Sports Betting Guide

The illusion of control in sports betting?

Have you ever felt you have complete control over your betting when in reality, you didn’t? Let’s talk about how the misinterpretation of random, uncontrollable or unpredictable things can affect your predictions and what you should do to protect yourself from them.

illusional control betting guide

Control factor

We, the people, always love to have some sort of control over things we do, and unfortunately, betting on sports is not an exception. It just happened to be that we always try to find the correlation between events, even when they are completely independent. Luckily, nowadays, we already know about such a phenomenon and can take certain actions to keep our guards up.

This, however, was not the case for the first sports bettors. Those early birds had no idea about this concept and were desperately trying to link up everything together. As a result of numerous attempts to find the relationship between cause & consequences of random or complex events, we ended up developing a sense of control through superstition and rituals, which still exist up to this day.

Betting Tutorial: Wishful thinking in sports betting

Interesting, but humans are not the only ones who fall for this misinterpretation. Many famous psychologists carried out a range of studies and experiments on animals and found out quite fascinating similarities. At the end of the day, such behaviour helps us gain a certain sense of control, even though illusional.

The role of personal choice

The phenomenon of illusional control gets even more interesting when we introduce personal choice. People have that inborn natural feature of desperately trying to find a correlation where there is none, especially when personal choice is involved. While betting on sports is not purely based on luck & randomness, the personal choice factor can clearly be displayed in another type of gambling like casino games & lotteries. Personal choice tricks our brain into the irrational misbelief of having a sense of control. The more freedom of choice we have, the greater is our sense of «illusional» control. The gamblers who throw their own dice in the casino have a tendency of betting more than, for example, those who play online or whatsoever. The same could be seen in lotteries, where players show greater confidence in their potential success when picking their own numbers instead of the randomly-generated ones. What is more, the same tendency can be witnessed in sports betting, as well. Punters who use professional tips or those offered by the winning-streak tipsters believe in having more control over their sports betting predictions.

Falling for this type of bias, punters forget about one fundamental aspect of gambling. Even though the outcome is not entirely random in sports betting, it is very well so in casino games like roulette and especially lottery. Having that in mind, our potential outcomes are completely random, thus our chances of success remain static regardless of our belief or confidence in it.

Online Sports Betting Guide: Confidence in sports betting

Interesting, but in the case of lotteries, random entries have proven to increase your winning chances more due to the majority of lottery players selecting their numbers based on their birthday’ or other important personal occasions’ dates. Once again, your winning chances always remain the same (assumed the outcomes are solely based on chance), however, the likelihood of winning at least a share of the prize pool goes up when the picked numbers are ranged between 1 & 31; alas, at the cost of the lower potential payout. Not only we are trying to create a sense of control, but we also tend to reinforce the rituals and behaviours that were directly associated with success (even though, in reality, there is no correlation). Just like we are more likely to repeat the same throw of the ball or the small ritual we did before making our winning picks, we would initiate a punishment response for actions that appear to produce failure.

Limited resources & close losses

The importance of personal choice is huge when it comes to illusional control, however, that is far not the only threat that leads to misunderstanding. Probably the second biggest aspect after the personal choice that could make you fall for this type of bias is limited information. There is a proverb that goes like this: «A little knowledge is a dangerous thing», and it is out there for a reason. Too little information can play a bad joke on you both ways. What we mean by that is quite obvious. When punters do not have enough information, they cannot make good predictions, however, the feeling of knowing too much or simply having a higher degree of knowledge about the particular team, sport, player or even a league increases the likelihood of over-exaggeration of our understanding and thus predictive ability.

Another thing that we have to watch out for is the way how our brain will associate success with its causes. This means our brain will backtrack & try to find a logical explanation of the choices we made in situations where success was achieved, however, under rather unexpected circumstances. As a result, this would create an automatic behaviour reinforcement and, subsequently, the illusion of control.

The exact same scenario would follow punters who find themselves losing their selections by the narrows margin possible (so-called near misses). This is another automatic response we have to be aware of. Near misses make us unawarely accept the fact that our actions were right and that loss was caused by something rather random or irrelevant enough to discard from consideration. Falling for this will result in continuous failure and could potentially lead you to bankruptcy.

Sports Betting Tutorial: Managing your bankroll

Luckily there is a way to limit the risk of falling for such biases. The first step punters should take to protect themselves from falling for illusional control is to accept the fact that there is little to no control over the random outcomes. The next step towards finding the «cure» is to implement simple and field-test betting strategies and test them out one at a time in order to find the best solution for your individual needs. Pro tip: never take betting tips at their face value, especially if they come from iffy sources. If you would like to have a reliable source of professional free betting tips, please click here. Nevertheless, do not forget about analysing every tip you make yourself or take from someone else, regardless of the source.

While these are only suggestions that can help, the threat of falling for superstition and false association of cause and consequences will be lurking on you throughout your entire adventure with sports betting. Thus, remember to stay disciplined and keep your head cool at all times.

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