Esports have become extremely popular. You can now look forward to watching a number of major tournaments for games like League of Legends (LoL), Dota 2,Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), and Call of Duty.
This rise in popularity has also made esports betting more fashionable. Plenty of online bookmakers now offer the chance to gamble on the action.
The two main types and esports gambling include skin betting and traditional betting. Both kinds of wagering have their pros and cons.
But does skin betting or traditional wagering offer more value in terms of payouts?
I’m going to answer this question by discussing the key differences between skin and regular esports betting, along with how each version works.
What Is Skin Betting & How Does It Work?
Video games offer virtual goods that can change the look of your character or weapon. These items are referred to as “skins,” and they have no bearing on your actual gaming performance.
Instead, skins are purely for cosmetic purposes that make your characters and weapons and stand out. Rarer items gain more attention and make you look cooler among gaming friends.
CS:GO is the biggest game in terms of skins. Many players have fun collecting different skins that can change the look of their weapons.
Here’s an example:
- You have a standard “stock” knife.
- You receive a new skin during an item drop.
- You can now apply the skin to your knife.
- The knife’s appearance changes to red-and-black camouflage.
These skins occur naturally in games through item drops. The problem with drops, though, is that you have virtually no chance of getting the rarer items.
This is where skin betting comes in, because it lets you wager one or more items to win another skin that you want.
The obvious benefit here is that you can collect more skins and/or rare items through gambling. But you also have to be careful, because losing means that you also lose whatever items you’re risking
Getting started with skin betting isn’t difficult. Many third-party sites have sprung up to meet the demand for this style of wagering.
For example, the Valve Corporation (CS:GO creator) operates the Steam marketplace, which holds inventories for weapons and Steam credits.
Steam can also be interfaced by third-parties, which is where the betting takes place. You transfer your items from Steam to another site, where they’re held for wagering purposes.
Valve doesn’t approve gambling action taking place at these third-party sites. But they also haven’t taken drastic steps to block the sites either.
As for using skin betting sites, you can follow the steps below to get started:
- “Deposit” items at the skin gambling site by transferring them.
- You can gamble your skins on esports matches, coin flips, lotteries, and casino-style games.
- If you win, you’ll receive an item(s) from a losing participant(s).
- You can “withdraw” your skin by transferring it back to the marketplace (i.e. Steam).
The games that you wager your skins on are akin to casino gambling.
For example, roulette sees you risk one or more items to occupy a certain percentage of the wheel. The more items/rarer skins you bet, the larger your space on the wheel will be.
Any skins that you win can be used to:
- Change the appearance of your character or weapon.
- Trade with other gamers.
- Sell on the marketplace for an on-site currency (i.e. Steam credits) that can be used to purchase other skins.
- Sell skins for real money on third-party sites.
- Held in your marketplace account for future use.
Value of Skin Betting
Skins are interesting in that they have both monetary and intrinsic value. The latter refers to how a certain skin can be worth more to you than it’s worth on the marketplace.
If you’ve been trying to get a special item for your Dota 2 character, for example, you may value this skin far more than the next person.
Skins have monetary value when considering that you can sell them for real money on third-party sites.
During the peak of skin betting a few years ago, some of the rarest CS:GO items were going for thousands of dollars. This isn’t as common today, but you can still earn decent money by selling your skins.
Wagering skins is exciting from the perspective that you can earn profits by winning casino-style games and later selling the items
But as mentioned earlier, you also have to risk your skins in order to play. Losing means that your items are gone and you’ll no longerbe able to sell them.
Another aspect worth mentioning is that you may have to buy items from the marketplace before you can participate in the gambling aspect.
Game drops don’t happen very often during matches – especially drops involving special skins. This is why you may simply choose to buy items from a marketplace, rather than waiting for a drop.
You can see that skins obviously have some value. But it can be difficult to assess how much they’re actually worth when many players just want to change the look of their characters/weapons.
How Does Traditional Esports Betting Work?
Esports betting involves wagering actual money on a given outcome. Bookmakers act as a middleman in these bets, accepting action on both sides while taking a small cut (a.k.a. juice) for their service.
Bookmakers handicap matches in order to make all outcomes of a bet worth considering. Handicapping leads to the perceived favorite offering less value, and the underdog offering more value.
Here’s an example:
- You’re betting on CS:GO.
- Ghost is the favorite with 1.5 odds.
- You’d win $1.50 ($0.50 profit) for every dollar wagered on Ghost.
- Kinguin is the underdog with 2.5 odds.
- You’d win $2.50 ($1.50 profit) for each dollar wagered on Kinguin.
A betting site wants to draw equal action on all outcomes. Doing so guarantees the bookmaker a profit when the juice is factored in.
If you’ve ever wagered on sports, then you’ll find esports betting to be very similar. But if you’re new to sports betting in general, then it’s important to understand the odds and different types of wagers.
