It has often struck me that most of the systems that we test here at Lay Back have been developed by one or two people as a maximum.
Indeed, I’d go so far as to say there is something touchingly amateurish about the vast majority of betting systems providers.
Many services really just start out as one punter’s own method, and often only come to market when the penny subsequently drops that further profit can be derived by promoting the concept to others.
Inevitably, one wonders whether more expensively funded approaches might yield better results than all these amateurs.
All of which brings me to Sam….
Does Sam really know the score?
Sam is an acronym for Sports Analytics Machine.
Which in turn is a fancy name for a computer system designed by Salford University to crunch large amounts of data in order to make predictions.
Sam came to public attention when Mark Lawrenson, who (attempts to!) predict Premier League football scores for the BBC, was asked to compete against it on Boxing Day 2015.
Now normally, Mark competes against celebrities. Which always seems to be a bit of a cheat to me because many of their selections are biased towards their favourite teams or indeed reveal a startling lack of knowledge about football in general, and therefore offer no real competition.
Sam, however, was a different level of opponent altogether.
Salford University’s website explains: “Developed by Professor Ian McHale and Tarak Kharrat, the machine takes into account multiple factors to come up with its predictions, such as recent results, which team is at home, the strength of teams that both sides have played as well as the quality and the form of the players on the pitch.”
All of which sounds fine and dandy… and no doubt leaves you wondering how Sam performed in practice.
Well, in truth, not much better than Mr. Lawrenson.
In terms of win/lose/draw outcomes, Mark got four out of ten right whilst Sam scored five.
And as for exact scorelines, well, Sam predicted just two correctly – unlike Mark, who got just one right.
So yes, Sam did beat Mark but it was still hard to make a case that this represented a giant leap forward.
Now, I recognise that ten games are scarcely enough to constitute a robust trial but the results were underwhelming enough for me to put the whole business quite out of my mind.
Until now that is,
And that’s because the BBC has started publishing Sam’s predictions every single week this season.
So there is now a real chance for us to test Sam out with a robust amount of data.
The only piece of additional information that we will need is the price for each outcome which I propose to lift from the exchange where we are likely to obtain slightly better value than at the bookmakers.
The next round of Premier League matches takes place over the weekend of 15 October so I will begin the trial then.
Twenty weekends of ten matches each will be enough to bring us to our minimum 200 bet target, at which point it should be reasonably clear whether Sam’s predictions, care of the BBC licence fee-payer, really present a free road to riches.
I will track all progress on this page, by adding predictions and price data as comments beneath this article.
It’s quite a thought… wish me luck!