April 25, 2019
Author: Courtney Stutts, CFP®
Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes
Two weeks ago, Tiger Woods pulled off a monumental win at the Masters, winning his first major in 11 years. If you’re anything like me, you set up shop in your living room and glued yourself to the TV all day on Sunday in anticipation of watching one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. It was emotional, motivating, and historic. But there was also another winner of the tournament, though his name is much lesser known. His name is James Adducci. He’s a 39-year-old self-described day trader from Wisconsin.
Earlier in the month, Adducci flew to Vegas with a backpack full of $85,000 in cash. As his first sports bet ever, he bet on Tiger Woods winning the Masters and was rewarded enormously. His payout was $1.2 million. Adducci has $25,000 in debt on a mortgage, student loans, and car loans. When asked about the size of his wager, he said it was “everything I had that I could afford to lose.” Adducci also said “my reason for thinking that he was going to win were more personal, about where he is at in his career and his life” and “…I just thought it was predestined for him to win.”
Obviously, this is pretty nuts. I personally think there’s more to this story than the general public knows about and that we might not be getting the full picture here. But at any rate, what Adducci had to say about his reasons for picking Tiger isn’t much different than how investors feel about the market:
- His reasons were “personal.” Plenty of times, investors feel a certain way about an investment because it’s their “gut feeling.” It’s something they can’t explain but it just “feels” right. This can either play out well or end up hurting people. If the stock pick does well, overconfidence bias might set in and people may start taking more risk than they normally would. If the stock does poorly, there’s a certain amount of pride that many people feel when the investment they confidently picked goes south and they hold on longer than they should. That’s why one of the jobs of a financial advisor is to take the emotions out of investing and help clients make better decisions over the long run.
- There will always be differing opinions. For every golf fan or casual onlooker who thought at the beginning of the week that Tiger was going to win, there was another person who totally disagreed with that. Both sides had the same amount of information about his statistics, past performance, and even his daily routines. Both sides could readily access Tiger’s own thoughts on where his game was headed and how he felt going into Augusta. No matter how much information we all have, there will always be a buyer and seller.
- Hindsight is always 20/20. It’s easy to look at this guy and think, “why didn’t I do that?” (although maybe to a lesser degree). Everybody is throwing adulation at Adducci but this is looking more at the outcome than the process. It’s easy to look back and wish that we’d made the same bet or owned the same stock without asking ourselves honestly whether we would have had the guts to stick with them. My favorite quote from this story to illustrate 20/20 vision is when Adducci describes himself and says, “I’m a responsible guy. My background is finance.” This is obviously a lot easier to say in hindsight. If Tiger had withdrawn in the opening round, I don’t think that Adducci would have gone around telling his friends that he’s a “responsible guy” after losing $85,000 on a sports bet.
- There will always be a story about overnight success. Headlines about a millionaire who sold their viral app or the winner of a crazy golf bet will always get more attention than the couple in their 70’s who saved month over month, year over year and is now living comfortably in retirement. The tough part is that money won by luck is indistinguishable from money won by skill. Investing and gambling share this trait of indiscrimination which makes it easy for the rest of us to get caught up in the headlines, noise, and overnight success stories.
It’s important to remember that while these stories may exist, it’s best to stay focused on your individualized financial plan. Retirement is not an overnight success story. It’s one that’s built on years of hard work and patience. Getting caught up in headlines or a big bet that a day trader is making at the moment is not likely going to help you reach your goals and can cause undue stress. Instead, talking to your advisor about your goals and monitoring the financial plan is a much more practical and steady way to pursue long term success.
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Financial Literacy, In the News, Retirement, Risk