Contrary Football Betting Wisdom

Sometimes what you think you know can get in the way of discovering the truth. Consider what is by many to be sacrosanct wisdom in the sports betting world. This so-called know how is referred to as the ‘wisdom of crowds’. According to this theory, a lot of people acting in their own can be used to predict the outcome of sports events.

Except, the reality turns out to be not quite so cut and dry. To look at this from a researcher’s perspective, a team setup an investigation to examine the accuracy of the crowd’s predictions. In terms of sports betting, these researchers used the point spread betting market.

You see, point spreads are considered very accurate. More importantly, point spread betting is an often used example to explain how crowd wisdom actually works in predicting the outcome of upcoming sporting events. Except for one inconvenient truth. The researchers noted that the crowd is in fact wrong in many cases.

The researchers, Joseph Simmons (Yale), Leif Nelson (UC Berkley), Jeff Galak (Carnegie Mellon) and Shane Frederick (Yale) set up a special investigative analysis of a season long NFL football fans selected throughout the United States. The researchers tested a few hypotheses to see how their ‘crowd’ performed.

First, they set up their study to see if their study participants would correctly choose the underdogs against spreads that disadvantaged the favorites. As a group, the bettors failed this test miserably, choosing more favorites than the underdogs.

The researchers then checked to see if warning the bettors that the spreads had been increased changed their betting behavior. Sadly, the bettors did not fare much better.

The researchers concluded a startling fact. The study participants relied almost entirely on their intuition. The reliance on intuition even trumped what these sports bettors actually knew to be true, that is that the favorite will typically lose against the spread.

It gets worse. The researchers noted that people seem to have a difficult time learning from their mistakes. They watched as the sports bettors kept repeating exactly the same errors over and over again. In terms of the stated purpose of this examination, the researchers conclude that the crowd’s predictions actually worsened over time.

So what’s your take away here? Consider the findings these researchers uncovered. Are you perhaps relying a bit too much on intuition and ignoring the facts staring you in the face?

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