There is no one “right” way to approach football betting. However, there tends to be two schools of thinking; those that follow the bookmakers and those who pursue a value based philosophy.
The first of these is relatively straightforward. Bookmakers, as we all know, are not in the business of charity; they will shorten odds if they think it is likely an outcome will materialise. They may consider these probabilities on several factors; recent form, past head-to-heads, away form, home form etc. They may even have an inside track on certain information that the punter is oblivious to. Either way, you can be sure that if the bookmakers make a particular team firm favourites, they are probably worth backing.
However, there are clearly two problems with this. The first is merely a matter of returns; if you are consistently backing favourites, your profits will be gradually incremental to say the least. In order to make big financial returns, you will frequently have to bet big, leaving yourself open to an upset and a considerable sum lost. This leads into the second problem with backing the bookies’ football betting tips every time; since variables in sport are inevitable and therefore odds unquantifiable in any finite terms, the bookmakers will not always be right.
This is where value betting comes in. A value better will always look for a match where they think one team has a better chance of winning than the bookmakers do. For example, if Manchester United were playing Fulham at Old Trafford and United were given odds to win of 4/11 and Fulham 13/2, we can clearly see that United are favourites.
However, if a value punter decided off the back of his own analysis that Man U were 70% likely to win the game and Fulham were 15% to pick up all three points, he would see that there would be value on betting on the underdogs. This is because his research has led him to establish his own odds at 1.43 and 6.67 for a home and away win respectively. If he is right, a hundred £1 stakes on Fulham would return a profit of £12.50, while a hundred £1 stakes on United would result in a loss of £4.55.
This works in other scenarios, too. In in-play betting, we might see that Ladbrokes Sports or Bet365 Sports are offering Manchester odds of 1/3 to record a 3-0 victory when they are already 2-0 up with half an hour to play (i.e. there is a 75% chance of this happening). If you think there is an 80% (1/4) or more chance of this happening, then you clearly feel there would be value in placing a wager.
Value betting is all about backing your own football betting tips against the expertise of the bookmakers. It is a long-term approach; although consistently betting against the favourites (although, as you can see in our last example, this is not always the case) may seem counter-intuitive, your own analysis tells you that you should be winning over time.