If you are a poker player looking to try sports betting for the first time, we have good news. You can apply some of your existing poker skills and experience to increase your chances of making a profit.
Although luck is ever-present, where Leeds United might get a fluke own goal in the last minute against Liverpool, or your winning horse could fall at the last hurdle, applying your skill set will help over time. Just like in poker, luck dictates your aces will get cracked sometimes, but in the long term, your correct decision making will prevail.
Here are five tips poker players can use when placing their first bets.
1. Bankroll Management
As a poker player, we’re hoping you know all about bankroll management. You have a sum of money set aside that you use for poker, and you only ever risk a tiny portion of that for any given cash game or tournament. That way, you do not risk overstretching yourself, making poor decisions and going bust.
Just as in poker, you should only ever bet a maximum portion of your bankroll on one sports bet. For example, if your bankroll is $2,000 – and remember, this is your gambling bankroll, not your total available cash for living expenses – then you must set a bet limit of, say, 3%. A limit of 3% on your $2,000 equates to $60 a bet. As your bankroll rises, you can increase your bets in proportion. If you go on a losing streak, reduce your stakes accordingly.
Make sure you record your results, too, so that you know the types of bet that you make the most money from (and which to avoid).
2. Choose Your Sport Well
In poker, if you are well-equipped to win at Texas Hold’em but are rubbish at mixed games, perhaps not even knowing the rules of Razz, you would never dream of entering a H.O.R.S.E tournament – you wouldn’t expect to do very well at all. In sports betting, think along the same lines. For example, if you are knowledgeable about soccer but know nothing about ice hockey, guess which sport you should bet on? Soccer, of course. Otherwise, placing bets on ice hockey is pure guesswork.
Stick to the sports you know well because that will help you when it comes to tip number 3. The top sportsbooks like STS Bet have a vast range of sports covered, so you can find at least one you are comfortable with.
3. Research, Research, and More Research
As a half-decent poker player, there is no doubt you have done your fair share of research. You probably read strategy books or websites, follow tips from the pros, and try to keep up with the latest strategy deep thinkers. Research in sports betting is similarly vital. Even if you know a decent amount about English soccer, you must keep abreast of all developments.
For example, imagine if Plymouth Argyle were playing Exeter City in League Two. Bookies will not be paying too much attention to the match, but because you are knowledgeable about the sport, you happen to know this is a fierce local derby. Form generally goes out of the window in these games, and you might find some tasty odds. There’s also more chance that a player will be sent off, so you could find value in the red card market because the sportsbooks may have missed the significance of the game.
Poker players know all about risk-reward. At a basic level, pot odds are just that – knowing whether the amount you have to put into the pot justifies the likelihood of getting your desired outcome.
Apply this same strict criterion to sports betting, too. Let’s say you see juicy NBA odds of 5/1 on the Houston Rockets beating Utah Jazz. It looks attractive, and the reward would be a handsome payout, but your risk is too high. You don’t have to bet much, of course, but the risk is the fact that the Rockets, on current form, will never beat the Jazz. One poker player who will know this better than most is former NBA star Andrew Bogut.
5. Find Value
As successful poker players, you know all about finding value. You would never sit down at a cash table with players you know to be better than you. It’s much better to go hunting in waters where you will find more fish.
Use the same skillset to find sports betting value in terms of competitive odds. There are many sportsbooks out there, all with different odds for the same matches. Sometimes, one bookmaker gets out of line, and might have attractive odds, be it on a soccer game or on the winner of a PGA golf tournament.
Hunt around looking for opportunities just as you would looking for relatively inexperienced players in poker tournaments.
And, just like poker, make sure you claim all available bonuses from the sportsbooks, as this will help your profit margins.
By using our five tips, poker players will be more comfortable with trying out sports betting. Put your ego to one side, and when you start off, bet small, even lower than your bankroll would suggest until you get comfortable understanding the odds and the different ways that bookmakers go about their business.