VIDEO: Using Unabated’s DFS Tools With Peter Jennings
July 26, 2023
Thomas Viola: Hello everyone and welcome on into the Unabated Podcast. I’m Thomas Viola and no Captain Jack today. Instead, joining me once again, of course, you definitely know him. You probably love him. Peter Jennings joining me here today because we have some exciting things to talk about. How are you doing?
Peter Jennings: I’m doing great. Fun part of the summer. It’s been a lot of fun with family playing golf, WNBA, baseball, and a lot of exciting things to come here in the fall with the peak of sports season.
TV: I still maintain you have to be the bettor with the best work-life balance.
PJ: I don’t know about that at all, but I’m trying to try to juggle everything, and it’s certainly a challenge. But I feel very thankful for family and kids and trying to have some fun.
TV: Absolutely. And we’re having some fun right now. I’ll tell you, you know what I’ve been having fun with lately? It’s Unabated’s new DFS tools, because it has been a real interesting experience watching everything that has happened here at Unabated, watching all the new stuff that we’ve been able to grow over the past year and a half, two years coming up on of Unabated. Our latest offering for people is now we are getting into the DFS game a little bit, finding ways to provide value to people. Our new DFS tool is just another way people are going to be able to use Unabated to find that value and start making some money, right?
PJ: Yeah, absolutely. I’m really proud of this. I think there’s a lot of trends here that are at play that are important to go through.
The first thing is that Americans, in general, we love to speculate on players more than we like to speculate on the teams. While, of course, traditional betting is growing and it’s something that people are very into, fantasy sports, DFS, now what we’re seeing with PrizePicks and Underdog, it’s very clear that people love to speculate on players.
Obviously at Unabated, our goal is to help people be better bettors and make more sharp decisions. Another thing that we’re really trying to do is save people time.The tools that we have for Underdog and PrizePicks check all those boxes. I think we’re providing a lot of value. We’re saving people a lot of time, and we’re helping people with these new games where they can speculate on players.
TV: Yeah, that is very true. You talk about the ease of use for it. I can personally attest to how easy it is to use. My dad lives over in California, which is obviously not a sports betting state, but they are a daily fantasy state. They are a state where you can play DFS games like Underdog, like PrizePicks. And I’ve gotten him hooked at this point. I am regretting it a tiny bit, but he is fiending for them every day. He’s like, OK, what am I doing today? How do I use the tools? And he picked it up really quickly.
I set him up with his own Unabated account, and he just goes in now and he’s able to click through, upload projections, find edges, and actually make some money and start playing some of the stuff that he didn’t even think about doing before. You’re not kidding when you say that it is really that easy. You just log into the tool, start uploading your projections, and then it’s going to start detailing you edges in real time, which is something that really no one else in the space is doing, right? Of actually being able to quantify your edge to an extent using these products.
Building DFS Tools Backed by Data Science
PJ: Yeah. And I think one thing, obviously, Rufus and our data science team, one thing that I think we’ve done a really good job is we’re able to convert mean projections into median projections, which is critical if you’re trying to speculate and win against player stats and things of that nature. We’ve done a great job with that and it really is simple.
You upload your mean projections or we’ll have options at Unabated that you can sync with. There’s a tremendous opportunity there and I think we’re seeing, obviously, people who know what they’re doing can find correlations or are disciplined with what they’re doing on these things.
They can win substantial money. The edges are really big. Even though there’s a high hold in these games relatively, they’re definitely beatable given the surface area that they’re trying to cover and the edges that you can have on some of these options.
TV: When you talk about converting mean to median projections here, what is it and why is it so important?
PJ: Most projections are just the average. It’s a mean projection. It’s what their average points is going to be in a game. Let’s say a player average is 20 points a game, but they have a really odd distribution where some games are scoring 35 and then a lot of games are scoring 15. Well, maybe their median, even though their average is 20, their median might only be 17.
When you’re doing this, you’re trying to win more often than the 54 percent, 55 percent, 56 percent that you need to win depending on what you’re doing. It’s really critical to understand the difference there. The average can be higher or lower than the median.
Generally, the mean is going to be higher for most players in most sports, most stats. But it’s really important to understand because you don’t get any extra benefit – if the total is 19.5, (a player) going for 45 is the same as going for 20. Making sure you adjust those things down is something that’s really important. I think that we have great data science here at Unabated to help with that.
