Wednesday, March 5, 2014

#SSAC14 Betting Panel: Jay Kornegay


As you may have heard, the 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference was in Boston this past weekend, and one of the panels focused on sports betting. Throughout the week, I'm going to be taking a look at what each of the four panelists had to say, including transcripts, related tweets, my own commentary, and (if they're eventually free) YouTube clips.

Jay Kornegay (Twitter, SSAC profile) is the Vice President of the LVH SuperBook, which is one of the largest
 and most well-respected sportsbooks in Las Vegas. His thoughts/comments/opinions can often be found in the tweets, columns, and podcasts of Chad Millman and RJ Bell.

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Jay Kornegay: We're not defined like a lot of people think. We're not running all this massive data, you know, we're not a bunch of mathematicians back there, in the NFL. The NFL is more of an art form for us. Our power ratings are pretty much in our head. In fact, I think you guys would be very disappointed on how we make some of these lines [laughs]. For the NFL, for the NFL.

Kornegay: And we usually, at the LVH, we usually post NFL lines about a week ahead of everybody else, and it's exactly that...we have some very sharp oddsmakers and guys that have been doing it for a long time, and it's pretty much a group just like this were we just kind of go around and say, "What do you got? 2.5, 1.5, 2, 3...let's go with 2," unless someone makes a case.

Jeff Ma (moderator): Sounds pretty scientific.

Kornegay: [laughs] But it is a feel, and there's, and I'm going to tell you, oddsmaking, on our part is always going to have some kind of art form to it. And I think that's where you might see some of the flaws of just statistical systems, you know, they don't have...

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Kornegay: Seattle's big rivalry is the 49ers. I mean, that was a really big game for them...

Ma: But shouldn't they have been a letdown then for the Super Bowl?

David Frohardt-Lane (known NFL #shrap): A letdown for the Super Bowl?

Ma: Well that's what I'm saying, this is all, like doesn't make any sense to me.

Kornegay: That's what some people were looking at it.

Frohardt-Lane: No matter how big of a deal the Conference Championship is, you're going to get up for the Super Bowl.

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Ma: So you're bearish on analytics in sports betting?

Kornegay: Yeah. On our side of the counter, Jeff, we really don't do that much.
Kornegay: We're doing a little bit more and more each year, we look at KenPom, like he said, four or five years ago we looked at that. Whether it's other websites, or systems, ratings that we use, we don't actually calculate those ourselves. We actually go to many different types of websites and use that information, if we need to.

Kornegay: I heard last year you guys talking about player profiling; we look at people that are beating us, and we're trying to figure out what they're doing. We look at their track record, look at their types of bets, the time that they bet these things.

Kornegay: We look at some of the information that is out there on these websites, whether it's KenPom, Massey, whatever it might be. We use ESPN, Chad. We look over all this type of information to try to figure out what kind of angle that they might be coming at us with.

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Kornegay: We get paid for being close. That's our job; we have that luxury of just being close. There's a difference of opinions out there. There's statistical systems that find value at -3.5, and there's other that find value at +3.5, and that's the beauty of being on the bookmaker's side.

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