Real Money Esports Betting: How it Works & How to Get Started

Real Money Esports Betting

It鈥檚 taken a while, but competitive video gaming is now firmly established as a legitimate sport. Even to the extent that there鈥檚 serious talk of esports being included at the Olympic Games. Nobody questions whether the professional esports scene will survive these days, as that鈥檚 no longer in doubt. The real question is, 鈥渉ow big will esports become?鈥?The sport has seen incredible growth in recent years, and there鈥檚 no sign at all that it鈥檚 slowing down.

The growing exposure of esports to a wider audience has led to a significant increase in related betting activity. It wasn鈥檛 too long ago that esports betting was a niche market, catering mostly to a small number of video gaming fans who like to place the occasional wager. Things are VERY different now though. Esports betting has become an extremely popular form of gambling, attracting interest from all kinds of different people.

Real money esports betting is much like traditional sports betting, so a lot of the interest comes from people who already wager on conventional sports. Although they don鈥檛 necessarily know much about esports, they鈥檙e intrigued by the additional betting opportunities they offer.

Some of the interest in esports comes from those who DO know about the games, but don鈥檛 know anything about how the betting works. There鈥檚 even interest from people who know nothing about esports OR betting.

The purpose of this article is to help ANYONE who鈥檚 interested in real money esports betting. We explain how it works, and talk you through how to get started.

Before You Start

You may be wondering why we use the term 鈥渞eal money鈥?esports betting. Betting ALWAYS involves real money, doesn鈥檛 it? Actually, no. There鈥檚 a type of esports betting called 鈥渟kin betting,鈥?and this doesn鈥檛 require the use of cash at all. Instead, you can wager using virtual skins and items from games such as Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

We鈥檙e of the opinion that real money betting is the best way to bet on esports. However, we also believe that it鈥檚 important to learn about skin betting. You might find that it鈥檚 a better option for you personally, so it鈥檚 worth exploring how it works. We explain everything you need to know in the following article.

There鈥檚 actually another alternative to consider too. It鈥檚 not TECHNICALLY a form of betting, but it鈥檚 often referred to as such. It鈥檚 called fantasy esports, and we explain all about it in the article listed below.

Please note that real money esports betting can also be referred to as fixed odds esports betting, or sportsbook esports betting. These terms all mean exactly the same thing. If you decide that it鈥檚 the type of betting you want to get involved with, there鈥檚 a few questions you need to ask yourself before getting started.

How much do I know about esports?

It鈥檚 vital that you have at least SOME esports knowledge before risking any money. We wouldn鈥檛 recommend wagering on football (or any other sport) unless you understood how the game is played, and the same principle applies here. Although you don鈥檛 need to be an expert in competitive video gaming, you need to know the basics for sure.

If you鈥檙e completely new to esports, or only know very little, your very first step should be to learn what they鈥檙e all about. We suggest starting with the following article.

You can obviously skip this step if you鈥檙e already a fan.

How much do I know about betting in general?

If you already bet on other sports (or at least understand how sports betting works), getting started with esports betting won鈥檛 be very difficult at all. As we said earlier, it鈥檚 essentially the same as traditional sports betting. You can pretty much dive straight in as soon as you understand what esports are all about.

If you don鈥檛 know ANYTHING about betting, however, you鈥檙e at a bit of a disadvantage. The good news is that we can help you overcome this disadvantage. We explain how real money esports betting works later in this article, and we cover ALL the basics. This information is enough to get you started, even if you鈥檝e never placed a wager in your life.

With that being said, there鈥檚 no harm at all in learning even more. You should also take a look at our introduction to sports betting at some point. Although it鈥檚 actually about betting on conventional sports, a lot of the information and advice can also be applied to betting on esports.

Am I betting for fun or profit?

It鈥檚 important to have some idea about WHY you want to bet on esports. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is. The overall approach that you should take depends heavily on your objectives. If you鈥檙e only really interested in having some fun, then you don鈥檛 need to worry about anything but the basics. If you鈥檙e serious about making money, however, there鈥檚 a lot more to think about.

