Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Long Con of @RJinVegas: Q&A

RJ Bell is the founder and CEO of, 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 11th post in a series detailing the reasoning behind that particular feeling. If you'd like to start at the beginning, it's here.

Over the last six weeks, I've written quite a bit about RJ Bell: ten blog posts, including 45 embedded tweets, 18 screengrabbed forum posts, 12 screengrabbed tweets, five charts, and one partially transcribed conference call. Having spent so much time researching and writing about this topic, I figured I should put together a post summarizing my various findings.

Since folks will be encountering Bell in different circumstances, it seems appropriate to organize my findings by the various questions which may arise.

Should I buy picks from RJ Bell's website,

No matter what, definitely do NOT do this. Those who have good sports betting info use it to make money by actually betting on sports. Those who don't have good info must find another way to profit, often by selling picks. This is a rather worrisome selection bias from the customer's standpoint.

If you don't believe me, ask the man himself. Bell has made it explicitly clear that he's not providing profitable picks, or trends which you can profit from going forward. Bell's actions also make it clear he feels this way, as he claims to be "100% transparent" but that's clearly not true, especially when he goes to great lengths to hide both the past and current records of his touts. You'll notice an alarming lack of long-term records on Pregame's site; there's a reason for that.

And remember, it all comes back to selling picks, since that's how Bell makes money. Everything else he does is with the goal of, one way or another, getting people to his site to sell them unprofitable picks.

What about the content you don't have to pay for, like free picks, forums, and Bell's Twitter?

Well, free losing picks are definitely better than losing picks that cost money, but they're still rather worthless.

Pregame does also have a very active public message board, but I'm not sure why you'd expect to find any useful information there, particularly since Bell censors it so heavily. Any post that Bell feels is too critical of Pregame and/or bad for business will be deleted, with the poster often finding himself banned. And if you're capable of critical thought it's hard not to be critical of Pregame, so that's not helping matters.

Then there's Bell's Twitter feed, which suffers from the fact that Bell is just trying to get people to his tout site, so he tends to tweet out whatever he thinks will get the most RTs/attention. He's not very good at math to begin with, and either ignores his errors entirely, tries to sweep them under the rug to preserve his brand, or is simply unaware of them.

When Bell attributes a piece of information to "Vegas", he's often either quoting someone as clueless as he is, or a line that's completely divorced from the actual market. He knows tweeting these things attracts attention to himself and his tout site, so that's what he does, but you shouldn't trust anything he says.

Should I have RJ Bell on my radio show, or use him as a source for an article I'm writing?

You should not; most of the reasons for this are covered in the two previous questions. To borrow from earlier in this series:
Despite what he'll tell you, Bell is not knowledgeable when it comes to sports betting markets. He is not good at math. He has no interest in taking accountability for his mistakes unless he's left with no alternate option. And on top of all that, his incentives are all screwed up, because at the end of the day he just wants to get you to his tout site and sell you some shitty picks.  
Given all that, why would you ever want to rely on him as a source? 
He'll probably give you a great quote, since that's easy when you have no integrity or interest in the truth. But, doesn't really seem worth it?

Complete series archive:
Defining Value
Bet Like A Pro (Parts One, Two, Three)
World Openers
"Vegas" Says
Is This Earth?
"Repackaging" Info

No comments:

Post a Comment