At the end of 2019 nobody expected, that in next couple of months all leagues will be shut down. Sports betting is a huge business now, we all know that. No matter if you bet for fun or professionally, shutting down all leagues would be a nightmare for most bettors all over the World. And this is exactly what happened in the first part of 2020 because of COVID-19. Biggest sports markets were shut down and most bettors stop betting or turned to online poker or even gambling.

The most popular events to bet on are still “sports” events. Which makes sense, once you understand how betting market works. If you are a bookmaker and you want to make money, you need three things: running events, people who are emotionally involved and the edge that you create for yourself (margins/juice). The big pool of sports, leagues and their fans is perfect for that. We have a lot of sports fans (mostly men), who love sports and they somehow create false feeling that they know sport, which will help them to make money when they make bets. So it is perfect formula for bookmakers. There is a lot of sports, there is a lot of sports fans and even a lot of betting communities, who gather a lot of people. The only thing needed for bookmakers is that money is rolling. Because of commission, they win.

I hope that we all understand this now.

If there would be something else, that is much more popular than traditional sports, where we could gather people, who would place money, get involved, we would probably bet something else. It could be trees growing, reality shows, even porn movies or whatever is popular. More people involved, more money turned around, more profit for bookmakers.

And so far, the best market was sports market. You can easily gather a lot of people who love sports and at the same time you give them false illusion that betting is about sports, not about numbers and investing. With this they did a very smart job to turn whole sports communities into “illusional investors” who place a lot of money on sports events, where at the same time they have no clue about probabilities, odds, market,… And this is the game, where they will always win. This can be easily visible anywhere. Just check any betting community, where everyone wants to share picks, have an opinion about the game, about players, about sports,… but not much knowledge about betting basics and betting market.

Sports betting has very little to do with the sport alone. Sport is just the “tool” taken from bookmakers, because they know they can easily gather a lot of people, who will emotionally put a lot of money.

Betting, where the motivation is money has almost nothing to do with the sports alone and here is why

If you want to win at sports betting you must outsmart the market. I hope we agree with that. I also didn’t discover hot water here, but from time to time it is ok to remind ourselves what we are doing. Bookmakers offer the odds, which are nothing else, than probabilities turned into the numbers and this is the price we pay – you pay. And to win, we must pay “better” prices than the rest. The same principle is everywhere when we want to make money. Either you buy stocks, you must buy them low and sell them high, or you buy coca cola for $0.70 and sell it in your restaurant for $2.50. Making money in such kind of business is always about these prices and how you estimate them, plus compare them with market and then execute.

Everything else is either gambling (that will not work for most people) or sports fans, who will end up with negative lifetime balance. Unfortunately.

And because of this problem – not understanding the difference between betting and sports (fans), many bettors had big problems during COVID-19, because they thought that they don’t know how to bet anything else, where in fact if you don’t have the edge, if you don’t look at betting as investing you would end with negative balance anyway (if you make enough bets, when the noise settle down), no matter if you bet on your favourite football league, baseball, esports or even on reality show or trees growing. With no edge, with no numbers, with no estimating odds results will regress to the mean and this is where bookmakers win because of margins.

So the problem is that most bettors are basically not bettors, but sports fans. They are emotionally connected to “their” sports/leagues and this is what bookmakers love.

But the World is changing. New things are coming. We don’t know exactly what the future will bring. Viruses, wars, new generation, that likes more playing video games, than playing ball outside… and in the future bookmakers will also adjust their game.

If we understand that the only thing bookmakers need is a lot of people that are emotionally involved, they can switch from sport to reality shows (for example) at anytime, if they will see that this will generate more bets and turnover. I am not saying this will happen soon, because sports is not going anywhere yet, but it is very important to understand, that the only thing they need are bettors who are willing to bet their money. No matter if this is on sport, trees growing, porn movies or anything else. Because every time you bet, they take commission, no matter if you win or lose that bet. Because of margins they have unfair advantage. And the more people bet, the more commission they take.

Bettor vs Sports Fan

True bettor (investor) will always adjust. Because sport fan is emotionally involved to his sport, his league or his team. I constantly get the emails like… I like to bet soccer. I like to bet basketball. I played basketball when I was young…

It doesn’t matter. I am bettor. I am not interested in sports talk. If playing football would be correlated to betting quality, then Leo Messi and Ronaldo will be the best sports handicappers in the World in next few years. Successful betting has almost nothing to do with sports. Sports is like a whore used by bookmakers, so they can build what they need and exactly what I am talking here.

