RJ Bell’s Response to this Article
I write here to respond to Deadspin’s June 23, 2016 story about Pregame and RJ Bell. Pregame prides itself on its transparency, its carefully cultivated experts, and its ability to bring its users a fair and enjoyable experience. While Pregame’s users know that the allegations in Deadspin’s story do not accurately depict the Pregame experience, those who stumble across this article when deciding whether to use Pregame may get a very wrong impression of Pregame, and avoid it as a result. To give those potential users all the facts to allow them to form their own opinion, I must respond to several of the allegations against Pregame in this article
Allegation #1: Pregame lacks transparency and Pros do not have to disclose their full records
Response: All major sports and pick types are automatically graded, archived, and available for review on Pregame (the “Pick Archive”). Non-major sports and niche pick types (categories that make up less than 1% of picks) are not automatically archived. However, most Pregame Pros account for non-standard picks by adding them to the analysis area of their standard picks.
Allegation #2: The Pick Archive contains numerous misgraded games.
Response: Pregame’s Pick Archive automatically enters every major sport and major pick type so that it is available for review soon after the game starts. That way, those watching a game can be certain that all picks are included. Errors may infrequently occur – such as the misgraded 1st-half CFB play from October, 2015, identified in the article – but those errors are corrected as soon as they are brought to Pregame’s attention.
Allegation #3: Pregame uses an “out-of-date or nonexistent betting line”
Response: Deadspin’s story details an old Pregame policy. Pregame changed its policy in May 2015 based upon customer feedback. Ever since May 15, 2015, Pregame has had the strictest line grading policy in the industry. It guarantees that “record following picks” will be at least as good as the results archived and promoted on Pregame for that record.
Allegation #4: Pregame falsely inflates its records
Response: Many Pros tout records that are slightly lower than their true records in order to manage user expectations. Users can independently verify these records through the Pick Archive. Pregame’s calculations account for the real-world fact that picks on the same game from different Pros will often be opposite sides. (Deadspin’s calculations and graphs did not make this adjustment.) This adjustment is critical because, in the real world, a customer will often pass on games with conflicting picks because betting both sides would result in automatically losing the sportsbook commission. In fact, Pregame fully refunds any customer who buys opposite sides of the same game.
Deadspin and Pregame’s records similarly differ because Deadspin’s calculations included inactive Pros and Pregame frequently updates its information to include only its active Pros. The majority of Pregame’s current active handicappers are profitable.
Allegation 5: Deadspin makes assumptions about the cost of picks.
Response: Deadspin assumes that five picks (two 3*s, two 2*s, and one 1*) released on a day would cost $60. In reality, a normal day’s picks from any Pro at Pregame would cost less than half that amount. If the customer subscribes to a discount program, the cost would be even less.
Allegation 6: Pregame’s founder, RJ Bell, claims that Pros win 55% of the time.
Response: I often say that the best a professional bettor can hope for over the long-run is 55% winners. But I have never claimed that all or even a majority of Pregame’s Pros have such percentages. My statement is meant to convey that 55% is the ceiling, not the floor, for bettors. It would absurd to say or imply that Pros win 55% of the time, because if that were the case, then everyone could quit their jobs and replace their income by following the Pro’s picks instead. That would be nonsense.
Allegation #7: Pregame’s founder, RJ Bell, claims that winning is a headache.
Response: The statement is made out of context. Pros are expected to manage customer expectations, which can be difficult when a Pro is on a winning streak with his pick suggestions. Winning becomes “a headache” for the Pros because they must remind their customers that winning streaks do not last forever.
Allegation #8: Pregame’s email to “wannabe pick-sellers” states, “Winning – especially in the short-term, is not the issue.”
Response: Pregame’s form reply email to those who solicit Pregame to sell picks state that “Winning – especially in the short-term, is not the issue” because nearly every aspiring pick seller who emails Pregame includes his recent hot streak as proof of his merit. While hot streaks can be noteworthy, they are far from enough to become a Pregame Pro because short-term performance is not indicative of long-term performance and Pregame choses Pros who can provide quality long-term performance.
Allegation #9: Pros are required to have a certain number of confidence picks per month (i.e. “Games of the Month” picks) and are required to promote other Pro’s touts, regardless of performance.
Response: Pros are not required to cross-promote any specific other Pros. Pros are also not required to have a certain number of monthly picks. Pregame educates its Pros that high confidence picks are only effective if they are genuine. A Pro is encouraged to release high confidence picks that it believes in and is not obligated to meet a quota.
Allegation #10: Pregame has publicized and profited from 5dimes.com and other sportsbooks
Response: Pregame does not advertise or receive revenue from any sportsbook, including 5dimes.com. Pregame has had no financial dealings with any online sportsbook in more than 10 years. Further, I do not own any sportsbook services such as Pregame Action or Sharpbetter.ag
Allegation #11: RJ Bell has a losing pick record on Pregame.
Response: My pick record on Pregame does have more losses than wins, however, the record has not been updated since 2010—eight years ago. Since 2014, I’ve provide my weekly picks during the NFL Season for free on the syndicated Kevin & Bean morning show. Every year since – 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 – has been a documented winning year for my picks.
Allegation #12: RJ Bell falsely claims that he was valedictorian of his finance class at Ohio State University.
Response: I graduated first place in my finance class at Ohio State University. The South by Southwest Conference website used the word “valedictorian” to describe this. I then began to use the same word in some of my bio materials. It was later brought to my attention that Ohio State technically does not use the word “valedictorian”, and I then promptly stopped using the word. None of this takes away from the fact that I graduated #1 in my class at Ohio State.
Pregame has never claimed that it is perfect, but we do work hard every day to be the best we can. For every site visitor, including the 95% who never buy a single pick, our goal is to improve your odds, while making you aware that beating the bookie is hard. We have faced obstacles at times. The best way to chart our progress is to read through Pregame’s public posting forums on any given day ... we are proud of the appreciation the community shows for our efforts.
- RJ Bell, Founder and Owner of Pregame