Betting Experts Answer: How to overcome emotions in sports betting? | Part 2

Welcome to the 11th question in our series: “Betting Experts Answer The Industries Biggest Questions.”

Becoming a successful sports bettor is not just about finding a winner or being able to read the market to find value, emotions play a massive part too! So, we asked 11 experts the question:

Q11: Do you think emotions play a part in people's sports betting results? If so, how should they overcome this?

Check out Part 1 of our answers here, where we get the opinions of former odds compiler - Matthew Trenhaile, football betting analyst - Mark O’Haire, Smart Betting Club’s - Pete Ling, author - True Poker Joe, Smart Sports Trader & odds compiler - Jeevan Jeyaratnam.


Joseph's book

Psychology is arguably the biggest reason that a bettor who might be capable of achieving positive expectation will fail. Human biases are a natural part of behaviour and it’s as important to understand what those are as learning how to beat the odds mathematically. The first step in overcoming them is awareness. For that I recommend my book Squares and Shapers. The rest will involve diligence and hard work. There are no magic bullets.

Follow @12Xpert on Twitter & check out the 12Xpert website here.


I believe it is the most important and overlooked part of betting. We all still have a lizard brain, but we are now smart enough to develop tools to counteract our fight or flight tendencies. I'm fortunate (in regards to betting) that my emotions barely move from a baseline of 6 (on a 1-10 scale). I have friends whose emotions can range from the full 1 (depression) to 10 (absolute joy). If I lost $10,000 on a bet or won $10,000 my range would be 5-7. I've had my DNA sequenced before and the empathy trait is not there for me. So I have to spend extra time trying to understand how other people are feeling. Knowing that it is something that does not come naturally to me, allows me to work on the empathy skill.

I see the majority of punters have a pretty wide range of emotions (which is great in everyday life). Just look at people on social media, the euphoria of a win and the despair of a loss. The problem is, both these high and low emotions can usually result in the same negative outcomes when it comes to betting. When you feel on top of the world after a win, you want to chase that high and keep betting larger sums. Like a drug, the initial high is harder to replicate and you need to take a higher dose (bigger win) to relive that initial high. On the other end of the spectrum, the despair of a loss can result in the punter trying to get rid of that feeling by chasing losses. Both these scenarios usually end in the same place (massive losses).

If you are a recreational punter, this is actually why you bet. You want to feel the highs and lows. If you can handle them and not become a problem gambler, this is great. For those who want to win long term, you are going to need to work on a few practices that bring your emotional betting levels to the centre (4-7).

What has helped me is meditation (use the calm app) and stoic philosophy. Meditation allows you to interrupt those high and low emotions and become centred. It is about being present and is as simple as sitting still for 10 minutes a day and trying to keep your mind empty. This gives you a sense of calm throughout the day and allows you to get back into that state when things are a little hectic.

Stoic philosophy is more about understanding that there will be pain and hardship in life (and betting), but not letting emotions get in the way. It is a great way to look at betting. Even with a profitable betting system, you are going to go through massive variance. If you can understand this and play it out in your head all the time, when it does actually happen, it will be much easier to deal with. The two books I read each year are letters from a stoic by Seneca and Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. These books are over 2,000 years old and have stood the test of time (you can find them for free as well).

The only other thing I would suggest is to make sure that your 1 unit bet size is low enough that losing it will have no impact on you. 1 unit for me is about $1,000. A good practice is to buy something worth 1 unit (for me that's a big screen tv) and destroy it. If you flinch at doing that with your 1 unit bet size, you are betting too much.

Follow @Day25 on Twitter & check out the Daily25 blog here.


Spanky's office

We are all human so emotions will play a part. “Believing in the long run” is easier said than done. Most gamblers go broke by either betting too high to start or chasing losses. It takes a great sense of discipline to overcome short term negative variance. Bet amounts should be low enough where individual results won’t impact your life in any way.

Follow @Spanky on Twitter & check out the article The Ringer wrote about him here.


Yes, absolutely. We all need to learn to address and cope with any potential triggers that will negatively impact bankroll. It can take one moment of weakness to wipe out hard fought betting winnings and as a result, preparation for those moments is advised. It is such a personal journey to identify, prepare and address emotional challenges that will inevitably come. Do not underestimate the trojan horse that may be waiting, shielded by a long term winning streak, that can strike at the heart of any well earned bankroll.

Follow @BettingPod on Twitter & check out The Business of Betting Podcast here.


Of course, they do, and I don’t think it is possible to entirely overcome this. However, here are some best practices – apply them if you can:

  1. Don’t bet on or against your favourite team if you can’t ignore your emotional attachment. Same applies to teams you dislike or have any emotional disposition to
  2. Don’t watch games just to find out the outcome of your bet the moment it happens. This doesn’t bring you any benefit as a punter and can be a huge time waste. Of course, if you like watching the sport anyway or do it to learn something, it is a different story. Same applies to refreshing the live score every few seconds while you’re doing something else at the time. It is very stupid, but we have all done it – it is best to avoid that.
  3. Don’t go crazy when a big drawdown hits you. It is just money, life goes on and if you have something to eat and a roof over your head, it is not as much of an issue as you might think. Again, easier said than done, but I think a bit of experience helps a lot in not taking those things too seriously.

Follow @ChurchOfBetting on Twitter & check out The Church of Betting website here.

Check out Part 1 of our answers here, where we get the opinions of former odds compiler - Matthew Trenhaile, football betting analyst - Mark O’Haire, Smart Betting Club’s - Pete Ling, author - True Poker Joe, Smart Sports Trader & odds compiler - Jeevan Jeyaratnam.

Love getting the opinions from experts in the betting industry? Then subscribe to the Trademate Sports Podcast, where we interview the most important people in the sports betting industry.

Here are the other questions we have got our industry experts to answer so far:

  • Q1: Top 3 tips for betting beginners? Part 1 & Part 2.
  • Q2: How do you define “finding value” in betting markets? Part 1 & Part 2.
  • Q3: How do you determine whether your betting results are based on luck or skill? Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.
  • Q4: Kelly criterion or flat staking: Which stake sizing strategy do you consider to be the best and why? Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.
  • Q5: What is the best method to use to make money from sports betting? Part 1 & Part 2.
  • Q6: How difficult is it to beat the sports betting markets? How efficient are the odds? Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.
  • Q7: How to manage risk when betting? Part 1 & Part 2.
  • Q8: Is there a best sport to bet on? If so, what is it? Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.
  • Q9: Assuming you have an edge, at what point can you start accurately evaluating your results and say that variance has played out? Part 1 & Part 2.
  • Q10: What is the one thing you would like to see change in the gambling industry? Part 1 & Part 2.

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