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Sports Then and Now



Game Changer: The Bleed-through of Analytics in Traditional Sports and Poker 1

Posted on December 23, 2016 by Josh H

pokerThe argument about whether poker is sport or not has been going on for a while now. There are strong arguments from both sides. Some call poker a game of luck. They believe that’s what it is and that’s what it always be. Others see it as a competitive activity resembling traditional sports, minus the physical activity.

While the lack of physical activity in poker can’t be denied there is another point of intersection that certainly exists. We’re talking about the application of analytics that’s present in both traditional sports and poker. Some of the best sports teams out there heavily rely on crunching numbers to prepare for upcoming games. They use the gathered data to set up their formations, figure out the best lineups, and much more.

Serious poker players do the very same thing. When not at the tables they crunch numbers. They are trying to locate weaknesses of their opponents and areas where they could improve their own game. Like with traditional sports, the bigger the sample the better the results.

Traditional Sports and Analytics

Numbers and statistics have a prominent role in nearly every aspect of modern-day sports. However, their application is best visible in the process of drafting players. This is when data experts need to shine and show what they know.

The market for players in popular sports is a huge one. Finding the right fit for the team of one or two players that will fix the biggest leaks can be a painstaking process. Without the help of analytics most of it is just pure guessing and gut instinct. With analytics there are concise numbers demonstrating one’s abilities in different areas. No longer will teams spring out big money for the proverbial cat in a bag. Before they bring someone in as either a free agent or a draftee they want as much reassurance about what to expect.

Apart from drafting players, analytics are also very useful when it comes to determining a team’s efficiency. This can best be seen in the NBA where several cameras installed in nearly every arena track movements of every single player. With this information teams can figure out what needs changing and how efficient particular players are during the game. From speed to passes and shot trajectory everything is converted to numbers and graphs. Read the rest of this entry →

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      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

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