Once this is clear in your mind, you have a chance to win at betting. No matter if sports betting or booboolu betting, whatever this is. It is still betting and the concept is the same.

Most “sports bettors” talks, forums, chat groups, facebook groups,… has nothing to do with betting. Let’s be honest about this. This is all more sports talk. Sports fans talk about players, about excitement, about coaches,… professional bettors always talk about the numbers and the value. This is the key difference.

The real question is – is your motivation fun or profit?

If the motivation is profit, then your only three questions are:

  • what is the market price
  • how do I calculate my price, so I can compare it with the market
  • how do I find the value (+EV = money)

The bettor or investor if you like, whose motivation is money will try to do exactly this. The motivation is intellectual challenge, where you want to outsmart the market and take your piece of cake. Whether it is football, tennis or betting on growing trees.

The concept for true bettor is basically the same. Bookmakers will offer the odds (prices), then you must somehow estimate your own prices and invest, where you think you have +EV.

And we basically saw big struggle during COVID, because most people who thought they are bettors, they simply turned back to fans. There was no sports. And if you don’t focus on betting (money, investing, analysing, using statistics, finding +EV, beating closing line value,…) your only thing (sport) was simply not there.

On the other side, some bettors who are here for the money game, not for the game or the sport they love, started to adjust. If your motivation is money, if your motivation is how to find the value and how to outsmart the market, where you take your piece of cake, then it is basically irrelevant what events will be offered. Sport, porn movies, reality shows, growing trees, drinking alcohol competition,…. We just need to take information, analyse information, analyse market, compare with market price, find the value and invest smartly small pieces of our bankroll.

This is the difference between betting, sports betting and sports alone. Sports component is the least important for a bettor. It is just one pool where we take the information. It could be anything. It could be any competition with two or more possible outcomes.

Betting on eSports new big thing?

And here we come to eSports, which is maybe the only “sport” that benefited during pandemic 2020.

Esports is a form of sport competition using video games. In other words, we have teams (players) who play video games and these events are placed on betting market, where we can bet.

Newzo estimate that the global esports market will generate revenues of $1,059.3 million in 2020

Anyone who follow new trends will agree that this could be the next big thing. Younger generations are heavily connected to video games and whole communities are build around that. Twitch, social media, video games,…

Isn’t this something that bookmakers need and will offer more and more? 

Exactly! A lot of people with the same interest, a lot of fun, excitement, where emotions are involved. In the article (Pshychologytoday) about esports Patrick Markey explains that: “… video gaming raises dopamine levels in the brain to about the same degree that eating a slice of pepperoni pizza or dish of ice cream does (without the calories). That is, it raises dopamine to roughly double its normal resting level, whereas drugs like heroin, cocaine, or amphetamine raise dopamine by roughly 10 times that much.”

From the article “What is eSports and why do people watch it?” by Juho Hamari: “People who watch others play online are an attractive audience to marketing professionals. They tend to be younger and intellectually motivated, demonstrating an excitement for learning through their fandom (Hamari & Sjöblom, 2017). They are also active on social media platforms (Sjöblom, Hassan, Macey, Törhönen, & Hamari, 2018)”

Our members introduced eSports to me 2-3 years ago

I am pretty sure, that eSports has a bright future and during COVID bookmakers started to promote it big time. Many bettors started to bet on it and I decided to dig deeper into this thing too.

I was introduced to eSports probably 2-3 years ago, but because I have only 24 hours per day, I didn’t have time to learn about that back then. But in 2020, because of COVID situation, when all sports and leagues were shut down, I decided to start researching it and decided to create my own betting model, where I will get my probabilities of the outcomes. Independently from bookmakers calculated numbers. With this I can find the value.

I didn’t panic much, because baseball was shut down (my favourite sport to bet, because I had the most success in the past). I knew that betting is not about sport, but about your ability to find the value. Things will change in the future, or maybe they will not – it doesn’t really matter, but the concept in profitable betting is the same for all bettors.

First step – learning basic

I am always amazed, when I see people blindly following some handicappers (even me) on social media, when at the same time they have no idea about handicappers work, handicappers strategy and even worse – about the sport, the numbers and the value. But this is how it is. I am not here to say what to do, I will just try to explain what and how I do it.

I knew that eSports will be a big thing in the future and during Covid-19 it was a great chance for me to learn about it. So, first I asked some of our members, who are following eSports for some time, to give me some advice where to start. I wanted to learn first about the sport. Are there any leagues? Teams? Can we watch the games, so I can get the feeling.

