What is virtual betting and how did it start?

What is virtual betting and how did it start?

If you're interested in betting and gambling strategy, you've probably heard about virtual betting. This is especially true if you've also been stuck social distancing in the past year.

Post summary:

  • What virtual betting is
  • The history of virtual betting
  • How to bet on virtual sports
  • Tips and answers to common questions about virtual betting

What is virtual betting?

Virtual betting is real betting on virtual sports. Virtual sports are sports simulated by a computer. The computer sets up a series of teams or players that all come with complex data. 

A virtual football player will have all the same stats that a real one does: goals scored, assists, yellow cards, pass success percentage, you name it.

The computer builds teams based on these statistics and runs them against each other. When it needs to make a decision, it uses a random number generator (RNG).

This combination of known facts and random chance makes virtual sports incredibly realistic. You use statistics to make predictions and rely on chance for the fun.

And if you factor in the quality of modern computer graphics, watching a virtual football match can be practically like watching the real thing.

History of virtual betting

Virtual sports isn't a new concept. IBM engineer John Burgeson created the first virtual sport in 1961. Burgeson's version wasn't complicated. It ran on a series of punch cards. (Yes, physical, paper punch cards fed into the computer.) 

The player chose a team of virtual players, and then the computer chose its team from who was leftover. With the statistics of each player set by Burgeson, the computer played the game out.

Burgeson's design is a distant relative of modern virtual sports. It's much more straightforward, but the idea was the same. The computer calculated the outcome based on the probabilities and an RNG.

The basic idea is what brings people to sports betting in the first place. If you have a sense of the statistics behind the matchups, you can predict a likely result. That's what makes virtual betting fun and—with the right strategy—profitable.

How you actually bet

If you're an experienced punter, a virtual betting interface won't feel very different from what you're used to.

On any reputable platform, you'll see the details of the match that's upcoming. Who's playing, the players on each team, and the statistics that the computer will use to simulate the match. You'll also see the odds offered by the bookmaker.

Virtual betting is a little less complex than real sports in terms of the types of bets you can place. Still, you'll have options like total goals scored, over/unders, and various accumulators.

Once you've made your picks, the computer plays out the match, but this takes only a few minutes. The computer does actually play out the full event—90 minutes of football if that's the sport you've chosen.

But since it plays it out in instants, you get to see the highlights and the results in a matter of minutes.

Important questions about virtual betting

If you still want to know more, here are a few common questions you might have.

What kinds of sports does virtual betting offer?

One of the most significant advantages of virtual betting is the variety of sports.

Virtual betting lets you bet on football, horse racing, dog racing, tennis, baseball, basketball, cycling, casino games, Formula 1, and more.

Again, one of the great things about virtual betting is that you don't have to do any background research. You don't have to know anything about horse anatomy to start betting on horse racing.

Before the match begins, the computer will show you all the crucial data about the match. 

Because you have everything the computer has, everything comes down to your decisions in the moment.

If it's all done by a computer, how do I know it's not rigged?

In a recent post on the advantages of virtual betting, my colleague David Bailey-Lauring pointed out that virtual betting is actually better regulated than real sports betting.

If you're punting with a reputable bookmaker, the only thing that can influence the outcome of a virtual match is the statistics (which you have) and the RNG (which is random).

That's not at all like real sport. Match-fixing has a long history. In 2014, scholars published a contract from ancient Egypt that set the terms of a wrestling match-fix.

2014 was the same year that the CS:GO community was rocked with one of the first major match-fixing scandals in eSports history.

So if anything, you might well be playing a fairer game with virtual betting than if you bet on real sports. 

Can I actually make money with virtual betting?

It's important to be clear on what you're getting into. Unless you have a tried-and-true, tested strategy to make your predictions, the odds are always slightly against you.

In that sense, though, virtual betting isn't any different from any other kind of punting. If you play blackjack in a casino, the odds are always slightly tilted toward the house. 

But that doesn't mean you can't make money. It just means that over time, most people will lose. Pay attention to the numbers, look for patterns, and practice responsible betting

How do I get started?

If you're interested in trying your hand at virtual betting, shop around for a bookmaker. Make sure you put the time in to find a good, reputable fit.

Research different options, and don't forget about things like bonuses and features. Keeping track of other bookmakers' offerings can net you easy money.

When you've decided, start your bets small to get the hang of things. Enjoy yourself! Virtual betting is a great way to learn the basics of punting.

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