CSGO Betting – Crash Course Guide and Cheat Sheet

CSGO is the quintessential competitive shooter that has been balanced, refined, and re-balanced for nearly two decades. The latest rendition is referred to as Counter-Strike Global Offensive (CSGO). It is a very interesting game, and winning and losing are subtly balanced as the game has its own economics based on the kills taken in a round. Many teams use subtle strategies to dominate this game competition. Knowing how the CSGO scene works can give you a lot of leverage when betting on this Esport. This guide will go into the intricacies of CSGO betting in some detail.

Surrounding this competition are a myriad of leagues, businesses, and products. The game itself has even implemented an in-game economy revolving around the cosmetic looks of items, which in turn has spawned an industry all its own. CSGO betting was revealed to amount to well more than a billion dollars in 2016.

Predicting Winners for the ESL Pro League

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Recently, Esports teams involved in CSGO have been brought further into the traditional sports world. A good example is the team CompLexity, a staple of Counter-Strike and Esports in general, recently being purchased by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. The world of Counter-Strike, and Esports in general, looks to be heading into a new and sleeker future.

To get the latest news and to learn the rules of the game you can visit our main CSGO page. We also provide a brief overview of the game rules and play formats at the end of this article.

CSGO Betting Basics

There are three overall styles of betting related to CSGO

  1. Real money
  2. Play money/tokens
  3. In-game cosmetic items (skins)*

Many sites give you an option of CSGO betting formats. You can wager on the winners of a match, winners of a tournament, pistol rounds, the over/under, etc. Some sites also offer fantasy drafts. We will cover many of those in a minute. What’s important to decide at this point is whether you are interested in betting with real money, or with tokens/in-game items. The majority of this article will be covering bets with real money.

There are many places where you can wager with real money and skins legally. You can see a full list of the sites we recommend here.

CSGO Betting Sites:

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Note: The skins market for Counter-Strike is a strange sort of creation. Skins refer to cosmetic changes to the game that are unlocked by playing. People trade, buy, sell and bet utilizing these skins. It is an industry all its own at this point (with even roulette style games now involving them), and provides another aspect to consider when you are weighing your bet options.

Recently a controversy occurred where it was discovered both skins and tokens were being used as a front for large-scale CSGO betting in areas where such wagers were illegal. Make sure you are betting in compliance with your local laws and it will be a non-issue for you. If you do choose to go down the skins route, keep in mind that, although in-game items have real-world value, there is minimal infrastructure backing and securing these sorts of transactions. Money earned from these deals are limited in how they can be spent as well. I strongly suggest you stick with your home currency if possible – unless your end goal is Steam purchases.

Picking Winners in CSGO Betting

If you really want to get good at picking winners, you will need to do some research. Watching matches and learning what pros and cons to look for in players is critical. If you wish to make a significant wager, look up the history of both teams. See where they are weak and where they are strong and how this matches up with the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

Read some of our match predictions and learn from the logic and justifications used in the picking process. This will help you wrap your head around what you should be looking for in the matches that interest you. When you get to know the team and players well, there is a lot of opportunity in things like high payout underdog bets for matches you predict may be ripe for an upset. You can get in-depth information on teams from a number of sources. Simply Googling the involved teams should provide you with a significant amount of easily accessible info.

ELEAGUE CS:GO mousesports vs fnatic

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Quick Checklist for CSGO Team Evaluation:

  1. Check recent match predictions
  2. Evaluate basic factors:
  • Examine the Match history between the two teams.
  • Current Roster, and those players strength/weaknesses.
  • The Team’s win rate with their current roster.
  • The Map pool, the abilities/history with those maps is key.
  • Any injuries/Subs, current slumps, win streaks?
  • Use twitch to watch key players and their styles.

Betting Strategy Guide

Betting strategies go well beyond simply picking a winner. Those who bet on Esports professionally have adopted many of the tactics and methods that have been used for decades with other more traditional sports. There is quite a bit of math and planning involved in ensuring you are making the smartest gambles with the highest chance of a positive return. In the end, it is a numbers game, and you must learn to think about these numbers strategically. On top of favorite pro betting strategies, there are also a number of “golden rule” do’s, and dont’s that we will get into.

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General Betting Formats:

Different betting sites will usually give you various options when it comes to placing a wager. The most common options are:

●       A Moneyline Bet

A moneyline bet in CSGO, or anywhere really, is simply a wager on who you believe will win the match or series. Moneyline wagers will have odds for both teams, one being the favorite and one the underdog. The underdog team will have the higher odds, meaning you will receive more for a bet placed on them.

●       A Spread Bet

A spread bet is when you make a wager on which CSGO team will win, and by how many rounds, maps or points.  A “-” typically denotes the favorite, while a “+” denotes the underdog.

An example would be “Team A at -3.5” this means that if you make that bet, then team A must win by 4 points or more for you to make money. If you bet on the opposing team, they can lose by 3 or fewer points, or win, for you to make money.

