You might have heard of R, the increasingly popular statistical programming language widely used for data analysis, but how can it help you improve your betting? For that purpose, we interviewed our Sports Manager, Jonathan Belke. Read on to find out his own struggles while learning R and what his tips for bettors new to this analysis tool are.
Data analysis is at the heart of any profitable betting strategy and R, the latest statistical programming language created by two professors from New Zealand, is taking the world of data analysis by storm. The Sports Manager of our eSports Department recently finished his training in R and agreed to share his thoughts on the future of betting analysis with our readers. Let’s meet Jonathan and find out what he has to say about R and why bettors should give it a go.
Hello Jonathan. Tell us a bit about your background.
My name is Jonathan Belke, I'm 28 years old and I work as the Sports Manager in the eSports Department. I joined Pinnacle in September 2013. I studied Maths for around three months before giving up and then switched to Culture Geographics which I took a break from after five semesters to pursue playing Starcraft 2 professionally. I never returned from that break.
Before studying R, did you have any previous coding experience?
I have no previous programming experience. The closest I have gotten to it is putting together some macros for this game I was playing, Darkfall Online.
Why did you get started with R?
I like learning new things and when the Datacamp program was rolled out in late November 2016 it sounded interesting and useful, so I figured I'd give it a try.
How many hours did you invest in learning R?
I didn’t really count. I would guess around 50-80 in total so far. I did it somewhat irregularly, doing a bunch of chapters when there was a quiet week at work and when I was motivated and then took a break again for a while if I had other commitments or hit a wall.
Do you like working in R?
Now I do! It’s actually really intuitive once you work with it for a bit and I can work on problems that just a few months I would have never imagined I could tackle.
What were your struggles while learning R?
At the beginning it was often somewhat dry and I have always struggled learning things that I don’t see the practical application for (yet). I was never a very good student. So I had to take many breaks and then push myself to continue again after a bit. Once you get past the first few courses it starts to get much better and you start to see where it’s all going, which is of course very motivating.
Do you think it is useful for bettors to learn R?
Absolutely! Overall the required time is really not that much compared to how useful it is. Data analysis plays such an important role in today’s world and it’s only going to get more important going forward.
What are your plans using R?
The things I have in mind right now are to develop new models for eSports, refine existing models, write reports about eSports and create plots to visualise information for people. This can be really helpful when trying to get an idea across - it’s difficult to get much meaning from plain data as a human.
What is your tip for bettors who start learning R?
I can only encourage everyone to keep going even if it’s sometimes difficult or boring. Once you get past that initial hurdle it starts to move forward really quickly and next thing you know, you are already done and can put it to use in practice. Also don’t be afraid to look stupid and just ask for help.
Thank you Jonathan.
For an introduction to R and how to get started, go straight to our popular article Using R for betting analysis.