We will start off with a short introduction into electronic sports themselves where we clearly define the term eSports, what similarities and differences there are to traditional sports and afterwards proceed to the wagering subjects. I hope to provide you with quality information, so that after you’re finished with reading this article you will be prepared to take your first steps into this fine digital realm.
Welcome to the world of video game betting!
eSports, otherwise known as electronic sports, is one of the most modern forms of competition. Individuals or teams compete against each other through the use of computers and consoles. At its core, pro-gaming is similar to traditional sports. There are two opposing sides, the games played have specific rules and measurable objectives, players receive punishment for breaking the rules and they are skill based.
Depending on the game that’s being played, the competitors are going to have different kinds of objectives that they need to accomplish. By doing so, they gain an advantage over the opposing team or player. Every game that is considered an electronic sport has specific win conditions and as soon as one of the teams reaches this goal, it is considered that the match has ended.
The main and probably only difference between traditional and electronic sports is that the latter is played on a computer, console or other mobile devices.
Below you will find a list of the most popular eSports right now:
- League of Legends
- Counter Strike: Global Offensive
- Dota 2
- Starcraft II
- Heroes of the Storm
- Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
- Rocket League
- Call of Duty
- World of Tanks
The recognition of video games as electronic sports is not a new concept, although it has been largely popularized since internet technology became readily available for the majority of people on the planet.
The early beginnings can be found as far back to 1972, which is when the first ever documented electronic competition took place, where players competed in a game called Spacewar.
We’ve come a long way since that time, and today if you still don’t know how big video gaming is, let me try to make it clearer for you.
At the beginning of 2000, most of the tournaments involved amateur players, but with the increase of interest into sponsoring these events and the surge of popularity gained by the end of the decade on account of live streaming, a lot of professional teams and players have been created. Today the scene is as tough as the one for football, where only the real talent and skill can compete on global levels. Because of the increase in popularity a lot of video game developers have started creating games with competition on mind.
The global audience for eSports in 2015 was around 226 million people, while the same year, gaming markets generated over $325 million USD revenue collectively. We can’t say for certain what the numbers will be in the nearest future, but it is highly expected that the revenue marks will overpass 1 billion USD pretty soon.
We can clearly see how this industry can inspire developers, sponsors and professional teams alike to assume serious dedication toward eSports.
The most popular games right now are team-based kinds. They are Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, League of Legends and Rocket League as the newcomer to the industry. The majority of events are created around these titles, and they are the biggest money-makers on the market today.
With the advent of popularity that gaming is enjoying at the moment, some entrepreneurs are using the opportunity to enable betting for the spectators and fans of these games.
How to choose the right eSportsbook?
Just like with traditional sports, you have to choose a suitable medium through which you will place your bets on the outcome of certain matches.
What you’re looking for mostly is security and since most of the eSportbooks are available only online you want to insure yourself that their website is certified and offers SSL encryption over HTTP. This means that the website address will start with “https://”.
This is important because companies have to invest money into maintaining SSL certificates, which proves their legitimacy to a certain extent. Don’t fully believe these certificates though and make sure to extend your research based on other factors. Send an e-mail to their customer support address and see how they respond. Check what others have said about their service and whether there are any major complaints.
You’re sure to find at least a dozen suitable and safe websites. Unfortunately work doesn’t stop here. (Unless you just want to play for fun!) If you’re serious about eSport betting then you have to take a look at all the information that is available for all suitable eSportsbook services and compare them. Questions that will help you make a better decision is to compare the welcome bonus they are offering and the odds for specific matches. You should also consider the way you want to deposit funds into your account, but we will talk about payment methods a little bit later in this article.
Another important thing to consider is what kind of bets does that particular eSportsbook offer you? Take a look below, where we will describe the typical options that most bookmakers will offer, but unfortunately not all of them do.
What kinds of bets can a bettor make on eSports?
There are three main ways you can place bets on the outcome of electronic matches, or even the outcome of a major tournament. To make information clearer, we’ve gathered them here in separate groups:
- Traditional style
- Fantasy team
- Digital content
Regardless of the eSportsbook service you’ve chosen they all offer traditional style options. What I mean by this is that you can put money on favorite teams in a known and familiar way, just like you would with basketball or football. These bets simply constitute a prediction whether one or another team will win a particular event or match.
With the increase in popularity there are a lot of traditional online sportsbooks that have started to include and offer eSports betting. Although the matches are the same, the particular offers that these major players are offering bettors can vary wildly between each and every one of them. There are serious guys who have accounts with every available online sportsbook and they are constantly finding the best odds on their market.
The main advantage of using this style of wagering is that you’re going to find yourself in a familiar and safe environment if you’ve betted on sports before. These websites are huge ventures, operated by legitimate people who want to stay in business.
We will tell you more about the fundamentals of traditional style later in this article. We think that every person participating in eSports betting should know how these services work.
