RJ Bell is the founder and CEO of Pregame.com, a sports betting website that includes forums, odds, contests, and picks (both of the free and for purchase varieties). It is one of the most successful sites of its kind, in no small part due to the popularity of Bell, who has accumulated over 80K Twitter followers and established himself as the mainstream media's go-to "expert" for stories involving gambling on sports.
An American success story if there every was one. That's only one side of it, though. In some corners of the internet (including this blog), there is a feeling that Bell has not found his success in a legitimate way. This is the eighth (!) post in a series detailing the reasoning behind that particular feeling. If you'd like to start at the beginning, it's here.
One of RJ Bell's favorite things to do during the NFL season is to tweet out "noteworthy" trends relating to upcoming games. As per usual, he does this to get retweets and promote his #brand, while displaying absolutely no interest in providing helpful information.
Bell wants you to believe that his selfless goal is to provide the best and most relevant trends possible:
@j_rake It's the constant battle with trends. Bigger sample size = good. Bigger sample size often equals change. That balancing act is key.
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) September 30, 2010
@RobertMusallam Always want the most applicable games possible in the sample.
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) September 29, 2013
At the risk of startling anyone, this is an easily disproven lie:
Last 18 times the #Cowboys won a game: 4-14 ATS the next game.
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) September 29, 2013
Bell would like you to believe that he went back 18 games because he feels that's the most relevant sample. Because you are a sentient being, you do not believe this. You are completely justified in your skepticism:
Week 15 of the 2010 season is an applicable data point, while Week 13 of the 2010 season is not, because of course.
You could spend days picking apart the ridiculously arbitrary endpoints used for these trends, but I'll just do one more:
Home team last 13 #Patriots games: 11-2 ATS
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) January 16, 2014
Although the "outdated" sample isn't as extreme, this one may be even funnier. Bell could easily use the full season of data and the trend would still be an "impressive" 13-4 ATS, which he could argue was the "most applicable" sample. But he just doesn't care, and the last 13 games make up the most eye-popping record, so the last 13 games are what he uses.
Bell is also a big fan of taking advantage of everybody's confirmation bias; he often posts trends that kind of, sort of make sense. While still data-mined garbage, these are great from his perspective because the sample doesn't have to be as large or extreme:
Pro bettors are starting to suspect that Bye weeks are over-vauled under new practice rules. 36% ATS w/small sample this yr.
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) October 30, 2011
And then, when the ATS % is way less impressive three games later (because the initial sample size was 15 games), he can just switch up his story:
Lots of talk about new practice rules and NFL byes. 8-9-1 ATS (ho-hum) but bye teams have gone UNDER the total 14 of 18!Pathetic.
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) November 1, 2011
Similar to the long-term success of his touts, Bell doesn't actually seem to believe what he's saying. As usual, the information provide is only useful if parsed in just the right way:
Sharing a noteworthy game trend does NOT mean I'm betting that team. In fact, there will often be noteworthy trends on both teams in a game.
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) October 13, 2013
@locher27 Every game has noteworthy trends on both sides - their NET effect, plus many other factors dictate which side the sharps are on.
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) October 27, 2013
If you're questioning whether every game has a "noteworthy" trend on either side, it's probably because Bell's definition of "noteworthy" differs from yours (and the rest of the world's):
#NFL teams who win 2 straight games by a FG or less, but don't cover either game (#Eagles): 16-9-2 ATS (last 25 yrs)
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) September 21, 2012
#Eagles as a favorite, following a game as a favorite: 4-18 ATS streak
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) December 30, 2013
NFL teams favored the week AFTER playing Seattle: 5-18 ATS #49ers
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) December 15, 2013
#Patriots in December under Belichick, all spreads EXCEPT when favored by more than a touchdown: 24-7 ATSThis information isn't useful in any way, no matter how well you parse it. Bell only tweets out trends because it's the National Football League™, and he knows people will eat up any NFL information relating to gambling. Which would be annoying enough if he didn't act like he was performing a public service by sharing this info (at no cost to you!), rather than just, as always, serving himself.
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) December 17, 2012
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