In October Pinnacle published an article on books bettors should read in order to improve their betting. While those three books are critical, we knew there were others just as influential not on the list.
We asked our Twitter followers if there were any notable absentees from the list. The response was tremendous.
This article is the second of a two-part series (Click here to read part one) looking at the recommendations we received. The reviews are informative and thought-provoking giving bettors a thorough understanding of what these books offer.
We thank the authors for their participation and look forward to more collaboration in the future.
Antifragile: Things that gain from disorder (Nassim Nicholas Taleb)
Both Fooled By Randomnessand The Black Swan were highly influential in improving my approach to sports betting.
Love him or loathe him author, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, followed these two gems with the splendid Antifragile which is described as the blueprint for living in a Black Swan world.
Many of the ideas discussed in the earlier books are brought together and wrapped around the concept of Antifragiltiy.
Central to the idea is the notion most things in nature gain from disorder. So rather than collapsing like a fragile banking system they grow stronger in the face of volatility, most likely due to having more upside than downside – a favourable asymmetry.
How you apply the concept to betting will vary depending on your chosen sport. For me the key was learning not to be a fragilista - someone who thinks he understands what’s going on - and instead using subtractive knowledge to determine my selections rather than ‘picking a winner’.
The other two books may be more relatable to betting activities but Antifragile completes the trilogy nicely and will leave you contemplating your next bet.
Reviewed by: John Howard @JohnFlutterF1
The Real Story of Risk: Adventures in a Hazardous World (Glenn Croston)
Whilst Daniel Kahneman (in his masterpiece Thinking Fast & Slow) describes how our fast intuitions often lead us down a garden path of systematic error, particularly where decision making and risk taking involve significant uncertainty, Glenn Croston in The Real Story of Risk, investigates the wider story of risk, from health, sex, the environment and of course what is of most interest to bettors, money.
Adopting an evolutionary perspective from the outset, Croston takes us on an illuminating journey through our biological past to show that when it comes to taking risks, humans are pre-programmed to be loss averse, to interpret our world through stories rather than numbers and probability, and to demand explanations for causality when often none exist.
Nowhere is the relationship between cause and effect so tenuous as it is in sports betting. Even experienced bettors can require thousands of wagers before they might start to identify something that could genuinely pass as skill.
Unfortunately, our brains prefer to see causality in the noisiest of data environments. Profits are frequently interpreted as the results of something the bettor did, rather than a series of lucky occurrences. Seeing causality helps us to establish control over our decision-making, and being in control is fundamental to the motivation of all living things, as Burrhus Skinner demonstrated in his famous “superstition of the pigeon” experiment in 1947.
Humans, too, have chosen to use superstition to attempt to explain uncertainties (many gamblers, for example, believe in the use of lucky charms to ordain their future good fortune), along with mythology and more recently religion and conspiracy theory.
Sadly, most are merely illusory. Of course, from an evolutionary perspective, illusory pattern recognition may not be entirely maladaptive. Feeling in control helps reduce anxiety and feelings of helplessness. Unfortunately, in the world of gambling, bad judgment arising from illusory and fallacious thinking is usually the fast route to poverty. Counter intuitively; those who feel most in control over their predictions are probably most likely to be having the least influence over them.
In showing us how and why we take risks, and how and why we balance those risks against the rewards we seek, Croston helps us understand that control is at the heart of it. Paradoxical as it may sound, whilst most gambling is really just a game of chance, we gamble, like we tell stories, or believe in superstitions, ultimately because we want to be in control of our lives.
Reviewed by: Joseph Buchdahl @12Xpert
Joseph Buchdahl is the author of Fixed Odds Sports Betting: The Essential Guide: Statistical Forecasting and Risk Management, and How to Find a Black Cat in a Coal Cellar: The Truth about Sports Tipsters
Mean Markets and Lizard Brains: How to Profit from the New Science of Irrationality (Terry Burnham)
Markets are not efficient, we are not rational, and the very cognitive mechanisms, which kept us alive in the caveman days, cause the majority of the population to lose in the long term.
Focussing on the ‘science of irrationality’, Mean Markets and Lizard Brains looks into the failings of human psychology in the modern world – in particular in decision-making and investing – giving an informative assessment of behavioural inefficiencies and how to exploit them.
Core to Burnham’s ideas are the ‘lizard brain’; our fast acting, reactionary brain which makes patterns where they don’t exist, fails to see paradigms shifts, and feels safe following the majority.
Not many of these ideas are new, and a decade after publication, ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ expedites and expands on the idea of two separate brains operating inside us, but Burnham writes in a unique enjoyable style, with many amusing and apt analogies along the way.
Burnham focuses on recognising irrationality, and posits different methods to capitalise on recognising this – before the rest of the market participants, including ’mast-strapping’ and ‘lizard logic’.
The majority will strictly follow the overriding trend, which generates significant noise in the price determination process – in soccer, think of the furore over the impact of a new or departing manager or a marquee signing.
Thematically one of the ideas to profit from is the concept of contrarianism. How this relates to sports markets could be interpreted broadly as going against the general (‘lizard-brain’ driven and less informed) public:
- Laying favourites when the bias is too strong
- Recognising decline in recognised ‘top’ athletes / teams etc.
- Not giving too much weight to temporal luck-driven situations (a prior weeks’ shock result perhaps).
- Recognising paradigm shifts (changes in long term trends)
The book is split into four sections, of which only the first and the last will be relevant to those strictly interested in sports betting – Part 1: The New Science of Irrationality, Part 4: How to Profit from Irrationality.
With subject overlap with the other Pinnacle ‘required reading’ recommendations, this is an easy read which offers something for every bettor.
Reviewed by: Will Baker @8_bakerboi_8
Trading in the Zone (Mark Douglas)
Reviewed by: Darren Culmer @essex1967
As a bettor the first thing you need to acquire is knowledge. Take in as much information as possible; subscribe to blogs, read books and watch videos.
Perhaps the most important aspect to understand as a trader is yourself. Trading in the Zone encourages readers to self analyse. Douglas believes that long-term success comes from the mind and not the markets, teaching you to take a loss and move on.
Reviewed by: @simonjones1989
A must for all bettors looking to gain insight into the fundamentals of how to achieve a profitable state of mind, and highlights why so few traders see consistent profits.
Douglas demonstrates logically why so many traders fail. Explaining the determining factor behind being successful isn’t necessarily intelligence, but psychological.
How many times have you felt that the market is working against you? Losing days can become weeks, months or even worse.
The book explains how bettors perceive expectations and why it is nearly impossible to make +EV moves when expecting a negative result, while rationalising how taking responsibility and reacting to loss is vital for consistency.