On the down side, they are not used to the eSport scene, so sometimes the odds and you’re getting won’t be as lucrative as they should be, or maybe even the other way around.
eSports Fantasy bets
Another form of wagering is the fantasy style. Generally practiced for baseball and football, this form of wagering has transferred to pro-gaming as well. Highly popular in the U.S. where the regulations and laws limit the possibilities for online sportbooks and their operations. Due to a specific law, known as UIEGA, this form of gaming is exempt from the majority of restrictions that traditional gambling is limited by.
The difference between traditional and fantasy bets is that the former is based on future predictions of a specific event or match, while fantasy ones are made by guys creating a team of players, otherwise known as a line-up. The bettors compete against each other and the one with the best line-up wins. The scores are measured by following specific objectives that players can achieve, goals, saves, entry frags, leader board scores and other criteria.
In traditional fantasy betting, the period of time during which the bettors compete upon is at least a couple of months and sometimes even the whole year. With eSports we see a new shorter period during which these bets take place. Sometimes it’s a week, while it could be as short as three days.
The main advantage that this style of wagering has is that you’re competing against other players and there is no margin that you have to pay a bookkeeper. Another extra benefit is that if you’re living in the U.S. there are no restrictions limiting your participation in this form of competition, online or otherwise.
Although, most would argue that this is not the same as putting money on a match that is going to happen soon. For most people, betting makes watching live action more interesting, which is not something that you’re going to get with fantasy competitions.
Finding a suitable fantasy eSportsbook service is going to be relatively easy, but make sure to do your research on any specific company. After all you’re the only person that is responsible for keeping your money safe.
Betting with digital content
In general, eSports feature digital content that players use to decorate their games. While they only serve an esthetic purpose in-game, out of the game they are traded on markets for money. Some companies have created websites that feature item wagering. These websites accept the digital content as payment for a bet, but they also pay winnings in digital content. While this may not work for some guys looking to make a profit, it’s been proven highly effective with the fan base of the competitive games.
There have been a lot of changes in this specific area over the past year. Steam banned gambling websites in the first half of the year and most of them shutdown, while the rest simply stopped offering their service. Recently there has been a resurge of item based gambling, although Steam hasn’t released an official statement saying that they support these ventures. If you’re a player, we don’t advise you to use your items as a method for gambling, since as it stands right now you risk losing the inventory that you’ve wagered.
Traditional Betting Fundamentals
Regardless of which sport, or rather eSport you’re planning on betting, there are three basic bet types that are encountered in all of them. Please note that sometimes the names are different, but once you’ve seen the options you’re getting it should become very clear to you what kind of bet you’re going to make. It isn’t rocket science.
Types of Bets
Traditional sportbooks allow, so called spread bets. These are sometimes called handicap as well. Before placing them, you can see that there is a plus or minus value to the each of the teams for that particular match. For example, Team A has a value of -5. This means that if you stake on them, they have to win by more than 5 points difference. More often than not, this type of bet isn’t available for all eSports, because of the way that competition takes place. Usually video games aren’t settled when the time runs out, but until one of the teams manages to over-power the other and complete the main objective.
These are bets that are often known as Under or Over. These don’t care who wins, as long as the total number of goals that have been scored during the game is under or over a specified value. As simple as it is, if you’ve state that the total score will be over the value, you’ve won, and vice versa.
This is the simplest bet that you can make. Essentially making this means that the team you’re putting money on is going to win. This is the most dominant type of bet for eSports, which you can make on every game available.
Other important knowledge
Before making any bets though you need to know about odds, margins and money management. Why are these things important? Because they influence the decisions you will make as an informed bettor, and enable you to make reasonable decisions.
Let’s examine and define these terms, since they are going to play a major role in your future activities.
This represents the ratio by which you will receive payment if your prediction is a winner. This means that the higher the odds, the higher the rewards. The odds are defined by the sportsbook services and they indicate the probability of either team to win. Bets with lower odds are those that have a higher probability to happen, and vice versa.
There are multiple ways to write down odds, and the most popular are decimal and american systems. Most sportsbooks offer just the decimal ones, but some offer american as well. The difference with the odds is simply in the way they are used to present the potential profit you can expect from winning a bet.
With the decimal system you simply multiply your wager against the number to see how much you’re going to receive.
American style is being illustrated to show how much you would have to stake in order to generate $100 profits. They are presented as positive or negative values, where positive values show how much profit you can expect by making a $100 bet, while negative values show how much you would have to invest in order to make $100 profit by winning.
This is the profit that the sportsbook takes in exchange for accepting your money, but this cost is hidden within the odds of making the bets. This was very complicated for me the first time I encountered it and I’ve found that the simplest way to understand this is by mathematics. In layman’s terms, the sportsbooks don’t offer you equal odds, or rather the odds are in their favor. This their way to make sure that regardless of the outcome of a match they will profit.
