The Punter: How Your Betting Patterns Will EvolveAugust 13, 2016
Well, now that we are a bona fide gambling nation so much that there’s a Bill in the National Assembly to put checks on this activity, one of The Dug Out’s finest punters Wycliffe Oloo sets out to essentially educate you a bit on what it all entails.
Ah, betting. A form of investment, I call it. Your pastor, girlfriend, elderly extended family members, or anyone with a ‘decent’ upbringing calls it gambling. It’s supposed to put you off. A stupid venture. One for the immature. Like physically flushing your money down the toilet. Let’s face this fact, everything’s a gamble. The moral police will shout from the rooftops that the way to make money is to work hard, invest, join a Sacco, buy shares from a limited liability company. This is true. All these are fine. But the thing is, it’s still gambling. You’re spending money to make more money. Only the methods are different. Or the risks rather. So, am not here to advise you to stop betting. I’ve been doing it for five years. I’ve won money. I’ve lost money. I’ve discovered some things. These series of articles is about how my betting patterns have changed over the years.
Emotions, Logic and the lure of Intermittent Rewards
Well, let me share a personal anecdote;
It’s April 2012. Most of the major European Leagues are nearing conclusion. The business end, they call it. Betting hasn’t yet gone mainstream in Kenya. The only ‘betting’ going on is between friends, from rival teams on the occasion of a head to head meeting. The old fashioned way. Sometimes you hear in the media that someone has bet his house, and more worryingly, his wife, in the confident sense that his buddy’s rival team isn’t ever going to beat ‘his’ team, not in this life or in an alternate universe. Well, he loses, and the whole country and her neighbours’ citizens revel in and mock the ‘stupidity’ of this particular individual.
Amidst all this public shaming of gambling and the economic distress it causes, I think, surely there’s a way to win. Maybe consistently. Make this a lifestyle. Bypass ‘The System’. Away from the long grueling hours in a cubicle. Being your own boss. Buy an island. Party in Monaco. All the good stuff. So, I’ve read about betting and odds and such stuff from the European papers all my life and I want to try it. I ask around. I have those friends who ‘know everything’. Before long, one of my friends takes me to this casino or betting house and whatever they call themselves. I realize I’ve been living under a rock.
Wigan v Manchester United is on that night. Apparently a stake of Sh100 on a Wigan win brings forth sh800 and a United win brings forth sh150. I find out I can bet on as many games as I can on one coupon. This is the life, I think to myself. Finally, I can put my football knowledge to use. United’s form is bad at the point and they are stuttering in the title race, so I quietly know that Wigan have a chance. But I don’t stake anything. This particular trip is a reconnaissance of sorts. To feel the place out.
By midnight, Wigan have won the game and am thinking, why didn’t I stake anything? In the next weeks, I go through an eye opening experience. My first instinct is to bet on the biggest teams in each league on one coupon every weekend and wait for my money. So since I have the knowledge that the smallest odds are of the teams most likely to win, I scour through the games on offer and come up with a 12 strong list, from teams all over the world.
We have emotions, and then there’s logic. Well, the general consensus is the big clubs will always win. At this point the only research I’ve done is next to nothing, only just looking at the odds and eventual monetary outcomes. Every beginner at first draws up lists with potential life changing outcomes. A sh100 stake bringing forth sh998,433. These are emotions at play. I hear stories of people winning outrageous sums of money and a week later, no wins for me. I decide to feature less games (8 at the very least) on my coupon. Still no wins. Even less games on my coupon. Nothing. Emotions bring forth superstition. I meet people who tell me to bet on away teams who have individual odds less than evens. Others tell me teams given win odds of 1.8 always win. Others swear that the whole Russian second division has games ending with the cumulative goals total per game less than 2.5 goals.
At this point the confidence hit from my losing streak has reached astronomical levels. Then I finally catch a break. I win an accumulator bet with cumulative odds of 18. Am thrilled. I even forget about all the losses. Emotions still override the fact (logic) that had I been betting on single matches separately, my overall win rate would be higher. The problem with betting on single matches obviously is the rewards are low. I still want to be a millionaire. I’ll find a pattern very soon and I’ll never have to work again.
All of us are victims of intermittent rewards. You struggle at something, failing over and over again, you catch a break, a little break, then you forget all about the losses and you get encouraged to work harder. In the logical sense when you have an accumulator coupon with more than 5 games in it, the odds of you winning get remarkably very low. You win at the fifth attempt or so, then you go again, with the aim of eventually winning big consistently. Away from betting, think of it in terms of dating, where a girl/guy you like finally texts you back after you’ve bombarded them with texts for a week. It’s not much, but you are closer to your goal, you think. That little win stokes our emotions. You are trapped in an orbit, but you’re unaware of that. Beginners have the lowest win percentage but the few wins bring the greatest level of satisfaction.
What a beginner will find;
So you have that one big win from an 8-strong accumulator, your family doesn’t own an oil field and you still didn’t see the sense in betting on less games, this is what you’ll find at the very start;
- If you bet exclusively on wins, you have more chance of winning if the games on your coupon involves top level teams/teams at the top divisions. Second tier and lower league games involve teams more or less at the same level, and the gulf in class between teams become less and less as you descend divisions.
- If you have a coupon and all the games have gone your way with one game remaining, you’ve almost already won. If you stake sh100 and you’re set to win, say sh9000 with one game yet to be played, stake something (maybe sh2000) on the other team to avoid defeat (double chance). Either way you’ll walk away with a profit.
- This is the big one-odds didn’t really matter. It’s a smokescreen. Form does. Punters who do research on teams regarding form win more consistently.
- Cut out all the emotion. Bet with your head, not your heart, so goes the cliché term. You have to recognize that in some games your favourite team(s) are going to be weaker than the opposition.
This phase goes on to last eight months for me. Most of the time I lose even before I set foot outside the betting house on a Saturday. I create a new coupon, because the lovely people in the Americas are yet to play. Sometimes I bet on the Dutch 2nd division games to all have over 2.5 goals because that’s the way it is. And the Russians are goal shy in the lower divisions, am told. The bookies in Kenya start to offer online platforms. Then I take a break from it all, to figure things out, to be less greedy, actually.
Part 2 is the intermediate phase