Perhaps you view table tennis as something to play with family and friends without exerting too much physical activity, but it's also been an Olympic sport for decades. There are also professional leagues based in Europe and Asia.
Surprisingly, table tennis has become a phenomenon in the gambling community. When COVID-19 shut down professional sports leagues in 2020, table tennis became a go-to option for placing sports wagers.
Fast forward two years and the table tennis obsession remains strong. Bets on table tennis in Colorado outpaced sports like the NHL, NCAAF and MMA in early 2021, according to Yahoo! Sports.
How to bet on table tennis
Table tennis has either one or two players standing on each side of the table, with each game played to 11 points (with a win-by-two rule).
Matches are either a best-of-five or best-of-seven, meaning the successful side must win either three or four games to come out victorious.
Each side is given two serves in a row, alternating until the match is complete.
There are several table tennis markets to wager on and we'll break down the most popular ones, starting with the moneyline.
To win (moneyline)
This is the simplest way to bet on table tennis. If you successfully pick the winner of a match, you'll win your bet. When wagering, you’ll see one player is the favourite, as denoted with a (-) sign before their name, and one is the underdog, with a (+) sign. It looks something like this:
To win: Player A (-175) vs. Player B (+125).
If you were to bet on Player A, a $175 wager would produce a potential profit of $100. For Player B, a $100 bet could produce $125 in winnings. At -175, Player A has a 63.64% implied probability of winning which is why the return would be smaller compared to Player B (44.44%).
Like any sport, you will see matches that feature a larger odds discrepancy.
Betting a +300 underdog on the moneyline might catch your eye, as the payout is much higher, but that underdog would only have a 25% implied probability of winning — so be careful.
Wagering on a big underdog has the potential to lead to a big payout but it's deemed an unlikely scenario. Betting on a big favourite, though, would lead to a smaller ROI.
That's why it is never as simple as picking the likely winner or the player who would return the most dollars. Context and value are both important.
If both players are listed at -110, this is known as a pick’em, in which $110 is required to win $100. The extra $10 accounts for the cut the operator takes for hosting the bet.
Think of handicap betting the same way you think of betting on the spread. Sportsbooks set margins of victory and defeat for both the favourite and underdog.
If a handicap is set at -1.5, the favourite must either win a best-of-seven match in a sweep, 4-1 or 4-2 for the bet to cash. A +1.5 underdog could afford to lose 4-3 or win outright to be successful on the handicap.
Handicaps are generally listed at even odds of -110. In some instances, however, the favourite might sit at shorter odds. If the underdog sees shorter odds, it's because sportsbooks believe the match will be really close.
How to bet on table tennis totals
Betting totals in table tennis is a way to wager on a match without having to pick a winner. Totals are generally set between 70.5 and 81.5 points for a best-of-five matchup. For totals, you have the option to bet either over or under the sportsbook's predetermined total.
For example, if the total was set at 75.5, any cumulative point total of 76 or above would cash the over, while 75 points or below would cash the under.
As mentioned, each game uses a first-to-11 scoring system. With that 75.5-point total in place, let's say a match finished like this: 11-8, 11-5, 6-11, 4-11, 11-5. That adds up to 83 total points, which means the over would succeed.
Game betting follows the same principles as the previous categories, except they only apply to a single game up to 11. You can bet on an outright game win, margin of victory or defeat, or total points scored in that particular game.
This process generally lends itself well to live betting.
Once a game starts, the odds will swing drastically on a point-to-point basis. A player can go down 4-0 early, have their odds skyrocket from -125 to +600, and then score five consecutive points to see the odds return in their favour.