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Value Betting as an Investment

Posted by Tomáš Molnár


When it comes to betting, lots of bettors are unsure about how to quantify their chance of winning a wager. Some of them might say: “if my ticket has combined odds 5 then the chance is 20%. But I feel a little more confident”. If you are unsure if this approach is correct or not, take a sit and read following lines carefully.

Real chance of winning


Let’s start with something anyone can evaluate easily: coin flipping. It is trivial to define fair odds – 1/1 in UK odds, 2 in European and +100 in American. Let’s stick with European format for the rest of the article. Implied probability is thus 50% on both options(heads or tails). Of course, one might say that coin can end on the edge – but truly – have you ever seen such a flip? :-)


If some party gives you odds 2.5 in coin flipping, they are liars or just stupid. Speaking in probabilities, 2.5 odds equals to 40% of implied probability, while random flip is 50 percent. And here comes the EDGE that is 10% in your favor. Over single event you might be losing, but over long run not.

Investing basics applied to betting


There is nothing such a safe bet. Of course there might be one – in small leagues, controlled by mafia. But mafia would never let their safe bets to public, because:

  1. Too many people suspiciously betting on underdogs can be evaluated by authorities and bookies as fraud. Odds would disappear, or wagers might get cancelled.
  2. Like in investing, too many interested parties in some odd cause odd naturally to drop (bettors are apparently willing to buy it at lower price, sometimes much lower than reasonable). Mafia would be losing then – by lowering odds, EDGE drops too.

So one might ask himself – how come there are sites guaranteeing 90 per cent safe bets? Answer is simple – they cheat, there is nothing like that.

How to invest in betting


Every time try to evaluate realistic odds against bookmakers’ offer. For example: if there is Barcelona playing at home with average team and there are odds on Barcelona win 1.1 (90.9%), try to evaluate if they were winning in more than such amount of games against teams of this caliber. That could give some starting point in identifying real odds.

Backtracking from past 136 similar games of Barcelona pops up 117 victories that is only 86%. Therefore taking only this measure, 1.1 odd is not having EDGE. But when Barcelona were playing at home, they won 70 out of 77 from those games, that is giving better starting point.

Of course, don’t forget to count recent games, African Cup call-ups for star players, injuries and suspended players, weather, referee… Those measures can modify your metrics sometimes significantly (injured Messi and Iniesta at same time is influencing Barcelona a lot), while most of referees are true professionals and do not have any impact on result. Unfortunately some of referees do.

If there were single formula to calculate realistic odds, then someone would find Holy Grail. There isn’t. But your formula can be closer than bookies have (at least for some events) and you can realistically make some money out of betting.

Interested? .-)



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