This guide from the Sportflare team aims to give beginners a comprehensive guide into how to get started with betting on sports, in particular, eSports. We will cover everything from the history of eSports, to choosing the right site to bet on. We hope you find this useful for your path to becoming a successful bettor.
So, what exactly is sports betting?
Sports betting is the act of placing a real money wager, on the outcome of a particular sporting event.
Most people would have unknowingly placed a sports bet of some kind with friends and family and probably didn’t even realise it. Have you ever bet someone $5 on who would win a sports game on TV? If you have, you’ve made a sports bet. Sports betting is offered for almost every sport imaginable these days, with the most popular amongst them being horse racing, football, and basketball. A lot of sports betting websites now offer markets for non-sporting events such as the outcome of elections, and even winners of reality shows. You can just about bet on just about anything that has an unknown outcome.
There are plenty of sports bets offered that are more complex than picking a basic winner. Sometimes you can pick how someone will win, how long it will take them to win, or how many points each team scores. It gets much more complex than this, but you probably now at least have a good idea of what sports betting is and the different options that are available. The sky is really the limit. If it’s something you want to bet on, some sportsbook somewhere will probably be offering action on it.
What are eSports?
eSports is the shorthand term for electronic sports and is a form of competition where video games are the playing field. Most commonly, eSports refer to organized, multiplayer video game competitions. Currently, the most popular eSport genres are real-time strategy, first-person shooters, and multiplayer online battle arena. To match the growing popularity of eSports, there are now countless international eSport competitions with huge prize pools, which attract millions of viewers worldwide.
In 2013, it was estimated that well over 70 million people worldwide watched eSports. The increasing availability of online streaming media platforms is a crucial factor in the growth and promotion of eSports competitions. Demographically, eSports has a reported viewership proportion of around 85% male and 15% female, with the majority of viewers between 18-34 years old.
Is sports betting suitable for you?
One of the reasons you may be reading this is because you are still on the fence about whether sports betting is a worthwhile venture. It can be a hard decision, as, on one side of the coin, there is the excitement, and the possibility of high profits drawing you in, but on the other side, there is the risk of losses and the stigma related to betting. However, with smart decision making, patience, and persistence, you will soon realise that sports betting is a lot less risky than it is made out to be.
Try not to see sports betting as some form of ‘get rich quick’ scheme. It is true that you can make significant sums of money from sports betting, but no one has a perfect win record in sports betting, and you may definitely experience periods where losses are more frequent than wins.
If you are the kind of person who is not impulsive, can persist through some less than ideal situations, and has the vision to see sports betting as a long-term venture, then our services may be perfect for you.
What is luck?
Luck is defined as “success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.”
A person is often thought to be either “lucky” or “unlucky”, however, this notion is a complete myth. Luck is simply an explanation we give to the good and bad things that happen by chance, an attribution we use to give meaning to random events.
With regard to sports betting, an element of ‘luck’ is always appreciated. However, we do not rely on luck to make profits. Rather, our company focuses on diligence, specifically on our background research, and making the right decisions with our betting strategy.
As in life, we strive to be in control of our future through our hard work, rather than simply attributing our success to luck.
What the bookies don’t want you to know
Ever had the thought, “I don’t pay a subscription fee or signup fee to use the sports betting sites, why do they offer this betting service to me, for free?” If so, then we have some bad news for you. For every bet bettors place, there is a certain percentage which the bookies make, regardless of the outcome.
This percentage is called the ‘margin’. All sports betting sites apply this to each and every betting option, and it is a crucial piece of information for long-term bettors. This is because lower margins favour the bettor, whereas larger margins increase the earnings of the sports betting sites.
Learning the ins and outs of eSports betting
Choosing the right betting site
There are many factors which must be taken into account when trying to sign up for a betting website.
In fact, there are so many factors to take into account that it is recommended for you to sign up for a few betting websites. This is because each site offers different sports and events, and along with that, they will all offer slightly different margins for these events.
To give yourself the best chance of maximising profits, you need to be able to compare margins to maximise your profits while minimising your losses. This means you can’t rely on placing your bets on the same sports betting website every single time.
Selection of the market and the match/event: The selection process is as simple as choosing what to bet on, or what outcome you believe is more likely to happen. You can’t just say, “I want to bet on CS:GO.” You have to choose which team to bet on, or what specific outcome you’d like to bet on. The different betting selections you can make are also known as the different types of bets you can make.
