Open Rants by PowerTackler

Walt's Logic Was Flawed: The Illusion of Patterns & Trends
Published at 10/19/2016
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I only found out about this past summer, but the timing was perfect. From 2011-2015, Walt relied on trends, and this would have sent me sprinting for the hills faster than Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl. Luckily, he's moved away from this flawed method and gotten back to in-depth analysis.

I hate to sound like a sycophant, but I enjoy the hell out of this site. I've been looking for a site like this for a long time. I previously believed I only had two choices:

Site option #1: Mainstream media site.

Sample commentary: Will Tom Brady be the first player to have his number retired while he's still playing? As in literally, at halftime of Week 17 this year? Is Brett Favre coming back? What does Jerry Jones think about all this? Tune in to our network's broadcast this week, especially if you like old boys sitting around joking and laughing, having a great time! They're just like YOU!

I've often lamented the use of former players over professional gamblers when it comes to analysis. What does playing a game have to do with prognostication? Can any of these guys demonstrate a documented history of successful predictions? In the words of the late, great Mitch Hedberg, "You're a great chef, can you farm?" The MSM assumes John Q. Public wants to see slickly-dressed former players and coaches, and that their fame and star power will feed the need of the masses for idolatry. But I would submit that there would be at least as much gravitas exuded by many sharps, since what they lack in name value would be made up for with the mystique of their profession. However, I never complain too loudly, because the last thing we as bettors want is a properly-informed public. Can you imagine if it was almost impossible to find a spread with any value? It's better for us if the great unwashed public continues to be dazzled by jingling keys like kittens, for eternity.

Site option #2: Sports betting site that sells pick advice.



So here's why trends are bunk.

Humans can find patterns anywhere, whether they're actually there or not. Our entire learning process is based on finding patterns, and this applies to everyone throughout the learning spectrum. Whether you're a toddler learning the basics of reading, or a world-class expert at chess, your pattern-recognition ability is what will determine if you succeed or fail. Or, take a look at pop music. We like music with a beat, or a simple melody, or a catchy chorus. Patterns make us feel smart. They make us feel like we know what's coming. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus.

Sports broadcasts have some of the best examples of ridiculous, useless patterns that you can find anywhere on the planet. My sports network told me that my team has scored at least 27 points per game when at home on Sundays in November since 2012! Can anyone take this seriously? Well, in a world full of uncertainty, insecurity, and the need to feel like an insider VIP, yes they can. Or as Michael Shermer puts it, "The inability of individuals to assign causal probabilities to all sets of events that occur around them will often force them to lump causal associations with non-causal ones."

Additionally, we all have our own biases. When betting on our favourite team, we will likely minimize and dismiss the importance of data which suggests a conclusion we don't want to be true. But we'll memorize every tidbit that we like. Unfortunately, making a choice and then finding data to back it up is a fool's errand.

I'm not a nihilist, or even self-loathing, but humans are biased pattern-recognition machines who lazily prefer the comfort of algorithms to the uncertainty and surprises of heuristic discovery. It is therefore our mission, as homo sapiens sports bettors, to sift through the chaos of extraneous info to find order, in spite of ourselves.

When you're a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

If you'd like to see my 2 minute video on patterns, it's here:



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