What we do
At First and Thirty, we dominate NFL spread betting by using a disciplined, model-based process to select wagers. Our role in the NFL sportsbetting ecosystem is to take the enormous amount of information available each week and distill it down to a small selection of profitable bets.
We believe that a disciplined, repeatable process is key to our long-run success betting the NFL. We’ve built a multi-stage artificial intelligence model that crunches a combination of quantitative and qualitative information in order to derive a points spread.
How our AI thinks
The exact functioning of the AI is complex, but its root purpose is to derive an unbiased estimate of the points spread for every NFL game.
To do this, the AI evaluates past teams against a metric known as SRS, which can loosely be thought of as a net points statistic adjusted for strength of schedule. The machine creates a multi-dimensional, nonlinear “mesh” on which teams are placed throughout the season. Many seasons ago this mesh had been more sophisticated (and the resulting output more noisy) but the current incarnation settles on the use of DVOA as a summary “quantitative” statistic and our in-house power rankings as a summary “qualitative” statistic.
SRS has the convenient property of being subtractable inorder to derive the difference, in points, between two NFL teams. But it is imperfect in that it 1) weighs much more heavily towards favorites compared to real world NFL spreads, and 2) is site-neutral, which the NFL (barely) is not. Accordingly, the AI makes its own judgements about how much bias to give to home field and how much bias to give to underdogs, but we do have control over the data we feed it to reach that conclusion. For example, there are obvious reasons not to feed the AI data from the 2020-2021 season in its computation of home field advantage.
The wager selection threshold is now driven quantitatively. In an ideal world, we would take any wagers above the mean wager strength, but the mean wager strength is itself also subject to variance. We thus only take wagers above a certain threshold confidence interval.
How we’ve performed
We believe that you should be swayed by our rock solid process for selecting wagers. But we understand that process doesn’t pay the bills (or your bookie).
Over the past two seasons, we have posted an 82-60-3 record,for a +15% ROI before vigorish and a +10% ROI after a standard -110 vigorish.
But by NFL standards, a 145 game sample is small. These results leave us 90% confident that we are better than breakeven, but how much better remains to be seen.