Gambling ROI

I lost 1,000€ when I was 18 or something. Didn’t lose it on the street, I lost it gambling of course. It was a big part of my savings as well. I knew I can’t bet everything, only what I can afford to lose. Still, I bet a big sum.

I had a system. I bet on live football ⚽️ games. The idea was to follow teams that were expected by bookies to win before the game, were 0-2 down at home, with at least 45 minutes to go. I bet on a tie or that home team will win. The teams were still objectively better and with half time break the managers had a chance to talk some sense into them. I won some bets, I lost others.

One day I decided to try a different strategy. I don’t remember the details.

What I do remember is that the strategy relied on my ability to quickly exit the bet (it wasn’t a traditional bookie, but betfair where you “play” against other people).

I also remember standing on my knees in front of the bed, looking at my laptop, frantically trying to update the live scores website, realizing my Internet is down and praying that nobody scores while it recovers.

Of course they scored. They always do eventually.

Gambling limitations

Ultimately, the problem with sports gambling is same as with lotteries.

The upside is limited. Market is efficient. You don’t have an edge (unless you’re a relative of some football player, betting on their transfer to another club).

If you bet 100€ on something with coefficient of 2, 10 or even 100. The maximum you can get is 200€, 1,000€, 10,000€.

If you invest that 100€ in Tesla stocks or options - the stupidity of fellow humans is unbounded, and so is your profit.

The Light

One good thing did come out of my early gambling addiction. That livescore website where I was checking the scores posted a pop-up with a job offer.

I applied, didn’t get the job (because they wanted someone from Russia), got this reply:

We have chosen a candidate who more closely meets our requirements but you were the second best candidate. […] if you are interested, you could help us promote X on sport forums and social media and we would pay you for these activities. It would be something about 5-15 hours per month and it would be a chance for you to show us how you work.

Eight years later, we’re still working together, although the scope and project is different. So in the end that 1,000€ “expense” has a very nice ROI.

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