Real Money Esports Betting: How it Works & How to Get Started
It’s taken a while, but competitive video gaming is now firmly established as a legitimate sport. Even to the extent that there’s serious talk of esports being included at the Olympic Games. Nobody questions whether the professional esports scene will survive these days, as that’s no longer in doubt. The real question is, “how big will esports become?” The sport has seen incredible growth in recent years, and there’s no sign at all that it’s slowing down.
The growing exposure of esports to a wider audience has led to a significant increase in related betting activity. It wasn’t too long ago that esports betting was a niche market, catering mostly to a small number of video gaming fans who like to place the occasional wager. Things are VERY different now though. Esports betting has become an extremely popular form of gambling, attracting interest from all kinds of different people.
Real money esports betting is much like traditional sports betting, so a lot of the interest comes from people who already wager on conventional sports. Although they don’t necessarily know much about esports, they’re intrigued by the additional betting opportunities they offer.
Some of the interest in esports comes from those who DO know about the games, but don’t know anything about how the betting works. There’s even interest from people who know nothing about esports OR betting.
The purpose of this article is to help ANYONE who’s interested in real money esports betting. We explain how it works, and talk you through how to get started.
Before You Start
You may be wondering why we use the term “real money” esports betting. Betting ALWAYS involves real money, doesn’t it? Actually, no. There’s a type of esports betting called “skin betting,” and this doesn’t require the use of cash at all. Instead, you can wager using virtual skins and items from games such as Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
We’re of the opinion that real money betting is the best way to bet on esports. However, we also believe that it’s important to learn about skin betting. You might find that it’s a better option for you personally, so it’s worth exploring how it works. We explain everything you need to know in the following article.
There’s actually another alternative to consider too. It’s not TECHNICALLY a form of betting, but it’s often referred to as such. It’s called fantasy esports, and we explain all about it in the article listed below.
Please note that real money esports betting can also be referred to as fixed odds esports betting, or sportsbook esports betting. These terms all mean exactly the same thing. If you decide that it’s the type of betting you want to get involved with, there’s a few questions you need to ask yourself before getting started.
How much do I know about esports?
It’s vital that you have at least SOME esports knowledge before risking any money. We wouldn’t recommend wagering on football (or any other sport) unless you understood how the game is played, and the same principle applies here. Although you don’t need to be an expert in competitive video gaming, you need to know the basics for sure.
If you’re completely new to esports, or only know very little, your very first step should be to learn what they’re all about. We suggest starting with the following article.
You can obviously skip this step if you’re already a fan.
How much do I know about betting in general?
If you already bet on other sports (or at least understand how sports betting works), getting started with esports betting won’t be very difficult at all. As we said earlier, it’s essentially the same as traditional sports betting. You can pretty much dive straight in as soon as you understand what esports are all about.
If you don’t know ANYTHING about betting, however, you’re at a bit of a disadvantage. The good news is that we can help you overcome this disadvantage. We explain how real money esports betting works later in this article, and we cover ALL the basics. This information is enough to get you started, even if you’ve never placed a wager in your life.
With that being said, there’s no harm at all in learning even more. You should also take a look at our introduction to sports betting at some point. Although it’s actually about betting on conventional sports, a lot of the information and advice can also be applied to betting on esports.
Am I betting for fun or profit?
It’s important to have some idea about WHY you want to bet on esports. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is. The overall approach that you should take depends heavily on your objectives. If you’re only really interested in having some fun, then you don’t need to worry about anything but the basics. If you’re serious about making money, however, there’s a lot more to think about.
We cover this topic in more detail in the following article.
We urge you to think VERY carefully about your answer to this question. Please bear in mind that, like any form of gambling, esports betting involves risk. There’s a strong possibility that you’ll lose money, especially when getting started.
It’s ESSENTIAL that you keep the size of any losses under control.
There’s nothing wrong with spending money on gambling. It’s something that millions of people all over the world do, and there’s absolutely no shame in it. It can become an issue, however, if the spending gets out of control. Unfortunately, this can and does happen to some people. You need to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
The easiest way to do this is to first decide how much you’re prepared to spend. This can be a weekly amount, a monthly amount, whatever. It doesn’t matter, just as long as you have some kind of budget in place. You then need to STICK to that budget. This is a golden rule for any form of gambling, and one we really hope you follow.
Once you’ve answered all the above questions, and taken any necessary steps, you’re almost ready to get started. Let’s now take a look at exactly how real money esports betting works.
