Sports betting, and specifically counter-bets (those where the player bets against the house), are among the markets where people invest the most money. But with so many options out there, choosing a sport to bet on can be a daunting experience even for the more seasoned bettors amongst us. Have you ever found yourself a bit lost over what sport to bet on?
For people starting their adventure in the world of betting, and even for those who still haven’t found their niche and play-style, one of the most frequently asked questions is: what sport should I bet on?
To help you answer this question, we’ll give you a couple of tips and tricks that will help you decide which sport is most suited to you. You might also want to check out our tips on using sports tipsters, as some of the advice may be helpful too.
Pick a sport you know and enjoy
A simple trick when it comes to betting is that the best strategy is to pick a certain sport and specialise in it. If you choose to bet on sports like you are buying lottery tickets, it might be entertaining, but don’t expect to make any money.
Keeping this in mind, it’s always better to choose a sport you like. One that you naturally want to be informed of, and one where you want to analyse the results, rules, teams and strategies.
The reason is simple: if something really interests you, you’ll always be a lot more motivated. Because of that, your knowledge and your commitment will naturally be bigger, you’ll enjoy yourself more and you won’t get discouraged if you don’t get great results at the beginning.
Keep in mind the forecast difficulty
You could be the master of a sport, but there are always unpredictable factors: a last minute goal, a foul in the penalty box, or a trip in the last second… They are not easy to predict or quantify because each sport is a game of chance, and so whether each person or team wins or loses cannot be predicted using just statistics.
Even so, there are always sports that are simpler than others when it comes to predicting a winner or a result.
For example, it is hard to predict the outcome of cycling competitions as there are so many racers competing and only one winner. Even when we account for the fact that from the 200 or so that start, only 10 or 15 actually stand a chance (5-6 if we talk about a big event like the Tour de France), statistically you still have a smaller probability of winning than in sports where the variables are not five, but two.
Conversely, in basketball it’s easier to accurately determine who’s favourite. A simple comparison, for example, between the amount of matches each team has won in the regular season serves as a much better indicator of the outcome (although by no means a sure prediction) compared to cycling.
Give preference to sports with only two possible outcomes
Sports that have only two possible outcomes (win-lose) are statistically easier to bet on, because a third outcome (such as a tie) means the probability of winning is lower. For this reason alone, sports like basketball or tennis - two of the most popular sports with two outcomes - are amongst the best ones for betting.
Just so you get the idea, discounting all external factors like competency and form, the probability for a bet with only two possible outcomes starts at 50%, while a bet with three possible outcomes is 33%. Of course, other factors usually influence these enormously, but starting out with a higher probability is always better.
Cycling, for example, has too many possible outcomes even when you disregard the non-favourite racers.
Soccer, despite being a very popular sport, can have a draw or tie change the outcome at the very last minute. The total percentage of ties in soccer matches hovers between 27% and 35%, so it’s not an uncommon outcome - but it’s notoriously hard to get right too.
If you still pick soccer because is the sport you like and know the most about, a good way to increase your chances of winning to pick different markets, such as “Both Teams To Score” or “No Team To Score”. By doing so, you reduce the inherent risks of a multi-outcome and level the starting probability at 50%. This kind of bet is not always available, but Cloudbet offer many special soccer markets - so be sure to check them out.
In basketball and tennis, a tie is pretty uncommon or non-existent. There’s also always a final winner and you can bet on that at least. For that reason they are easiest sports to win on when betting, because there are only two possible outcomes and always one winner.
Pick sports with high odds and a variety of live matches
The odds during live matches can sometimes vary wildly, and this is a very important factor to keep in mind.
Sports like tennis and basketball also have very high odds, especially when live, which can lead to great opportunities. Oscillation on odds when matches are live are extreme, sometimes spiking from 1.32 to 7.5 at a moment’s notice.
In tennis, the oscillation in the results are stronger point-by-point when in tie-breaks (sudden death), because for every point a player scores, the other player loses one.
When live betting on basketball, it’s important to bare in mind that the overall scores can change at anytime because teams can score every 30 seconds. This means that if one team has a 10 points lead, the other one can catch up pretty quick with two or three good offensive or defensive plays.
By contrast, scoring goals in soccer is not that simple and that makes matches much slower. This means that if one team has a two goal lead over the other it might be hard for the other team to tie that match - and thus the live variance is smaller.
Bet on popular sports
Popular sports offer a broader variety of markets and odds, as well as more options when it comes to tournaments and competitions. There are simply more matches when a sport is more popular, which also helps when it comes to gathering information and finding live matches, where you can get the best value from fluctuating live odds.
What are the best sports to bet on?
So, after all that, we can conclude that the best sports to bet on are those with two possible outcomes (win-lose), those with high odds and those that are popular. As long as you like the sport and it interests you - you’ll get motivated to dedicate more time and effort to it.
Individual preferences aside, these are the best value sports you can bet on:
Basket is such an attractive and spectacular sport to watch, with the NBA and EuroLeague being the greatest leagues in the world and seeing the most money invested into bets. In basketball, a draw is very very uncommon, and it’s also pretty easy to determine which team is the favourite just by taking a look at the regular season scoreboard. It also tends to have the best odds when betting live.
Most popular bets on Basketball:
Winner of the match
Goes to extra time
Bets per Quarter
This elegant sport also attracts a lot of money in bets, with the four major Grand Slams - the Australian Open, French Open, US Open and Wimbledon - usually doing the best throughout the year. Draws don’t exist in tennis, making it way easier to predict an outcome, and placing trade bets is easy too as the sport sees huge odds fluctuations during live matches.
Most popular bets on Tennis:
Winner of the tournament
Winner of the match
Exact result (sets/games)
Handicap results (sets/games)
Soccer (beware of multiple outcomes)
This is the king of sports for most people as it combines tactics, physical effort, surprise capability and a whole load of emotion. Even though a draw is possible, thereby making it harder than the other two sports as there are three possible outcomes, there are an overwhelming amount of leagues and matches played around the globe daily. Some bookies feature over 40,000 soccer matches every day, and combined with the perks of betting on them live too, you are left with an incredible amount of markets to bet on.
Most popular bets on soccer:
Winner of the match
Number of goals (Over/Under)
Mixed Martial Arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the world right now, and has become a firm favourite amongst sports bettors. It is better than boxing as you don't tend to see a clear favourite in the MMA match-ups, with the best usually competing against the best. This gives you pretty great odds to take advantage of.
Most popular bets on MMA:
Winner of the fight
This is one of the biggest betting markets in the world, led by the NFL and NCAA Football (College Football). It is pretty easy to get quality information for your analysis thanks to their huge popularity and following, and the sport also provides you with amazing opportunities when betting live thanks to the fact that most games are decided by the last play or in the last minute.
Most popular bets on American Football:
Winner of the match
Other good sports to bet on include:
On the other hand, the hardest sports to bet on are the ones that have too many possible outcomes, those that are unpopular, those that have low odds and those that you don’t really like.