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Thread: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

  1. #1

    Default Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Curious to know how others handle losing streaks ... how do your betting habits change IN a losing streak and what is your advice on getting OUT of a losing streak?

    Although I had a good 2011, I had to survive a couple of bad losing streaks this year. The worst streak that had the most significant effect on my bankroll occurred in December, capped off by a brutal week 16 in the NFL.

    I took a couple days off after that difficult stretch and audited my performance on the year to identify losing behaviors that might surface when I'm in a losing streak. What do I do differently when I'm on a losing streak? Is there a weakness in my game that exposes me when I'm mired in a losing streak? Or, more importantly, do I do anything that makes me more susceptible to these streaks? So in the review of my "balance sheet", I asked myself the following:
    • Do I press and start to bet too many games?
    • Am I losing discipline with my bet size?
    • Do I tend to play more favorites during a losing streak?
    • Do I start reaching for dead side dogs?
    • Do I tend to play more totals than normal or more sides than normal?

    I made a few interesting observations/behaviors. The jury is still out on whether these observations represent a Correlation or Causation to losing streaks ... need to assess that further, but here are some of the observations:
    1. My longest losing streaks occur in basketball. Ironically, I consider basketball to be my strongest sport. But my theory on why my longest losing streaks occur in basketball is twofold, #1 is pure volume, I make more bets on basketball than any other sport by about a 3:2 clip so I'm more prone to streaks ... #2 perhaps I become too stubborn in my "best" sport and I become unwilling to accept defeat and continue to fire too hastily.
    2. My losing streaks are least likely to occur during baseball, although one caveat here is that a 3-game losing streak betting MLB chalk can be monetarily equivalent to losing 6 basketball games.
    3. My bet size typically remains the same and my bet volume doesn't go up during a losing streak. But, I did notice that my bet volume does increase slightly after a bad beat, I don't consider myself a chaser but this is clearly evidence of pressing, forcing the action and not letting the games come to me.
    4. I miss winning opportunities when I'm running bad ... for example, let's say I like two games that tip off at 7pm and one game that tips off at 9pm, I'll only bet one of the early games and bet the 9pm game according to how my early bet is playing out. First, this is ridiculous b/c I'm throwing out a game and missing out on a side that I like due to an arbitrary start time (dumb), and this behavior can result in a worse line in the late game. Note to self: Put the blinders on and trust your opinions.
    5. I also tend to become too focused on just trying to stop the bleeding. I take on the just-give-me-a-winner-to-stop-the-streak mentality. Like in a basketball game when your opponent goes on an 8-0 run, I pass up on an open look from 3 just to get a higher percentage shot. Nothing worse than passing on winners I would otherwise have action on if I wasn't caught up in "the streak".
    6. It appears as though I have a hard time coming out of a streak. I don't go 0-9 then rebound by going 5-0 ... I go from cold to choppy before I string together a couple 2-0 or 3-1 nights.
    7. I'm more apt to tail others when I'm slumping. I am not a follower, I always have my ears on but I'm not a follower. However there are times when I am inclined to tail (my EOG brethren), and I label all these plays as such to keep them separate from my own opinions. Interestingly enough, the majority of my tails have come after losing days or in losing streaks.
    8. One last tendancy... I seem to bet on higher profile games the deeper into a losing streak I get. Might be another indication of losing my patience, not studying the entire card thoroughly and simply jumping on the first game I might consider.
    Hopefully this insight into my betting habits doesn't reveal that I'm a square! I assure you these losing behaviors only occur when I'm in a losing streak.

    So what say you? How does your betting strategy change when you're in a losing streak? How do you avoid losing streaks and how do you pull out of losing streaks?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Love the honest self-evaluation, brians.

    I'll need some time to think about a thoughtful response.

    I remember advice from a sharp gambler when I first arrived in Las Vegas more than 25 years ago.

    He said make sure your bankroll could sustain or withstand a losing streak of 10 or 12 or 15 games or more.

    Good advice indeed.

    I've lost eight of my last 10 bets.

