• Tony Bonk

Z-Score, CLV, Contests, and Bets Fired

Welcome back, football.

Over the offseason, I listened to a lot of great podcasts and read solid season prep material (favorite new sports betting podcast: Deep Dive with Andy and the White Whale, with Bet the Board a close second; still the best NFL related podcast: GM Shuffle, favorite preseason read: Warren Sharp's Season Preview).


The Deep Dive did a bunch of 'evergreen' content during COVID, and mentioned the Z-Score, which I remember from stats and portion of work projects, but never applied it my work. So it was time to find out.

Only one season of trackable data from my model (throwing out my half-ass attempt in 2018 to handicap without a model, which lasted about half a season and made me realize the value of math), this is what we have for Z-Scores in 2019.

Reminder of our 2019 record:

2019 NFL Record

And the related Z-Scores:


- I need more seasons of data

- A great ATS year

- Totals sucked

I'll compile again at the end of 2020.

Speaking of Totals

I recreated the Totals model from last (that tested near 58% but performed at 51%) using 2018 and 2019 data, results were good. Landing in the upper 50%s after blind backtesting and no manual intervention. Thus, I'll be firing on Totals again this year.

Closing Line Value

Another evergreen topic discussed on many gambling and analytics related NFL podcasts, is the concept of Closing Line Value. I had heard a lot about this but never went back to calculate it. For the 4 of my 5 total readers that are not familiar with it: if you bet -3 and the line closes -3.5, you beat the closing line by 0.5 point, thus you got half a point of "closing line value". Do that consistently, and the theory goes, you will be a profitable long-term bettor because you tend to be on the right side / ahead of the market (gaining an extra percentage point or two towards your win rate).

I only had the lines I bet and the closing line on hand, not any juice considerations, but we can still take a look. Diving into ATS, for my 61 wagers in 2019, I was ahead of the line 23 times, behind it 27 times, and on it 11 times. Only being ahead of it 23 of 61 (37.7%) does not seem great... leading me to consider if I simply had a great year in 2019 by chance, or am I finding something the market isn't picking up on (with NFL being considered such an efficient market, most folks would like lean the former of those two choices).

On Totals, my CLV was 39-35-13 (ahead, behind, even), giving a better rate of 44.8%. However, my Totals record was 51% and ATS was 63%. Once again, meaning 2019 results is a small sample size, my 63% (or the 51% on Totals) could have been a fluke.


Regardless of wether 2019 was a fluke, I'm putting my money where my model is and going after the SuperContest, Circa Millions, and Circa Survivor, plus a few cheaper ones on offshore books (MyBookie and BetOnline).

Look for "BonkAgainstTheSpread..." entry names in the contest standings. Thank you to the friends and family who believed and trusted in me (and helped back me) so I can go after this dream.

Finally, if I'm in the running come year end, I will hold off on publishing picks until the entry deadline passes (late Saturday afternoon).

Bets Fired

And finally, let's get started for Week 1. After debating timing for weeks (months), I finally pulled the trigger on week 1 model bets (which I typically call "Filtered" because they are the filtered down subset of games that I consider a wager on).

Also, one thing I am trying to improve upon this year is shopping lines more. So this year I am using three books:

- Bookmaker

- My Bookie

- Bet Online

I used Bookmaker last year, and appreciated how their lines were close to the SuperContest lines. No huge reason to use the other two other than they had decent reviews (not sure how trustworthy those are) but mainly they offered a 100% deposit bonus.

Lines vary, so here are the prices I just took and where I took them of the above three books. As I eluded to early, I missed some of the best lines on these that were out, in some cases, only a couple days ago (LVR, DAL, and Under in LAC@Cin)


1. LVR -3 (+100), myBookie

2. Dal -2.5 (-116) Bookmaker

3. Ari +7 (-118) Bet Online

4. LAC -3 (-113) Bookmaker

To round out the Top 5 (for contests, i.e. did not wager)

5. Buf -6.5


1. LAC@Cin - Under 42 (-108) Bookmaker

2. ARI@SF - Under 48 (-104) Bet Online

Welcome back, football. Welcome back.


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