Soccer Betting – Skill-Based Wagering Versus Chance

Smart sports betting, and football betting in particular, is based on the skills of the teams involved as opposed to random chance. This difference profoundly affects the appropriate betting strategies or systems. Understanding this difference is what makes an effective sports bettor.

Many of the betting systems and strategies available today are based upon general probabilities of a win or loss and are modified versions of systems developed for games of chance. However, sports betting – and even poker – is not based on random chance and probabilities, but on the skill of the contestants. This means that the underlying premise of sport betting is significantly different than betting on games of chance.

Although most gambling strategies designed for games of chance are mathematically unsound, in practice if one has roughly a 50% chance of winning, these systems can at least appear to offer an effective means of betting. In the long run, the failure of such systems is more or less inevitable because it is based upon the Gambler’s Fallacy. Gambler’s Fallacy is the mistaken impression that particular results are “due” based on previous outcomes in a series of independent trials of a random process. For example, the if one is tossing coins, and heads come up repeatedly, the gambler may conclude that this means tails is “due” to come up next; whereas, in reality, the chances that the next coin toss will result in tails is exactly the same regardless of the number of times heads has come up already.

In skill-based wagering, the bettor with the most knowledge of the contestants involved has a definite advantage over the bettor that is hoping that the desired outcome “is due” based on probabilities. There is no sound mathematical probability that any specific football team “is due” anything. Just think of Arsenal that won 14 consecutive games in 2002, or Derby County F.C. that lost 37 consecutive games in 2007-08. The determining factor for these runs was the skill of the teams, not random chance.

That is not to say that random chance is not involved, of course it is. Any team can make mistakes or have accidents, leading to upsets and surprise outcomes. Nevertheless the smart sports bettor knows that the skill level of the team in question is much more likely to influence the outcome than chance and luck. This is what makes a successful sports bettor over the long term. Anyone can get lucky from time to time, but if one learns to make intelligent bets based on the skills of the teams involved, one is much more likely to win significant amounts of money over the long run.  

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