Sunday, April 03, 2016

Thinking Fast And Slow

It is opening day of your favorite meeting on your local circuit and, having downloaded the past performances, the program automatically applies the decision rules you so painstakingly put in place after months of careful analysis. It automatically highlights the recommended selections, prices, and stakes. You are in total control.
As luck would have it, just before placing the wager, you decide to look at the connections of your selections for confirmation of the wisdom of your program choices. To your horror, you notice that a relatively unexposed colt trained by a promising, young handler with a 7/1 offering is excluded. You make an "executive decision" to overrule the program selections and immediately place a double-unit wager on the unexposed colt only to watch the program top selection romp home at 7/2.
Recognize the scenario or some variant thereof? Daniel Kahneman, in his excellent book Thinking Fast And Slow, would tell you that System 2 (careful analysis) has just been trumped by System 1 (good story)!
The key lesson here is not to berate yourself for being human but to set in place measures to protect yourself from this kind of ambush. Focus your expert handicapping skills into determining the key factors not fully reflected in the starting prices and then use some level of automation to rate and rank your selections. Avoid looking for a good, coherent story and no fine-tuning!