Believe it or not, we get our conflicting attitudes on sports betting from the ancient Romans. They enjoyed gambling so much — but then alternatively felt so guilty for doing it — that they prohibited everything but sports gambling, which they allowed only during Saturnalia, a week-long festival before Christmas.

History even has its first “degenerate gambler” in emperor Augustus. It was written:

“After he has twice been beaten at sea and lost his ships,
he plays at dice all the time, in the hope of winning one victory.”

We all know that feeling! The cold streak. If you’ve ever said to yourself, “Wow, I should really just bet the opposite of everything I think,” you know a thing or two about it. “The slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune.” Hamlet could just as easily have been talking about a 98th minute winning goal.

Why is sports betting fun?

The truth is that a successful gambler needs to win only 52.38% of his bets. This is not difficult, being just slightly more difficult than a coin toss. This is not to say that most gamblers are profitable. Like any bell curve, most people just about break even. But even when we’re a under 52.38%, we still do it… well… because it’s fun.

It’s a lot of fun. It makes things “interesting.” Sportsbooks are really the only way a fan can participate in the competition itself. (Nothing stops them from trying, though.) A sports bet is just the salt a fan puts on his game, right before he eats it, to make it more enjoyable.

If you had thought Jameis Winston was going to win the Heisman trophy five months ago, you could have taken that action at +1242, for a projected 7.5% chance. A win would have paid 13.42 bitcoins for every coin wagered. What a win! The only person who had more fun that day was Jameis Winston himself.

You could win BTC by rooting for your favorite player.

Or Auburn vs. Alabama. With just one second left on the clock, a 57-yard missed field goal attempt was returned by the Tigers for a touchdown. The odds on Auburn were +322. That’s one bitcoin in for 4.22 bitcoins out. If that’s not a juicy steak, I don’t know what is.

If you tossed a coin five times, you would have one chance in 32 of getting a particular result. Which is about 3%. But if you parlay five bets, you can beat those odds slightly: +2386 (or 4%). This means that you need only be slightly smarter than five coin tosses to get a 24.86 bitcoin payout from a one bitcoin bet. That’s juicy steaks for a few months.

Betting is fun, and it makes us feel intelligent because we get to use technical terms like “probability” and “statistics”. It makes us feel sophisticated because we can say “we didn’t take the points”, “the vig is too high”, or “I took the under on 47.”

How is bitcoin revolutionizing the sportsbook industry?

With bitcoin, we feel even smarter. But more importantly, bitcoin allows us to finally leave behind the quasi-legality and uneasy feelings which previously accompanied our hobby. They were diminished, but not entirely vanquished by the Internet.

The fact that the currency is anonymous and decentralized means that in an era of shifty-eyed governments and financial institutions, we find real value in escaping some of our less-sane regulations and regulators.

Fortunately, betting with bitcoin is completely legal. And actually, sports betting is good for privacy. (But, obviously, you have to win.)

It could even increase your anonymity online. StackExchange user StackKeeper wrote last August about anonymity, “There are [a] great amount of gambling sites. Just go … to [the] poker room, and wash your money in one of rooms.”

There are tons of websites for bitcoin sports betting, which you can learn more about here on Bitcoin Reviewer. Your game is your meal — please “salt” it how you like. I can’t tell you how to bet, but I can share with you the rules that I myself follow.

Here are my five rules to successful betting.

  1. Never put in the middle what you can’t kiss goodbye.
  2. It’s best to have a wallet dedicated to sports bets.
  3. Use a site that generates as many new addresses as possible: once per bet is ideal, but once per deposit is acceptable. If you have one deposit address per account, it’s alright if you don’t mind a possible loss of privacy.
  4. Gamble responsibly.
  5. Remember that there is no such thing as a “sure thing.”

If anyone calls you a degenerate gambler, tell them an entertaining anecdote such as — but not necessarily identical to — the following:

The inventor of the spread bet was Charles McNeil, who taught grade-school math to a young John F. Kennedy.

During the Great Depression, McNeil laid odds on the next person to be fired from where he worked, where he sold securities. But the boss heard about his high odds in the pool, and took it personally, firing McNeil instead. (Some would call this game-fixing or rigging.)

McNeil made an average of $320,000 a year, ending in 1957. With inflation, this adjusts to about $2.7 million today. Annually. As a “degenerate sports gambler.” Incredible.

(Optional) Then say, “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I drink X” (where X is the beer you are drinking).

Enjoy your games.

3 Responses

  1. Jeorge Wim

    It is such an interesting way to gamble. I am a great fan of betting and I do it once in a while to have fun and make money.

  2. Mitja

    Your post was very well written and I was thoroughly impressed by it. I love to bet on sports through the online sites and I am sure the strategies that you mentioned in this post will be useful to me in my coming bets. Thank you very much! ~Mitja


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