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EA Simulation Correctly Picked Super Bowl Champs in September 124

Posted by samzenpus
from the miracle-madden dept.
Just_Say_Duhhh writes "Before the NFL Season started, the guys at EA Sports simulated the entire season using Madden 2011. The sim told them the Packers would win the Super Bowl. If only we had listened. What's even more interesting is that according to the article, they've picked the winner 6 of the last 7 years. Make that 7 out of 8!"
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EA Simulation Correctly Picked Super Bowl Champs in September

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  • by Onuma (947856)
    Maybe the NFL players are learning from Madden?
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      If you want to complete the play, you're going to have to hold on to the ball.

    • Or more likely, EA is getting free advertisement as to how realistic its games are (not that realism necessarily even makes a game fun).
      • by vlm (69642)

        (not that realism necessarily even makes a game fun).

        Witness the decline and fall of the flight simulator industry ( *** now including TSA groping in every box!)

      • Madden is fun, but pretty far from realistic. Getting better though.
        • by ildon (413912)

          IIRC they actually use a tweaked version for their season prediction simulation that's more realistic than the one released to the general public.

  • by Immostlyharmless (1311531) on Monday February 07, 2011 @09:10AM (#35125218)
    Because according to *this* article, it picked the Steelers... http://blog.games.yahoo.com/blog/355-steelers-will-win-super-bowl-xlv-predicts-madden-11/ [yahoo.com] wtf?
    • by Onuma (947856)
      That's what I heard during my morning commute - and they tossed in the figure "7 of the last 9 correctly predicted games".
      • by Barryke (772876)

        In commercial statistics, periods may vary. For example, the first result -if negative- may be omitted to obtain more positive average result.

        In Soviet Russia, statistics vary you.

    • by Tx (96709) on Monday February 07, 2011 @09:23AM (#35125304) Journal

      Seems like there may be two simulations here, a full-season simulation done before the start of the actual season, and a one-match simulation of the final alone done shortly before the actual final. The former came up with the Packers, the latter picked the Steelers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kbg (241421)
        I can also predict a winner in the final with 50% accuracy using my new simulation called the "coin".
        • "I can also predict a winner in the final with 50% accuracy using my new simulation called the "coin""

          Pray tell how you could have picked the winner with 50% accuracy with a coin when there are 32 teams.

          There were, after all, 32 teams in September when the accurate simulation was done.
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Pray tell how you could have picked the winner with 50% accuracy with a coin when there are 32 teams.

            It's a damn good coin.

          • by RockoTDF (1042780)
            It is a 32 dimensional hypercoin. Duh.
        • by milkmage (795746)

          yes, because your coin has 32 sides.

          they didn't run the sim before the game. the ran it before the SEASON

          "Before the NFL Season started..."

        • by uncanny (954868)
          You can do this at the start of the season? I need to talk to you at the start of the next season then!
      • I only scanned TFA but I can't seem to find where it says who they played against. Was it Green Bay vs. Steelers? Or was it a different team? This is a weighted 1 in 32 chance whereas predicting that the Steelers would also make it but would eventually lose is far more impressive. I get the impression this wasn't the case.

      • I wonder if the whole "accurate for the last 7 of 8 Super Bowls" stat is also incorrect because of that. Were all 8 of those predictions made from the start of the season, or just before the Super Bowl?
    • Well if they guess both, one is bound to be right!
    • Yeah, I remember seeing this article. I jumped out of my chair when I read the results this morning and yelled "Suck it EA!"
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Yup if you want a "real" prediction, look at betting odds. Those guys are far more accurate than any videogame sweatshop.

      • Actually, the pros aren't as good as you might think. In this case, they did choose the packers over the steelers, but they predicted a margin of 3 points. It eneded up being 6. They also chose a total score (both scores added together) of 45, and the real total was 56. That wasn't even close. They did predict the steelers would win (regardless of margin) and gave 1.5:1 odds.

        Further, back at the start of the season, green bay was not a favorite to win at all.. i don't recall the exact odds, but they we

        • by ginbot462 (626023)

          And you have to consider .. what The Pros are REALLY predicting is a spread that will cause the money to be bet half on side and half on the other.

        • by droptone (798379)
          You do realize that sports books do not set lines with the intention of accurately predicting the outcome, right? They set lines to induce equal betting on both sides so that they make money from the vig [wikipedia.org]. The final outcome plays a role in setting the line but other aspects weigh heavily, e.g. whether a team is a public team or whether one team had an overwhelming recent win that will weigh heavily in the minds of the public.

