Luck vs Skill in Sports Betting (2023)

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Last Updated on: 21.02.2023

Luck vs skill in sports betting is one of the most hotly debated topics among punters. Ever wondered what the best practices are for winning big in sports betting? How much skill betting requires – or whether it simply relies on luck? Fret not – you've come to the right place.

Sports Betting: Luck or Skill?

It is true that betting often relies on luck – but that is not the case for every market. Casino games such as roulette may depend on chance, but when betting on sports, a lot more tends to come into play.

Typically, when betting on sports, knowing the best sports to bet on, as well as being able to understand your chosen sport and read players on the field, will have a great impact on your ability to win.

Former U.S. Attorney, General Lynch, provided some insight to this topic: “Sports betting … involves ‘substantial skill.’ Sports bettors can employ superior knowledge of the games, teams, and players in order to exploit odds that do not reflect the true likelihoods of the possible outcomes.”

He went on to say: “While a sports bettor cannot [legally] influence the outcome of a game, sports bettors can and do influence the ‘betting line’ or ‘point spread’ in order to improve their odds of making a successful bet. Specifically, a gambler intending to make a large bet on one team may first place one or more smaller, strategic bets on the other team to move the betting line and make it more favourable for the ultimate intended bet.”

Indeed, results have shown that betting on sports on a professional level is helped by good knowledge and a knack for predicting the outcomes. There are undoubtedly several helpful tips that aspiring professional punters will want to take into account – but is it always a matter of skill? Even in the most complex games requiring greatest knowledge, the exact win can never be fully determined by a punter’s skill. Betting is still influenced by luck, to some extent – otherwise, one could argue that much of the excitement that comes with sports betting would not be present.

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The short answer is that luck and skill can both influence your chance of winning – but one is certainly more reliable than the other. To any outsider, sports betting may seem to be all a matter of luck, but truth is, highly successful punters cannot simply rely on luck alone. Casino games may be more dependent on good fortune – but sports are far more complex!

When are wagers simply considered a matter of luck, and when do they require great skill? We explore this question in greater detail further down below – read on to find out more!

A Matter of Luck and Skill

The luck vs skill debate can be analysed on a scale. This is illustrated in Michael Mauboussin’s book, The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing. On one end, you’ll find alternative forms of betting, including roulette and lotteries. On the other end are games that rely heavily on skill, such as chess. Sports would fit on the middle of that scale.

Always keep in mind that although sports betting is helped by skill, it still brings no guarantee of a win. The risk factor will always form part of the game. Even if you can truly boast of having the knowledge needed, you need to be realistic and consider your chances of incurring a loss. After all, in cases when large numbers of players are participating in a game, luck tends to form a large part of the equation.

Luck vs Skill: Your Betting Aspirations

The reality is that both luck and skill provide the ability to win a game. In fact, the likelihood of depending on one more than the other often correlates with your betting aspirations. Do you aim to take sports betting up on a serious and professional level, or are you simply looking for a new hobby? There have been many punters who have achieved that one-time, grand win without any previous knowledge or experience in sports betting – but ultimately, it is only the punters who spend time analysing each game and player who are rewarded with multiple, consecutive big wins.

Are Some Sports More Predictable Than Others?

As we previously mentioned, the need for luck vs skill varies according to game. Just as casino games are more likely to require good luck, enjoyable phone games like Candy Land rely entirely on good fortune. On the other hand, certain games depend only on the choices of each player – but could this be the case for different types of sports too?

The ability to predict wins in a sport do vary. For instance, since there are plenty more chances of scoring in basketball than in a game of baseball or hockey, players’ skill is much more important.

In fact as Michael Lopez, a statistician at Skidmore College in New York, said: “If you were to define a lucky break early in a hockey game, that could decide the game, but there’s no such thing in the second quarter of an NBA game.”

The conversation surrounding luck vs skill in sports betting is indeed influenced by certain difference in types of sports. The number of players and opportunities to score are clearly dependable, as well as many other aspects in sports.

For instance football, the world’s most preferred sport, is not typically a predictable one. One must take into consideration that there are three possible outcomes for every match, being victory, draw and defeat. Another unpredictable sport is tennis, which is definitely a favourite among many – but perhaps not a favoured one among inexperienced punters. Tennis is mostly unpredictable due to the fact that the game solely relies on the players. Inconsistent players result in unpredictable matches! With that said, the unpredictable nature of the game gives you the opportunity to win more money as a result of higher odds.

On the other hand, volleyball is definitely considered to be a predictable sport for those with sufficient knowledge, but it still isn’t a favoured sport among punters due to the low number of people who bet on it.

Tips to Increase Your Chances of Winning in Sports Betting

While you cannot control events that occur as a matter of result, there are several ways of improving your betting skills. We’re listing some top tips:

Rid yourself of emotion

Be especially careful of always and blindly backing your team, as this tends to be one of the most common sports betting mistakes. When betting on sports, your personal favourites cannot influence your decision-making process. You might hate the team that has a higher chance of winning, but if you’re looking to get the most out of your wager, then you just have to stick to placing logical bets!

Analyse patterns

Throughout your betting, keep a record of reoccurring events and all your wins and losses. Relying on your analytical skills rather than luck and being organised with your bets provides a higher chance of scoring a larger win.

Set a budget

Anyone betting on sports should be mindful of the money they are willing and able to fork out. Ensure that you have a sturdy betting bankroll management, and that you set an affordable budget – be it daily, weekly, or monthly – and stick to it. Even the wealthiest of punters need to set limits, as no amount of money is infinite. Without proper control of your finances, one can easily overspend and grow overly anxious to win with each wager placed. This, in turn, will affect your chances of placing rational bets that generate the biggest wins.

Seek value

In order to keep to your budget and bet efficiently, it is vital that you look for value – meaning a bet priced at less than what it’s actually worth. For more on this, be sure to check out our article on value betting in sports to find out how you can improve your betting strategy and beat the bookies.

Be selective

Luckily for punters nowadays, bookmakers offer an unending variety of sports, events, and odds to place bets on. However, with this great selection comes great responsibility. Ensure you are selective with your bets, as placing too many wagers can quickly lead to losing more money. It is much easier to actually focus on building your sports betting knowledge and placing carefully thought-out bets. 

Luck vs Skill in Sports Betting FAQs

There is no set answer to this frequently asked question. Each person will have their own spending limits, but it is important that you stick to your budget and keep track of your finances at all times. Never compare your spending habits to that of another punter!
Bookmakers offer all kinds of different features and offers – to find the ideal bookmaker, you should first pick out your priorities and then research to find the bookmakers that will accommodate your needs best. Thankfully, we’ve listed the best betting sites around to make this easier for you!
There is no one-size-fits-all answer here; each bookmaker will offer something different – and new options are always increasing. The smallest and largest bets you can place will vary according to the website you opt for, the sport you bet on, and the type of bet you place. If you’re confused, you can always contact bookmakers to find out about their minimum requirements and limits.

ThePuntersPage Final Say

We hope this article has answered most of your questions on luck vs skill in sports betting! Ultimately, we believe that both luck and skill both have a say in what happens to your bets – but you must always focus on improving your chances by expanding your knowledge and skill, while also acknowledging that the risk of an unlucky event is always present. You can easily grasp the concept of betting online by reading our article on How to Bet Online.