((1/Odds A)*100) + ((1/Odds B)*100) = 100% + Margin%
The above formula can be used to calculate the specific margins that your sportsbooks are offering on a specific match. The margins are different with each and every sportsbook and can vary between 2% to 11%, while this industry’s average is about 6%. The lower margins offer better value to the player, and vice versa.
This is the entire sum of money that is solely dedicated towards sports betting. The reason it’s important to have good money management with gambling in particular is that you have to play with money you’re prepared to lose. As much as most of us don’t want to hear this, it is completely true. Having a bankroll of a decent size will allow you to place bets at anytime and furthermore the bets you place need to be in accordance to your bankroll. The best practice for this is to have 50 to 100 single portions within your bankroll, or in other words limit the size of your bets between 1-2% of your total bankroll.
What your bankroll looks like will highly depend on the reasons because of which you are thinking about betting on eSports. If it’s fun you’re looking for, just decide how much you’d like to spend on and treat it like any other expense. On the other hand, if you’re serious about pro-gaming, you need to treat your bankroll as an investment. One thing to remember is that all of the professional bettors are successful because of their ability to pick winners more often, rather than their financial capabilities at placing bigger bets.
Let’s use a practical example to better understand propability, margins and bankrolls.
Our hypothetical bankroll is $1500, and there is a match today that we’d like to stake on featuring fnatic vs. Liquid. Once we’ve opened up the online sportsbook and selected the specific match we are shown the odds on each bet we can make. If we put money on fnatic, our chances to win are 1.365, while if we stake on Liquid the propability is 2.7. In american style, these values would look like -274 for fnatic, and +170 for Liquid. This means that in order to generate $100 profit by winning a prediction on fnatic we need to invest 274$, while at the other side a bet of $100 will generate $170 profit if we stake on Liquid (and win).
Let’s take a look at the margin. In order to deduct what the margin is for this particular match, we need to employ the formula we mentioned before.
((1/1.365)*100) + ((1/2.7)*100)= 100% + Margin%
73.26% + 37.03% = 100% + Margin%
110.3% = 100% + Margin%
Margin % = 110.3% – 100% = 10.3%
Following the formula we deduct that this particular sportsbook offers pretty expensive odds to play with them. At this point we should consider finding another sportsbook service and checking if they offer us better margins. But for illustrative purposes, let’s say we like the numbers and we take the bet.
With our bankroll, things are kept simple. Because we deal with eSports betting in a professional manner we know that the amount we’re going to put on is between one and two percent of our total bankroll. This means $15 up to $30 will be placed on this match.
The choice we make is a delicate one. In this hypothetical situation Liquid is represented as a huge underdog, while in reality it’s probably not true. If this was a real match, I believe these odds would be significantly different, although the margin would still remain the same. Sportsbooks have a tendency to impose strict margins on every match, except when they’re offering teasers, where they even the odds.
What Payment methods can be used for betting?
Depending on the particular sportsbooks a variety of deposit methods and withdrawal are available, let’s take a look at them!
A relatively simple, yet lengthy process. You need to get the payment information from your sportsbook and contact your bank in order to transfer the funds to their account. This can be done by internet or telephone banking, or by going to the bank physically. The company must provide you some form of reference ID that’s unique to your account, within the payment information they give you. There are at least two major disadvantages to this method, the first one being that it takes a couple of days for your deposit to arrive and the second one being that your bank may charge you transaction fees up to 10%.
Electronic Wallets. Simple and effective, once you’ve initially loaded up your eWallet with funds. It takes less than a minute for your account to get funded.
This is a readily available option that many sportbooks provide you with. If you don’t mind sharing your credit card information with a bookkeeper, then all is fine. If you do find this concerning, it’s better to use eWallets.
Sportsbooks tend to be high on security and they will ask you for a lot of sensitive data if you choose to deal with a credit card. Scans of photo ID’s, even a picture of you holding your credit card and usually they provide you with a form, where you input all your personal information. Fortunately, you only need to do this once, so this is still a viable option.
Some sportsbooks have started accepting Bitcoin as a viable payment method, while others have sprung up around the idea of accepting only Bitcoin as a deposit.
We ask you to be cautious with Bitcoin, simply due to the irreversible nature of the currency. If you already have BTC, making a deposit with it will be the simplest of methods, but if you haven’t got any it might prove to be a little bit difficult.
We’ve looked at the history of electronic sports, how it all begun and what the scene looks like right now. We covered the types of bets you can make and examined the basic logic behind the wagering. You now know how to calculate margins for your sportsbook choices and you can find the best deals for betting on eSports with ease. There are many more things to learn, but now you’re equipped with the fundamental knowledge and it’s time for practical application.
Wagering on pro-gaming is a great way to make the action more pleasurable to watch or even to turn around extra income your way. Good luck!