Five Betting Lessons We Learned in 201610th January 2017 / Julian
Ah, 2016. It was a bad year for celebrity deaths, and a good year – by and large – for the bookmakers: when is it not!
The rise and rise of Leicester City delivered an unprecedented 5000/1 winner in the English Premier League, while in the latter half of the year the likes of Nice and RB Leipzig have taken the Foxes lead in upsetting the odds. Can either hang on to create their own slice of history?
Last year was a key one for punters in taking on board valuable lessons. Betting is a skill, and like any other it requires practice, fine tuning and a certain open-mindedness in being willing to accept mistakes and acting accordingly.
Here are just five lessons that the football world taught us in 2016:
#1 – Expect the Unexpected
The smart punter sets out at the start of every season to increase the number of ‘sure bets’ (as if such a thing exists) that they place each week; specifically betting on teams or outcomes that appear almost bombproof.
For anybody betting on the Premier League Outright Winner market, the ‘sure thing’ of Manchester City was mostly usurped by Tottenham and certainly by Leicester City, who could well have been the only successful 5000/1 winner of 2016. The upshot of that was that the Foxes, who many expected to be embroiled in a relegation battle, won plenty of matches: 23 to be precise, the vast majority of which were as an odds-against proposition.
The point to be made here is that football betting is a highly volatile investment, and while we can do our homework to ensure that as many boxes are ticked a possible we simply cannot account for the moments of madness that occasionally govern the beautiful game.
Lesson Learned: An effective staking plan can account for anomalies, and ensures that long term our profits from sensible betting will outweigh the losses caused by freak or unexpected results.
#2 – Kick Confirmation Bias to the Kerb
Confirmation Bias is one of those zeitgeist concepts created by psychologists to explain a complex subject in simple terms, and of all its uses its application to sports betting is very much of relevance.
This is the notion that we have preconceived ideas about certain things, and then seek evidence to back up our theory rather than looking at the overall picture. So, if in our minds we fancy Arsenal to beat Manchester United, we will look for evidence to support the Gunners and unconsciously ignore any insight that points towards a United victory.
One common flaw in the betting community is the amount of weight given to head-to-head stats in football. Leicester City’s h2h record with any of the big clubs in English football makes for terrible reading, but that 2015/16 vintage was arguably the best squad – or at least, a squad packed with winners – in the club’s history; thus rendering all prior meetings with any other team meaningless.
So in saying that ‘Team A hasn’t lost at home against Team B in 20 years’ we are guilty of confirmation bias, because we aren’t looking at factors that are simply more relevant, such as current form, injuries/suspensions, home/away record, motivation etc.
Lesson Learned: Produce a checklist of boxes that must be ticked before placing a bet, e.g. are the team in good form/are the opponents on a bad run? Are key players missing? Are the teams strong at home/poor away? By reducing our betting to an administrative process, we can eliminate the horrors of Confirmation Bias.
#3 – Repetition is a Good Thing. Repetition is a Good Thing
The importance of ‘doing the right thing, at the right time’ in life cannot be underestimated, and it is so true in football betting too.
So once you have found a profitable avenue for your bets, persevere with it. Maybe you are adept at finding a value bet in-play, or are capable of finding worthy underdogs. Whatever your skill, maximise it and leave those ‘acca intentions’ on the shelf gathering dust.
How can you measure which is your best betting method of attack? Easy: bet tracking. It is remarkable how many punters who have dreams of making good money from betting still aren’t keeping track of their wagers. How else can you hope to find out which markets work best for you?
Lesson Learned: Find your betting niche. Identify this by keeping a spreadsheet of all of your betting activities, with columns covering leagues, teams, bet types, pre-game/in-play, odds, outcome and profit/loss. You will be amazed at what you learn about yourself.
#4 – No Emotion
This is linked to the concept of Confirmation Bias above, and the truth is that for so many punters – even those with a fantastic eye for picking winners – our judgment can be clouded by emotional responses.
Refusing to back the teams we support/despise, failure to bet on teams that we have placed on the naughty step (or continuing to back those that let us down time and again – Newcastle and Atletico Madrid being two examples this season), chasing losses, betting ‘blind’ while in a state of euphoria from a win elsewhere….these are all emotion-led traps that many of us fall into.
Being cool, calm and clinical is the way we are going to be approaching our betting in 2017.
Lesson Learned: Always place your bets a couple of days in advance. That way all decisions are taken rationally and with applied logic. There is still time to alter/cancel/add wagers when team news is announced closer to kick off.
#5 – Stick to What You Know
Is there anything worse when you fancy a bet and scout around on a quiet Monday night and only the Malaysian Second Division is in action?
Of course, the temptation would be to hunt down a copy of the Malaysian Second Division league table, see who is in form and where they are placed in the league and put down some wagers accordingly. Bad mistake.
Only bet on leagues where you know the teams inside and out. One glimpse of the injuries and suspensions tables for the English Premier League will be enough to give an excellent insight for the vast majority of UK based punters, as do other titbits of knowledge: teams tend to rest players before/after Champions League matches, for example.
Throwing your money at a football culture that you know nothing about is a recipe for disaster, so stick to what you know.
Lesson Learned: Find your niche and utilise its full potential. A loss is a loss, and you will be left kicking yourself at throwing money down the drain with your idle wagers on the Ugandan League Cup etc!
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