We cover this topic in more detail in the following article.

How much am I prepared to spend?

We urge you to think VERY carefully about your answer to this question. Please bear in mind that, like any form of gambling, esports betting involves risk. There鈥檚 a strong possibility that you鈥檒l lose money, especially when getting started.

It鈥檚 ESSENTIAL that you keep the size of any losses under control.

There鈥檚 nothing wrong with spending money on gambling. It鈥檚 something that millions of people all over the world do, and there鈥檚 absolutely no shame in it. It can become an issue, however, if the spending gets out of control. Unfortunately, this can and does happen to some people. You need to make sure it doesn鈥檛 happen to you.

The easiest way to do this is to first decide how much you鈥檙e prepared to spend. This can be a weekly amount, a monthly amount, whatever. It doesn鈥檛 matter, just as long as you have some kind of budget in place. You then need to STICK to that budget. This is a golden rule for any form of gambling, and one we really hope you follow.

Once you鈥檝e answered all the above questions, and taken any necessary steps, you鈥檙e almost ready to get started. Let鈥檚 now take a look at exactly how real money esports betting works.

How Real Money Esports Betting Works

We鈥檙e going to keep things as simple as possible here. We don鈥檛 NEED to make them complicated, as the basic mechanics of real money esports betting are really quite straightforward. In fact, some of what we鈥檙e about to explain might seem blindingly obvious. Just remember that this information is primarily for people that know nothing at all about betting.

The first thing to understand is that real money esports betting involves using the services of a bookmaker. This can be via bookmaking shops, sportsbooks or online betting sites. These organizations all fulfill the same role, and they have three primary functions:

  • Price up betting markets.
  • Collect our money when place our wagers.
  • Pay us money if our wagers win.

You may not know what we mean by 鈥減rice up betting markets,鈥?so let鈥檚 start by explaining this. Betting market is basically just a term used to describe the various things we can bet on, and pricing it up means setting the odds for the available selections.

For example, let鈥檚 say a bookmaker was taking wagers on the winner of an upcoming match between Team Liquid and Wings Gaming. There are two possible outcomes here 鈥?either Team Liquid wins or Wings Gaming wins. These two outcomes comprise the betting market, and the bookmaker would offer odds for each team winning. The market would look something like this:

Team Liquid VS Wings Gaming
Match Winner
Team Liquid
Wings Gaming

The numbers next to each team are the odds. In this particular example, they鈥檙e in decimal format, but you might see odds in either fractional format or moneyline format, too. You can read more about these different formats, and odds in general, in our article, explaining how odds work.

These odds serve two purposes. First, they give us some idea of how likely each outcome is. The lower the number, the more likely the associated outcome is to happen. Second, they tell us how much we stand to win. The higher the number, the bigger any potential payout will be.

For this match, the odds on Wings Gaming winning are lower than the odds on Team Liquid winning. This means that Wings Gaming is the favorite, and the most likely team to win. It doesn鈥檛 mean they鈥檙e GUARANTEED to win, just that they have a better chance than their opponents.

To place a wager here, we鈥檇 have to decide which team we want to back. Let鈥檚 assume we go with the favorite and back Wings Gaming. This is known as making our selection. We鈥檇 also have to decide how much we want to stake. For the sake of this example, we鈥檒l go with $10.

At the point of making our selection, we鈥檇 have to give the bookmaker our $10 stake. The exact process for making our selection and paying our stake depends on what type of bookmaker we鈥檙e using, but you don鈥檛 need to worry about that just yet. We talk about more about the different types later.

Once we鈥檝e paid over our stake, our wager is made and cannot be cancelled or changed. We now have to wait for the match to see what the result is. If Wings Gaming does win, then our wager is a winner and the bookmakers will pay us our winnings based on the associated odds. If they lose, however, then we鈥檝e lost out $10 stake.

This is pretty much all there is to placing a real money esports wager. As you can see, it鈥檚 really not that complicated at all. Picking WINNING selections is a challenge of course, but the act of placing a wager is simple enough.

