It's Madness: Sports Savvy Won't Help Your Bracket

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A new study suggests that knowledge of the game you’re betting on does exactly zilch for your odds of winning.

“Sports gamblers seem to believe themselves the cleverest of all gamblers,” Prof. Pinhas Dannon of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, co-author of the study published in Psychopathology, said in a press release. “They think that with experience and knowledge — such as player’s statistics, manager’s habits, weather conditions, and stadium capacity — they can predict the outcome of a game better than the average person.”

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But when Dannon and colleagues tested that theory, they found that neither knowledge of the game or past betting experience helped.

The experiment involved 53 professional sports gamblers, 34 soccer fans who had never gambled, and 78 people who had no knowledge of soccer or gambling. All three groups placed bets on the final scores of 16 soccer matches. The two participants with the best outcomes had no soccer knowledge, and overall, the group with extensive knowledge of soccer did no better than the rest.

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The researchers hope that the results could be used to better treat obsessive gambling by pinpointing differences in various types of gambling.

“Casino gamblers are more appropriately characterized as obsessives because they have less belief in themselves, and know that they will lose sooner or later. But they gamble anyway because they feel they need to,” Dannon said, whereas sports gamblers tend to bet because they feel in control of the outcome.

So, go ahead: Fill out your bracket based on your favorite mascots or uniform color.

Image: iStockphoto

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