Table Tennis Betting
Table tennis as a betting sport has really only evolved in the past 10 years. Strict gambling laws in most of China, Japan and Malaysia, where many of the best competitions are held, mean it was an underground racket until online sports betting came along.
European countries such as England, Germany, Sweden and France with proud histories in table tennis have had structured betting organized on competitions for longer than their Asian counterparts, but it has really become a popular sport to wager on since the rapid expansion of online gambling.
Changes were made to the game before the 2000 Sydney Olympics in an attempt to make it more television friendly. As a result, it is more compatible with armchair punters. The changes included increasing the ball size and decreasing set lengths, from first player to 21 points to first to 11. Players in major tournaments then played best of seven sets, rather than the traditional five.
China is the undisputed champion of table tennis for both men and women. China’s women have won every gold medal at the Olympics since the sport’s introduction at the 1988 Seoul Games, while the men’s game strayed from the norm when Sweden’s Jan-Ove Waldner dominated the men’s game for a period in the 90s.
Table tennis, for most of us, is something we play on the odd occasion in a friend’s garage or rumpus room. For astute punters who follow the game on the world stage there is an opportunity to not only find a winner, but also find generous odds.
Best sports betting sites for table tennis
Most corporate bookmakers will offer odds on various table tennis tournaments throughout the year. Smaller, boutique betting websites will even have live betting and odds on leagues from Germany and other places.
Generally the betting sites will have head-to-head odds, futures betting such as a market for the outright tournament winner and, if it is a bigger tournament, you will find exotic options, such as betting on the winner of the men’s and women’s events in a multi at a certain tournament.
For USA punters, table tennis betting options are limited because of the restrictions on online sports betting in this country. But most people elsewhere, serviced by well-known bookies, will find a good selection of table tennis betting options, although it will vary markedly from bookie to bookie.
Major table tennis tournaments to bet on
The obvious one on the radar is the 2016 Rio Olympics, but table tennis has many other feature tournaments which are played on an annual or biannual basis. These tournaments are a big deal in many countries, with huge crowds, high expectations and plenty of money passing between punters and sportsbooks. The biggest tournaments are governed by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), which delegates the rights to tournaments to national associations. The world rankings are then compiled from the results of ITTF tournaments.
The Olympics: The next one is in Rio in 2016 and as always will feature the best players in the world. There is a teams event and men’s and women’s singles tournaments. The doubles event, which was a feature until the London Games, has been shelved in favour of the team event.
World Championships: This probably equals the Olympics for top billing in the table tennis world. It has more than 80 years of history after first being played in London in the 1920s with a Hungarian claiming the first title. These days the championships, which are held in a different country each year, are dominated by the Chinese.
Commonwealth Games: Imagine a tennis tournament without Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal. That’s pretty much what you get in the table tennis at the Commonwealth Games. The exclusion of most Asian countries – including the Chinese – means the field is wide open and it can be quite entertaining with countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom tasting success.
Asian Championships: This is one of the biggest events on the calendar with teams, doubles and singles events held. It is due to be held in 2015 and is held biannually. Other major tournaments held in Asia include the Asian Games and the Asian Cup.
European Championships: This tournament features the top 16 players from Europe and often indicates who the main challenger to the Chinese will be. There are six events held annually at this tournament with the mixed doubles held as its own entity.
How to bet on men’s table tennis
China, where table tennis is regarded as the national sport, has the top four men in the world, with the great Ma Long No.1. Ma is widely regarded as the best two-sided looper in the history of the game and, on his day, his mix of aggression and spin shots on both sides is unstoppable. Other countries to feature prominently in the men’s game include Japan and Germany, with both having players in the top 10, as of June 2015.
The men’s Olympic crown has been won by Chinese players on the past two occasions, with four or the seven gold medals dished out to players from this country. Remarkably the only player from a non-Asian country to win a men’s gold medal is Sweden’s Jan-Ove Waldner, who won gold at Barcelona in 1992.
Since Waldner’s victory it has been all China, barring Korean champ Ryu Seung-Min’s victory in Athens in 2004. Heading into the Rio Olympics, Ma and Xin Xu are at the top of the betting for the men’s crown and for most other major tournaments.
A good tactic if you are keen to become a regular bettor on table tennis is to find a young player with talent and latch on. The nature of the men’s game means the top 10 are all a decent shot of progressing a long way in a tournament, but every now and then there is a breakout game from a youngster at long odds that brings them into the spotlight.
How to bet on women’s table tennis
The top three in the women’s game are also Chinese, with Singapore, Japan and Germany the other countries represented in the top 10. Two-time world champion Ding Ning is the No.1 at 25 years of age in the incredibly competitive female division.
The female Chinese have a remarkable history of success at the Olympics, having won every singles title. Dual gold medal winners in the singles include Deng Yaping (Barcelona & Atlanta) and Zhang Yining (Athens & Beijing). Li Xiaoxia, the current world No.3, is the defending Olympic champion.
In terms of betting, the women’s game is extremely open with any of eight or nine players capable of winning big tournaments. You should look at lead-up tournaments as form fluctuations are common in table tennis. The head-to-head records are also a reliable guide. There are some players who simply dominate certain opposition.
Tips for betting on table tennis
As with most things people wager on, there are ways to maximize your chances of walking away a winner when you bet on table tennis. It’s truly a sport for which you need to know the history and the nuances.
Know the field: At the top of the draw you may have the world No.1 who is a defensive juggernaut, simply getting every ball back. This might play into the hands of the world No.5 who has an outstanding record against defensive players, or has a game to suit playing this style of game.
Check your odds: Table tennis is a relatively minor betting sport, which means there can often be quite dramatic odds differences between betting sites. For instance a bookmaker for a recent tournament, which Ma Long won, had the winner at 5-1, while an opposing betting site had odds of 3-1, a significant and potentially lucrative difference.
Assessing form: You don’t associate table tennis with the word “grueling”, but it is truly a game of inches, meaning from tournament to tournament different players will be peaking. Many of the main contenders will taper their preparation heading into a big event such as the ITTF or Olympics.
Stick thick with certain players: You might watch a tournament where the world No.99 pushes a top 10 player all the way. It might be worth looking more into the result and see if they are a young up-and-comer, or a late bloomer. Was the top 10 player sick? Were they out of sorts? With a bit of research you might find the next Waldner at long odds.