Understanding how psychology affects the way you bet

If you want to make money as a bettor, you would realize sooner or later the role psychology plays in your chance of winning any bet. Do you know or believe that your mindset can affect your chances of winning? Is there a relationship between how you think and how profitable you would be as a bettor? Read on to know if you are in control of your actions or if they are in control of you.

We humans believe we are superior to other animals because of our ability to think rationally. As a matter of fact, the rational choice theory is what our whole economic theory is based on. This theory which states that in all situation people try to minimise their losses and maximise their gains only makes sense on paper.

Testing the rational choice theory

In Economics, alternatives are ordered by preferences based on the satisfaction derived from consuming them. For example, if we know that John loves pawpaw more than mangoes and loves mangoes more than apples, we can easily predict that he would go for a mango when asked to choose between mangoes and apples.

Now imagine a situation where John goes for the birthday party of his 8 years old niece. His sister takes a healthy approach to feeding their guests and decides to serve fruits instead of candies. The kids love the fruits so much that when John approaches the table to serve himself he realizes there are only two bowls of fruits left, one filled with sliced mangoes and another with an apple. As soon as reaches for her favorite, two kids come for the mangoes on the table.

John decides to teach the kids that it is good to always share what you have and divides the mangoes into their two bowls for them before taking the apple.

It is an irrational assumption to believe that because you told yourself you are going to make money betting means you would act accordingly.

John is an adult, and because he prefers the mango fruits, he could have kept them for himself while giving the apples to the kids. The behavioral scientist makes us understand that the satisfaction John derives from giving the mangoes to the kids is more than he would get if he had consumed them himself, so he decides to make the “irrational choice.”

Let us look at a different context. John is an over-spender, and two weeks before payday he has already overdrawn his pay. On his way to the library, a friend offers him a bowl of freshly cut apples, topped with Cinnamon.

His sweet tooth is urging him to accompany it with mango and vanilla ice cream, the problem is he would have to buy it himself. He decides to take just the offer albeit in frustration. What if this same scenario plays out on payday, John is now able to buy the mango and vanilla Ice cream he craves, do you think he would settle for just a free bowl of apple?

How Irrationality applies to betting

Behavioural scientist claim people do not act consistently with their rational axioms, but are they right? This question would require a long discussion, but the point to note here is that because you say you want something doesn’t mean you would act accordingly.

Context, available alternatives, goals, and timing are what choices are dependent on in real life. This makes blindly believing that you would act accordingly because you have told yourself that you want to make money in betting an irrational assumption. As a matter of fact, rationality has become a superpower because it is so rare.

Do you believe that it makes sense to bet over 3.5 goals on a team because they scored 5 goals in their last game against a bigger team and now face a smaller team? If you believe so, you are a victim of availability bias.

If you have ever found yourself increasing your stake after a series of losses because you feel is time for your luck to change, you have fallen victim of the gambler’s fallacy which is one of many mental flaws that bettors usually suffer from.

In fact, psychologists have discovered that there are many cognitive biases that are responsible for bettors losing money.

The only way to remedy this situation is to forget about overcoming these biases and focus all your energies on betting based on expected value rather than on unproven assumptions.

If you bet for entertainment purposes, you can go ahead and place bets based on assumptions, but if you want to make a living out of betting, don’t place another bet without first calculating its expected value.

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