Pro Esports Bettor Interview: Adam Boothe

Welcome to the first instalment of an ongoing series of interviews here at SickOdds. We’ll be interviewing some biggest names in the esports betting scene, this week featuring Adam Boothe (@Lockeqwerty), a professional full-time esports bettor, getting an insight into how he got started and what he looks for in a sportbook.

Could you tell us a little about yourself

I’m a 30-something Canuck living in England. I moved over here for law school six years ago and stayed for the weather, after previously working as a mathematics director for an educational software company. The CEO/owner was formerly a professional poker player through the early 2000’s during the online poker boom. He was a big-time gambler and introduced me to my first betting account with Pinnacle. And so began a lifelong friendship… with Pinny [Pinnacle], not the employer of course!

I still think of him as a sharp man, much smarter than me, but a bad gambler whom I learned a lot of invaluable lessons from. I have been betting for a living during seven of the past ten years but I would be very surprised if I do this for the rest of my life. Who knows!

How did you get into esports betting?

A colleague in a private betting group was posting tickets on CS:GO and League of Legends events years ago. I had watched some streams, but until that point found it entertaining only and was completely ignorant of using it as a source of consistent revenue.

I began paper-betting CS:GO and Starcraft in 2015 and went fully live with it around the time of MLG Columbus 2016 at the dawn of the Brazilian era. Back then I had not begun investing in sports models, and was simply using some very plain statistics and the ‘eye-test’ to assess which side I would be on IF i had placed. I was instantly captured by the market. The complete inefficiency of esports lines was commonplace, and still is. I imagine this is what traditional sports markets may have been like when professional bettors began using computers to exploit them in the 90’s.

Do you play many games yourself?

Not really anymore. I love what I do, but I spend so much time in front of screens that I kind of just need to get up and away when I’m not working. Don’t get me wrong – I still have a full Steam library, three Blizzard titles and a handful of others I need to dust the cobwebs off, but probably under five hours a week now.

What sportbooks do you currently use?

Too many to list. However, for esports almost exclusively Betonline, Bookmaker, Pinnacle, Bet365, Betway, and Unibet.

Almost every reputable book now has markets in some fashion for esports; some far better than others. I have had one unresolvable problem in a decade of betting, but I am also a bit wiser to the ‘relationship’ that some books are looking to have. If anyone reading this ever has a problem with a book, pertaining to esports betting, feel free to message me and I can help you work out some alternative strategies to move forward effectively.

I understand that esports-only books have started springing up over the last two or so years but I don’t really see the attraction. I’m not into gimmicks or needing to chat with strangers while watching a game. Perhaps there are those who feel intimidated by the sheer quantity of sports offered at the bigger bookmakers, that is probably the only rationale I understand. The margins aren’t slimmer than traditional books which would actually convert me pretty quickly to a believer!

They maybe offer more varied props, but many of those are nearly impossible to make money off of; Roshan kills in a map, pistol round winner, type of dragon killed etc. It’s like betting on the coin flip of the Superbowl… if you just want action – go for it! So maybe a punter wanting to blow some of their paycheck on the weekend esports would bet these things but I would encourage others to stay away.

The greatest benefit to utilising esports betting is to line shop. Even if you only have $1000 to deposit, split that over 4-5 books – you’ll be amazed how much greater your returns are.

What titles do you generally tend to bet on and why?

Three primary ones; CS:GO, Dota2, Starcraft 2. These have enormous amounts of free to use data to be exploited by both casual punters and those looking to either create a sportsbetting model or simply use statistics to make more educated wagers. I would add League of Legends to this list as well, but I only went live with a system for it this year.

By 2020 my LoL volume could certainly be on par with CS:GO. Another huge reason for investing in these titles is the sheer quantity of matches available each calendar year. There’s approximately 46-48 weeks of work available if bettors are not too picky, for a professional bettor this is paramount.

What do you look for in an esports market?

An edge, like any other. Esports have the benefit of not being manipulated by a high amount of sharp traders. There is certainly a marginal amount of that going on, but there are enough price discrepancies from one book to another that you can almost always find the number you need. We also don’t see high volume steam chasing like traditional sports markets are victim to.

Even whilst responding to this interview we saw Movistar Riders close at 1.6 at one book and 1.3 at another… you’ll never see that in big traditional sports. The one piece of advice I try to give people entering this space is have multiple books available [whether traditional or esports-only] and just find the number you need.

A crazy scientist ties you up and forces you to become a video game character. Who do you choose and why?

Gordon Freeman [Half-Life] or Link [Zelda], maybe Jim Raynor [Starcraft]. I’ll try to be brief, but this is a question I could probably speculate on for hours, and maybe should speak to a psychiatrist about someday.

Each character mentioned was also from one of the greatest titles in their genre, but that’s not why I am attached to these three. I think I’ve selected these in particular because they are all stories that, at this point, don’t have an ending. It’s both the most compelling and frustrating thing about particular gaming franchises. So my reasoning has less to do with these three being phenomenal characters, which they were, and more to do with finishing their ‘story’… which all leave you feeling a bit in a state of perpetual solitude!