Have you ever asked yourself which sports are the most popular amongst online punters? In truth, the answer varies between one region and another, although there are some sports that boast universal appeal across the globe.
Whilst sports betting is thought to be worth up to £625 billion per year, for example, football (or soccer) wagers account for approximately 70% of this yield. This is also the most popular sport for punters in Europe and the UK, with bookmaker’s apparently profiting to the tune of £41.3 billion during the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Soccer betting is increasingly popular in the U.S. market too, although it has some way to go to match the appeal of American Football. According to Statista, around 78% of the adult population have placed bets on this sport at some point, while wagering on basketball and baseball are also common pastimes in North America.
It would be unwise to wager on a sport simply because it was popular, however, while selecting the right disciplines and markets should be a central focus of your overarching betting strategy. Below, we’ll explore this further whilst asking how you should pick the right sport (or portfolio of sports) to spend your bankroll on.
Ask yourself why you’re Betting in the First Place
Before we get down to the technicalities of sports betting in alternative markets, it’s important to ask yourself why you’re interested in wagering in the first place.
In truth, there are two potential motivations for engaging in the practice of sports betting. The first of these is a desire to enhance the typical sports viewing experience, as you look to bet on events as you watch them unfold and back your favourite team or player to prevail.
Secondary to this, you may practice sports betting in order to generate financial returns and win as much cash as you can over an extended period of time.
If you’re motivated by the former, your selection of sports and markets is largely predetermined as you’ll only ever wager on the disciplines that you enjoy watching and participating in. Whether you’re a fan of football, tennis or Formula One, there’s little choice to be made whilst your bets will follow a particular schedule.
The situation is slightly more complex if you’re keen on making money, however, as you’ll need to consider several additional factors if you’re to make informed decisions (we’ll come onto these in a little while).
In some instances, you may want to enhance the sports viewing experience and make money through betting, and this will also require you to develop a more considered and detailed wagering strategy.
Use Knowledge to Achieve a Clear Competitive Advantage
If your sole or primary motivation is to make money and generate a return on your bankroll, you’ll need to appraise your knowledge base and look to leverage this to achieve a keen competitive advantage.
At this point, we should draw a distinction between sports betting and casino gameplay, as while both include strong elements of chance, the former also enables you to turn the odds in your favour and minimise the risk associated with your wagers.
In this respect, sports betting has a little more in common with investing, where individuals are able to incrementally improve their chances of success by selecting assets and building a portfolio that relate to their existing skillset, knowledge base and underlying appetite for risk.
Similarly, sports bettors can choose to focus on the disciplines and markets that they have an innate understanding of, creating the potential for informed and selective wagers that are more likely to deliver a return.
Even if you don’t have comprehensive knowledge of a specific sport, you may have access to proven and reliable sources of relevant information.
Football bettors often rely on team news and insight form local journalists before placing their wagers, for example, while those with a penchant for horse racing can also identify trusted pundits and form guides to help inform their selections.
The key is to understand your areas of strength and identify any potential gaps in knowledge, before selecting the sports and markets that are most suitable.
Consider Which Sports have the Largest Selection of Markets
At this stage, you’ll probably have a good idea about the sports that you want to bet on and where to commit your bankroll.
If you have the knowledge and experience to wager on several different sports, however, you can attempt to streamline your selections simply by considering which disciplines have the largest and most diverse range of markets.
After all, markets help to create choice and flexibility for sports bettors, while in some instances they enable punters to enhance the odds at their disposal without overly compromising their chances of winning.
Let’s say that you’re a football bettor who wants to wager on EPL leaders Liverpool to beat struggling Crystal Palace at Anfield this weekend. The Reds are priced at around 3/14 for the win here, however, meaning that a £5 stake would deliver a return that’s well under £2.
This is hardly a compelling opportunity, but football betting offers punters access to various markets that can improve the value proposition of a Liverpool win in this instance.
One of these is the so-called ‘handicap’ market, which enables you to account for the perceived difference between unevenly matched sides by apply a one or two goal handicap to the favourites.
In this instance, you could apply a -1.0 handicap to Liverpool, meaning that the Reds would need to win by two clear goals for your bet to be successful. Now, this would instantly improve the odds and your potential return, without significantly compromising on your chances of achieving a win (particularly given the strength of Jurgen Klopp’s side and their overall form).
You can also wager on a particular winning margin in football betting, and while this may be a little riskier and more restrictive than handicapping it does offer you an opportunity to leverage any knowledge that you may have and secure higher value odds.
There are also a growing number of live or ‘in-play’ markets available to football bettors online, and by developing of understanding of these you can enhance your range of wagering options and win more during a single match or event.
In contrast, burgeoning niches such as eSports offer a relative dearth of betting markets, despite incredible levels of projected growth through 2020.
In 2015, the global eSports betting market was worth just $315 million, but this number is set to peak at a staggering $23.5 billion by the end of 2020. For now, however, even the most lucrative eSports tournaments only enable punters to bet on outright winners and a handful of other markets, and this can make it harder to improve your odds and achieve the desired return.
Ultimately, you should definitely look to leverage sports that offer access to a wide range of betting markets, especially if you can continue to rely on a sound basis of knowledge or expertise.
Look at the Latest Welcome Offers and Bonuses
On a final note, you may also want to inform your bet selections by reviewing the range of real-time welcome bonuses and promotions that are being presented by operators.
While you should always keep the previous considerations we’ve discussed in mind, this is an excellent way of leveraging limited-time offers to optimise your competitive advantage and make the most of your bankroll.
Prominent sports betting brands are continuing to compete aggressively for your custom in the digital age, with free and matched bets enabling punters to target their favourite markets whilst reducing the risk associated with their wagers.
Matched betting is a particularly popular online betting technique, and one that’s used by individuals to profit from free bet offers by placing a back wager on the operator’s site whilst simultaneously backing the opposing outcome at an exchange.
In theory, this represents a risk-free strategy that’s guaranteed to deliver some kind of return, depending on the nature of the content and the odds in question. Not all free bet offers have been created equal, however, so you’ll need to be selective in your approach and look to utilise your expertise in the same way that you would when placing a normal wager.
When looking to leverage free bets, you’ll also need to review the terms and conditions before making a commitment.
After all, operators tend to apply various conditions to lucrative free bet offers, including fixed wagering requirements. These relate to the amount of times that you’ll need to wager the free bet value before making a withdrawal from your account, and this can have a significant impact on the appeal of the proposition in question.
Similarly, operators may occasionally use free bets to guide punters into unprofitable markets, which is why you need to remain focused on your expertise and existing strategy when considering potential bonus options.
With a keen eye and an ability to identify viable free bets that relate to sports of your choosing, however, you can make more informed selections and boost your winnings accordingly!
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