Randomness in Betting

Randomness in betting can be cruel. It can give you hope. It can build you up and it can bring you down. It’s because of randomness, that thousands of punters never get what they deserve.

Let’s take two punters. Happy Henry and Sad Simon.

Every weekend Happy Henry runs down to his local bookmaker and places bets, usually on the Premier League. He likes to bet on a lot of games. He wins, he’s happy. Sure he loses a few bets here and there, but over the first six weeks of the season, he’s won in four weeks out of six and he’s well in profit.

He does a bit of form work here and there on the teams but 95% of the time he goes on instinct.

“That’s how I do it lads..” he tells his friends, “..I’m a natural, what can I say!”

Happy Henry smiles, he laughs, he buys the odd round in the pub for his friends, often showing them his betting slips as results come in. His friends are impressed and Henry often gives out a bit of free advice here and there.

Henry loves the adulation. One of his friends gives him an idea.

“You should become a tipster Henry…set up one of those websites…you know…charge people money for your tips.”

Henry goes home from the pub at the end of another winning Saturday to give it some serious thought. Henry is ‘the man’.

In the same pub not far away from Happy Henry and his friends, sits Sad Simon. He’s cleverer than Henry and certainly better at Maths.

Simon sits alone. He doesn’t really have any friends, but if he did, they certainly wouldn’t be asking him for betting advice. In the first six weeks of the season he’s won one week, broken even one week, and lost the other four. At least he doesn’t have to buy anyone a drink, which is just as well because he can’t afford it.

Worse still, he keeps bumping into this bloke called Happy Henry at the bookmakers. Quite often Henry walks past him and hisses “muppet” in his ear. Simon begins to wonder if he actually is a muppet. He thought he had a system that gave him a 2% edge over the bookmakers in a few games every weekend. Yet still he loses.

Simon coming out of the bookmakers looking sad…pissed actually.

At the end of the season, Sad Simon is still sad. He has lost most of his money and decides to give up betting for good. Happy Henry on the other hand has won money and is looking forward to more profit next season.

The thing is, Happy Henry is a useless bettor. He is just lucky. The random nature of betting simply hasn’t caught up with him yet, and may not the following season either.

Sad Simon does in fact have a winning system that gives  him a genuine 2% edge over the bookmaker, but the number of bets that he places and the 2% edge, aren’t enough to ‘escape’ randomness.

Sad Simon just couldn’t get that bit of luck, that run of wins at the right time, that would have allowed him to continue and prove his system was profitable.

Such injustice.

Happy Henry could conceivably go on for the next five or even ten football seasons and still be in profit over that period, but only out of dumb luck. Randomness, for the moment, is on Henry’s side. In Sad Simon, we have lost a genuinely astute punter who didn’t quite understand enough about randomness in betting, and couldn’t catch a break early on when he needed it.

Let’s make it right.

We call on the ‘good angel of betting’ – The Angel Puntera. She grants Henry and Simon a long life of one thousand years, on the condition that both of them continue to place their football bets. (She also gives Simon a small loan so he can start betting again –  well, she is an angel after all !

Sure enough, by the end of their lives, all Henry’s friends (who somehow benefited from his powers of longevity) are now sitting at Simon’s table in the pub, buying him drinks. Over the years, Simon has learned about  randomness in betting and is beating the bookmaker with his system that gives him that 2% edge.

Simon, being a generous soul, invites Henry over too but he declines. He’s too ‘bent out of shape’ about losing to accept Henry’s offer or to admit his methods might have been wrong. Instead he pumps more and more money into his flawed method of betting. Happy Henry turns into Horrible Henry and Sad Simon becomes ‘Smiling Simon’. Now he’s ‘the man’.

In Conclusion

Of course the majority of people lead busy lives and they certainly don’t live for a thousand years. Most punters won’t ever place enough bets to ‘overcome’ the randomness in betting, but If you want to be more than a recreational bettor, then try and ‘prove’ or ‘back test‘ your methods.

If this is not an option available to you, then at the very least test your methods over many hundreds of bets. The latter won’t necessarily give you definitive proof (see blog on football predictions – ‘Profitability’) that you are profitable (sample sizes ideally need to be in the ‘thousands’) but it’s a whole lot better than over-staking and going in ‘blind’.

Good luck.




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