Joseph Buchdahl might be young, but he is anything but a newbie in the online sports betting scene. With 14 years of experience in betting analysis, his own betting stats website and two published books under his belt (Fixed Odds Sports Betting: Statistical Forecasting & Risk Management and How to Find a Black Cat in a Coal Cellar: The Truth about Sports Tipsters), Joseph is a true veteran of the gambling industry.
His latest book (Squares & Sharps, Suckers & Sharks) is different to what you might expect. Rather than another how-to book, this is a why-book. It will not provide you with a winning system, but it will explore the science, psychology and philosophy behind betting to determine why some people gamble, why some condemn it and, most importantly, why most lose and the winner takes it all.
Nuts and bolts
The book starts off with the history of probability theory, born in the 16th century, illustrating that it wasn’t until the Enlightenment for humanity to start calculating probabilities based on mathematical principles, as opposed to God’s will.
In an industry where betting advice is as routine as coffee breaks, the book dedicates a full chapter on betting tipsters, strike rates, and most importantly, what to look out for before putting your money where their mouth is.
In chapter two the author delves deeper into why we gamble. Gambling is estimated to date back as much as 40,000 years, all the way to the homo sapiens, and its condemnation is probably as old as gambling itself. Readers, especially those with an affinity for neuroscience, will be interested in finding out that most bettors appear to be playing to play rather than to win, as the gambling-induced dopamine is particularly effective at keeping the mind out of boredom zone.
The following two chapters delve into cognitive biases, made famous by Kahneman and Tversky, with a take-no-prisoner approach to common illusions bettors are either ignorant or unwilling to admit.
In chapter five, Joseph opens the vault of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to subscribing to betting tipsters. In an industry where betting advice is as routine as coffee breaks, this insightful 35-page long report offers real world data, strike rates, and most importantly, what to look out for before putting your money where their mouth is.
In determining which bettor is winner material, the following two chapters turn the free lunch idea on its head. Is betting about predicting winners or about predicting winners better than anybody else? What do profitable bettors and compound interest have in common? Who pays for the winner’s lunch?
The book concludes with real life examples of scams and other fully legitimate, but no-profit-guaranteed “opportunities”, along with a table of criteria to determine the type of bettor you are.
The method in his madness
From investigating the length of Cleopatra’s nose to experimenting with dart throwing monkeys, Joseph’s captivating humor will have you cracking smiles from page one.
Despite the fact that full understanding of the book requires some familiarity with mathematics, Joseph delivers on his promise to fascinate anybody with an interest in betting or investing with the lesser-known workings of the betting mind through an abundance of practical examples.
Joseph doesn’t hesitate to reveal his personal woes with bookmakers who limit or close betting accounts, emphasizing the importance of transparency when choosing which bookmaker to bet with.
From tossing coins and rolling dices, to Premier League examples, investment strategies, quiz questions and election predictions accompanied with simple graphs and to-the-point explanations, the reader is guaranteed to take away a lot of counter-intuitive insights.
The greatest value and forte of this book, though, is the abundance of references found in the form of quotes from a large variety of books written by Nobel Prized economists and psychologists, acknowledged university professors, successful CEOs, Wall Street traders and politicians. Be prepared to keep learning long after you finish reading.
Last but not least, Joseph doesn’t hesitate to reveal his personal woes with bookmakers who limit or close betting accounts, emphasizing the importance of transparency, when choosing which bookmaker to bet with.
“They [bookmakers who apply restrictions] appear to be radically different to a brand like Pinnacle with a well-established reputation for passive odd management. Rather than going to war with its customers, Pinnacle simply allows them to fight amongst themselves as to what they think a particular outcome will be, quietly and efficiently adjusting the odds to reflect the money backing those opinions.”
The proof of the pudding
In short, Squares & Sharps, Suckers & Sharks is all about what you do on the unconscious level, while you are taking betting risks. The most cryptic quote regarding risk comes from the lips of American investment guru, Warren Buffet - Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing.
Whether investing a fraction of your money and time in Squares & Sharps, Suckers & Sharks to find out what you are really doing when you wager, is a value bet or not, it’s up to you to decide. But don't say Joseph Buchdahl didn't warn you.