2020 was a bad year for Canadian sports. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Canadian Football League (CFL) was canceled before it even began, while the box lacrosse (NLL), basketball (NBA), and hockey (NHL) seasons were severely disrupted. However – 2021 seems like it should offer more in the way of uninterrupted sporting dockets, thanks to increased testing, team bubbles – and the forthcoming vaccines.
The sporting calendar should also throw up plenty of opportunities for Canadian betting fans to place wagers on their favorite sports. But how can gamblers improve their sportsbook experience in 2021? Here are 5 tried and trusted rules to get the most out of your money.
Focus on sports that you know best
Bookmakers tend to make the highest profits on obscure events where the customers cannot be expected to know enough information about the sports, competitions or teams involved. Canadian bettors tend to understand their own traditional sports the best. These include lacrosse, football (both the NFL and CFL varieties), and hockey. Thanks to the exploits of the Toronto Raptors in recent years, Canada’s sports betting community has also become well-versed in basketball, particularly the NBA – although the NCAA March Madness tournament should also prove popular. During the early days of the pandemic, sportsbooks were pushing the few competitions which were still running – Belarussian soccer and Thai table tennis were the main standouts. In the absence of any other sports to bet on, the public wagered heavily on these events, and the sportsbooks walked away with higher profit margins than usual since few could find an edge on these games. By sticking to sports you know, you at least have a chance of handicapping the sportsbooks. Stray too far from your comfort zone, and the bookies will take full advantage.
Choose an online betting provider that doesn’t squeeze you for too much juice
Each online betting site sets its own odds, as well as its own margin (also known as the juice, or vigorish, or overround), and the differences in value can be huge. By selecting a sportsbook with a fair and predictable approach to pricing, you can enjoy a 2% or 3% edge over other gamblers. And that’s per game! Over the course of a full NFL season (256 regular games, plus playoffs), then your choice of sportsbook can be the difference between wiping out your bankroll and staying afloat long enough to come out ahead in the end. This same phenomenon also holds true across tournaments like the NBA, English Premier League soccer, golf, tennis, and more. Shopping around for fair odds is something that should be on every serious sports bettor’s agenda. Canada actually has some advantages in this respect, as European online bookmakers are available in most provinces, leading to better competition. In the US, the monopolies and duopolies of the sports betting markets in each state often lead to eye-wateringly high vigs of over 10%.
Stay away from parlay bets
We all love parlay bets, even if they make very bad financial sense for the sports bettor. The idea of holding a potentially winning ticket in your pocket, where a small investment can theoretically result in a huge windfall, is such a seductive one that it’s no wonder that many of us can’t resist (I know better, and even I am often tempted by parlay bets). But there are two reasons why parlays are bad for gamblers and great for sportsbooks. The first is that they pay off so infrequently that your variance is enormous, requiring a big bankroll to survive the long stretches of losing bets. A bookmaker can cope with the occasional parlay payout, as they aggregate the small number of winners with the huge amount of losing bets. Can you? It’s unlikely. The second reason is that the juice/margin/vig on each bet is compounded in a parlay bet, meaning that even the occasional winners will pay out a big chunk to the bookie. It’s just not worth it, even when you win. These kinds of bets make no sense.
Stay away from futures markets
Another kind of bet where the math just does not stack up is the futures markets. By this, I mean those outright bets which start coming out months ahead of the competition, with titles like ‘who will win the Superbowl?’, and ‘who will win the Stanley Cup?’. These are enticing bets, but the uncertainty inherent in betting on the Superbowl winner in July means that sportsbooks jack up the vig to crazy high levels. You will often see margins of 20% or higher on these books – it’s really hard for Canadian sports betting fans to overcome that hurdle, even if they do predict the result correctly. If you are tempted by such a futures bet, then save your money, and just bet on that team to win each game.
But there is value to be had on the in-play markets
In-play markets (also called live betting) is one area where Canadian sports betting fans can actually use their skill and knowledge to find value and gain an advantage over the bookmakers. Again, you can only do this on sports that you know inside out, but if you can study how each team (or each player) tends to perform differently at certain points in a game, then you can use that info to search for value discrepancies. Does a particular hockey player score more in a third period than in the previous two? Then there might be an opportunity to bet on that player in the ‘next to score’ market. In-play betting is a fast-moving game, where the stats gurus and odds setters at the bookies can sometimes find themselves playing catch-up, and if you are prepared and have done your homework, this is where you will beat them.
We are looking forward to saying good riddance to the horrible 2020 and welcoming in the New Year and the new sporting calendar. We also look forward to watching some top-level Canadian sport and having the occasional wager too. We will be sure to use the five rules above to aid our success, and suggest you do the same! Good luck and bonne chance!