The risks associated with sports betting my way

I’m interested in sports betting purely as a way to make a few dollars with my otherwise idle poker bankroll. I’m particularly interested in arbitrage opportunities and bonus chasing. I believe that it is possible (and I think this may be conservative) to earn 1% on my sports wagering bankroll every other week after I’ve fully exhausted the bonus opportunities. In my more optimistic moments, I think I could do it weekly. When I compare the 0% NeTeller is paying me in interest and the 3% offered by my bank, 26% or 52% looks pretty darn good to me.
As an attorney, my lovely bride spends most of her time anticipating any possible way that things could go wrong and she and I have brainstormed the dangers of this pastime extensively. As best we can figure, here are the potential dangers in this game:

1) Financial collapse of a sportsbook while holding my money. This seems like the biggest risk to us. These sportsbooks are operating in a legal grey area, so they could scam you out of your money with very little recourse available to you. Moreover, they are in a highly risky business and it is almost impossible to obtain trustworthy information about their capitalization and business sense in running a profitable sportsbook. Because your goal is usually to win all your money into one book, they can end up holding a whole lot of money and it would be tragic if they didn’t handle your cashout. I’m mitigating this risk by doing a lot of homework first. I check Sportsbook Review and The Offshore Wire for reviews and have stuck thus far to the top rated books in both places. I also scan the popular message boards for any discussion of slow paying or bad experiences with a particular site. Its not perfect, but I’m semi-comfortable with this approach. If something goes terribly wrong, this is what I think it will be

2) One thinks of my style of wagering as pretty much risk-free, but there are a few ways you could screw it up. You could inadvertantly bet the same side twice instead of betting both sides of a contest or you could make a data entry error on one of the sites and not bet the proper offsetting amounts on each side. This would put you in the position of actually gambling on the outcome of the event, which clearly involves risk. I’ve already made one mistake that is a variation on this. I thought I was betting at a site that would reimburse 10% of my losses and I factored that into my balancing equation only to learn that the fine print excluded me from getting the 10% back. This cost me almost $400 — but the bonus that they paid more than made up for the mistake. I’m still very, very careful when I enter the numbers and calculate the proper bet amounts, but there is some risk that I will eventually get sloppy as I get more comfortable playing this game.

3) An event could cancel under the rules of one site (a one day postponement due to weather, for instance) and still be valid under the terms of the other site. This could again cause you to be making an at-risk wager on an evernt where you didn’t intend to do so. If you are careful and make the offsetting bet later, even if it means locking in a loss, you can protect against this danger.

4) If you don’t pay close attention to the betting limits, a site might retroactively reduce your wager and leave you with an at-risk situation. Most of the top rated sites will alert you at the time you place the bet and not accept a wager that exceeds their limits, but I’ve read some horror stories of sites that change your wager after the fact. The worst stories involve sites that reduce your wager after you win, but take your stake when you lose. Careful research should avoid those sites, but you should also read the rules at each site carefully and try to make the right wagers. I have a spreadsheet with each sites bonus terms and wager limits that I refer to all the time.

Finding appropriate betting opportunities costs some effort and you won’t find suitable ones every time you look, but when you do find them it can be like free money. The Internet was abuzz today with various opportunites to get $0.25 scalps on the Rose Bowl tonight. This equated to a 3% return on your money, which is crazy. Sadly, because I had to work late I didn’t get in on any of that action.

I’m a pretty cautious guy and I’m convinced that this is going to be a profitable venture. I’ve also found a few angles that seem like they will assure an even higher rate of return, that I’m not yet prepared to post in “public.” Drop me an email if you decide to get into sportsbetting and I’ll dish.


My first forays into SportsBetting

My main man Bullajami talked me into jumping into the world of sports betting two weeks ago. I had always avoided it because it seems like the kind of gambling that your mother warned you about. You know what I mean, every movie that starts with someone betting on sports always ends with the same guy getting his kneecaps busted up with a baseball bat or living on the streets.

So far, it doesn’t look like either one is going to happen to me. I’m limiting myself to the highest rated sportsbooks by Sportsbook Review (which may or may not be reliable). Some people say that they effectively get kickbacks from sites who get the highest scores, but you’ve got to trust someone. Consumer Reports isn’t likely to do an off-shore wagering issue anytime soon.

I signed up with Pinnacle, CRIS and Hollywood. All highly rated and all with some kind of decent bonus offer. Hollywood offered $750 in cash and $750 in free plays on a $5,000 deposit. CRIS offered $1,000 in free play on a $5,000 deposit and Pinnacle offered $500 on a $5,000 deposit. I decided to wager them against each other willy-nilly and sort out the damage once I was done.

I looked for arbitrage bets and found what seemed like solid bets on every event. Since I had money on both teams, I pretty much knew what the results would be before games were played. Unfortunately, I misunderstood the terms of one of the bonuses and gave up almost $400 in value by misplaying my wagers. Fortunately, the bonuses covered my mistake and then some. I busted out of Pinnacle and lost most of my roll in Hollywood. CRIS almost tripled.

