Poker players at the casinos in Ohio who like to wager on sports can start to celebrate. Legalized sports betting in the Buckeye State officially begins at 12:01AM on January 1st 2023. Anyone aged 21 or over and a resident of the state can sign up now at approved Ohio betting operators.
That is great news as online poker does not figure to get legalized in Ohio any time soon. Right now only Pennsylvania, Michigan and New Jersey have licensed online poker. The general path is that online casinos get approved before online poker, and only three other states (Delaware, West Virginia and Nevada) have online casinos. Long story short, there is no momentum for online poker expansion right now.
There is no better time than now to join various Ohio sportsbooks as they are all offering generous bonuses for new sign ups. The books have two types of free bet perks now. One is first bet free bet insurance. Just follow the sign up process and place a wager up to a certain limit, usually in the neighborhood of $1000. If the bet wins, collect the profits. If the bet loses, the book hands out risk free bets in an amount equal to the loss on the first bet. There is often then a timeframe within which to use the free bets, plus a possible rollover requirement on any wins off the free bets.
Alternatively, books offer $100 or $200 in free bets just for signing up, depositing as little as $10 or $20, and then wagering $1 on anything. Take advantage of as many of these offers as possible, The realized value never quite equals the headline but it still adds up.
For anyone adding sports betting to their poker playing, there are some strong similarities but also stark differences
Poker Similar to Sports Betting
For the casual player, the biggest similarity is they are both incredibly fun. Want something to root for in the football game on TV now? Just place a small wager. Even better, make some small live bets. Some sportsbooks really cater to this and make live betting more like a trading experience. In sports betting as in poker, keep the stakes low if the idea is more about entertainment than profit.
As for serious players, they are both a grind where the goal is to look for small expected value edges and pounce on them. Betting and playing a poker hand correctly of course does not always result in winning that hand. Other players might stay in when the odds say they should have folded, then lo and behold the river card comes and the hand flips. Maybe the reverse happens and the bet was too small and the big win turns into a tiny one. But over time good play in poker results in profits, they just do not happen in a straight line.
In sports betting, sharper players try to find wagers with small edges. On an even odds bet such as a points spread, the books all default to price both sides at -110. That represents their edge or “vig” For example, they may post the -110 Cincinnati Bengals -3.5 vs -110 Baltimore Ravens. Anyone placing a wager on either side needs to risk $110 to win $100 if that side covers the spread. The side needs to win about 52.5% of the time to profit. But the bettor does handicapping work and determines the Bengals merit being about 5.5 or 6 point favorites. That maybe translates to 55% likelihood that the Bengals cover the 3.5 point spread. There is still a large likelihood that the Bengals do not cover the 3.5, but wager enough even with small edges and the benefits will appear over the course of time. It is indeed a grind, but it is a fun grind.
Poker Different from Sports Betting
A live in person poker game is a social experience. In pure money terms it is a zero sum game. For every dollar won, there is a dollar lost somewhere on the table. That saying about running into a bear comes to mind with poker. If you and a friend see a bear, you do not actually have to outrun the bear, just outrun your friend. Winning poker games over time does not require being a fantastic poker player, it just requires being the best player or at least one of the better players at the table.
Winning in sports betting requires actually pricing games better than a sportsbook. Or at least timing wagers well and “beating” the final lines. Betting lines are not static, but rather move in response to action on the betting market. If a sportsbook gets too much money on one side of the market or money from someone they know is a particularly “sharp” bettor, they will move the market. Anyone that can anticipate market moves well more often than not will tend to beat the final number. Importantly though many can do this in any given spread as unlike poker, it is not a zero sum game. The sportsbooks ultimately have more wagers on one side of a game. The vig gives them enough of an edge to ride out the occasional disasters. But individual bettors can pick their spots and hopefully beat the books at times.
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