Betting Psychology

Why do we gamble? Irrationality and overconfidence

For disciples of rational choice theory the business of gambling presents a headache. Supposedly individuals always make rational decisions by trying to maximise their advantage whilst minimising their losses. You wouldn’t pay €1,000 for a holiday if you thought it…

Applying behavioural economics in sports betting

Do odds represent true probabilities of an event? A leisurely stroll in the library and the discovery of a highly cited academic book is what put Dominic Cortis on the quest to discover why odds deviate from actual results. Read…

The Gambler’s Fallacy & law of large numbers

The Law of Large Numbers was established in the 17th century by Jacob Bernoulli showing that the larger the sample of an event – like a coin toss – the more likely it is to represent its true probability. Bettors…

Optimism bias in betting

We have all dreamt of being rich and this is one reason why people buy lottery tickets, even if the odds of scooping the jackpot are depressingly low. But how low are the odds exactly and what can you do…

Are winning streaks in sports betting real?

The term “hot hand” originates from basketball, where a player’s probability of hitting a free throw is believed to be higher after a hit than a miss on the previous shot. In sports betting scenarios, the term is used to…

The hindsight bias effect in sports betting

Research in neuro-economics, the science that seeks to explain human decision-making, has shown that money-making experiences are processed by the brain in the same way as chemically-induced highs, while financial losses are handled as if mortal dangers. So what can…

Predictive skills – Are you a Fox or Hedgehog?

It’s unlikely that you have ever wondered whether you are more like Fox or a Hedgehog. Important scholars stretching back to the Grecians have, however, used this animal analogy to characterise important traits that illustrate the way we think and…

The difference between sports and sports betting

One of the most common betting mistakes is to confuse specialist knowledge in sports with a specialty in sports betting. This error is illustrated by the proliferation of ex-professional sports stars that become betting tipsters or self-proclaimed experts, and is…

How confirmation bias affects your betting

When was the last time you decided to bet on a team, but found new information and decided to back their opponent? If you don’t do this very often, it could be because you’ve become a victim of “confirmation bias”,…

Why players perform better when they’€™re losing

Whether a golfer, soccer player or tennis star, professional sportsmen hate to lose. That’s obvious. But did you know that athletes actually perform better in situations where they are striving to avoid defeat, rather than if they were just aiming…

Are winning streaks caused by great skill or good luck?

There’s no doubt the best sports stars are defined by their ability to consistently avoid defeat: Roger Federer at Wimbledon, Jose Mourinho at home and Floyd Mayweather in the ring. But are these sprees caused by great skill – or…

Understanding the Halo Effect

Many people bet intuitively. They rely on what they know or feel about a particular team or player to make an on-the-spot assessment of their chances of success. While intuition is reliable at instantly working out if someone is angry…

The dangers of weighting probability from intuition

Do you know why betting on your favourite team is a bad idea? It’s for the same reason lotteries are so popular and people find judging the likelihood of rare events, like a hole-in-one, so difficult. It comes down to…

Guarding against the dangers of superstition

People are prone to misinterpreting a sense of control in situations that are inherently random, uncontrollable or unpredictable. This illusion of control is especially pertinent to gambling, and should therefore be something that all bettors understand and try to guard…

The Monty Hall Problem: knowing when the odds are against you

The Monty Hall problem is a prime example of how, when presented with the simple challenge of selecting one favourable outcome against two unfavourable outcomes, we display a basic inability to correctly weigh up the chances of success. This is…

Why bettors should understand heuristics

A lot of gamblers trust gut instinct to bet without realising that relying on ready made rules of thumb – known in psychology as heuristics – can lead to poor decision making. Find out what the most common heuristics are…