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There’s a well-worn adage that the only surefire way to make money from sports betting is to become a bookie. While there’s undoubtedly some wisdom inn that, many sports fans have been choosing a different alternative over the past year or so. The proliferation of new Irish casino sites appearing in cyberspace, all seeming to fall over one another to dish out spins or even money for free, can seem a tempting alternative putting the kiss of death on your favourite horse with another €5 bet.
Do casino games offer a better return?
You might expect that to be a question that’s impossible to answer, but the mathematicians will tell you otherwise. With a casino game, there’s a house edge that you can work out for any game. With slots, it is usually between three and six percent, although there are a few games where it is as low as one percent. In European roulette, it is 2.7 percent. You can even work it out for online bingo games, where it can be as high as 10 percent.
Sports betting does not have a house edge incorporated as such. Instead, there’s the vig, which is the bookie’s commission. The theory is that the odds offered on the outcome are true odds, so no stacked in favour of the bookie. If that’s correct, then over time, the losing bets pay exactly for the winning bets. Then the bookie makes money by collecting the vig from all gamblers, win or lose.
Utilising theories and skill to plan your game
Mathematical theories are great as far as they go. In a game like roulette or bingo, the maths stacks up perfectly because the ball is coming to a halt on the wheel or coming out of the machine in a way that is truly random.
With games like poker or blackjack, it’s not so straightforward. The result depends on the cards you play and the calls you make, so the house edge calculation is based on your assumed level of skill. If you hit or stand at random, the house will eat you more often than if you follow basic blackjack strategy, that stands to reason.
The same applies with sports betting. We said earlier that the bookie aims to set true odds, but doing so is subjective. Ireland went into their Six Nations game 39pt favourites against Italy. Was that the right call? Beating the bookie isn’t just about backing the right team. It’s just as important to spot which bets to place and which to leave alone.
That means knowing more than the bookies. It’s not an easy challenge, but it’s what gives sports betting that extra dimension that you just won’t find in a casino game. And in the final analysis, that’s why most sports fans agree that slots, poker and even a crafty game of bingo have their place – but they will never replace backing your favourite team or runner on a Saturday afternoon.