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The Science Is Ruthless

I was about 15 when I placed my first bet at a local betting shop near a place I lived. From that moment, the following 2 years, I went to the same shop almost on a daily basis. Of course it was not legal, but it was 1993 and authorities didn’t really care. Being under age back then was quite different compared to these days. You could drink, you could smoke and you could indeed gamble your money away.

Back then, there was no internet, no online betting and you could only bet on a 3 way results market. As for sports you could only choose from football (soccer), ice hockey and tennis. Hardly ever there was anything else and as I remember seeing volleyball, cycling or any other sports in the selection, I considered it exotic. Besides all those limitations there was yet another significant issue - only accumulator tickets.

Was I winning? Of course not. As the time passed I came to realize one thing. I was guessing right only about 60% of the fixtures and I never went for odds over 2.00. Out of 20 accumulator bets, there was maybe one winning and the rest was losing. It took me about 2 weeks to lose my monthly betting budget.

Betting odds explained

This example was initially introduced on and we are happy to use it. Just imagine a bookmaker giving you instead of the odds only probability. Would not be really practical. I am used to decimal odds because I can feel the math and value much better. Using decimal odds, if the fair odds is 2.00, you know the probability is 50%. The math is simple:

1 / decimal odds x 100% = probability

In the case of 2.00, simply 1 / 2 = 0.5 x 100% = 50%.

Even in the accumulator bets you simply take the stake and multiply it by all the odds on your betting slip. If you have 3 fixtures with odds 2.3 and 1.4 and 4.5 and your stake amount is let’s say £10, the math of your potential win looks as following:

2.3 x 1.4 x 4.5 x 10 = £144.9

General formula looks like this

Odds(1) x Odds(2) x Odds(3) x … Odds(number) x Stake = Potential win

The psychology of Betting

If I should summarize the core of betting psychology, I would write... Cut out your emotions and follow the betting strategy based on mathematics. Further in this book I am writing more about the Betting strategy, now we focus on psychology.

It is important to stress what I don’t mean by following the strategy. I describe it in the following example.

“Imagine you placed 20 bets in the row, 18 of them have lost and you are sick of this whole shit. The strategy is saying, bet now another £100 on the following fixtures.”

This is the spot, where you need to stop. No matter what the strategy says, if you had enough or lost it, simply quit.

What is meant by the psychology of betting is to avoid the following cases.

Team A needs to win

The mathematical football predictions are suggesting value in the win of team B, but you bet on team A, because Team A needs to win.

The approach behind “Team A needs to win” is fully logical, but this kind of logic is going to bring you misery.

From my past experience, it made sense that e.g. Leeds United needed to win the next fixture to avoid relegation. It made sense that Bayern Munich hat to take all 3 away points in the last game of the season to become the Bundesliga Champions. It made sense that the opponent had nothing to play for and since they were lacking motivation they should have let those who needed points take the win.

I remember being upset quite often about the results the next day. Teams with no motivation took away the chances of those who wanted to remain in the league or become champions. How dare they?

Probability doesn’t care about what we need

Would be fair for team B to win

The mathematical football predictions are suggesting value in the win of team C, but you bet on team B, because Team C deserves the points now.

The performance of team B was great the last 5 games, but they only took 2 points. Now it would be fair for them to win. Team C has to let them win, because they are playing on Team B home stadium and that away win disappoints the fans.

I thought I was the only one with such a mental process when betting, but after talking to the community of other punters it turned out that this approach is quite common. Whenever you catch yourself saying “it would be fair”, simply stop it. Football is not fair - just like life.

Probability doesn’t care about what would be fair

I am a United fan, why should I bet on Ajax

Feel free to replace any team for Liverpool and any team for Barcelona. The national teams are a great example. During the Championships many fans are expressing their support by betting on their national team. This is one of the most dangerous things to do and a complete nonsense.

Bookmakers have your “support” perfectly covered. Trust me! If you don’t have the guts to bet on the opposite team than your beloved one even if the math suggests so, do one thing. Skip betting on the match of your favourite team completely and you save yourself the double disappointment.

Probability doesn’t care about love either

What does the probability care about?

As mentioned in the previous examples, probability does not care about fairness, needs nor love. The only thing probability cares about is probability and statistics. What a narcissism... If you don’t trust me, make an experiment with a coin toss. Toss a coin 10 times and pray for heads landing more than 60% of the time. Repeat the experiment 50 times and now look at how your prayers did. The psychology of betting can be taken down to one rule.

If your bookmaker is offering odds 2.3, but your verified mathematical football predictions suggest 1.9, you found 21.1% value and you should go for that. If your football predictions are correct, in the long run, there is no other option than 21.1% gain on your stakes.

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