Analytics Helps David Bergman Win Big At DraftKings DFS World Championship

Written By George Myers on February 2, 2021 - Last Updated on February 4, 2021

You won’t typically find “millionaire” and “information management professor” in the same sentence.

But they are both now a reality for David Bergman, a professor at the UConn School of Business.

Bergman, using the same analytics he so often teaches, won $2.5 million in the DraftKings Daily Fantasy Sports World Championship.

Outdueling 199 other competitors, Bergman recorded a win that underscores the advantages possessed by fantasy players and sports bettors well-versed in the world of data analysis.

Daily fantasy sports win for the ages

A seven-year vet of the university’s operations and information management department, Bergman has played fantasy sports since college. And he has since made it part of his professional career.

In an interview with the university, Bergman described himself as “shocked by the whole thing, but it’s very exciting.” He also called daily fantasy sports “such a fun hobby.”

Yet it seemed he was more than well-suited to turn that “hobby” into a massive payday. After all, Bergman has published articles focused on data-driven optimization and sports analytics in various scientific journals, according to UConn.

He has even used his data expertise to recommend seating designs at events ranging from friends’ wedding to a nonprofit fundraising event at Yankee Stadium. Such experience prompted him to co-author papers on how best to tackle event seating.

“There is no way to succeed in something like this without domain knowledge,” Bergman noted. “You want to pursue an area you’re passionate about, and then have fun.”

Showing the value of analytics in sports wagering

Not only is it a fun (and now lucrative) hobby, but daily fantasy sports has also become “a very cool math problem,” according to Bergman.

“Top-ranked players might use a combination of game theory, predictive modeling, machine learning and optimization for selecting entries. Of course, on any particular day, you’re also flipping a coin; there’s always luck involved.”

That combination of luck and data expertise came to fruition when Bergman decided to choose a unique-enough lineup to distinguish himself from other DFS players.

DraftKings revealed Bergman’s chosen lineup for his “theWhistleGoWoo” team:

The unlikely choices, specifically Edmonds, Smythe, and the Cowboys defense, performed well enough in Week 15 to win him the $2.5 million prize.

Of course, a misplaced injury could have sent Bergman’s afternoon sideways, along with a clunker of a game by any of his stars. That’s the luck.

But research and analysis accompanied that luck. In many ways, it drove the winning lineup, one of eight Bergman had in play that day.

Bergman told the Hartford Courant that other fantasy players should “try not to pick based on who you like.”

“In March Madness, it is commonly known, if you’re in a pool … in the Northeast, don’t pick teams from the Northeast because there will be many more people in your pool that pick from the Northeast. Differentiate yourself. … That’s very similar to [the approach for] my lineup.”

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George Myers

George Myers is a writer with extensive experience in both news and sports reporting. He has primarily covered baseball and football, along with the intersection of sports and lawmaking.

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