We’re back with more from TradeSports.com, and this time we'll be taking a look at the World Cup, in addition to Major League Baseball. For the uninitiated, TradeSports is a daily gaming site that allows users to buy and sell stock in outcomes of live sporting events.
Once again, our focus is going to be on the pre-game trading contests, rather than the real-time games. These contests have really started to fill up, and there are some new offerings with considerable appeal. Before we dive into the newer stuff, let's start with something familiar, a winner-take-all contest based on an MLB game.
Oakland Athletics at New York Mets, Tuesday June 24
$5.50 entry, five players, winner takes all ($25)
With a pitching matchup between red-hot Scott Kazmir and an equally sizzling Bartolo Colon, Tuesday's game at pitcher-friendly Citi Field figured to be a relatively low-scoring affair. The winner-takes-all format meant I was shooting purely for upside, looking to go against the grain with some stocks that could pay off handsomely. Here are the stock options for the contest:
- Athletics to win (Price: $57)
- Athletics to win by more than 3.5 runs (Price: $43)
- Mets to win by more than 2.5 runs (Price: $33)
- More than 6.5 total runs scored (Price: $51)
- Scott Kazmir to have more than 5.5 K's (Price: $52)
- Mets team to have more than 7.5 hits (Price: $42)
Requirement: $2,000 or more risked on at least four different stocks
The A's essentially put out their best lineup, albeit with Stephen Vogt behind the plate instead of John Jaso. The Mets also had their A-lineup, which included a recently recalled Travis d'Arnaud, who had been tearing up the Pacific Coast League the last few weeks.
Of course, the Mets' best lineup is still pretty ugly, with the likes of Eric Campbell batting cleanup, and Eric Young Jr. atop the order. Given Kazmir's recent performance and the location of Tuesday's game, I thought the Mets would have trouble scoring runs.
The not-so Amazin's have been awful against both right-handed and left-handed pitching this season, but some of the peripherals indicate that they've been even worse against southpaws than you might think. Despite owning the league's fourth-best BABIP (.328) against lefties, the Mets still ranked just 22nd in wOBA (.301) vs. LHP heading into Tuesday's game. Their .095 ISO was worst in the majors against southpaws, and their 24.5 percent strikeout rate was third worst. On the other hand, the Mets did rank second in walk rate (9.9) against lefties, so between that and the high strikeout rate, Kazmir might have trouble pitching deep into the game.
On the other side, the A's entered Tuesday's game leading MLB in wRC+ against right-handers, while ranking third in wOBA (.335), third in strikeout rate (17.6), fourth in ISO (.158), and first in walk rate (10.8) by a large margin. Despite the way Colon has pitched recently, I figured the A's would muster at least a few runs, while likely getting a strong outing from Kazmir.
Much to my surprise, the weight of money from other users was largely in the Mets' favor, indicating that I could take the contest by aligning myself with an A's victory. Because I was already expecting the A's to win by a few runs, I was rather happy with this development. Normally, I'd have to go after some riskier stocks, but I figured I could take this contest by putting most of my money behind 'A's to win', a fairly likely development.
I bought 675 shares of the stock at $57, risking $38,475 of my $50,000 budget. That left enough to meet the four-stock requirement, while putting most of my weight behind the stock I thought was most likely to pay off. I then bought 101 shares of 'A's to win by more than 3.5' at $43, risking $4,343 to win $5,757. This stock didn't seem like a great value on its own, but it fit with my strategy of going all-in on the A's, while offering a nice profit in the event of an Oakland beatdown.
To round things out, I bought 100 shares of 'more than 6.5 runs' and 40 shares of 'Scott Kazmir to have more than 5.5 K's'. Despite my expectation of a low-scoring game, 6.5 runs is still a very low number, particularly with a lineup like Oakland's involved. The Kazmir stock was mostly just purchased to meet the four-stock requirement, while sticking with something beneficial to the A's.
Well, I couldn't have been more wrong on this one. The A's grabbed an early 1-0 lead, but Kazmir didn't even make it to the fourth inning, while Colon settled down to spin another gem. The Mets rolled to a 10-1 victory, with every starter contributing at least one hit. Though things didn't play out as I expected, I still think I went with the right strategy. Looking at the final leaderboard, there were three people who heavily backed the Mets to do well, and only one other person aligned with the A's. Had I gone on the Mets' side of things, I probably still wouldn't have finished in first place.
