Betting on sports is something that most sports fans probably think they’d be pretty good at, but if we look at the healthy financial performances of sportsbook operators across the world, it is safe to say at least some of us are not as good as we think we are. And there is a reason for that: predicting is hard. How many times have you been watching a sporting event and reacted to the outcome with a response along the lines of “Well, I certainly didn’t see that coming”.

It isn’t any reflection on your knowledge of a sport to get a prediction wrong. If it were easy to predict things based on past information gleaned, then half of the names on this list of casinos not on Gamstop would have gone out of business by now due to having to pay out constantly. While sports betting seems the more logical form of wagering compared to slots and table games, it still has the capacity to confound us all from time to time. That’s why so many people check out betting tips online to help them with their bets. While that’s no bad idea, there are a few things to bear in mind when checking those tips.

Games are decided by what happens next, not what has happened

Say we’re betting on a soccer match. Team A has beaten Team B in the last four meetings between the two sides, scoring eight goals and conceding just two. They’re obvious favorites for this match, not least because of their solid defense. You’d be hard pushed to make a case for Team B in the upcoming game, then, and it would make sense to make a correct score bet of 2-1 or 2-0 – and the tipsters agree.

Fast forward to game day, and after three minutes, Team A’s goalkeeper slides to claim the ball, poleaxing Team B’s striker. Penalty. Red card. Assuming Team B score the penalty, they’ve already done better than the tipster thought they might, and they’re playing against ten men with, at best, an unprepared goalkeeper. The moral of the story is that past performance only predicts the future up to a point. A single event in a single match has much more influence.

You’ve analyzed the past, but so have the people playing

Betting tips are based on an analysis of past events, and the idea is that if things happened this way last time around, they’re likely to unfold in a similar way this time. However, coaches and players do no shortage of analysis themselves, and then they’ve put in hours on the training field modeling the way that they will react to that analysis. For the team that has lost in the past, they’ll be doing everything they can to prevent a repeat, including changing tactics.

That doesn’t mean that Team B will successfully prevent Team A from winning again, of course. They were trying to prevent that in the four previous games. It does, however, increase the chances that they will lose differently. Maybe worse – they could lose their shape and make more mistakes through trying to play an unfamiliar way. Or maybe they’ll hold Team A to one goal with a stoic defensive performance, but offer nothing in attack as a result.

Betting tips are useful for ideas, but aren’t blueprints

Go back and read the betting tips after a contest has taken place, and you’ll often find that the predictor got a lot of details right, but the specific bet or bets are wrong. What tips often offer is a good idea of how things will go, but if they could be 100% accurate even some of the time it would be bordering on miraculous. If a betting tip chimes with what you already thought, then by all means it’s worth following at least some of its conclusions at the sportsbook.

Just don’t expect miracles. If you rewatch any sporting event from the last year, complete with studio guest analysis, there’ll be a moment beforehand where the presenter asks the experts for their predictions. Now, first of all, they won’t agree with one another. Second, often none of their predictions will come true. These are people who have played, coached, and watched more of this sport than anyone you know – and they still get it wrong. By all means, listen to them; experts can tell us a lot. Just don’t expect miracles from them.


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