What are Special Bets?

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Published: 02/07/2013

The phrase “special bet” might seem to be a bit of a misnomer. It could be misconstrued as referring to an unusual bet or a wager that’s out of the ordinary. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Not only are special bets common, they should be an integral part of every bettor’s wagering strategy.

In sports betting, “special bets” are a class of wagers that are settled independent of the outcome of the event, as opposed to “regular bets,” when depend on the final result. Some examples of special bets in football include first goal scorer, number of yellow cards in a match, and minutes over/under without scoring by either side. Special bets in other sports range from player to make/not make the cut in a golf tournament or poker player to advance to the final table to number of aces served in a set by a tennis player or whether two boxers will fight before a given date.

Special bets need not be limited to the world of sports, either. Betting on a particular celebrity getting married or arrested would certainly qualify as a special bet, as would any number of “exotic” non-sports wagers on TV reality shows, politics, award ceremonies and even the weather.

One way to categorise special bets is by past precedent. Those which have statistical data based on history are subject to handicapping strategies and will tend to have less variability in odds among bookmakers. For example, the timing of the last goal scored in Premiership football matches has been tracked since the league was founded. All oddsmakers have access to such data so the odds they offer will not differ much from shop to shop.

On the other hand, a proposition such as how many months will a certain celebrity marriage last before ending in divorce is dependent upon a unique set of factors. Knowing how long other celebrity marriages have lasted on average is not of a lot of help in predicting. Subsequently, bookmakers may vary greatly in the odds offered, creating opportunities for savvy bettors to structure lucrative bets. Shopping around for the best odds is therefore an essential aspect of special betting.

Just like regular bets, special bets can be organised into doubles, trebles and accumulators to obtain even higher odds. Once the first criterion of a combination of special bets has been met, it becomes possible to hedge the remaining segments of the wager with single bets, often at long odds.

One of history’s most publicized wagers using special bets occurred in Great Britain in 1989. A Newport night-shift worker wagered £30 that five events would occur by the turn of the new millennium. His five-fold accumulator included 4- to-1 odds on Cliff Richard being knighted, 3- to-1 on U2 remaining a pop group, and three other bets on then-popular British TV shows remaining on the air at 5- to-1, 5- to-1, and 8- to-1 odds. When all five predictions proved true, the South Wales resident won an incredible £194,370 at 6,479-to-1 odds.

Among the fastest growing areas for special bets is the practice of “live” or “in-running” betting. Wagers can be placed on just about every aspect of an event as it is in progress, from who will draw the next penalty to which goalie will get the next save. Such wagering favours those who have an almost instinctual knowledge of the sport or event, since the odds are changing constantly and good opportunities come and go quite quickly.

Published on: 02/07/2013

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