What to Bet On When All Bets Are Off

The latest casualty in the war against Covid-19, as far as professional gamblers are concerned, is the World Series of Poker. The 51st running of the game’s marquis event, slated to run from May 26 to July 15 at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino, has been put on hold until at least the fall, although no official date has been released yet. News that was not entirely unexpected, but it’s still grim for card players worldwide.

The casinos have been closed to the public for weeks now, and professional sports leagues, like the NHL, have been put on ice. It’s all giving new meaning to the term ‘lock,’ which according to ESPN’s betting glossary means “a guaranteed win in the eyes of the person who made the wager”. The only lock these days is there’s not much to gamble on during lock down.

2020 WSOP postponed

“The betting environment has changed massively since the lock down came into force,” says James Greenfield, a betting analyst with TX Markets, which specializes in providing insights, previews, data collection and betting tips through its service TXODDS.

Based in Southwest Scotland, Greenfield is a student of the game who spends his mornings and early afternoons the same way each day; studying the line, delving into match statistics and tracking key data in the hopes of finding an edge. He’s been doing it for years but lately his routine has been interrupted, and now it’s all about finding a game to even bet on. The search is spanning the globe.

Traditionally, the big markets in the UK are football (soccer) and horse racing, but they’ve all but disappeared. It’s still possible to bet on Belarussian Premier League soccer games, horse racing in Japan, Australia and the United States, and tennis in Russia and the USA, but it’s very low-grade tennis and that’s a sport rife with match fixing, so buyer beware.

Darts

Other traditional sports betting hotbeds in the United Kingdom, things like golf, cricket, rugby, motor racing and winter sports, have all but vanished during this pandemic, with one exception — darts!

Social distancing means there are no proper tournaments, as darts fans would know them, but thanks to the internet and the ability to stream side-by-side dartboards it is possible for professionals to play remotely. Keep in mind, the pictures are not TV broadcast quality, so it can be hard to see exactly where a dart has landed, and there is no referee there to verify the score, but fortunately the game has a very good reputation for integrity. It would be quite easy for players to cheat, but there have been no issues to date.

If you like to throw a few dollars down on a sporting event, you might just hit a bullseye with darts, where punters have the choice of no less than five different tournaments to bet on and watch daily. In fact, the Professional Darts Corporation recently launched its PDC ‘At Home’ Tour. It features the game’s top 128 players in a series of nightly tournaments, and are you ready for this? It’s drawing upwards of 350,000 viewers to its live stream per show. The ‘At Home’ series is being sponsored by Unibet, which is taking wagers on everything from match winners to who will hit the most 180’s.

At Home Darts Tournament

“Do not bet without doing your own research,” warns @DartsPPR, one of the more active and respected betting strategists on darts twitter. The creator of Dan’s Player Performance Ratings also helps operate dartscomps.com, a fan-friendly predictions league where darts enthusiasts can win prizes and cash.

I cannot emphasize it enough, do not bet on the back of a hunch. Or without knowing how the player plays. I stress to my followers the importance of using as much match data as possible, whatever you can get your hands on, information that helps to spot anomalies in the betting market. You can take advantage of that. Remember, no bet is a given or a sure thing, so don’t bet more than you can afford.

With more time to study his craft these days, the system seems to be working. Earlier this week, @DartsPPR went three-for-three in one day, risking $57 to win $423, what you might call a perfect score.

Did you know: Jeff Smith, of Hampton New Brunswick, also known as ‘The Silencer,’ is the only Canadian to currently play on the PDC Pro Tour. He ranks number 91 in the world, and he’s climbing fast.

Eating Comps?

What to Bet On: Joey chestnut

The big question over at Bet Online this week is whether Joey Chestnut can eat 10 pounds of baked beans in less than three minutes. The over/under is listed at 169.5 seconds. Not only is @JoeyJaws a -200 favorite to complete that feat, he’s also the overwhelming -500 favorite to win the sites much ballyhooed Quarantine Eating Challenge outright. And yes, you can bet on it.

US Presidential Election

Fun Fact:
Poker legend and two-time world champion Doyle Brunson is rumored to have won well into the six-figures with a bet on Donald Trump in 2016.

Wieners and beans aren’t the only action you’ll find, though. Trump or Biden? It’s the biggest question in politics right now. Contentious and partisan, the US presidential election is perhaps the hottest betting market in North America. You only have to look back four years to see how lucrative it can be too. Donald Trump was a 50-to-1 long shot to upset Hilary Clinton in 2016 and win the White House. But he did and many gamblers were able to cash in.

What to bet on: Biden vs Trump

Online sports books like Bovada, Bet Online and Bet Now, are offering a series of wagers and prop bets leading up to the November elections. And by all accounts Trump is the favorite. He’s listed on most major sites at -140 to beat his Democrat opponent Joe Biden (+100).

“Some sportsbooks are far better than others,” stresses Joseph Falchetti, a gambling writer and editor-in-chief at safestbettingsites.com. “Not only when it comes to bonuses and markets, but security and safety as well. If you’re a planning to make an online wager for the very first time, shop around. Find a site with a strong reputation in the industry. Most sites have special first-time deposit bonuses as well, where you can earn yourself some extras, like massive free bets. Take advantage of them.”

For political and presidential election betting markets, most online sportsbooks will have the basics. Which candidate or party will win? But there are also a number of prop bets on offer, including:

  • Will the winner of the presidential election also win the popular vote?
  • Who will win California?
  • Who will the president-elect congratulate first in their victory speech?

NFL Draft

The Cincinnati Bengals have the first pick overall in this year’s NFL draft. The draft kicks off tonight and runs through Sunday. The Bengals were dismal last year, ending the regular season with a measly 2-and-14 record. As a result, they will get to select the player it feels is the game’s top prospect this year.

LSU Tigers QB Joe Burrow is the clear favorite to be the first name called in the draft. And for good reason. In 2019, he had the most prolific season for a quarterback in NCAA history. 5,671 years in passing, 60 touchdowns, just six interceptions, and he led his team to the college football championship.

What to Bet On: Joe Burrow

“Bovada has him listed as going to the Bengals at -10000,” says Falchetti, who goes into great detail on the draft in his latest article titled 2020 NFL Draft Betting Review: Top Bets & Odds. “It would be a bold move by the team to consider any other candidate.”

Besides wagering on the first overall pick, you can also take a chance on a myriad of prop bets. Who will be the first running back taken? Or the number of players selected from each school? There are a ton of options.

Gamble Responsibly

No, this is not a good time for sports bettors or the bookmaking industry as a whole. But living on lock down does provide the opportunity for learning and growth. Use your time wisely. Study. Find your edge and bet to win, that’s what James Greenfield is doing across the pond in Scotland.

“Darts fits the bill for me. It’s something I specialize in, I’m familiar with the participants and their form. The players have a great reputation for integrity. It’s possible to enjoy the sport and strike a few value bets along the way. Having said that, it’s no substitute for the real thing.”

Bullseye!

Derrick Oliver

Derrick Oliver

Derrick Oliver Dewan is the founder of High Roller Radio and has interviewed a number of the world's top poker players and gamblers. A former radio and television broadcaster, Derrick was brand manager for Poker Pro Canada magazine and has written for a variety of publications, including the Toronto Star & Windsor Life.

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