Fight or flight? How to win long-term at betting.
Why numbers are your friend, if you want to make money from gambling
We all like backing winners.
Because besides putting money in our pocket, or adding numbers to our betting account, they also give us the one vital commodity which underpins all our betting.
And that is confidence.
Whatever the situation, whether you’re well up overall, or struggling short-term, there’s nothing quite like the feeling that a winning bet provides.
You’re only as good as your last bet, they say.
And if your last bet won, then all’s well. Right?
Hmm… yes and no.
Because if you take the line that a winner makes everything alright, then does it follow that every loser means things aren’t going to plan.
And what if you have 2, 3, 4 duck-eggs on the spin…
Or worse still you back 5, 10 or maybe 15 bets in a row and end up with nothing to show for it.
Is it time for a re-think?
Well, clearly for some backers it is.
A few losers come along and all of a sudden questions are asked – Was that the right bet? Should I change my strategy? Why didn’t I back this or that horse/team/player instead?
And should another loser, or three, come along… then instead of such reasonable self-analysis (which every backer should constantly undertake, I would add) the mental process changes from the rational to the irrational.
Logic becomes panic.
And as the media mogul Ted Turner summed it up…
“If you panic, that’s a good way to lose.
You have to stay in control.”
Sorry, I forgot to add a word there, billionaire media mogul.
Now I’m not saying it’s easy. And I’m certainly not saying that any setback (in betting, as much as in everyday life) doesn’t demand a period of reflection, and a possible re-direction thereafter.
But what I wholeheartedly advocate is the time that must be allowed to thoroughly carry out this cerebral stock-take.
The necessary duration to allow you to process what’s going on, and then to make sense of it.
Let’s return to our No.1 priority… winning money
And let’s presume that our last bet didn’t win, and we’re not feeling good about it.
In fact, our last 10 or 20 bets have all lost… and we’re not feeling the love AT ALL!!
Well one thing we must do is consider the performance of the bets we have backed, and consider if the results we have witnessed are to be expected.
Expected to lose?? Yes, you heard me right.
After all, if we know something is going to happen… why panic when it then comes to pass? We should be able to take it in our stride much easier if we understand that it’s just something that will take place, then it’ll end.
In just the same way that a losing run (however long) doesn’t last forever.
And in this sense, as much as we deal with betting in an emotional, instinctive way (“the heart”) we have to deal with the here and now, the losing, in a dispassionate and objective manner (“the head”).
Why? Because the cold, bare figures don’t lie.
And what close on 30 years in this business has taught me is that the first place we look for answers – to regain our confidence, if you like – is in the data.
Backing bets, and making money, is all about the numbers.
Understand them and you remove much, if not all, of the uncertainty that can come with a poor run of results.
As philosopher, essayist and would-be punter, Ralph Waldo Emerson put it…
“Each is liable to panic, which is exactly the terror of ignorance surrendered to the imagination… knowledge takes that fear out of the heart”
So dispel this “terror of ignorance” you need answers to these questions…
- Have I got enough data, sufficient past results, to generate a true and representative view of this information/service/content provider?
- Has this type of recent losing run been seen before in these figures?
- Was it caused by any visible change in strategy, external influence, or simple variance?
- How long did it last?
- Did the results improve after this run (were previous losses recouped)?
- Should I be concerned by the current cycle of performance?
- DO I NEED TO PANIC?
90% of the answers to these questions are in the figures… 100% if you’re happy that the service, or source of bets you’re studying, kept a consistent methodology throughout the whole sequence.
And once you’ve crunched some numbers, and got satisfactory replies to these queries, then you’ll be in a much better position to plot your next course of action.
But at least you’ll do this on the basis of rational thought, and not a random knee-jerk reaction.
One thing you always need to remember…
And this is something which I find with a lot of the services I operate, or have studied, and the feedback I regularly get from members.
It’s the inter-relation of average price, strike rate, and winning/losing runs.
Actually, more specifically, it’s the way in which this relationship works – which is all too often misunderstood or, more to the point, totally ignored when a losing run is encountered.
And a set of bets which has, let’s say, a 20% strike rate won’t deliver one winner every five bets, like a metronome, from here to eternity.
Your longest losing run won’t therefore be 4 (W-L-L-L-L) as you’re bound to hit a winner every 5 bets, like the strike rate predicts.
It won’t even be 8 losers in a row (W-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-W) should the winners come at the beginning an end of two back-to-back sequences.
No, the maths will tell you that the longest expected losing run for a set of bets with a 20% strike rate is 20 (20.6 to be exact). And that’s from a sample group of just 100 bets.
Over a 500 bet sample it rises to 29.7, and for a run of 1,000 bets it’s 31 losers in a row.
Point being, it’s more than you think.
Especially if you’re under the misconception that a 20% strike rate will deliver you one winner every five bets.
Or, more to the point, every sequence of the five bets with send you to the payout counter at least once.
Now we all know, in the example of 100 bets (with a losing run of 20.6) you may very well back 20 losers in succession… but to offset this you’ll also have “hot streaks” where you might back 3 winners on the bounce, or 5 land in the space of 10 bets.
So you’ll get your 20% winners, overall. Just not in the orderly and predictable fashion some might expect, or demand!
What you must not do, therefore, as a student of betting, and a winning backer, is to find yourself stuck in a run of losers (a seemingly never-ending cycle) and think “that’s it… I’m done”.
Because provided there is no external force at work, and the bet selection process follows the same methodology, then the winners will come and the figures will right themselves.
It’s called a “reversion to the mean”. That’s what the boffins refer to it as.
And it is a fundamental principle to betting that so many punters fail to grasp, often through a whole lifetime of betting.
So in order to win money at betting…
There’s a very handy tool on the excellent Staking Machine website which you should look at.
It enables you to try out your own calculations – to work out the expected losing run of bets, when different strike rates are applied.
You will be surprised by just how long some dry spells are, with strike rates that you would expect to deliver very few losing runs of any significance.
But if you do take a look (and I urge you to do so) then you’ll realise that any set of bets, whatever the average price advised and strike rate generated, will serve up unpalatable, unwanted and unnerving losing runs… I’m sorry to say ACCORDING TO THE LAWS OF PROBABILITY, THIS IS INEVITABLE.
If you now understand this point, and take it on board, and dispel “the terror of ignorance”, then you will be able to overcome these temporary setbacks.
Because that’s what they are – temporary.
Which is why a calm head, and a clear long-term focus, backed up with a sufficient and well-managed betting bank, will always see you through these times of adversity.
As I read somewhere else in researching this article… “Panic is not an effective long-term organising strategy”.
Never a truer word was spoken.
All you need to do is keep calm and carry on betting.
OPINION: I get a lot of emails from members on the back of losing runs. They question why these lean spells can happen, have they happened before, has maybe something gone wrong, should they stick or quit a service. And my answer to them is by and large the same every single time… look at the long-terms figures. What do they tell you about this current streak? And what the numbers will say is that such a sequence can happen, will happen, and might well happen again. But equally as predictable is the fact that winners will also come along to correct this variance. Winners that these concerned punters will only benefit from if they trust the numbers, stay patient, and stick with it.