A surprisingly high number of poker players I know also enjoy betting on sports.

I’ve been told a surprisingly high number of sports bettors like to play poker.

I suppose the two gambling activities have some things in common, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that many players enjoy both. But there are also quite a few differences between the two activities.

Here’s a list of 5 truths people who like sports betting better than poker know.

1 – You Don’t Get Drawn out On by Idiots Betting on Sports

One of the most irritating things that happen to poker players is when they’re dominating a hand and their opponent hits a lucky draw to beat them on the turn or river.

Here’s an example:

You raise before the flop with a pair of kings and a short stacked player raises all in with a pair of eights. You call and end up losing when he hits an eight on the turn.

Of course you know you made all the right plays and in the long run if you can play more hands like this you’ll win, but it still gets irritating when things like this happen. What did he think you’re raisng with?

When you bet on sports you don’t have to worry about idiot poker players drawing out on you, but you do have to worry about idiot players and idiot coaches doing stupid things that can cost you money.

One thing that’s irritating about betting on sports is coaches and players don’t care about point spreads. Even if you need the team to score a touchdown to cover the spread and they’re inside the 5 yard line with time running out, all they care about is the field goal to win.

While I agree 100% about the idiots drawing out on you in poker, I’m not sure the idiots are any better in the sports world.

2 – Poker Seems To Have 1,000 Different Things Going On

When you play poker you need to think about the other players, your starting hand, your position, the size of the pot, your table image, and tons of other things.

Sports betting just requires you to pick if a team will cover the spread or not.

Of course it’s not as simple to place sports bets as flipping a coin, but even if it’s complicated you at least have a little time to process all of the information. When you’re playing poker you only have a few minutes at most to make big decisions. When you’re handicapping a game you usually have at least a few hours, if not days, to gather information and make the best decision.

3 – Sports Bettors Can Specialize Easier

When you play poker you can specialize in one game, like Texas holdem or Omaha, and one type of game like tournaments or ring games. Beyond that you don’t have many options. You can try to be the best Texas holdem ring game player but you’ll find hundreds of thousands of other players trying to do the same thing.

You’d be hard pressed to find a dozen people who try to be the most knowledgeable sports bettor about the Mid American Conference in basketball or football. Better yet, you have a real chance to get better than the sports books at setting lines for medium sized and smaller conferences.

4 – Poker’s Hard

After I wrote the title for this section I almost laughed out loud. Poker is one of those games that are fairly easy to learn how to play but it’s really hard to get good at it.

Sports betting isn’t easy, but poker can be downright hard. It seems like just when you start thinking you’ve started playing wining poker you start getting slammed and then end up questioning if you’re any good at all.

Sports betting can be hard, but it doesn’t seem to be as deep in some ways as poker.

Think about how you’d answer each of the following questions.

How long do you have to win on a consistent basis before you know you’re a wining poker player?

How long before you know you’re a winning handicapper?

You can back test systems in sports betting and get fairly fast feedback. It can takes months before you know about poker, or longer.

5 – Sports Betting Research Is Fun – Poker Research Isn’t

A great deal of research done while handicapping sports can be done while watching games. You can learn more by watching games than an entire book of statistics can teach you sometimes.

Statistics are still important tools to use in handicapping, but you should watch as many games as possible in order to have the best chance to win.

If you want to do poker research you need to start reading. Some people enjoy books about poker, but I don’t know many who enjoy reading more than watching a football or baseball game.

I’m not trying to say handicapping is easier than poker, but I am saying that doing research for sporting events is more fun than doing poker research.

If you don’t agree with me read the Theory of Poker by David Sklansky or one of his other poker books. Almost all his books are top notch, but they’re not always pleasant to read.

On the other hand, it’s almost impossible to find a good book on sports betting. Most of your handicapping skills have to be developed through trial and error and watching games. You won’t find a step by step manual that you master in order to start placing wining bets at the sports book.


After writing the five truths for people who like sports betting more than playing poker I’m starting to wonder why I play more poker than bet on sports. I enjoy both, but some of the things above came to mind too easy for me.

If you enjoy poker but find it aggravating sometimes, consider dedicating more time to betting on sports. You might just find you have more fun and make more money.

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