At the same time (and this was even more important for me) I researched what market offers. What kind of eSports events they offer.

So I found that most popular leagues are:

  • DOTA
  • League of Legends
  • Counter Strike – Global Offensive (csgo betting)

Look for information and the stats

These three leagues are most popular and I found that we have basically teams, players who are paid pretty decent amount of money (Johan “N0tail” Sundstein – $6.9 million (Dota 2)). The teams have players, lineups, there is a lot of money involved, we have fans, we have people who watch this, their players are stars, there are even some trades or players changes,… a lot of similarities with our traditional sports and leagues.

So, what I needed next is to find information and stats.

I can not even imagine betting without getting my numbers first and then comparing with bookmakers numbers. How can you sell coca cola for $2.50 if you don’t know if you will get it for lower price? You must know that you will get coca cola for $0.70 and then you can sell it for $2.50. If you can not do this, you will make a loss. When it comes to coca cola, you can just call suppliers and they will tell you this price, but in sports betting you must estimate for yourself (or if you have someone who will do it for you – not picks, I hope we know the difference). But you must come somehow with your price. For successful betting (or any other money making) we always need 2 numbers (to compare).

So, I researched the sites and the stats from all three sports (if I can name them sports). I found that the best organised stats and information was about CSGO (counter strike) on the site HTLV.

They have pretty cool organised stats, rankings, results and I decided that I will focus on this league. Such thing always take time, learning, testing, trial and errors. Most people who don’t bet, have no idea how much time and effort is put in successful betting in the past. But without this, we can not expect any profit.

Building a statistical esports betting model

The next step was to build a model, where I would get my numbers, so I can compare with bookmakers numbers. And this is how I find the value, which is the only logical way to place any money.

There is many betting models or systems out there and no model is perfect. We all know that. But the good thing is that betting is a relative skill compared to the market. And this market is full of sports fans, that are emotionally involved, who make a lot of irrational decisions, that are not based on any analysis or numbers. This is where small % of profitable bettors have the chance.

I use pretty simple statistical methods for my betting, which worked for me in the past and hopefully it will work for me in the future too.

The first thing I needed was to organise the stats. Despite we have some nice information there, it is still not perfect. We must not forget, that eSports is pretty new thing and that more and better information will come in the future for sure. But right now, we must operate with the information that are available.

So, I decided to create all teams with lineups and players stats and then use simple logistic regression.

And the rest is turning these information into probabilities, which gave me directly my estimated odds.

All my models, where we bet on moneylines are made so, that I get my probabilities and then I use adjusted kelly criterion to find enough big discrepancy between my numbers and bookmakers numbers. Based on this I also decide if I bet bigger or lower unit.

If we look at the sheet above you can see:

  • Win % – this is my estimated win%
  • My odds – simply turning win% into the odds (1/win%)
  • Bookie odds – I test all my models against sharp bookmaker (Pinnacle)
  • Qualified or better – this is the last price (odds) where my bet is qualified
  • Value/AdjkValue – I set the criterium at 1.50 (if I get adjk 1.50 or more – then this is qualified bet. If not, then it is not qualified)

And above we have the results so far. I waited to reach at least 100 qualified bets (after analysing hundreds of games) to write this report.

Dirty Job

The next thing was something I call a dirty job. There is many smart bettors and many smart betting theorists who I deeply respect. Many of them are very smart and much smarter than me. In fact I think I am just an average guy and this maybe the reason, why many bettors can identify with me, because I try to explain things on a dumb way. So, I don’t want to compare my work with other people’s work, because definitely there are better, smarter and more intelligent bettors than me. Some of them I even know.

But not everyone is willing to do the dirty job. We can talk about betting theory, about betting models, about backtesting, … but what I do is to test (and bet) real time and publicly show this. Wake up, check the odds, do the job. And then next day the same. And the next day the same.

So, I tested my work against pinnacle odds and every day I posted this table with analysis in our members discord channel, FB group and twitter. Some of them were also on my youtube channel.

Opening, Real Time and Closing Odds

I decided to test my model against opening odds, against real time odds and closing odds to see the results. So why is this important.

One of the keys to win at sports betting is to bet early to outsmart the market. The most relevant theory about profitable betting so far says, that if you beat the closing line, you will be a profitable bettor. This is the only thing that matters. Of course we can go into the details about fully efficient markets and not fully efficient markets (which I think eSports still isn’t fully efficient), but I will leave this for another time.

