Actuary – Bookmaker in disguise
When an Actuary responds to the conversation starter “So what do you do?” they are likely to be met with a slightly puzzled reaction. Though not many people may know what Actuaries do, it is an Actuary’s job to know everything about you.
From predicting your life expectancy to measuring how good a driver you are, the job of an Actuary is to compile and analyse statistics in order to calculate insurance risks – home, car, life, medical etc – and work out what premiums to charge in order to run a profitable insurance business. That job spec is going to sound very familiar to an odds-compiler at a bookmaker, the only real difference is the context.
Bookmakers compile and analyse statistics on sporting events, calculate the underlying risk or probability, and then add a margin (premium) in order to make a profit.
The similarity in these industries is also apparent in the way consumers compare the value of their products, with little difference in odds vs insurance comparison sites. However, because these similarities are not as apparent to consumers, they can often be more attentive to getting the best insurance deal, yet settle for poor value odds.
In both industries success is often defined by the accuracy of the risk assessment, and as the potential liabilities are actually more complex and volatile for Actuaries, it is a profession that should certainly be well suited to successful betting.
Financial Trader – Seeing betting as an asset class
The title of Trader is as old as commerce itself, as it can be applied to anyone who buys and sells for profit. Though that kind of traditional market trading in physical products has died out, the term is now synonymous with trading in financial products.
Traders can operate in many spheres – shares, currency, commodities, packaged debt like CDOs, the list is endless. But in each their objective is the same, to buy and sell profitably. This is of course what betting is fundamentally all about; buying and selling odds.
Our odds-makers identify themselves as Traders and the trading analogy extends to terminology. When odds shorten they describe them as getting ‘more expensive’ (you have to bet more to win the same amount) and when they drift/lengthen as getting ‘cheaper’.
The term ‘trading’ has also become popular among a distinct growing cohort of bettors taking on bookmakers full-time. This group is characterised by increasing levels of sophistication in trying to gain an edge, mirroring what Traders on both sides of the financial fence – institutional vs independent – do.
If you are a financial trader looking for a new asset class to invest in, you shouldn’t find sports betting far from your regular day job.
One consequence of the 2008 financial crash, and the subsequent low-yield environment for investing, has been the move of city traders into betting traders, for all the reasons mentioned, and because it offers potentially high returns – arbitrage is one good example. It can also have tax benefits.
This trend has led some commentators to think that in the not too distant future sports betting will be recognised as an asset class entirely separate from recreational betting, at which point the convergence of betting with trading will be complete.
Pinnacle takes betting as seriously as any book out there, and equally anyone serious about betting uses us, or is at least aware of us, because we provide what anyone who seeks to be professional needs – the best available payouts, high guaranteed levels of liquidity and no restriction on success.
So, if you are a Financial Trader looking for a new asset class to invest in, you shouldn’t find sports betting far from your regular day job.
Professional Gamers – Being one move ahead
As described above, those professions that are explicitly focused on analysing and managing risk are reasonably obvious breeding grounds for successful bettors or traders. In a more general sense what we are talking about however, is a mindset that is suited to rational decision-making under conditions of uncertainty. And there is another type of profession where this is essential for success; Professional Gamers.
A large number of Pinnacle’ trading team is drawn from the professional Magic the Gathering scene. MTG – for short – is an exceptionally popular Trading Card game that combines elements of traditional card collecting and trading, strategy and game-theory, as well the fantasy dynamics of role-playing games.
With around 20 million active players this is a huge genre, and the attributes of a successful MTG pro clearly align with Trading. And Pro is not just symbolic, there are significant six figure prize poolsfor tournaments.
As MTG is essentially a card game, the same player attributes extend to more familiar card-game formats like Bridge and Poker, which are equally skill-based, as well as strategic board games like Backgammon. Expertise in these games will imply a mind-set that is compatible with betting, while the digital hybrids of old school fantasy board games like Dungeons and Dragons, should be viewed in the same way.
Those Traders that have a background in MTG have also migrated towards eSports like Dota and League of Legends, games that combine fine motor skills, a coolness under pressure and split-second strategic thinking. The latter two would certainly appear under the desirable attributes for a betting Trader job description and equally are ideal characteristics for an effective bettor.
Interested in finding out more about professional sports betting? Here’s is a list of books our Head of Sportsbook recommends: The must-read books for bettors.