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We’re not saying these sports are necessarily weird in nature – well, not all of them – but they certainly don’t rank high on an average punter’s list of betting priorities. Some of these we hesitate to classify as sports as all, yet they are listed right alongside AFL, NRL, soccer, tennis, cricket, and all the rest at our trusted AUD bookmakers. So, without further do, here they are: five of our favourite unusual sports to bet on.
For a fun, off-the-wall sports wager, it is hard to beat the ancient Japanese martial art of sumo. Don’t be fooled: this is a fully professional sport, and the yokozuna – the highest ranked wrestlers – earn upwards of AUD $30,000 a month. As a local crowd-pleaser and massive tourist attraction, there has always been a healthy betting scene around pro sumo tournaments in Japan. And despite the 2011 match-fixing scandal that saw 14 rikishi forced to retire in disgrace, Grand Sumo events like the Nagoya Basho continue to offer a wealth of head-to-head markets for Australian punters.
Betting on which guy or gal wins at betting – it sounds a bit like the Inception of sports wagers. But with the rise of live poker as a spectator sport (thanks, ESPN), there also comes the inevitable demand for real cash gamblers worldwide to have a flutter on the various possible outcomes. The World Series of Poker is the big kahuna, of course, as the WSOP Main Event draws more than 6,000 entrants every year. However, nowadays there is plenty of no limit hold’em action to bet on at home, with Melbourne’s Crown Casino hosting both the annual Aussie Millions and the new WSOP Asia-Pacific tournament.
That’s right: chess. That board game with the funny figurines and the complex strategies that old men play all day long in Central Park, according to every movie or television show ever set in New York City. What you might not know is that, as a professional contest, this centuries-old pastime comes with a very strong gambling culture. European punters have been wagering millions on the World Chess Championship for decades, and the recent explosion of international online betting has made it easier than ever for Aussie gamblers to get in on the action.
When you think of surfing, you imagine sandy, wind-whipped beaches covered in towels, empty tinnies, and bikini-clad hotties – oh, and surfers doing their surfing thing, too. You do not, however, think of bookies and totes. But where there is a contest and an eventual winner, there is a bet to be had – and pro surfing is no exception. Major events such as the Rip Curl Pro, the Quicksilver Pro Gold Coast, and the Billabong Pipeline Masters make for excellent head-to-head wagers and future/outright markets. There’s also a great chance to back an Aussie winner, with international surf superstars Mick Fanning, Taj Burrow, Steph Gilmore, and Joel Parkinson ranked among the cream of the crop.
It may be an entirely parochial affair, but this great Irish tradition is rightly regarded by sports scientists as one of the most technically challenging games in the world. If you’ve never seen it before, hurling plays like a hybrid of rugby and hockey. It requires immense skill, enormous courage, and makes for an incredibly entertaining spectacle – but one that is sorely undervalued overseas, due partly to its semi-pro status. Nevertheless, the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship is followed all over the world and provides ample fair for a future bet or an inspired multi selection.