Rugby League Betting 1
SKY TV and sports betting have gone hand in hand since the satellite channel's launch, and nowhere is this more evident than in rugby league.
Since the advent of summer rugby league, betting on the sport has gone through the roof with bookmakers offering a variety of markets on a number of different competitions.
The biggest and most popular from a betting point of view is Super League, where the teams play 28 regular-season games before the play-offs, which determine the Grand Final winner.
With live Sky matches most Friday and Saturday evenings and the sport emerging from football's shadow thanks to its summer slot, it's easy to see why there has been a boom in rugby league betting, and the number of choices for punters is not far behind football, though turnover is obviously still well beneath the kind of levels that the Premiership and Champions League attract.
Most bookmakers offer match betting, winning margins and first tryscorer options, as well as under/over points on live matches, but by far the most popular form of rugby league betting is the handicap because the uncompetitive nature of many Super League match-ups often leads to one team being excessively odds-on to win in 80 minutes for most punters' liking.
So what's the best way to make money from betting on Super League?
Obviously, the ability of the teams must be taken into consideration, but it is imperative to check the weather before getting stuck in.
Former Great Britain international Mike Stephenson, who now works as an analyst for Sky Sports, once told me: "You have got to get with the outsiders when they get big starts in the rain. I know from experience. Once the heavens open, the ball is like a bar of soap and scoring tries becomes increasingly difficult."
It makes sense to go with those who get a start in the wet and betting on a low points total, either on the spreads or with traditional bookmakers, but the precipitation factor is often overlooked by the more casual punter, who is just desperate to have a bet.
Living close to the ground is an advantage but don't worry if you cannot gain a first-hand weather report from Widnes just by sticking your hand out of the window.
Numerous websites such as the Met Office's meto.gov.uk provide a valuable service, although it must be remembered that there is nothing as unreliable as the great British weather.
The best way of using the weather to your advantage is to know your teams. Ask yourself these questions - do Team A like to play an open, expansive style of rugby? Do they continually try to offload in the tackle? Is their gameplan all about attempting to outscore the opposition?
If the answer to those three is yes, then the likelihood is they are a side best suited to playing in dry conditions where points are easier to come by and passing and inventive rugby is much easier to pull off. On the other hand, teams who go through the forwards and rely on territorial advantage to squeeze the life out of the opposition usually have more joy in the rain.
These teams are often big, powerful outfits who play low-risk rugby. Maybe they don't provide the best spectacle and will suffer in hot conditions but they are happy as a pig in muck when the pitch is soggy and handling is impossible.