The Emotional Hedge – don’t back England

Emotional Hedge

With the Euro’s starting, it is that time again for everyone to start thinking England actually has a chance of winning a major tournament.

With a qualification campaign that went far too smoothly….compared to usual….hopes are high that England can actually cause an upset.

Based on the England’s performances historically, winning the tournament does not likely but getting a run to the quarters or semis seems a possibility.  So am I recommending to back England to reach the semi’s or quarters?  Not at all.  This is where the emotional hedge comes in.

So what is the emotional hedge?

In simple terms, the emotional hedge is backing the opposite to what you want to happen.  For example, backing England to win and wanting to them win results in me doubling down.  If they win, great.  If they lose, I’m twice as annoyed.  England have lost and I’ve lost money as well.  This is why I prefer to bet against England with the emotional hedge.

Here’s some things to consider…

  • If England is a clear favourite in a match = lay England. If England wins then I am happy, but I lose my bet = sad (i.e. emotionally hedged: happy + sad = neutral).  If they lose then I win money (happy), but England have lost (=sad).  The two offset which again equals the emotional hedge.
  • England 1-0 with not long to go: a favourite of mine is to lay England. The odds on England will be low so you’ll win a good amount if England does concede a late goal. In emotional hedge terms, England don’t win, but you win some money i.e. the emotional hedge.
  • Lay England to not reach the quarters: again, with the whole of England backing England to reach the quarters, the odds of them doing it are low. If they reach the quarters great, if they don’t then you win money i.e. the emotional hedge.

The next question is how much should I bet.  That question is one you have to answer yourself i.e. the emotional factor and the financial factor needs to offset each other e.g England losing and me winning 2 quid is not going to be an adequate hedge.  Saying that, 2 pounds may be fine for some but for others it may need an extra zero or a couple of them.  Find your hedge and then hopefully you won’t be too annoyed when England fails to live up to expectations.

So in summary, I won’t be backing England but I do hope they win the tournament.

No value = no bet


Let’s get this out the way early.  If you’re not betting for value you’re never going to make long term profits….which is what most people are after.  Keeping this in mind has really helped me turn my betting around.

In simple terms, if the chance of a horse winning is 50% you should only back the horse if the odds are greater than 2.0 (search the internet for converting %s to odds if you don’t understand this sentence).  Anything less than this, than you will lose money long term.

This is how casinos make money, they rely on people betting on odds that are less than the true odds.  If enough people bet like this, and do it often enough, the casino makes money and you lose money in the long term.  Sports betting is no different.  If you are constantly getting odds that are less than the actual chance of winning, you will lose long term.

Now the question you are probably thinking is; how do you find value bets?  Assuming efficient markets, the odds provided should reflect the actual chance of winning (plus a margin for the bookmaker).  In the financial markets, the markets are fairly efficient (unless you do some insider trading…illegal!), but in the sports betting markets there are lots of opportunities out there.  This is mainly due to the limitations in how bookmakers compile their odds.  Overall, to find value you need to be smarter than the bookmaker.  To be smarter you need to focus on an area where you feel you have extra knowledge (an edge) which bring the odds in your favour i.e. obtain odds better than the true odds and you will make money over the long term.

In summary, always keep in the back of mind when placing a bet….is there value in this bet or am I just betting on who I think will win.  By value betting, you will not win every time, but you should win over the long term.