Phew! Dodged a bullet in the Twenty20 World Cup

It’s interesting how extremely low odds can influence your behavior.

Every now and then you see fixtures with one outcome paying only 1.01 to win, and you think to yourself, “it must be a sure thing then! All I have to do is pick ten 1.01 fixtures per year and I would make over 10% profit [x*(1.01)^10]. That sure beats my term deposit rate!”

The problem is, however, there is no such thing as a sure bet in sports.

Yesterday I had my finger on the trigger to place a bet on England to beat the Netherlands in the opening match of the Twenty20 World Cup. England were only paying 1.03 and the Netherlands were paying something like 11.00. Because the odds on England were so low I felt I should make a large bet to make it worthwhile. At the time I had in mind $100-$200. However, I figured the risk-to-reward ratio was too high, because upsets are easier to come by in the shorter version of the game. For this reason, I decided to sit on the sideline and not back England in the fixture.

Well, I’m sure glad I didn’t. On the final delivery of the match, the Netherlands scored two runs to beat England in what will go down as one of the biggest upsets in cricket history. The Netherlands, only an associate member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) beat England, the founders of cricket.

It just goes to show the perils of low odds bets. People tend to place more on them to “make it worthwhile”, but you just never know when it comes to sport. Also, people can get thrown off by the low odds, believing that a win must be virtually assured if odds that low are offered.

My suggestion is to only stick to low odds bets where you feel very confident about the outcome, and where you very familiar with that particular sport and the teams involved. For example, I would be more inclined to bet on a low odds tennis match than I would a College American Football game. Also, never bet more than you can afford to lose, because the downside risk is always 100% of your bet.

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