Choosing your stake: The stake is just another word for how much you want to bet. If you choose to bet $20 on a match, the stake is $20. The term ‘high-stakes bettors’ refers to bettors who bet large sums of money. High is the level, and stakes are the amount being bet. The stakes you bet are completely up to you, so don’t stray out of your comfort zone. Certain sports betting sites will require minimum bet amounts on certain bets, and some will put a limit on a maximum stake level. For example, a football match might have a $5 minimum stake and a $10,000 maximum stake. This simply means that you have to bet at least $5 but are not permitted to bet more than $10,000.
The odds: In the section below, we cover what the odds mean, and what they indicate in more detail. All betting markets will show the odds. In sports betting, odds serve two main purposes. Firstly, they are used to calculate the payouts of winning bets. Every time you bet, you will be offered the odds, which dictate how much you can win. The higher they are, the more you stand to win relative to your stake. Secondly, odds also reflect the likelihood of any outcome occurring. The more likely an outcome, the lower the odds will be and vice versa. This makes sense, as you would expect to win less when betting on a more likely outcome than when betting on an outcome that much more unlikely
At the simplest level, odds refer to the amount you will be paid out to you for every dollar you wager.
Let’s say NaVi are paying $21 to win a major tournament, and you bet $2 on it. If they win, you receive $42 total, but since your initial bet was $2, your actual profit amounts to $40.
This can sometimes be a trap, as some people (incorrectly) assume that the money they receive from winning a bet will be strictly profit, understanding what the odds actually signify is another essential part of becoming a profitable bettor.
The decimal amounts do not simply state the amount of money you stand to win, they also indicate the event likelihoods, for instance, an implied win rate is a percentage that shows you how much the bookmakers have favoured one team over the other.
Before showing you how to calculate this, just be wary that the total cumulative percentages for the underdogs and favoured teams will almost always amount to more than 100%. This is due to the margins that we discussed briefly in the previous paragraph.
To calculate implied win rates, all you have to do is divide the odds into 1.
For example, let’s say there are two odds.
Odds A: $2.20 and Odds B: $1.77.
For these odds you would get 1/2.2 = 45.5% and 1/1.77 = 56.5%, respectively.
These numbers indicate that the bookmakers have placed Odds A at 45.5% likelihood of happening, and Odds B at 56.5% likelihood of happening.
From here, if you believe that there is actually a higher chance of the underdog (Odds A) winning than is indicated by those odds, it may be a good opportunity to bet.
How to get started with eSports betting
Setting up your sports betting account
The team at Sportsflare all prefer using Arcanebet to place our bets, as they offer the widest variety of eSports markets.
Here is the step-by-step easy guide to setting up an account:
Choose a sports betting site that allows you to bet on e-sports.
Locate the button that says ‘open account’, ‘create account’ or something similar.
Type in all the requested details such as your name, date of birth etc.
It’s a good idea to have a security question and answer set up as your back up option just in case you do forget.
Once all your details have been entered, submit your application.
You will most likely receive an activation/verification email. Go ahead and click that to activate your account.
Most betting sites will want some sort of proof of identification for you to withdraw from your account. While not needed immediately, it’s easy to email them one photo identification (e.g. drivers license) and one address identification (e.g. bank account statement)
You’re ready to deposit funds into your account using a credit card or bank transfer and start betting.
Managing your bankroll
There are two key skills to being a profitable long-term sports bettor. The first skill is the ability to recognise the value in a given market, and the second is managing your bankroll effectively. Taking the steps to learn how to effectively manage your bankroll is one of the best things you can do for your sports betting career.
Why is bankroll management such a big deal? The simple answer is that bankroll management helps you gamble responsibly within your set limits. When followed properly, it ensures that your bets are within your means, and money that you can’t afford to lose is not risked. This alone makes bankroll management of utmost importance, as one should not gamble with money that is needed to pay their bills or other living expenses. There are also other benefits of using an effective bankroll management too.
It ensures that you don’t chase your losses when on a losing streak.
It prevents you from getting carried away and betting too much when on a winning streak.
It allows us to handle and ride out multiple losses without using all of your bankroll.
It enables us to make more rational betting decisions.
Let’s address the above four points in a bit more detail.
Bankroll management on a losing streak
Whether you like it or not, every sports bettor goes on losing streaks. They happen to even the most skilled professional bettors, and they obviously happen with a bit more frequency to those who bet for fun. There will be times when nothing goes as expected, and it feels as though you’re just losing one bet after another with no way of getting back up. Losing control, and chasing your losses becomes highly tempting at this time, and is the downfall of many. At this stage, people often resort to increasing their bets, hoping that they’ll win everything back in a couple of bigger bets when their luck eventually turns around. This usually ends badly.
