What Can Optical Illusions Tell Us About Betting?


Much can impact upon how we perceive our betting results, particularly our losing streaks. Today Joachim tells us it's all about context and perceiving our results clearly.

Baseball Diamond

What does the famous Müller-Lyer-illusion tell us about sports betting?

Was sagt uns die Müller-Lyer-Illusion über Sportwetten?

As anyone can check with a ruler: The two horizontal lines above are of the exact same length; nonetheless our intuition tells us that the second line is longer than the first.

Context shapes our perception

Both lines are embedded in a certain context. When the arrows point outwards the horizontal line seems shorter; when they point inward, it seems to be longer. Since they are in fact of the exact same length, it becomes obvious that our perception of identical subject matter can change if presented in a different context.

Betting results are about context, too

This is true for betting as well. How you perceive your current betting performance depends on the context. If you're having a bad month (or year) you will see one and the same sequence of results much differently than if you are having good results overall.

A practical example: 200 bets

Illusion und Wetten

This is a sequence of about 200 consecutive baseball bets that I made in 2012. If you look at these results only, it looks like a financial tragedy. This quickly changes however, once you consider the context - and zoom out a little:

Illusionen und Sportwetten: Auf den Kontext kommt es an

The red lines indicate which part of the graph the first diagram shows. The context changes everything in this example. Where you would have thought of witnessing the betting equivalent of a car crash at first, you now see what is a pretty trivial market correction that was to be expected at some point.

Nonetheless we are still talking about the exact same sequence of consecutive bets.



This blog entry was originally published by Joachim on our German blog.

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