Psychology and Betting

All the things humans do contain elements of psychology; this is especially so when money is involved!


There is a need to give your betting some reflection, whether you’re a first time or a seasoned bettor. It is important to try to understand how psychology affects everything - from how you play and how often, to how you handle winning and losing.


Here are a number of ‘psychological factors’ and advice that might help you reflect and better manage the psychological aspects of the betting process.


Optimism

Every gambler hopes to win every time he or she plays. It’s normal. However, what happens when you don’t win as anticipated? Can you get over it and move on?


By all means be optimistic; nobody likes a pessimist!


However, the best approach to this is to treat betting like any other form of entertainment that costs money, such as a movie ticket or a drink. If you win, it’s a nice surprise to be enjoyed; if you lose it was money spent in the pursuit of fun and enjoyment.


Hindsight Bias

This is also referred to as i-knew-it-all-along or creeping determinism. This occurs after an event has occurred and we tell ourselves, “I knew i should have bet on…”


In gambling, most outcomes are random and independent. What has already happened won't necessarily help you determine what will happen next. It is therefore advisable that rather than looking back with regret and ‘if-only’ you should plan forward. This will help you become an improved bettor, and increase your future chances of success.


Near Miss Belief

‘I only needed to win one more game and would have hit the jackpot!’ This is a common saying amongst bettors.


In betting, almost winning can be both exciting and frustrating. However, almost winning is losing. For every person who gets 9/10 games correct, there are hundreds of others who also came close.


Some people falsely believe that each time they are close to winning, then their chances of winning in future are growing. That is not true. While near misses are exciting, they don't mean you are actually close to winning.


Do not be fooled into spending more because you had a near miss. A miss is a miss, no matter how close it is, and it’s reward is nothing.


Selective Attention

You only see what you want to see, hear what you want to hear, they say. You constantly are selective about what to pay attention to. For instance, you are unlikely to pay attention to background music until your favorite song comes up.


In betting, you shouldn't focus on winnings alone. A friend could trick you into believing that winning is easy when he tells you, “I won 100,000.” The friend will however not mention to you how many times he lost before he won.


This creates a distorted perception about how much was lost, compared to how much was won.

One of the best way to avoid the selective attention of others is to believe only what you see and half of what you hear! Especially from gamblers!


Entrapment

Entrapment is a state where someone persistently follows a losing strategy and doesn’t stop. Like a mouse in a laboratory, running on a treadmill.


In betting, entrapment entails investing more money and steadily becoming more committed without ever considering the simple tactic of stopping and taking a break! Getting off the treadmill.


An everyday example of entrapment is where you are waiting for a bus to transport you a short distance. While waiting for the bus to arrive, two competing motivations are likely to develop in your mind:


I should leave the bus stop and walk to my destination now or;

I should stay and wait for the bus to arrive.


While waiting, you may be having a thought process like:


If I leave now, I will look foolish. Let me wait a little longer;

I have seen this bus come before, so I will wait. I’m sure it will come;

I will wait until the bus comes, I will be proven right.


This type of psychology has a direct parallel to gambling. As a bettor, you may be persistently and increasingly playing and losing and want to keep betting until you get a good win.


That win might not come so the best way to avoid entrapment is to accept upfront that gambling is about winning and losing and that you are more often not going to win and to regularly step back and take a break.


Magical Thinking

It never rains when I carry my umbrella!


Here, we are referring to a common belief that one thing has an influence on something else. For instance, when you forget your umbrella one day and it rains you think that you caused the rain by forgetting your umbrella. You may start to believe that it will always rain when you forget your umbrella.


Magical thinking works the same way in gambling. For example, if you hit a jackpot on a Tuesday, you may think that you will always win on Tuesdays. In doing so, you are making a false connections between events whose outcome is not related.


There is absolutely no connection between days, times, locations or outcomes and your chances of winning. Your chances are purely based on your choices. There is no magic; it’s an illusion!


Confirmation Bias

If you had decided to bet on Chelsea to win against Arsenal, would you change your mind and back Arsenal instead if you came across new information?


In a state of confirmation bias, you prefer to stick to what you have decided rather than change opinion based on new evidence. Instead of analysing new information objectively, you pay attention to sources that confirm your opinion and disregard others that challenge your opinion.


In betting, you tend to have an opinion and only pay attention to facts that support that opinion.


To avoid the effects of confirmation bias, try to objectively consider opposing points of view. Be scientific, not emotional!


Remember, always bet responsibly