I enjoy most forms of gambling, from watching the reels spin while playing new video slots to betting on football and playing poker with my buddies over a few beers. However, I hold a special place in my heart for betting on financial markets. It’s my favorite way to gamble, and since the very first time I tried it, I’ve been hooked.
Financial betting offers fun, action, a mental challenge, and potentially unlimited profits. If you think the progressive jackpots that some video slots offer are big, read a little bit about some of the biggest financial bets ever made. Some people prefer to call them trades, but I don’t mind calling them bets, because that’s exactly what they are.
I’m going to show you how to bet on and profit from movements in the financial markets here. There are lots of different things you can bet on, and many different strategies you can use to try and make money. I’ll cover the basics here. If you’re a newbie to financial market betting, worry not, I’m here to show you the ropes.
How Do People Make Money Betting on Financial Markets?
You probably already understand that to win a game of poker, you need to make the best hand. To win a slots jackpot, you need to land the right combination of symbols. But how do you make money from seemingly random movements in the prices of financial assets around the world?
You make money by correctly predicting the direction a price is going to move. For example, if you bet that the price of Apple Inc.’s stock will be higher at the end of the month than it is today and you’re correct, you’ll make money.
There are a number of ways to make these bets and with their own pros and cons. I’ll cover more about them in a later section. For now, I just wanted to clarify that the essence of making money in financial betting is correctly predicting price direction.
It’s a little bit like a game of heads or tails but on steroids. It’s a little more complicated, too!
What Kind of Things Can I Bet On?
The term “financial markets” includes stocks, currencies, metals, commodities, and indices. In case that sounds like Double Dutch to you, I’ll break them down one by one and explain what they are.
- Stocks – These are individual shares of companies like Apple, Microsoft, Exxon Mobil, Tesla, etc. If the company itself is a cake, stocks are slices of cake. You don’t have to actually own them to make money betting on their price direction.
- Currencies – From the mighty USD to the Japanese yen, almost every country has its own currency. Exchange rates are in constant fluctuation, and currency traders make money 24/7 by exchanging them at the right time. You can also bet on which currencies will strengthen and weaken against others. These days, people also bet on cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
- Metals – Gold, silver, platinum, and other metals fall into this category. You don’t have to buy a gold brick and keep it in your safe to make money on gold, although you can if you want. All you have to do is bet on gold’s price direction.
- Commodities – Everything from coffee beans and cotton to pork bellies and crude oil is classified as a commodity. Since these are traded on the open market, prices naturally fluctuate. You can bet on the price direction of commodities for healthy profits.
- Indices – It’s helpful to use an analogy to explain what indices are. If stocks are football teams, indices are leagues. From the New York Stock Exchange to the S&P 500, you can get on whether an index will move up or down.
There are lots of other exotic financial assets and instruments you can bet on, but these are the main ones, and if you’re a beginner, I wouldn’t recommend straying outside of them. In fact, as a beginner, I’d stick with stocks, indices, and currencies.
So, how do you bet on these things? Is it just like placing a wager on your favorite football team? Not quite, but it’s not that different either. It takes a little time to wrap your head around the different ways to bet on financial markets, but if you understand card games and sports betting, you’re capable of getting the hang of it in no time at all. Let’s look at how to bet on financial markets now.
How to Bet on Financial Markets
Financial trading firms are a lot like casinos. They’re always dreaming up new ways to get you to spend money with them. Hey, I don’t blame them. It’s their job to do that, but the truth is, most of them are unnecessary and far too complicated for everyday gamblers like you and me.
In order to make all the money you want in financial markets, you only need to know how to bet in three different ways. I’ll explain how these work one by one.
(1) Buy the Asset and Sell It Later
This is the simplest way to do things. You can walk down to the pawn shop and buy an ounce of gold, log onto your cryptocurrency exchange account and purchase a Bitcoin, or call your broker and buy some shares on Facebook.
This is a perfectly legitimate way to make bets on financial assets. It comes with the benefit that you actually own the asset and can keep it for as long as you see fit. Even if gold plunges the day after you buy a brick, it doesn’t matter as long as you can hold it until it recovers again. You could hang onto gold for 30 years, and it would be just as good then as it is now.
The main downside of doing things this way is that it is expensive to buy large enough quantities to make a big profit.
