How much time should we allocate to analysing the prognoses in sports betting?

Thursday, 28 February 2019

There are studies that refute the theories of some “connoisseurs” of this phenomenon. We will detail and discuss them below. But the verdict is yours!

There are many materials on sports betting claiming that each prediction should be analysed for a few hours before being played, but could this theory be true?

Song-Oh Yoon, a Professor at Korea University Business School, managed to make a very interesting demonstration in 2013. In particular, there are studies indicating that the punters focusing on analysing in detail the teams playing a football or baseball match (for instance, on their average number of goals, their recent injuries, the conduct of their technical staff, etc.) will have a decreased ability to provide correct prognoses than by largely guiding themselves by the performances of those teams over the past years in general.

Moreover, Professor Yoon also discovered the reason why this happened during the 3 studies she had made on this subject: the punters who know a lot of statistics and accurate information have a tendency to miscalculate the weight of such information, which impairs their decisions. Technically, one of the factors is considered more important than it really is, which is where the entire analysis goes awry.

The results of this study as well as the suggestions from researchers regarding the causes of this should help some of us explain why before the appearance of so many resources on the Internet it was a lot easier to make a ticket with 7 winning prognoses out of 9. Yes, there are many punters who, after they “became modern”, started to lose their flair, although, it seems, they had educated themselves and had acquired tons of golden knowledge.

A former professional online poker player may be able to give us an insight into this reality. Philip Newall has studied the sports betting phenomenon at length and has developed various university projects, and one of the things he points out in an article regarding the advertisements for the online betting houses during the 2014 World Cup is that, after many years of research in the field of behavioural sciences, people have a tendency to greatly overestimate the probabilities of some complex events with slight chances of success.

People are driven by emotions and betting houses are very much aware of this, which is why they have all kinds of offers stating, for instance: “Muller to score and Germany to win 3-0”, and so on. These bets “seem” possible. However, their probabilities are much lower, mathematically speaking, than the bet houses quotas will ever indicate.

The example provided by Newall for this theory is particularly enlightening. As a former professional poker player, he says people believe it is much more likely for 5 coin tosses to end as follows: heads, tail, heads, tail, heads as compared to this result: heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, although there is absolutely the same mathematical probability for both results to occur.

On a more personal note, let me ask you: how many times did you change your prognosis around only to lose? I, for one, do not rise above this situation, and I will be the first to admit that this has happened to me, too, more than once. Still, this should give us pause for thought.

In general, one in 20 published psychological studies is said to contain wrongful results, meaning that we may expect for an average of 5% of the studies to produce results generated in a certain way and merely by hazard. To make things even more complicated, let me share a piece of information with you: Dr. Nosek discovered in 2015 that the results of 64% of the 97 psychological tests he had conducted were no longer recorded by the time those experiments were replicated.

This being the case, can we ever doubt Professor Song-Oh Yoon’s studies? Of course, we may very well find that this is not actually the case when we test it. I inserted this plot intently, to make you run such tests, concretely; this is the only way to benefit from this experience.

Let us not kid ourselves: betting should not be played randomly, without relying on statistics and information; rather, we should find a balance regarding the time granted to the analysis of the matches and especially the weight we assign to some of the information we are collecting. However, there can be no ideal recipe for all to follow because each and every one of us is unique and thinks differently, even if it does not appear so most times J.

by Valentin Macovei

Author: Editor

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