    Frustrating.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Same thing I tell my tennis students, and what my high school pitching coach told me. Play fast when you are winning and slow way down when you are losing.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    What did your football coach tell you?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kelly View Post
    I'll need some time to think about a thoughtful response.
    Much appreciated. This is a streaky business so I understand that losing streaks will always be a part of it ... but I also recognize that if I managed my losing streaks better in 2011 then I would have done a better job at protecting my bankroll.

    Sound money management advice is always helpful. Good to see an actual number attached to a losing streak as well, puts things in perspective.

    By the way, I commend your ability to host a radio show about gambling after going 0-4 on the night. Way to show some poise in the pocket. Whenever I take the golden sombrero on a night I force myself to fall asleep asap.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kelly View Post
    What did your football coach tell you?
    Get the water and clipboard son.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    If you have a numerical approach, you can determine if your negative results are due to variance, model fvck-up, league changes, etc. It's a pain in the ass, and not always clear, but must be done. As I bet Full Kelly, I drop the bet% drastically when/if I see anything other than variance, even if I can't be absolutely sure. Bayesian trend-line following, and z-scoring of near term to short term results lets me know when things are too far out of kilter.

    If you handicap "by hand" I can't help you.
    My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilization, to get rid of the undesirable and the unfit. I can't prove it, but you can't disprove it either. ~Christopher Hitchens, 2007

  8. #8
    EOG Addicted ajaysdreamplays's Avatar
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    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    What brians is doing is much too analytical and requires way too much attention to detail for the vast majority of gamblers. And that's why the vast majority of gamblers are consistent, inveterate losers.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Quote Originally Posted by LQQKer View Post
    Bayesian trend-line following
    I sometimes move too slowly on new information. I don't want to be too heavily influenced by anomalies so sometimes I resist this information. I need to do a better job of distinguishing between radar blips and legit transitions. Evaluating pace of a college basketball team for example ...

    The math & probability guys are a fascinating group. I'm more of a feel gambler, however once I have a feel I look to support it from the math / trend / science perspective.

    Appreciate the response LQQker

  10. #10

    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Quote Originally Posted by ajaysdreamplays View Post
    What brians is doing is much too analytical and requires way too much attention to detail for the vast majority of gamblers. And that's why the vast majority of gamblers are consistent, inveterate losers.
    I'm 35 years into my lifetime pursuit of finding an edge in everything I do.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Depends on your history.

    If your way of doing things is 'successful' then you shouldnt have to do anything. But that also depends on your approach.

    The whole idea of variance and any other mathematical cliches has no place in this actually/ If you have a way of beating the game then you should also be beating variance. But it is the go to word for coin flippers who are actually very streaky overall and just forget all the losses and deposits they make while just remembering the winners they have.

    If you streak through gambling even with more highs han lows, which would result in a profit, more than likely youre just lucky and not really that good. Also people will claim you cannot be that lucky either, but you can. Especially if youre doing other things 'right'.

    A lot of 'success' is just blind luck. with a little bit of 'smart' approach added in.

    When I used to bet one way action a lot back in the early days I was very streaky, but mostly on the winning side. Not so much on the losing side. So by my defintion I was maybe lucky. But since I was winning more than I was losing I figured I was just that good. Could have also been an anomoly in the sport I was betting at the time, but since it crossed all sports then I didnt think so. Also since I kept doing it for another 8-9 years I figured it was talent not luck. But I also toned down the betting one way action a bit as my bankroll grew and I was able to arbitrage and buy back for basically free money.

    But seriously, if you have a talent of picking a winning side then streaks shouldnt be an issue long term. Also streaks are a little misintepreted as most guys count games in a chronological order as they finish. So if you go 5-15 in a 3 day stretch and 7 of those Ls happen to fall in a row chronogically is that a 7 game losing streak? IMO no it was just 7 losing bets that got accounted in an arbitrary way that it looked like they were close together.

    People worry way too much about short term results, that is the biggest advanatage book makers have. People adjust and readjust if they 'cant win', and then the same guys load up if they have 8 or 9 winners in a row thinking they have it figured out.

