Gaming Tactics Applied to Sports Betting

Sports betting in itself is a form of gaming. It requires a calculated affair with chance, in which any given outcome isn’t set in stone. Strategies abound regarding how to make a wager or fifteen minutes at the blackjack table pay off, but experience is just as important as strategy for both activities.

Vegas has long been the home for both, where sports betting counters are located just beyond the casino lobby for locations along the strip. However, the gaming and sports betting climates in the US are changing. Since the repeal of a federal ban on sports betting in 2018, the market has seen a huge influx of online sportsbooks. 

Much like the availability of multiple online casinos gives gamers a chance to compare deals and choose the best option for their needs, the inundation of sportsbooks has provided punters the same choices. Whether looking to wager on the PGA Tour or find NFL picks for the Super Bowl, US sportsbooks offer a diverse range of options for first-time and seasoned punters alike. 

Those looking to jump into the world of over-unders and moneylines may feel a bit overwhelmed shifting to online sites and mobile apps, but most gaming rules can be applied to oddsmakers. Keep reading below to learn how you can maximize your wagering power by applying a few rules from the casino floor.

Pay Attention to the Human Aspect 

There are fifty-two cards in a deck and fifty-five players on an NFL team. At any point in a game one of those fifty-five players could be injured, let homefield fans psyche them out, or even slip in the endzone. On the other hand, those fifty-two cards and the dealer responsible for handling them aren’t subject to such human error.

However, poker does involve one incredible tactic: the bluff. Players must decide whether or not the competition has a low or high hand depending on their behavior. Given many top players choose to wear hats and sunglasses to cover their faces, being able to breakdown an opponents’ behavior is an invaluable skill for champions of the game. 

In the world of sports betting, studying human aptitude is even more pivotal than it is in poker. Rather than rely on data, pundits rely on experience. Sports analysts and pundits make their careers from cross analyzing a wide variety of human factors when looking at a team or an athlete in particular. 

Conditions like weather, injured stars, inter-team dynamics, and staff changes can have a palpable effect on a team and affect their odds. For this reason, first-time punters should be careful to find a trustworthy sportsbook that utilizes professional analysts alongside computer algorithms.

Considering the booming market worth of sports betting, oddsmakers will continue looking for ways to offer key insight to distinguish themselves from the competition. The most successful sports bettors typically have preferred analysts and statistical platforms.  

Play One on One with the House

Avid gamers know that there are few opportunities as advantageous as playing one-on-one against the house. Imagine sitting down at a blackjack table and competing against a full table of six versus just the dealer. Not only does it lessen the house edge (depending on splits and stand rules), but it allows the gamer to compete at their own pace.

The same goes for sports betting. Whenever possible, a punter should look to influence the lines for a sportsbook’s point spread. Oddsmakers look to ‘level the playing field’ by giving the underdog a handicap. 

For the first-time punter, this may seem like a set-in-stone line. However, bettors can effectively change these at most retail sportsbooks (rather than online or mobile counterparts) by buying a half-point to alter the spread.

This entails an increase in the vig from 10% to 20% (which alters lines from -110 to -120 in the actual spread). By paying a bit extra, bettors can literally alter a sportsbooks point spread however they like. Much like playing one on one with the house, this allows punters to shape the system a bit more to their liking.

Like gaming, many sports betting tactics are also used on Wall Street.

‘Arb’ It Up

One major rule in gaming remains the same in sports betting: monitor your spending. When it comes to playing table games or slots, gamers have a wide variety of tactics designed to mitigate losses.

 There’s the D’Alembert system, which helps gamers track spending by setting a ‘unit’ or set amount of money to increase wagers. Then there’s the Martingale system, which seeks to recuperate losses by doubling the next bet after a losing wager—or to double after a win, according to the reverse-Martingale system. 

For sports bettors, there are just as many strategies that claim to give an advantage. And just like with gaming, these strategies can be applied to investment, as well. In the world of finance, arbitrage refers to investing in multiple sides to ensure a profit.

Punters can take advantage by shopping around for various lines, looking for ‘surebets’ or ‘miracle bets’, as they’re known in the industry. It requires bettors to scan the odds at a wide variety of sportsbooks to find a gap in the odds given for a certain matchup. 

By searching for fluctuations in moneylines, you can calculate which two bets would provide a winning payout despite wagering on two separate teams. For example, this would require a larger wager on the favorite and a smaller bet on the underdog for each to payout a comparable amount. 

In this situation, the favorite is more likely to win. Even so, that larger wager yields a payout that’s the same as the lower wager placed on the underdog. Arbitrage creates a situation where punters can’t lose money, no matter the outcome of the game.

Sound too good to be true? Don’t worry. ‘Arbing’ is absolutely legal—though sportsbooks may not offer competitive promotions to punters they know are using the tactic. In the end, many punters don’t take advantage of the strategy because of the time constraints involved. 

Typically, punters will compare lines from their favorite sportsbooks, then choose what’s best for them. Arbitrage requires quite a bit of cross-referencing—especially when odds are still fluctuating.