Sports betting is something you should do responsibly. I bet on sports as an investment and the key to any gambler winning over the long time is to keep rational at all times and not overextend themselves. This isn’t something to risk the rent or kids’ college fund on. Let’s examine some of the reasons people really think they have the true, winning and unbeatable strategy without any research or concept of money management. There are specific delusions, called “cognitive distortions” that plague gamblers. These are well-documented and well-known to the sports gambling psychology communities. In a study from the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, common cognitive distortions in gamblers “include the magnification of gambling skills, minimization of other gambler’s skills, superstitious beliefs (including talismanic …. superstitions), interpretive biases (including internal attributions, external attributions, gambler’s fallacy, chasing, anthropomorphism, reframed losses, hindsight bias) … illusion of control over luck.”
That’s a lot of craziness, and we need to do our best to avoid anything on that list. These are actually very common mistakes in thinking we make everyday – however, most of the time these mistakes will not end up costing us hundreds or thousands of dollars. I’d light to highlight a few of these that are especially common so you can have a better idea of what kind of mistakes in thinking to look out for.
“Magnification of skills“ - Simply put, these means everyone thinks they have it right. Once you convince yourself of this is hard to realize it, so keep an open mind and ALWAYS do your research and look at your results objectively. Numbers never lie.
“Minimization of other gambler’s skills” - In sports gambling psychology this is the belief of square bettors that everyone else is a square. They’re not – there are many sharps who are much better than you. And the bookies? They’ve always got more information than the normal bettor or else they wouldn’t be in the business, or be broke very quickly.
“Talismanic superstitions“ - Your lucky rabbit’s foot or not washing that jersey for three years doesn’t help you cover the spread. Period.
“Gambler’s Fallacy” – Gambler’s fallacy is an important idea here. The false belief here is that the universe has some kind of memory or wants some a specific outcome. The common misconception is: if I flip a coin and it lands on heads 49 times, the next flip has just GOT to be tails! It’s got to even out sometime, right? Well, wrong. The chance of tails for the next flip is the exact same as all the others: %50. This is the feeling that something is due to happen.
“My underdog team has lost so much, they’re due for a win.”
“This favorite has won a ton of games lately, so they’re due for a loss.”
Why? Has something changed? Have the teams gotten better or worse or is something drastically different? Probably not, but we keep thinking that some things are simply “bound to happen” or “meant to be this way.” Bookmaking and the use of the spread make this a bit more complicated, but the basic mistake remains the same: there’s no such thing as a team “due” for a win or loss. Don’t fall into this trap of thinking.
“Reframed losses and hindsight bias” - “I just knew that was going to happen! My gut instinct was right, and if I had just stuck with that, I would have won. Besides, that loss wasn’t really that bad, because I didn’t expect to make that money on that bet anyways.”
Does any of this sound familiar? This is the way we rationalize mistakes and losses we’ve made in the past. We were either “almost right” or “just missed a bet.” Unfortunately, the truth is you lost. And that happens sometimes, but you have to realize that you did lose, and looking back and making up reasons for it will only lead you to make the same (bad) bets again and set basic gambling psychology back.
“Illusion of Control over Luck” - Luck is something that is always on our minds, and a very hard idea to get ourselves out of. And it’s harmless to talk and think about it as long as we are not making it any part of our conscious sports gambling psychology. Luck doesn’t affect outcomes of games, it doesn’t switch sides or support one time, and we can’t get any more luck or better chances of covering the spread from hanging around lottery winners or plane crash survivors or any other super “lucky” people. Consider it unlucky that field goal hit the post or lucky that the quarterback got hit by a bird on a red-zone play, but don’t dwell on it and don’t ever let it be the most important of your strategy – or any part of your strategy.