June 26, 2024

PFF’s Judah Fortgang Shares His 5 Essential Tips to Gain an Edge in Sports Betting Markets

Jacob, CEO (Image)
Jacob Fortinsky

On this episode of Linecraft, I was joined by Judah Fortgang, a leading expert in sports analytics and a professional bettor. With a background in political philosophy and a passion for sports, Judah has carved out a unique niche in the world of sports betting. He currently works in R&D and betting at Pro Football Focus (PFF), where he leverages his analytical skills and deep understanding of football to identify edges in the betting markets.

Throughout our conversation, Judah shared his approach to gaining an edge in sports betting by challenging conventional wisdom and looking beyond surface-level trends. He emphasizes the importance of understanding how markets price odds, identifying unique factors that others may overlook, and embracing the inherent randomness of sports outcomes. By combining rigorous analysis with a willingness to question the status quo, Judah has developed a winning strategy that can help bettors of all levels up their game and get more wins.

You can watch the full episode here:

Dive into these five key takeaways from my discussion with Judah Fortgang below:

  • (02:07) Understanding Market Pricing and Identifying Inefficiencies
  • (25:30) Identifying Unique Team and Game-Specific Factors That the Market May Overlook
  • (27:03) Exploiting the Strengths of Being a Market Taker
  • (33:19) Continuously Learning and Adapting to Stay Ahead in the Sports Betting Industry
  • (38:19) Embracing Randomness and Considering the Possibility of Unlikely Events

1. Understanding Market Pricing and Identifying Inefficiencies

Judah's approach to sports betting revolves around a deep understanding of how markets price odds and identifying situations where he believes the market is mispriced. As he explains:

"What I'm always trying to do is understand why exactly the market is saying what they're saying. And I am perfectly happy to disagree if I think I have some sort of compelling evidence to the contrary."

By focusing on the underlying reasons behind market pricing, Judah is able to spot inefficiencies and capitalize on them. This requires a deep understanding of how odds are set and a willingness to question the market consensus when his own analysis suggests an opportunity.

2. Identifying Unique Team and Game-Specific Factors That the Market May Overlook

A key aspect of Judah's strategy involves looking beyond general market trends and digging into the specific contexts of each team and game.

"Say the league average distribution is 60%. But the Miami Dolphins have two superstar wide receivers and one healthy running back this week. That number, which is usually 70%, is actually 90, 95%. Those three guys are going to get 95% of the touches, whereas what's priced in is 70%. That's a huge value."

By identifying these unique factors, such as the Dolphins' concentrated distribution of touches among their top playmakers, Judah is able to find edges that the broader market may be overlooking. This requires a deep knowledge of each team's personnel, scheme, and tendencies, as well as the ability to recognize when these factors create exploitable mispricing in the betting markets.

3. Exploiting the Strengths of Being a Market Taker

As a market taker, Judah is not setting the lines himself but rather looking for opportunities to capitalize on mispricing by the market makers. He explains:

"Market makers have the benefit of being able to put out markets that are almost always right. And most people are not really going to create this really complex way of thinking where they're going to be able to pick off every outlier. But as a market taker, it's a dream for me because I know this thing can't be modeled."

By focusing on finding outlier opportunities that the market makers may have missed, Judah is able to exploit the strengths of his position as a market taker. This involves constantly scanning the markets for mispriced lines and being ready to pounce when an opportunity presents itself.

4. Continuously Learning and Adapting to Stay Ahead in the Sports Betting Industry

Judah emphasizes the importance of continuous learning and adaptation in the rapidly evolving world of sports betting.

"If I've learned anything from this industry, it is that what was true two or three years ago is not what is true now and it will not be what is true in two to three years time."

By staying curious, asking questions, and being open to new ideas, Judah positions himself to stay ahead of the curve in an industry where change is constant. This requires a willingness to challenge one's own assumptions, learn from both successes and failures, and continuously refine one's approach based on new information and insights.

5. Embracing Randomness and Considering the Possibility of Unlikely Events

Finally, Judah stresses the value of accepting the inherent randomness in sports and being open to the possibility of unlikely events occurring.

"There's so much randomness. These events do happen and you don't want to try and predict the Black Swan, but be aware that Black Swans can happen."

By not getting too caught up in the idea that something can't happen just because it hasn't happened before, Judah is able to identify valuable betting opportunities and protect his downside when the unexpected occurs. This mindset allows him to take a more nuanced view of risk and opportunity, and to position himself to capitalize on mispricing that may arise from the market's failure to properly account for the possibility of unlikely events.

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