Emile Petit is a sponsored team pro at PMU Poker, and at one time, one of the biggest poker playing sports bettors in France. In the following interview Petit talks about his sports betting experiences and why poker is a much safer bet for him.
Can you remember the first time you ever bet on anything?
The first time I bet online was in 2003 on William Hill. At first I was just making many small deposits; I bet on soccer, tennis and then I discovered online poker.
How old were you then?
I was 19.
Can you remember the first market you bet on?
It was tennis although I don’t remember the exact bet. I used to be a tennis player and played in the division for Monaco. I was in the juniors so I knew a little bit about tennis and that is how I started.
So is that’s why gambling is in your blood – through the sport of tennis?
It is definitely in my blood, but it is getting tougher now because of all the different laws in this country. All the best sites are banned in France e.g. Betfair, English Bookmakers, Asian Bookmakers, so I don’t bet too much now, mostly because of the laws.
When you were younger and first started getting into sport betting did you develop any particular system that you were using at the time?
Not really, I followed a lot of statistics with soccer injuries and also tennis but I had no particular system.
Can you remember the time that your betting amounts started to get a little more serious?
I started playing poker professionally in 2004 and I started sports betting in a bigger way in 2007. Between the years 2007 & 2010 I took it very serious, did a lot of studying and made a few big bets.
What was working for you back then?
I was making good money on Betfair in both soccer and tennis.
Were you a backer or a layer?
I was a layer mostly.
When was the first time you laid a bet and got really scared of the outcome?
Many times! I was watching a match in the 2007 Australian Open: Marcos Baghdatis versus Gael Monfils. I remember Monfils was winning 2 sets to 0 and then he fell quite badly. I saw this on TV and the whole world bet on it – including me. He was limping heavily and lost the third set 6-2. So Baghdatis was down 2 sets to 1 but 1.01 to win because Monfils was injured. Then suddenly Monfils starts to play again and wins the fourth set 6-0 to take the match! That match gave me a really crazy headache.
How much did you lose in the Monfils bet?
What is the biggest bet you have ever won?
I won €100,000 when the wild card, Jeremy Chardy, beat David Nalbandian in Roland Garros back in 2008. Nalbandian was a top ten player and was up two sets to zero before losing in five sets. I have also won a few €50,000 bets as well.
So your experience as a tennis player really gives you an edge when betting?
I was born in 1984 so I know a lot about the players in my generation. When you play tennis for 15-years, and you watch TV, you usually know how one match will turn out just by looking at their faces.
Do you have any particular bad beat stories?
I once did an accumulator type bet where you had to pick 14 winning football matches for €150,000. I had 13 winners and in the 14th match I had backed Rapid Vienna. They were playing at home and needed to win for the title. They were 3-0 up at half time against the side ranked in 10th and they drew 3-3. That was my worst bad beat story by far.
Why have you since stopped betting and instead returned to poker?
I went back to poker because it is less of a headache. The swings are not as bad as they are in sports betting. You have to study a lot in sports betting and it doesn’t give me any time to play poker. Also due to the current laws you cannot bet on Betfair. The odds that you get in France are shit making it almost impossible to bet on sports and win.
What would be your one piece of advice if somebody wanted to go into sports betting?
First of all look for the best odds. That is most important as in the long run its just mathematics so you really have to look for the best odds all of the time.
Is there any team or any player that you refuse to bet on, as they never win when you do?
Yes a few: Milan, Monfils, Gasquet, Liverpool and Roma. I have lost a lot on these.
Who does the best for you?
Manchester Utd, by far, I have won many times with them e.g. when they have been down half time and win 3-2. Again I won, last weekend they were down 1-0 against QPR and they won 3-1 as they always come back fighting. This team for me is the best.
Do you have any hard and fast bankroll rules?
It is very important not to waste too much on one single bet. I have a rule never to go over 1 to 10 units. I make many small bets, but if I make a big bet it is never more than ten units.
So how difficult is it to make money over the long run in sports?
Very tough, but I know many guys who make good bets. But they are on computers ten hours a day just to make two or three good bets. They are looking at every sports site looking for opportunities like arbs, etc. The time it takes just doesn’t mix well with poker.