A few years ago, the US Defense Department planned an experiment that would have had large numbers of people betting on the likelihood of various geopolitical events. The DOD’s theory was that where individual “experts” might (likely will) miss something when analyzing a situation, the combined wisdom of crowds—in which each person has but a small chunk of information—could possibly create a better picture. The experiment was abandoned when members of Congress got wind of it and decided to grandstand about the DOD “betting” on terrorist events. Like many things, the members of Congress just didn’t get it.
What the DOD was proposing was a prediction market, which takes advantage of some of the principles of crowdsourcing. That’s all explained pretty well in a couple of books I’ve read on the topic: Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business and The Wisdom of Crowds
I relate this story by way of explaining why I post betting odds for various golf events, even though I am not a betting man. Indeed, I think that gambling is just a tax on stupidity. The system is set up so that you lose.
But that’s not to say that the numbers are not worthwhile. I like to look at the odds to see what the crowd seems to think about about various players’ chances of winning. Reading articles written by “pro golf experts” relies on just one person’s information. And no matter how informed that person is, there still are holes in the data. With the odds, I imagine a large group where some know a thing or two about the course, and others, about the players’ health, or their caddy relationship, while still others have considered equipment changes, weather, and so on. The combined knowledge (and their commitment to that information) then is reflected in the dollars the bettors put down on the game, and thus in the odds.
All that said, the bettors favorite for the weekend at the Farmers Insurance Open are Phil Mickelson and Nick Watney, coming in at 14/1. They’re followed by Hunter Mahan, at 18/1, Brandt Snedeker at 22/1 and Ben Crane at 25/1. What all of this says to me is that its anyone’s game and no player is a particular favorite. Briny Baird and Billy Mayfair, on the other hand, at 175/1 are getting practically no action at all.
Over in Dubai, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy are the favorites at 13/2. Tiger is just a little behind, at 7/1. Considering that in his heyday, Tiger often was a 3/2 favorite (meaning a bet of two pays 3) or better, this doesn’t express a lot of confidence. Lee Westwood and Luke Donald are 12/1, while Sergio Garcie is 25/1.
The complete betting odds for the Farmers Insurance Open and Abu Dhabi Championship are below, courtesy of Bovada.
|Charles Howell III||33/1|
|Bo Van Pelt||50/1|
|Brendon De Jonge||66/1|
|Jaco Van Zyl||66/1|
|Miguel Angel Jimenez||80/1|
|Rafael Cabrera -Bello||100/1|
|Jeev Milkha Singh||150/1|
|Jose Manuel Lara||150/1|