This section is about finding value. If you aren’t familiar with probabilities, odds and overround, we suggest you brush up on these subjects before you continue reading.
When you play roulette, the odds of the ball landing on number 36 are always the same, round after round. A sporting event, on the other hand, can not be predicted in this manner. Companies that offers sports betting, commonly known as bookmakers or “bookies”, typically have experts employed to provide them with odds for each betting opportunity. In many cases, the bookie will also adjust the odds based on punter behavior.
Finding value is basically about finding betting opportunities where you disagree with the set odds for a certain outcome. If you found a roulette table where they promised to pay you 500 times your wager if the ball lands on number 36, you would probably love to throw your money down on number 36 there because you know that the chance of the ball landing on number 36 is much higher that the odds offered. The same thing is true for sports betting, but here it is of course much more difficult to analyze the situation and try to determine the likelihood for a certain outcome.
With value betting, you are looking for opportunities to bet on something where the book keeper, according to your analysis, is offering higher odds than the situation warrants. To be able to find such opportunities you must of course be knowledgeable and good at analyzing. Don’t expect the odds to jump out and scream VALUE. In most cases, we are taking about a very small discrepancy between the bookmaker’s take on the situation and your idea of the true chances of a certain outcome.
Many punters relay on their own analysis of a situation, but there are also those how get help from complex mathematical models that can involve stuff such as power ratings, elo ratings, poission distribution, the multinomial probit model, the pythagorean theorem, and more.
A common pitfall among those searching for value is to assume that only high odds can offer value. The truth is that value is value – regardless of whether the odds are high or low or somewhere in between. If the bookmaker is setting the odds to 1.20 and you would have put it on 1.25 instead, you have spotted value, even though the odds are low. If your aim is to consistently make long term profits from your betting rather than wild swings up and down, even low odds should be considered in your value betting strategy.
So, what about accumulators – can they offer value? Yes, they can. But it is rare. You need to really know what your doing if you want to search for value in accumulator bets. With every bet you add to an accumulator bet, you decrease your chance of winning. This is something that must be taken into account when you try to figure out if there is any value to be had, so the analysis becomes even more tricky than for a normal bet.
Last but not least, a word of caution. Most bookmakers have pretty “flexible” Terms & Conditions that are open for interpretation and they can decide to use them to withhold your winnings if they dislike that you found a really good value bet and/or won a lot of money on a value bet. Usually, the Terms & Conditions will include a clause that says something about how the bookie is entitled to void any bet if the bookie has made a “palpable or obvious error”. Or course, you and the bookie might not see eye to eye about the definition of palpable and obvious and error, but the bookie has the power to withhold your win which gives the bookie the upper hand in the situation. I’m not saying this to discourage you from looking for value, I’m just mentioning it so that you can know about this possibility and know that there is a risk of it happening should you find exceptionally good value or make a really big win on a value bet.