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Taking the Three-Hour Tour
August 11, 2005

In my book "The Betting Doctor", I call a bet on a football, basketball, or baseball game investing on the "Three-Hour Tour". Once the tour is over, if made at odds of -110, your bet will have made you an almost 91% profit or you will have lost 100%.

Part of the appeal of sports betting, is that like snowflakes, every tour is different. Some bets are a sunny cruise across the calm waters of a blowout win. Others are a nauseating passage through the rolling waves of fluky turnovers, bogus officiating, garbage touchdowns, shanked field goals, missed free throws, or bullpen collapses; all reminiscent of the trip that landed the "Minnow" on Gilligan's Island.

One of the keys to winning consistently at sports betting is deciding which tours to take, rather than worrying about the tour when you're already on it; at that point there's nothing you can do about it anyway. So how do you book more sunny cruises and avoid "The Perfect Storm"?

First, you must develop the habit of putting your rationale for each bet you make in a 25-word-or-less nutshell. Your reasoning should be straight-forward enough that you could explain it to a layman; in our case, a non-sports bettor. Test it on your spouse or significant-other for example. (You might use this same test on your own doctor by the way; if "doc" can't explain your diagnosis or recommended treatment in a max. of 25 words of layman-ese, how confident are you of his or her "bet"?)

Second, soon after the tour is over, you must re-visit each bet's rationale, honestly. Sports bettors are notorious for blaming their losses on some kind of misfortune, and therefore psychologically discounting them; while at the same time crediting their supposedly brilliant handicapping for all the winners, making them even more memorable.

There are four possible results to this post-bet evaluation process:

1. Your rationale was right and the bet won; you are on to something, look to repeat it.
2. Despite a good rationale, you got unlucky and lost shake it off; you are on the right track.
3. Your rationale was off base and you lost; did you misread motivations or are you using stats or systems which no longer provide an edge?
4. Even though your reasoning was wrong, you got lucky and won. In the long run, this is the worst result of all unless you recognize it for what it was; a stroke of good fortune that cannot last.

In my opinion, at least 50% of sports bets are decided by luck; and you cannot control your luck. The other half will be one-sided winners; these are the bets you want to worry about, because you want to be on that right side.

In the long run, I'd much rather be on the right side not get the breaks and lose, than pick the wrong side and get lucky and win.

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