TV: And another thing that people don’t necessarily realize is they look at some of these sites, they look at it and they say, Oh, well, if I’m trying to build a six-man entry in a PrizePicks or an Underdog, the payout on something like that, it’s not as good as if I was to go and go to a sportsbook and actually bet on these games, you’re not getting the same payouts that you would on a parlay, something like that. And people write that off as meaning that it’s not beatable. But that’s not the case, is it?
PJ: Yeah, it’s definitely beatable. I mean, look, it’s a hard market for the average person to beat. A small percentage of people are able to beat these games, but I think we have the tools that can help someone who’s serious and disciplined and has great projections be able to beat these games. It’s definitely possible to win. There are people who won a lot. There’s a lot of skill in doing this. And fortunately, it’s a more inefficient market. Projecting them is still easier to do than projecting teams relative to what the market’s pricing everything at. There’s still quite a bit of opportunity. And I know quite a few people have done really well.
Find Correlations in DFS
TV: And let’s talk about the tool itself for a second. We’ve already mentioned how easy it is to use, but actually pulling it up here to show some people. For example, if you were to go into PrizePicks it really is as simple as you can click and start building your plays.
Now, when it comes to how you want to approach things like this, what are some of the things that you are looking for in these DFS markets on these players here? How are you trying to build correlation in things like that? What are some of the things that you keep in mind and you would be doing when you approach building an entry here?
PJ: You look at a market like baseball, obviously runs, RBIs, things of that nature are going to be correlated on the Under and the Over. That’s why we saw stack can be so prominent and popular in the traditional DFS. There’s correlation to players scoring together and obviously runs and RBIs are directly correlated.
Whenever you can find markets like that and players on the same team, there are obviously edges there. Depending on where you’re making these investments or whatever else, on Underdog a lot of times you will be able to do that. Sometimes you can’t on certain places. But broadly, there’s a lot of correlations that you can take advantage of. Same thing with soccer and assists and goals and crosses.
There are just certain game states that are going to be very good for the Over and there’s going to be certain game states that are very bad for the Over. I think it’s really important to understand the game states and how players interact with each other. You can definitely find correlations. I know people who are don’t have the most sophisticated projections, but understand correlation really well and have been able to beat these games.
TV: When it comes to DFS, obviously, we have talked previously on this podcast extensively about your history in the DFS space, but it’s changed a lot over the years. Some things have stayed the same, but it’s really advanced and started to grow in brand new ways.
Part of that was some of the reasoning behind wanting to build this tool. You were really one of the driving forces behind getting this off the ground. What was it for us here at Unabated that made you say, hey, this is a market that we can tap into and we can help people in?
PJ: We’re just looking at the growth of these companies, Underdog and PrizePicks have been growing a ton. We know there’s a ton of people who really enjoy these games and it’s an area that I think we can save people a lot of time and create a lot of value, like I mentioned up front. That’s really important to us. Those are some of the tenets of the business is creating value and saving people time.
I was really excited about this and I think the product turned out even better than I anticipated. Shoutout to our engineering team, they did an amazing job and spun out this tool in a great way. I really like the UI, the UX, I think it’s simple and it’s super helpful for these games that are just growing immensely in popularity.
TV: It is certainly been fantastic. You talk about the games growing in popularity, but what about the “old” DFS style or more of the head-to-head? Is there anything for you personally where you think that this tool could be useful for people or is it more of solely as its intended purpose of Underdog, PrizePicks (pick’em) and things like that?
PJ: I think specifically it’s great for that. And there’s plenty of places that you can leverage projections in traditional DFS. But yeah, you can look at where these markets are and where your projections may be outliers relative to consensus projections, which I think PrizePicks and Underdogs broadly have.
You can leverage that in other peer-to-peer markets. Maybe there’s a player that you’re specifically high on, you can do more research on. And if you think there’s validity to being more bullish or bearish in certain players, then you can definitely use that to your advantage in traditional DFS as well.
TV: What about the convergence of sports betting in DFS? We’ve obviously seen a lot of stuff happening over the last several years in the industry, but what do you think is next in this space? Where do you see DFS moving in the future?
PJ: Yeah, I’ve talked about it a lot. I think in general, Americans love games and I think we’ll see more and more innovation on different types of games. I’m a huge fan of peer-to-peer markets and I think we’ll hopefully see more growth in that area.
We’re partners with Splash and really bullish on what they’re building with their survival pools and their traditional pools where you’re picking against the spread and all the different types of games, the March Madness pools. I think those are really cool.
