There are three types of biases that can lead to negative sports betting outcomes. Understanding and avoiding them can be key to your betting success. Here we will take a closer look at “Confirmation Bias”, “Outcome Bias” and “Hindsight Bias”.
How to be Successful at Online Sports Betting – Avoid Confirmation Bias
One of the biggest problems facing the new or inexperienced sports bettor is his or her tendency to bet with what they know or are familiar with. Instead of doing proper research and using information to guide their betting strategy or individuals wagers, many novices make decisions based on feelings or hunches based on preconceptions or outdated information. This tendency to ignore current, actionable information in favor of past results or old stats is known as “confirmation bias” and often works against sports betting success.
Confirmation Bias – In psychology and cognitive science, confirmation bias (or confirmatory bias) is a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions, leading to statistical errors.
A great example is when someone makes a bet on a team that dominated their sport the previous season. In most sports, a prior season’s success has less to do with the outcome of a team’s next game than factors like the upcoming opponent, the weather, key player injuries and more. Yet if this bettor cites only the statistics that support his opinion and makes his bet with an emphasis on historical performances, it will often lead to failure.
Also, if a bettor only focuses on trends that support his opinion, he often ignores many reasonable opinions that would point to the opposite outcome. It is advisable to avoid focusing your research on information that confirms your opinions about a particular team or game. Make sure to analyze both sides and get as much information, and as many opinions, as you can. It is often difficult to do, but objectivity is a huge key to betting success and more data will help you come to better conclusions.
Avoid Outcome Bias
In sports betting, outcomes are what determine whether you win or lose. When two teams meet, results of previous heads-up matches are often used to get an edge on an upcoming rematch. This can be helpful for sure, but it is equally important to know what went into an outcome when using it to make sports betting decisions.
In the NFL, if the NY Jets lose their first game on the road to the NE Patriots by a score of 31-14, but 14 of the Patriots points came as a result of a pick six and a kickoff return for a TD, then this result is not as lopsided as it appears. In fact, the Jets might be a good bet in the rematch at home.
In this example, many bettors would pick the Patriots based on confirmation bias AND outcome bias.
Avoid Hindsight Bias
We are all familiar with Monday Morning Quarterbacking – the sports betting equivalent of revisionist history. From one week to the next, betting “experts” change their tune based on the previous week’s performance. On gameday, we use all of the best intelligence and data to take a side on a game. When the outcome goes the other way we often look for excuses and facts to clarify the results.
The problem is that hindsight is 20/20 and we will not have the benefit of postgame results when making our next bet. Stick to the data that’s in front of you not behind you and avoid hindsight bias!
Avoid Betting Bias – Takeaway
To have long-term success in sports betting, you must approach every match independently and consider only the opinions and data that matter for that event. Try to understand and identify your biases for each particular game and incorporate them into an informed opinion. We are only human, so avoiding bias completely is never going to happen, but choose objectivity over subjectivity will lead to a winning formula.