One of the keys to successful sports betting is identifying a strategy or system that is not reflected by the odds on offer by the bookmakers. Value betting is about taking odds that are more generous than the actual probabilities. Bookmaker offer odds for a wide range of sports, many leagues and a massive number of markets. They cannot afford to employ experts in specialist areas so odds compliers work with a range of leagues and markets within their own sport. As bettors we can cherry pick markets and focus on finding an edge. Focusing on one specific league or market can give you an edge and help in the battle to beat the bookies by finding some value.
The true odds of an outcome in sport are a matter of opinion. Statistics can be useful but there are some elements of a sporting event that cannot be quantified. In a soccer match both teams could be relatively high scoring. However, when the fixture takes place there could be high winds which reduce the prospects for goals. A tennis player could have an excellent record against an opponent on a particular surface but could have a niggling injury that is not in the public domain. A strategy that can be used to find some value looks at the bigger picture and is less about small elements of a sporting event that can be qualified and analysed. Here are five strategies across a number of sports and 10 methods that can provide some value:
Towards the end of the football season in any league there are certain matches that bring together teams with very little to play for. For example in the English Premier League that has 20 teams fixtures involving those teams from about 8th to 12th from March onwards could be classed as “dead matches”. Teams are in relative mid-table safety, clear from relegation issues and with little chance of qualifying for Europe. With little incentive to give 100% some players might go through the motions. Records show that during the last few weeks of the season there are fewer cards shown in leagues like the Premier League but the principles can be applied to many other leagues.
Bookmakers price up the number of bookings and sending offs in many fixtures but all matches that are shown live on television. They use a scoring system that awards 10 points for a yellow card and 25 points for a red card. Once you have identified a good match for low bookings check statistics for the referee in charge. Some refs prefer to use man-management as a form of discipline rather than cards and the propensity of the referee not to book players is the third element of this strategy. Once all the conditions are in place find the bookmaker that offers the best odds for a low bookings count and bet under the total ahead of matches that have no passion and relatively few questionable tackles and challenges.
Bookmakers offer an extensive range of markets during live cricket matches. It is possible to bet on just about every element of the game, even down to the number of runs scored in an over and whether the total will be odd or even. Many of these markets are automated but others are dependent of how the live trader sees the potential outcomes and issues odds accordingly. The markets for the next batsman out can provide some value in certain circumstances. At the top of the order players are at a similar level so there is no value in betting on the next one out. However, when a recognised batsman is partnering a player from well down the order there is some value to be had.
Tail-enders are batsman who specialise in bowling or wicket-keeping. They generally are not chasing runs as that is the job of the higher ranked player at the other end. Players who are supposedly weak with the bat will try to protect their wicket and take few risks. Bookmakers are predictable in pricing these markets and there is scope for taking advantage. The tail-ender will always be the favourite to go first but there is some value in backing his team mate who will be the better batsmen to be dismissed first. With so much cricket now played there will be many opportunities to profit from bookmakers underestimating the batting proficiency of tail-enders.
Rugby league used to be a winter sport in the United Kingdom. When Sky got involved it became a summer sport and received a higher profile away from the traditional playing areas in the north of England. Despite live TV coverage and programmes related to the Super League the sport is still of interest to a minority of sports bettors. However, it provides opportunities to make money at the expense of the bookmakers. You don’t need an in depth understanding of rules but access to a daily paper or the internet. The scoring system awards points for tries, conversions and penalties but it’s the total points scored by each team that is the key.
One of the most popular markets across sports with a definite point’s scoring system is the handicap. The purpose of a handicap is to encourage two-way betting when there is a big favourite and underdog. Bookies quote 10/11 the pair and express handicaps in half numbers to prevent the tie. In rugby league you can calculate a theoretical handicap by dividing the point’s difference for each team by the number of matches they have played. This number is compared to the bookmaker’s handicap line and if there is a variance of more than three points it’s a bet. The simple statistical method will not produce a 100% strike rate but enough winners to beat the bookie betting on rugby league.
Snooker had its golden years with saturation coverage on terrestrial TV and players like Steve Davis, Alex Higgins and Dennis Taylor were household names. The sport was almost a soap opera and the rivalry between Davis and Higgins was the stuff of great chalk and cheese drama. The World Championship is still covered on the BBC and a legacy of a sport and its characters is that bettors focus on the most famous players to the detriment of less well known pros. Correct frame betting is fraught with danger even though the odds are enticing. By keeping it simple and betting on the winner of matches you have an opportunity to make money.
In boxing past form is an accurate indication of the outcome of a fight. Tennis players have the measure of an opponent and will win their matches time after time. However, snooker lends itself to upsets because the players are potting balls and the opponent has no influence on the action. This means up-and-coming players in good form will often beat a star who is a little below par. Most of the time past tournament or venue form is irrelevant and the most important factor is a player’s confidence and performance level. The strategy is simple in that you back in-form players in a tournament against other players who may be better known but are now struggling. Older players in particular are vulnerable to new kids on the block.
American football looks like a sport played by over-padded lumps with more advert breaks than activity on the field. In fact that’s a perfect description for the most popular betting sport in the United States. However, it can be used to make money because there is some logic behind the hurtling bodies and fearsome tackles. The head coach directs operations from the touchline but on the field there is one player with a massive amount of influence. He’s the guy that takes a step back from the huddles and on receiving the ball launches it up field to make ground. The quarterback makes or breaks the outcome of a match for his side so you must focus in him before betting.
The quarterback influences more than any other player the progress a team makes down the pitch to the end zone. His objective is to use the ball efficiently and set up opportunities for touchdowns. The average yards gained per play shows the efficiency of a team and by definition the quarterback. The efficiency measure reflects the astuteness of the coach, the ability of players to carry out his plans and most importantly the success the quarterback has in directing operations from the field. Whenever there is a big difference between opposing teams average gain figures there is only likely to be one winner but this is not reflected in the relative odds.