Monthly Archives: June 2015

Nate Silver was briefly above $8M after Cameroon defeated Switzerland, but finished yesterday at $7,709,694. Today is the final day of the group stage, and we are going to see something new.

Game 33: England vs. Colombia

England -0.5, Risking 12.16%: $937,288 to win $650,895

Straightforward enough to start the day.

Game 34: France vs. Mexico

Mexico +0.5, Risking 6.99%: $473,391 to win $1,527,068

I’d love to see Mexico pull off the outright upset.

Game 35: Spain vs. South Korea

South Korea -0.5, Risking 11.37%: $896,460 to win $2,285,973 (Edited)

I haven’t been impressed with South Korea’s tactics so far this tournament, but maybe they’ll adjust vs. Spain.

Game 36: Brazil vs. Costa Rica

This is where I had to make an executive decision. Brazil is already slated to play Australia in their next meaningful game. The market is taking the fact that this is meaningless to Brazil into account. As such, I am excluding it from this exercise the same way I ignored the 3-4 game in the 2014 World Cup. For those of you are curious, this is what it would be if I wasn’t skipping it:

Brazil -0.5, Risking 46.76%: $2,610,642 to win $992,640

Thankfully, after today we’ll be heading into the elimination rounds, where Nate will be joined by a friendly rival: Christopher D. Long (@octonion on Twitter).


All four teams Nate bet on yesterday won against their handicap lines, but lost against the lines Nate ended up playing. Them’s the breaks folks. Hopefully his luck is a little better today. Today the bankroll starts at $3,766.930.

Game 29: Ecuador vs. Japan

Draw, Risking 0.31%: $11,772 to win $329,606

Nate has not had success betting on the truly massive dogs despite the fact they have covered at a reasonable clip.

Game 30: Cameroon vs. Switzerland

Cameroon -0.5, Risking 18.71%: $702,578 to win $4,355,983

This is another case where Cameroon might cover the handicap line (+0.75), but still lose for Nate. However, that’s the trade-off between laying even money vs. getting a sizable payoff when you win.

Game 31: Sweden vs. Australia

Australia -0.5, Risking 6.67%: $540,743 to win $1,622,228 (Edited)

Same thing here, although to a lesser degree.

Game 32: USA vs. Nigeria

USA -0.5, Risking 5.41%: $409,692 to win $139,295 (Edited)

Finally, some loyalty. Part of it is that the wagering markets have become progressively less impressed with this US squad. Germany has become the tournament favorite despite the fact that they too have picked up a draw along the way.

Tomorrow we are going to see something completely different from Nate. Brace yourselves.

Back before the 2014 World Cup I gave Nate Silver $100,000. If you’re curious about following along from the beginning, here is the opening article:

and the rest of them can be found here:

I actually started tracking Nate as an offshoot of tracking Goldman Sachs. When I saw their World Cup numbers I commissioned this piece:


That’s from artist Penelope Barbalios for those who are curious.

Nate went on an amazing tear and continued that run through the 2015 World Cup. I was wondering how impressive his run was, so I solved for the Z-Scores of both runs, and of the combined run. For the 2014 World Cup it was an impressive 1.73. For the current World Cup it is 1.97. When you combine the runs, it comes out to 2.60. That’s around a 1 in 215 shot by pure chance. Not bad Nate, not bad.

Onward to day 8:

Game 25: Ivory Coast vs. Norway

Ivory Coast +0.5, Risking 15.41%: $855,406 to win $21,385,158

Yes, that really is an attempt to win $21M in a single game of futbol.

Game 26: Germany vs. Thailand

Thailand +0.5, Risking 3.71%: $174,318 to win $17,341,879

Yes, that really is an attempt to win $17M in a single game of futbol.

Game 27: Netherlands vs. Canada

Netherlands -0.5, Risking 7.31%: $330,348 to win $1,906,108

Attempting to win almost $2M in a single game of futbol now seems reasonable in comparison.

Game 28: New Zealand vs. China

New Zealand -0.5, Risking 10.09%: $422,780 to win $1,395,173

This seems downright pedestrian, and yet it is 10% of his bankroll.

Please note, both sets of games are simultaneous. I don’t expect I’ll have to update due to a win in one of the early games, but if I do the numbers are going to be pretty silly.

Nate Silver has turned $100,000 into $2,635,819. That’s over the course of 83 futbol games. Not bad, but there are another 21 to go, so let’s dive in:

Game 21: France vs. Colombia

Colombia +0.5, Risking 8.00%: $210,866 to win $1,405,570

It would be nice to start the day off with an addition $1.4M

Game 22: Brazil vs. Spain

Brazil -0.5, Risking 12.88%: $520,355 to win $327,614 (Edited)

Presuming this ends up winning, I’ll have to edit the Costa Rica wager.

Game 23: England vs. Mexico

Mexico -0.5, Risking 7.24%: $155,870 to win $1,324,893 (Updated to fix a typo, but bet remains the same due to line movement)

You actually wager more money on Mexico +0.5, but the expected bankroll growth would be less, so time to be aggressive.