●       An Over/Under Bet

The over/under in Counter-Strike usually refers to the number of rounds it takes for a team to win, though you can occasionally find an over/under regarding a different stat. In the case of over/under for rounds, it simply means that you wager whether or not that match will last for more or less rounds than the given number. If the match number is 25.5, and you bet the over, then if the game goes for 26 or more rounds, you win.

There are many strategies that can be adapted from older sports for CSGO betting. Take a look at the large variety of Over/under game plans for more traditional sports, and they should give you a good idea on how you can start to approach evaluating your CSGO bets.

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Effective Betting Strategies:

The whole point of CSGO betting is to make yourself some money. This can be done in many ways. Some prefer a slow and steady approach focusing on sure things and small rewards, while those who want to earn more significant sums will usually pick and choose high-value bets on matches prone to upsets. Both versions have their detractors and supporters, but the choice is ultimately up to you. There are a number of strategies and theories for each style of bet. The following are just some of the most popular and most common.

●       The Underdog Strategy

It seems that the majority of those who make a living, or at least regularly augment their income from CSGO betting swear by the concept of underdog betting, also referred to as betting on “expected value.”  By merely betting on the favorite, or who you think will likely win, you will regularly get terrible odds. One or two upsets is all it can take to wipe out any positive winnings you may have incrementally made.

Many who plan to make a long-term profit from CSGO betting will heavily research the smaller underdog teams and will try and pinpoint the ones they think have the best chance of causing an upset. This can be a bit risky, betting on those unlikely to win, but the payoffs can be enormous.

It takes a lot of research to pull this strategy off effectively, but it is by far the most effective method for making significant profits. This method is best paired up with others, like the performance line theory, to maximize your chances of finding that winning ticket.

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●       Arbitrage Betting

Arbitrage betting is when one strategically places bets on multiple possible outcomes of a match. This is really only effective with certain types of matchups, and It can be a little complicated. So let’s break it down. It is not uncommon to check two different sites and find slightly different odds for the same match. If you wager large enough sums, enough to overcome any cuts the bookies take, you may find an opportunity where placing a wager for each team will guarantee you a small profit.

For example, if you can find a matchup where there is a 6% difference between the odds for the same match on two different sites, it is possible to play with that difference. Pick the better odds for each team on each site. Placing these bets carefully can guarantee you a small profit no matter the outcome.

Let’s  bring the point home with another example

If Site A has odds of 1.50 for Team 1 to win and 2.50 for Team 2 to win, and on Site B the odds are 2.25 for Team 1 to win and 1.85 for Team 2 to win -then you can bet for Team2 on Site A at 2.5, and Team1 on Site B at 2.25 and be guaranteed a profit.  If you bet $10 on each team ($20 total) you stand to win around either $2.5 or $5 depending on the team that wins. It takes quite a bit of time, and a good amount of money ready to be invested, to be worth your effort but many make steady profits this way.

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●       The Kelly Strategy

The Kelly Strategy is a method for determining how much of your bankroll you should stake on a bet if the odds are in your favor. There is an interesting calculator available here that can help you wager the optimal amount depending on the odds and your bankroll. Now it’s not a guaranteed science, but this method is used by everyone from pro gamblers to entrepreneurs trying to determine the capital to put into a risky venture. Many people, much smarter than myself, live by this method. It is based on solid math, and has a proven track record. I highly recommend you at least make yourself familiar with this strategy before you invest too much into your bets.

●       The Performance Line

Another method that has proven effective in CSGO betting is the performance line strategy. This works exceptionally well with the underdog method and is more or less a cousin to it. You will want to create two working metrics.

The first is the win/loss ratio. Look at a matchup and compare the recent history of both teams. This can be done by looking at the wins and losses of around the last 12-15 games (7 wins and 5 losses would come out to a ratio of 1.4 – you get this by dividing the wins by the losses) This is one of the key metrics.

The second is to graph out a team’s recent trajectory. This can be done simply by giving one place up for a win and one place down for a loss. With these two metrics you can get an accurate idea of how a team has been performing. This allows you to perhaps find underdogs who look like they might be moving in for the upset.

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General Rules of Thumb

Though situation will dictate, these are some general rules to consider when making your bets. Try to balance the different tips when you follow them.

●      Try never to bet more than 10% of your total funds.

Though occasionally the Kelly Method will suggest you go a bit higher, in general, sticking to 10% of your funds or less per bet will ensure that you will be insulated from big losses, and if your strategy is sound, you will still make positive gains. As you earn more, you can scale up.

●      Select the Matches you have the best knowledge of.

The best money in CSGO betting will come from doing your research and placing wagers where either the expected value justifies some risk. Finding the smart risks is the key to profitable betting.

●      Never chase your losses

It can be disheartening to lose, but don’t let the desire to win your money back cloud your judgment. The worst moments in gambling come from those who have lost their sense of reasonable risk.

●      Don’t bet when angry or annoyed

This is related to the previous one – don’t let emotion cloud your judgment. Productive gambling is based on numbers and facts – passion will rarely serve you well.

●      Don’t consider the odds infallible

If the outcome were inevitable, nobody would play the game. Always remember, nothing is a sure win.

