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Archive of posts filed under the Sports category.

Poker math showdown!

In comments, Rick Schoenberg wrote: One thing I tried to say as politely as I could in [the book, "Probability with Texas Holdem Applications"] on p146 is that there’s a huge error in Chen and Ankenman’s “The Mathematics of Poker” which renders all the calculations and formulas in the whole last chapter wrong or meaningless […]

Luck vs. skill in poker

The thread of our recent discussion of quantifying luck vs. skill in sports turned to poker, motivating the present post. 1. Can good poker players really “read” my cards and figure out what’s in my hand? For a couple years in grad school a group of us had a regular Thursday-night poker game, nickel-dime-quarter with […]

Understanding the hot hand, and the myth of the hot hand, and the myth of the myth of the hot hand, and the myth of the myth of the myth of the hot hand, all at the same time

Josh Miller writes: I came across your paper in the Journal of Management on unreplicable research, and in it you illustrate a point about the null hypothesis via the hot hand literature. I am writing you because I’d like to move your current prior (even if our work uses a classical approach). I am also […]

NFL players keep getting bigger and bigger

Aleks points us to this beautiful dynamic graph by Noah Veltman showing the heights and weights of NFL players over time. The color is pretty but I think I’d prefer something simpler, just one dot per player (with some jittering to handle the discrete reporting of heights and weights). In any case, it’s a great […]

Stan World Cup update

The other day I fit a simple model to estimate team abilities from World Cup outcomes. I fit the model to the signed square roots of the score differentials, using the square root on the theory that when the game is less close, it becomes more variable. 0. Background As you might recall, the estimated […]

Stan goes to the World Cup

I thought it would be fun to fit a simple model in Stan to estimate the abilities of the teams in the World Cup, then I could post everything here on the blog, the whole story of the analysis from beginning to end, showing the results of spending a couple hours on a data analysis. […]

D&D 5e: Probabilities for Advantage and Disadvantage

The new rules for D&D 5e (formerly known as D&D Next) are finally here: Dungeons & Dragons, 5th Edition: Basic Rules D&D 5e introduces a new game mechanic, advantage and disadvantage. Basic d20 Rules Usually, players roll a 20-sided die (d20) to resolve everyting from attempts at diplomacy to hitting someone with a sword. Each […]

Visualizing sampling error and dynamic graphics

Robert Grant writes: What do you think of this visualisation from the NYT [in an article by Neil Irwin and Kevin Quealy but I'm not sure if they're the designers of the visualization]? I’m pretty impressed as a method of showing sampling error to a general audience! I agree. P.S. In related news, Antony Unwin […]

Dimensionless analysis as applied to swimming!

We have no fireworks-related posts for July 4th but at least we have an item that’s appropriate for the summer weather. It comes from Daniel Lakeland, who writes: Recently in one of your blog posts (“priors I don’t believe”) there was a discussion in which I was advocating the use of dimensional analysis and dimensionless […]

“Who’s bigger”—the new book that ranks every human on Wikipedia—is more like Bill Simmons than Bill James

I received a copy of “Who’s Bigger?: Where Historical Figures Really Rank,” by Steven Skiena, a computer scientist at Stony Brook University, and Charles Ward, and engineer at Google. Here’s the blurb I gave the publisher: Skiena and Ward provide a numerical ranking for the every Wikipedia resident who’s ever lived. What a great idea! […]