Let The Stats Do The Talking


It’s a common factor in many walks of life; if you can let the stats do the talking and you can ignore all extraneous emotional factors, you may well be able to profit.

Letting the numbers do all the taking is a well-known, value-based investment technique used, or partially used, by many investors since the father of value investing Benjamin Graham pointed all this stuff out in the first place.

And you can follow a simple numbers-only kind of approach in sports gambling, too. Whether this will work or not is all down to how good your own judgment is.

So, for example, when it comes to something fairly straightforward like football betting, or betting on sports with a binary outcome, like tennis, the trick is in finding matches with what you perceive to be a 50-50 outcome and then backing the underdog.

This is far easier said than done, though. Where there’s human involvement, the odds are never even-Stevens in practice. Ergo, following this type of discipline also demands from you, the gambler, an acceptance that you cannot possibly hope to win them all.

On the other hand, this type of basic numbers-only type of thinking plays nicely into the hands of us geek-like gamblers who know good stats when we see them and are able to take any emotion out of our numbers-only-based decisions.

So, for example, staying with our tennis, let’s think back to last year’s US Open men’s tennis semi-finals and final as a good case in point. Each of these three matches (the two semis and the subsequent final) had a clear favorite. In one semi-final, Marin Cilic faced the great Roger Federer. Meanwhile, in the other, young Japanese player Kei Nishikori faced world number one Novak Djokovic.

As you may imagine, in both matches the traditional names were warm favorites. But those who knew their tennis well realised the matches were far closer than the odds suggested. It’s just that the market is sometimes irrational as Federer and Djokovic are such big names.

As it turned out – the underdogs won both matches then Cilic (as marginal favorite) went on to beat Nishikori in the final.

Of course, the matches may have gone the other way. But the point is that each match was actually pretty close to the toss of a coin, yet the odds didn’t reflect that at all. So if you were ever offered anything even slightly above even money on the single toss of a coin which was ‘true’ – you’d always take it.

So on the same basis, the mental challenge lies in finding such sports with binary outcomes where you perceive the odds are too swayed by extraneous and emotional factors – and taking a contrarian punt. If your judgment is good, you will ‘inevitably’ move steadily ahead – but you’ll also inevitably lose quite a few punts along the way.

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