Regardless of which virtual sport you decide to have a wager on, the fact of the matter is that programmed into each of these sports and a crucial factor in determining the result, is a high factor of randomness.

Finding a balance when betting on virtual sports

Although virtual sports are modelled to try and replicate the events of a real sport as much as they can, there has to be a relatively high degree of variance within the game for it to work on a betting site. Too many favourites winning and the site will soon start to make a loss on the game, too few a favourites winning though, and punters start to feel a little cheated.

So it is a delicate balance to strike for the provider between offering games which offers too much variance and offering games with too little. For the most part, thanks to millions of hours of research, companies like Bet365 Sport which offer virtual sports to its customers, have got the balance just about right.

Of course, while this creates exciting virtual sports games to bet on for punters, it does create another issue for them and that specifically is, what is the best way to bet on virtual sports to give you the best chance of making a profit?

In this two-part article, we are going to explore this issue and see how a number of popular betting systems could work for virtual sports, compared with how a generally random form of betting works out to see if we can pick a system which seems to yield the best results.

To help us with this, we are going to use a table of 20 results from a selection of virtual horse races which we compiled for another article a short time ago. Although this is too small a sample to be statistically significant, we can at least begin to understand how different approaches to betting could work.

The table of results is outlined below and we will use it to reference from each of the different betting approaches we investigate.

Race Number Number of Winner & Odds Runner Up & Odds Third & Odds No of Runners
1 8 – 11/4 fav 9 – 9/1 10 – 12/1 12
2 1 – 16/1 5 – 7/1 3 12/5 fav 9
3 5 – 11/5 fav 3 – 12/1 1 – 25/1 9
4 8 – 7/1 7 – 9/1 3 – 9/4 fav 9
5 10 – 4/1 8 – 15/2 9 – 40/1 14
6 6 – 9/1 4 – 50/1 1 – 4/1 8
7 15 – 5/1 6 – 22/1 9 – 9/1 15
8 4 – 28/1 7 – 7/1 8 – 11/1 11
9 3 – 3/1 J-Fav 4 – 7/1 5 – 9/1 8
10 8 – 12/1 6 – 10/1 2 – 11/5 fav 10
11 8 – 10/1 9 – 8/1 4 – 9/4 fav 10
12 4 – 13/5 fav 7 – 9/2 3 – 28/1 12
13 1 – 13/5 fav 3 – 7/2 2 – 7/1 8
14 4 – 9/1 5 – 28/1 9 – 10/3 fav 12
15 5 – 9/2 fav 14 – 5/1 10 – 14/1 15
16 7 – 10/1 2 – 9/1 11 – 11/4 fav 12
17 11 – 12/1 9 – 9/4 fav 5 – 20/1 15
18 8 – 8/1 6 – 13/2 5 – 16/1 10
19 5 – 20/1 7 – 4/1 4 -13/2 9
20 7 – 13/2 6 – 16/1 4 – 22/1 14

Backing the Favourite to Win and Each Way

Although virtual sports do have a high degree of randomness built in to their working, in each race or event, the favourites are weighted slightly in favour of other options.

Therefore, it stands to reason that like in the real world, the favourites should win a significant number of times across the course of a number of races and the more races you play, the more favourites should win.

In a quick review of our table of data, we can see that out of the 20 races, the favourite won six times. Furthermore the favourite finished 2nd once and finished third on a further six occasions. That is a total of 13 races out of 20 where the favourite finished inside the top three.

That sounds like a very high percentage (65 percent of races saw the favourite finish in the top 3) but is that amount enough to guarantee a profit?

Well fortunately we can work it out by assuming that we placed a £10 bet on each of the 20 races above and backed the favourite in each one. Our total spend on betting therefore is £200. In this first example, we are going to have backed the favourite to win.

Backing the Favourite to win

In this example, we spent 20 x £10 backing each favourite in the 20 races to win, spending £200.

The favourite won 6 of the 20 races (30 percent success rate).  The returns for each of those six races would have been:

      • Race 1 – 11/4 Winner – Total Return £37.50 (Profit £27.50)
      • Race 3 – 11/5 Winner – Total Return £32 (Profit £22 )
      • Race 9 – 3/1 J/Fav – Total Return £40 (Profit £30)
      • Race 12 – 13/5 Fav – Total Return £36 (Profit £26)
      • Race 13 – 13/5 Fav – Total Return £36 (Profit £26)
      • Race 15 – 9/2 Fav – Total Return £55 (Profit £45)

If we add up the total returns from this bet, we can see that this yields a return of £236.50. Which when you consider we have spent £200 on bets, would have yielded a £36.50 profit.

However, there is one important thing to note here and that s that in Race 9, there was more than one favourite. In this example, I have assumed I backed the winner, but in this case, if you want to back all favourites, you would need to back all the other favourites in that race too. That would increase the cost of your total spend by at least £10, or maybe more if there are three or more favourites.

Things to note

It is also important to note that a sample of 20 races is nowhere near indicative of future performance on this market and it may well be that another sample of 20 races would yield entirely different results.

My gut feeling is that backing the favourite to win over a period of 20 races would likely see you make small profit, a small loss or about break even, based on the results above. It seems to be a lower volatility way of betting that is perhaps not as exciting but also offers more chance of regular wins.

Backing the Favourite Each Way at 1/5 of the odds

In this example, we are going to imagine that instead of placing £10 to win on the favourite in each race, we are going to place a £5 Each Way Bet (Total £10 spend) on the favourite.

In all Virtual Horse Races, Bet365 pays out at 1/5 of the odds on the first three places.

In our sample, we can see that in 13 of the 20 races, the favourite finished inside the top three.  I have broken down each of these performances in the table below and shown you how much you would have got back in returns from each.

Race Number Fav Finished (Odds) Win Return E/W Return Total Return Profit/Loss on bet
1 1st (11/4) £18.75 £7.75 £26.50 +£16.50
2 3rd (12/5) £0 £7.40 £7.40 -£2.60
3 1st (11/5) £16 £7.20 £23.20 +£13.20
4 3rd (9/4) £0 £7.25 £7.25 -£2.75
9 1st (3/1 – J-fav) £20 £8 £28 +£18
10 3rd (11/5) £0 £7.20 £7.20 -£2.80
11 3rd (9/4) £0 £7.25 £7.25 -£2.75
12 1st (13/5) £18 £7.60 £25.60 +£15.60
13 1st (13/5) £18 £7.60 £25.60 +£15.60
14 3rd (10/3) £0 £8.33 £8.33 -£1.67
15 1st (9/2) £27.50 £9.50 £37 +£27
16 3rd (11/4) £0 £7.75 £7.75 -£2.25
17 2nd (9/4) £0 £7.25 £7.25 -£2.75

What this table clearly shows is that backing the favourite each way, if they do not win, will not offer you a profit on the bet, even if the favourite is placed, however it will reduce how much you lose on the bet.

Adding up the profit and loss on each of the 13 races shown here where the favourite placed reveals that overall we made a profit of £88.58. However, there are seven races where we also lost our £10 stake completely as the favourite did not place. That is a -£70 off that sum, which leaves us with a profit of just £18.58.

However, again we have to offer the proviso that one selection (Race 9) was a joint favourite and if we wanted to back all the favourites, we would have needed to back the other favourites in that race, which would reduce the profit still further as it would cost us at least another £10 and if there were three favourites in that race, we’d have actually made a small loss if we’d covered them all.