Betting or trading the game

May 04, 2020

How much would you pay for a local business? Probably something like 2 - 2.5x the earnings of that business so that you are buying a long term revenue stream, and a job. What bout a large conglomerate of a company? Perhaps something like 15x earnings for a mature, predictable business. If  company’s stock is trading at 15 times earnings, then a 1/3 dip in the stock price will have it trading at 10x earnings. Now it might be a good deal.

How many sports bettors trade the stock market? I suspect there’s quite the crossover, especially among older sports bettors. Why? Because investing and betting are in essence the same pursuit: trying to find value not reflected in the price, when at least temporarily that business becomes priced attractively, aka, a good deal. In sports betting, it can be the same when you see a line on a game that doesn’t reflect the reality of an injury, an arduous travel schedule, or a coaching change. Opportunity arises when the price, or odds in the case of a sports bet, do not reflect the future value appropriately. At the very least a bet may be a positive expected value, which is the definition of a good bet.

In the last couple of years, stock trading and sports betting have become even more similar in that during a sporting event, the odds on the more advanced betting sites, such as , fluctuate and trade "in-game". What do I mean by in-game? I mean what the price (odds) graph looked like during the game, the same as the way a stock trades between the opening and closing bell. At the opening whistle of a sports contest, the odds listed are ’the best guess’ as set by the bookmakers as a starting point, the same as the morning line in a horse race posted in the Racing Form. It’s a guideline; an indication of what the value is estimated to be, before the public decide democratically via the parimutuel what the price actually will settle on.

Let’s take an example bet on an NFL football game for illustrative purposes. Let’s say it’s a few years ago and the New England Patriots were 6.5 point favourites over the Cleveland Browns. Note, this example is historical as the Brady-less Patriots are likely not such a favourite anymore! But it’s just an example. In days of old, your task was to find the side you thought had the best value, with all relevant inputs and variables considered such as starting players, weather, records coming into the game, etc. Do you think the Patriots can win by a touchdown or more? Because that’s what you would need to have happen in order to win your bet. If you think it’ll be a tighter, closer game than a 7-point differential then a bet on the Browns is what you should lay your money down on.

It used to be that as the game was late in the second quarter, you could make a readjustment bet or double down at the half once the lines were calculated at the half-time whistle. The Vegas number crunchers would report a figure shortly. That was then. This is now.

In 2020, the games play out like the stock market fluctuates intraday. If the starting line was  -6.5 for the Patriots and the Browns scored a quick field goal, then the odds you'll be offered for an in-game bet would alter to take that 3-point score into account. It would take it into account as an event for the algorithm to adjust the figure with the rest of the predicted score for the entire game, so you’d probably see the odds be something like Patriots -3.5 if this Cleveland field goal happened in the first quarter on their first possession. The number of bets that get made on the new line adjustment will adjust again if there’s a lot of action put on it. The bookmaker still needs to balance their book for the risk they’re willing to take. If 3.5 was getting hammered, then you would see the line quickly move to 4, 4.5, as needed to satisfy the risk tolerance of the bookmaker.

With in-game odds, you have to pick a number you’re comfortable with before you see it. This will help you to act fast and decisively. It’s the same as the stock market in this regard in that the best bets have the emotion taken out of them. "Plan the trade, and trade the plan" as the saying goes for stock market traders. If you’re making quick decisions on instant whims, you’re unlikely to execute the trade well and will make mistakes that in hindsight you would not have made. But in the moment, emotions can get the better of any trader or bettor. Learn how to take that emotion out. If you decided at the beginning of the game that you thought the Patriots would win but only by a field goal, then you would happily bet the Patriots -2.5 given the chance, or Cleveland +3 at any point as even a loss by a field goal and your bet on the Browns would at least be a “push”, gambling vernacular for a refund. Deine your spot, and take your shot when the opportunity presents itself.

In-game wagering has given every bettor the chance to wait fo the odds they want, like a stock price they’re waiting to come down in order to invest. Pick your spots and at the very least you can’t say, regardless of outcome, “I never liked that opening number but I got the one I did like”. Be patient, and you’ll get a chance at your number if the game has any amount of give and take, or changes of momentum in it.

I used to never bet on basketball. I hated the opening lines you’d see on games, where a team was a 10-point favourite. What incentive does a basketball team up by 7 have to cover those 3 points in the dying seconds that YOU need at the end of the game to win your bet? They don’t have any. They dribble it out and they get the win. But as a bettor, you do not. There’s no satisfaction in a team “winning” a game but not covering. To the gambler, there’s an investment beyond fandom. But…..with in-game betting lines constantly changing with every score of the game, basketball has become an electric experience! It’s now my favourite thing to bet on! The quick score changes, the runs teams go on, these lighting movements, these temporary anomalies mid-game create a momentum-swinging thrill ride that at any moment I can join in on. As I said above though, it’s best to trade a plan than it is to trade a short term observation or hunch on a game. 10 points was too much. Show me 5.5 and I’ll make the bet! In basketball you may get your chance only for a split second in the midst of a run after a steal, for example. Be ready to trade your plan.

Th ability to wait for your spot adds an entirely new element to sports betting. It becomes sports trading. The engagement of watching a football game on television, and having a live trading machine in the palm of your hand in your smart phone, gives you all the power and entertainment needed to maximize your enjoyment of any sports contest.

Visit and give sports trading a try.