Optimal sports betting strategies in practice: an experimental review

Matej Uhrín, Gustav Šourek, Ondřej Hubáček, Filip Železný

We investigate the most popular approaches to the problem of sports betting investment based on modern portfolio theory and the Kelly criterion. We define the problem setting, the formal investment strategies, and review their common modifications used in practice. The underlying purpose of the reviewed modifications is to mitigate the additional risk stemming from the unrealistic mathematical assumptions of the formal strategies. We test the resulting methods using a unified evaluation protocol for three sports: horse racing, basketball and soccer. The results show the practical necessity of the additional risk-control methods and demonstrate their individual benefits. Particularly, we show that an adaptive variant of the popular ``fractional Kelly'' method is a very suitable choice across a wide range of settings.

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