A Blunt Introduction into the World of Sports Betting

Updated: January 10, 2019 at 1:46 pm by Andy MacNeil

When the fine folks here at the Nation Network contacted yours truly and asked whether or not I’d be willing to provide Daily Faceoff with sports gambling content, I jumped at the opportunity. It’s an exciting opportunity to reach an audience that’s insanely passionate about hockey but might not be all that familiarized with the world of sports betting.

Thanks in large part to the legalization of single game wagering in the United States, sports betting is becoming more and more mainstream. As a result, almost every sports media outlet has started producing sports betting content, but do these outlets see value in the content itself? While sports betting start ups are busy hiring media types that — until recently — were giving us the inside scoop on stadium hot dogs, the Nation Network has handed me — a sports bettor — the reins.

The responses vary when I tell people that I’m a sports bettor. I mean, it is still pretty taboo. Some people are genuinely curious, and they’ll ask questions with an open mind. That makes for good conversation and I really enjoy those encounters. Others are skeptical and argumentative, citing things like match fixing and claiming that “Vegas knows”, you know the type of people I’m talking about. While I can appreciate their cynicism, I can’t appreciate their almost religious determinism regarding something that involves so much chance. That type of thinking really has no place in this domain.

Then there are the more conservative types, who upon learning of my gambling activities, assume that I’m an immoral degenerate. I don’t take offence, though, because gambling has a bad rap and it’s not for no good reason. However, this response has a lot to do with the how someone was brought up and their unwillingness to explore the subject. Yes, gambling can impact your life (financially or otherwise) in an unpleasant way. If you take the time to understand and appreciate the uncertainty that’s involved with gambling, though, while also betting responsibly, it shouldn’t affect your life negatively at all.

Sports betting can be a great escape from everyday life — a hobby — and you don’t have to be a big winner to enjoy it. A lot of people that bet on sports have fun just breaking even. Sure, you can always strive for better results, but in the grand scheme of things, if you’re not risking more than you can afford to lose, and you’re having fun, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a little skin in the game. A lot of readers probably golf, play video games, or go to the movies on the weekend. Sports betting really isn’t any different, and if you approach it the right way, you might even make a return on your investment.

In fact, there really isn’t much difference between gambling and investing. By definition, taking a gamble means to take a risky action in the hope of a desired result. Investing, on the other hand, is defined as expending money with the expectation of making a profit. When it comes to comparing investing and sports betting, it seems the former is heralded as a game of skill while the latter is considered a game of chance and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Success in sports betting, investing — and life — is a mixture of skill and luck.

Finally, the most frequent response I get when I tell people that I’m a sports bettor, is advice, and one hundred percent of it is extremely bad. Whether these people are rhyming off useless trends, or telling me about the picks that their buddy Todd’s betting system generated, you know, the one he created shortly after marijuana was legalized? It only takes about thirty seconds to see right through the soul of a stereotypical square gambler.

So, what exactly is a square? A square is an uniformed gambler, who doesn’t really know why they bet what they bet. Squares make up the vast majority of the gambling population and they win and lose as a consequence of luck. Statistically, most of the people reading this are squares. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, though, and it’s better that we have a come to Jesus meeting now, rather than later. What’s that? Yes. I totally just anointed myself Gambling Jesus™ and I fully intend on having that meeting with readers here at the Daily Faceoff.

Now, playing the role of Gambling Jesus™ won’t necessarily involve me telling you which teams you should bet on but the Nation Network has you covered. They’ve partnered with Emmanuel Perry and Corsica Hockey to provide you with NHL picks each and everyday. The content I produce here will — for the most part — not have a shelf life, at least not a short one. We’ll be diving into the philosophy, psychology and science associated with gambling — and hockey for that matter — with the hope that each time readers come away with a greater appreciation and understanding of what it takes to be more than an everyday square.

Do I have all of the answers? No, and if I did, I wouldn’t give them to you. I am a gambler, after all, and I’d expect nothing less from any reader that has their head screwed on properly. Even if I did have all of the answers, and I was willing to share them, we’re dealing with pretty efficient markets here and value has a shelf life. In other words, just when you think you know the answers, the questions change. Therefore, my goal here isn’t to make you a profitable sports bettor, that would be a waste of my time, and yours. My goal is to make you a wiser gambler.

What’s next?

So here’s the ultimatum, which, is what a come to Jesus meeting is all about. If you’re dead set on betting with your gut, we can’t be (gambling) friends. It’s just not going to work and it’s not me, it’s you. This doesn’t have to end with hellfire and brimstone raining down on you and destroying your sports betting dreams, but that’s up to you, the aspiring sports bettor, and your willingness to learn. Which brings me to, and leaves you with, the topic of my next article here at Daily Faceoff. People don’t like being put into boxes, especially one that implies you are the type of gambler (a square) that casinos love. Being profiled is part of being a sports bettor, though, and it’s important to understand what factors ultimately help industry professionals label you if you wish to find wins that are driven by something more than just chance.

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Andy MacNeil

I’ve been betting on sports and writing about gambling for several years. I currently write for the Vegas Stats and Information Network’s online magazine, Point Spread Weekly, and I’ve recently signed on with the Nation Network to provide Daily Faceoff readers with the knowledge they need to become sharper bettors. You can follow me on Twitter @BetAndyBet
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