          Also, the Packers weren't really [catscratchreader.com] very middle of the pack.
          • I'm aware of that. That was part of my point. Looking at what the sportsbooks post as the winner may, or may not be anywhere near what their actual opinion is.

            When there is an overwhelming majority of the public that believes one side will will, the odds will reflect a number where half the public will take the other side, even if they think the "winning" side will win. No book wants to be lopsided with a handle of 10's or 100's of millions, unless they're very opinion in a way that is opposite of the pu

        • by Zerimar (1124785)
          That's only partially true. The betting odds and lines are not there to predict a winner - they are there to try and get equal money on each side of the table. More often than not, the end result is that it is pretty accurate, but that's largely due to wisdom of crowds. Predicting winners is not goal of the people who set the lines. As for the other comment, no team in any sport will be overwhelming favorites to win at the beginning of the season, due to the vagaries of small sample sizes. Picking the
    • by ajlisows (768780)

      The big difference is in the players. At the beginning of the season, the simulation would have run with a fully stocked Packers team. Since that time they have lost 13 players from their opening day roster, including their starting running back and a Tight End who looked like a very key piece to the offense. Obviously the Super Bowl simulation was done with these guys pulled off the Packers roster. This actually makes complete sense.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    But did it predict how bad the half-time show would be?

    • Nobody could predict that... well not until after the fiasco that was the Star Spangled Banner!
    • I swear if you looked closely enough, you could see a single neon tear shed from Slash's eye as Fergi murdered that song.
      • murdered? Somebody is being kind ;-)

      • by cayenne8 (626475)

        "I swear if you looked closely enough, you could see a single neon tear shed from Slash's eye as Fergi murdered that song."

        And sadly...THAT moment was the highlight of the whole halftime show!!!

        Now...if they could have had a wardrobe malfunction with that Fergi chick..it might have made it all worth while. I gotta imagine hers don't sag as bad as Janet's did that year...ick.

    • by iamhassi (659463)
      Wait, that was bad? I thought it was pretty good, can you give me an example of a *good* half-time show so I know what to compare it to? Surely that was the best in the past 5 years, unless you think nothing could outshine Janet Jackson's boob.
  • by retchdog (1319261) on Monday February 07, 2011 @09:22AM (#35125292) Journal

    1. run enough independent simulations to predict each team as winning in one of them.
    2. only report the right one
    3. profit!

    protip: replace "team" with "drug," and "winning" with "effective," for supermegaprofit!

    • by crunch_ca (972937)
      This reminds me of a scam I heard about years ago.
      1) Pick 1024 victims
      2) Pick 1 volatile stock
      3) To 512 victims, say the price will go up, to the others, say it will go down
      4) Wait 5 days, then pick the half which were right
      5) GOTO 2 (ok, you could use recursion instead, or a loop)
      6) When you get to 8 victims, point out that you've been 100% accurate 6 times in a row and get them to invest a lot of money
      7) Profit!
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Mathnet (Square 1) covered this in 1990 with "The case of the swami scam" (in New York)
        http://www.tv.com/mathnet/the-case-of-the-swami-scam/episode/236553/summary.html

      • If he mentions the pig again, use two hammers!
    • by teslar (706653)

      2. only report the right one

      Except, as you might notice, TFA is from September 2010, so it's not a retroactive reporting of the one simulation of many that happened to get it right.

      • Yes but would the story be appearing on slashdot if they had gotten it wrong? Or would slashdot have simply run with the story of a different simulator which happened to get it right?

        With "7 out of 8" picks they may be on to something (depending on how many teams are actually viable and how many independent simulations are being run). But, then again, the fact that the simulation predicted Steelers would win the actual match, and that extrapolating backwards the system only becomes more chaotic, makes

        • by Duradin (1261418)

          This is like all the "momtuition" crap on CNN. CNN only reports the successful cases of mom using her mom-sense to "know" that the doctors are wrong and by luck is. They don't report the bulk of the cases where mom is wrong (with possibly fatal results) and the doctors were right.

    • Well, if you actually bother to read TFA - you'll note the date is prior to the start of the season. So you're scenario is basically impossible.

