Advanced Football Betting Strategy
Anyone can visit a sports bookmaker and put a bet down on their favourite football team; it takes very little analysis or strategy. However, over the course of a season, it doesn’t make financial sense to blindly back your preferred team simply because they’re playing. Instead, try to get to grips with the premise of ‘value’.
You can work out a team’s value for any given match by following this method:
- Estimate, as a percentage, what you think the chances are of a team winning.
- Find the best decimal price for that team to win (decimals are easier than fractions when it comes to the maths).
- Multiply the percentage you’ve estimated with the decimal price.
- Any result of 1.00 or greater means the team has value and you should consider a bet.
Spotting Value in Practice
Let’s look at a high profile example – the 2020 FA Cup final between Chelsea and Arsenal. Paddy Power offered Chelsea at 10/11 and Ladbrokes had them at 8/10. In contrast, they had underdogs Arsenal to win at 7/2 and 15/4 respectively.
A lot of inexperienced punters would have viewed these odds and thought twice about backing Arsenal. However, others would have seen a window of opportunity. If we take the best odds offered for an Arsenal win, the 15/4 at Ladbrokes, which converts to 4.75. At that price, you only have to estimate that Arsenal have a 22% chance of winning the game to find some value: 0.22 x 4.75 = 1.05.
That’s the equivalent of Arsenal winning the game only once if it was played five times over. Some Chelsea fans may have agreed with this assessment; they were favourites to lift the trophy. However, Arsenal fans may have looked at their side’s well-earned place in the final having beaten previous holders Manchester City in the semi-final.
Despite the naysayers, Arsenal were showing signs of progress under Mikel Arteta and had one of English football’s most in-form strikers in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. All of these things will have been assessed by seasoned punters, and the more insightful will have concluded that backing Arsenal had value in it every single time. In the event, Arsenal won 2-1 after falling behind early on, with Aubameyang bagging a brace.
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Using Mathematics to Estimate Value
Although finding the perfect bet (i.e. the one with the most value) should always be the goal, you need to know where to look and, importantly, what you’re looking for. It’s no good understanding the concept of value and not knowing where to apply it. To this end, you can use an advanced football betting strategy known as Poisson Distribution.
In simple terms, Poisson Distribution is a way of quantifying how likely random occurrences will be over a fixed amount of time. For example, if you know that Arsenal average 1.5 goals per game, you can use a distribution formula to predict how likely they are to score XX goals in a certain scenario. Before you do this, you need to know a team’s attack strength and defence strength.
To determine how strong a team’s attack rating is, you need to establish the average number of goals scored per team, per game (home and away). To find the averages, you simply divide the number of goals scored (home) by the number of games in a season. To find the away goals average, you do the same thing.
Once you’ve established the attack strength, you need to calculate how strong a team is defensively. To work out the defence strength, you take the above equations and change goals scored to goals conceded.
Putting it All Together
When you’ve completed these equations, you should have four numbers:
- Attack Strength Home
- Attack Strength Away
- Defence Strength Home
- Defence Strength Away
Now you can start to determine how strong a team is in relation to the league average. For example, if Arsenal scored 35 goals at home in 19 games, the attack strength would be 1.842 (35/19). From here, let’s assume the league attack strength (home) from the previous season is 1.492 (i.e. 567 goals divided by 380 games).
With these two figures, you divide Arsenal’s score by the season average which, in this case, equals 1.235 (1.842/1.492). Once you’ve got the home team’s attack strength, you go through the same process to determine the away team’s defence strength.
At this point, you’ll have two numbers. For the purposes of this example, let’s say the opposing team (Chelsea) has a defence strength (away) of 0.881. From here, you can multiply these two numbers by the season average to get a final value:
1.235 x 0.881 x 1.492 = 1.623
What this basically means is, according to the statistics, Arsenal are likely to score 1.623 goals against Chelsea.
There will be other mitigating factors around the game which you can apply to the maths in order to help your final judgement on the game, such as injuries and current form.
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Technical vs Value-Based Betting
You may have heard us talking about obtaining ‘value’ with football betting, but what does that actually mean? Surely the idea is to place wagers in the hope of landing the biggest possible return each time?
While the above is certainly true, taking a longer-term approach to your football betting and identifying “value” betting opportunities will give you a much stronger chance of securing a profit than simply betting to win every time.
When you visit the football section of the best football betting sites, they will not have a section marked out as “Value Bets” so the onus is very much on the customer to identify these type of wagers in order to obtain some kind of edge over the house when it comes to placing a bet.
To use an example, Liverpool might be trading at even money to beat Manchester United in the Premier League. So if you back the Reds at that price, then you would effectively be doubling your stake should they beat the Red Devils in ninety minutes.