I can’t get my money out of CRIS until I’ve wagered a whole bunch of money, so I need to keep betting against them as often as I can. I added some more money to Pinnacle and got a $100 bonus on a $500 deposit at VIP. I managed to lose the entire $600 in one bet to Pinnacle and then lost all the Pinnacle money into CRIS again. At this point, I’ve done it for two weeks and I’m up $2,200. Of that total, $46.63 is my profit on arbitrage and the rest is bonus money. I’m not sure this will be a great money maker once I exhaust the bonuses, but it is pretty good when you add them in.

I’m going to try to finally burn through my wagering requirement at CRIS and get at least one other bonus this week. I’ve also got a $150 freeroll wager to place, which should yield at least $100 risk-free. I’ll post something on the strategy of freeroll betting later.


Wrapping up my Full Contact bonus hunt

I had a boring session where I drifted down $71, mostly by trying to get too cute and bluff with people who weren’t going to fold if I had a neon sign proclaiming “Rockets” flashing over my avatar.  Speaking of which, the PokerRoom avatars are really stupid.  My first order of business on any new skin is to set up my four colored deck and turn off the stupid avatars and cutesy animations.  I ended this chase up $248 and I cleared $403 in bonus.  At least I think I cleared $403 in bonus.  FCP is lame and won’t tell me if I really cleared it until sometime tomorrow.  I won’t be back here unless I need to crank out some more points to stay in the top 100 on the leaderboard.

Full Contact also has the most freerolls I’ve ever seen.  I was in one last weekend, where I donked off my chips with JJ against KK near the bubble.  I was getting short-stacked and bored and figured it was put up or shut up time.  I don’t even think that one got me any closer to the big protege thing anyhow.  I got an email tonight inviting me to some freerolls for Seat One.  I have to finish in the top 40 of any one of ten freerolls to advance to stage 2.  They start Friday.  I have no idea how many people will enter.  I should also be in the Seat 3 freeroll and the Seats 8, 9 and 10 freerolls.  There is also a play-money Seat 4 freeroll, but I don’t think I can handle that one because it would make six freerolls.

They also sent me an invitation to a “Weekend at Daniel’s Freeroll” which apparently will send 8 people to Vegas for SuperBowl weekend for some poker and a private party to watch the game.  I never know to value these freerolls, but after I won big in the CheckNRaise one I don’t just ignore them any more.


My quest to be Daniel Negreanu’s protégé

I have been something of a poker slacker so far this shiny new year. My only play has been on Full Contact (a PokerRoom skin), chasing a $400 bonus. The clearance rate isn’t nearly as good as the previous PokerRoom romps I did, but it is going well enough. I’ve been really concentrating on my multi-tabling and have been running 4 tables of full-ring 5/10 whenever there is enough action to justify it. I’m up $318 on the chase so far, which is not bad but pales next to the $1,068 I was up before I got savaged on the 25/50 tables. I normally eat the 25/50 tables up and this was a typical soft lineup, but everything seemed to go the wrong way. C’est la vie!

I’m paying some attention to the protégé promotion. The method of deciding who will get to be the protégé is the most Byzantine arrangement you ever saw (1,500 years later and those guys still get credit for being schemers — they must have been something!) The intermediate target is to qualify for a seat in a 10 person sit-n-go on some all-expenses paid casino boondoggle. It seems like the easiest seats to get are the ones that limit the field to a small number. I’m currently looking to qualify for the top 100 on the points leaderboard seat. The points are earned per dollar paid in rake and I’m currently sitting in 39th position. I have another 700 points or so that they haven’t given me credit for yet so I’m almost 4,000 points above the 100th person. I intend to complete the bonus chase tonight and have enough points to stay in the top 100 by the end of this period (January 15th).

I’ve been following the Negreanu/Dreamclown heads-up matches on fullcontact and he doesn’t seem like the same affable goof in the chat there he does on TV. He’s clearly a very ego-driven, competitive guy and he gives at least as good as he gets in the chat. Some of the chest-thumping is clearly silly, but it does show another side to the guy. However, I’ve played in a few ring games and SNGs with him and he was just as friendly and laid back as he could be.

If I won, I don’t know how much the interaction with Daniel is worth, but having someone pick up $40,000 in buy-ins and possibly getting staked to some higher limit games seems pretty cool. I’m probably more likely to become an astronaut, but the odds have got to better than the lottery.

Once I wrap this chase up, I’ll have to decide what I’m doing poker-wise. I may just go back to looting and sacking the Party 15/30 and 30/60 tables. I’m pretty sure nothing else I do is as lucrative in terms of dollars per hour.


Welcome to my blog.

I’ve decided to start documenting some of my poker and sportsbetting play here. I’m really something of a neophyte in the sports betting world, but I’m finding it to be easy money so far.

I hope that I’ll be able to find something faintly interesting to say to you. At the moment I’m not off to such a stellar start!