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Sports Then and Now



Game Changer: The Bleed-through of Analytics in Traditional Sports and Poker 0

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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    • Hall of Famer Tony Oliva
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      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

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