The regulation of sports betting came to change, on a lot of aspects, the way to approach sports betting. And there are certainly positive aspects on that change, since it opened horizons, attracted new customers and some experts as well as media attention.
The different types of bettors
However, the bettor continues to be treated as sort of a person that is doomed to lose money in exchange for some brief periods of entertainment. But, is there only 1 kind of bettor?
Psychology has been alerting, throughout the years, for the problem of gambling addiction, where a lot of people lose their emotional control and end up losing huge amounts of money, consequently harming their personal life and of the ones that surround them.
Although the message is very real, the study is incomplete. When studying the behavior of problem gamblers, experts and profitable bettors are ignored.
Then the question that is there to ask is: How many different types of bettors are there? We can divide them into three different big groups.
The casual bettor is the one we know better and also the most studied kind. Let’s imagine that sports betting is an infinite building of knowledge, where we have to go up sets of stairs to reach a new flight.
The casual bettor is the one that never left the first floor. That means that every one that comes into the building becomes a casual bettor.
The casual bettor is essentially moved by the quest to get some adrenaline. It is someone that gets excited with the fact of putting down money on a certain event that he cannot control the outcome.
And, since in sports betting, math should be made in the long term, this kind of bettor is condemned to losing, since it is guided by emotion, falling into basic traps and not thinking about important aspects such as bankroll management, value and other determinant aspects.
It’s a kind of bettor that appears on certain specific moments. They bet because there is a big event, such as the Champions League final, for example, or a EURO or World Cup, or simply because something leads him to betting, such as watching a match live.
Here is where the experts fail to see the building as it is. There is a clear trend to conclude that, from this standpoint, there are three possible scenarios: the first one, continuing on the 1st floor, where people are warned that they need control.
The second, going down to the basement, where there is no lightning. This is where we find the greedy bettors, attracted by a utopia that you can win “easy money” with sports betting. And because of that, a lot of times people say that the best scenario is the third one, leaving the building, because the door is always open.
The problem is that none of these scenarios includes profitable bettors. That way, it means there is a 4th scenario – going up the stairs.
The decision to go up the stairs of the building isn’t an easy one. It requires a realistic notion of what should be expected, hard work, sacrifice and courage.
Not everyone that decides to take this step are aware of this. And a lot of people start sprinting up the stairs, despite constantly hearing the bettors that are already a couple of floors above them screaming that “sports betting are a marathon, not a race”, which makes sense, because, if the building is infinite, why would you run?
Sports betting aren’t exact science and each step is valuable.
If we run too fast, we skip some floors and every once in a while, we are forced to go down some stairs, walking in the opposite direction, but the building is only standing because it has foundations. The bettor should also create its own foundations.
The first floor is probably the most confusing one. The recreational bettor decided to go up the stairs because he finally realized that his lack of method in sports betting wouldn’t allow him to turn sports betting into a hobby.
However, now he is bombed with difficult concepts to deal with and responds (almost) always resorting to shortcuts.
A lot of experts are confronted daily with the question: “What’s the secret?” but there is no secret.
There is no magic formula that allows you to earn money, and confronted with this question, the experts have a similar answer: experience.
In fact, it is impossible to pass on all the experience obtained throughout the years, because each step of the way was like a portion of knowledge gained.
To put it in other words, the building has no elevator, there is no way around it: to reach the upper floors, you have to take the stairs.
Unlike casual bettors, this is a type of bettor that’s more developed, that starts creating a method.
Due to inexperience, he still tends to generate losses in the long term, being able to go through some positive periods in the short term.
However, there is certainly an aspect that makes them different from casual bettors – the fact that they have controlled losses, which means, they lose what they can afford to lose.
Eventually all recreational bettors have the ambition of turning into experts.
The expert bettor is the most interesting type of bettor, and it is even surprising that he isn’t the target of more studies.
It is a rare case, because there are characteristics that aren’t well understood just yet. We know that the experience is an important aspect to reach this level, but what can also lead a bettor to becoming an expert, capable of earning money in the long term?
Not every expert is the same, each one developed their own method during his course, adapted to his own style.
Because betting isn’t exact science, we can see that there is more than a winning method. But every expert presents, at first look, a characteristic and an attribute in common.
Generally, expert bettors don’t feel any kind of emotion or adrenaline. That allows them to change behaviour when it comes to making decisions, since it is easier for an expert to ignore an event when they understand there is no value.
This is the main difference between a recreational and an expert bettor. The motivation of an expert is the money, nothing more.
Despite recreational bettors looking for profit, a lot of times they give in to the temptation of trying to secure it on his favourite events, while for the expert, money is money and it doesn’t matter where they win it.
An expert generally has better notion due to his experience, that is always working in his favour.
Therefore, he manages his bankroll better, betting with less quantity, knowing that “tomorrow” there will certainly be another event. On this aspect, the expert easily ignores a big final, a big event, if they don’t find any value on it, knowing that he can resort to other events to get profit.
It is, therefore, a type of bettor that completely dominates the emotional aspect, something that the recreational bettor is still struggling with, forcing value on events that mess with his passion.
Besides that, the experts have one attribute in common: the risk intelligence. Not everyone becomes an expert because not everyone has the ability of living with uncertainty.
The expert is someone that is already comfortable with uncertainty, knowing that eventually he will lose, but is able to overcome it on the quest for excellence.
In fact, people look to study this kind of investments and expert bettors are the favourite targets for those studies.
On a lot of cases, without knowing how to explain it, the experts gather information and a number appears miraculously.
That number is always very close to the real probability of a certain outcome happening on a certain event.
Recommended read: Dylan Evans (2012). Risk Intelligence: How to Live with Uncertainty.