The three main types of odds include American, decimal, and fractional. You can see an example of each below:
- American – Indicates how much you need to bet to win $100 (favorite), or how much you’d win after betting $100 (underdog.) The favorite is indicated by a plus sign, while the underdog features a minus sign.
- Decimal – Indicates how much you’d win in terms of profit and stake. Ex: 1.70 decimal odds mean that you can win $1.70 ($0.70 profit + $1 stake) for each dollar wagered.
- Fractional – Separated by a forward slash to show how much you can win (left side) and how much you’re risking (right side). Ex: 3/2 fractional odds mean that you can win $3 in profit for every $2 bet.
Although each type of odds are expressed differently, they all work to indicate value for favorites and underdogs. If you have any difficulty converting odds (e.g. decimal to American), note that you can find plenty of helpful calculators on the internet.
The main types of esports bets include moneylines, point spreads, totals, and live bets. Here’s a brief description of each wager:
- Moneyline – Straight-up bet on which team will win a match. Odds are used to even out betting action between the favorite and underdog.
- Point spread – Favorite must cover a certain amount of points, while the underdog is spotted points. Ex: ETHEREAL’s point spread is -2.5, meaning they must win by 3 points or more. G2’s spread is +2.5, meaning they must lose by 2 points or less.
- Totals – Line on combined score total for a match. You must predict whether the teams’ combined score will be under or over the given line (e.g. over/under 27.5).
- Live betting – Bets that are offered while a match is live.
If you’re initially overwhelmed with esports betting, note that moneyline wagers with decimal odds are the most common. I suggest starting out with these bets/odds and branching out from here.
Getting started with traditional esports wagering is similar to skin betting. But there are a few nuances, which you can see in the following steps:
- Visit the banking section of an esports site.
- Verify that the bookmaker offers a banking option you can use.
- Use the chosen banking method to place a deposit.
- Visit the betting section and look at available lines.
- Place a wager, entering the desired amount that you wish to risk.
Winning bets will be added to your account balance, while losing wagers are deducted.
Esports Betting Has Monetary Value
It’s not hard to quantify the value of traditional esports betting. You bet and lose money, meaning there’s a direct monetary value attached.
Regular esports wagering feels riskier than skin betting, because there’s actual money involved. But the positive side is that, unlike skin betting, you remain consciously aware of what you’re risking.
This isn’t like wagering skins, where your mind may temporarily disband reality and think of an item’svalue from a pure video game perspective. Instead, you can see exactly how much you stand to win or lose with each wager.
Another good thing about traditional betting is that you don’t have to go through multiple layers to earn money. Instead, every wager is measured in terms of dollars (or another currency).
Contrast this to skin betting, where you need to sell your items on the open market before converting them into cash.
Comparing the Value of Skin and Traditional Betting
A normal esports bet is a known quantity that you can measure. The site lists your exact wager, and you use this amount to figure out how much you stand to win.
Here’s an example:
- You bet on BFrogs at +200.
- You can win $200 for every $100 wagered on BFrogs (2:1 ratio).
- You wager $20 on them.
- You stand to win $40.
Simply put, esports betting allows you to quickly figure out what’s at risk.
Skin betting is more convoluted in nature. Your items have value, but it’s not always easy to put a dollar value on them.
The marketplace will go a long ways towards how much you can sell any given item for. But you may get different pricing depending upon the site/user you’re dealing with.
Some players don’t worry about what they can sell skins for. Instead, they’re simply interested in making their characters and weapons look as unique as possible.
In these cases, a skin’s primary value is entertainment. A player may be willing to gamble or pay a lot to acquire a specific item, even if they don’t plan to sell it.
Skin gambling is more versatile in terms of value than regular esports betting. Each item can be measured in terms of a monetary amount or intrinsic value.
Esports bets, on the other hand, can only be viewed with regard to money. You can’t convert your winnings into cool video game attribute via a bookmaker.
Your personal tastes will go a long ways towards determining whether you think esports betting or skin gambling has more value.
All things being equal, I’d rather win an esports bet. I don’t have to think about how much my win is worth, because the payout is clearly listed afterward.
In contrast, the value of each skin can vary based on where you’re selling it, the buyer, and its uniqueness. I don’t like worrying about converting my skin to real money after a win.
But your view could be totally different than mine. You may not like the lack of options regarding esports betting payouts.
Skins differ since they can be traded to other players, sold on the open market, wagered again, or simply kept in your inventory.
Of course, the entertainment value of skin betting and esports wagering also plays an important part.
Esports bets are fun, because you can wager on a match and watch the action unfold later through a livestream. Skin betting is exciting on two fronts, because you get to play a cool game (e.g. roulette) and use the “winnings” to change your character’s appearance.
You aren’t right or wrong in choosing one style of betting over the other. Everything will come down to what you find more entertaining.
But if you’re on the fence, then I encourage you to try both skin gambling and esports betting. You may even find that you like them equally.