However, you might consider that Liverpool have a stronger than 50% chance of winning the match. Your calculations or the statistics at your disposal might indicate that the Merseyside team have a 60% or even a 65% chance of winning.
That would mean that Liverpool represent value in your eyes. The fact that the bookies are willing to double your money on a selection where you feel the odds are stacked in your favour might prompt you to bet accordingly.
Compare Different Bookmaker Odds to Get Value
Most advanced bettors will have several bookmaker accounts and this certainly provides more flexibility to your football punting. The bookies often differ when it comes to the odds for a football match and you might be able to back a team at 2/1 when every other firm is going 6/4.
You can use bookmaker comparison sites such as bookmakers.co.uk to find the best football odds, which could make you more profitable than a punter who only bets with one firm.
Sometimes there might be a gamble on a particular team leading up to kick-off and one bookie is either slow to change their prices accordingly or simply wants to take that particular side on.
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Is There Value in Scorecast/Wincast Betting?
Scorecasts and Wincasts are a fun alternative wager for those who want to maximise the value of their bet, but if you walk blindly into either you’re stepping straight into the open arms of the bookies.
Scorecast and Wincast bets both need a customer to get the First Goalscorer correct. Therefore, it’s important to do your research and understand which players have been scoring the opening goals for their team and the frequency with which they are able to do so.
This includes knowing which players are on penalty duties and the same applies to free-kick takers, with this giving a player a much stronger chance of scoring his team’s opening goal.
When it comes to a Scorecast, you also need to establish the likely scoreline for a game and it clearly pays to look back at the previous six matches involving each team so you can establish betting trends that might help you with this bet.
You can also factor in general stats such as the most common final scores if you’re betting on the Premier League for example. We tend to look for teams who are strong defensively when it comes to placing Scorecasts, so that we can potentially combine a particular player with a series of scorelines such as 1-0, 2-0 and 3-0.
Wincast betting is different in that we need to predict the Full-Time Result so you can apply the basic maths we alluded to at the beginning of this article for that leg of your bet.
Once again, it helps to look at previous results involving both teams. For the home team, you might look at their home form and the same applies to the away team, while the overall league table standings will provide you with a solid view if you’re not already convinced by the percentages approach.
If you want to get more in-depth with your research, we recommend looking at stats such as shots on target and expected goals which will also help paint the clearest picture possible before you go ahead and place your bets.
‘Laying’ has become a particularly prominent form of advanced football betting in recent years. Using this betting strategy, you no longer simply bet on one side to win; instead, a lay bet is made against an outcome. So, for example, if you were to lay a team, you would effectively be backing that team to lose or draw.
If we were to look at it in practical terms, let’s imagine that Manchester City are playing West Ham at the Etihad Stadium. In this scenario, a West Ham win is perceived to be unlikely by bookmakers. As such, let’s imagine that you lay the Hammers to win at odds of 10/1. If you stake C$500 against a West Ham win, you would see a profit of C$50 if Manchester City draw or win the game. In this context, you can see that the lay bet certainly ranks up there with the safest of football betting strategies.
Of course, the lay bet requires an inversion of normal odds. Instead of 10/1, in this example your likelihood of a return is actually 1/10 (hence the C$50 pay out on a C$500 wager). As such, laying football teams that have little chance of winning will build up a good bank over time (a degree of patience is required).
Similarly, if you think you have a line on a particular match-up – something the bookies have missed – then you could see a high return by laying the favourites. If, for example, Manchester City are missing key players through injury but are still heavy favourites to win on reputation alone, it could be worth betting against a City win for a potentially rewarding payout.
Asian Handicap Betting
Another method of advanced football betting which is increasingly on the rise globally is Asian Handicapping, a form of fixed odds betting that originated in the Far East.
The Asian Handicap in football betting evolved because the Asian market loved to bet on English football. However, punters were not so enamoured by the prospect of losing their money to a full-time draw, leading to a system whereby both teams in any given match are given a handicap or spread before the game. This is most often offered in fractional form (e.g. 0.5 goals, 1.5 goals), which neutralises the possibility of there being a draw outcome.
The system also means that the chance of smaller sides winning against the spread dramatically increases. For example, if West Ham, with goal odds +1.5 were playing away against Manchester City with goal odds of -1.5, both at fixed odds of 11/8, then West Ham’s chances of winning would be substantially higher than the 10/1 they were originally priced at. So, while lay betting is generally used as a means to building the piggy bank in smaller, incremental sums, Asian Handicap betting tends to encourage larger, individual wins.
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