Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Blink, Or You'll Miss It

In his latest post over at http://talkbet.typepad.com/talkbet/ Jon reminded me of one of my earliest ventures into the world of gambling.

He wrote “Yesterday I sent out an email at work as a bit of fun with a list of last nights 6 premier league games. You needed to choose home/draw/away for each one. I spent all of 10 seconds on it yet managed to predict 5 of the 6 outcomes correctly with only Blackburn letting me down at home to Bolton. It makes you wonder if its really worth all the time and effort researching stats and analysing games when you might be better off just going with your first hunch.”

Back in the late 60s at school in Croydon, I used to write out the fixtures from the 22 Division One and Two games (as they were then) each Saturday (as it was then) and anyone interested would put their name at the top of a column and predict the result, home, draw or away. Each line would cost an (old) penny, and the top three winners would receive a payout of 60%-30%-10% after I had deducted my operating cost of 2d. (Since my pocket money at this time was an old 6d, this was quite a tidy sum). Those were the days.

As for Jon’s comment about following your first hunch, he may have a point. A commenter recently asked me if I had read Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. I have indeed.

In the author’s own words “It's a book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Well, "Blink" is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good.”

I think he could have included something along the lines of "…when you see a price displayed on a betting exchange during an in-play event, that your mind immediately recognizes as one that should be matched as it represents (for you) value”.

To anyone interested in trading in-play, I strongly recommend this book. The message is to trust that first instinct, because it is usually right. If you watch markets moving day after day, you subconsciously get a feel for what is normal, and when a price is outside of those norms, your subconscious recognizes this before your conscious side has time to analyse it. Don’t sit there thinking about it. Grab it.


Anonymous said...

You'd have got burnt on the Tennis yesterday if you did.

Cassini said...

I rarely do tennis in-play, so I wouldn't recognise value if it jumped out of the screen and slapped me in the face. What happened?

Anonymous said...

A player recieved two medical timeouts and still went a set and a break up in a best of 3 match. The player started at 1.11 but at the set and break up, his opposition was trading as low as 1.07. Apparently neither a fix or any form of market manipulation occured according to Betfair.

Cassini said...

Interesting. I guess those medical timeouts don't always mean the players down and out - only when my money is on board! Good luck anyway.

Juicestorm said...

I have that book too, combined with "The Wisdom of Crowds" it really does get you thinking.

I actually had a mad plan once to create a site based on an outline on both these books where users woudl be asked to predict sporting outcomes.

Regards, LEE

Cassini said...

Is the Wisdom of Crowds worth a read?

Juicestorm said...

Yes, very much so, especially if you have just read "Blink". I read those two and a third (I will dig out the title tomorrow) back to back.

A couple of his examples are a little offbeat, but the applications of WOC is interesting (decision markets i.e Betfair).

Juicestorm said...

...Wikipedia have a page on WOC and there is loads over then net.