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Esports Betting Tips

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So you want to bet on esports, eh? Maybe you’re a fan of the games looking to put your knowledge to use in making a little side cash. Or maybe you already have some experience as a bettor, and you’re looking to add an edge to your game. Whatever the case, we have esports betting tips that can help anyone improve their returns.

If you’re completely new to esports, i.e., you don’t know a Dota from a DPS, you might want to take a quick detour over to our Guide to Esports for beginners. This will teach you how the whole scene works from the ground up.

Otherwise, continue on to discover esports betting tips that cover your full range of wagering options, ways to analyze matches, betting strategies, and more!

The Main Esports Options to Bet On

You’ll see some hot debate out there over whether certain particular games should be considered “esports.” There isn’t really one hard-and-fast rule, but generally, a game has safely made it as an esport if it has a major professional league of some sort that engages in international competition.

Of course, sportsbooks are free to take action on anything they like, but they’ll usually stick to the games that meet the criteria of having a significant international professional league. Games that meet this description and that have proven to have long-term staying power include:

  • Dota 2
  • League of Legends
  • CS:GO (Counter-Strike)
  • StarCraft
  • Overwatch
  • NBA 2K
  • NFL 2K

The structure of most of these professional esports is to have a series of tournaments, invitationals, and “majors” (competitions sponsored by the game’s publisher) that run throughout the year. Esports competitors qualify for these either by direct invitation or by winning some sort of qualifier round, usually regional in nature. If it’s a major esport, you can usually find betting sites taking action on just about all of these various matches.

Esports Bet Types

Esports betting really isn’t too different from betting on other types of sports. It has a lot of the same bet types: outright winners, moneylines, over/unders, prop bets, and so on. They just have some of their own little wrinkles that are unique to esports.

In this next section of esports betting tips, we’ll take a closer look at the different types of wagering options that are commonly seen.

Moneyline

The moneyline simply means picking one player or another to win. The odds determine the payout if you pick correctly. The favorite is the one with the negative number; the larger that number, the more you have to stake to win back one unit. The underdog has a positive number that basically acts as a multiplier on your bet amount. “American” style moneylines use three digits for each side, while the decimal style (used commonly in Europe) just assigns a direct multiplier to the underdog.

Over/Under

Esports betting sites usually offer quite a few over/under options for each match on things like total number of goals or kills or total number of maps played. Moneylines are often incorporated into these bet types to reflect the more likely possibility.

Point Spreads/Handicap

Esports actually do have point spreads, though they are handled differently in different types of games. For example, the spread might be a certain number of maps won, goals scored, or kills racked up, depending on the game in question.

Prop/Specialist Bets

It’s also common for betting sites to offer lots of prop options. Some examples include whether or not a particular side will win one map or round, whether or not a decider map is played, or which type of hero or avatar will be used the most frequently.

Parlay/Accumulator/System Bets

A parlay bet has you wager a relatively small amount of money to choose multiple “legs,” such as winners of a few different matches. Hit all your legs, and you get a large amount in return. There are some bet variants that allow you to only hit some of your chosen legs and still win money.

Live/In-Play Betting Markets

Rather than a specific bet type, a live betting market is more of a unique wagering platform. It allows new wagers to be created and offered while matches are going on. The types of wagers offered are similar to the ones listed above, but you have the opportunity to watch some of the match first to get a sense of the flow of things. Though this is too complicated to cover adequately here, it also creates the possibility of trading positions with other players in such a way that you can’t possibly take a loss.

Teams and Rosters

Esports Teams

It’s vital for esports bettors to keep up with team rosters. Personnel changes can have dramatic effects on a team’s performance, and it’s also very important to know the role of each position and how it lines up with positions on the opposing side.

A good place to start is with team rankings. As with other sports, quite a few outlets do “power rankings” for the top teams (among various other esports betting tips). For example, ESPN does weekly power ranking updates for League of Legends. You’ll want to bookmark the best sources and browse them to get an idea of where each team currently stands.

Power rankings aren’t always enough, though. They can be as much as a week or two out of date. It’s important to keep up with good news sites for your games of choice as well. If there are roster changes, you want to know about them ASAP. A change of players can make everything different in an instant. And unexpected player changes happen all the time – due to surprise defections to other teams, due to retirements, due to burnout and a need for a break, and sometimes due to a player just plain acting like a fool in a match and getting suspended.

Doing Your Due Diligence: Match Analysis

Once you are familiar with teams and rosters, it’s possible to analyze head-to-head matches. This is where you can really put all that information from various esports betting tips to good use.

Looking at head-to-head history is a helpful place to start. Naturally, rosters change over time, and even the best players can decline in skill, so match histories do have some natural limits to their use. However, team and coaching strategies often remain fairly stable for years at a time. So a high-level match from two or three years ago could very well end up playing out in a very similar way even if some of the team pieces have since changed.

