What Type of Bettor are You?

There are many types of bettors. What they have in common is that they use the services of a bookmaker. However there a lot of ways where they can differ. The most obvious difference is whether they make money in the long run. But there are many more criteria to use in order to classify sports bettors. I will try to give a break down in classes. This is my opinion, of course the classification will not be perfect.

Moreover a bettor who falls in one category not necessarily stays in that category forever. Also all types I will explain not only apply to sports bettors interested in badminton. The types should be applicable to any type of sport, maybe even to other forms of gambling outside of sports betting.

Classification

Professionals

A professional sports bettor is someone who makes a full-time living through sports gambling. In order to do so, he or she has to have the edge over the bookmaker. This could be a superior knowledge of the sport, superior anticipation of what other sports bettors are likely to do or access to news that are not yet available to the bookmakers.

Systematic Bettors

These bettors try to gain knowledge by using information about odds. The most common type of arbitrage betting is the so-called sure bet, where odds between bookmakers differ by a large amount, so that it is possible to bet on all possible outcomes and be safe from losses.

Another ansatz is to monitor odds movements. If at one bookie odds shorten for a particular outcome, this will trigger the so-called steam chasers. A sudden move of odds could be indicative of a couple reasons: Some news might have emerged, not necessarily publicly, that influence the odds. Or someone may have manipulated the match. The steam chaser will then try to place bets at bookmakers who lag behind in incorporating the changes into their odds.

Scientific Minds

These bettors approach sports gambling with a more scientific mindset and are more interested in the statistical and analytical aspects of sports and sports betting. They ask questions about how bookmakers arrive at their predictions. They could as well come up with theories about how matches are decided.

If they are successful they might turn into professionals.

Recreational Bettors

This is maybe the biggest category. These are bettors who just place bets for fun, who don’t aim to earn a constant stream of income. Rather they seek the thrill of won bets, the ability to brag about won bets among friends or just the additional excitement of being involved in the match they placed a bet on.

Fans

These are a special type of recreational bettors and could as well be categorized as a special sub-category under the recreational bettors. Fans usually bet on their favorite team or player and use this as a means to show their support. Thus they enlarge the pleasure of your favorite winning by adding the won money. The disappointment after their favorites don’t perform to their expectation is increased as well, as the lost money adds to the sportive disappointment. But fans usually accept this combination of wins, that are more pleasurable, and losses, that are more disappinting.

Gambling Addicts

Anybody who’s unable to control his or her sports betting can be classified as a gambling addict. Such gamblers will not benefit from gambling, they might place bets using money they can’t afford to lose. Or they might try not to admit losses and try to cover the losses by betting more and more, usually only accumulating more and more debt.

Gambling addicts should seek help and put themselves on exclusion lists as soon as possible.

Match Fixers

These bettors are either players themselves or people close to them. The players might agree to lose a match or a game on purpose to lock in a sure profit by betting on their opponents.

Match fixing is illegal and multiple players have been suspended in the past. How common match fixing is in badminton is difficult to say though.

Implications

Bookmakers have different attitudes towards the different types of bettors. After all, bookmakers are commercial enterprises and aim to earn money.

Fans and recreational bettors are the preferred customers as their betting behaviour is predictable (for fans) or more or less random (for recreational bettors). The stance on gambling addicts is more ambivalent. On one hand they are the group from whom it is easiest to earn large amounts of money in the short run. On the other hand bookmakers usually support initiatives for reasonable gambling or at least claim to do so. Thus they should bar addicts from gambling.

Professionals earn money from gambling and one could think that they are therefore not welcome at bookmakers. But the situation is more complex. Most bookmakers will allow but limit bets by professionals. That way bookmakers reduce their losses while still being able to treat the professionals’ bets as valuable information. If professionals bet on one outcome, it could signal that bookmakers’ odds are too high, and bookmakers could adapt their odds accordingly. The scientific minds are usually too small as a group and their impact is too small to be treated separately. Unless they turn into professionals they can be treated like fans or recreational bettors.

Systematic bettors are usually not welcome as they earn money from the bookmakers, but unlike the professionals, without any advantage to the bookmakers.

Finally, match fixers are most unwelcome. Bookies will spot unusual large successful bets and suspect bettors of being match fixers. In the past they have also withheld winnings and investigated bettors for connections to players or officials.

Checklist

There are a couple of questions to ask yourself in order to find out what category you most likely belong to:

  • Do you bet for entertainment? If yes then you are a recreational bettor or a fan. If not you might be a professional or a systematic bettor.
  • Do you have a favorite player, team or nation to bet on? If yes, then you are a fan.
  • Do you try to cover losses by placing more bets? If yes, then you might be a gambling addict. Accepting losses is a skill every bettor should have.
  • Do your decisions to bet depend on the odds? If yes then you might be a professional or a systematic bettor. If not, you are probably a fan or a recreational bettor.
  • Do you think that odds reflect the true probabilities of the different outcomes? This is a very complicated question as it leads directly to the question whether sports gambling is an efficient market. In finance this is known as the efficient-market hypothesis. All that can be said is that if you believe odds reflect true probabilities, you are not a professional. Professionals search for bets where the odds differ from the probabilities they would assign the outcome, and if they are correct they will win money.
  • Do you monitor odds and track their movements, maybe even for multiple bookmakers? If so, then you are a systematic bettor.

Conclusion

So the question to ask is, what type of bettor are you? And what type of bettor do you want to be? It is important to think about what one wants to achieve by betting, whether it is excitement, bragging rights, insights or money. And of course it’s important to be aware of the risk of becoming a gambling addict.