Fear and Greed

Fear and Greed

Its been about 10 years now since I started this blog. I have enjoyed writing about gambling and hope everyone has followed me has taken something away from this site.

Most likely the best lesson to be learned from the ten years is that handicapping sports and making money is no easy endeavor. Its a tedious methodical process that is ever changing! Making money handicapping is not for the thrill seekers but for the analytical types that can keep “Human Nature ” out of the process.

Back when I started before I posted my first play I wrote up a must read section. The most important idea was and is still today

“There are very few people that are equipped financially and psychologically to handle the ups and downs of gambling on a daily basis. If your not a professional every instinct you have will attempt and probably will sabotage your success. Human nature runs completely contrary to being a successful professional gambler.”

There are many reasons that the above statement is true but to make it simple….unless my blog has reached farther then I can imagine ….You are human!

It is virtually impossible for the average human to divorce their ego, insecurities, destructive behavior tendencies etc from the process of gambling. For most its a subconscious sabotage that the person is unaware of. For others its subconscious but the human is aware of the process. For many its a subtle process and for others its a full blown out of control obvious process.

Its the very few that have a deep understanding of the above and have neutralized the subconscious tendencies by taking human instincts out of the equation.

In the stock market the idea of fear and greed are obvious. When the market is heading straight down fear keeps people out of the market until the market turns around and reaches highs where greed takes over and the public gets in.That why many times you see the public buying at the highs and selling at the lows.

Sound familiar…..going against the public is a very similar analogy. Although the process is a bit different…the concept is the same.

Now the idea of this post is not to take on the task of curing self destructive behavior. That is an almost impossible task for many humans. The idea is that the only way to take human nature out of the equation is to come up with a methodical approach to wagering where your wagers and amounts are predetermined based upon variables.

No guesswork….you do your handicapping …come up with the plays….look at your bankroll….take the % you are using and place your bets. If it turns out you have a negative ev approach it will not be because your human tendencies sabotaged you…but because your approach is not good enough. So you tweak it and try again!

Now you would think this would be easy for humans to do…but it isn’t. I know plenty of people that start out using spreadsheets but after a downswing disregard them! Why…..human nature.

At the poker tables its even more obvious. I have used this analogy before….If you had a betting proposition where you flipped a coin with an individual and received 6 to 5 when you won but paid even money when you lost….what would be the optimum strategy for when to quit?

My strategy would be to quit when the person went broke!

At the poker tables its very similar. If you have handicapped the game correctly and have determined you have a positive ev in the game …its very simple….the more hours you put in the more money you expect to make. (except of course for the limitation of humans to play long periods.)

Yet I have seen very good players get a few big bets ahead and every time start looking at their watch trying to figure out a reason to quit. And yet if they take bad beats you cannot pry them out of their chair and their games goes from an A game to a D game.

Myself most of the time when I was playing poker full time the daily swings were of no concern. I had an intellectual curiosity of what my spreadsheet and graphs were going to look like year end. Their was never a doubt to me that I was going to make money year after year but only what the graph was going to look like. And what games had the lowest variance with the highest big bet rate.

Thats the approach you need to take to be a successful gambler. The only way to do this is to gamble at an amount that is comfortably within your bankroll. Once you do this you tend to neutralize your human tendencies. And then find a methodical technique that you feel is a positive ev and stick to it.

I could write a book on the above concepts but overall I hope most get the gist of this and give some thoughts to how it might be effecting your gambling.


Showing 2 comments
  • daddypoker

    play poker and bet sports for a living. Let me tell you even after 5+ years its still difficult to bet against your opinion but like you said numbers don’t lie.

    My opinion for the most part is -ev but my approach (following steam plays) has been very successful but stress-ful. You can work your ass of by getting a good line at slow moving line books and still end up losing. Even till this day its extremely frustrating.

    But your post sums it up.. Its a hard way to make buck but we still choose to continue doing what we do.

  • Bill 57

    Gambling can provide fulfillment and satisfaction as does marriage and sex. The knowledgeable gambler is so gratified when his system continues to prove itself, and he continues to win. But like the devoted husband who was attentive to every detail of his role in his relationship with his wife prior to his wife leaving him, the gambler who finds his blueprint for success no longer working feels much the same emotions of disappointment and even hopelessness.
    Ask the savvy investor who had every sector of his investment pie lose value in 2008 what emotions he felt.
    Only humans can make decisions based on empirical data. Only humans can perform analysis and formulate models that will aid in predicting future outcomes. And as such, humans cannot remove themselves from the human condition.
    Even the hardened assassin who continues applying his successful formula will, some day, find himself at the receiving end of disappointment and loss. Indeed, loss of his own life.
    If one is in the top phylum, class, and order of the animal kingdom, he is a human being. As such, he will not be able to completely remove himself from the human condition.

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