Among the coolest experiences a human being can have is discovering what all the fuss is about something, or someone.
For instance, for a long time I didn’t understand why Stevie Wonder was so popular because I had never heard his work from the 1970s. All it takes is a viddy of the video for “Just Enough for the City” with Stevie launching into harmonies so deep that even the backup singers look stunned. Ah ha! Now I get it. Sorry about that misunderstanding, Mr. Wonder.
I’ve been going through the same thing with tennis gambling, which is such a cash cow for online sports betting sites that bookmakers go out of their way to offer live odds and “specials” on the most obscure and poorly-attended racquet battles on tour.
People tend to gamble on the sports they play, or at least on those that they see most-often on the TV monitors at Buffalo Wild Wings. Tennis isn’t close to our #1 spectator sport and it isn’t the fad it used to be hobby athletes, but it sure attracts a lot of Vegas and London action.
Tennis was a huge deal in America from the 1960s through the 1990s, but many of its adherents moved on to playing golf – which led to hilarious outcomes on the links. If you work very hard you can usually develop a decent backhand volley, but golf is a mystical pursuit in which rookies can flourish while grizzled veterans hack it around despite decades of practice. “How can I break 90?” new golfers fresh from tennis clubs asked. “How should I know, I’ve been trying for 20 years,” said their friends.
The lure of gambling can revive support for any sport, and it doesn’t really matter how many people still play tennis for a hobby as opposed to golf or fly fishing. ATP and WTA pros still play tennis, and state-side speculators love to wager on them.
Let’s serve-up just a few of the reasons why.
Tennis Wagering Online: Grand Slams at the Denny’s Hour
The Sport of Kings benefits in Las Vegas from a kingly calendar of Grand Slams that mostly progress at AM hours in the United States. The Australian Open’s clock is so different from those in Los Angeles that SoCal fans can catch some of the morning matches live in prime-time.
Sports betting’s greatest boon is the groundswell of interest in overseas sports. There are many gamblers from whom prime-time events are inconvenient TV watching, or who prefer to live-gamble at a certain time of night to help regulate their habit and manage a bankroll. When the NFL, NBA and NHL are all finished on a winter’s night, the events in Europe and Asia are the only girl in town.
But tennis bookies don’t just hog the sportsbook with low-key markets overnight. Many of the game’s biggest events happen overseas and thus overnight. European hockey might be criminally underrated compared to the NHL, but ice hockey bettors can still scratch the itch at 7 PM when the Chicago Blackhawks are facing-off. When the Grand Slam cycle heads overseas for 3 out of 4 major tennis tournaments per season, fans must simply wait for Roger Federer and Serena Williams to appear along with coffee and No-Doz.
Thankfully it’s a pleasure to gamble on tennis while feeling a little sleepy. The game itself can feel a little bit sleepy (in a good way) with its hypnotic sounds and rhythmic voice-overs broken up only by a smattering of cheers and applause every so often.
We’ll focus on the “relaxation” element in a little bit – the next reason tennis is a popular late-night gambling sport flies 100% in the face of the above.
Combat on the Court
Tennis is among the simplest competitions to gamble on, at least when it comes to markets on the individual matches. There is no possibility of a draw, and the only “overtime” comes when tiebreakers occur at the end of games or sets. The 2 players face each other mano-a-mano or Venus-vs-Venus…or at least occasionally Venus vs Serena.
Rather than wade through a field of golfers, runners, or potential winning goal-scorers on a prop betting sheet, the bettor must simply decide who she thinks will win the head-to-head showdown.
You can also argue that tennis is the fairest of all games. Analysts have accused NHL hockey of being a sport based in “luck” while championing NBA basketball as a contest of skill. However, they’re using a model that values superstar minutes and shot-attempts over other factors. In other words, basketball is less of a crapshoot because the best handful of athletes are usually in the game.
I prefer a “sample-size” model of determining which sports are fairest. NBA and NHL finalists play each other up to 7 times, making the playoff systems about equally fair. Golfers play 1 or 4 rounds at a time against each other, making results on the links a little more subject to random chance.
