My first brush with sports betting was in my sophomore year at UC Berkeley in 1984 when a friend invited me to join an NFL pool with a $2 entry fee. I had always been interested in sports statistics growing up and had often predicted games for fun to see how closely I could get to predicting the score of the Oakland Raiders games each week.
I had no idea what a point spread was when I took the pool sheet home to study, but I was intrigued by the problem at hand and spent hours that night coming up with a formula that used each team’s season-to-date statistics to predict the likely scoring margin of each game. I turned in my picks and went 12-2 against the spread, good enough for the $102 first place prize. I went 11-3 the very next week to finish 2nd and pocketed an additional $40. Needless to say, my interest in sports betting was certainly enhanced by the cash filling my usually empty front pocket.
I spent the rest of that football season researching and reading anything I could find on the subject of sports handicapping. Most of what I found was useless, but my thesis on how to properly look at the problem of picking winners against the spread began to take shape as I questioned other approaches.
My major at Cal was in statistics with an emphasis in economics and I quickly came to realize that betting on sports was very similar to playing the stock market. The point spread is simply a price that a trader (i.e. a gambler) is willing to pay to bet on each team. It became apparent that the price a gambler would pay to bet on a team was heavily dependent upon how well that team was playing of late and I hypothesized that there was probably an overreaction to recent events in sports betting just as there was with stock prices on Wall Street.
I also started to notice that most teams were inconsistent in their level of play from week to week and that harnessing these up and down patterns would be very helpful in my new endeavor. As luck would have it, I was taking a time series class that focused on Fourier analysis, which explores cyclical patterns of data. Fourier analysis is sort of like linear regression but with sine and cosine waves and helps to uncover the frequencies at which a team’s performance oscillates.
I later found out that I was among the first to use technical analysis in sports betting. Understanding the patterns of team performance, in conjunction with the betting patterns of gamblers, was a powerful tool. My results in the mid-80’s using my more advanced methods resulted in winning 63% on the games I personally bet while paying my way through college.
Over my first few years wagering in college I also had some exposure to the sports service industry, which was mostly comprised of untrustworthy solicitors and false claims about ridiculous win rates that only fools would be gullible enough to believe. I thought to myself that if these lying promoters could have a business flipping coins and selling their “Locks” to gamblers, then there would certainly be a market for an honest guy that could actually win.
I started Dr. Bob Sports in 1987 and quickly found that being honest about my 60% win rates in an industry full of false claims of 70% to 80% winners wasn’t getting me very far. I was fortunate to be asked by the Gold Sheet to write an article for one of their publications and that article led to a weekly column in the Las Vegas Sports News called “The Doctor Is In”, which garnered plenty of positive attention among sharp sports bettors in Vegas. I also was asked to be a regular guest on a two hour weekly sports betting radio show that was broadcast nationally on the Sports Fan Radio Network (a precursor to ESPN radio and Fox Sports radio).
The attention I received from the weekly column and radio appearances encouraged me to start a print publication called ‘Dr. Bob Sports News’ that was distributed around the country to newsstands. Dr. Bob Sports News was packed with analyses of upcoming games and useful charts and became a favorite among more intelligent sports gamblers who appreciated my unique approach. Getting my highly analytical articles and game write ups to the public enabled me to positively differentiate my service from all the scam services making false claims, and the publication earned me a loyal following that jump started my business
My publication ran successfully for 11 years until I launched my drbobsports.com web site in the late 90’s. My goal with drbobsports.com was to have even more detailed analysis of every game available on my site, with most of it being free of charge. I figured the more people read my detailed analysis and insights into sports betting the more impressed they would be with my service. However, the bottom line is that picking more winners than losers is what has made me successful as I embark on my 33rd year in business.
These days, sportsbooks have evolved to the point where 60%-plus winners long term is no longer possible for anyone, but my analysis has evolved as the odds makers and public have grown more savvy and I’m still several steps ahead of the guys making the lines. In fact, I study my methods of analysis every summer, tweak my math models, and optimize the weighting of my handicapping factors to maximize my likelihood of winning each season.
My most recent math model for college football, which debuted in 2004 (and is continuously improved upon), has been very successful and led to an article in the Wall Street Journal, appearances on CNBC, and a story about my service on ESPN’s E:60 sports magazine show. That extra attention makes it a bit more challenging to stay ahead of the odds makers, who are now fully aware of me and my plays, but I will continue to adjust my models. The NFL model is now based on advanced metrics based on play-by-play data, rather than simply game statistics, and the NFL plays have won 59% since 2016 (through 2020).
Please take some time to read the sports betting and money management articles that I’ve posted on the site. I also hope you enjoy all the free analysis that I post on my site weekly during the football season (all games that are not part of my Best Bets package) and daily during basketball season.