In the world of gambling, the ultimate wallet destroyer is loss chasing. When down a few bucks, people often take on very strange behaviors that would normally seem unimaginable to them. It’s really quite an incredible thing. Because we all know when we walk into a casino that A) Losing is something that occurs quite often, and B) It is vital to keep your head on straight when it does. Part A has certainly held up. Part B? Not so much.
It’s true there are some people who do behave logically when they get emotional from losing, but many do not. That means there are some things you need to think about. So when you feel that tension in your heart. That sickness twisting in your gut after your team, in the waning moments of the finish, suddenly coughed up a win that looked to be a sure thing all night, consider this:
There is nothing unusual about what just happened. It probably wasn’t as astronomically unlucky as it may have appeared. It’s kind of amazing how you don’t realize how many wild twists and turns there are in sporting events till you start betting on them. But betting sports is going to be full of gut wrenching defeats. If this is something you choose to do, don’t be surprised if this is how it turns out. It is important to acknowledge even the top sports betting sharps, the guys who grind their brain tooth and nail day in and day out, still cannot win even 60% of the time.
I’m making a point to mention all of this because people are most likely to behave irrationally when they are heavily emotional. But if you don’t even reach the point of feeling that way, then there will be no threat of you behaving irrationally to begin with.
Let’s say, in spite of all of the logical things you know you’re supposed to think about, you still feel like an emotional wreck following defeat. So what do you do next? You immediately start looking at other games, and it could be for any sport. You try to find a game that’s starting soon and one that would interest you. Seeing as you are quite interested in winning your money back, suddenly all of these games available to bet on are peaking your interest in spite of the fact you didn’t care about them at all before. Very randomly, you look at a line and decide there is a side you like. There was no actual rhyme to the reason. It’s mere emotional button clicking. Imaginary logic telling yourself so desperately this is the spot to get your money back. 1-2-6 boom, the bet is in.
Not only is the bet in, the bet is now twice the size of the original bet! If your plan was to try to win $100, and now you find yourself down $100 (let’s just say for simplicity’s sake there was no vig) what’s the point in only breaking even? Bang, $200. Oh, you lost again. Alright, well, I would say you’re due. That gives you one choice. $400!…….Yeah they’ve got a name for this type of approach. It’s called the Martingale System.
Before we get to what exactly the Martingale System is and why it doesn’t work, allow me first to ask, did any of the above sound like something that even had a chance at ending well? Well, yeah, there was in fact a chance. That is, on each individual game. There’s always a chance you catch some break and undo the damage you’d done before, and boy does it feel great. That is what keeps people coming back for more and more. But in reality, long term, this behavior has zero chance at yielding a profit. When you say all of this out loud to yourself, it sounds so simple and obvious. But people do it. Bringing home a gambling win gives one hell of a high. Like Eddie Felson in The Color of Money Says, “Money won is twice as sweet as money earned”.
The Martingale System is about placing the minimum bet on any type of casino game. If you win, you’re done for the day. If you lose, you double the bet, and you keep doubling the bet until you win once and can call it a day; thus winding up with that same small win you would have won if you had won your first bet. For a minute or two it almost seems foolproof. Unfortunately it’s success proof.
If you were to play Blackjack and the betting limit range was a very friendly $10-$1,000 you only have to lose 7 bets in a row for this to be a total disaster. The day you do lose 7 in a row, you will be out $1,270. That means you will have to go in and play the Martingale System successfully (not lose 7 in a row on a given day) 127 consecutive days just to break even, since 127×10 = $1,270. Losing 7 times in a row sounds unlikely, and it is unlikely. But it’s likelier than you playing the Martingale System 127 times without having it fail once. When you toss a coin, you will average the same result coming up 7 times in a row once every 128 groups of attempts you toss the coin 7 times. And that’s when working with a 50/50 scenario for each toss. You are less than 50/50 at Blackjack, just like you are at every table game or sportsbook in the casino.
People have such a hard time dealing with losing. They lose their money management reason and surrender all of their patience just so they can have a shot to feel the adrenaline rush of winning, and thus not have to accept a loss for the day. And they do this knowing full well that winning every single day is an impossibility to begin with.
You cannot afford to allow yourself to believe that you are this special being that is destined to make money at will. When you start chasing your sports losses and/or playing the Martingale System, you are getting completely tangled in the sports betting spider web. Sports betting is in fact one of the few casino games where there is a potential edge to be gained. But if you are not putting in that work, it is imperative you understand that the sportsbook is, at that point, NO different than the table games. You will lose, and if you chase losses like a lion going after its prey, you will only lose more. It costs too much money in vig to account for all the games where your bet, no matter what you thought, was not giving you any sort of edge.
People are easily fooled by randomness and believe trends exist over what may have only been a series of odd coincidences. They then believe these coincidences mean something significant and it gives the illusion that they are doing something right. It feeds their ego temporarily, but it feeds sportsbooks permanently. There is a ton of information available about sports. But in terms of sizing up advantages when placing bets, the majority of it is irrelevant.
If you want to bet sports, regardless of the motivation, you will be doing yourself a tremendous favor if you just accept the outcomes of the games you bet on that day. You’re not going to bet on those random games the days you win, so then what’s the logic in doing it on the days you lose. Take your time, and be patient. This will either help you win money, or at least lose money slower if all you care about getting from sports betting is entertainment. Have a plan, stick to it, and for crying out loud do not try and prove the Martingale System is a moneymaker.