  • In other news... (Score:2, Informative)

    by masterwit (1800118) *

    In other news, I still dislike EA games.

  • IT for bookies? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday February 07, 2011 @09:39AM (#35125428)

    So, do bookmakers use this for their odds calculations?

    Where I grew up, their was an Italian delicatessen. They made great hoagies! It was also run by a couple of famlies, and they all drove Cadillacs. When you went in there, someone was always on the phone. Hmmm. When the racetrack nearby burned down and closed, they closed as well.

    It was reopened by two guys who my parents knew. They said that the phone was constantly ringing from folks wanting to place bets.

    But obviously, they made a tiny fortune on the betting business. So I have to wonder, how do bookies calculate their odds? Do they use IT technology? Or is it just a gut feeling? I'm not a betting man myself, but I don't mind other folks doing it.

    And even if I did know that the delicatessen was a front for a bookmaker operation, I wouldn't have cared. As long as they kept making those hoagies. My tip: If you want to really experience a hoagie, find a mom and pop delicatessen in South Jersey.

    • Re:IT for bookies? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Mechagodzilla (94503) on Monday February 07, 2011 @09:54AM (#35125566)
      Gut feelings and odds have little to do with it. Bookies try to get enough people to bet on both teams. If too many people were betting on the Packers, they would move the spread so more people bet on the Steelers, and vice versa. They have to balance the money on both sides so they have enough to pay out. Most bookies take a percentage of the bet, or a "vig", so they get paid no matter which side wins. I ran a small operation in high school like this. The house always wins. If a bookie runs into the situation where his cash flow isn't as good as it should be, he usually lets them carry over the bet into the next week. That gets kinda hard with the Super Bowl. just my $0.02 (plus my percentage)
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I should explain a bit more about the vigorish ("vig"). Rather than say to punters "We will take 10% of the bet" what the bookmaker does is arrange the odds so that overall a desired percentage less than what was paid in will be returned to "winners".

        Maybe people seem to think the Packers will win, you offer them 2-5 odds [ 71% chance ], if they pay you $10 you'll give back $14 if the Packers win. Covering the other side who people seem to think are less likely, you offer better odds for the Steelers, 3-2 [

      • by vlm (69642)

        Gut feelings and odds have little to do with it. Bookies try to get enough people to bet on both teams. If too many people were betting on the Packers, they would move the spread so more people bet on the Steelers, and vice versa. They have to balance the money on both sides so they have enough to pay out.

        Come on, this is slashdot here. Try for a CS or automotive analogy.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary_tree [wikipedia.org]

        Basically a bookie builds a binary tree where the top level node (aka the bookie) has two child nodes, folks betting on team A and folks betting on team B and the bookie rebalances the tree by screwing around with the odds until the top level of the tree has about the same number of $ on its two child nodes, more or less. A successful bookie has a lot of customers first to balance the tree and second

      • by rmo6 (47545)

        The house always wins.

        Uhh not quite with sportsbooks. In fact, this makes 2 of the last 4 Super Bowls where most books lost money. Don't believe me? ESPN's Vegas Insider Chad Millman is reporting that Vegas lost money this year [twitter.com]. The problem with your logic is you assume that the linemakers are making correct lines in anticipating the action. However, just like the Giants/Pats SB, Vegas made the line so "soft" they couldn't adjust the line to even out the wagering. Your reasoning that they will just change the line as the money f

    • by Meddik (1849590)
      A Lot of what Bookies do to cover their odds isn't directly related to the event itself, but more to balance out their risk on what people are betting on. For example, If they took a bet on Team A vs Team B, and Team A was obviously much stronger, most people would want to bet on A, with very few betting on B. Based on that, they will adjust the contest either by giving the game a spread (For example, You only win the bet if Team A wins by at least 10 points) or giving higher odds to one team. (For exampl
    • by dkf (304284)

      So I have to wonder, how do bookies calculate their odds?

      According to an ex-bookie's clerk I know, mostly by watching other bookies very carefully and by trying to keep their overall liability to the punters to a minimum. Remember, the bookies are in this to make money, so they're actually looking to manage risk to themselves while maximizing the amount of trade they're doing; if they get it wrong, either the punters all go elsewhere (odds too low) or the punters all come running (odds too high).

    • by Inda (580031)
      For the start of the book stats, more stats and even more stats.

      If a team normally wins 1 in 10 games, offer the punter odds of 5/1.

