How to Make Money from Senate Confirmation Markets

By Pratik Chougule

Betting markets regularly offer lines on whether presidential nominees for positions in the executive branch and judiciary will be confirmed by the Senate. These can be among the most volatile and profitable lines available in political gambling.

Even skilled traders, however, often shy away from these markets on the assumption that they are dominated by Capitol Hill insiders.

In our recent conversation, I asked Zubby Badger—who does not work on the Hill—how he has made so much money in these markets over the years.

Zubby argues that Hill experience is less important than following a playbook.

Based on my interview with Zubby, below is a guide for how to develop a sustained edge in these markets.

Mindset

Making money in political gambling won’t always be fun.

The markets that tend to draw traders to political gambling, such as elections, won’t necessarily be the ones that pay the bills—especially during political off-years.

It is important to make peace with the fact that the work in these markets will be difficult and tedious at times.

The reward will come from patience and endurance—from digging through political weeds that aren’t always the most riveting topics in the news cycle.

Main Questions

There are three main questions to answer in every confirmation market:

  • Who will the president appoint?
  • How many votes will the nominee secure in the Senate?
  • How, timing wise, will the nomination process unfold?

Learn the Rules of the Senate

Large amounts of money in Senate confirmation markets are often won or lost based on knowledge of the rules of the Senate.

This is because market makers set deadlines by when the nominee must be confirmed. As traders often realize the hard way, the most difficult question in these markets frequently is not whether the nominee will be confirmed, but whether the market will close before the Senate will gets around to voting.

An example of an important Senate rule in confirmation markets is cloture. During the early days of the Biden administration, traders who did not understand the cloture process predicted correctly that certain high-profile nominees such as Merrick Garland would be confirmed without too much controversy. However, they lost money to savvier traders who factored in the Senate calendar.

Poker provides a loose analogy. Just like it is impossible to win over the long-run without committing to memory the odds of certain common match-ups—such as AK vs. pocket pairs— traders will need to commit to memory certain basic rules of the Senate.

Set Up Tweet Deck Columns

To ensure that you are receiving important information as quickly as possible, Zubby recommends setting up a tweet deck column, filtered for verified accounts, that mention the names of any prospective nominees.

When Zubby is playing these markets, he also Googles these names a few times a day and checks the news filter.

Committee Hearings

Every committee in the Senate has its own website with a calendar. These committees announce on their sites when hearings will be convened for the nominees.

With this information and an understanding of the Senate calendar, traders can anticipate whether the final Senate vote will occur before the market deadline.

Watching the hearings live also provides an edge. By the time the hearings occur, Senators are generally leaning one way or the other. They typically use the time to telegraph their intentions through their commentary and the questions they ask the nominees. As Zubby said on the podcast, “No one is incentivized to have a poker face.”

Where to Find Confirmation Markets

Kalshi appears to be prioritizing Senate confirmation markets in its political lines. Polymarket has some as well. And Paul Krishnamurty has indicated that he can create these lines upon request at BetOnline.ag.

If there are particular Senate confirmation markets you’d like to trade on, let us know and we’ll try to get one offered.

Pratik Chougule is the editor and host of Star Spangled Gamblers. Follow him on Twitter @pjchougule.

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