A furious late-game rally by the New York Yankees on July 23 rattled in-game markets producing line fluctuations akin to the chart of a volatile stock on a bumpy first day of trading.
The Yankees trailed the Minnesota Twins 9-5 with no outs in the top of the 8th when shortstop Gleyber Torres stepped to the plate. At the time, a proprietary in-game model designed by Deck Prism Sports determined that the Yankees only had a 3.5% probability of staging an improbable comeback. For bettors who backed the Bronx Bombers, the raw probability translated to around +1300 on an in-play wager, said Ed Miller, Deck Prism chief architect. A more conservative bet on the Twins at the money line paid only a dollar on a $35 bet.
But in-play betting moves quickly. Within minutes the Yankees recorded three doubles in four at bats, punctuated by an Aaron Judge double to deep center that closed the deficit to 9-8. All of a sudden, the in-game spread tightened considerably with the Twins slightly favored. The Yankees capped the five-run half inning with a Didi Gregorius double to take a 10-9 lead.
It didn’t stop there. The lead changed three more times, as the teams combined for seven additional runs over 2 1/2 innings before the Yankees prevailed 14-12. If you left your couch for a drink or to use the bathroom, the line likely changed dramatically upon your return. By ignoring the sudden line changes, an unsophisticated bettor not attuned to the intricacies of in-game wagering can miss out on a clear value play.
The rapidity of in-game betting, under the current industry model, is rife with complexity. Miller and Matthew Davidow, another Deck Prism co-founder, believe they have found the solution.
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“We want to show people that we’ve solved the problem for the industry,” Miller said. “If we hide it, no one will know.”
On Thursday, Deck Prism will launch its Real In-Play platform when the Broncos and Falcons kick off the NFL preseason in the 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.
Ask a seasoned bettor to name the most exasperating issue associated with in-game betting and there is a good chance they will describe a variation of the same problem. As bettors rush to place a wager before a potential game-changing play transpires, they will soon discover that the bet is not processed automatically. This is by design, the Deck Prism founders say.
The delay, depending on the operator and the conditions of the game, can last eight seconds at a minimum. There are a litany of factors that have compelled operators to hit pause, according to Miller. Think of the delay as a defense mechanism for the books. For one, a sportsbook with a robust in-game platform could be handling hundreds of bets at once. The delay allows the book to evaluate the incoming bets to gauge whether the public overwhelming favors a certain side. Ultimately, the book wants to avoid getting crushed if such an imbalance exists.
In essence, the delay is an undo button, Miller explains. A book that sets a line that they come to regret can erase the gaffe by simply rejecting a bet. The operator then has the option to post a new line at a more equitable price or continue to decline the wager. Davidow agrees. The practice, he argues, is customer unfriendly.
“I think it’s un-American,” said Davidow, the company’s chief operations officer.
Complicating matters, most bettors must deal with latency issues from live streaming broadcasts which typically lag behind about 30 seconds from the game in real time. On Tuesday night, the Mets took a commanding lead over the White Sox with back-to-back home runs in the 11th inning. The odds on New York jumped to 10/1 on a two-run homer by Jeff McNeil. Before a bettor could enter a wager on the Mets, however, Michael Conforto followed with a solo shot to right. In a drop of a hat, the odds at William Hill U.S. increased to 22/1.
During the key lag period, a book gains valuable information that’s not available to the bettor. Applying a hypothetical scenario from the Mets’ game, let’s say Noah Syndergaard is struck in the head by a shot up the middle. A sportsbook with an instantaneous feed has time to update the in-game line before most bettors have even viewed a potential game-changing injury.
“Information parity is critical for in-play,” Miller said. “We think that the in-play product should be built around information parity.”
A possible solution
Baseball caters to in-game betting with its relative slow pace of play and frequent stoppages in action. When it comes to football and basketball, most books are forced to update their lines on the fly. Deck Prism has developed an alternative method.
Unlike the majority of the platforms across the industry, Deck Prism’s system only updates in-play during an extended stoppage of play. One drawback is that a team can complete a 15-play drive or go on a long run before a timeout. But quite often, instant line updates can be superfluous when you consider that some NCAA tournament games contain more than a dozen timeouts in a given contest.
The frequent game stoppages, whether through numerous timeouts or lengthy halftime breaks, provides Deck Prism with ample opportunity to post updated in-game lines. More importantly, operators that use Deck Prism’s platform can offer in-game lines without the nagging eight-second delay. In turn, the books will likely reject fewer bets.
“One halftime is great, what about 15?” Miller asks quizzically.
A look into "unofficial" league data for sports betting, and the live wagering consumer experience.
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Deck Prism’s football product will include a 50/50 spread, a moneyline, some other alternative spreads of interest. At the moment, several operators are interested in partnering with Deck Prism, according to the company.
Deck Prism plans to display all of their in-game lines on the company’s website for its first year of operations.
“Our goal is to demonstrate its value over the next year, we’re not trying to hide our analytics,” Miller said.