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This is true regardless of whether your bets have negative correlation, positive correlation or no correlation. In terms of your EV, the impact of betting against yourself is…absolutely nothing. The lower the variance, the more likely your actual outcome will be close to your EV.
The more negative correlation you have in a set of bets, the lower your variance becomes. Now, is lower variance a good thing or a bad thing? Is that a good thing? If your EV is positive, variance is your worst enemy and you want to lower it as much as possible. Betting against yourself is a good thing. If your EV is negative, variance is your best friend and you want to raise it as much as possible.
Betting against yourself is a bad thing. Cool show, from the guys who made Rounders, and it even had an out-of-nowhere Taleb reference! Back to my dad and me at the track. When you have -EV, variance is the only way you can win. The winning strategy for the hedge fund was a losing strategy for us. Whether he fully understood the theory or he was just going by intuition, my dad was right. As I said up front, we are talking about a set of individual bets, NOT a parlay. All that stuff about correlation having no impact on your EV?
Putting negatively correlated outcomes together in a parlay reduces your EV, and you should never do it. Because there are a fixed number of spots above the cut line, each golfer who makes the cut reduces the likelihood of the next one making the cut. At the British Open, the top 70 players make the cut. He would have been better off making 8 individual bets instead of parlaying them.
This article, as well as the other articles you have written, have given me valuable information I can use in pursuit of my next job opportunity. Your understanding of variances helped me understand your topic a little easier. But your thoughts make it more dependent on actual value than blind luck.
I look forward to reading more articles from you in the future. Keep up the good work! Hopefully we can get to a point where I can learn your true name. But I respect your privacy. Like Like. Someone making -EV bets probably has a weird utility function, so how can you be so confident that increasing variance maximizes utility? You are commenting using your WordPress.
Today we are going to change things up somewhat. If you go to the track for a social outing, or to have some fun and make some fun wagers, then which wagers you make can very well be based on which are the most fun and exciting for you. The racetrack can be a fun place where you can win some money and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
If your goal is to stay alive or battle to stay in the fight as long as you can, or to try and minimize losses by insuring your wagers then some of the wagers I will discuss may work for you. If that is your approach there is nothing wrong with that as well. We can have our separate goals just as we have our separate opinions. If, however, your goal is to beat the game, and to actually turn a profit, perhaps even a handsome one, then I would recommend paying attention.
That club is reserved for a select few and you have to work hard to earn your way into it. Most in it know who the other members are. The only profitable approach on a long term basis to a game where you will be wrong more than right is to make it count when you are indeed correct.
Making it count involves maximizing your profit when you win. One way to improve doing that is to eliminate or reduce making losing bets, or bets that cut into your profit margin. One example is what I call insurance bets. There are more than one type of insurance bet. Generally I avoid all of them.
One of the most common insurance bets you see occurs in the last leg of a multi race wager. People have a tendency to want to cover themselves or insure their bet in the last leg of a multi race bet they are alive in by betting to win on horses they do not have.
This is one way of betting against yourself. The first question is, if you liked these horses so much that now that you are on the verge of a win, you want to deviate from your play, and go into your pocket to bet them, why did you not include them on the original wager?
Generally speaking, most people choose the 50 cent denomination when making multi race wagers, if it is available. They do this to spread out and include multiple horses. The nature of that already includes many losing combinations and a reduced payout based on the 50 cent play.
Yes you may insure your wager, and possibly get your money back if you lose, but again is that what you are playing for? My style is more inclined to take one of the horses I already have and key it on top of triples and supers thus creating a home run possibility. In the long run you want to get as much money into that black column as you can and as little as possible into the red one. I think you have to bet three horses to show and it all goes on the last one to win, not in a parlay wager, but a pool sharing one.
I may be right and I may be wrong, but suffice to say I have never bet one. I have known a few bridge jumpers in my lifetime. They all thought they were smarter than the game and everyone in it. They all had large bank rolls but none had made them in racing. The argument was always the same, what bank will give you that type of return turning over in a minute or two. Yes, the answer to that question is, none will. If you play large amounts of money on heavy favorites to show, you will learn at some point you can lose.
When you do the hole you will find yourself in is very steep. Doing it with regularity is a slow and painful death. He thought he had found the greatest part time job in the world. He got into the habit of making large show bets on favorites while he was selling tickets, sometimes perhaps with money he did not have. It reportedly worked for a few years and he grew to consider it a perk of the job.
The first show bet he made went down. He had no choice now but to double up on the next one which also went down. I would imagine the sinking feeling began sometime after the second one lost but before the third. Of course as a school teacher he understood he would have to bet even more on the third horse which he did. You can guess what happened. The story was by the tail part of the day the school teacher was behind somewhere around 20k.
His cash drawer was light and even though things were lax back then he worked himself onto the radar screen approaching the feature race. Not knowing what was going on just yet, I remarked to a friend someone must be sending it on Tiller. Tiller was a real nice grass horse being ridden by Ruben Hernandez and was surely a contender, but he was dropping with every flash of the tote board.
