The other week, I talked about some mistakes gamblers make which may stand in the way of success, such as not grasping the role of value, and taking exotic bets without understanding their risks.
One of the biggest mistake you can make however is to lie to yourself, and there are a lot of lies which punters tell themselves. These lies can not only hold you back from success, but may even stop you from seeing when you are failing.
That is especially dangerous if you have an entrepreneurial mindset, and hope to one day wager on sports for a living.
So let’s go over 10 lies which bettors tell themselves. Simply by not telling yourself these lies, you can save yourself a lot of trouble on the road to success.
I did really well on these bets, and these others I lost are just a hiccup.
When someone asks to see your betting portfolio, they may point toward a cluster of lost bets, and say, “What went on here? You don’t look like you are doing so well.”
You might glance at the bets, shrug, and then redirect their attention to another series of bets which you did win, and reply, “Well, you can see here that I am doing well. Those ones you are asking about were just a temporary snag. That is over now.”
In some situations, that really might be the truth. Hiccups do happen. But quite often when punters do this, they are desperately drawing their own attention away from very real problems with their results.
Another variation on this theme is this statement:
“I know those stats don’t look good, but look at this one over here.”
For example, your average loss may far outpace your average win, but your win/loss ratio could be good.
You would have to do the math here to know whether this is really acceptable. There are cases where the high win/loss ratio does more than make up for the high average loss.
On the other hand, there are cases where the opposite is true. Even though the win/loss ratio by itself is fine, the excessively large losses are putting your account in the red.
Try not to distract yourself from these defects in your betting. You need to be willing to face them head-on in order to make improvements.
Well, looking at X time period, I am in the black.
This is another version of the same lie above. There are a lot of different forms it could take, but here are a couple possibilities.
“I know I have been losing this past month, but look—if you run the numbers for the entire year, you can see that I am profitable over the long term.”
The issue with this is that the recent degradation in your account balance may or may not be significant. If you are fortunate, it is only a temporary hiccup, but it could represent the start of an extended downturn.
One thing is certain, and that is that ignoring it outright is unwise.
“I know that I am pulling a loss for the year, but look how far I am up this month! Things are turning around for me now, and that is what matters.”
Could it be that you have finally found your edge and are on your way to success? Sure. But could this be just a temporary glitch? That too is possible unfortunately.
Ignoring your long-term statistics is a really bad idea. It makes it easy to lie to yourself and others and feel better about the present, but it also makes it easy to turn a blind eye to the reality that you still have no idea what you are doing.
I cannot abandon this strategy now! I’ve put too much work into it!
This is a classic logic error which impacts investors and entrepreneurs in all walks of life. Basically, you figure you are already so deeply invested that it would be foolhardy to give up now, you would lose all of that hard work. And if you just hang in there, things could change and that work could pay off.
This is often accompanied by statements like, “Imagine if Edison had given up. We wouldn’t have the light bulb.”
Not only are you not Edison, but this statement ignores the broader context of Edison’s life and work (much of which was dodgy).
The reality is that sometimes you do have to give up and let go and admit that something is not working. If you continue to persist with something which is never going to pay off, all you will do is throw more hard work away.
I cannot stop with this strategy, I’ve sunk too much money into it.
A variation on the theme above is the belief that you need to “win it all back.” You figure the money you have lost on a particular strategy or sport is money down the drain if you do not keep going.
But this is just a way to put more money down the drain. Instead, you should stop what you are doing if it is not working out and look for a new method to try.
I have no time for research.
Just placing wagers each day and keeping up with current news and analysis can feel like a job and a half if you are really dedicated.
So you may really mean it when you tell others, “I have no time for research” when they ask why you are not reading, researching, and developing.
Nevertheless, research is a very important ongoing part of any punter’s life. It is not just something you do in the beginning as a newbie. It is something you will continue to do throughout your betting career if you want to remain successful.
Why? Because everything changes. You might not think that would be the case with sports betting markets, but it most certainly is true.
Rules are adjusted over time. Players train and play in a different way now than they did decades in the past. Stats which meant one thing twenty years ago may mean something different now, and so on.
You have to research if you want to keep up with those changes. Otherwise, you could end up with strategies which worked great once upon a time but no longer deliver today.
I am doing more research now, therefore I will finally see some progress.
On the converse, another lie you might tell yourself is that doing lots of research is the key to success you have been searching for, and everything is going to improve for you now that you are doing it.
In fact, some people will research almost indefinitely, just to avoid having to face the possibility of actually failing with betting.
I call this the “perpetual novice” problem. Basically, being a novice may seem intimidating, and in a way, it is. But it is also safe and easy. After all, that is the stage at which you are not really expected to perform.
As a result, some people simply get stuck in the novice stage, too scared to progress. In order to excuse themselves, they tell themselves, “It’s okay, I’m just making sure I lay a really solid groundwork with my research.”
They then point toward all the people they have met who jumped right into betting without doing the research necessary to succeed. Those people naturally washed out.
There has to be a middle ground, though. You really can research forever without taking a step forward; you will find more than enough material to keep you busy for years.
