Psychology of Sport Betting Part 2

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Part Two – Dealing with a loss

Psychology and Gambling LossesIn the first part of this series you saw how randomness in sporting events can lead to you making a mistake in stopping when you have an edge at gambling. Here you’ll see a different scenario, where your gambling can be affected by times you feel unlucky.

The article starts with a look at a common scenario in sports betting – the unfortunate loss. You’ll read how this loss can affect your future bets and how it can lead to blinkered thinking. The article ends with some steps you can use to put it right.

The Unfortunate Loss

Imagine you’ve had a bet on a game of football. You’ve backed the home team at low odds who you think will dominate and you’re pleased when they open the scoring midway through the first half. The game remains 1-0 until the later stages. In the 3rd minute of injury time, the opposing striker dives in the penalty area, and the referee falls for it, and gives a penalty. You pray fervently the player misses, but he doesn’t and your bet loses. You are rightly fuming! You’ve just lost a bet through no fault of your own – the combination of the cheating striker and the appalling refereeing decision being completely to blame.

So, what happens to your thought process now? In exactly the same situation you’ll feel justified in placing the same bet again, knowing that the only reason you lost was because you were unlucky. Next time out, you decide to back the home team again at low odds, and they draw 0-0 after missing a penalty in the 2nd half. You’re even more frustrated but still feel completely unlucky and right in placing the bet.

You back them again for a third time. This time they lose 1-0 in a game they deserved to lose.

Three bets and three losses – things are going really badly. Could you have done anything differently here? Let’s look at the first game again from the point of view of someone who had backed the draw.

A Different Angle on the Unfortunate Loss

Danger Signs Online GamblingThis person has backed the draw as they think the low priced home team is not that good. They are disappointed when the home team score early on, but the away team is actually playing quite well. Minutes into the second half they are gutted when the away team hit the post and even more upset when the referee fails to give a stone wall penalty for handball moments later. Finally in injury time they equalize – a terrible decision for the penalty, but one that makes amends for the earlier one. They pick up a nice win and go home happy!

This view of the game is completely different to the one seen by the original gambler who went away feeling completely unlucky, but was he/she really unlucky? It seems clear from the second view that the teams were quite evenly matched and it’s highly possible that the original bet was actually a really bad one. It’s very easy in gambling to take a completely one sided view of a game, where you are almost blinkered. You see the team you have backed being unlucky, but when the same thing happens to the other side it’s instantly forgotten. Here, if you’d considered all aspects of the first game, you might not have backed the team a second or a third time and saved yourself a lot of money.

The same applies to all sports. You might back a horse  who you consider to be the best in the race which loses the race by a nose. You consider yourself very unlucky and decide to back it again next time out. This time the horse is neck and neck with the same opponent, but gets up on the finish line to win by a nose. You feel justified in your bet and you know you’re going to back it again next time out. In reality here, the two horses are completely equal – but in your mind the one who you backed each time is clearly the better one. This is another example of blinkered thinking.

Putting it Right

Every time you lose, take a rounded view of a sporting event. In this day and age it’s actually easier because there is a multitude of statistics that you can use to evaluate an event. If you think you’ve been unlucky, look at the stats and ask yourself if you really were? If you can come back with the answer that you were genuinely unlucky, then you should be satisfied with your bet and yes, go ahead and place a similar bet again. If your bet wasn’t actually unlucky – think again.

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