For those of you athletes who have played sports before, you probably understand the feeling of a “hot hand”, where you feel invincible and that there is no chance you will lose. Whether it is in basketball where your shot is going in, or a quarterback in football where every throw feels like it is right on the money, athletes talk about this feeling all the time.
This also goes to sports betting as well. Sports bettors in the middle of a hot streak feel as though they will simply never have a losing day again, that they have “figured out” the system and will have green days for the rest of times. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that this hot hand effect actually exists in sports betting.
Studies have shown that having a hot streak is overrated and mostly up to chance, and is NOT reflective of future success moving forward.
The psychology of this effect is understandable, as it is human nature to try and place trends to everything, instead of accepting that luck is part of life. As it pertains to betting on sports, should this “hot hand” phenomenon actually influence your decision making as a sports bettor? Well, let’s get into that.
How Should the Hot Hand Effect Influence Your Sports Betting?
The short answer, unfortunately, is no, it should not. Just because a coin landed on heads 10 times in a row does not make it any more likely that the 11th flip will be heads as well. Each time, it is a 50/50 chance.
So, just because you started your NFL Sunday winning your first five bets does not make it any more likely that your sixth bet is going to hit. Instead, what should influence your decision making in sports betting is math and data, not the high of being on a hot streak.
The reality is, math and data is the easiest way to consistently profit betting on sports, not riding a hot streak and think that will continue on forever. This is where positive expected value betting (also known as Positive EV or +EV) comes in to play.
Definitely check out that article for the full details on what positive EV betting is, but the short of it is when you are placing positive expected value bets, you are placing bets that are mathematically profitable. Betting positive EV means that you are placing bets that you know, as the sports bettor, have a higher chance of hitting than the reflected odds of the sportsbook that is offering the bet.
I like to call it like flipping a weighted coin, but only you know that the coin is actually weighted. You know that the coin is going to land on heads 55% of the time, but your buddy who you are flipping the coin with still thinks it’s 50/50.
This video below also details why positive expected value betting is so valuable.