Betting Traps - Survivorship Bias

Updated: 2156 Other

In an obscure B-Side to one of their earlysingles, the band Oasis asked listeners, “Do You Wanna Be ASpaceman?” Probably by the time of life they were listening to thissong, most people would have given up any childhood hopes ofbecoming

Betting Traps - Survivorship Bias
Darren Brett Tipster Competition Manager

Horse Racing, greyhounds and snooker specialist with thirty years experience of writing about sport across multiple platforms. A QPR and Snooker fan

In an obscure B-Side to one of their early singles, the band Oasis asked listeners, “Do You Wanna Be A Spaceman?”

Probably by the time of life they were listening to this song, most people would have given up any childhood hopes of becoming an astronaut, but perhaps listening to it brought back that feeling you have when you are young that anything seemed possible.

If readers didn't want to be an astronaut when they were very young I would imagine that they probably had another dream that would in practice, prove difficult to realise. 

For me the dream was to be a football player, specifically playing on the left wing for Manchester United. 


What I didn't realise at that time is that behind Ryan Giggs stood 100 other professional footballers who were not as successful as him, despite the fact that they were playing regularly in the top tier of English football and whose names I have now mostly forgotten. 

Behind each of these 100 footballers stood 100 who had become professional but then had not been good enough, or had suffered injuries that meant they never became regular players. 

Behind each of these stand 100 who were academy players but never even got to turn professional behind each of these stood 100 who had tried out for an academy and not been deemed good enough at that stage. For every Ryan Giggs, there are a lot of other players or want-to-be players who to varying degrees have failed to reach the same heights. 

Of course, now I have grown up a bit and at the age of 34 have accepted that I will never be a fixture in the United team.

But despite this, I think I am still a victim sometimes of what psychologists call survivorship bias.

I would still very much like to buy a racehorse one day, even though I know that I have more chance of winning the lottery than of my horse winning the Grand National, and lottery tickets are much cheaper than racehorses. 


The problem is I focus on the one horse that wins the national and forget the many thousands that have fallen at the many hurdles in a racehorse's career before they even had a chance to try and win the big one. 

Most people reading this will have friends who sometimes like to brag a bit about their betting wins. If they have a ten-fold football accumulator come in on a Saturday afternoon then it is a pretty safe bet that they will still be talking about it that evening in the pub. 

But people speak a lot less about the ten-fold accumulator where the first bet was on the aarly kickoff and didn't win meaning that the slip was in the bin before most of the games kick off.

If you judged the success of your friends in betting on what they told you, then you would probably have quite a positive view of their performance. But if you looked at the accounts you would probably find that on average most of them don't break even over a long period of time. 

The classic tipping service scam works in a similar way. 

Tipsters Who Charge

Always undertake due diligence of tipsters that charge. Ask for at least 6 months of proofed results.

If I send out 243000 letters tipping the outcome of a football match, a third saying home win, a third saying draw and a third saying away win, then regardless of the result, after the match I will have 81000 addresses of people that think I called the game correctly. 

I could then do the same again sending 27000 letters with each result and so on. 

Eventually, I will have 1000 people who think that I have called five games in a row correctly. If I then contact all of these 1000 and ask them if they want to pay for tips from me, then I might have a few responses.

What these people wouldn't know was that for each of them I had required 243 chances to get a lucky run of 5 correct tips in a row. The internet now means that I don't even need to buy large amounts of stationery in order to run the same scam. 

I can simply contact people through twitter and do the same thing. I also have the advantage on twitter that I can delete any tips I make that don't win, or at least some of them, and make it look like I have been much more successful than I really have. 

There are numerous accounts in twitter that do just this, and many of them charge punters for their tips.

OLBG Tipping Competition

There are two things that I really like about the tipping competition on OLBG. 

1. I can see what anyone else on the site tips, for free.

2. I know that what I see is everything that they have tipped, not just what they want me to see. 

Sometimes I would like to be able to remove losing tips of my own, but I know that if I could do this, it would spoil the site, and whilst it can be touch frustrating to be unable to remove a tip you regret, it is worth it to know that other people in the site are restricted in the same way. 

This means I have the incredible advantage before I use a tip from another member, of being able to look back and see how he or she has performed in the past; if I am not impressed with their performance, then I might not decide to use their tip. 

The problem with the twitter-based tipsters who charge for their tips is that they are in control of what I see.

There may be some of them that really do have an impressive strike rate and would be profitable to follow in the long term, even if I did have to pay for their tips. 


But the problem for me is to know which ones they are because all of them appear to have a good strike rate from what I am able to see; most of the losing tips simply disappear shortly after it becomes clear that they are not winners. 

Because of this problem I never use any tipping service except for OLBG and I would advise others to do the same.

I am not always very successful in competitions, but when I am, it is good to know that anybody looking at my performance knows that I have genuinely done well and have not cheated by removing any losing tips.

You can view the monthly tipping competition prizes here.

If you are looking to improve your horse racing betting please visit the how to find winners betting school article.  

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