When Was “Betting on Zero” Released?

Back in 2003, a small group of friends and I got together to play a game of poker. We were sitting around a large, round conference table on a Saturday night, drinking beer and playing cards, when the idea for a competition that would become Betting on Zero came up. We agreed that it would be a fun idea to come up with a slogan for a horse race that we could promote on social media. And thus, the idea for Betting on Zero was born. The following week, we posted the first iteration of “Betting on Zero” on our Myspace page. To our delight, the slogan immediately went viral, being reposted by news sites and forums all over the world. It even made its way into the Oxford English Dictionary, where it currently resides under the definition of “a competition whose entrants compete to guess an appointed number or calculate a quantity in the simplest way or with the greatest efficiency.”

More than a decade later, the competition continues to exist and has even expanded to include a podcast as well as a daily Instagram and Twitter contest. The community that has grown around the competition is a testament to its enduring popularity. And it’s all thanks to the brilliant minds behind Betting on Zero. We spoke with Tim Sheppard, founder and CEO of Bets on Zero, about the history of the competition and why it continues to grow in popularity even 10 years after its conception.

How Did the Competition Begin?

The idea for Betting on Zero came up several years prior to the conception of the competition. Tim was working as a financial analyst when the idea for a contest that would become “Betting on Zero” came up. He was asked to work on a project for work, and came up with the idea of a sportsbook for horses. He then reached out to a few of his friends, and they got together to play a few hands of poker. They all had a good time, and decided to turn this into a competition. The only stipulation was that they had to find a horse to bet on, which wasn’t too difficult given the U.S. horse racing scene at the time.

They quickly realized that they needed some kind of gimmick or theme for the competition. As Tim puts it, “We wanted it to be fun; we didn’t want it to be too serious.” The group decided on a slogan for the competition, which they promptly trademarked (fairly common with trademarking slogans these days), and began using in all their promotional material: “Betting on Zero.”

What Is the Purpose of the Competition?

The main goal of the competition is quite simple: to have fun. The friends that Tim gathered together to play poker with weren’t really into sports, but they liked the idea of a competition that could be a bit fun. So, when they got together to play, they mostly stuck to PokerStars and held a few hands here and there, but mostly just for fun. The first iteration of Betting on Zero was quite casual, as there were no prizes other than bragging rights. It wasn’t until later that they decided to give out a trophy to the winner.

How Has the Competition Evolved Over the Years?

The purpose of the competition hasn’t really changed, but the format has evolved to include additional features and a more competitive element. The first iteration of the competition was a simple, head-to-head race between two teams, with the first person to reach a certain number of points wins. The number of points was determined by how well each team could predict the winning odds of various horses in a format similar to poker. The person with the best odds wins, and the trophy is then given to the person with the best odds. The team with the best odds usually ends up being the person who comes up with the slogan, so it’s not a total coincidence that almost all of the trophies are adorned with the famous “BETTING ON ZERO” logo.

As time went on, they decided to add a bit of a competitive edge by adding a “drafting” element to the game. Essentially, you pick a number of horses you think will win, set the odds for each horse, and the person with the best odds wins. This added another layer of strategy to the game. While this format worked well enough, it was still quite rudimentary and lacked any real strategy other than “pick the best horse you can find.”

Since then, they’ve added a daily Instagram and Twitter contest with a grand prize. They also have a podcast, where they interview prominent people in the sports betting world. Additionally, they’ve added a leaderboard, which is a trackable ranking of everyone who’s entered the competition, as well as a hall of fame, which is a showcase of all the racers who have ever entered the competition. And last but not least, they’ve added a trophy to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the competition, as well as trophies for the best odds on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.

It’s safe to say that the competition has evolved a lot since its inception in 2003. The purpose still remains the same, but the format has changed to include additional features and competition.

Why Has “Betting on Zero” Become So Popular?

As we’ve established, the main purpose of “Betting on Zero” is just to have fun. And it’s worked. The competition has grown incredibly popular all over the world. The community that has formed around the competition is a testament to its enduring popularity. There are over 250,000 people on their weekly Instagram contest, and over 100,000 people follow their Twitter contest. The competition is popular in over 75 countries around the world, and has been covered by major news outlets like The New York Times and The Economist. It’s even been featured on the cover of Time magazine.

The popularity of “Betting on Zero” is largely thanks to its unique approach to a game that usually makes for great TV: predicting the outcomes of sporting events. The podcast has also helped, as they interview prominent people in the sports betting world, which has given the competition more mainstream exposure. Tim attributes the competition’s success to its focus on fun, educational content, as well as the novelty of predicting the outcomes of sporting events. He also points out that since it uses entertainment content to attract users, it’s fairly easy for them to get into the habit of following along and participating in the competition. This habit leads them to become more engaged with the content, and subsequently, the community that has been built around the game.

Even if you’re not into sports or betting, “Betting on Zero” is a competition worth checking out. It’s been covered by mainstream media outlets like The New York Times and The Economist, and has a vibrant community of over 250,000 people on Instagram. It also continues to evolve, adding new features and content every two weeks, so you’ll never get bored of the competition. And the final verdict? We’re sure that if you try it out, you won’t be able to stop yourself from coming back for more. Fun fact: the competition has been covered by Time Magazine as one of the “best social media games”.