look through the record to determine how often there's correlated picks and subtract them out.  That gives you the real number of picks to compare to other handicappers.  I don't make correlated picks. 

So now how many non-correlated picks is enough to identify skill?  Here's a little cheat sheet you can use.  For you math geeks, I know these aren't exact, but they are very close and easy to remember and use.

A winning record with:

1000 picks.  About 10% chance record is based on luck.
2000 picks.  About 9% chance record is based on luck.
5000 picks.  About 6% chance record is based on luck.
10000 picks.  About 1% chance record is based on luck.

You can see that anything less than 1000 picks doesn't tell you anything.  So when you see a record of something like 185-71 with an ROI 28%, it doesn't mean anything.  In fact, there's a strong chance that record will regress to a negative ROI as more picks are made. 

But 1000 picks isn't a magic number to safely say the record is based on skill.  Of the very few with a 1% ROI after 1000 picks, most likely none of them will still be profitable after 5000 picks.  Of the tens of thousands of accounts on Pickmonitor, how many have at least a 1% ROI with 10,000 picks?  Zero.  How many at least 1% ROI with 5000 picks?  Zero.

Come join a long-term winner.  I have a 1.3% ROI with over 4000 non-correlated picks. 

Whew that's a lot of reading and math, just give me a free winner Eppley:

Houston (Verlander, xFIP 3.57) vs Cleveland (Bieber, xFIP 3.19) Under 8.5 -105.  Two top pitchers in baseball who should both go deep into the game.  If one does happen to get in trouble, both bullpens are very good.  I know pitching duels aren't sexy, but they can be profitable. 


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