What is the Most Difficult Sport to Bet On?

bet on sports

How to assess the difficulty of a sports discipline? Or measure the difficulty level of predicting a particular sport? Where is it better for a player to believe the opinion of a bookmaker, and where to listen to intuition? And where the risk is not worth it? We answer these questions with the help of three different systems for assessing the difficulty of betting on top sports.

What is more difficult to bet on? Football and baseball — scientists from New Mexico and Boston answer

In December 2005, scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico and the Department of Physics at Boston University published the work What is the most competitive sport?

The database is unique: results for the entire XX century in five sports — American football, basketball, baseball, hockey (all in the USA) and English football. The bookmakers’ estimates were taken as a basis: when the favorite won and when the success went to the outsider. The sport where underdogs won more often was recognized as the most competitive.

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Eli Ben-Haim, co-author of the work, in an interview with New Scientist magazine at the end said: “If there are no sensations, then all sports are predictable and boring.”

Let’s go straight to the results of the research. The results of the research on the competitiveness of sports showed that English football (coefficient of competitiveness – 0.452) and Major League Baseball (coefficient of competitiveness – 0.441) are leading in this list, having a solid advantage over three other sports. Hockey (0.414), basketball (0.365) and American football (0.364) were left behind with lower scores.

However, this story has an alternative ending. According to scientists, if we take into account only the last 10 years, MLB is far ahead of the English Premier League, breaking ahead in the ranking of the most difficult sports for betting.

Results: Football (Premier League) and Baseball (MLB).

What is more difficult to bet on? Follow the money!

The famous phrase “Follow the money!” is the second system for assessing the difficulty of betting on a particular sport. Bookmakers are especially careful about those disciplines and those championships that receive more bets from users.

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The coefficients, lines, list here are worked out to the ideal and clearly drawn up, the error factor is reduced to zero. A player can win or lose a bet, but the bookmaker will always be in profit due to margin and balancing the money lines for the match. 

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So, we need to find out which sports had the most bets placed for, for example, 2021. Football leads with 23% of the total bets. Then horse racing (10.3%), basketball (10%) and baseball (10%). Curiously, cricket is in fourth place.

Results: Football and Horse Racing.

What is the most difficult sport to bet on? Add up your luck and skills

On Amazon, for some $19.24, you can buy (or listen to for free) a book by Michael J. Mauboussin “The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing.

At the base of the work is the estimate of the factors of sportsmanship in combination with luck. The author tries to find out in which sport luck plays a big part, and in which less. Based on the five seasons studied in the largest leagues in the world, Michael J. Mauboussin built his skill-luck continuum.

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If you look at the result of the research, the NHL championship turned out to be the closest to roulette and lottery, followed by the NFL, MLB and the English Premier League. The NBA turned out to be the most predictable.

The result: Hockey (NHL) and American football (NFL).

In conclusion 

We note that football (not American, but European) got into the top according to two counting systems. The most popular sport for betting in the end can be considered the most difficult.

However, in betting, as in life, there is no black and white. Different calculation systems have produced different results in terms of the level of complexity of sports for betting (the level of predictability), and this is logical. Statistics and figures can describe the formation of the line for the match, its correction after the players’ bets. But betting is much deeper. This is a combination of many factors from banal luck to the construction of unique algorithms for calculating the results. The player can beat the line and find high stakes in football as well.

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