When was the last time you wanted to bet on a team, then found new information and decided not to bet due to the negative news for the team? But moments later, you’ve found out that the team you wanted to bet on ended up winning the match.
If you often do this, then perhaps you’ve turned into a victim of “confirmation bias” – a cognitive phenomenon that may negatively affect your betting.
Introduction to Confirmation Bias
Confirmation bias is a cognitive bias that consists of favouring information that confirms something you are confident is true. This is extremely dangerous in sports and other kinds of betting.
The theory behind confirmation bias is pretty straightforward: humans like to stick to what they know instead of changing their opinions based on new information. Instead of objectively looking at new evidence we’ve discovered, we instinctively pay more attention to specific sources and disregard other sources that go against our current perceptions. This is obviously negative for bettors, as any kind of subjectivity can draw people away from accurate predictions.
One of the things that can improve your ability as a sports bettor is to be aware of confirmation bias. Besides that, it can also improve other aspects of your life, making you more analytical, inquisitive, and logical and offering you the tools to make better and wiser decisions. This makes sports betting indeed beneficial for your life. So, is it possible to ignore our inherent confirmation bias?
Sports Betting and Confirmation Bias
Confirmation bias is how you tend to process by searching or interpreting information that is consistent with your beliefs.
Bettors usually feel that “confirmation” of their methodology or thought process looking at a positive trend or outcome. Once they do invest in it, all they receive is a massive loss. In many cases, the approach was flawed from the start, but the bettor failed to look outside their tunnelled biased field of vision.
In reality, it is challenging to drive a bettor to alter their way of thinking and change it for the better, as most bettors are already set in their ways.
“Made Money” versus “Profitable”
One of the main issues with any kind of betting is that it punishes you who falsely believe you’re onto winning a bet when you’re actually not. This is where confirmation bias prevents you from finding out new and perhaps better avenues that are more effective and profitable.
In sports betting, a big distinction needs to be made between an approach which is “profitable” and “made money”.
- Something profitable is supposed to work in the long run as it has some kind of advantage that doesn’t depend on luck. Indeed, there will always be downturns and bad runs along the way.
- Something that is made money has turned into profit but doesn’t have any kind of advantage that yields positive income going forward. There are no guarantees.
Many bettors instantly assume that the “made money” implies that their way of betting in sports is profitable. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
It’s challenging to avoid confirmation bias while looking for an edge that will make you some good payouts. Every bettor wants to see positive outcomes. However, in our experience, it’s best to assume that every betting system you use will fail until you’ve collected enough data to prove otherwise.
It might seem like a downbeat piece of advice, but being patient and critical of your strategies, especially when they show early success, will spare you massive amounts of money and disappointment.
Ways to Avoid Confirmation Bias
Sports betting may be similar to everything we do in real life, as you can get lucky when doing the wrong things and unlucky when doing everything right. But in the end, consistently taking the wrong route will not bring you what you want, even if sometimes it works out.
Even if it Succeeded Once, it Doesn’t Mean it Will Happen Again
Experienced bettors who have raked in enormous profits don’t just rely on luck; they are incredibly picky in the risk they take. On the other hand, bad bettors only have profits on their minds even if there aren’t many opportunities for profitable bets.
A losing bettor will usually win a bet and immerse themselves in the hype. Then, they’ll continue to bet on the same thing that they thought has ‘worked’ before. This is the trap that you need to avoid.
A more analytical approach would be to ask yourself, “If I tried this again and again over a thousand times, would it increase my winning chances?” It’s a simple thought process but will help you pause for a while and make better decisions during your sports betting career.
A Strategy without a Clear Reason Behind it Will Likely Fail
Building a betting strategy is like building your business. It can bring you profit or a loss. But if you’re selling a bad product in the first place, then it’s destined to fail.
An effective betting strategy isn’t randomly thrown together. Instead, it is built through research and analysis. There’s a reason why these successful methods beat the market; it may be because it can look for over-priced “value” odds.
Ask yourself, if the strategy you’re using can identify value bets. And would it outsmart the market?
The Media Won’t Help You
Sports commentators, bloggers, podcasts, pundits and reporters play a big role in shaping the public’s opinion.
Our social media accounts are usually flooded with content that is in line with our biases instead of challenging them. We all like to follow those with similar opinions and views as we do, rather than those that disagree with our way. And this may not be a good thing. Instead, it only pushes us to become more ignorant and poorly informed about many things.
Sports media can impact bettors negatively, which results in a failure to find excellent opportunities, unwillingness to challenge existing beliefs and the discarding of facts.
Many bettors will even look for stats that support their views. For example, if a bettor thinks a team at home is a great bet, they may focus on their positive home record, showing two consecutive wins. However, they completely ignored the fact that the previous most recent games (both away fixtures) ended in losses.
A good bettor builds their own point of view by collecting large sets of data instead of taking anyone’s advice from social media to help them make decisions.
Sticking to Your Viewpoint Doesn’t Make You Superior
This may be a little contradictory to our previous point, but anyone’s strategy can go on losing runs, and waiting for your luck to change may not be the best move.
Sometimes a strategy ends up losing due to the lack of edge. It’s that simple. Yet few bettors still stick to a method and believe that the results will turn around. This is only a case of holding their nerve.
If you think the results aren’t in your favour, explore the reason behind it and find out if the downturn is reasonable or not.
Unfortunately, sometimes the best option is to let go of your method.
Words of Advice
We avoid mentioning sports betting mindset and psychology too much as it may be missing any real substance.
However, we feel it’s important to cover the topic of confirmation bias to remind bettors to control their desire for “false hope” for positive results.
In reality, ‘hope’ alone won’t change your bet’s results or probabilities. Bad spells are bound to happen, but every bettor needs to know that winning results won’t be on your side unless you’ve gained the advantage, a mathematical edge. This is the crucial point we’re trying to get across.
Everyone has a weakness for sticking to what we believe instead of being more critical and challenging what we already know based on new facts. We are all easily affected by confirmation bias, but we must be aware and resist this weakness when betting on sports.
The one and the only way to avoid the effects of confirmation bias is to make a detailed analysis of every match or event you’re planning to bet on. Don’t take your emotions and preferences with you. Try to look for as much information from both sides of the argument as possible. Focus on creating your opinion based on raw facts instead of hopeful thinking. An effective way would be to look for at least 3 counter-arguments to the facts you’ve gathered.
Besides that, all you need to do is try not to fall into the trap of biases, which will define how successful you are, like a sports bettor. Collect valuable evidence, see through all the points of view and challenge your beliefs. It’s the only way you can improve as a sports bettor. Implement these tricks into your betting routine and let us know if you’ve found any positive impact during your bets.