Anyway, tracking those results is a great information to see how much profit you would make if you bet on opening odds, because once you are not follower (or picks subscriber) and if you have betting model (or a method) to find a value, you can bet on opening odds if you are committed enough.

Tracking on real time odds will tell you about your betting habits and it is great to compare how you will do against opening and closing odds in real life and real time, based on your lifestyle and timezone.

And tracking results with closing odds, I wanted to see how would my model do if I would bet on latest odds and this is in many cases good indicator how much money followers lose when they follow other people’s picks.

Flat betting and Adjusted Kelly Criterium Betting (Adjk)

When it comes to analysing games of course sometimes we will find more value and sometimes we will find no value. And in the past I found my way how to find this value with adjusted kelly. I named this adjk and this is my way to calculate where I must bet more or less. For example in my baseball betting, I found the bigger the value, the better yield and better clv (closing line value).

Results: +15.74 units and finding the best discrepancy

The results after 100 bets:

I won with my betting model 46 bets and lost 54.

But as we all know, W-L record is not important for professional bettors. It depends on the average odds you play. Horse racing bettors have constantly W-L record below 50%, 40%,.. and they make a lot of money. So this is not even a conversation for serious bettors anymore.

My average odds was: 2.34 (+134)

So, it makes sense, that the record is below 50%.

The next thing which is interesting is the difference between the profit if I bet on opening odds (+17.24 units) and taken and closing odds.

If you are winning bettor in most cases profit on closing odds will be much lower than on opening or taken odds. Which makes sense. Sharp moves the lines, they take “the best profit” and the rest get the worse price.

The funny thing is that if you would follow picks you would be almost break even, where at the same time I would make +17.24 units or +15.74 units on taken odds.

In other words, if your unit is $100 per game and if you follow picks on late odds, you would make +$63. But if you have a model and if you estimate your odds, plus try to catch early odds (you can if you estimate projections for yourself and not being a follower), then you would make +$1,724. And if we check the flat betting, where we simply ignore the importance of value, the difference is almost 6 units.

These results were based on the discrepancy between my numbers and bookmakers numbers, where I was looking for 1.50 (which will calculate my formula). The bigger the number the bigger the value.

Bigger value – more profit (+27.87 units)

If we understand what was the idea behind it (I estimate my odds, I compare it with bookmakers odds, I find the value and I bet more where I see more value), we can also go deeper and see if I would be more selective, what would be the results.

So I quickly eliminated the bets where there was less discrepancy between my projected odds and bookmakers odds (or if you like where adjk was lower).

The results are even better. So if I would be more selective and if I would look only for bigger discrepancy between my numbers and bookmakers numbers, I would make even more profit.

Positive closing line value

Of course I also tracked closing line value. Based on bookmakers and some other experts that I respect (Joseph Buchdahl) this is the most important indicator whether you are winning or losing bettor. Despite I think esports betting is still not fully efficient market and the bookmakers will also need some time (probably not a lot of time, but still…) to fully adopt to this new and exciting markets, it is ok, that we go trough these numbers here as well.

Closing line value will tell you the difference between your odds and closing odds. If you bet on a team at 2.40 (+140) and then you see that the latest odds were 2.05 (+105) you feel great. And you are completely right. This is a good sign. I will not go into the details here, but this is very important for every serious bettor. And I see more and more bettors who take this information seriously as well as betting models and projection the lines. Which is also ok. Better technology, smarter markets, smarter bettors,…and those who want to survive this game will either learn and adjust or will be forgotten by the market. Unfortunately this is how it is. This is life. This is also betting life.

And definitely closing line value is one of these things, that is more and more popular and more and more important in conversation between bettors.

I saw bettors tracking clv (closing line value) on two ways. First one is simple. You simply compare your odds versus closing odds. It will give good information whether you get better odds and this will give you bigger clv in percentages. I named it CLV.

The second is where you eliminate margins. I tracked it against closing pinnacle odds without margins. It will give you much lower  number and it is much harder to keep positive number. This is where you see that betting is not that easy at all. I sometimes call it for myself expected yeild. This is why I named it xCLV.

But whatever you name your tracking numbers, I always say, how you name terms is not that important. It is much more important, that you know what you track, what you do and how you can improve your betting.

I am satisfied that my closing numbers are positive, but definitely I will try to improve my betting results in eSports in the future.

My personal bets

So, these are the steps, I usually make when I make my first bet. I never look for picks in my life. I rather invested time, money and effort in my knowledge and I always do my best to become better. This is probably a reason, why I have a chance to write this on my site and this is probably the reason, why I took small part of the betting cake in my life too.

