Poker players betting big on November’s election results

Jon Pill
Published by:
Posted on 10/19/2020

Poker players are a politically engaged bunch. Something about Nate Silver style percentages and predictions appeals to the poker mind. The sort of mind that enjoys working out whether the implied odds on the river make up for a suboptimal call on the turn.

You can follow Daniel Negreanu on Twitter for cracks about Trump’s mental health. Follow Doyle Brunson for cracks about Biden’s mental health. And follow Mike Matusow for insights into Mike Matusow’s mental health.

A nice straightforward two-horse race like Trump v. Biden should be a massive market for bookmakers. Except that in the U.S., not every state has bookmakers, and most bookmakers don’t carry odds for the election.

America may be the land of the free, but when it comes to gambling it’s as big-state as it comes. The spirit of those first puritans has left U.S. gamblers without a regulated option to gamble it up on what’s gonna happen come the 3rd of November.

The oddest odds

Players are going up against one another one on one. Twitter is full of players bartering over the best line ahead of the actual vote.

The upside of this, as Doug Polk points out, is that booking your bet with pals is vig free.

The ex-poker pro tweeted: “Anyone looking to bet on Trump vig free right now? Looking for Biden action.” 

Following it up a few minutes later with: “Line just moved a little, so I am offering Trump +150 (You get Trump +150)”

That is 2.5 in decimal odds, to put your money on four more years of Trump.

Biden this time

The smart money seems to be on Biden. In fact, all the money seems to be on Biden.

This is maybe not too surprising right now. What with the West Coast being on fire, the East Coast being plague riddled, and the sitting President having paid the same amount of income tax as a married DC resident on $9,800 per annum.

Betfair, with its exchange driven prices, lists the odds on Biden at 1.50 to back and 1.51 to lay. That corresponds to odds of 3.00 to back Trump.

That’s more optimistic than Mr. Data himself: Nate Silver. His site, threeeightyfive.com has Biden winning 87% of the simulations they ran using poll data. Though he warns on Twitter that he expects Biden’s 10.5 point lead in the polls to “tighten up”.

If the 87% number is correct that would give break even odds of 7.69 to back Trump and just 1.15 to bet on Biden.

Matt Glanz’s position on all this betting is to pack it in if you’re a Trump supporter.

He tweeted, “At this point, I just want to save my friends some money. Plz DO NOT bet any more $ on Trump!”

Though even he says that for +250 even you would “have to take some off.”

One thing is for certain, with the electorate so polarized, a lot of the money moving round is going to be based on optimism rather than data.

And there are plenty of poker players on Twitter who are willing to turn a buck on those illusions.