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EUBYTES


online world, especially when we seek to ensure that the providers of gambling services are legal operators and function with the utmost integrity (for the benefit of the consumer, civil society, public order and the reputation of the business), as a lobbyist I find it important to understand all aspects of the business. Otherwise, how can we help governmental stakeholders make the best decisions? There is also a third goldmine for all of us hidden within the expertise of Joachim: His understanding of how technology might affect the future of the betting business – no, the gambling business as a whole. That is why there will be a couple of questions on the future of blockchain and bitcoin in the world of gambling.


G. Cezanne: From what I understand, and we have known each other for quite a while now, you are one of the lucky people to work in an area that you have a lot of passion for. How did it all start for you? J. Marnitz: I developed an interest in betting while I went to university. I placed an accumulator bet with my flatmate for


a few bucks and we won €50 each. We felt like kings that day, and I was hooked ever since. At the time I was convinced it must have been skill, but it quickly became obvious after a few more bets that it’s a lot more complicated than I initially thought. Looking at my modest losses after a few months I figured that there had to be some systematic approach to this, so I started my long journey into researching betting theory and what makes a profitable punter.


GC: Trying to turn a profit from sports betting is quite a courageous endeavour. Without telling me too many of your trade secrets, how does your system work? Do you look at patterns, do you use mathematics? JM: The secret to profitable betting isn’t to pick the winning team, because there actually is no way of knowing. The future isn’t set in stone. Instead, you have to figure out what teams are mispriced – and bet on those. To figure out the


34 JANUARY 2019


mispriced bets I collect a lot of match data, and then try to separate the signals from the noise. There is a lot of luck involved in any sporting event, so the end results can be very misleading. Most people don’t realise that the league table does in fact lie, and it lies to you on a daily basis. My job is to find the skilled teams that were just unlucky, and bet on those – because their actual chances are usually very underrated by the market, so their odds tend to be off. I try to measure the real skill of each team and then feed that information into an algorithm that I have created. The end result is a probability estimation of the chances of victory for each team, which I then adjust for soft psychological factors such as player motivation. If the market differs too much from my estimation (i.e. the odds are too high), I will place a bet. So yes, in essence I use statistics and mathematics to detect patterns of the past and try to exploit them in the future.


GC: When looking at patterns, information and your personal instinct are obvious key elements to the business model. What are other elements that you find significant? JM: Betting psychology. There are quite a few people who could be betting profitably, if it only came down to mathematics and statistics. But even the soundest model will have significant downswings. I have personally had half-year periods that ended with losses, and have witnessed first- hand how even top syndicates with millions of yearly overhead costs have gone for a year without making a profit during that time. These downswings are very hard to deal with. It’s so bad that poker players even came up with the term tilting to describe bad decisions that players make following bad runs. Many otherwise promising people crack under the


pressure of a downswing. This is usually coupled with bad risk management, as intuitively most punters will wager too much of their bankroll on a given bet. And naturally betting


Sinisa Botas/Adobe Stock


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