So at some point, you have to admit to yourself when you are avoiding risk, and take that hard step of actually putting that research into action.
Other gamblers are gambling. I am not gambling.
This is probably one of the most common lies which sports bettors tell themselves—and not just sports bettors either. You will run into it with casino players and even investors.
Getting into the topic of what constitutes “gambling” and what does not is way too deep for this article, (it is really a whole other subject).
What is most important is that you acknowledge several things:
Sports betting is an activity which entails significant risk.
Luck plays a role in each and every wager that you place, no exceptions. The approach you take to a large extent determines how much of a gamble you are taking.
The more methodical you are, the more you can offset the risks of sports betting. This gives you a mindset which is more like “investing” than “gambling.”
But if you do not acknowledge the role of luck, you are actually taking more of a gamble, because you cannot mitigate that which you refuse to see.
The worst offenders in fact are those who refuse to accept that they are gambling to at least some degree all of the time.
In fact, the most important question you can ask yourself is not, “Am I gambling?” It is, “Am I taking any unnecessary gambles right now?”
You will always be risking your money when you bet on sports. But you may be risking it more than you need to if you are not using a sound strategy and a smart money management technique.
I can handle everything I have taken on.
When you are trying to become a sharp, you will find yourself taking on quite a huge task. You will essentially be piling a full time job on top of whatever full time job you are currently working.
Some people really do thrive on hard work and lots of it, but everyone has their limits. And most people are going to have a hard time handling not one, but two, full time jobs.
At some point, someone, likely a family member, friend, or coworker, is going to question if you can do it. If they support you emotionally, they are probably genuinely concerned about your well-being.
You may find yourself answering, “I can handle everything I have taken on.” Whether you say that with confidence or you say it with a sneaking suspicion that it may not be true, you should stop and think long and hard about it.
This is not to say you cannot handle it. But chances are good that you will be periodically overwhelmed by it, and you need to be ready to back off when you need to in order to rest and recharge. That is the only way you will stay in the game for the long haul.
If I just put in more hours or effort, the results will come.
On a related note, another lie that entrepreneurs in all industries may tell themselves is that they have unlimited time and energy to put in, and that this means they can succeed at anything.
There are two major problems with this:
Time and energy are not unlimited at all. You cannot simply “make time.” We all are mortal beings with limits. The harder and longer you push yourself against those limits, the more likely it is that you will burn out.
This approach neglects the real cause of the lack of results. Simply working harder and longer hours while making the same mistakes is not going to improve your results. It is just going to carry those mistakes forward into the future, possibly even amplifying their negative results.
A much smarter way to proceed is with the following truths in mind:
There are only so many hours in a day. You have to do the best you can with the time you have. Eventually, if you try to keep working additional hours, it will eat into time you need for your day job, sleep, family, etc.
Putting in more effort only works if you are using that effort effectively. If you’re using it ineffectually, nothing is going to improve.
You may need to be more patient. While there are only so many hours in a day, there is always tomorrow. It may simply be that the goals that you thought you could accomplish in a matter of months might take a year or more, and those which you thought you could accomplish in the year may take several.
If you are unrealistic about your limitations, you will be pursuing a pipe dream, not a real career.
My life will be waiting for me on the other side.
This is where a lot of dedicated entrepreneurs will respond with something like, “It’s okay. I just have to work really hard for around 5 to 10 years, and then I’m good the rest of my life. If I am willing to work today like others cannot, I’m able to live tomorrow like others cannot. Everything I care about will still be there waiting for me.”
This is unrealistic for several reasons. First of all, even assuming that you push yourself hard without burning out, chances are good that you’ve greatly underestimated the time involved in meeting your goals. What you think will take you 5 or 10 years could actually end up being 20 or 30.
The next issue is that if you don’t burn out, that doesn’t mean that other people in your life won’t. Many entrepreneurs work hard to support themselves and their families, but don’t realize that their families have emotional needs which outweigh their financial needs. When these needs go unmet, families sometimes fall apart.
A lot of other things can also fall apart if you sacrifice them in the short term for the sake of long term success. You might lose your current day job out of neglect long before your sports betting can adequately support you. You may destroy your health through stress and lack of sleep.
In short, it is too easy to trade in your horse for a saddle. Obviously, this is an exercise in futility. So try not to lie to yourself and tell yourself that it is okay.
Avoid lying to yourself about your sports betting and you will give yourself the best shot at becoming profitable.
Most lies sports bettors tell themselves concern one or more of the following
- The allocation of time, energy, and resources.
- The relative importance of various life priorities.
- The difficulty level and time needed to meet sports betting goals.
- The risk involved with betting.
- The actual level of success which is or is not being achieved.
If you can manage to be honest with yourself about all of these things, and regularly ask yourself whether you really are seeing the big picture clearly, ultimately you are going to save a lot of time and money.
You will pave the road to your sports betting goals, even if becoming a sharp turns out to be more time consuming and complex than you may have expected. You also will ensure that everything else important in your life, like health and family, are still there waiting when you do reach your goals.
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