What makes things slightly more complex is that most bookmakers offer A LOT of different esports markets. We鈥檙e not just limited to betting on the winner of individual matches; there are all kinds of wagers we can place, as we鈥檒l now explain.

Types of Esports Wager

In the previous section, we explained how the match winner wager works. This is the most popular type of esports wager, and the one you鈥檒l probably want to focus on as a beginner. This is simply because it鈥檚 the most straightforward. It鈥檚 usually the easiest wager to get right, too.

However, it鈥檚 a good idea to learn about some of the other types of wagers, too. Even though you may not want to use them all regularly, there鈥檚 no harm in understanding how they work. Here鈥檚 a list of the main ones you should know:

  • Outrights/futures
  • Handicap wagers
  • Total wagers
  • Correct score
  • Specials/props

Let鈥檚 take a look at how these all work.


Outrights, or futures, are typically wagers on which team (or player) will be the overall winner of a specific competition. They can also be on which teams will qualify for a competition or progress to a particular stage.

Handicap Wagers

Handicaps are the most complicated esports wagers. They involve bookmakers making a hypothetical adjustment to the final score of each team or player. We have to predict which team or player will win AFTER that score adjustment has been made.

The easiest way to explain this type of wager properly is to use an example. Here鈥檚 how a typical handicap market looks:

Rox Tigers VS Ever8 Winners
Rox Tigers
Ever8 Winners

The numbers in brackets next to each team are the relevant handicap. The other numbers are the odds for each team to win after the handicap has been applied.

Rox Tigers has a -1.5 handicap here. This means that they鈥檇 have 1.5 points (or maps) 鈥渄educted鈥?from their score if we backed them. So, if they won the match 2-1, they鈥檇 actually lose, for the purposes of the betting. The final score would effectively be 0.5-1. If they won 2-0, however, the final score would effectively be 0.5-0. This would be a win, for the purposes of the betting.

Ever8 Winners has a +1.5 handicap, which means they鈥檒l have 1.5 points/maps 鈥渁warded鈥?if we backed them. If they lost 1-2, the final score would effectively be 2.5-2. They鈥檇 therefore win, for the purposes of the betting.

Please note that the handicap adjustment is ONLY applied to the team we choose to back.

Total Wagers

Total wagers are where we bet on whether the total number of maps played (or points scored) in a match is over or under a total specified by the bookmaker. We鈥檒l again use an example to demonstrate, for the same match as above.

Rox Tigers VS Ever8 Winners
Total Maps
Rox Tigers
Over 2.5
Ever8 Winners
Under 2.5

Here we have to decide whether we think the total number of maps played in this match will be greater or less than 2.5. If we think there鈥檒l be three maps played, we鈥檇 back the over. If we think there鈥檒l be two maps played, we鈥檇 back the under.

Correct Score

This is a straightforward wager where we have to predict what the exact final score will be in match. Most esports matches are played as either best of one, best of three or best of five, so there is a limited number of possible outcomes. The Rox Tigers versus Ever8 Winners match we鈥檝e used for the previous examples are a best of three match, so the correct score market looks like this:

Rox Tigers VS Ever8 Winners
Correct Score
Rox Tigers
Ever8 Winners


Specials and props are wagers on events that happen within a match, but don鈥檛 necessarily affect the final outcome. Here are some examples:

  • First team to slay a dragon
  • First team to slay a baron
  • Team to destroy the first tower
  • Team to win the first map
  • Over/under total number of kills
  • Over/under total towers destroyed
  • Team to draw first blood
  • Over/under total time of match
  • First team to slay Roshan
  • Will there be a knife kill?
  • Will there be a grenade kill?
  • Odd/even number of rounds
  • Most valuable player
  • Team to win first pistol round

Please note that some of these wagers are only available for specific esports game.

We tend to view specials and props as a 鈥渇un鈥?type of wager, as most of them are just guesswork, really. There are only a few that we can make properly informed judgements on, so they鈥檙e not ideal when the aim is to make money.

