His Failure as a Teacher Led to Success as a Prop Betting Entrepreneur
All Pete Smaluck wanted to do with his career was teach math to middle-schoolers. But that humble ambition was turned into a pipe dream by the glut of teachers in his native Ontario, Canada when he graduated — even though he had an undergraduate degree in statistics and a masters in education.
So Smaluck, 38, must settle for his fallback career — running a successful sports betting app company recently profiled by the Washington Post.
After Smaluck couldn’t land his dream teaching post, he got a job creating interactive data applications for the Hamilton Spectator newspaper. He also worked as an engineer for various start-ups, gaining valuable software development chops. But neither satisfied his desire to teach math to kids.
So he built a software program that did it instead. The program used NBA stats, making it more fun. A typical question might ask how many free throws LeBron James has made if he shot 12 but only made 25%. (Answer: 3.) About 50 teachers tested it and expressed enthusiasm. But COVID had just hit, and they didn’t want to pay out of pocket for the software — nor did any school boards Smaluck contacted.
Props to Prop Betting
Smaluck and his friends were avid fans of prop (proposition) betting — placing wagers on the outcomes of sporting events other than the winners, the final scores or the point spreads. A prop bet can be placed on a football player’s total passing yards, on whether a run will be scored during the first inning of a major-league baseball game, or even on the length of the National Anthem.
In the last two years, prop bets have exploded in popularity, as sportsbooks seeking to differentiate themselves invent more ways to invest in anything that could possibly happen during a game. DraftKings recently reported that more than 10% of the bets it now receives come from prop betting. Bets that were once offered only during the Super Bowl or World Series are now offered every day.
With a few modifications, Smaluck realized that his teaching software could be made to crunch numbers that help prop bettors decide which bets to place. His astounded friends suggested offering it as a paid online service.
Now, 18 months later, Props.cash is a valuable industry tool and profitable enterprise employing eight people. Thousands of subscribers pay Smaluck $19.99 a month or $199.99 a year for help on betting better. Props.cash uses color-coded graphs to represent advanced data sets in simple and intuitive ways, much like a math teacher might.
“I never really wanted to be in the gambling space,” Smaluck told the Post. “That wasn’t my ambition. My ambition was always to teach math. But it just turns out that the prop bettor is a student of math. And having these basic tools helps them.
“I’m still teaching math at its core,” Smaluck said. “But it’s not to students.”
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