      Ultimately, after the book has run a week, see where the money is being placed. If the team receives a number of high value bets, reduce the odds to 3/1. And so on.

      It's all pure maths. I wish I'd gotten into the game when I didn't need money to pay the bills.
    • by Stargoat (658863) *

      Yes, but they work at Chase, Discover, Citi, and other major credit card issuers. They also work at Transunion, Experian, and Equifax in developing new credit reports. Instead of phones, they use SAS Software, together with direct mailings and commercials.

      This kind of modeling has been going on for decades. Heck, sometimes it is beginning to look like psychohistory with its accuracy.

      Even in sports, this application is nothing new. Baseball is, to my knowledge, where statistics (economics if you like) wa

      • by tehcyder (746570)
        As a non-American, baseball seems to be a combination of a tedious stock market show churning out reams of statistics, interspersed occasionally with a bit of rounders (a game popular in the UK with children).
      • by Endo13 (1000782)

        Doesn't baseball also have a lot fewer injuries than football? That would also make it a lot easier to predict.

    • by operagost (62405)

      My tip: If you want to really experience a hoagie, find a mom and pop delicatessen in South Jersey.

      And put $50 on "Little Louie" to win.

    • other response are technically correct, but from a theoretical perspective, the bookie (less bid/ask spread) is computing a risk neutral price based on actual betting behavior. the optimal odds are the same ratio as the # of bets placed on each side. this guarantees the bookie doesn't lose money. add some extra fee for placing the bet and you always make money. the original odds might be set based on some empirical estimate, but the final odds used are always based on ratios of bets placed.
    • by sdguero (1112795)
      No. Bookies use what people are betting on to calculate odds. That's why they are constantly changing. If some rich guy puts 100 grand on a team, the lines will shift to accommodate his bet (to encourage people to bet on the other team). In places where sports betting is legal (like Mexico and Vegas) the second half betting lines sometimes move very rapidly during half time, right before they shut down because everyone is betting one team. This is really common (and a good bet!) when a team that is obviousl
  • If NFL football is this predictable, it's just further proof how idiotic and worthless the sport really is.
    • by vlm (69642)

      If NFL football is this predictable, it's just further proof how idiotic and worthless the sport really is.

      If the stock market is this predictable, it's just further proof how idiotic and worthless the stock market really is.

      I'm not sure if anthropomorphizing even makes sense in this situation.

    • by timeOday (582209)

      If NFL football is this predictable, it's just further proof how idiotic and worthless the sport really is.

      They should pick the winner of each game based on nothing more than the coin toss, that would be fair for everybody :)

      Or, they could use the prediction algorithms to rebalance the teams until the confidence of predicting the winner is low.

      Or, they could use the prediction algorithms to rebalance the teams until a team from a large (profitable) market is likely to win, but not by enough to make it

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday February 07, 2011 @10:03AM (#35125644) Homepage Journal
    A huge number of analysts picked the Packers to win the superbowl before the season started. You have to wonder if EA purposely tweaked the game stats to make sure that the packers would come out on top in their simulation.......
    • by jeff4747 (256583)

      Perhaps the analysts used the same statistics to pick the Packers as the simulation?

      Really don't need a nefarious setup here - both the simulation and the analysts are doing the same thing (predicting the future) with the same tools (stats from previous seasons).

  • What the story fails to mention is who they predicted would lose the Super Bowl. If they are truly on to something, the same method that predicts the Super Bowl winner should, also, be able to predict the winners of each conference. It says something about how accurately Madden Football reflects the relative strenghts of the teams, but it is only truly impressive if it can predict the Conference Chanpions with significant reliability.
  • Why laud EA Sports, engineers of a no-competition contract with the NFL, whereby nobody else can make an NFL game because they hold an exclusive license? For a community that hates all things closed and proprietary, EA is the MSFT of video games.
  • I think that octopus Paul has a better record.
  • On paper or in a simulation, the Packers definitely had what was needed to win a Super Bowl. The NFC competition was pretty shallow and the Packers have great players on both defense and offense. What made last night's victory so unlikely was all the injuries they dealt with. To have that final defensive stand without Charles Woodson on the field was amazing, to still pass the ball 60%+ of the time without Donald Driver was equally impressive. And they had many more injuries. The Packers were complete under

If A = B and B = C, then A = C, except where void or prohibited by law. -- Roy Santoro

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