Uruguay vs. Italy, Tuesday June 24 - Final game of World Cup group stage for both teams
$5.50 entry, eight players, 50/50 format
I'm far from a soccer expert, but it's hard to resist dabbling when there is so much excitement going on around the World Cup. Italy vs. Uruguay was one of the premiere matchups of the group stage, with two strong teams facing off for one spot in the knockout rounds. Italy merely needed a tie to go through, while Uruguay needed the full three points. The stock options for the game:
- Italy to win (Price: $38)
- Match to end in a draw (Price: $30)
- More than 2.5 total goals in the match (Price: $50)
- Mario Balotelli (Italy) to score a goal (Price: $44)
- Italy to attempt more than 7.5 corner kicks (Price: $47)
- Luis Suarez (Uruguay) to score a goal (Price: $49)
- Uruguay to have more than 16.5 fouls (Price: $53)
Requirement: $2,000 or more risked on at least four different stocks
The first thing that stood out to me was 'Italy to attempt more than 7.5 corner kicks'. That sounded high, and some quick research revealed that teams typically average 5-6 corners per game. I sold 200 shares at $47, risking $10,600 to win $9,400.
Keep in mind that the 50/50 format meant I was merely shooting for a spot in the top-four. I didn't need to be maniacal about aligning myself with a certain type of game, or entirely rely on one team to dominate. Betting against Italy getting corners didn't inspire me to go crazy for the Italian side, which was probably a good thing given how evenly matched the game appeared to be.
In any case, there were a few factors pointing towards a high-scoring game, so I decided to go with that, while also guessing that it would stay close. Uruguay has its best talent up front, with the lethal forward combination of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. After struggling in their opener, the Uruguayans bounced back to beat England 2-1 in the second game, behind a pair of Suarez goals.
On the other side, the Italians had been struggling to score before the Cup, and were coming off a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica, after beating England 2-1 in the first game. However, Italy opted for a more aggressive 3-5-2 formation, instead of the 4-4-2 they had used for the first two games. Historically, you'd expect the Italians to merely sit back and play airtight defense when needing just one point, but that probably wasn't going to be an option in this game. Uruguay simply has too much attacking power, and this Italian team wasn't the defensive juggernaut of tournaments past.
With all this in mind, I bought 200 shares apiece in 'Suarez to score' and 'Balotelli to score'. If you're expecting a high-scoring game, why not go with the biggest goal-scoring threat on each team? Naturally, I added 200 shares of 'More than 2.5 total goals scored'. I finished things off with 250 shares of 'match to end in a draw', which was in line with my expectation of a close game.
Following a scoreless first half (uh-oh), Italy's Claudio Marchisio drew a red card in the 59th minute. This, along with Balotelli being substituted out at half, essentially ended my chances of finishing in the money. At that point, the Italians were left with little choice but to defend and play for the 0-0 draw. The game clearly wasn't going to go over 2.5 goals, though I'd perhaps still finish in the money if it ended 1-1, with Suarez netting Uruguay's goal. That's a lot that would have needed to go in my favor, and ultimately none of it did. Uruguay's Diego Godin scored a header in the 81st minute, sending his country through to the knockout stages, while ending the Italians' dreams.
Looking back on it, I think I was too aggressive in betting on the high-scoring game, as that would have been a better strategy in a winner-takes-all or top-three get paid contest. I should have put more stock against Italy's corner kicks, and never should have bet on the tie. Despite my -- and everyone else's -- expectation of a close game, a tie obviously becomes less likely in a high-scoring affair. You don't see a ton of 2-2 or 3-3 games, but 0-0 or 1-1 is all too common.
What To Watch Out For On TradeSports
TradeSports has a new type of contest that relies on stocks from multiple sporting events. I played in the MLB Big Questions contest on Tuesday, with the game offering stocks from matchups all across the league. There was an over/under on Miguel Cabrera's RBI, an option on whether Nelson Cruz would hit a home run, and even a stock for Clayton Kershaw to toss another no-hitter. These were just three of the eight options, and I'll definitely be back for more. Look for this new contest type to be discussed in an upcoming article.