Live betting is the hottest trend in all of sports, but it’s particularly interesting for esports bettors. Winning esports bettors thrive on their superior knowledge of games and methods of analysis, often doing a better job of all this than the oddsmakers at the betting sites.
Live betting opens up even more opportunities for the savvy esports bettor to consistently bring home the bacon. And even if you’re not all that serious about it, it makes it more fun to watch the average match throughout its entire length.
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Why These Are the Best Sites for Live Betting on Esports
The sites we recommend are those that offer the best range of live betting options, have consistently good odds, have good interfaces that make it easy and intuitive to place your bets, and have great extra features like live streaming of matches and score trackers. Some of them also have some great bonus offers that esports bettors can take advantage of!
How Live Esports Betting Works
If you’re totally new to esports betting (or sports betting in general), the traditional model has been to require all bets to be placed prior to the start of a match. Once a game began, you were locked in at the terms and odds you accepted prior to the bet, and no further action was taken.
“In-play” or “live” sports betting first began in the 1990s. It actually started out with local bookmakers, but it also happened to appear just as internet gambling was also starting to really become viable. Bookmakers quickly realized that the internet was the perfect place for live betting, and it was one of the main factors in helping to drive an explosion of interest in online sports betting.
By the time serious action started to be taken on esports, live betting was already well established. So esports bettors have come up with live options always available to them, and it has become a fundamental tool for serious players looking to keep their bankroll healthy.
So how does live betting on esports work? To simplify it as much as possible, it’s a set of wagers that become available after the start of the match. These wagers are often arranged by match or by period.
Here’s a direct example. Let’s say there’s a Dota 2 tournament match you really want to wager on, and it’ll be a best-of-5 match. Just about all betting sites will have the standard array of bet types available before the match starts: pick the outright winner, pick over/unders on kills, take prop bets on things like the most frequently-used hero, and so on.
A live betting site will take action before the match but will also offer a new set of these bets in between each game. The odds will be adjusted depending on how the teams or players performed in the earlier stages of the match. If you made a bet before the match, you’re still locked into those terms, but you’re free to make another bet at the new odds if you’re feeling more (or less) confident about the results after seeing some of the early play.
The main factor in how frequently new live bets are offered (or odds are shifted) is how long of a natural break there is in the action. Esports usually have some sort of match or period structure that allows for natural breaks in between them that are adequate to update the lines.
Live betting options can potentially update during the action of a period or match, however. It all depends on how technologically advanced the betting site is and how comfortable they are with adjusting odds on short notice.
Live Esports Betting Models
There are two basic models for live betting on esports: sportsbook and exchange.
When a sportsbook or bookmaker offers live betting, you’re usually playing against them. They’re simply updating their own odds and offers as the match goes on.
An exchange is a different sort of model. This is a type of betting site in which there isn’t an actual bookie. Instead, players are buying into “positions” and competing directly against other players with the opposite position. The betting exchange simply facilitates these transactions and takes a bit of juice from the winning position for their end.
How Live Esports Betting Can Be Advantageous
Esports bettors already enjoy an advantage over most traditional sports bettors. Because esports are relatively new and not as well understood by bookmakers, sharp bettors can regularly find value in a way that is much tougher to do with something like football or basketball.
Live betting amplifies this advantage when playing against a bookmaker or sportsbook. If you’ve identified a bookmaker that already seems to be shaky on their esports knowledge, the added pressure of updating odds quickly usually isn’t going to help them.
It can also work to your advantage on exchange sites as well, so long as there are plenty of less knowledgeable bettors taking the less feasible positions. Of course, there are also sharks in these waters to watch out for, especially if you’re relatively new to esports betting.
Another big advantage is the ability to quickly capitalize on individual match developments. Here’s another example. Let’s say you’re watching an Overwatch match, and you notice one of the elite players hurling inappropriate taunts at opponents. You’re certain the things coming out of his mouth are suspendable offenses. Being able to act on information like that before the lines do can be very lucrative.
Overreactions among other bettors during play are also an exploitable facet of live betting. People have a natural tendency to assume that temporary trends are going to continue for the rest of the match.
For example, say you’re betting on a League of Legends tournament, and an underdog team comes out hot. A lot of people will pile on the hot team just based on their early performance, even though it’s quite likely the better team will re-assert themselves and end up winning the match.
Tips for Live Betting on Esports
We touched on the general ability to capitalize on new developments and betting trends during play. In this section, we’ll go into more detail with specific esports betting tips.
Don’t Go from Zero to Live Betting
Since you have to make decisions so quickly and since live betting menus are full of all sorts of different numbers, it is really not the best place for brand-new esports bettors to begin. You’ll want to be deeply familiar with how odds lines are read and how all the different types of common esports bets work before you jump into live betting, as you’ll have little time to think things over or double-check on points of confusion.
It’s best to place some more traditional pre-match bets at a betting site first. This ensures that you’re familiar with how all the lines work and also that you won’t get confused by the betting interface in the heat of the moment.
Live betting on esports creates a lot of unique opportunities, but this also means that it’s easy to get carried away and overextend yourself.
If you’re new to all this, you can find some great beginner’s advice for bankroll management at our esports betting page. Advanced bankroll management is too big of a topic to cover here, but a good basic rule of thumb is to follow a “5/2/1” rule when betting on esports.
That means no more than 5% of your bankroll on a wager that appears to be a strong possibility, 2% on the wagers that are more even, and 1% on long shots. This philosophy is especially helpful in live betting as it keeps you to reasonable and fixed amounts even if a few enticing possibilities pop up during the course of the match.
Focus on One Game
One of the big advantages to live betting is catching things that bookies or other bettors haven’t responded to yet. That means focusing your attention on a single match. If you’re flipping between a bunch of different matches, you’re going to be one of the slow-reactors that the sharp bettors are taking advantage of!
Learn to Exploit Common Betting Reactions
This is a huge topic unto itself, but here’s one good concrete example. When a player or team goes up a certain amount early in the match, it usually causes a swift and significant shift in the lines. It’s very often a sound bet to put money on the underdog at this point.
The underdog is no more likely to win at this point, of course, but the amount that the line shifted due to the knee-jerk reaction can make this a wager with overall positive expected value much of the time.
Should You Arb?
Arbitrage (“arbing”) is the practice of scouring the betting lines to find bets on opposite sides of a match that create a situation where you are guaranteed a small profit if you bet both of them. While that may sound very good, and while live betting is the ideal place to look for such opportunities to open up, be aware that it is very risky.
You usually have to engage a large amount on the favorite side of the bet just to make a small overall profit. If something goes wrong – say, for example, the sportsbook suspects you of arbing and cancels your smaller bet on the other side of it at the last minute – you could stand to lose a lot of money.
Live Esports Betting: The Risks and Rewards
Live betting on esports is exciting and opens up a whole new world of possibility. However, it is also fast-paced and challenging. It’s better for beginners to get familiar with more traditional esports wagers and get comfortable with all the other aspects of online gambling before they jump into the live betting waters. Once you get a handle on it all, you can find a lot of opportunity and value that you’ll never see anywhere else!