Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Twitter analysis can help gamblers beat the spread on NFL games

Date:
September 12, 2013
Source:
Carnegie Mellon University
Summary:
Analyses of Twitter feeds have been used to track flu epidemics, predict stock market changes and do political polling, and now it may also help gamblers beat the spread for National Football League games.

Analyses of Twitter feeds have been used to track flu epidemics, predict stock market changes and do political polling, but now that the National Football League season is underway, the natural question is: Can Twitter help beat the spread on NFL games?

Related Articles


The answer, say computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University, is yes. Or, at least it can help a little bit at certain times during the season. They will report their findings Sept. 27 at the Machine Learning and Data Mining for Sports Analytics conference in Prague, Czech Republic.

The study began as a class project by then-student Kevin Gimpel, now a research assistant professor at Toyota Technological University at Chicago. It ultimately encompassed three NFL seasons, 2010-2012. The researchers used automated tools to sort through a stream of tweets that averaged 42 million messages a day in 2012.

Out of those, the researchers plucked out messages with hashtags associated with individual NFL teams -- #giants, #newyorkgiants, #nygiants, #steelers, #steelersnation, etc. -- that were sent at least 12 hours after the start of the team's previous game and one hour before the start of its upcoming game. In 2012, more than a million such messages were identified.

The idea, explained Christopher Dyer, assistant professor in CMU's Language Technologies Institute, was to see what might be divined from the collective wisdom or sentiments of fans, as reflected by their tweets. Could simple measures, such as the volume of tweets, or the distribution of positive and negative words in tweets, provide insight into which teams would win, which teams would beat the point spread, or provide guidance on betting on the over/under line (the total number of points scored by both teams in a game)?

"It's an experiment every week," Dyer said.

What they found was that their analysis of tweets didn't help much when it came to predicting winners or the over/under score. But when it came to winning with the spread, the researchers said their method was 55 percent accurate. That doesn't offer a huge advantage, Dyer acknowledged, but it might be enough to be profitable.

When setting the spread, of course, sports books don't look only at a team's performance or factors such as home field advantage and weather predictions. The goal is to attract an even amount of bets for both teams, which minimizes the financial risk of the bookie. A certain amount of psychology factors into the spread, Dyer noted, which suggests why gauging the sentiments of team fans might offer some betting advantages.

But the researchers also developed a deep appreciation for the performance of the sports books and for how hard it is to beat the spread. "One thing that surprised us is how hard setting the point spread is to do well," Dyer said. "And the sports books are very, very good."

There were limits to what Twitter could reveal. Dyer said the Twitter analysis didn't work well for the first four weeks of the season. And, in the last few weeks of the season, when many teams begin altering their strategies in preparation for the post-season, the Twitter analysis wasn't useful either.

Though the advantage of Twitter analysis was modest, Dyer said improvement might be possible with a more sophisticated analysis of tweet content. Also, a common difficulty in Twitter analysis is the rapidly changing nature of the social network. "It's a moving target," Dyer explained. "More people are on Twitter this year than the year before and the year before that." The number of tweets analyzed by the researchers for the 2012 season was five times greater than the number of tweets in the 2010 season.

The sports books themselves might benefit from using Twitter analysis, if they aren't already using it, Dyer said. As for the researchers, who included Noah Smith, associate professor of language technologies and machine learning, and Shiladitya Sinha, a student majoring in mathematical sciences, the interest is purely in understanding how Twitter data can be analyzed and used.

"As far as I know," Dyer said, "none of us has actually placed a bet based on our findings."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Mellon University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Carnegie Mellon University. "Twitter analysis can help gamblers beat the spread on NFL games." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130912132128.htm>.
Carnegie Mellon University. (2013, September 12). Twitter analysis can help gamblers beat the spread on NFL games. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130912132128.htm
Carnegie Mellon University. "Twitter analysis can help gamblers beat the spread on NFL games." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130912132128.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) — Brave Robotics and Asratec teamed with original Transformers toy company Tomy to create a functional 5-foot-tall humanoid robot that can march and fold itself into a 3-foot-long sports car. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microsoft Riding High On Strong Surface, Cloud Performance

Microsoft Riding High On Strong Surface, Cloud Performance

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) — Microsoft's Q3 earnings showed its tablets and cloud services are really hitting their stride. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Apps to Organize Your Life

The Best Apps to Organize Your Life

Buzz60 (Oct. 23, 2014) — Need help organizing your bills, schedules and other things? Ko Im (@konakafe) has the best apps to help you stay on top of it all! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nike And Apple Team Up To Create Wearable ... Something

Nike And Apple Team Up To Create Wearable ... Something

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — For those looking for wearable tech that's significantly less nerdy than Google Glass, Nike CEO Mark Parker says don't worry, It's on the way. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins