Nate Silver Day 24: A Champion is crowned

Nate started the tournament with $571,538. He'll end it with either $628,624 with a France win, or $851,838 with a Croatia upset. If it's the former, he'll have seen his bankroll grow 10% over the course of the World Cup. Croatia wins, his bankroll will end up having grown 49%. While neither is the stratospheric rise of the 2014 World Cup, 10% bankroll growth is not too shabby.


Bankroll % Team Wager Risked To Win Result
10.74% Croatia Champion 75666 147549 0


I'm skipping the second England-Belgium game as it's even less meaningful than the first.

I hope y'all have enjoyed the World Cup as much as I have. Perhaps next time the US will join. Until then.

Nate Silver Day 21: I Can Has Win?

Careful Nate watchers may have caught that day 21 was missing. 

It's been a rough stretch for Nate Silver. His bankroll is down to $782,228.

Sweden can turn things around if they can send the three lions home. It won't be easy as England has been strangely competent this world cup.

Russia's only loss was a meaningless game against Uruguay. They were able to hold the fort against Spain (with some help from the refs). Croatia is an easier test, but they've looked quite good so far.

Brazil are out after their strikers let them down:

"xG map for #BRA-#BEL

As Mel Brooks said, tragedy is when I cut my little finger, comedy is when you fall in an open sewer and die."

— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) July 6, 2018

France choked the life out of Uruguay. The France-Belgium matchup is fascinating to me as there will be a massive stylistic difference. We'll see which prevails.


Bankroll % Team Wager Risked To Win Result
8.87% Sweden Advance 69398 146429 0
2.03% Russia Advance 15882 26205 0

Nate Silver Day 22: Our Chocolate is Best!

Belgium vs. France. Two culinary titans (although Belgium's masterpieces seem to be uniquely high in calories). Belgium knocked out Brazil in a game where Brazil's strikers were a bit unlucky in converting chances.

France have focused on choking the life out of opposing offenses, so I'd expect Belgium to have to work hard to generate good chances. France dodged a bullet and are now the tournament favorites. We'll see how that works out for them.

Nate's bankroll has shrunk to $696,948. That's a far cry from it's peak, but it's still 21.9% higher than it was at the start of the tournament, which is nice.


Bankroll % Team Wager Risked To Win Result
4.67% Belgium Advance 32524 39029 0


Nate Silver Day 14: Never going to lose faith in Costa Rica

More than any other team, Los Ticos helped build Nate's bankroll. Nate has remained loyal to them, although it might prove to be fruitless this time around. Sweden is the big, potentially realistic, play of the day. Mexico were so close to qualifying, but now need to muster at least a draw to be assured of advancing. As for Serbia or South Korea, a draw would be an impressive result.

Nate dealt with some enormous swings yesterday, looking like he was going to finish at $614,505 at one point. Goals from Nigeria and Croatia put him in position to finish at $1,665,976. Then things swung back against him before a late Croatia goal led him to finish the day at $1,199,022. The swings are steep when you sail the full-Kelly seas.


Bankroll % Team Wager Risked To Win Result
1.01% Germany-South Korea Draw 16888 115346 0
6.48% Sweden -0.5 107912 242802 0
2.83% Costa Rica -0.5 47111 299156 0
0.85% Serbia-Brazil Draw 14232 50239 0


Nate Silver Day 11: Searching for a Godzilla-sized win!

A Poland-Colombia draw would be nice. An England-Panama draw would be fantastic. A Japan win would be... romantic?*

Nate's current bankroll is 1,364,365. It would have been quite a bit bigger, but Sweden is Sweden and Germany is Germany.


Bankroll % Team Wager Risked To Win Result
3.75% England-Panama Draw 51106 271372 0
18.74% Japan -0.5 255625 677407 0
1.16% Poland-Colombia Draw 15784 40249 0


*We would also have accepted "Big in Japan" as the joke for this column:

Nate Silver Day 10: Someone's been hitting the gym

As a few people have posted on Twitter, the resemblance is striking:



Switzerland got the win, and Nate's bankroll is back to a healthy $1,423,988.

The market is surprisingly down on Belgium vs. Tunisia. I've looked ahead to the Belgium-England match and it's possible both teams will want to lose it, but this is a bit early for group advancement politics.

