Sports betting is a fun-filled pastime enjoyed by sports enthusiasts. A bet is placed on a certain outcome occurring, or not occurring. If the bettor is correct, a payment is made at the pre-stated odds at the time the bet was concluded.
Sports betting is nothing like depositing a quarter in a slot machine game and pulling the lever, or clicking the spin button. The only strategy involved in slots play is choosing a game with a high RTP (return to player), and managing your bankroll well.
A Critical Examination of the Parallels between Poker Play and Sports Betting
All sports bets require an intricate understanding of the entire process by which a sports bettor selects a player or team, carefully chooses the right bets at the right odds, and successfully places that bet at a reputable sportsbook.
Several important elements must be understood before sports wagers can be placed. For starters, it’s always a good idea to start with a sport that you understand and enjoy. Take soccer as a case in point. There are two teams competing against one another for dominance.
The team which scores more goals than the other team wins the match. Soccer betting is the most popular form of betting in the world, as this sport is enjoyed by billions of fans. Soccer bets include the following options:
- Parlay Bets – the sports bettor chooses multiple soccer teams and wins the parlay bet only if all bets win. The parlay bet payout is much greater than betting on individual soccer matches.
- Proposition Bets – these prop bets are unique and can include weird elements like which player scores the first goal, betting on the exact final score of the match, or which team wins the coin toss in a soccer match.
- Over/under Bets – these types of bets are popular in soccer betting and all forms of sports betting. Bettors must decide whether the total number of goals scored by both teams will be over or under the set total provided by the bookmaker.
- Money Line Bets – these bets are placed on outcomes. Who will win? Who will lose? Will there be a draw? Money line bets typically include 90 minutes of full-time play and injury time. However, they don’t include penalties and overtime.
For a novice coming to the sports betting scene, it takes plenty of reading to understand what these numbers mean, what types of bets are available, and how to pick a bet with confidence. Much the same is true with poker players.
All games feature a standard deck, which follows a standard set of rules. There is a ranking system in poker games which serves as the bedrock of evaluating the strength of hands.
The highest-ranking poker hand is a Royal Flush, comprising 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace of the same suit. The lowest ranking hand is simply a high card. In between, there are plenty of different combinations of cards that form standard ranking hands in the game of poker. The poker pecking order is as follows:
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Four of A Kind
- Full House
- Three of A Kind
- Two Pair
- One Pair
- High Card
These hand rankings need to be learned and understood before players can participate in poker games. For example, a Full House includes three of a kind and a pair, while a Straight includes 5 cards of different suits in sequential order. It is important to learn what available options there are in order to compile a winning hand. A poker education begins by learning how to play poker. That same learning process is applicable to sports betting. Players need to understand what betting options are available, and how sports betting payouts work.
Crunching the Numbers: Correlations between Poker and Sports Betting
Poker is a game of statistics, probability, analytics, and variance. Seasoned poker professionals are adept mathematicians, churning out percentages and probabilities with all sorts of poker terms and industry jargon. Consider the following number-related concepts that veteran poker players readily understand:
- Variance – describes the ups and downs that poker players experience.
- Pot Odds – the probability of winning on a drawing hand and the decision to call or raise a bet. Calculated via percentage or ratio.
- Implied Odds – provides info on expected winnings after a player makes the draw.
- Fold Equity – additional equity a player can enjoy if other players fold.
- Reverse Implied Odds – this explains how much you expect to lose if you hit your draw.
- Expected Value – average amount of money an action is expected to win or lose.
Clearly, there are mathematical calculations involved in each of these concepts. For sports betting enthusiasts, there is an equal amount of number crunching that needs to take place. Take a moment to review the following odds presented on an NFL game between Team A and Team B. Assuming money line betting (on outcomes) with the following odds:
- Team A: -150
- Team B: +300
What do the -/+ symbols mean in this example? Any time a player or a team has a – in front of it, this indicates that it is the favorite. To win $100 betting on Team A, a player would have to wager $150. However, that same $100 bet on Team B would generate a winning amount of $300, as indicated by the +300 figure. These are rather basic examples from the sports betting world, and there are many more complicated odds to understand.
Our analysis continues with the point spread. This is one of the most popular betting options available for the NBA, NHL, and NFL. As mentioned earlier, the bettor places a wager on whether a team will win by a specific number of points.
We can begin using the following stats for Team A and Team B:
- Team A: -6
- Team B: +6
Once again, Team A is the favorite to win and Team B is the underdog. To win on Team A, they would have to win by at least 7 points to make the bet profitable. For a bet on Team B to win, they would need to beat Team A outright, or they would need to lose by less than 6 points since they are the underdog. Without a clear understanding of how point spreads and money lines work a.k.a. the rules of sports betting (like the rules of poker), it’s impossible to make any headway in this vocation.
Sports bettors are also known to have an insatiable appetite for following team performances at home and away. Beyond the basics, sports bettors also place tremendous stock in pitch conditions, substitutions, pitch reports, coach commentary, player commentary, team statistics, and other data. Much the same is true of poker experts. They study poker psychology, poker actions, poker hands, and bankroll management. Both vocations require intensive learning, practice, and understanding. The correlation is ironclad.
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