The Role of Luck in Betting & Fantasy Sports

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The Role of Luck in Betting & Fantasy Sports

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

Former New York Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez thought so. He must have been pretty lucky. He helped the Yankees win five World Series championships.

How much of a role does luck play when betting on sports? How about in fantasy sports?

As ole’ Lefty used to say, sometimes it is better to be lucky.

Lucky or Good?

Ernest Hemingway once said that “you make your own luck.” He was onto something.


How Much Does Luck Decide Our Lives?


There is plenty in the betting market that is left to chance. It’s not something bettors like to hear, but casino games like roulette are purely based on rules of probability. When betting on sports, there is still an element of chance, but there is some skill involved.

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Being “good” when it comes to sports betting really comes down to accessing and processing news and information. Sports bettors that can find information about injuries, recent trends, etc. can use that information to make more effective betting decisions. That’s the skill part.

Still, there is an element of luck involved and the paradox of skill can help you take advantage of “making your own luck.”

The paradox of skill refers to activities that combine luck and skill, like sports betting. In these types of activities that combine luck and skill, as skill improves luck may be even more important in the final outcome.

As the sports bettor improves on his ability to research, identify trends, and process information; he can “make his own luck” as Hemingway said.

Yes, sometimes it’s better to lucky than good, but just like Lefty, being good can increase our luck.

Luck and Fantasy Sports

Sometimes, luck is bad.

You spent hours poring over data to assemble what you thought was an unbeatable fantasy football team.

George Kittle might be the best tight end in the league. Ben Roethlisberger throws for a lot of yards, and Le’Veon Bell will score a ton of points both rushing and receiving. You’re even impressed with your backup wide receiver, Robby Anderson of the Jets, who caught 50-plus balls in each of the previous two (2017 & ’18) seasons.

You get off to a good start and then…BAM! Big Ben suffers an elbow injury in Game 2 and misses the remaining 14 games of the season. Le’Veon Bell somehow forgot where the end zones are on a football field. He touches the ball 311 times for the New York Jets but scores just four touchdowns.

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Anderson turns out to be somewhat of a bust. Actually, it’s more like his quarterback was just awful. A full 42 percent of the throws in which he was targeted were uncatchable balls. That means almost one of every two throws to Anderson were too high, too low, or out of reach.


Luck or Skill? You Decide


Kittle turned out to be exactly as advertised, but he could have been even better. He caught 85 passes for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns, but he could have scored you three more. That’s right. Kittle had three touchdown passes that were called back due to penalties.

Yes, sometimes luck can be bad…and it’s completely out of your control. Losing a quarterback like Roethlisberger surely had an impact on your fantasy season and those extra three Kittle touchdowns might have given you three more wins.

Yes, sometimes luck is bad, but if you can minimize your bad luck, you can still end up “to the good.”

About the Author

A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.

His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.

When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.

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