    Gambling is a numbers game pure and simple. Nothing to do with math, everything to do with volume. The only thing 'math' related is the fact that the more vlume you have (the more bets you make) the less streaks either way will effect your long term expectations.

    But all this 'everyone is a coin flipper' is nonsense. When you have opinions and use those opinions to make a play you stop using anything math related. Or if you have knowledge or think you have knowledge you use that. While you are at the mercy of the results the WAY you get there and the way the game is decided itself have a lot of influence on the so called math. Cards, dice, coins flipping, all have finite results that can occur under any given circumstance so you can get probability and odds as to how to move forward. Sports has no such handicap. ANYTHING can happen usually and sometimes does.

    So if bettor A is better at picking a side than bettor B then Bettor A is going to do better. BUT if Better B always gets a better price on his teams he can even it up a little but still probably not make more than Bettor A does. Unless the prices are very far apart. Point Spreads are where people get killed. Those things just add another wrinkle to the whole equation. But for the most part if you can pick a winner regardless then the pointspread becomes meaningless. But with everything else in sports luck and chance come up and skew short term results. It surely wasnt math. So those pitfalls are where youre going to find the streaks, if you have some sort of ability that is.

    The first thing any gambler should do that wants to try and make money and go beyond recreational betting is take a season and just circle numbers on teams they think will win. No point spreads, no odds, none of that nonsense. Then just start a series of score keeping methods. Use SU wins with ML odds (range dont always use the best number), next throw in point spreads (again dont always use the 'best' number), Then maybe a combination of both especially with smaller favs and dogs on the ML and larger ones with a spread. Then look at the results and see what would have happened. Most guys just go the trial by fire method and so many other things creep in they dont give themselves a chance to see what they could do.

    Either way like I said if you have too many streaks over a long period of time you probably shouldnt be gambling or if you are and you are making money then be glad youre lucky, and hope it doesnt run out.

  12. #12
    I want winners... munson15's Avatar
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    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Knowing the problem is 1/2 the battle. Thanks for the candor and GL moving forward.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    wantitall4moi - Very much appreciate the thorough reply.

    To clarify a couple things, I am a winning gambler but I know I can be better. I admit that luck is a factor but to steal a philosophy from Lenny Dykstra (who probably stole it from somebody else, or at least borrowed it and didn't pay the originator back) ... I believe I make my own luck. Good luck happens when preparation and opportunity intersect.

    I am not typically a streaky bettor. Going 2-1, 1-2, 3-1, 2-2, is the norm, but if I go 0-for on a particular night then I tend to run bad for a couple days. These streaks can have a significant impact on my bankroll, so if I can stop these streaks then I should be able to turn a 54.5% winning percentage to 56%.

    Good point about identifying what a streak is, or when a streak is actually happening. For me, I considering the timing of when I make the bet opposed to when the result comes in ... and I don't put too much into consecutive losing bets, losing 12 of 14 is more of a streak in my book than losing 5 in a row. I take a Major League Baseball type approach to my action where one night's bets are like a series ... I don't need to win every game, I just need to win the series (2-1, 3-1, etc). Hitting at 67% is unrealistic, but I can off-set getting swept some nights with some sweeps of my own ... it's the 2 or 3 prolonged losing streaks a year that cost me the pennant. I need an ACE on my staff to come up big and stop the bleeding to give me a chance to find my swing again.

    I like your distinction between coin flipping and real opinions. There's a reason why I have evolved out of games of chance and migrated nearly exclusively to sports. "Anything can happen (in sports) and sometimes does" ... that's why we watch right?

    You gave me something else to look into that I can't believe I neglected in my audit ... that is what number did I get. Did the market move with or against my opinion, did I take a bad number or just end up with a bad number. What happens after my handicapping of a game is done? At that point the "math" of the handicap is done, the opinion has already been established. I need to go back and evaluate how my opinion stacked up to the line move as well as the outcome. Maybe I should classify my losses as a) wrong side, b) right side, c) dead side, d) unlucky, e) bad number, f) all of the above (yikes).