By the last race he was licked. There would be no final get out attempt. The final tally was something like 55k I think. Considerably more back then than it is today. There are plenty of good handicappers that bet win and place. This is another way of betting against yourself and reducing your profit margin. In the long run, doubling up on the win price will put a lot more into the black column than splitting it with a reduced place price will.
Sure that place bet will save your money sometimes and even yield a small profit at times, but again why are you here? Old habits die hard, but if you are playing to beat the game, you have to look hard at betting to place or win and place. You want the bulk of your money where it yields the biggest payout when you are right.
To be a dangerous bettor you have to be willing to cash less but win more. Boxing is something I almost always avoid. Far too many losing bets on a boxed ticket to start with.
Betting against yourself is a good thing. If your EV is negative, variance is your best friend and you want to raise it as much as possible. Betting against yourself is a bad thing. Cool show, from the guys who made Rounders, and it even had an out-of-nowhere Taleb reference! Back to my dad and me at the track. When you have -EV, variance is the only way you can win.
The winning strategy for the hedge fund was a losing strategy for us. Whether he fully understood the theory or he was just going by intuition, my dad was right. As I said up front, we are talking about a set of individual bets, NOT a parlay. All that stuff about correlation having no impact on your EV? Putting negatively correlated outcomes together in a parlay reduces your EV, and you should never do it. Because there are a fixed number of spots above the cut line, each golfer who makes the cut reduces the likelihood of the next one making the cut.
At the British Open, the top 70 players make the cut. He would have been better off making 8 individual bets instead of parlaying them. This article, as well as the other articles you have written, have given me valuable information I can use in pursuit of my next job opportunity. Your understanding of variances helped me understand your topic a little easier.
But your thoughts make it more dependent on actual value than blind luck. I look forward to reading more articles from you in the future. Keep up the good work! Hopefully we can get to a point where I can learn your true name. But I respect your privacy. Like Like. Someone making -EV bets probably has a weird utility function, so how can you be so confident that increasing variance maximizes utility? You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account.
You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. So why do we care? Ready for the punch line? Leslie: I don't know. I think that a lot of these are a bit of a stretch.
I think that these types of systems work better for behaviors that you can break down into sub-goals. If you want to get married, how would you break that into sub goals? I can think of ways, but it's hard. Leslie: Then you're like, "How many dates per month? Then you worry that in the hyper-quantification of the goals, you lose something, you lose the romance with respect to the marriage example. But these systems, they work better when you can break the goal down into sub-goals, and they also work better when it's very clear what the outcomes are at each stage, and the outcome is clearly verifiable.
Leslie: They find it so relatable. Who had ever had a bad habit that they've tried to change? It's really hard to change behavior. Brian: The notion of behavioral economics being used in a business research context is an interesting one. Would you just comment on that a little bit?
As we look at research models and management education changing, this is one of the areas that seems to be really booming. Leslie: It's a more descriptively accurate picture of human behavior, so it describes how people actually behave. This is important because it strikes me that to really devise interventions that help people change, we really need to understand how people actually behave, we need to understand what makes them tick.
Another thing that I like to use this case to teach is how to evaluate programs and the value of AB testing, or randomized control trials to actually answer, "Does this thing work? I point them to one of the appendices, which shows that people who wager their own money are more likely to succeed, and I say, "Does this convince you? Does this tell us that the product works? I let students talk, case-method it, and I ask them questions to try to get them to appreciate that no, this doesn't actually tell us whether the product works because it really could be telling us more about the type of person that uses the product than the product being effective.
It could simply tell us that the people who are particularly motivated to lose weight—those are the ones that put their skin in the game. And it's not because they necessarily use the product, it's because they're just super motivated. I tell students, I explain to them the empirical work, the research that we've done that actually randomizes people. So if you take any random person and you give them this product, is it going to work?
We have research suggesting that yes it will work, so I'm showing people the value of the research side plus the business side merged together. Brian: Clearly, businesses were finding this attractive. You talk in the case about Staples and the American Cancer Society, how were they taking this and using it for their employees? Leslie: I think that the B2B application—that is when stickK basically comes up with a customized version for Staples and Staples employees. I think in many ways that is a richer application of the product because there are so many different things you can play around with.
You can play around with point systems, for example, where you endow people with points to begin with, employees, which they can lose or gain more of, and then they can redeem points for things they care about. You could also play around with the things that people can redeem the points for.
In the standard product, it's just money that you get, you get your money back, but imagine if you redeem points for days off of work, or points for a better parking spot. There are all kinds of fascinating things that you could play around with that I think will ultimately be more motivating than just getting hard cold cash.
Leslie: Maybe. I'm trying to think of what I would do, what behaviors I would try to change, and whether it's of my colleagues or my students. Brian: All right, we'll file that away until next time. Leslie, thank you so much for joining us. Brian: You can find this case, along with thousands of others in the Harvard Business School case collection at hbr.
I'm Brian Kenny. Read more. The Key to Keeping Resolutions? Betting Against Yourself. Leslie: Thanks for having me. Brian: Why did you write this case? How did you hear about stickK? Brian: For listeners who don't know what stickK is, what's the whole premise of stickK? Brian: How do students react to this in the classroom?
Brian: Maybe we should try this at Harvard Business School. What do you think? Leslie: Thank you very much for having me.
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