Reality TV And Specials Betting Advice

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Specials Betting Advice

Reality TV Betting

X FactorOver the past few years or so reality TV shows have become increasingly popular and so has the betting surrounding those TV shows. These include X-Factor, American Idol, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Big Brother, Eurovision, Strictly Come Dancing and more.

The biggest reality TV show for betting is Big Brother for which some bookmakers create more than 20 markets. After a few weeks the markets in these events normally form very strong opinions and short priced favourites will dominate the betting.

Does the market get it right for Reality TV Betting?

These short priced favourites aren't always bombproof betting propositions. In Big Brother 2007 the twins, Amanda and Sam, were as short as 1/5 in the outright betting for the competition on the final day but were beaten by Brian, the second favourite. It is often best to wait to see if there is late money for an outcome as late money is often knowledgeable money.

In the 2006 X Factor competition, Ben was immediately made hot favourite when the finals began however he didn't even make the final show. Leona was an easy winner, initially third favourite with many.

OLBG member Drobgod thinks he may have found a good way of looking at reality contestants' popularity in his blog Can Twitter Help Our Betting In The Specials Markets?


Elimination Markets

Most reality TV shows have one of the contestants voted off each week or episode. This can often be straightforward as it's not hard to see who is least talented or most disliked. However, there are problems with betting on this market.

In Big Brother the rules are often changed and it is not uncommon for one or two contestants to pick the people up for eviction some weeks. Often, even the most hated housemate might escape nomination.

In X Factor 2006 it was clear that the McDonald Brothers were by far the worst act in the finals yet week after week they defied the odds and progressed to the next round. The British public often get behind an underdog. It appeared that most of Scotland were voting for the McDonald Brothers! It became a bit of a joke each week, but not for those who were backing them to be eliminated at short odds.

Dangers of Reality TV Betting

Reality TV shows aren't produced for betting which makes it a dangerous betting proposition due to:

  • Rule changes - e.g. double evictions in Big Brother
  • Contestants quitting - no refunds for this
  • Contestants being added / reinstated (especially in Big Brother)
  • Contestants removed for rule breaking
  • Programme editing can dramatically effect voting

Awards Betting

Another specials market punters like to bet on is awards. Betting can be particularly intensive on the Oscars and the Sports Personality of the Year, but there is betting on many other awards such like Mercury Music Prize, Emmys, Baftas, Brits, Turner & Booker Prizes


The Oscars are decided upon by a panel. The Oscars normally have some well touted favourites but it seems the Academy often likes to make a point in one or two of their decisions and shock results in some of the major categories are common.

Sports Personality of the Year

As the Sports Personality Award is (currently) decided by phone poll it would be thought not too hard to predict but unexpected results can happen. In 2006 Zara Phillips was a somewhat shock choice, beating hot favourite Darren Clarke. This award ceremony often produces a very short price favourite as one sportsman's achievements are normally head and shoulders above the rest. Common contenders are Captains and influential figures in football, cricket or rugby teams that perform above expectations that year.

Dangers of Betting on Awards

When there is a so called cert in a category it is often very short odds, but many of them fail to win because:

  • Many of the Academy members are older actors - they vote for who they want to win rather than who should win
  • In the Actor/Actress categories giving the best performance isn't enough - it depends on the character played and the film also
  • In the Sports Personality award it is difficult to predict who is going to vote
  • Voting for the Sports Personality continues throughout the programme - extra focus on a particular sports person can result in many extra votes on the night


Politics and betting don't normally go hand in hand but there are betting opportunities on the major elections as well as next party leaders. As there are very few candidates in these events it is rare for a favourite not to be very short odds on.

The odds compilers don't normally get these markets wrong so a decent return is only going to usually be made if a very large stake is wagered.

Dangers of Betting on Politics

  • These events are often taking a place a few years from when the bet is placed, therefore:
  • Money can be tied up for very long periods of time - sometimes a better return could be gained from a high interest savings account
  • In the time lapse between bet placed and bet settled anything can happen - war and terrorism are two factors that can majorly influence political opinions and popularity

Golden Rules of Specials Betting

Only Bet If You Have an Edge

Specials markets are by and large poor betting mediums because there is no form as such to go on and punters are essentially guessing or going with gut instinct.

Bets should only be made if you are able to gain an edge over the bookmaker. The most obvious edge to have would be inside information but that is a luxury very few people have.

Therefore it is important to stick to outcomes that look majorly overpriced. Not all of them are going to win but only one winner every so often should be profitable.

Remember Who Is Voting

Don't forget to view everything from the point of view of the voters or decision makers as this is the key to specials betting.

Many reality TV shows are voted on by teenage girls sending text messages where as the Oscars are voted on by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts. This is sometimes underestimated by bookmakers and that is when to make it pay.

Know The Rules

Unless you fully understand the rules then you cant hope to bet successfully on specials. For example on reality TV at the very least you should find out the following considerations:

Important Considerations

Do People Vote For Who They Want To Win Or Want To Eliminate?

Stronger characters get more votes and quieter ones less whichever way it works. If there is a vote to win then those with less personality and fans could be eliminated. If there is a vote to eliminate those who generate more negative emotions may be eliminated and those with less personality might last a bit longer.

Do Judges Make The Final Decision Or The Public?

Sometimes you need to map out the logic of how the elimination process will work. Is it possible that two favourites could be up against each other and who would decide which one is saved? Sometimes the judges might have ulterior motives for keeping someone in (i.e they may be creating good publicity for the show).

When Is The Show Broadcast And Who Is Watching?

Im A Celebrity is broadcast later in the evening than X-Factor so older less trendy people (Tony Blackburn) tend to do better rather than who the younger teenagers like and kids like.

Click here to find TV and Specials discussion and tips on the OLBG TV and Specials Forum.

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Comments from the Forum

  • monkeytennis

    With so many rule changes going on in reality TV to create more entertainment is it becoming impossible to bet on or does that just create better value? What are the TV shows to consistently bet on and which should we avoid? Do awards or politics offer better betting opportunities?

    Reality TV and Specials Betting Advice

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