Rowdie, the football betting community
Rowdie Logo - Betting is Mathematics

Psychology of sports betting

Psychology of sports betting is one of the most important features of success in sports betting. Look at the most common distortions

23/09/2019

Featured Image

My personal psychological goal for sports betting goes like this:

"I am supposed to see the probability of a match outcome and follow the mathematical predictions with rationality and reasoning without any emotional charge."

You can indeed set your own goal, but let's pretend for a minute you agree with the one I set. How do you know you have reached that goal? When you created emotional distance and watch the game only through the eyes of pure chance and probability, you are there.

You don’t play the “would be nice/fair for them to win” mental game anymore and follow your football betting strategy.

On the way to reach the goal there are some, often very well hidden psychological distortions that might and will come across. Now let us look at the tricks that your mind plays with you.

You get the feeling you are a great bettor

Pride comes before a fall. Have you ever heard this statement before? Some of you could have experienced it the hard way. This is often the case if you are having a period of good results. Not seeing this as a matter of luck, you are getting self confident without any good reason.

The good period makes you feel happy but guess what. You are prone to risk more if you are happy! There is a study on betting and happiness supporting this statement. I am not trying to put the good ones among you down, but try to be honest and answer the following question just for you.

Are your betting skills really so great? Is there anything special about your betting know-how that gives you a long term advantage, or do you see luck as your skills? Try to answer this honestly using facts only!

Please look at the following Ted Talks video which might give you some more insight to this topic.

Confirmation bias

...makes you ignore what you should pay attention to. Confirmation bias is about ignoring a clear evidence. You see obscure signs that the chances for the match results are different than your prediction, but you simply ignore them.

The main problem is that we would rather seek the evidence that supports our point of view instead of being critical. We are prone to ignore the bad news. There is some more about cognitive biases in the following video. They are certainly useful in sports betting as well.

Cognitive distortion

We all have a tendency to look at what happened in the past through the eyes of today's knowledge. A very good example is the boxing fight between Antony Joshua and Andy Ruiz. Online bookies favored AJ with 78% (decimal odds 1.28) and the underdog Ruiz chances were supposed to be only 26,6% (decimal odds 3.75). Most of the punters (including me) were basically the same opinion. I even considered the odds on Joshua’s win too high as Ruiz was supposed to be just the journey-man for AJ.

The arguments were supporting it:

  • AJ never looked so strong as he did before this fight
  • He trained really hard
  • He is humble and respectful
  • On the weigh in I just couldn’t take Ruiz seriously / talking about the aesthetic of how a sportsmen "should" look like

For those who watched the fight, this was a blow of surprise. From my point of view (and from the point of view of many boxing experts), AJ had no chance. This was not about Ruiz using his 26% of a chance to win the fight. This was about the chances being predicted completely wrong by the bookies. From what I think, AJ had only a chance to win by some accidental suckers blow. I see it as 10% AJ win and 90% Ruiz win.

And coming to the point. I sound so smart now, right! Now it is more than obvious that AJ was 2 levels below Ruiz. Now we hear many experts saying “AJ should lose 2 stones, to be quicker”. “Boxing is about being fast and not looking like an armored tank”... Because everybody is smart now...

This is called cognitive distortion. As we have knowledge about the results of the past event, now it is easy to find arguments supporting it. The crucial thing is to find them before the match. The cruel truth in this case was: I don't really know anything about boxing (watching every now and then doesn't count), I had no sports prediction tools quantifying my feelings and my bet was a great example of how NOT to do it.

You ask a good question

...but end up answering the wrong one. Let me explain this with an example. You are trying to guess the result of the match between Barcelona and Roma.

This might be really a good example since most of the punters know FC Barcelona even in detail and many have heard of AS Roma. So what would you do after you decide, this might be a good match to bet on? You most likely look at some past results of both teams and then just answer like this “I know FC Barcelona much better and think they have a good chance to win, so I will bet on them”.

Many times the following scenario happens. The original question “How the match will end” ends up with an answer “I know this one or that one team better and I will bet on them”. Try to observe this mental process and whenever you see in your mind something like “Not sure from my analysis and betting model who will be the winner, but I know the team X better, so I will bet on that”.

This match was by the way played in August 2018 and AS Roma and ended up winning with the score 2:4.

So what is the right answer supposed to be?

It should sound like this:

I did a deep analysis of both teams, results in leagues, I checked the shape of players and the news. Then I compared the odds coming out of my football betting model with the odds from the online bookmakers.

You see the real odds being pushed towards the statistical chance by e.g. 30% in favour of FC Barcelona. This is the chance to bet like a bot, since a value bet has been discovered.

Time consuming? Indeed, but keep in mind that you are competing against dedicated teams of professionals. Besides that, we are offering you our football predictions, where we do the time consuming job for you. You can also use our calculator to create your own football odds. The second option is more time consuming, but the process is fully in your hands.