Emotional Stability & Sports Handicapping

 

Last Updated: 2017-05-17

Surely you have been told time and time again about money management and discipline. There’s no reason to beat a dead horse, as there are only three possible outcomes. You either have it, will learn it, or won’t. Let’s take a look at what’s really behind those terms and how we might better get there.

My father had an expression, “if you’re not sure what to do, then don’t do anything.” My guess is that he didn’t originate that, but that’s where it came to me. It’s a great life-lesson, and it really applies to gambling.

We had what was one of the most devastating losses last night. I am sure you know the kind. The one where your team simply has Christmas in the Summer and gives things away. After a tough one most people tend to react with anger and/or frustration, which is perfectly normal. However, staying in that mode for too long effects everything you do going forward, even things outside of betting. If you are going to stay in the game, get over it. Look back at the handicap exactly like you would/should any other loss.

By not getting back to your routine you will create self-doubt or hesitation, neither of which are have a positive effect on handicapping. The effects can cause you to question your work or question the work of the handicapper, if you followed someone. If you have a good track record or the handicapper has a reasonable history of finding winners, then odds are it was just one of those things. I don’t mean to diminish a loss, but rather look at the other side of things. We win games we probably shouldn’t, and over the course of time they will even out.

The only time to move forward is when the emotion is gone. I can tell you this from personal experience. I have been in the passengers’ seat with plays on plenty of occasions. I follow people I trust. I have people that follow me, probably because they trust me. But, most importantly you have to trust yourself.

Don’t over react, or at least don’t buy another pick or look at another rotation without having hit the “refresh” button. If you have hesitation, you will make a mistake. If you have doubt, you will force a play. Remember one of our goals is not have have more wins (well, sort of) but to have less losses and eliminate mistakes. We’re not perfect, but if we take the emotion out of things we can make decisions with much more clarity, hence much more confidence.

It’s not as easy as perhaps it sounds on paper, but if we’re always looking to improve often times it’s beyond the handicapping aspect of gambling. That’s the simple part and the more binary part. But, we are human.

If a quarterback throws an interception and he’s not confident in his next throw, he’ll throw another one. If Steph Curry misses several three-pointers in a row, he’s not going to stop shooting. It’s the emotional intelligence that separates them from the pack.

Remember, we will fortuitously win games, and we will lose some that sting. There are no “right side losing” tickets in my book. The tickets cash or they don’t and tomorrow will come, regardless. The sooner we recognize that the better off we will be.

Dave Essler is a handicapper from Pregame, featured on ESPN, Fox Sports, CNN, & more.

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