We’ve seen sports stock markets spin up and fail and some new ones attempt. I’ve always loved that idea. I know it’s really hard to pull off and create liquidity for, but I’m optimistic we’ll see some form of game that will work in that nature.
The exchanges are more traditional betting, but it’s exciting to see the growth there. Sporttrade launching here in Colorado is fantastic. Broadly, I just want to see more innovation and disruption to the traditional sportsbook, which there’s some pros in the way that those are run. but broadly, I think they’re ripe for disruption, especially here in America, where we’ve grown up playing fantasy sports and different types of games.
I certainly think as we’ve seen with PrizePicks and Underdog, that there’s a yearning for new game types and innovation here in the States.
Innovation in the Space
TV: Yeah, you make a really great point there, especially I was just on with Jack, Alex Kane and Dan Koob over at Sporttrade for their Battle Bets. I obviously, here in Nevada, don’t have access to something like Sporttrade, but it was really fun betting that way. It was really fun getting a little bit of a taste of it, even though it was fake money on their beta version of the app, but it was an interesting way to pursue in-game betting. I think that that’s something that is really going to be able to catch on. How excited are you for that in Colorado? I know that’s a little divergent from our main topic here.
PJ: I’m really excited about it. I think it’s going to be great and it’s something that I’m eager to participate in. I’m really excited about companies that are being innovative in the space and obviously want to support them. I think Sporttrade is doing a lot of really unique, cool stuff. I really excited for them to be in Colorado as a bettor and from a business perspective.
TV: And shifting back to DFS here, what would your recommendations be for players who are just starting to pick up the tools? Because let’s face it, this is a brand-new market for a lot of people coming in, hopefully to Unabated and saying, this is something I can use now. I didn’t have access to this before because what’s the point? I’m not in a betting state. I don’t need to care what the lines are in Westgate and Circa, etc.
But now all of a sudden you have access to a tool that can actually help you with something in a state that you’re in, what would you recommend someone start off with?
PJ: I think you start off and stuff that you feel like you know intuitively in sports that you really like. I will say that I’m really proud of our WNBA tools, which I know it’s contrary to what I just said. A lot of people don’t follow the WNBA, but we’re building our own in-house projections there. I think those are quite strong and people have had a lot of success. But broadly, I think the best advice for anyone when getting into this stuff is try to learn as much as you can, invest in places that you’re interested. I do think there’s a ton of value with this tool and we’re going to do college football really well. I’m really excited about what we’re going to be able to offer in the NFL and the NBA and as well as other sports.
TV: I was about to say, how excited are you for football season to be back here and to be using some of these tools for that?
PJ: Yeah, it’s going to be great. I’m really excited for college football and the NFL is going to be just fantastic.
TV: I had my dynasty rookie draft two nights ago now and the itch is starting to come back here. The season has snuck up on me, but now I’m starting to go, OK, I’m ready for football season.
PJ: Who was your first pick? Who did you get?
TV: I got Dalton Kinkade. I doubled up on the tight ends. I got him and (Sam) LaPorta in the second round. Then from there, it was only a four-round draft. I picked off Kayshon Boutte and Sean Tucker because I have to get the Syracuse running back.
PJ: OK, I like it.
TV: Yeah, I’m happy. Kayshon Boutte is the epitome of the fantasy version of a locker room guy. Unlimited potential for fantasy football team names coming out of that.
PJ: Oh, absolutely. Good enough reason to get them on your team just for that. It’s a lot of fun.
TV: Exactly. He could take up a taxi squad spot. All right, Peter, my final question for you here before we get out of here. When it comes to building a tool like this, what were some of the biggest challenges? I know that it was more so on the engineering side for those guys to handle, but what were some of the things that were obstacles that had to be overcome to bring something like this to life?
PJ: A lot of times when building things, you run into a lot of hurdles and things go slower than expected. That’s the majority of products that you’re trying to build and it’s really challenging. But we’re really fortunate to have the relationships with Underdog and PrizePicks and to be able to build relatively quickly.
I think the experience of our engineering team and really focusing on building something that can save people time made this product a joy to watch come to life. I deserve basically no credit on this. Shout out to our engineering team, specifically Kevin, who just really worked hard on spinning this up and did a great job. It was one of the actual easier tools I’ve seen come to life just given the normal hurdles that you see in building software. But this worked out really well and I think it’s a testament to a lot of things that we’re doing well here at Unabated.
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