How an aspiring math teacher created, a service for sports bettors founder Pete Smaluck is building a gambling business but still dreams of teaching math.  (Duane Cole for the Washington Post) founder Pete Smaluck is building a gambling business but still dreams of teaching math. (Duane Cole for the Washington Post)

In 2020, Pete Smaluck created software capable of teaching math to middle school students using NBA statistics. Students could choose their favorite player or team, and the software would generate a worksheet with relevant questions. An example: James Harden shot 36 free throws. Of those he made 88.9 percent. How many free throws has he made?

Smaluck tested it with 50 teachers in Ontario, Canada, where he lives, and while he said feedback was positive, he couldn’t convince school boards to pay for the software.

With a new approach, he found a way to make it valuable.

Smaluck and his pals have long enjoyed prop betting – placing wagers on specific outcomes within a sporting event, such as how many rebounds a power forward will grab or which player will score the first run in a match. And the software he created, a few tweaks later, provided useful data for researching what gamer accessories might be worthwhile. So useful, in fact, that his friends suggested he offer the resource online.

A year and a half later, is a profitable subscription service, according to Smaluck, and its red and green graphics often appear on #gamblingtwitter, where bettors use them to support guesses or thank the company for their wins.

“I never really wanted to be in the playing space. It wasn’t my ambition,” Smaluck said in a video call from his Ontario office, a painting of the Blue Jays slugger from Toronto Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hanging behind him. “My ambition has always been to teach mathematics; but it turns out that the prop bettor is a math student. And having these basic tools helps them.

“So I still teach basic math, but it’s not to students.”

Smaluck – 38 and engaged this fall – has a degree in math and statistics and a master’s degree in education, but struggled to land his favorite job after graduating amid a overabundance of teachers in some parts of Canada. Instead, he worked in data visualization for a newspaper and then as an engineer for start-ups, where he broadened his skills as a developer and learned how businesses work.

Now he works full time to build his business, which employs eight people. Its product streamlines research — by organizing what might otherwise be a dozen browser tabs into one uncluttered dashboard — and simplifies statistical trends with color-coded graphs, much like a math teacher would.

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“It’s such a great, savvy app that gives you a great starting point,” said Beau Wagner, an Illinois real estate attorney who, since mobile betting became legal in his state in 2020, has is taxed as a high volume bettor. and influencer. “They summarize the numbers for you so you can at least see the trends.”

The universe of available props has exploded over the past couple of years as sports betting offers more and more ways to invest in anything that might happen on the playing field. You want to predict if there will be a run scored in the first inning of an MLB game? There is an increasingly popular accessory for this. It offers immediate gratification – or anguish.

Johnny Avello, director of sports betting operations at DraftKings, said more than 10% of his book handle came from prop bets. Bets that were only offered for big games such as the Super Bowl are now available every day.

Meanwhile, savvy bettors say it’s often easier to beat the books at props than at standard spreads or over/unders, which are more scrutinized.

“The sides and totals are so clean,” Wagner said. “The bookmakers that run these books that offer these lines, they are awesome. …I think with props, there are so many that you can find the weak spots.

Avello of DraftKings agrees props can be a little softer than other bets, especially as sites rapidly expand their offerings. And so a game of cat and mouse takes place between the books and the gamblers.

“As we find tools to make odds more efficient, they find tools to try to find ways to beat you,” Avello said. “I think they’re getting better. I think we’re getting better. If that’s how it’s going to be – we’re getting better, they’re getting better, and that’s a dead end – that’s fine with me. – which charges $19.99 for a monthly subscription or $199.99 for an annual subscription – doesn’t offer explicit advice on where to put your money, but it does strive to improve bettors.

Griffin Carroll was a user before becoming its PR manager, a role that includes blogging on his website. He says he’s scored big this year shooting in a vulnerable market: prop shots in NHL games. Carroll makes his picks known, and his company’s green and red bar graphs – also depicted on the logo – serve as proof of concept.

“People who share winning ballots go a long way,” Carroll said of how has racked up more than 49,000 followers on Twitter. He added a caveat: “Obviously it’s important to recognize that no one is going to go on Twitter and say, ‘Thank you for that loser.’ ”

As fall approaches, Carroll is looking to master a niche within the NFL: the longest receiving props. The joy, he says, is in the search.

This has also been true for Smaluck since it started betting on props ten years ago. Proline, a service provided by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission. Smaluck knew it would be hard to make a profit, but analyzing the data was part of the thrill.

It’s his mission at to make the search process engaging for everyone. He says he aims to “teach people math using relevant and exciting data” regardless of his profession – which perhaps one day will involve a classroom setting.

While Smaluck said he understands his connection to the game may scare off some members of the teaching community, he still plans to work with students. Ultimately, he wants to revisit a career as an educator.

“I’ll go back,” Smaluck said. “Once this prop trip is over, I go back to teaching kids math. There is no question; this is the trip of my life.

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