The heart v. the data: a story about betting on football

Christina checks the scores from today’s games.

“I think I did better this week in the pool,” she says.

She’s been playing in the office football pool for two years.

“Gotta get some ROI,” she says. “Need some return here!”


“Pick more winners.”

“Yeah, but what’s your strategy for doing that?”

“Well, it was to go with my heart.”

This is not surprising. Christina’s football knowledge comes primarily from watching Friday Night Lights — clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose.

Except her picks always lose. Two years running. So she’s developed a new strategy.

“Now I’m going with statistics,” she says.

“So you’re crunching the numbers, going for more data-driven picks?”

She hesitates.

“Well not me,” she says. “There’s a site that does all that work for you. I go with their picks.”

“So data-driven cheating?”

“No,” she says. “It’s about finding talented people who are data-driven and holding them accountable.”

I ask her when she thinks we’ll make it into the black on her football “investments.”

“Any day now, Michael. Any day now.”

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