  1. You know (at least) a little bit about competitive video gaming. You know how real money esports betting works, and you鈥檙e familiar with the different types of wager involved. You鈥檙e now ready to get actually get started and begin placing wagers. What鈥檚 next? Let鈥檚 talk you through it.

How to Get Started 鈥?A Step-By-Step Guide

Once you鈥檙e fully prepared for esports betting, getting started is pretty easy. There are just four steps you need to follow, and we鈥檝e outlined each one for you here.

Step 1
Set a budget

Yes, we know we鈥檝e mentioned this already. It鈥檚 important though, so we鈥檙e happy to be repeating ourselves. Before you put ANY money at risk, make sure you have a budget in place. You should know exactly how much you鈥檙e prepared to spend, and this should obviously be an affordable amount.

Remember that you鈥檙e far more likely to lose than win. That might change once you鈥檝e gained some experience, and you may even start winning right away. Realistically though, you鈥檙e probably going to lose as a beginner.

We won鈥檛 mention this again, but PLEASE follow this step.

Step 2
Decide where to bet

We told you earlier that real money esports betting involves using the services of a bookmaker. We also explained that there are three main types of bookmaker: bookmaking shops, sportsbooks and online betting sites. Before you can start placing wagers, you need to decide which of these types you want to use.

It鈥檚 worth pointing out that you might not have a lot of choice here. Bookmaking shops are common in a few countries, such as the United Kingdom, but they simply don鈥檛 exist in some regions. The same applies to sportsbooks. You鈥檒l find these in the casinos of Las Vegas and in various other locations, too, but not in every part of the world.

If you don鈥檛 live close to a bookmaking shop or sportsbook, then you鈥檙e basically limited to using betting sites. And this is no bad thing, as they鈥檙e the best way to bet on esports anyway. We suggest using them even if you live right next door to a bookmaking shop!

Thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of esports betting, there are A LOT of sites to choose from. Many established sports betting sites have started offering esports betting markets over the last few years, and there have been a number of specialist esports sites launched, too.

Most of these sites are a fairly good standard in our experience. There are some that are pretty terrible though, and even some that are borderline crooked. With this in mind, you need to be careful when choosing which ones to join. You need to do some research into all of the options, and be sure to stick to the reputable and trustworthy operators.

Alternatively, you can just follow our recommendations. The following sites are definitely reputable and trustworthy, and they鈥檙e also very high quality. These are the sites WE use for our esports betting, so we鈥檙e confident you鈥檒l like them too.

RankGambling SiteDeposit BonusGet Started
#1Betway Sports Logo
Betway Sports
100% Up To $50Visit Site
#2888sport Logo
100% Up To $200Visit Site
#310Bet Logo
50% Up To $100Visit Site

These are not the only sites we recommend, and there are some alternative options on the page listed below. There鈥檚 also an explanation of how we decide which sites to recommend, along with some useful advice for betting online.

Step 3
Decide what to bet on

The next decision you need to make is which game(s) to bet on. This is an easy decision if you鈥檙e already an esports fan, as the logical thing to do is just focus on the games you know best. It鈥檚 not so easy though if you鈥檙e new to esports and not yet familiar with all the games.

We can help with this decision, too! We recommend starting with one or two of the most popular games. These typically offer the best betting opportunities, and they鈥檙e the easiest to learn about as there鈥檚 so much information available. Any of the following games are good to get started with:

Popular Esports Games

We鈥檝e provided more details on these games, and some others too, on the page listed below.

Step 4
Make your selections

This is the step you鈥檝e been waiting for! Having decided where to bet and what to bet on, it鈥檚 finally time to start making selections and placing wagers. This is easy to do, but not so easy to do well. If you鈥檙e to stand any chance of making money on a regular basis, you need to make accurate assessments of what鈥檚 likely to happen. This is more difficult than you might think.

We can鈥檛 tell you EXACTLY how to go about picking your esports betting selections. Unfortunately, there鈥檚 no perfect system for consistently making winning wagers. What we can do, however, is teach you how to go about things in the right way. Our experts have put together a collection of useful tips that will help you become an accomplished bettor in no time.