If you drop $1,000 on Facebook shares and they increase 10%, you’ve only made $100. That’s not that exciting to risk-taking gamblers like us who can watch our money grow 10x in 10 seconds on a slot machine.
The other downside is that you can only make money in one direction, when the price increases. As you’ll see below, other ways of betting on financials allow you to make money on price drops. Yes, you can sit back and grin like the Cheshire Cat with a growing pile of dollar bills as everyone panic and tries to offload everything they’ve got. Don’t feel bad about it, either! This is the financial game, and they don’t feel bad for the sucker they’re trying to sell to as it plummets, do they? But I digress…
I personally don’t have a million dollars to play with on the stock market, but if you do, more power to you. Maybe buying and selling the assets themselves is a good way for you to get in on the action of financial markets.
(2) Bet at Online Bookmakers
There are plenty of online bookmakers that offer financial betting. These are often easier for beginners to use because it works a lot like sports betting. You’ll be given odds that a certain asset will be higher/lower on a given timeframe, and the bet it settled when that timeframe is up.
I used to bet this way because it was easy to understand, and bets would be settled at set times decided by me. I could also limit what I lost to the amount I wagered, which was appealing to the rookie in me who had heard stories of people losing their shirts in the financial markets.
So, why did I stop betting this way? There were a few reasons.
- First, I wanted access to a larger range of markets than most bookmakers offered.
- Second, I realized that I was limiting the amount of money I could make by doing things this way.
- Lastly, I just sort of grew out of it. It’s a legit way to bet on financial assets, but as you gain experience, you’ll probably want to move on to other ways of doing things.
(3) Spread Bet
I saved the best for last. This is my favorite way to bet on financial markets.
However, I need to say up front that it’s difficult for US players to find spread betting sites which will accept them, so if you’re from the US, this probably isn’t the way for you to get in on the great financial game. Take it up with Uncle Sam if that angers you because the spread betting sites would love to have you on board, but their hands are tied by regulations.
To explain how spread betting works, I’m going to give an example. Let’s say that I bet $1 per point on the DJIA stock index stock going up. For every point it moves up, I make $1. For every point it moves down, I lose $1. Eventually, I’ll either hit my stop loss and the trade closes, or I’ll make my target amount of money and walk away with a smile on my face.
For me, this is the most exciting form of gambling on the financial markets because it allows me to use leverage. In our example, I can make as much as $1,000 for every point that the price of the DJIA moves if I have the capital to back that up. I don’t, as it happens, but I can still make $1 for each point it moves, which is exciting when you consider that it often moves by hundreds of points in minutes.
I also like that spread betting gives me the chance to bet on an asset’s price going down in value. Going back to our example above, I could easily make $1 on every point the index falls during a sell-off.
Spread betting is not without its risks, and it’s not for the faint at heart. If you’re intrigued and want to learn more, I wrote a detailed guide to spread betting here.
A Few Tips Before I Sign Off
By now, you should be realizing the potential of betting on financial markets. It’s super exciting, and there are plenty of rags to riches stories to inspire you.
I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and while I’m just a tiny little fish in the vast ocean of the markets, I have learned a thing or two which I would like to share. If you follow these tips for betting on financial markets, you’re more likely to make money in the long run.
- Use Risk Management Tools – You can often use stop losses and instruct betting platforms to automatically close positions when you have lost a predetermined amount. Always use these. Financial markets operate 24/7, and you don’t want to wake up to find you’ve lost your entire bankroll while you were asleep.
- Get an Economic Calendar – Did you know that most countries and major corporations regularly announce economic and financial news which can impact markets and prices? There are announcements coming out all the time. One common one would be quarterly company earnings. Watch and learn how they impact the markets for a while. You’ll soon figure out how to play these announcements to your advantage.
- Study, Buddy – Just like you had to learn the house edge of your favorite casino games and the strategies to maximize your chances of winning, you’ll have to do the same here. I personally find financial markets fascinating. You’ll need to have that natural interest to have a chance at winning this game.
I know I’ve covered a lot of ground today. If you’re feeling lost, go back and read it over again. In fact, bookmark it and come back, and read it over and over until you feel familiar with it. I always advise you to place some small bets as soon as you feel you have a grip on the basics. After all, the best way to learn is by doing. Good luck out there!