Randomness – Introduction
Randomness plays a major role in sports betting, far bigger than any of us can possibly comprehend. However, this doesn’t imply that winning at sports betting is only and only to do with luck. Many betting experts and punters have proven this wrong time and again. However, even when it’s about the best punter in the world, you’re going to see him/her experiencing the inevitable losses every now and then. And some of these loss phases can be pretty long sometimes. Over 200 bets going without a profit at a stretch or major losses booked by seasoned punters isn’t something uncommon in the sports betting world. When a seasoned sports bettor experiences a losing streak like this, or vice versa (a bad sports bettor experiences a long winning streak) happens, you can definitely see randomness at work. However, why do people find randomness very difficult to understand and deal with?
Pattern finding comes easy to human beings
The primary reason why we face difficulty in understanding and dealing with randomness is because human brain isn’t built for understanding erratic and random things. On the other hand, our mind naturally tries to find patterns in everything. Long before scientific processes came into being, humans had established that the onset of heavy dark clouds meant that they were going to witness rain soon and therefore should run for cover.
As kids we pretty quickly understood that disagreeing with our friends every now and then would probably result in having no friends at all. We’re very good at establishing patterns, and this ability has in fact been very critical for our survival. So, whenever we are provided any data, our brain automatically tries to process and make some sense of it.
Then why some people believe in superstitions?
Sometimes the habit of establishing patterns has funny results. Many a times we try finding patterns where there are none. This often gives rise to all sorts of superstitions. Rationally speaking, it’d make no sense to think that your personal behaviour would have any sort of impact on how a football team would perform! Yet, it’s not uncommon to find grown men refusing to let go of their favourite scarves, just because their favourite team wins whenever they keep ‘em on! Does that strike a chord with you?! It’s highly likely that these people had worn scarves two or more times and their favourite teams had won coincidentally on all those occasions, perhaps unexpectedly at home! Many people are so prone to establishing patterns that even a sample size of one is enough for them to derive major conclusions.
Once you’ve done that, there is something known as confirmation bias which comes into play. What this means is that after a pattern is established, our brain automatically tries to find indicators which support that pattern. As a result, it simply ignores all those signs which may possibly suggest that the pattern is wrong. If you try to introspect you’ll realise that it’s surprisingly difficult for us to change our opinions, especially if we’ve made up our mind about the working of certain processes.
There may actually be no pattern!
Randomness is such a major problem because it can be very difficult to understand that there may actually be no pattern behind a certain event sometimes. It greatly restricts our intuition, as we find ourselves unable to correctly predict certain processes. Intuitively, we stay tied up in a deterministic universe, a perfectly predictable place. Quite obviously, no such place exists outside of our heads. The absence of patterns and our inability to digest that fact gets manifested in various aspects of our life. For instance, we start believing that the position of a certain planet may impact our well-being or we start looking for reasons and people to blame when a doctor tells us we’re terminal ill.
In the same way, we’re unable to comprehend the fact that natural disasters can strike anytime and even kill good people, just like the bad ones. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if someone who lives and eats healthy dies young, while someone who spends his entire life in a drunken state lives up to 100! Nothing denying than heavy drinking can take a toll on your health, but you’ve got no control over randomness and hence may still outlive others.
So how do we know that we’re actually winners?!
Coming back to the subject of sports betting, the biggest problem we’re faced in this regard is that random events may seem very similar to non-random events. It can be very hard sometimes, even over a stretch of 200+ bets, to actually know if it’s just a winning streak or you’re actually blessed with some great betting skills.
So, how do you deal with this as a sports bettor, and use it to your advantage? There’s only one way you can find this out, and that’s by maintaining a record of your bets, and by building a large sample size. Make it as large as you possibly can.