Nate has some faith in South Korea vs. Mexico, but the big hope is that Sweden can pull off win vs. Germany. If Germany are not improved from their match vs. Mexico, we could see a shocking early exit for one of the pre-tournament favorites.


Bankroll % Team Wager Risked To Win Result
14.08% Belgium -0.5 200498 77114 0
2.86% South Korea -0.5 40791 204770 0
5.03% Sweden -0.5 71560 452259 0
1.71% Germany-Sweden Draw 24387 83161 0


Nate Silver Day 6: I must break you!

With Sweden's and England's wins, Nate has seen his bankroll grow to $988,684. Wins from either Japan or Russia would put him over $1M (he was briefly there after Sweden's win). Persoannly, the Blue Samurai are the team I am naturally pulling for, so a stunning result would be fantastic (albeit highly unlikely).


Bankroll % Team Wager Risked To Win Result
2.11% Japan-Colombia Draw 20822 54971 0
7.78% Japan -0.5 76945 389344 0
5.14% Poland -0.5 50867 70197 0
16.36% Russia -0.5 161752 179545 0


Opta: Fear? That's the other guy's problem + Nate Silver Day 2

Opta has some fairly strong opinions on the World Cup and they are either going to get rich or die trying. Much respect! ($10,000 bankroll with unlimited credit). However, we'll get to those in a second. Nate Silver is back for day two of the World Cup:


Team Wager Risked To Win Result
Saudi Arabia -0.5 7694 63555 -7694
Uruguay-Egypt Draw 18369 53452 0
Egypt -0.5 30141 195315 0
Morocco-Iran Draw 2682 5526 0
Iran -0.5 8821 25317 0
Portugal -0.5 9631 31011 0


Saudi Arabia was a bit of a let-down (5-0!), but things get more exciting today. Egypt could deliver a great day with a win, but a draw there would be just fine. Portugal upsetting Spain in the first elite matchup of the tournament would be nice too. Now, back to Opta, who have some thoughts:


Team Advance Y/N Risked To Win Result
Uruguay Eliminated 2699 11472 0
Egypt Advance 1549 2168 0
Russia Eliminated 2480 4489 0
Saudi Arabia Advance 3685 31325 0
Spain Eliminated 1654 12932 0
Portugal Eliminated 2600 7800 0
Iran Advance 3140 18840 0
Morocco Advance 509 1486 0
France Eliminated 1567 14100 0
Denmark Eliminated 2653 3050 0
Peru Advance 382 565 0
Australia Advance 2757 10889 0
Argentina Eliminated 836 3972 0
Croatia Eliminated 2969 5344 0
Iceland Advance 1992 6593 0
Nigeria Advance 1684 4210 0
Brazil Eliminated 1327 15290 0
Switzerland Eliminated 1616 1511 0
Serbia Pass 0 0 0
Costa Rica Advance 2107 8533 0
Germany Eliminated 1556 13835 0
Mexico Eliminated 980 933 0
Sweden Advance 252 340 0
Korea Republic Advance 2158 9494 0
Belgium Eliminated 2532 18762 0
England Eliminated 3473 16461 0
Tunisia Advance 2768 12042 0
Panama Advance 3272 31250 0
Colombia Eliminated 1893 3995 0
Poland Eliminated 1120 1568 0
Senegal Advance 58 65 0
Japan Advance 2384 5960 0


Their point of view is that every team has a chance, which means the longshots may yet be crowned king:


Team Champ Y/N Risked To Win Result
Uruguay Pass 0 0 0
Egypt Champ 111 28028 0
Russia Champ 12 689 0
Saudi Arabia Champ 116 84441 0
Spain Not Champ 2302 301 0
Portugal Pass 0 0 0
Iran Champ 117 49640 0
Morocco Champ 35 14208 0
France Not Champ 496 58 0
Denmark Champ 51 6444 0
Peru Champ 72 8989 0
Australia Champ 136 54466 0
Argentina Champ 99 979 0
Croatia Pass 0 0 0
Iceland Champ 97 29454 0
Nigeria Champ 111 28028 0
Brazil Not Champ 2740 609 0
Switzerland Champ 76 10025 0
Serbia Champ 115 17309 0
Costa Rica Champ 85 34382 0
Germany Not Champ 2296 370 0
Mexico Champ 106 14029 0
Sweden Champ 151 37918 0
Korea Republic Champ 94 58910 0
Belgium Not Champ 2620 150 0
England Not Champ 3259 105 0
Tunisia Champ 76 55385 0
Panama Champ 66 48115 0
Colombia Champ 59 2870 0
Poland Champ 58 4650 0
Senegal Champ 102 20900 0
Japan Champ 201 105825 0


Best of luck to OptaJoe and the rest of the crew over there.