There is no crazy betting on something that I don’t understand and there are always steps before I make a first bet. Research the market, research the sport, build a model, that will estimate my odds, so they can be compared to bookmakers odds. All my bets are always on my site here.

It is just the start, but I am very excited about the future of eSports betting.

How to bet CSGO and what I have learned?

eSports is a new (I believe big) thing in betting World. I am not sure if we can name it sport or something else, but at the end of the day for serious bettor this is not important.

We have teams, we have games, where some outcomes “will happen”. These outcomes have some probabilities, that can be calculated on different ways.

Bookmakers have their own way, where they also take into account the behaviour of the market. They offer these prices and we can bet or if I am more precise, we pay the price.

So, our goal is to get our odds and probabilities and compare with theirs. If we find a value, we bet. In other words we need a method. I use my betting model and if you want to learn how to start building a model in google sheets click here for a free course.

I learned couple of things about csgo:

  • The competition is almost every day (at least so far) and the good thing is that we don’t need stadiums, the weather also don’t affect the game, which makes this much easier  in these uncertain times of Covid-19.
  • All trusted and respected bookmakers offer eSports now. They also know that this is big thing and huge market.
  • The market is still soft I believe. There were some nice line movement and I didn’t see yet a betting model for eSports. I am not saying that it doesn’t exists, but at least I didn’t saw it in betting communities. It is all based on eSports lovers and writing analysis, which is basically the same, what most sports fans do in other leagues and sports. Because of that, there is no such competition like in NBA betting or English Premier League betting for example, where we have a lot of sharp bettors and a lot of betting models/algorithms. This is definitely a chance for many.
  • I also learned, that csgo games are played in different maps and the information about maps come out later. Most of the times teams play on 2 wins (winner out of 3). In grand final they can play up to 5 games (winner of 3) and in some cases they play only one map. Some teams are better with some maps and the other teams are better with other maps, which makes sense. So, I stay away from games with only one map, because it can be a gamble. I lost bet or two, when I was testing the model, because of this, but later I stayed away from one map games.
  • In-game betting can be interesting if you focus on maps model. The maps information come out at the start of the game, so after the first map, we know which map they will play next. So, the model can be built also based on maps and those who love live betting can create a model for this second map betting. I am not big fan of in-game betting, but my model is part of our membership, so anyone can download it and with some additional work add this feature with maps.
  • The margins from bookmakers are still little bit bigger than on other sports (4.79% on my example), but this is completely normal at this stage now. It is a new sport for bettors and bookmakers take little bit more commission to secure their business. But on the other side (I believe – maybe I am wrong) there is not many “sharp esports” bettors, so this margin can be beaten probably easier than 2.5% vig on sharp markets, like NBA.
  • I also learned that teams will change players from time to time. This is why it is also important to follow these changes and trades, so you can incorporate this information into the model.
  • Almost all games are live on TWITCH, where you can watch two teams shooting at each others, with commentators and many viewers. I watched 2-3 games just to get the feeling about it, but in general I don’t care about excitement and watching games. For me most important is to find the value. This is the only focus I have. But if you like watching these games, they are live and can be exciting too.

Exciting Journey

While most sports fans were depressed now, because there was no sport, I believe the true bettor will always look to find the value. No matter if this is betting on sport, betting on girls, betting on politics,… whatever it is.

The concept is basically the same if you invest in stocks, if you run a restaurant and sell coca cola or if you bet. We always must find the way how to compare the price we are willing to pay with the price that market offers.

Everything else is more sports fans talk and this is exactly what bookmakers need. And honestly profitable bettors too. If there wouldn’t be betting communities and sports fans, who are main base of money involved, profitable bettors couldn’t be paid. This is how it is and it is up to each person if he decide to be a sports fan, picks follower or try to become an independent profitable bettor. In most cases you can not be all three.

But I am excited about this new thing – eSports, because I always try to learn new things and my focus is always on the value. If they shut down all sports and even eSports and we start betting on Reality shows, I would probably analyse reality show participants.

I am a bettor. Not a sports fan. And this is big difference.

  • Sports
  • Sports Betting
  • Successful Sports Betting

Three very different things, where “sport” is the least important thing for a bettor – investor.

With this article I hope I motivated some bettors to start researching eSports and at the same time I wanted to share some of my betting philosophies with you.

eSports is not going anywhere. eSports will be there for many years and I wish you a lot of profit.

Cheers

MB

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