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Interview with JAMBOS sports betting founder Michael Schwimer
6th September, 20:21MetroBet's Matt Burke recently spoke with former Phillies pitcher Michael Schwimer about his new sports betting company that brings Wall Street-style analytics to the sports betting world. The company, JAMBOS, is backed by some major players in the financial world and is offering a refund package of up to $10,000 if you don't hit on their recommended picks.
Here is a Q&A with Schwimer about his playing time in Philly, as well as what makes JAMBOS different from other betting services.
Burke: Some pro athletes are a bit scared off by the intensity of the Philadelphia sports scene. How did you enjoy your time pitching for the Phillies?
Schwimer: As a player, I want a fan-base that's passionate, that cares. And the city of Philadelphia REALLY cares, for good and for bad. And as a player you deserve it both ways. If you're pitching poorly and you get booed, well - tough. You're paid to perform and if you're not performing well you should get booed. I absolutely loved my time in Philadelphia. I lived on 15 and Locust, and it's a beautiful area. I go back often. Only good memories.
Burke: Who were some of your favorite teammates there and some of your best memories playing for the Phillies?
Schwimer: There are kind of two groups of teammates. There are the guys you come up with, and the guys that you meet when you're there. The most similar in terms of interest was probably Cliff Lee. I got along well with Chase [Utley], though he was kind of a quiet guy. Ryan Howard's awesome. Hunter Pence might be the nicest guy.
I would say the best teammate was probably a tie between Raul Ibanez and Jim Thome. In terms of just all-around, A-plus guys.
Burke: Transitioning to sports betting, how big of a sports betting market do you think Pennsylvania will be, and specifically - Philadelphia?
Schwimer: I think it will be huge. Just huge. I think a lot of New Jersey's success was a lot of Pennsylvania and New York people coming in. I don't think New Jersey will ever shrink [from where it is now] but as Pennsylvania and New York become legalized I really believe it's going to be exponential. There are so many people that want to bet in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh as well, it's a really big opportunity.
Burke: So tell me about the process of founding JAMBOS and how you got involved in sports betting, in general?
Schwimer: Sure, so after my playing days I started a data analytics company that's primary business was investing in baseball players. And from there, identifying which players were going to make it and which players aren't. And we had gigantic success in that area.
That's kind of why I wanted to build this giant advanced analytics team. My partner in this was Paul DePodesta - the MoneyBall guy, who's played by Jonah Hill in the movie. Sam Hinkie was also involved ... a good Philly connection there.
So after several iterations of this analytics group, we started to realize we were getting really good at predicting outcomes of actual games. We thought that initially meant we'll go to these front offices and offer them advice on how to win the games but teams are cheap and have their own in-house solutions. So then we thought, what better way to prove than to go up against the Vegas line?
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If you truly beat the market, that's the scorecard. So that's how we started it.
We started in college basketball and the results were shocking. In 1,476 games we picked, we hit on almost 59 percent of minus one-tenth bets. Which I believe is the greatest publicly verifiable record around. We timestamp all of our picks, so anyone can go back and check.
So then I thought halfway through this process, why don't we just pick these games ourselves and become billionaires, it should be pretty easy. So I went to Vegas to do that, after 16 days I was shut out of every book around except one, just because I had good connections with the CEO of the book there. I just found that the market is not a fair market. They shut out winning bettors, and it's just hard to do. So that's why I came up with the idea. I can't bet $300,000 a game, but 1,000 people can bet $300 on a game. You can't stop that because the posted limits are $300 if you start to win too much.
So I started reviewing the subscription service base and I found out that it was pretty much filled with scum of the Earth - in my opinion - in an ugly industry that was just taking people's money. And I wanted to create a subscription service that was the exact opposite of what everyone hates about the old betting services.
We are fully and completely transparent to our subscribers. All of our historical records are on our site right now. Anyone can register for free and check up on what we're doing. In addition we want to be financially accountable. It's not fair that you sign up and people give you losing picks and just say, "I'm sorry." If our picks lose, I feel like the person giving the recommendation should lose money.
Burke: Would you say this service is only for high-rollers or could you see someone succeeding with this betting only $10 per game?
Schwimer: It's a great question. Our system is based on $300 a game, per unit. Let's say after 17 weeks we're up six units. Well if you're betting $300 a game you're up $1,800. But you paid us $3,000. So you're really down money. We're going to refund the money, plus we're going to give you and additional $100 so we're going to refund you $1,300 and guarantee you're going to be profitable.
So if you're only betting $100 and you're up those six units then you're going to get the money back as if it was $300 but you're now going to lose money in the long run. We have a unit calculator on our website - so you can type in how much money you want to bet on every single game. And it tells you, if you finish this number of units up - this is your payout. If you finish this number of units down, this is your payout.
So it's fully transparent.
If you're going to bet $10 or $20 a game this is absolutely not for you and I do not want you signing up. The goal is for our subscribers to win money. I don't want taking someone's money that's going to be spending $10 per game. It's going to be really hard to win money in our system that way.
I know it's crazy to urge some people to not sign-up but that's what we're doing.
Burke: I see that one of your investors is the son of President George H.W. Bush and brother of George W. Bush. Tell me about that relationship and who are some of the other investors involved?
Schwimer: Yeah, so Marvin Bush is the chairman of our board and we have hundreds of investors. There are a lot of big-time guys that would prefer to remain nameless but the big guys that don't mind are David Ganek - who dominated the finance world for a long period of time. Steve Duncker, who's a partner at Goldman Sachs and ran NYRA (New York Racing Association), that's big into sports betting ... and Bill Miller, who holds the record of beating the S&P 500 index 15 years in a row.
So that's just an example of some the investors that are behind us.