Want to place some bets on the Olympic final medal counts? Here are some potentially great bets!
A Colorado College economics professor has updated his Olympic medal prediction system, and has released his new findings in time for the Opening Ceremony for the London 2012 Games.
Over the last six Olympic Games, Colorado College economist, Daniel K.N. Johnson, has predicted Olympic medals count to an astounding 93% accuracy. This edition has the US on top of the medal count, followed by China, Russia and the Games’ host country, England coming in fourth.
Of all the factors Johnson uses to predict a country’s medal count, it surprisingly does not include athletic ability as one of the factors for Olympic medal success.
But aren’t the Olympics all about the best in athletic prowess? Well, yes and no. Johnson’s model uses only non-athletic data to make forecasts. This all-telling data includes per capita income, population and the advantage of hosting the Games, or proximity to the host country.
This Games’ edition has abandoned political structure and climate in favor of a couple of fresh indicators. One of those is a host-nation’s advantage. As sports bettors, we are all too familiar with the concept of the home-field advantage. This key characteristic pre-dates and post-dates the Games actually hosted. Johnson’s updated system also includes a “cultural specific factor” which helps to balance out the model’s under-predictions of larger contingencies like Australia and China.
Johnson has said that the model is used to help countries set realistic expectations for their Olympians. His philosophy plays right into one of the key tenets of sports betting in general.
We often refer to the Cardinal Rule of sports betting which says to leave your emotions, and loyalties (in this case, patriotism), at the door and bet with your head. By knowing and understanding your country’s expectations, and yes, limitations, we can execute more accurate and sound wagers.
Another trait of Johnson’s model that plays in to sports betting is using past results to predict future outcomes. Check this out: During the 2008 Beijing Games, Johnson forecast that the US would top the overall medal count, and predicted that the Stars and Stripes would claim 103 medals. The result? The US won 110.
His prediction that China would top the gold medal count also came to fruition, as they claimed 51 golds for seven more than the 44 predicted.
His nail-on-the-head predictions were also evident during the 2004 Athens Olympics, as he forecast that the United States would garner 103 medals, with 37 gold. How did he fare? Try 100% as the US contingent won exactly 103 overall medals (35 gold).
Johnson also predicted that Russia would win 94 medals – it won 92. For the 2000 Sydney Games, he predicted 90 medals for the U.S., with 33 gold. The Americans won 97 (39 gold). For Australia, the host, he predicted 54 overall medals. Australia celebrated with 56.
As a result of this information, I have been able to isolate some potentially good bets for this year’s edition of world’s games. Putting these bets into play will go a long way towards turning a country’s gold, into green for your pocket.
Please remember that in order to make these wagers, you have to buy into what Johnson is preaching. I’ll reiterate that I haven’t done any independent analysis to verify or refute what he has written. But, it does seem credible to me. You can make up your own mind.
Even if Johnson’s model is predictive, randomness always plays a role in outcomes like this. Thus, we’ll look for a healthy “cushion” between his predictions and the going line, in order to give us a good shot at winning.
Possible good bets for these Olympic Games, based on an analysis of the model and current lines/odds:
- Most gold medals: China (odds: +150 available at TopBet)
- The model predicts China getting 33 gold medals compared to the US receiving 34. So, on what is essentially a coin toss, take the +150 odds.
- United States under 38.5 gold medals (odds: -145 at Top Bet, Diamond and Bovada)
- Johnson’s model predicts 34, giving us a 4.5 medal (13%) cushion
- China under 36.5 gold medals (odds: +150 at Diamond, WagerWeb and Bovada)
- The model predicts 33, giving us a 3.5 medal (11%) cushion
- Germany over 15.5 medals (odds: -110 at Diamond and Bovada)
- The Johnson model predicts 19, giving us a 4.5 medal (23%) cushion
- Australia under 13.5 medals (odds: -210 at WagerWeb)
- The model predicts 8 medals, so we get a 5.5 medal (69%) cushion. The cushion is huge here, but it is partly negated by the long odds (laying $210 to win $100). If you don’t mind laying those odds, this one seems like the biggest gimme on the board.
- Most gold medals Germany vs. Australia: Germany (odds: -225 at Bovada)
- Johnson’s model predicts 19 gold medals for Germany vs. just 8 for Australia. Similar to the Australia bet above, you have to lay long odds here, but the chances of winning the bet seem very high.