●      Have fun, and love the game

To invest the time needed to be successful, you have to learn to love the game. You have to want to know all those silly little details, they add up and indeed make a difference in your success – plus, why do something if you don’t enjoy it?


Image Credit – EPICENTER

Betting Quick Links and Sources

Writer’s note: make sure you put any affiliate links in the place of the links I’ve added here.

Betting Sites

Sources for Team/Player/Tournament Info

Where to learn more about CSGO in general

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Counter-Strike: About the Game

Counter-Strike is a unicorn amongst video games. In an industry where games with millions of dollars of backing and support are lucky to have a shelf life of 3-4 years and an active gamer community at all, Counter-Strike destroyed all expectations.

You can sum this disparity up pretty quickly by comparing Counter-Strike to other multiplayer based online shooters. On Steam there are around 35,000 active players for Rainbow Six: Siege which was released in December of 2015 – Counter-Strike*, which was released in 1999 as a modification to another game, probably peaked around 500,000 active players today.

Image Credit: Valve

An Incredible Fanbase…

It is a game that is immensely older than most of the active other shooters out there, yet has a fanbase that dwarfs even the biggest of games. Almost since its inception in 1999, the game has been a continuous online focal point for competitive gamers.

This unique legacy puts Counter-Strike in the position of being one of a handful of games with well-paid professionals and teams with over a decade of experience. This legacy has also created a culture and history around the game that, while not necessary to CSGO betting, has added a richness and deepness that other Esports lack.

How the Game Works

A standard match consists of two teams (Terrorists and Counter-Terrorist) who compete against one another to complete objectives. Half-way through a map, the teams will switch, as in the team on the terrorist side with terrorist objectives will change to the counter-terrorist team and vice versa. A round begins, and each player spends a few seconds “buying” their weapons and gear (the better your team does, the more you will have to spend on equipment) they then move to complete the objective.

CSGO update audio occlusion running

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Common objectives include:

  • Bomb Defusal: The planting of a bomb at a bomb site (terrorist side) or the defusal of the bomb (counter-terrorists).
  • Hostage Scenario: Retention of hostages (terrorist) or the rescue of hostages (counter-terrorists).
  • Other modes like Elimination, Deathmatch, Arsenal (Demolition, Arms Race) are also available for casual games. New game modes also appear with certain events such as the Hydra event.

CS:GO Operation Hydra

So to quickly recap, In a standard game you can expect:

  • A typical match will match generally go to the best of 30 rounds played on a single map.
  • Many tournaments will have a best of 3 or 5 maps to win a match
  • Teams switch roles at the 15 round mark.
  • Teams win a round by completing the objective, or by eliminating the opposing team.
  • At the end of the round, everything resets but the equipment surviving players still had on them. There is a total reset at the map switch point or at the end of a map.
  • Unlike other shooters, players do not “respawn” during a round.

The World of Teams, Matches and Tournaments

There are a large number of tournaments out there for teams to participate in. The prize pools for the top teams often range in the hundreds of thousands and have landed in the million dollar range more than once. ESL Gaming is generally the host for the most prestigious of these tournaments.

Many newcomers to the scene are surprised at just how much like other sports teams Counter-Strike teams have become. Players are signed and released; there are coaches and other support staff as well as regular training and other related activities. Some teams have also  earned a solid reputation across multiple games.

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Competition Terms and Hierarchy:

●       Tournament or League

A full competition comprising of matches between teams. Tournaments can have a set number of teams as small as 5. Some leagues have thousands of players broken into hundreds of teams. There is a huge variety in the competitions available to CSGO

●       Match

A “Match” is the term for a full contest between two teams. It used the same in other sports, i.e., “She won the tennis match.” Matches in Counter-Strike may consist of multiple maps and/or rounds, and five on five players is by far the standard. This is generally decided and agreed upon by the teams ahead of time. The standard competitive mode match is 5v5 and consists of a single map; it is won by being the best of 30 rounds (First to 16 rounds).

If there are multiple maps, a match will usually be a “best of” 3 or 5 maps referred to as “BO3” and “BO5”.

●      Map

A map refers to the layout and design of the game terrain – ranging from the famous Dust II with a Mid-East look, to the European-looking Cobblestone map.

A Match may consist of a single map, or may also be the “best of” a certain number of maps. A standard map will be a best of 30 rounds; the game will then generally switch to a new map.

●       Round

A round is an instance of competition between the two teams. It is either the period where a team eliminates the other, hostages are rescued, or a bomb is planted and possibly diffused. Winning a round gives your team a point that goes toward winning the map or match. The standard round has a 15 second buying period (pre-round period) followed by a 2-minute play period.

CS:GO Guys

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Terms to Know:

  • BO3: Best of 3. This generally refers to the amount of maps that must be won to win a match. You will often see BO5 as well.
  • Map Pool: The maps that are available to be played in a match.
  • Start Money: A server setting that determines the money available to players to purchase weapons/gear at the beginning of the map.
  • Playing “T”or “CT”: Refers to whether someone is on the Terrorist (T) or Counter-Terrorist (CT) team.

Stay tuned for detailed day-by-day analyses of major CSGO events, and ace reporting. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest on your favorite Esports titles.