Ian Darke is an idiot (Nate Silver, Day 16)

Imagine for a second that you are sitting in a Chinese restaurant eating "spicy red snapper"* and drinking whiskey. It is lunchtime and you have a stress headache and are already a bit buzzed. You are watching two screens at once, one showing USA-Germany, the other showing Portugal-Ghana. You are desperately rooting for the United States to advance. They are down one-nil to Germany, but Ghana is also down one-nil. It would take at least two "bad goals" to knock you out. Suddenly, in the 57th minute, Ghana scores! Rage and fear fills you. And then, Ian Darke with his infinite lack of wisdom says, "That's good for the Americans as a draw between Portugal and Ghana puts them through!"

In that scenario, you might very shortly learn the Chinese expressions for "Sit the fuck down" 坐在他妈的下来 and "Shut the fuck up" 他妈的闭嘴

Thankfully, after the longest 23 minutes ever recorded, Ronaldo scored and I was able to stop doing butt kegels. Ze Germans win the group, and we get to prepare for Belgium.

Speaking of Belgium, they were able to defeat South Korea despite being down to 10-men. I don't want to focus on the poor performance of the Asian contingent in the World Cup, but it was abominable. Belgium won their group, advancing along with Algeria. I greatly enjoyed the Russia-Algeria game. Russia needed a win and played like it, scoring on a Kokorin header in the 6th minute. They continued attacking, but Algeria was able to match them and avoided falling further behind. In the 60th minute, Islam Slimani scored on a header of his own, and Algeria were back in command. Russia made a game effort of it after that, but weren't able to break through and Algeria advanced to the knockout round to take their crack at Ze Germans. All of this left Nate Silver sitting with a comfortable $647,555.

The knockout rounds open with the hosts attempting to crack the dwarf fortress. I think this is a pretty bad matchup for Chile, as they've been taking advantage of home field advantage in their earlier games. They've been able to be fairly aggressive, while picking up fewer fouls and cards than one might expect. That won't be the case tomorrow, particularly if they pick on Neymar. On the other hand, they could probably kill Hulk and only get a yellow, so long as Brazil still had a substitution left. This line has moved steadily towards Brazil, so Nate is only ending up with a moderate stake on them:

Game 49: Brazil to advance, 19.00%: Risking $123,055 to win $35,153

Originally it appeared Uruguay was going to be a fairly competitive foe against Colombia, but FIFA felt compelled to act against Suarez, who is now gone from the tournament. It seems likely that his team will join him. Nate agrees:

Game 50: Colombia to advance, 16.3%: Risking $111,281 to win $62,179 (Updated)

Reminder: If Brazil advances, I will update the Colombia stake using the market prices available at the time.

I am very much looking forward to the next round of futbol. Time for the elimination games to begin. 🙂

*No way the "red snapper" stands up to a DNA test, but it's very tasty so I don't care.

Messi saves, Germany draws, Leary screws (Nate Silver, Day 11)

Nate Silver was almost above $750,000! All Iran had to do was hold on to the scoreless draw for four more minutes. Alas, Lionel Messi is very good at futbol. I wouldn't be too concerned about Argentina's overall level of play. Iran played very well, while Argentina had to be at least a little bit overconfident, having already defeated the second best team in their group. At this point Argentina wins the group with at least a draw vs. Nigeria. Nigeria would also be happy with a draw as that would ensure they advance even if Iran gets a win against Bosnia, but we'll get to that shortly.

Germany generally struggle in their second game at the World Cup. They've also had unusual issues against African sides. Still, they weren't expected to struggle against Ghana, but struggle they did, going into halftime stuck at nil-nil. Mario Gotze was able to put them ahead one-nil before Ghana rallied with goals from Andre Ayew and Asamoah Gyan. Germany decided that Gotze was done scoring for the day, and they replaced him with Miroslav Klose, who promptly scored the equalizer two minutes later. After that Germany had a few more scoring chances, but eventually had to settle for the draw. This means that they can't relax against a USA squad that might still need a point (or three) to advance.