By utilising a sound bankroll management, and having a strict set of rules about how much to stake, you are much more likely to resist the temptation to chase losses when on one of these losing streaks. You will still need to show some discipline and stick to those rules of course, but simply having them in place makes this much easier
Bankroll management on a winning streak
As with losing streaks, a similar principle applies to winning streaks. These runs also happen to all long-term bettors. Quite the majority of recreational bettors also enjoy periods when they seem to get everything right, and win virtually every bet. Winning streaks are something every bettor dreams of, but unknown to most, they do have potential downsides.
It is not uncommon for bettors to grow in either greed or confidence, and increase their bet sizes significantly when on winning streaks. Whether it is due to greed, or confidence, it can be as much of a mistake as chasing losses. It could easily result in the bettor giving back all their previous winnings by the time the streak comes to an end. Again, good bankroll management will prevent this from happening.
There’s nothing wrong with increasing your stakes incrementally as your bankroll grows. That’s perfectly fine, and a proper staking method will ensure this is exactly what you do. It’s huge bets well outside of the incremental increase that is the problem, as just a few losses at much higher stakes can decimate a bankroll to even lower than where you initially started from.
Withstanding losses with bankroll management
The third benefit of proper bankroll management is similar to the first one, in that it’s also related to dealing with longer periods of losses. Bankroll management does more than just stop you from chasing your losses during losing streaks though. With a proper staking plan, the amount you bet will be linked to the size of your bankroll. If your bankroll starts declining due to a run of losses, then the amount you stake will also decrease. This will prevent you from losing too much, too quickly.
If you are a long-term bettor, then protecting your bankroll in this way is absolutely crucial. If you keep staking the same amounts even though your bankroll decreases, losing until your bankroll becomes zero becomes more and more likely. By only staking a percentage of your bankroll, you should be able to avoid doing just that. When losses are the result of bad decision making on your behalf, this should give you the time and opportunity to address your mistakes, and make the adjustments to the betting strategies you’re employing.
If you are just a casual bettor who bets for entertainment, decreasing your stakes can also be beneficial. It will make your bankroll last significantly longer, which will effectively give you more entertainment for the same amount of money.
Bankroll management and decision making
Effective bankroll management can make the financial aspect of your betting much less bothersome, which helps with making rational decisions. Although this might seem a little counter-intuitive, the fact is that your focus shouldn’t directly be on how much money you might win on any given bet. Instead, your main focus should be on trying to make good betting decisions. This is significantly easier if you’re not worried about the money involved.
Putting too much focus on the money aspect of betting causes people to base their selections for the wrong reasons. They might consistently bet on “safe” selections, to reduce the risk of losing. Or conversely, they might consistently bet on the underdogs, to try and win bigger amounts. Sticking with either of these betting styles are not particularly sensible, and they’re most certainly not based on rational decision making. Instead, a dedicated bankroll should be viewed purely as one of your tools for betting.
We do realise the last of the four benefits is more valuable for serious bettors than it is for recreational bettors. However, even those who bet purely for the entertainment value should try to think rationally as they go through their decision-making process. It’s guaranteed to lead to better results in the long run, which is obviously beneficial regardless of someone’s reasons for betting.
Bankroll management strategy
Many successful bettors have gradually developed the ability to recognise the value in sports betting markets. The following question is, once the value has been identified, how much do you stake on that wager to make the most value while protecting your bankroll?
Successful bankroll management can be broken down into three steps
You need to set a budget for how much money you are prepared to invest. You must then allocate that sum of money to be used solely for the purposes of sports betting.
You must then establish a strict set of rules that determine how much you should stake on any bet. These rules should be based on the overall budget.
The final stage is to apply and stick to the rules defined in stage two. This is a continuous process, as these rules should be applied to every single bet you place.
There are many different investment strategies that can and be applied to sports betting. In fact, many strategies have been directly borrowed from the world of finance. A quick Google search will yield endless different ‘strategies’. However, there is really only a couple which will actually work in the long-term.
The Kelly criterion
One of the most widely utilised methods of bankroll management is with through the use of the Kelly criterion, and it has stood the test of time since its creation in the mid-1950’s. This method takes into account both the probability of the occurrence of the given outcome, as well as the value of the odds offered in relation to that probability. This is called the ‘overlay’, and it simply means that the criterion suggests you bet more depending upon the betting value on offer, but it also means you have to assess the probability of a given outcome with consistency.
The calculation of the overlay is quite simple:
Overlay = (probability * odds) – 1
So as an example, let’s say FaZe are playing Astralis. FaZe’s odds to win is $2.70, and we have assessed their probability of winning to be at 40%. Could this be a good value bet?
Overlay = (0.40 * 2.70) – 1)
Overlay = (1.08) – 1)
Overlay = 0.08
So in this particular example, yes, betting on FaZe at our assessed win probability of 40% at odds of $2.70, offers 8% value.
