You often hear phrases like “Go with your gut” and “trust your instincts” but I’d previously considered advice like this rubbish. Surely giving extra thought to your decisions can only be preferable to not doing so? That was until I’d read Thinking Fast and Slow by by Nobel Prize-winner Daniel Kahneman and given it some more thought, rather ironically.
The human mind wants to make decisions as quickly as possible and it’s performing optimally when it does so. It doesn’t just do this by guessing though and when you instinctively make a decision you are subconsciously doing so based on all your life experiences.
You can think about your decisions for longer if you wish but more times than not you’ll probably arrive at that same instinctive choice that you started with. Of course this isn’t a reason not to think about decisions for longer and it’s true that occasionally disasters will be avoided by thinking about decisions for a greater amount of time. But the energy that’s required to do that extra thinking comes at a price.
When you start to see the brain as just another muscle it makes sense that using it in a way that requires more processing will eat up more resources and ultimately make you more tired. Ever wondered why you feel so physically tired and crave junk food after working on a computer, say programming all day? It’s because thinking requires an awful lot of energy. It can also lead to an overload and stress which in turn can cause you to make other poorer decisions.
What I’m suggesting is that it’s a good idea to try to limit your thinking when it comes to decisions. Recognise where you gut instinct should be sufficient and at least won’t be too much of a disaster even if you make the wrong choice. Efficiency is what we should be aiming for.
So, how does this relate to sports betting?
Well, it seems that a lot of people struggle to do well from their betting because they’re not consistent in their approach. They give themselves too many choices to make. Is this really a value bet and should I stake this much or that much are decisions that ideally shouldn’t require much thought.
Yes the Kelly Criterion is the mathematically optimal approach but we’re not machines. We can neither price up events on a daily basis accurately enough, nor prevent ourselves from reacting emotionally when a bet we thought had huge value loses. Be it by bad luck or not, you only have to get it drastically wrong once to do a lot of damage.
The introduction of in play betting has made things worse and now bettors have the option to trade in and out through the duration of the event too. Huge losses can be racked up in play by constantly changing your mind. Even if the bets themselves have been outsourced to a tipster, bettors will often consider dropping them after a few losses or consider raising stakes after a few wins. The evaluation is never-ending.
From my experience of running BettingTools and the Tipster Table competition it’s been made clear to me that simplicity and consistency usually wins the day.
Those who can decide upon a stake that is comfortable to them for every bet, regardless of how many winners and losers they have. Those that are happy specialising in a particular type of racing or a certain edge they believe they have. Those that stick with a tipster they believe knows a value price, even after a particularly bad spell. These are the ones who are most likely to make regular profits.