How Real Money Esports Betting Works
We’re going to keep things as simple as possible here. We don’t NEED to make them complicated, as the basic mechanics of real money esports betting are really quite straightforward. In fact, some of what we’re about to explain might seem blindingly obvious. Just remember that this information is primarily for people that know nothing at all about betting.
The first thing to understand is that real money esports betting involves using the services of a bookmaker. This can be via bookmaking shops, sportsbooks or online betting sites. These organizations all fulfill the same role, and they have three primary functions:
Price up betting markets.
Collect our money when place our wagers.
Pay us money if our wagers win.
You may not know what we mean by “price up betting markets,” so let’s start by explaining this. Betting market is basically just a term used to describe the various things we can bet on, and pricing it up means setting the odds for the available selections.
For example, let’s say a bookmaker was taking wagers on the winner of an upcoming match between Team Liquid and Wings Gaming. There are two possible outcomes here – either Team Liquid wins or Wings Gaming wins. These two outcomes comprise the betting market, and the bookmaker would offer odds for each team winning. The market would look something like this:
Team Liquid VS Wings Gaming
The numbers next to each team are the odds. In this particular example, they’re in decimal format, but you might see odds in either fractional format or moneyline format, too. You can read more about these different formats, and odds in general, in our article, explaining how odds work.
These odds serve two purposes. First, they give us some idea of how likely each outcome is. The lower the number, the more likely the associated outcome is to happen. Second, they tell us how much we stand to win. The higher the number, the bigger any potential payout will be.
For this match, the odds on Wings Gaming winning are lower than the odds on Team Liquid winning. This means that Wings Gaming is the favorite, and the most likely team to win. It doesn’t mean they’re GUARANTEED to win, just that they have a better chance than their opponents.
To place a wager here, we’d have to decide which team we want to back. Let’s assume we go with the favorite and back Wings Gaming. This is known as making our selection. We’d also have to decide how much we want to stake. For the sake of this example, we’ll go with $10.
At the point of making our selection, we’d have to give the bookmaker our $10 stake. The exact process for making our selection and paying our stake depends on what type of bookmaker we’re using, but you don’t need to worry about that just yet. We talk about more about the different types later.
Once we’ve paid over our stake, our wager is made and cannot be cancelled or changed. We now have to wait for the match to see what the result is. If Wings Gaming does win, then our wager is a winner and the bookmakers will pay us our winnings based on the associated odds. If they lose, however, then we’ve lost out $10 stake.
This is pretty much all there is to placing a real money esports wager. As you can see, it’s really not that complicated at all. Picking WINNING selections is a challenge of course, but the act of placing a wager is simple enough.
What makes things slightly more complex is that most bookmakers offer A LOT of different esports markets. We’re not just limited to betting on the winner of individual matches; there are all kinds of wagers we can place, as we’ll now explain.
Types of Esports Wager
In the previous section, we explained how the match winner wager works. This is the most popular type of esports wager, and the one you’ll probably want to focus on as a beginner. This is simply because it’s the most straightforward. It’s usually the easiest wager to get right, too.
However, it’s a good idea to learn about some of the other types of wagers, too. Even though you may not want to use them all regularly, there’s no harm in understanding how they work. Here’s a list of the main ones you should know:
Let’s take a look at how these all work.
Outrights, or futures, are typically wagers on which team (or player) will be the overall winner of a specific competition. They can also be on which teams will qualify for a competition or progress to a particular stage.
Handicaps are the most complicated esports wagers. They involve bookmakers making a hypothetical adjustment to the final score of each team or player. We have to predict which team or player will win AFTER that score adjustment has been made.
The easiest way to explain this type of wager properly is to use an example. Here’s how a typical handicap market looks:
Rox Tigers VS Ever8 Winners
The numbers in brackets next to each team are the relevant handicap. The other numbers are the odds for each team to win after the handicap has been applied.
Rox Tigers has a -1.5 handicap here. This means that they’d have 1.5 points (or maps) “deducted” from their score if we backed them. So, if they won the match 2-1, they’d actually lose, for the purposes of the betting. The final score would effectively be 0.5-1. If they won 2-0, however, the final score would effectively be 0.5-0. This would be a win, for the purposes of the betting.
Ever8 Winners has a +1.5 handicap, which means they’ll have 1.5 points/maps “awarded” if we backed them. If they lost 1-2, the final score would effectively be 2.5-2. They’d therefore win, for the purposes of the betting.
Please note that the handicap adjustment is ONLY applied to the team we choose to back.
Total wagers are where we bet on whether the total number of maps played (or points scored) in a match is over or under a total specified by the bookmaker. We’ll again use an example to demonstrate, for the same match as above.