    Does anybody track this type of thing? Anybody classify their losses? I shouldn't limit this to only losses, I can learn something from wins as well.

    So what really went wrong ... was it my opinion, my analysis, my timing, my market prediction, etc. And to tie it back to this particular discussion about streaks, does the pain point tend to change when I'm in a streak versus isolated losses.

    Thanks again wantitall4moi - you gave me some things to think about.

  14. #14
    I want winners... munson15's Avatar
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    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    I think you'd lose your mind trying to subjectively cram your losses into categories. To me, you're either all in or you're bound to fail, so the only record that matters is + or - $$. Just my .02

  15. #15

    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Like I said all you need to look at is Su winners, and how you played them, if you like a dog to win Su forget the points and ake a ML or at the very least split it up. If you like a favorite then look at the options there as well, sometimes a line (pointspread0 move wont effect a ML play. Obviously MLs odds arent true odds either so big MLs are not going to pay off correctly versus true probability of winning especially in spread based sports, but if a line has moved a ton and you hink it is enough to warrant a non bet or a line too large to bet on you can either bet the dog or bet the ML.

    Basically in the NFL at least a SU winner is going to cover 83% of the time. Obviously dogs that win SU cover, so looking at favs that win SU the number is still 75%. So basically favorites that win SU and dont cover and dogs that lose SU and dont cover is only 25%. So if you can just pick a winner youre going to have a 75% success rate if you look at it in a vacuum.

    The 'skill" I alluded to comes from being able to avoid the games you like the 'wrong' side, for whatever reason. The skill also require you to pick the right side in the first place.

    Some are going to be 'obvious, as in double digit favorites. which win SU 83.5% of the time. But of those 83.5% they cover only 58% so a far cry from the 75% of the overall number. So deducting those results from the overall you get any less than double digit Fav that wins SU covers 78% of the time, you then gain 3% chance to win for just eliminating an obvious subset. In fact simply betting DD dogs in the NFL is profitable on the blind since 1992. Thats without line shopping. 359-309. 53.75% Thats 20 years worth of results against the infamous WA line. Checking one of my other databases showing that with line shopping and betting games that moved from a DD to a less than Dd (which wouldnt show up in the generic one) DD dogs since 1992 (not all those years have moves however) is 387-288 versus the extreme (best)point spreads. Thats 57.3% It might even be higher on another one with astute line shopping, and games I dont have moves for prior to 2000.

    But like I always say past results dont insure future successes or even possibility, but interesting to look at in some cases.

    Thats why I dont like to break stuff down too much just look at SU winners and how they correlate to ATS winners. You can obviously break things down into subsets and get better results, thats where the so called super systems started coming in with the math guys back in the day, but in reality the numbers of results in the NFL is so small there is no way to say they are valid. As it is there have only been 5035 games (including play offs) in the NFL since 1992. So a 'true' math guy would say that still isnt nearly large enough a sample size to draw conclusions. Considering the rules changes and other changes that have taken place in that span the 'scientific and mathematical' value of those results is nearly non existent, but still fun to look at.

    This sort of gets away from the whole 'streaks' stuff but gets to the fundamentals that a lot of people over look in basic gambling principles.

    I also think it is why a lot of people struggle with baseball because quite frankly most guys cant pick a winner, and that is basically all you have to do in that sport.

  16. #16
    I want winners... munson15's Avatar
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    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Like that you pointed out DDD's (double digit dogs) in the NFL. Sometimes you close your eyes when you press the key, but I have been playing them blind and profiting for several years now.

  17. #17
    EOG Dedicated cheapseats's Avatar
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    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    I tend to be an over bettor; or maybe should I say, like betting that way. When I get into losing streaks, I go look for unders. Sounds kind of idiotic, I know, but it has stopped the losing many a day.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Quote Originally Posted by cheapseats View Post
    I tend to be an over bettor; or maybe should I say, like betting that way. When I get into losing streaks, I go look for unders. Sounds kind of idiotic, I know, but it has stopped the losing many a day.
    So you change your strategy. Like jumping from the Pass to the Don't Pass.
    Not quite as black & white for me, I'm an equal opportunity bettor ... dogs, favorites, unders, overs.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Quote Originally Posted by brians View Post
    So you change your strategy. Like jumping from the Pass to the Don't Pass.
    Not quite as black & white for me, I'm an equal opportunity bettor ... dogs, favorites, unders, overs.
    here is the irony and I dont want to give away too much of my stuff, but in the NCAa teams are streaky when it comes to totals. It is more than likely the same think in spots as it is in how gamblers think about short term things coaches may or may not try which causes a streak in terms of scoring and how much they allow to be scored.

