Sports Gambling Hints – Making a living With Betting

I’m the Sports Editor for a sports news and gambling website. I’ve several years experience of gambling, sports journalism and study of mathematics. Am I a gambling expert? Well, I suppose you may say that.

There are innumerable so-called gambling experts willing to hand out information of the systems to’beat the bookie’or to produce a second income from gambling, for a cost of course. I won’t do that. I will just offer you details about bookmakers, odds and gambling for you yourself to use (or forget) as you see fit.

The first thing to say is that a large proportion of men and women who take part in gambling is likely to be net losers over time This is the very reason there are so many bookmakers making so much money throughout the world.

While bookmakers will often take big hits, for example in case a favourite wins the Grand National, they spread their risk so widely and they set up markets that incorporate a margin, so they’ll always make a profit within the medium to longterm, if not the short term. That is, provided that they got their sums right.

When setting their odds for a certain event, bookmakers must first assess the likelihood of that event occurring. To get this done they us various statistical models predicated on data collated over years, sometime decades, about the game and team/competitor in question. Of course, if sport was 100% predictable, it’d soon lose its appeal, and as the bookies in many cases are spot on with their assessments of the likelihood of an event, they’re sometimes way off the mark, simply because a match or contest goes against conventional wisdom and statistical likelihood.

Just look at any sport and you will discover an occasion once the underdog triumphs against all of the odds, literally. Wimbledon beating the then mighty Liverpool in the FA Cup Final of 1988, for example, or the USA beating the then mighty USSR at ice hockey in the 1980 Olympics are two samples of whenever you would have got handsome odds on the underdog. And may have won a good wedge.

The big bookmakers spend a lot of time and money ensuring they’ve the right odds that ensure they take into consideration the perceived likelihood of the event, and you can add that extra tiny bit that provides them the profit margin. So if an event features a likelihood of, say, 1/3, the odds that reflect that probability could be 2/1. That is, two to 1 against that event occurring.

However, a bookie who set these odds would, over time, break even (assuming their stats are correct). So instead they’d set the odds at, say, 6/4. In this way they’ve built-in the margin that ensures, over time, they’ll benefit from people betting with this selection. It’s the same concept as a casino roulette.

So how will you spot the occasions when bookmakers have got it wrong? Well, it’s easier said than done, but definately not impossible.

One way is to get very good at mathematical modelling and set up a style that takes into account as most of the variables that affect the end result of an event as possible. The issue with this tactic is that however complex the model, and however all-encompassing it seems, it cannot account for the minutiae of variables associated with individual human states of mind. Whether a golfer manages to hole a major-winning five foot putt on the 18th at St Andrews it’s the maximum amount of down for their concentration regarding the weather or day of the week. Also, the maths will start getting pretty darn complicated.

Alternatively you will find yourself a sporting niche. Bookmakers will concentrate their resources on the events that produce them the absolute most money, generally found to be football (soccer), American football and horse racing. So wanting to beat the bookies while betting on a Manchester United v Chelsea match is likely to be tough. If you don’t work for one of many clubs, or are married to one of many players or managers, it’s very possible the bookmaker setting the odds may have additional information than you.

However, if you’re betting on non-league football, or badminton, or crown green bowls, it’s possible, through work reading a lot of stats, and general information gathering, you can start to achieve an edge over bookies (if they even set odds for such things, which many do).

And what would you do when you yourself have an edge in information terms? You follow the value.

Value betting is where you back a selection at odds which are greater than the particular likelihood of an event occurring. So for example, in the event that you assess the likelihood of a certain non-league football team (Grimsby Town, say) winning their next football match as 1/3 or 33%, and you discover a bookmaker who has set the odds of 3/1, you have a price bet on your own hands. The main reason being, odds of 3/1 (excluding the margin built-in by the bookie) suggest a likelihood of 1/4 or 25%. The bookie, in your now learned opinion, has underrated Grimsby’s chances, so you have effectively built-in an 8% margin for yourself.

Of course Grimsby (as is usually the case) might fluff their lines and don’t win the match, and hence you may lose the bet. But if you continue steadily to seek out and bet on value bets, over time you could make a profit. If you don’t, over time, you’ll lose. Simple.

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