Green Lumber Fallacy; the Difference Between Sports and Sports Betting

One of the most common betting mistakes is to believe that specialist knowledge in football automatically translates to success in football betting. In other words, sports knowledge equals sports betting knowledge.


In his book Antifragile, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, neatly describes this as what he calls, ‘Green Lumber Fallacy.’


In the book, one of the most successful traders to ever buy and sell green lumber, Joe Siegel, actually had no idea what he was trading! He believed that green lumber was simply wood painted green when, as a matter of fact, it was freshly cut trees.


The main idea behind the Green Lumber Fallacy is that sometimes what we think is critical knowledge to solving a problem actually isn’t. Conversely, sometimes knowledge we think is relatively unimportant can actually turn out to be important. The problem in both cases, however, is understanding how important the knowledge is.


So, how do some ignorant people succeed in their trading? And does this apply to betting?


When reading a sports column written by a veteran journalist, you may be likely to pick-up their opinion and apply it in your betting. You have to remember, however, that there’s a difference between sports and sports betting.

Therefore, for any bettor, the following key factors are important.


Just because you have detailed knowledge or experience of a sport doesn’t mean you have the required knowledge to bet successfully on that sport;

Most times, journalists and analysts love a narrative, a story that neatly explains for example a team's poor form, and they love even more to back-fit narratives to explain when the story moves in a totally unexpected direction. Their opinions and analyses most times aren’t the gospel truth.

Of course, that is not to say that sports knowledge is irrelevant. It just takes more than just your ‘knowledge’ of a sport to become a successful sports bettor.


Remember, always bet responsibly