Sports betting is a recreational activity for the vast majority of punters and a more serious, job-like activity for the more professional bettors. What basically distinguishes the recreational from professional bettors is the different approach they have on sports betting and of course the different perspective from which they analyze markets, events, lines and the bets they eventually make.
In sports betting, however, no matter how novice or how expert one is, there are some very common mistakes which are made and which if once realized, they could be minimized. The thing is that if we understand some of these mistakes, we will most probably avoid doing them again in the future or at least reduce their negative impact on our results. After all, when betting every punter searches to optimize all things surrounding the bet -including, for example, finding the best betting sites in Italy – so why not optimize their own impact as well?
Following we present the most common mistakes in sports betting.
Mistake #1 Gambler’s fallacy
This is one of the most frequent mistakes made by bettors. It is strongly linked to the recency bias and it has to do with making judgements based on what has happened and on history, and failing to treat every event as a new trial.
In simple words: it has to do with believing that a football club for example that has a streak of victories can’t continue to win and so they will lose in their next match up. Or a strong tennis player, for example, has lost five times in a row and he won’t lose for a sixth consecutive time, so it’s better to wager on his victory. Or even that footballers who went to the 2022 FIFA World Cup and marked exceptional performances, wouldn’t showcase the same, continued upward performance in the resume of EPL on boxing day immediately after the end of the World Cup games.
The thing with the Gambler’s fallacy is that it has no theoretical foundation or any statistical justification. Every event is a new event and although in sports, previous performances are factors that are indeed affecting present performance, they can’t be the main drivers of bettors’ decisions.
If the betting choices are based on the assumption that something that has happened a lot of times, is deemed ‘not’ to happen one more time, then it is more than certain that these choices are going to lead to long-term losses.
Mistake #2 Outcome bias
The outcome bias is a typical bias in the world of sports betting. It has to do with judging on the basis of the outcome of an action or decision and not on the basis of the action itself, that led to the outcome. In simple words, think of a bettor who considers to bet on the absolute underdog, when on the road and with some of the top footballers missing from the lineup due to injury, just because the bettor has a feeling that the team will make it.
Against all odds, the underdog team eventually wins the match. The bettor considers his decision as a quality, effective and good decision because it led to a winning bet.
But in reality, the decision was not good, it was poor, despite the fact that it led to profits. Everything else worked out for the winning of the underdog team and not the decision of the bettor itself.
Mistake # 3 Confirmation bias
And then we have the confirmation bias which is also very common in sports betting. Here the issue is that people search for information and cues that will confirm their pre-held assumptions and beliefs and will fit what they already have in mind.
Consider a bettor who has already formed an opinion about the outcome of a given football match. Despite the fact that there is equally available information and data strongly supporting both outcomes of the match -win and loss of a certain team- the bettor only takes into account this information that confirms his already established belief. The bettor actually looks confirmation into the data and not any critical information that will be valuable for selecting on the bet.
Important things to know about these common mistakes
These three mistakes are the most typical and common in sports betting, but once you get to recognize them and understand your behaviour, it will become easier to improve your skills in betting and false-proof yourself from such biases that can cost you a lot of money.