Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

When the Odds Are News

The bookies can change their odds whenever they want, completely at their own discretion. 

This morning a story broke reporting that Sir Alex Ferguson, the legendary former boss of the Manchester United soccer team, was quickly becoming a favorite to be the next coach of Ireland’s national squad. It’s certainly possible that some gamblers got a tip and poured a ton of money onto Ferguson’s ticket. But there’s another, more sinister possibility as well.

The Irish Independent’s piece contains the following quote from Leon Blanche, of Boylesports: “We laid some large bets on Sir Alex Ferguson at 66/1 on Friday morning and the cut him into 33/1. The support continued to come and we were forced to cut him again, into 20/1.” Essentially, Blanche is saying that as more people bet on Ferguson, his company had to shorten the odds. But nowhere does he saw just how much money prompted the change.

In probabilistic terms, the change in odds represents a shift from a chance of about 1.5 percent to about 4.8 percent that Ferguson will get the job. He’s still a longshot. Just think, though, of the effect of a few newspaper articles on the betting action. Ferguson may be the most famous soccer coach in the world, and shortening his odds was bound to grab the media’s attention. Right now, more money is probably coming in for all the possible tickets.

The bookies can change their odds whenever they want, completely at their own discretion. So did they lower Ferguson’s odds because they could no longer take so many bets at 66/1, or did they do it for the exposure? Since we don’t know how much money was being placed on Ferguson, we can’t tell. Either way, the move probably cost them little and gained them a bigger expected payoff.


Image courtesy of Shutterstock

LIVE ON MONDAY | "Lights, camera, activism!" with Judith Light

Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo

Keep reading Show less

Scientists see 'rarest event ever recorded' in search for dark matter

The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.

Image source: Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
  • The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
  • The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
Keep reading Show less

Space travel could create language unintelligible to people on Earth

A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.

Cylindrical space colony.

Credit: NASA Ames Research Center.
Surprising Science
  • A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
  • Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
  • This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".
Keep reading Show less

Your emotions are the new hot commodity — and there’s an app for that

Many of the most popular apps are about self-improvement.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Personal Growth

Emotions are the newest hot commodity, and we can't get enough.

Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast