Wanna bet? If the answer is yes, then you may be better off putting money down on your rival team.
The FIFA World Cup, which kicks off Thursday, is a busy time for betting markets. During the 2014 World Cup, betting analysts estimated that British gamblers wagered more than 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion), setting a record for the biggest betting event in the country’s history.
Those looking to get into the action this time around, when Germany is a favorite to defend its 2014 win, should heed the advice of behavioral scientists — lest they find themselves losing money because of certain psychological biases.
When wagering money on sporting events, it’s less about who you bet on and more about who you don’t put money on, according to a betting guide from Behavioral Scientist magazine that summarizes much of the research on people’s biases in betting.
Avoid betting on your favorite team (even if it hurts)
Loving one team can seriously cloud one’s judgment. Rather than judging the team on its merits, a fan could be way too optimistic. Plus, researchers have found that bookmakers may exploit a fan’s love, which could leave them with money down on a team with long odds.
Also see: Here are 10 players to watch at the 2018 World Cup
“It makes sense to hedge your happiness,” wrote Philip Newall, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Warwick and author of the Behavorial Scientist betting guide. “That way, you’re guaranteed to avoid the double hit of your team losing and your bet losing.”
Don’t opt to cash out because your team is doing badly
This option allows someone placing a bet to take back a chunk of their money while the match is still underway, ostensibly to preserve a gain or reduce a possible loss. But researchers argue that these features could actually promote continuous gambling and lose more money.
Forget what you know about the game and keep your bet simple
People placing bets on baseball games were less likely to choose the winning team if they focused too much on certain aspects of the sport rather than focusing on the team’s overall performance, according to a study from researchers at the Korea University Business School.
Having too much detailed knowledge about a certain player can cloud one’s judgement or, at least, not translate into a winning bet. Another study examining the successes of a pool of gamblers found that the least knowledgeable and experienced individuals were the ones who won the most.
Read more: Bank on it? UBS predicts Germany will win World Cup
Complicated bets are more likely to make bookmakers money. The odds of Justify winning the Belmont Stakes last Saturday were much higher than the odds of it coming in first ahead of Gronkowski. That exact bet paid more, but first and second place is much more difficult to predict.
Ignore the advertising (after all, they represent companies)
Advertisements for online betting often usually show people having fun and depict people winning their wagers. But bookies also showcase long-shot bets that are far less likely to come to fruition — think bets on a particular score at halftime or a certain player scoring the first goal of the game.
But remember the advertiser represents the company, not the consumer. Advertisers tend to utilize these so-called “dark nudges” because they are more appealing to viewers, but in reality such a confluence of events is extremely hard to predict and much less likely to occur.