- Sean Koerner is one of the participants in the inaugural Gambling Olympics.
- He’s the Director of Predictive Analytics for The Action Network and the No. 1 in-season FantasyPros NFL ranker each of the past three years.
- He was a late addition to the field but is still one of the favorites.
The 2018 Gambling Olympics is a two-day, 12-person contest taking place in Las Vegas on July 9-10. The buy-in is $2,500, and the winner gets $10,000.
Before, during and after the Gambling Olympics, we will provide extensive coverage via participant profiles, event breakdowns and live in-person analysis. Be sure to follow all the action in the Gambling Olympics section of the site.
Sean Koerner was a late addition to the Gambling Olympics field, but that doesn’t mean he’s an afterthought: He’s got some serious credentials. He got hooked on fantasy football early in life by co-managing a team with his dad. He wasn’t always an elite evaluator of talent — his first ever pick was Kordell Stewart — but throughout the years he’s perfected his process and has been the top in-season FantasyPros NFL ranker each year since 2015.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology and statistics, Koerner went on to work at STATS as the Director of Predictive Analytics, a title he’s held at The Action Network since May. In his distant past Koerner also spent time working at a sportsbook in Vegas, whence he earned the “Oddsmaker” moniker.
Koerner was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us heading into the inaugural Gambling Olympics.
Q: How did you first get involved with gambling?
Koerner: I walked into a sportsbook for the first time when I was 10, and the rest is history. I’ve had to set moneylines/spreads/totals on everything ever since. We’re talking setting a line for my brother’s little league game to setting an over/under on how many times a teacher would say a specific word during an hour-long class. I started betting online when I was 19.
Q: What qualifies you to participate in this prestigious tournament?
Koerner: It’s one of the many perks of working at The Action Network.
Q: What is your proudest “degen” moment?
Koerner: Probably not my proudest moment, but during the NBA season I almost got in a car accident because I was on my phone trying to hammer a line before it was taken off the board after getting an alert that Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was a surprise scratch. In hindsight, this was probably not a +EV life decision, and I would not recommend it.
Q: What do you feel will be your strongest and weakest events?
Koerner: I would say it’s a huge advantage for me that WNBA is a part of the DFS slate. I also won a 32-team beer pong tourney back in college. Table games and crypto are not my thing. If I had to rank my power ratings for each event compared to the field (best to worst), it would be: DFS, Beer Pong, Sports Betting, Standings Prediction, Lodden Thinks, Yahtzee, Rock-Paper-Scissors, Connect Four, Acey-Deucey, Blackjack, Crypto Portfolio, Poker.
Q: How many hours of prep are you putting into this?
Koerner: I wasn’t added to the field until two weeks before the event, so this is sort of my life right now. I’ve converted my place to a Gambling Olympics training facility with my buddies to train every day leading up to the event — much to my wife’s chagrin.
Q: Who do you think is the favorite to win?
Koerner: My money is on Jonathan Bales. I’m doing my best not to have a career-ending “Josh Freeman Game” with a dead-last finish. I’m using my handicapping skills to go from training for “just don’t finish last” to “win the whole d—n thing” over the next week. I’m a play in guaranteed prize pools for sure.
Q: Who is your pick to finish dead last?
Koerner: Not me, that’s all I know.
It’s hard not to like Oddsmaker in this event given his years of experience in speculation. One sportsbook clearly agrees: He trails only Peter Jennings (+450) with his +500 odds to win. Although he’s not listed as a favorite in any of the individual events, the market seems to believe in his ability to put up strong showings across the board.
One area where Koerner could be undervalued at the moment is Beer Pong. By reputation, he’s an objective evaluator, and he believes that will be one of his biggest strengths, yet he’s priced as one of the largest underdogs at +800. If he beat a field of 32 teams back in college — when most people are in their drinking prime — he can probably hang with a field of 12 people who have expressed a lot of doubt in this event (with the exception of Pete Manzinelli).
It’s notable that Koerner is listed at just +600 in DFS. Only he and Levitan are experienced WNBA grinders, which should give him a huge leg up on the field in that event. He’s also a four-time Fantasy Sports Trade Association award winner for having the most accurate MLB player projections, so he should feel pretty comfortable in MLB DFS as well.
The only real weaknesses in Koerner’s gambling arsenal are Poker and the Crypto Portfolio. He listed poker as his least confident event, and my sources tell me he believes he should be “at least +5000” considering the quality of his competition. He’s also listed at +1200 in the crypto event. His performance in those two areas could go a long way in determining his finish.
How Koerner wins: He does what he does best — predicting — and locks down wins in both Sports Betting and DFS as well as a top-three finish in the Standings Prediction. He also flashes back to his college days and dominates the field in beer pong and puts up solid finishes in some of the more luck-based events. Finally, he manages to finish in the middle of the pack instead of the bottom in both Poker and Crypto Portfolio, which is enough to put him atop the aggregate standings.
How Koerner loses: He puts up solid results across the board but ultimately fails to win any of the events. While that’s enough to keep him from the bottom of the table, it’s not enough to put him at the top. Unfortunately, he takes the Gambling Olympics loss to heart and enters a downward spiral that culminates months later in the ultimate professional ignominy: He finishes 2018 as the No. 2 in-season FantasyPros NFL ranker … behind FantasyLabs Editor-in-Chief Matthew Freedman.