And now for the game of the day:

Game 24: Costa Rica vs. South Korea

Costa Rica +0.5, Risking 12.31%: $518,842 to win $1,336,448 (Updated, and the Updated again to fix the math)

Because games 22 and 23 are simultaneous, a win in one won’t affect the other.  As always, I’ll update later if the results dictate it.

Yesterday was an amazing day for Nate Silver, as he saw his bankroll ascend from $954,667 to $1,952,744. A lesser man might rest on his laurels, but not Nate. Onward and upward:

Game 17: Australia vs. Nigeria

Australia -0.5, Risking 9.74%: $190,267 to win $296,817 (Winner!)

Game 18: Switzerland vs. Ecuador

Ecuador +0.5, Risking 6.40%: $143972 to win $1,799,649 (Edited)

Game 19: USA vs. Sweden

Sweden +0.5, Risking 12.42%: $261,514 to win $512,773 (Edited)

Game 20: Japan vs. Cameroon

Nate Silver agrees completely with the lines at the time of posting!


Japan -0.5, Risking 2.78%: $51,345 to win $17,457 (Second Edit: Despite Sweden’s bet winning, the line has moved back, so this bet remains the same size)

The line has moved against Japan in the time it took Australia to defeat Nigeria. Purely mathematical systems traditionally fade line movement, and this is no exception. As such, there is now a play on Japan.

The answer is no, but they will in a few days. Their huge win (a draw but they were catching 0.5 goals) put Nate over $1M, although he dropped back down to $954,667 after South Korea let him down. Even so, he’s up $383,129 so far this tournament. That doesn’t include any bets on overs after his now infamous tweet. Since then there have been a combined eight goals in five games.

Game 13: Germany vs. Norway

Norway +0.5, Risking 12.15%: $115,968 to win $513,475

Can Norway slow down the German Juggernaut? We shall see.

Game 14: China vs. Netherlands

China -0.5, Risking 6.97%: $102,362 to win $245,669 (Edited due to Norway’s bet winning)

Nate seems to like China’s chances of winning. So far they are 0-1.

Game 15: Ivory Coast vs. Thailand

Thailand +0.5, Risking 22.84%: $295,008 to win $513,315 (Edited due to Norway’s bet winning)

Thailand vs. Germany is going to be ugly.

Game 16: Canada vs. New Zealand

Canada -0.5, Risking 12.32%: $274,382 to win $157,691 (Edited due to all three previous bets winning)

Showing some faiths in the host this time, eh?

As always, the bet sizing of the later game will be adjusted if the early games turn out fortuitously. (Which they did)

More than any other nation, Costa Rica was essential to building his bankroll at the last World Cup. We shall see if that trend continues today. Yesterday was almost a fantastic day for Nate Silver. I say almost not because his light treason didn’t pay off. Sure, Australia lost, but in the other three games Nate picked up wins for a profit of 199K+. That puts him up $49,088 on the tournament. No, the real issue as this tweet:

As you’ll note from the comments, Nate’s tweet had a few problems:

1. The sample size at the time of the tweet was six, with a seventh game in it’s late stages.

2. In addition from the change from grass to turf, there was also an increase in the size of the field. That has led to greater disparity in talent in the group stage games.

3. That talent disparity led to a 10-0 beatdown, which is particularly relevant given the small sample size.

In the game that a was played following the tweet, Japan defeated Switzerland one-nil. The expected number of goals today is 11.5 (it’s higher than simply adding up all the O/U’s due to the mean number of goals being greater than the median). If Nate wishes to bet on goals being scored, he can start with England-France o2.5 +124. The market so far seems unimpressed with the early scoring binge.

Game 9: England vs. France

England -0.5, Risking 14.12%: $87,640 to win $482,019

Again we see Nate playing to win big. For those of you who are following along at home, Nate could be on England +0.5 and would be risking a higher % of his bankroll, but his expected bankroll growth would be lower, and we’re all about expected bankroll growth here.

Game 10: Spain vs. Costa Rica

Costa Rica +0.5, Risking 22.87%: $114,379 to win $571,894

Over the course of the group stage Nate sees Costa Rica managing at least one draw 62% of the time. The markets are highly skeptical that is the case, but that’s why these bets have such large payoffs.

Game 11: Mexico vs. Colombia

Mexico -0.5, Risking 9.05%: $48,247 to win $73,819

Does anyone else think of Griselda Blanco when they see this matchup? More than anyone else, she worked to turn Miami into the major entry point for cocaine into the United States in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. She was also influential in helping Pablo Escobar rise to power, and forming close ties with the Mexican cartels. That those ties still exist today is both an example of Coase Theorem and applied game theory. Oddly, Griselda’s downfall begin when she failed to take the long view and attempted to double-cross the Medellín cartel. Oops. At least she helped inspire this:

Game 12: South Korea vs. Brazil

South Korea +0.5, Risking 9.65%: $101,965 to win $261,449 (edited)

As always, if any of the earlier bets pay off, this wager will increase in size. (Costa Rica still has Nate’s back! Between the huge win, and the line moving towards Brazil, Nate is feeling frisky backing South Korea).