PicksPal Is Beating Vegas Sports Betting Odds

Last year I wrote about PicksPal, a fantasy sports betting site where well over 100,000 members bet their friends and coworkers on the outcome of sporting events (and they just launched a nifty March Madness site as well). No money changes hands, but top users can win various prizes.

It’s all for fun, but the company started selling the top picks of its best users in October. For $10, you can get the collective picks of the top 30 users on five games. The idea was that people could use these for-fun picks to win bets in Vegas. The question was, would PicksPal be able to consistently beat Vegas odds, and the spread, with these picks.

So far, yes. By a lot. PicksPal’s overall record, against the spread, has been 562-338, or a 63% win rate. In college basketball, the win rate is 66%. In pro football, 62%. They are even getting a 52% win rate in pro hockey, their worst sport. Some of the recent results can be viewed here.

PicksPal is a fascinating human experiment in predictive markets. The people making the picks (the elite users) don’t know they are doing it – they are simply making bets with their friends for bragging rights. If they did know that their picks were being used as part of an average to give advice to actual Vegas betters, they may choose games differently. Perhaps they would be more conservative, for example. If PicksPal’s win rate over the long run remains over 50% against the spread, they will begin to disrupt the betting markets.

Pickspal also expanded into pop culture “betting” earlier this year, with PicksPop.