Finding the value in sports betting: It’s why we do it, isn’t it?

For long-term betting success, value needs to be understood – something which is not exactly straightforward for a beginner bettor.

Successful betting with value

If you are going to bet, then understanding the difference between a team’s chances of winning and the chances of that team winning when compared to the offered betting odds is essential. This separates the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, the casual bettor from the regular winner.

At the time, it may seem wrong, even ridiculous to place your own money on a bet that seems as fairytale as the latest Disney movie, but a successful bettor finds value bets on a regular basis that exploits the value determined.

How to identify value

The first task a bettor needs to get to grips with is the how; how does one determine value? It’s quite simple really. First, we need to assess the likelihood of all possible outcomes and then compare those probabilities with the implied probabilities of the relevant odds. Whilst the second step is easy, the first is the one that causes bettors headaches.

Naturally, a person is likely to be more suited to a field in which they are already experienced. So, if you are a football fan, begin betting on football. Even then, football is unpredictable – a 3-3 draw for Crystal Palace at Liverpool in May 2014 took everyone by surprise – especially Liverpool betting fans.

It is the interpreting of the information that is available to us that will eventually lead us to a decision.

Research is also key; don’t go into a bet blind. Look at form, their league table positions and recent head-to-head matches. Remember we are looking for bets where the probability of a stated outcome is greater than the odds offered.

Calculating value

Understanding probabilities is something which many leave behind; an implied probability are the betting odds which represent the likelihood of a specific outcome occurring. What casual bettors fail to understand is that this implied probability has its own calculation:

Implied probability = 1/decimal odds

Let’s take a simple example. The toss of a coin; there are two possible outcomes – heads or tails with a 50% chance for each. Betting £10 on heads will lead to this expected value:

(0.5 x £10) + (0.5 x -£10) = £5 – £5 = £0.

Identifying good odds is key, because this is what drives our profit. Obtaining a good wager is simple: it is the probability multiplied by the decimal odds minus 1. If the value is greater than 0, you have a value bet. The above is therefore not a value bet.