One of the greatest statisticians today Nassim Taleb gave one interesting anecdote in his influential book ‘Antifragile.’
The book recounts the story of a fellow named Joe Siegel. Mister Siegel is one of the most successful traders in a commodity called ‘green lumber.’ He had no idea why it is green, and incorrectly thought that the lumber’s color is such because somebody painted it green. However, the truth is the wood is green because it is freshly cut and had not been dried. Despite his ignorance of the nature of commodity, he is really good and successful at selling it.
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One would assume that Mister Siegel must be knowledgeable with the origin of green lumber’s colour. But it was proven otherwise because being ignorant in a field does not mean being the same to another one.
An analogous story tells the story of Thales who reserves presses ahead of the olive harvest at a discount. Thales’ plan, however, is to rent them out at a higher price when the demand peaks. Thales could tell when the demand will rise because he has the ability to correctly predict when good harvests will be available in the market. The philosopher Aristotle then inaccurately attributes his success to his ability to accurately foretell the weather.
Green Lumber Fallacy in sports betting
Just like in the case given above, a lot of people expect successful sports bettors to hold a high degree of expertise in anything about sports.
This is not always true. For example, a mathematician who is an expert in calculating probability and is comfortable in playing with numbers could accurately predict the outcome of matches, and thus become successful in betting, even without the knowledge of who’s who or what’s what about teams, players, and coaches.
One does not need a deep knowledge of the players and coaches or history of the Premier League team Arsenal to be able to predict whether they will lose this time or continue their unbeaten streak.
The same goes for someone knowledgeable in sports. Someone could be a scholar of the early life of the Portuguese athlete Cristiano Ronaldo, but could also possess no idea whether he will score two goals in a match between Juventus and Inter Milan. Sports journalists or the paparazzi could know every inch of detail in the life of a sports superstar, but still be bad in betting.
Although, a little knowledge of what is happening in the lives of players or teams of whole leagues could could be a huge aid for the punter, it is not a necessity in placing stakes on the squads or athletes that you think will bring the bacon home.
The Green Lumber does not only tells how sports expertise does not always guarantee success in betting and vice versa, it also relevant in the practice of the punter as it cautions one to not correlate things mistakenly to avoid unwanted results.
For instance, people might correlate a Golden State bad loss to an injury that recently inflicted the Warriors’ top guard Stephen Curry. Different factors, however, could be at play such as a decline of performance in other top players of the team such as Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson.
In another way around, bettors might skip betting on the Golden State in cases when Steph Curry is injured, but the Warriors will actually continue to perform well as there are other good player in the team such as Durant or Thompson.
So, do not worry about being short of rumours in the dramas of the world of sports. If the maths have been done and the confidence says place the bets, then place the bets.
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