Pingpong might not be the first game you think about when sports betting comes to mind, but with table tennis betting one of the few options left on the odds board it's worth checking out.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the Moscow Liga Pro is continuing it's men's singles table tennis competition, giving sports bettors at least one option outside of the horse racing, virtual sports and esports markets.
But before you bet your hard-earned money on a competition you might not know much about, here's a basic rundown of pingpong betting options and tips for handicapping table tennis odds.
HOW TO BET ON TABLE TENNIS
Betting on which player will win a head-to-head match is the most straight-forward bet available and the most popular as well.
In American odds, the favorite will have a negative (-) sign in front of their number while the underdog will generally have a positive (+) sign. For example in a match between Andrey Sadkov and Sergey Kuzmin, Kuzmin (the favorite) is listed at -163 while Sadkov (the underdog) is priced at +120. That means a bettor has to wager $163 to win $100 by betting on Kuzmin, while a bettor stands to profit $120 for every $100 wagered on Sadkov.
If both players are listed at -110 or PK then they have even odds to win.
While this is the most easy to understand wagering option, if there is a massive difference between the two competitors there might not be much betting value on either side. In those cases it's crucial to look at your other betting options.
A handicap is a bet that gives you greater incentive to place your money on a contest that is expected to be one-sided. Betting a favorite on the handicap as opposed to the moneyline will give a better payout, while taking an underdog with the handicap gives you a better chance of winning than betting on that player outright.
In table tennis there is generally a standard handicap of 1.5 games that bettors can wager on. Generally a match is played until one side wins three out of five games.
In the above example, taking the favorite Kuzmin at -1.5 now pays out at +137 provided he wins the match by more than one game. Taking the underdog Sadkov at +1.5 will now only pay out at -188 but as long as he doesn't lose by more than a game you win the bet.
Also known as Over/Under bets, totals allow you to wager on how many points are scored or games are played in a match. This is usually set by sportsbooks at a certain number and the bettor wagers on whether the total points or games will be over that number or under that number.
Live or in-play betting gives bettors even more wagering options. This allows you to bet on the result of a particular game within the match or even a specific point within a game. Keep in mind that if you're streaming these matches there is likely a small time lag between the live action and when you see it happen, so bet accordingly.
Futures betting is another popular option which allows you to wager on the winner of a tournament. Some sportsbooks even offer odds on the nationality of the tournament victor or which two players will match up in the finals.
Since tournaments often have plenty of competitors it's more difficult to predict the winner but even betting on a favorite usually has a decent payout.
HOW TO HANDICAP TABLE TENNIS BETTING ODDS
While oddsmakers and experts analyze every last detail of more popular sports such as football, basketball, soccer and the like, fringe sports like table tennis can fall through the cracks.
This means a bettor can gain an edge on the odds by doing their homework, especially when it comes to players that don't dominate the international scene.
One great tool for researching your pingpong bets is the ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) database which features player profiles, stats, match results and head to head matchups. For specific competitions such as the Moscow Liga Pro check out their table tennis database at BetsAPI.
Odds are often set based on rankings and current league standings but don't take into account other factors. Here are some of those other factors to consider.
Your dominant hand (and the dominant hand of your opponent) plays a big role in pingpong. Some right-handers play very well against opposite-handed players while others struggle, and vice-versa for southpaws. Do some research into the players you are thinking of betting on, and check out how they play against opposite-handed and similar-handed opponents.
Other styles can come into play as well, some players are better at defending while others are superior attackers. In addition there are different grip styles that players employ as well and those can create mismatches with opponents. Research and watch players so you can figure out what individual styles they have and whether or not that can help them in a match.
Who Wants it the Most?
Keep in mind how important a particular tournament or match is. One player might need to win a particular match while another player might be OK with coasting.
The top players might save their A-game for when they compete in the top tournaments and aren't going to put in their best effort in the lower competitions. On the other end of the spectrum, many of the lower-ranked players will be highly motivated to win those lesser competitions.
For these reasons it makes more sense to consider betting on the underdog in lesser tournaments and matchups.
Head to Head is Key
While current rankings and standings are important in their own right, make sure you're also taking into account historical trends in head-to-head matchups. Some players tend to play better or worse than usual against particular foes, either due to styles of play or a psychological advantage.
Since table tennis isn't a grueling physical sport like football or boxing, players tend to rack up tons of matches over the course of their careers. That means if you're looking at betting on a match between established players there are likely a bunch of head-to-head results to pore over before making your picks.
Look for the Best Line
This is true when betting on any sport, but it can be especially true on a smaller betting market like table tennis which generally gets fewer wagers. You might find a vastly different line depending on what sportsbook you use and it doesn't take much money to shift a line in one direction or another.
Always shop around for the best value on a wager and keep an eye on line changes as you get closer to the start of a match.