Sports Betting Psychology 101

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Sports betting psychology is very important to becoming a long-term successful sports bettor.

Your mindset has a direct impact on your bottom line.

If you are new to sports betting and sports investing in general, you should make another bet until you understand everything in this post.

Rational Choice

In the world of economics, here’s the definition of a preference:

Preferences are the main factors that influence consumer demand. Economists study preferences to perceive the demand for each commodity and the future implications it may cause.

So, for example, if we know that Adam prefers football to baseball and baseball to hockey, we can assume that if Adam had to choose between football and hockey, he would choose football.

But now, let’s say that Adam wanted to watch his favorite football team’s game at his parents’ house.

Just as the match is about to start, the family comes in and switches the TV to the hockey game instead.

Adam then explains to his family about the importance of the football game before settling on the hockey.

Now then:

What has actually happened here?

After all, Adam can find somewhere else to watch the game if he wants.

But he doesn’t.

So, is Adam being irrational here?

According to behavioral scientists, Adam would rather please everybody else than satisfy his own needs, therefore making an “irrational” choice to watch the hockey.

Let’s now put this into a different context.

Adam loves going to events in style – so much so that he spends far too much of his income on going picking the best possible seats.

It’s a week before payday and Adam has already spent most of his income.

While out on his lunch break, his work colleague tells him tickets to the next football game are about to go on sale and invites him to come along as a reward for his hard work. 

However, the tickets his colleague plans on buying have a pretty poor view compared to what Adam’s used to. 

Knowing there are tickets available, he would love to buy the premium tickets, but they would cost a lot of money.

Adam accepts his colleague’s offer but is not convinced he’ll have a good time.

But what if this same scenario happened a week later once Adam gets paid?

He can buy the best tickets in town.

Would you bet that he would take the option of free tickets from his colleague?


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Now let’s fast-forward to payday.

Adam decides that he would rather not sacrifice on food and other essentials every month just so he can get a good view of the game.

He crunches the numbers and works out how much he can spend on tickets a month: $300.

So, Adam checks for the ticket prices online.

Tickets for the upcoming football game he wants to attend cost $500, the baseball game costs $300 and the hockey costs $150.

However, determined to stick to his goals, Adam chooses to attend the baseball game, satisfied that he stayed disciplined.

Irrational Thinking In Sports Betting

Are the scientists mentioned above right in that people don’t always act rationally?

Answering this question could take a very long time, but there is one interesting point to note and it’s this:

Just because you say you want something doesn’t mean you will act accordingly to get it.

As the scenarios above show, context is key to making real-life choices.

There are alternatives to consider, incentives, goals, timings, the list goes on.

So, let’s now apply this to sports betting.

Here’s the deal:

Simply telling yourself that you want to make money from sports betting doesn't guarantee you'll act accordingly.

In reality, assuming this is actually irrational.

Does it make sense to bet Over 5.5 goals just because one team comfortably scored 6 goals in the second period against a good team and their next game is against a weaker team?

Do you increase your units after a couple of losing sessions?

Surely your luck has got to change sooner rather than later, right?

If so, you are falling victim to one of the many common forms of cognitive bias.

These inhibitors frequently cause bettors to lose far more money than they should.

How To Overcome Cognitive Bias

Here’s the truth.

You cannot overcome cognitive bias.

We are hard-wired to find patterns, even in random data, to make complex situations simpler.

What you can do is control your actions.

Only place bets based on their expected value.

Leave all your other feelings and emotions at the door.

This is how serious sports bettors make long-term profit.

Why Do YOU Bet?

Are you seeking a rush?

Do you enjoy the occasional random win?

Is it how you socialize with your friends?

If any of these apply to you, you are only betting for entertainment purposes.

Enjoy the roller-coaster that is uncertainty and rare wins.

On the other hand, if you’re betting for long-term income and investing, never place another bet before calculating the expected value.

Your gut feeling is irrelevant.

This is the key component of sports betting psychology.  

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