Application of the Kelly criterion
There have been many amendments to the Kelly criterion method over the years. Although the fundamentals have remained largely the same, each rendition of the method offers its own insights.
Of those different editions of the Kelly criterion method, the team at Sportsflare utilises the fractional Kelly criterion method.
This is a very simple, and a somewhat conservative amendment to the full Kelly criterion method as the bettor only bets a certain fraction of the recommended bet. It could be set at 50%, known as the half Kelly, 25% the quarter Kelly, or any other percentage you feel comfortable with. Furthermore, while the belief may be that this will reduce your potential winnings depending to the percentage you choose, it can actually be shown that a fractional Kelly method can return better long-term results than the full Kelly method, and basically any other staking methods that are out there.
The fractional Kelly is calculated as:
Percentage of bankroll to bet = (Overlay / (Odds – 1)) * Set Fractional
Let’s consider our example again. How much of our bankroll should we bet on Arsenal to win if we choose to the quarter Kelly method?
% of bankroll to bet = (0.08 / (2.70 – 1)) * 0.25
Percentage of bankroll to bet = (0.08 / 1.70) * 0.25
% of bankroll to bet = 0.0471 * 0.25
Percentage of the bankroll to bet = 0.0118
So with a betting bankroll of $1,000, the quarter Kelly method, in this case, suggests we bet 1.18% of our bankroll on FaZe to win the match, a total of $11.80.
While there are many bankroll management strategies available, the team at Sportsflare believe that the fractional Kelly method is the best one to follow. To recap, the fractional Kelly criterion method takes into consideration the odds on offer, as well as the probability assessed of a team/players winning. This gives you a bet amount that will optimise that value without unnecessarily risking your bankroll and a potentially early end to your sports betting career.
Tips, advice, and concluding thoughts for beginners before you start
It takes a lot of effort and discipline to be a successful long-term bettor, but with the right approach, it can be done. It’s just important to recognise that there are never any solid guarantees in the betting world, no matter how skilled you are. All you can do is try to give yourself the best chance of success.
Be prepared to lose
Even the most successful bettors make losing wagers, and it’s certain that you will too. Even if you only ever bet on the favourites, the chances of getting all your predictions right are pretty much zero. As in life, sports are far too unpredictable and upsets frequently happen.
This isn’t to put you off betting, but rather, to ensure you have the correct mindset to become a sports bettor. Strange though it may seem, it’s quite possible for a losing wager to still be considered a well-placed bet. If the processes leading up to the bet was well thought out, then you have no reason to worry, because there will always be occasions when things don’t go according to plan. You have to learn to accept that.
While it is obvious that it is ideal to make as many correct predictions as you can, the more important aim is to make bets for the right reasons. The bottom line is that if you apply solid reasoning to all the bets that you place, the likelihood is that you’ll win more often than not in the long-term.
Do your own research
Information is possibly your greatest tool in sports betting. The more you know about the betting market you are betting in, the more likely you are to make sensible assessments of what is likely to happen. You don’t necessarily have to spend hours analysing every single statistic you can find, but doing some research will no doubt benefit you.
The very least you should do is stay up to date with the relevant news and recent form for the teams or players in the markets you frequently bet on. You might assume that a soccer team is virtually guaranteed to win an upcoming match against a much less favoured side, but you might not think the same if you found out that their star player was unlikely to play due to injury, and the opposing team was in a great run of form.
Any time and effort that you put into research will almost certainly pay off, so try to get into the habit of doing so.
Keep records of your betting
There are no set strategies or rules for what will make you money when betting, so you should not be afraid to try out new approaches and betting strategies. Through experimentation, you may find out what works for you, and what doesn’t. Just remember that no strategy or system is going to guarantee you a win on each and every wager you place; you need to think long-term.
You should also get in the habit of keeping your betting records when trying out different strategies. This will allow you to analyse the results, which ultimately will help you decide how to maximise your chances of making a profit.
Have discipline and patience
Patience is a key skill in sports betting, particularly for beginners. There is no point in getting frustrated if you don’t have instant success because very few, bettors make money from the very moment they start betting. It will take time to learn everything there is to learn, and develop the skills you need to become a profitable bettor.
Discipline is just as important as patience. If you don’t have sufficient self-control to bet within a set budget and make rational betting decisions, then you will almost certainly end up losing money. Good discipline will help you to bet responsibly, and place the right kind of wagers at the right time.
Betting is not only a great past time, but it is can also be a legitimate source of extra income. With the right tools, discipline, and patience, you could have more success than you ever dreamed of. We hope you found this article helpful on your journey to becoming a successful bettor.