Rox Tigers VS Ever8 Winners
Here we have to decide whether we think the total number of maps played in this match will be greater or less than 2.5. If we think there’ll be three maps played, we’d back the over. If we think there’ll be two maps played, we’d back the under.
This is a straightforward wager where we have to predict what the exact final score will be in match. Most esports matches are played as either best of one, best of three or best of five, so there is a limited number of possible outcomes. The Rox Tigers versus Ever8 Winners match we’ve used for the previous examples are a best of three match, so the correct score market looks like this:
Rox Tigers VS Ever8 Winners
Specials and props are wagers on events that happen within a match, but don’t necessarily affect the final outcome. Here are some examples:
First team to slay a dragon
First team to slay a baron
Team to destroy the first tower
Team to win the first map
Over/under total number of kills
Over/under total towers destroyed
Team to draw first blood
Over/under total time of match
First team to slay Roshan
Will there be a knife kill?
Will there be a grenade kill?
Odd/even number of rounds
Most valuable player
Team to win first pistol round
Please note that some of these wagers are only available for specific esports game.
We tend to view specials and props as a “fun” type of wager, as most of them are just guesswork, really. There are only a few that we can make properly informed judgements on, so they’re not ideal when the aim is to make money.
You know (at least) a little bit about competitive video gaming. You know how real money esports betting works, and you’re familiar with the different types of wager involved. You’re now ready to get actually get started and begin placing wagers. What’s next? Let’s talk you through it.
How to Get Started – A Step-By-Step Guide
Once you’re fully prepared for esports betting, getting started is pretty easy. There are just four steps you need to follow, and we’ve outlined each one for you here.
Step1Set a budget
Yes, we know we’ve mentioned this already. It’s important though, so we’re happy to be repeating ourselves. Before you put ANY money at risk, make sure you have a budget in place. You should know exactly how much you’re prepared to spend, and this should obviously be an affordable amount.
Remember that you’re far more likely to lose than win. That might change once you’ve gained some experience, and you may even start winning right away. Realistically though, you’re probably going to lose as a beginner.
We won’t mention this again, but PLEASE follow this step.
Step2Decide where to bet
We told you earlier that real money esports betting involves using the services of a bookmaker. We also explained that there are three main types of bookmaker: bookmaking shops, sportsbooks and online betting sites. Before you can start placing wagers, you need to decide which of these types you want to use.
It’s worth pointing out that you might not have a lot of choice here. Bookmaking shops are common in a few countries, such as the United Kingdom, but they simply don’t exist in some regions. The same applies to sportsbooks. You’ll find these in the casinos of Las Vegas and in various other locations, too, but not in every part of the world.
If you don’t live close to a bookmaking shop or sportsbook, then you’re basically limited to using betting sites. And this is no bad thing, as they’re the best way to bet on esports anyway. We suggest using them even if you live right next door to a bookmaking shop!
Thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of esports betting, there are A LOT of sites to choose from. Many established sports betting sites have started offering esports betting markets over the last few years, and there have been a number of specialist esports sites launched, too.
Most of these sites are a fairly good standard in our experience. There are some that are pretty terrible though, and even some that are borderline crooked. With this in mind, you need to be careful when choosing which ones to join. You need to do some research into all of the options, and be sure to stick to the reputable and trustworthy operators.
Alternatively, you can just follow our recommendations. The following sites are definitely reputable and trustworthy, and they’re also very high quality. These are the sites WE use for our esports betting, so we’re confident you’ll like them too.
These are not the only sites we recommend, and there are some alternative options on the page listed below. There’s also an explanation of how we decide which sites to recommend, along with some useful advice for betting online.
The next decision you need to make is which game(s) to bet on. This is an easy decision if you’re already an esports fan, as the logical thing to do is just focus on the games you know best. It’s not so easy though if you’re new to esports and not yet familiar with all the games.
We can help with this decision, too! We recommend starting with one or two of the most popular games. These typically offer the best betting opportunities, and they’re the easiest to learn about as there’s so much information available. Any of the following games are good to get started with:
We’ve provided more details on these games, and some others too, on the page listed below.
This is the step you’ve been waiting for! Having decided where to bet and what to bet on, it’s finally time to start making selections and placing wagers. This is easy to do, but not so easy to do well. If you’re to stand any chance of making money on a regular basis, you need to make accurate assessments of what’s likely to happen. This is more difficult than you might think.
We can’t tell you EXACTLY how to go about picking your esports betting selections. Unfortunately, there’s no perfect system for consistently making winning wagers. What we can do, however, is teach you how to go about things in the right way. Our experts have put together a collection of useful tips that will help you become an accomplished bettor in no time.