Thursday 3 August 2017

Debating Betting Odds: What's the Shortest Price You'd Bet?

Betting. It's a subject that has fascinated the everyday gambler to the greatest philosophers. I wonder if many readers have heard of Pascal's Wager? 

Pascal's Wager is an argument in apologetic philosophy devised by the seventeenth-century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal (1623–62). It posits that humans all bet with their lives either that God exists or that he does not. Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas they stand to receive infinite gains (as represented by eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (eternity in Hell).

Pascal's Wager was based on the idea of the Christian God, though similar arguments have occurred in other religious traditions. The original wager was set out in section 233 of Pascal's posthumously published Pensées ("Thoughts"). These previously unpublished notes were assembled to form an incomplete treatise on Christian apologetics.

Historically, Pascal's Wager was groundbreaking because it charted new territory in probability theory, marked the first formal use of decision theory, and anticipated future philosophies such as existentialism, pragmatism and voluntarism.

Source: Wikipedia

I guess most of us who like a flutter aren't musing if we should back heaven or hell unless they are the names of two greyhounds in a race at Wimbledon. Perhaps we should! 

However, it is interesting to consider the logic of Pascal's wager because have you ever questioned the types of bets you choose? Making the right or wrong bet could well be the difference between winning and losing. 

You could be a budding philosopher.

I'm sure you have been chatting with a friend about a bet and they haven't so much questioned your selection(s) but the bet itself, especially the price. It is interesting because most gamblers are creatures of habit and often find it difficult to break or perhaps even notice they stick with a given bet which by its very nature dictates a certain mindset. Perhaps it isn't broken or in need of change.

There's one thing you can guarantee - everyone has an opinion. 

I have often placed an each-way treble and been criticised for having an even money shot perched somewhere in the three. Comments of ''Good luck with that...'' clearly showing an element of disdain or bemusement of thinking they or the royal we knows better. 

It's a tricky subject. Well, it might be. Perhaps it isn't an issue at all. Definitely ''No bet!'' It's definitely ''Bet!'' 

It's all about opinion. 

Who is to say what is a good or bad bet? I'm sure someone will be thinking, even myself included, that doesn't look a good bet. 

However, how do we measure any bet? By one criterion - long-term profits. If you have what many would consider the most ridiculous bet ever placed but you are in profit year on year. I'd say those laughing should, with wisdom, be laughing at themselves. Perhaps in ten years time, they will be laughing at you because you have been proven to be a loser.

If I placed a £50 each-treble on:

2:30 Romford: He's Lucky 4/1

4:50 Chester:  That's Too Short 1/1
6:00 Goodwood: Icing On The Cake 7/1

Who likes or dislikes the 1/1?  Without know the horse, form, tipster quality....which way the wind is blowing that day. I can guarantee a number of people will be citicising the even-money jolly. 

''Each-way even money? That must be wrong! 

One-fifth of the odds 0.2 for a place. 


But what about the man who bet a place on Betfair at the same odds? What about the gambler who bets at 1.01 in-running?  

It's a matter of debate. Perhaps, when it wins, you'll say that's one hell of a god bet. 

At the end of the day if you are in long-term profit isn't that the true test of whether a bet is correct win or lose.

Feel free to comment.