Bettors who are interested in betting systems need to become effective at back testing. Simply, back testing is looking back to see how your system or angle would have performed against past games. By looking back at how it would have performed you can get a sense of whether it is worthwhile to use it without having to risk any of your own money. If done properly you aren’t guaranteeing a profit, but at least you are giving yourself a better chance at success once you jump into the betting lines.
Proper back testing requires some knowledge of statistics, but we’re not going to look at that here – that’s for you and a intro college textbook to figure out. Beyond that, though, there are some things that people need to keep in mind if they want to back test effectively. Here are four:
Go deep – As a general rule the bigger the sample size you use, the better you are. If you flip a coin ten times it is very possible to get eight heads. If you flip it 10,000 times, though, there is virtually no chance you will get 8,000 heads. In the same way a small sample size of just a handful of games could lead you to believe that an angle is an effective one, but a much larger sample size could prove that it actually isn’t profitable. The bigger the sample size you use the more confidence you can have in the results, and the better the chances that you can profitably bet the angle going forward. As long as the games are available to test and nothing significant has changed in how the game is played then the more you test the better in most cases.
Be brutally honest – People lie to themselves all the time – it makes life more bearable for all of us. When it comes to back testing, though, you simply cannot afford to be anything other than totally honest. It can be very easy and natural for people to want to lie to themselves about how the testing is going. They’ll round their results up, ignore a long losing streak, or pretend that they would have been able to avoid betting on games that turned out poorly. All you are doing by lying is cheating yourself because ultimately it will be your money that you lose if you convince yourself that the system is more promising than it really is. A failed test isn’t a bad thing – it just means that something didn’t work and you can go back to the drawing board to try to do better. Every person who has a winning system that they use has first tested dozens of losers to get to where they are.
Be constantly curious – Successful back testing should be a dynamic process. It’s not good enough to come up with a theory, test it, and then hope to bet it profitably. You constantly need to look at the results you are getting with your back testing, understand what they mean, and think of ways to improve those results. Every new idea you have should be tested again, and the process should continue. People with successful systems that they are betting profitably all have one thing in common – they are constantly tweaking and testing to find ways to maintain that profitability and improve it.
Always assume the worst – The results you get in your back testing will almost certainly not be exactly the same as the results will be once you start betting games. In most cases the actual results will be worse than the back tested results. When you are evaluating any results you get from back testing, then, it pays to be pessimistic. If your testing shows that a system is only slightly profitable then it would be worthwhile to tweak it and explore how to improve it, but it probably isn’t worth betting it because it would be easy for a small gain to turn into a small loss. Before you would confidently want to bet a system going forward you would want it to be much more successful than your minimal acceptable level of profitability so that there is plenty of room for it to perform worse than it has in testing and still be profitable.