Betting on Pro Wrestling: A Primer

wwe-logosFor those who follow wrestling, you’re well aware of the upcoming WWE Backlash pay-per-view. For those who don’t, I’m shocked you clicked on this article in the first place, but stay with me. Backlash is the first event since the WWE’s latest ‘brand split’ which made their two shows, Raw and Smackdown, into separate entities. Backlash is a Smackdown property, so only the wrestlers normally seen on Tuesday nights will be competing on the PPV. (Note 1: When I say “compete” in reference to Professional Wrestling, I mean it in the most literal of ways. These men and women are true competitors, not quitters like that CM Punk who scurried off to the back alleys of MMA for a paycheck) Professional Wrestling is well known as the sport of kings. I suppose that makes those who bet on Pro Wrestling the kings of the gaming industry. Or complete degenerates (and I’m not talking about Degeneration X, heyoooo). Either way works, really. I won’t lie, I’m fascinated by the concept of gambling on a sport that while being predetermined (wait, what? It’s still real to me, dammit!) can still be utterly unpredictable. There is no truer definition to the word gambling than placing money on the whims of one Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Luckily, when it comes to betting on WWE events, limits are extremely low (for example, I can get about $50 down on the opening lines that were just released for Backlash), but if bet the right way, can yield some pretty decent returns. With the brand split and the increased number of PPV/Network events, I’ll be doing some previews to let you get into the headspace of someone who thinks he understands what’s going on in Vince’s head. However for now, I’ll just go over some of the basics that I try to stick to when betting on Pro Wrestling:

  1. Don’t expect to make money betting on WWE. If you do, great. If you don’t, that’s where the tiny limits come in handy. You’re not going to go broke.
  2. There is no tried and true system to bet WWE. I’ve seen people try to parlay all of the favorites just before the event and lose, just like I’ve seen people try to bet every underdog lose. I’ve seen the most seemingly rational plays fail, and the dumbest, on-a-whim bets cash. Try to have a reason for what you’re doing, but don’t get too tied to logic when it comes to this stuff.
  3. If you’re planning on betting a WWE event, do it before Sunday afternoon. Even that might be too late. I like to look for my spots after the public initially moves in. The oddsmakers have just as much (or little) information when the lines first open as you or I. Just like in every other sport, they can get it wrong early on. By the time Sunday afternoon rolls around however, money has come in from the right places to make them confident in posting some massive numbers. Which brings us to:
  4. WWE lines move wildly. Virtually all of the lines you see below will end with someone being favored in excess of -1000 by the time the event takes place.
  5. Don’t take life too seriously. Is betting on Pro Wrestling really any crazier than betting on an MMA fighter or team of football players you’ve never met? Okay fine, it is. But not by a lot. The fact is, people (like myself) who gamble on Pro Wrestling are doing it for the same reason that everyone who isn’t a professional gambler does it, to make the event more enjoyable, and win some money if they can.

hogan-warriorAs far as how I got to this insane place where I look over to the very last column on Several Bookmakers and click the little box that says “Pro Wrestling”, here goes:

As a child born in the mid-80’s wrestling was pretty huge when I was a kid. The first pay-per-view I ever saw was Wrestlemania 6, when Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior squared off at the Skydome for the WWF and Intercontinental Titles. Being Canadian, my interest was maintained through the mid-90’s with Bret Hart being one of the faces of the WWF (the only other thing we had to cheer about in the 90’s in Toronto was the Blue Jays for a couple of years).

Despite learning somewhere along the line that Pro Wrestling may not be 100% real (still up for debate, IMO), the product grew up with me in the late 90’s with the Monday Night Wars, the nWo, and the Attitude Era. Even if it wasn’t real (again, still TBD) it was the most entertaining stuff on TV. Towards the end of the millennium, I was introduced to ECW with their show on TNN, which just seemed like what everyone else was doing, but even further. I enjoyed the fact that there were these humans willing to do bodily harm to themselves for my viewing pleasure (you can see how MMA was an easy transition).

However, somewhere in the early aughts, I simply lost interest. By 2004, I was fully immersed in MMA and didn’t give wrestling another thought. That went on for about 10 years, until just before Wrestlemania 29 when I logged into my Several Bookmakers account and saw “Pro Wrestling” as an option. My immediate thought was “You can bet on this shit?! Who in their right mind would do that?” I was intrigued though. I didn’t place my first WWE bet until SummerSlam 2013 when I had familiarized myself with the characters a bit and became reacquainted with the medium as a whole. I didn’t do so well that event, but began to find my way towards the end of the year.

By the time Wrestlemania 30 rolled around, and I hit a +2000 ticket on Brock Lesnar to beat the Undertaker (#humblebrag), I was hooked. 2015 actually proved to be fairly fruitful, as I made some decent money on several events in a row by putting together round robins of underdogs, but going back to point #2, the game has changed since then. I look at wrestling in a completely different fashion now than I did as a kid, but I enjoy it nonetheless. If you follow me on twitter during WWE nights, you’ll either enjoy some tongue-in-cheek banter, or just be completely miserable and want to block me. Both are fine with me. I’m polarizing, like John Cena.

Check back here at shortly (like, in a couple hours) for my Backlash thoughts.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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