Poor Peter O'Leary. One day you're a secondary school biology teacher. The next day you (and your assistants)  are the poster boys for officiating villainy at the World Cup. They called an absolutely awful offsides to take away a goal fro Bosnia-Herzegovina. Not only was the call obviously wrong, but it was late. Leary should have overruled his assistant and made the goal stand. There was also controversy with the Ghana goal as perhaps a foul could have been called on Nigeria during the play, but that is a judgement call and frankly I would have allowed play to continue. I would also red card players who writhe in pain on the ground who then miraculously recover, so perhaps my officiating sympathies lie with slightly more physical play than is healthy.  Bosnia had a few good scoring chances late, but Vincent Enyeama played superbly and kept the ball out of the net. If Nigeria can manage a draw against Argentina, they be on to the second round. I'll be very suspicious if said draw is a boring scoreless variety, but all is fair in love and international futbol.

Despite not getting the huge win with Iran, Nate Silver managed another strong day, finishing with $477,136. Next up:

Game 30: Russia +0.5 goals, 13.32%: Risking $63,555 to win$65,520

Game 31: South Korea +0.5 goals, 17.67%: Risking 73,080 to win $32,480

Game 32:  USA +0.5 goals, 35.56%: Risking $121,082 to win $153,269

The general trend seems to be that Nate likes underdogs and draws, discounting favorites that aren't from South America. Despite the fact there have been unusually few draws, this has been working out quite well for Nate so far. We'll see if it continues.

The big game of the day (for Nate and myself) is USA-Portugal. Despite the fact that USA has a win and Portugal is coming off of an embarrassing defeat, I'm not nearly as confident in America's chances as Nate is. In fact, I'd consider a draw to be a huge victory, as that would mean a draw vs. Germany would advance both squads, with Germany on top in the group. I'm getting ahead of myself, so let's just enjoy another great day of futbol in Brazil. 🙂

El rey ha muerto, ¡viva el rey! (Nate Silver, Day 8)

Perhaps they were taking their cue from King Juan Carlos, who abdicated the throne in favor of son, Felipe IV. Perhaps Chile just wanted it more:

"I hate hate hate the cliché but Chile just wanted it more. What's been effectively a home-field atmosphere perhaps helps too."

— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) June 18, 2014

Perhaps XKCD was right all along:

Whatever the case may be, Spain was outscored 7-1 over the course of two games, with the lone one being a penalty kick. That was as awful a performance as any defending champion has ever put up.  The king is dead. A new king is waiting to be crowned.

I don't mean to dismiss Chile who played very well. Chile was able to frustrate Spain, and was very effective at converting their early scoring opportunities. Now Chile will face the Netherlands with group supremacy on the line.

The Netherlands fought off a feisty group of Socceroos.  After falling behind one-nil, the Socceroos responded with a brilliant strike from Tim Cahill. They were able to take the lead in the second half with a penalty kick, but goals from RVP and Memphis Depay (from distance) put the Oranje ahead for good.

Croatia was already the better team, up 1-0 when Alex Song effectively ended Cameroon's World Cup with an idiotic red card. Croatia was able to take advantage, winning four-nil. They'll still need to beat Mexico to advance, unless Brazil somehow stumbles against Cameroon.

Despite Australia and Cameroon letting him down, Nate Silver had a good day due to Chile. He now stands at $191,134.

Game 21: Columbia, 10.6%: Risking $20,260 to win $21,476

Game 22: Uruguay +0.5 goals, 23.04%: Risking $48,985 to win $45,357 (Updated)

Game 23: Greece +0.5 goals, 15.68%: Risking $40,449 to win $28,264 (Updated, adjusted % due to line moves)

I was expecting Nate to bet bigger on Columbia and Greece, but the lines have shifted a bit towards those teams. I'm curious to see how the Columbia-Ivory Coast game is officiated. I'd like to see the players have some freedom to be physical. Uruguay England is effectively an elimination game. I'm curious why people think it is a good idea to back England in one of those (or any game really), but they do. I'm assuming Greece will stick to their usual game plan of trying to avoid allowing any goals, and if they happen to accidentally score one, great!

Day eight should be a pretty nice day of football, but it merely an appetizer compared to the glory of day nine when Nate and Costa Rica will team up to take on Italy. You've been warned. Ciao!