    Some coaches are like clockwork, but like I said I dont want to say a lot about it but there are definite angles.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Great thread, Brians.

    I found your posts were insightful and interesting.

    I personally trust what I am doing and rarely make changes even when I am losing as I tend to attribute it to a short term aberration more than anything else.

    COME ON KRYPTONITE!!!!!


  21. #21
    SuccessB4DeathNo1InMyCliq ueFails Betting Food Stamps's Avatar
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    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Great stuff brian, for me i take a couple days and dont wager anything. Usually takes care of it for me. For example:

    I lost 5 of 6 about two weeks ago and took two days completely away from gambling came back and put up 10 of my best cfb bowl picks went over and over everything and i am 6-2 with 2 pending. Thats what works for me but for everyone else it could be different.
    A Dollar Won Is A Dollar Earned.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Quote Originally Posted by joeybagadonuts View Post
    Great thread, Brians.

    I found your posts were insightful and interesting.

    I personally trust what I am doing and rarely make changes even when I am losing as I tend to attribute it to a short term aberration more than anything else.

    I appreciate you jumping in the thread joey. Trusting your stuff is good advice. Although I think I might "force" my stuff a little bit in these bad streaks. Like a pitcher refusing to get away from a favorite pitch even when it isn't working.

  23. #23
    EOG Gadfly/Curmudgeon Jeff Jones's Avatar
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    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kelly View Post
    What did your football coach tell you?
    "Good job, kid. Now let's take a shower."

  24. #24

    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Quote Originally Posted by Betting Food Stamps View Post
    Great stuff brian, for me i take a couple days and dont wager anything. Usually takes care of it for me. For example:

    I lost 5 of 6 about two weeks ago and took two days completely away from gambling came back and put up 10 of my best cfb bowl picks went over and over everything and i am 6-2 with 2 pending. Thats what works for me but for everyone else it could be different.
    Two weeks ago huh? That's when my brutal streak occurred. Time away is tough ... and I miss commiserating here on EOG!

  25. #25
    EOG Gadfly/Curmudgeon Jeff Jones's Avatar
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    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Brians-

    I'd monitor the thread headlines. Soon as I saw "Game of the Year" or "Lock of the Year," I'd jump on it. And if it's a 'Fuckin' Lock of the Year," I'd double up.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Losing Streaks - Why They Happen & What You Do About Them

    Quote Originally Posted by brians View Post
    I need to go back and evaluate how my opinion stacked up to the line move as well as the outcome. Maybe I should classify my losses as a) wrong side, b) right side, c) dead side, d) unlucky, e) bad number, f) all of the above (yikes).

    Does anybody track this type of thing? Anybody classify their losses? I shouldn't limit this to only losses, I can learn something from wins as well.

    So what really went wrong ... was it my opinion, my analysis, my timing, my market prediction, etc. And to tie it back to this particular discussion about streaks, does the pain point tend to change when I'm in a streak versus isolated losses.

    Thanks again wantitall4moi - you gave me some things to think about.
    We keep notes on all plays, and then go back to attempt to classify losses. Categories are 1) variance 2) mis-classified win% 3) missed data impacting situation (and what it was) typically injury (hidden before game), environmental, coach inclination, HFA issue, etc 4) market timing.

    The idea is you learn much more from losses than wins, but we also annotate wins, but rarely go back to analyze the notes, as getting rid of losses is the point.
    My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilization, to get rid of the undesirable and the unfit. I can't prove it, but you can't disprove it either. ~Christopher Hitchens, 2007

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