Tennis matches provide a gigantic sample-size of outcomes. It’s hard for an inferior player to win a game (a “game” as defined rallies/points adding up to Love-15-30-40 and Game Point) let alone a match against Serena Williams, so consider just how lucky a player would have to be to not match Mika’s skills or power at all and still somehow prevail in 2 sets or 3.
Not only is singles-tennis a simple game of combat – it’s also quite easy to follow even if you can’t stare at it the entire time.
I’ll publish smarmy subheaders to my dying day, but I should note that the onomatopoeia “ka-nip, ka-nop” is more often used in reference to ping-pong, or at least old-school tennis from 50 years ago.
The soundtrack of modern Grand Slams is closer to “ka – nip – ugh! – ka – nop – whoo! – (insert crowd groans, cheers, laughter, or post-rally cat calls here).”
Competitors fight to “break” each other’s alternating serves during a set, and without watching, you can listen for the distinctive crack of a serve to begin each rally between the players. If the serve grazes the net but still drops in, “Let!” will be the official’s call – otherwise the sound of the serve plus the net or no return-service means that the 1st try missed the mark. A 2nd-serve is likely to be less-aggressive and portend a long rally, and if you’re closing your eyes in an easy chair you can still count racquet-impacts and know whether your player is the “odds” or “evens.”
The appreciative cheering or disappointed groaning of the live crowd should also let you know who has won the point – except when someone makes an unforced error with a majority cheering for their opponent. In that case, cheers tend to break out even though the point ended with a mistake.
Some early-round ATP or WTA battles are very thinly-attended, however. That’s when memorizing the easy-to-learn scoring system and official announcements after each point comes in handy.
None of this to say you won’t want to watch a tennis match you’ve gambled on, but who needs to stare at every point? Much like Major League Baseball, the viewing – and rooting – experience can be worked into an evening (or a morning) without having to detract from other things.
Just make sure to know when Game Point or Set Point is looming close. Nobody wants to miss the crucial moments leading to a bet’s outcome…unless they fall asleep to the sound of forehands.
Tips for Tennis Futures and Moneyline Betting
I’m a fan of betting half-unit (or half-measured) tennis units on futures prior to the all-consuming “draw” of a Grand Slam tournament.
If I’ve got Angelique Kerber at 10-to-1 and an easy draw shrinks her line closer to 5-to-1, I’ve still got just about as profitable of a payoff promise if she wins with exactly half of the risked dollars. If she suffers an unlucky draw and moves to (+1500), I’ve still got another half-unit I can put down on the longer line with an even fatter payoff on a victory.
But you came here because you’re gambling on random late-night tour matches, not necessarily on the Wimbledon money rounds. I should be expected to provide at least 1 on-topic betting tip.
Live-betting favorites on the moneyline during the 1st or 2nd set of a tennis match is surprisingly low-risk compared to other in-play adventures, provided that your player has a legitimate athletic or shot-making advantage on the count.
When Serena Williams goes up 4 games to Love in the opening set, the sportsbook is still obligated to put some type of line on her opponent to come back, often helping Mika’s odds from shrinking into the microscopic. (-1000) isn’t a bad gamble for the high-roller when a premier player is still warming-up and ready to beat down an also-ran on grass or clay.
However, be careful of Men’s Singles matches where a 5-set format often gives losing players a chance to figure out what’s wrong, adjust, and come storming back in the final hours of a showdown.
Women’s matches are a maximum of 3 sets, meaning that once an underdog begins slipping behind in games-won it’s extremely hard to turn everything around in 30 or 45 minutes…as if often necessary to prevent a dynamic tour pro from putting nails in the coffin.
Last but not least, when other sports have run dry on the betting-and-streaming pages of the internet, there’s always the option of turning to an Asian tennis match, watching for a few minutes, and placing a live wager based on “I like the looks of that guy.”
Maybe it’s not the finest betting system in the world. But I’ve seen worse.