Laurence Stanley specialises in esports betting. He has his own blog at http://laurencestanley.co.uk/ and was featured in the newspaper “The Sunday Times.”
1. Could you tell me a little about your background and how you go into sports trading and betting?
Sure. I’m actually relatively new to the betting world. Straight out of university, I ended up working for a web and app development company. It was a really flexible job that allowed me to get up very early and finish my work by lunchtime if I wanted to. They didn’t have an office so I was mostly working from home or in Costa Coffee.
When things were quiet, I’d do a bit of matched betting to earn some extra cash. I was never interested in sports but the extra pocket money was appealing! A member of the family who introduced me to matched betting started telling me about sports trading. I ignored him for a bit but eventually caved in. Here I am now!
2. Why did you end up focusing on esports as your preferred sport to bet on?
I realised that I was trading against very knowledgable traders in the horse racing/football markets. I’d been playing esports all my life and know Counter-Strike (one of the biggest esports) inside-out. It made sense to play to my strengths. I spent an hour looking at esports odds one evening and knew that there was a massive opportunity staring right at me.
The match that happened to be playing that evening had some outrageous betting opportunities. Anyone with a few hours of Counter-Strike experience would be able to how far off the odds were at the time.
3. Do you feel bookmakers make big mistakes when pricing up the games. Where do you feel your biggest edge is?
They are definitely getting better as interest is growing but there are some embarrassingly obvious mistakes at times. Some bookmakers are better than others of course.
I’d say my knowledge of Counter-Strike is my biggest edge. Make no mistakes though, there are some much better Counter-Strike analysts out there. You don’t have to be an esports wizard to profit form esports betting though. I think you just have to know who to listen to and use your trading experience to translate that into the markets.
4. Have bookmakers become sharper since the interest and liquidity in esports has grown over time?
Yes and no. The majority of bookmakers take their odds from a small number of 3rd party companies. I don’t get the impression that many bookmakers are taking it seriously enough yet. Perhaps they are just adding esports lines so that they can say they have more markets than their competitors?
I think Bet365 have their own esports guys which means their odds are often very different from the rest of the market. Other bookmakers and odds providers may be getting sharper, but they are nowhere near as sharp as other major sports.
5. A while ago I read about a match fixing scandal in a Starcraft tournament. Is match fixing a big problem in esports or quite rare?
I’ve not been looking, but I haven’t heard of any match fixing cases in quite a while. I don’t feel that it is something to be concerned about if you are betting on a lot of games. You hear of match fixing in other sports all the time, possibly more so than esports.
The beautiful thing about esports is that everything is on record forever. You can record a game and years later look back and watch each players move from a 1st person view. Match fixing would be blindly obvious.
Update since I first wrote this answer: There has been another case of match fixing brought to media attention. However, it’s only involving minor teams playing for small prizes. We’re talking $500 worth of prize money. Nobody in their right mind would bet on any sport with such little prize money up for grabs. If you’re betting on professional esport games run by major tournament organisers, you shouldn’t have a problem.
6. The viewership numbers for esports are huge at the moment do you think this trend will keep growing. Do you have any thoughts about the future of esports betting.
The numbers are definitely on the rise. How far they will go is the big question really.
7. I believe you bet with soft bookmakers mainly. Have you faced any restrictions yet with your betting?
Surprisingly, not as much as I expected. Of course I’ve had the odd limitation but I’ve had accounts closed within hours when betting on other major sports like Horse Racing and Football. I bet in-play a lot and sometimes the bookmakers don’t like to accept bigger bets over a few hundred which is fair enough. They have to keep their books balanced.
We are starting to see more money becoming available on Betfair Exchange for big esports games which is a very welcome sight. Hopefully this means I won’t have to continue using bookmakers for my bets. I dream of the day where I can trade in and out of a Betfair Exchange market with lots of money available to match! Hopefully we are not too far off.
Thanks for your time Laurence