Unusual sports bets you might want to try
In the months since the US Supreme Court’s decision to relax the rules last year, the topic of sports betting has never strayed far from the headlines. It is a pastime that is becoming increasingly popular among sports fans and for the majority of them, it has little to do with gambling in the sense of trying to win big money. For most, it is simply a way to add a little additional excitement to the game, by having a personal stake in the outcome.
But if your vision of sports betting is standing in a line to place a dollar or two on which team is going to win the Super Bowl, or who will come first in the Kentucky Derby, think again. The online age has brought unprecedented variety to sports betting, as the following examples demonstrate.
Here’s something that was simply impossible before the digital age. Live betting involves placing a wager on a game that is already underway. Naturally, the odds will shift as events play out on the field or race track, and things can change dramatically in a matter of seconds.
Imagine an NFL game, for example, where a team that went in as underdog is 14-0 up after the first quarter. They might suddenly become favorites for the win, although seasoned followers could choose this moment to place a bet on the original favorites at longer odds, backing them to recover and still take the win.
Most of the well known bookmakers offer live betting on a whole range of sports, including basketball, boxing motorsport and many more. However, soccer is by far the most popular sport for live bets. In part, this is probably down to its UK roots, but the nature of the game, in which goals come infrequently and each one can have a profound impact of the shape of the game, also means that this is a sport that fits live betting exceptionally well.
Who’s going where?
Even when there is no action on the field, bookmakers are still offering odds in relation to what’s going on behind the scenes. Predicting how the NFL draft will play out is one example, and the sheer complexity of how each team will deal with each pick makes this one for the sports betting purists and the keen statisticians.
Yet for the biggest event in world sports betting that falls into this category, we once again need to cast our eye across the pond, this time to consider the transfer window in European soccer. This is when the clubs in the Premier League, Bundesliga and other top European leagues can seem more like market traders that professional sports organizations. There is always a huge media buzz over who is likely to go where, not least because of the astronomical sums often involved.
As a result, the top bookmakers are typically as busy during the transfer period as they are when the sporting action gets underway out in the middle in the second week of August. Transfer season is just getting underway, so why not read up on the latest gossip and see what color shirts you think the biggest names will be wearing next season?
Here’s yet another bet that originated in the Premier League but is also starting to become available in other sports. Managing a top team is a perilous job, and sports managers have a limited shelf life. It’s only ever a matter of time, and even the most successful will fall sooner or later. The “next manager to leave his post” bet is an intriguing one, as the bookies will offer odds on all the managers in the league. The unique thing about this bet is that you never know when it is going to pay out – it could be tomorrow or it could be next month.
Last year, for example, it was fascinating to see the odds on the under-fire Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho get steadily shorter week by week. Public perception and media attention played as big a role in shortening those odds with every passing week as United’s performances out in the middle. This one is a perfect wager for those who, in a former age, might have enjoyed attending a public execution for some Saturday afternoon entertainment!
Horse racing is one of the most popular sports to bet on the world over, but those who make a living from it don’t just look to back the winner. When you place a boxed bet, you are backing two horses, betting on one of them to win and the other to place, but without stipulating the order. A variation on this is the exacta, in which you stipulate which horse will win and which will place. There are also more advanced versions, such as the trifecta, which covers three horses or the superfecta for four.
Some sports bets are truly unique, coming up at a time and place that will never be repeated. Often, these are more for entertainment value than serious betting, although that doesn’t mean they will not pay out handsomely if you make the right call. Here are a couple of one-off examples:
- The Vampire bet – back in 2014, one bookmaker offered odds that Uruguay player Luis Suarez would bite an opponent during that year’s World Cup. To be fair, Saurez had form, but the bookmaker offered the bet primarily as a publicity stunt. Nonetheless, several people placed money on it, and the bet paid out after Saurez bit Giorgio Chiellini in his team’s game against Italy.
- Spotting a future champion – some wagers take time to mature. Back in 1998, British journalist Neil Morrice watched an eight-year-old called Judd Trump playing snooker with his son. He was so impressed that he approached a bookmaker and placed a bet on Trump becoming world champion by the age of 30. The bookmaker offered him odds of 1,000/1 and he placed a £10 bet. Trump made the final in 2011, only to lose, but this year, he went one better and fulfilled the potential that Morrice saw all those years ago. His age when he won? 29 years and nine months.