Of course, you don’t have to do all of this work on your own. Plenty of professional analysis is available to help you in betting on esports, including expert breakdowns of big matches at this very site!

If you want to get into the really complex stuff, you can look into various methods of advanced mathematical “fancy stats” analysis. Some of these methods literally require an advanced degree to adequately understand, but there are also all sorts of experts out there who like to break things down for a broader audience. Some examples of advanced match analysis techniques include encounter detection, machine learning techniques, and performance index algorithms. This kind of thing basically represents the ultimate level of esports betting tips.

A Word on Betting Systems

Most “betting systems” don’t work over the long run. The usual pattern with them is that they may deliver some small early wins, enough to make you think they’re legitimate. The problem comes when you take an inevitable string of losses. Any betting system that calls for you to keep increasing your bets when you lose will eventually lead to ruin.

That said, there are some valid betting strategies that are mathematically sound and have been proven to work. It’s important to note that these are complicated and easy to mess up, however – explaining them in detail is going to be beyond the scope of this article. But if you’re interested, we’ll provide some basic information that you can use as a starting point.

Arbitrage

Arbitrage is a way to ensure a profit by placing two different bets with two different sportsbooks, one on each side of an esports match. This does work to guarantee a relatively small win every time, but it requires getting a combination of odds that might only be available for a limited amount of time.

There is an added layer of risk to arbitrage in the fact that betting sites really don’t like it and usually have a policy forbidding it. If they suspect you’re placing arbitrage bets, they could cancel one end without warning or even suspend your account. Since arbitrage usually involves laying a fairly large wager on the favorite, this could leave you vulnerable to a big loss. There are people out there making esports arbitrage work for them, but it requires a lot of learning and discipline as well as a big bankroll.

Poisson Distribution

Poisson distribution is an established and proven statistical technique that can be applied to all types of sports betting, including esports. The basic gist of it is that you can track how many times something occurs and then create an estimate of how many times it will occur in the future.

The simplest example of a Poisson application is to predict an over/under or prop bet on how many times something will happen, such as the number of goals scored or number of kills in a match. It’s possible to apply this method to a number of different metrics and create an average that helps you to determine the probability of an outright winner…that is, if you’re really good at this and really confident in your analysis!

Bayesian Analysis

Bayesian analysis is a method for determining how likely one thing is to happen if another thing happens. It’s very complicated, but to simplify it as much as possible, you’re basically trying to break down a match into a bunch of different discrete elements and assign probability to them based on the best available knowledge (like past performance in the same situation). The analysis then combines all of these probabilities to come up with a set of even more accurate predictions.

This is the basic technique that underpins Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, the company that put up an impressive prediction track record of betting tips in baseball and elections and helped to promote the use of sabermetrics in all sorts of different fields. The difficult thing about it is assigning accurate values to each of the elements of a match that you’re plugging in. It’s a very interesting approach for esports, though, as esports generates much more raw and directly measurable data than other types of sports due to its entirely computer-based nature.

Building and Maintaining a Bankroll

Your “bankroll” is simply the amount of money you set aside for esports betting.

How complicated this is depends on how heavy your betting activity is going to be. If you just want to place a bet on a big match here and there, maintaining a bankroll is as simple as setting aside some money you can afford to lose and not exceeding that amount.

Some people want to chase the dream of being a full-time esports bettor and making a living off their hobby, however. If that sounds closer to your plans, then you need to manage and nurture your bankroll more carefully.

The first thing to do is keep your bankroll entirely separate from the rest of your funds. In some cases, this is just a matter of disciplined accounting, particularly if you want to use multiple methods (such as credit cards) to fund your online betting accounts. Some people find it helpful to actually physically separate their bankroll into an e-wallet account or even a new bank account.

Expert esports betting tips will shower you with all sorts of different and detailed advice on how to manage a bankroll over the long run, and much of it is worth listening to. If you’re just starting out and carefully nurturing a relatively small bankroll, however, there are some basic and conservative principles that it is wise to stick to.

For example, if you plan to bet multiple matches in a single session, it’s usually best to stick to “flat betting.” That means you pick a fixed bet amount and stick to it for each match. That causes your risk to be distributed evenly, which means less chance of taking a big soaking.

The rule of 5/2/1 is also a good one to consider. This means that you never wager more than 5% of your bankroll on favorites or relatively even matches, 2% on modest underdogs, and 1% on long shots.

The Best in Esports Betting Tips

Hopefully these general esports betting tips have helped you to manage your money better and feel more confident in evaluating the value of the various bets you see out there. Check back in with us regularly for even more useful information, such as analysis of upcoming matches and detail-packed feature articles!