Poker Tips That Apply at Sportsbooks

Poker Tips That Apply at Sportsbooks

Though card games and moneylines may not seem to have a lot in common, there are a few handy skills that professional poker players and punters have in common.

Both pastimes require a discerning mind with a penchant for probabilities. 

As one of the most popular table games in the world, many with a passing interest in stats and probabilities have learned how to play poker from friends, online guides, or live play. Still, though many are familiar with basic card values and rules, excelling at poker is a rare skill that takes experience, dedication, and a logical mind.

Successful sports bettors, on the other hand, have relied on a variety of talents that tend to include more personal insight into a sport. However, the environment surrounding sportsbooks is changing as big data gets involved—and even a few AI-powered computer pick programs. 

With both industries so squarely focused on sure outcomes, which skills transfer between the world of professional poker and sports betting? In reality, not all of the shared skillsets involve hard numbers—some of them are even based on emotion. Let’s take a closer look.

Dealing with Uncertainty

Both betting and card games require participants to handle unknown variants; in fact, this is at the core of both pursuits. In poker, a player has to make decisions based on what cards other players might have, while a punter needs to dissect how competitors will fare.

While this element of the unknown adds excitement for those involved, poker players know that anything can happen. Sports bettors will do well to approach each bet with the same philosophy, which directly informs how much they wager and against what odds.

Taming Emotions

Dealing with uncertainty brings us to another incredibly important point for poker players and bettors—and it has nothing to do with probabilities or predictions. Instead, it’s about handling emotion in the case of a tough loss or, in poker terms, ‘a bad beat’.

Some react to loss aggressively; they want to ‘get back in there’ and win their money back. Others might blame themselves for the loss. Regardless of the initial reaction, seasoned vets in both industries know that these feelings pass and that it’s always better to take a step back anytime emotions are involved.

Exploiting Odds & Finding Value

Here’s where the rubber meets the road for poker players and punters: knowing how to back up instinct with hard probabilities, then turn that into a win. For poker players, this often means exploiting how another player is handling the game based on card probabilities and other observations. For punters, this means exploiting odds from various sportsbooks.

These skills are born from experience, observation, and the ability to calculate on the fly. At the poker table, this means figuring out card values and possibly throwing in a bluff. At the sportsbook, this could mean finding minute errors in how sportsbooks calculate their lines. In other words, it’s all about exploiting faults.

Money Management

Though the worlds of poker and sports betting are associated with big money and huge wins, neither require newcomers to have deep pockets to get started, In fact, it’s possible to build a bankroll to fund future pursuits. In sports betting, this might mean opting into matched betting. In poker, this might mean converting free play into a cash tournament. 

Though difficult and time-consuming, both are possible and highlight one of the most ingrained skills that successful players and punters share: handling their money. The habits around spending vary greatly; some pros also use strict strategies to help them manage their bankrolls, while others will schedule a plan to allocate funds based on upcoming events.

Regardless of how they handle their funds, there’s always a strict plan in place. However, sports bettors need to be even more mindful of how they handle liquidity. Unlike in poker, bettors might find their money hung up in a futures bet—which might not see a conclusion for up to another year.


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