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How difficult is it to beat the odds in cricket and online?
Cricket is one of the most unpredictable sports in the world. If you think you're guaranteed to know the result of a game before the toss, you're lying. No one knows how a team will fare. It's the beauty of the game and why millions of people are captivated when two sides collide on the field.
It can be a dream for bookmakers given the variety of markets it means they can provide to their customers; although it can be a challenge to produce valuable odds due to the changes in circumstance that can occur on a cricket pitch.
You will not find that same level of unpredictability in other gambling environments. On a trip to the roulette table at a casino, you know your odds. Red or black is a comfortable 50/50 where you can lose or double your stake. It is the same formula with odds or evens and high to low. A wager on dozens and columns represent a three in one chance of success and reward a 2/1 payout.
It's the same story for knowing your odds on blackjack, although online poker can be a different story when playing on a live casino online. Here, the odds are less set in stone. It requires a great deal of skill to know when to fold or when to gamble with your hand. Novices can struggle with the art of playing poker, but more experienced players can turn the odds in their favour by knowing the nuances of the card game.
Knowledge is key to online sports betting too. Take the 2005 Ashes series for example. Kevin Pietersen was an unknown quantity against the red ball, having never played a Test match for England. He was called up to replace Graham Thorpe in the middle order against one of the best bowling attacks in the world, including the legendary Shane Warne and Glen McGrath.
The South Africa-born batsman would certainly have had long odds to finish the series with the most runs by an Englishman. Pietersen would play the decisive role in handing England an Ashes victory for the first time in 19 years, scoring a sensational unbeaten 158 at The Oval along with three half-centuries across the rest of the series. The right-hander finished the five-match series as England's top batsmen and a national hero.
However, sometimes the odds can be taken out of your hands as the form of teams can also present an issue. In the 2013 Ashes series, England crushed Australia 3-0 on home soil and were denied a fourth victory by fading light in the final match of the series. The two sides would face off again months later and many were predicting another dominant performance from Alastair Cook's men.
However, England were whitewashed 5-0 by the Aussies for the second time in three tours down under, wilting under the threat of pace from Mitchell Johnson, who re-emerged out of nowhere to torment the England batsmen, including Pietersen. You would have received long odds indeed for an Australia 5-0 triumph before the first Test.
It's the beauty of competitive games whether they are in a live environment such as a cricket field or a casino. There is an element of unpredictability and the small differences can make all the difference.