About Sports Betting Strategies

If you look closely you’ll observe that the sports betting is actually a very uncertain business by nature. It’s entirely up to the sports bettors if they can handle all the randomness that’s involved in the process. Let’s look at how you can best tackle the unavoidable randomness in the field of sports betting and score consistent profits for yourself.

When it comes to sports betting, the perception that outcomes can sometimes be a result of the application of knowledge and information related to a player or a team, can result in an over-exaggerated sense of self-belief in one’s prediction abilities. As some of the experts have suggested, little information is equal to dangerous information actually!

In addition, as we’re all marred by a self-serving attribution bias, it makes sure that we most likely associate our prediction successes with some internal attributes, believing that we are highly skilled predictors and our skills are solely responsible for making correct calls, while associating failures with nothing but external attributes such as lack of luck.

Regardless of the fact that it doesn’t cater well to our cravings for control, to tell you the truth, just like stock markets and weather forecasting, the business of sports betting is also inherently very uncertain in nature, wherein games evolve in a very chaotic, complex and sometimes even in a completely nondeterministic way if we accept the fact that whatever takes place is largely impacted by quantum world.

Obviously, a large majority of sports bettors are appreciative of this fact, albeit on a bet to bet basis, that luck, whether bad or good, does play a huge part in their losses or gains. However, to what extent do you think chance or probability has an influence over sports bets over longer time periods?

In order to make sure that we don’t get fooled by randomness easily, we can practice a useful exercise involving analysis of the extent of random variability existing in the sports outcomes.

A good way of doing that is by analysing some hypothetical betting returns obtained from fair odds, in order to figure the extent of their variance over certain timescales. In our opinion, betting odds are merely a representation of the probability estimates, as per our expectations.

The wisdom of the betting crowds makes sure that these odds, on average, serve as a highly reliable indicators of the actual probabilities. However, the involvement of randomness results in frequent deviation of the outcomes from the idea of market expectations. Let’s find out how.

Looking at a time series plot of the yield or ROI of moving average level-bets of 10 football matches, for the bets placed on all the away, draw and home outcomes for 10 straight seasons of the English Premier League football matches played between 2005 – 06 and 2014 – 15, we can infer that the time series is actually quite staggered! The betting odds are derived from the actual market’s average match betting odds, after removing the profit margin of the bookmakers such as Bet365 etc.

It is found that unsurprisingly a large majority of punters recognise and accept the fact that over small samples of around 30 bets, any unexpected results will lead to major deviations from 0% expectation.

For instance, any lucky underdog winners are going to push the line well over zero, whereas any excesses in winning favourites delivering relatively smaller returns are going to push the plot below zero mark.

However, some people may nevertheless look surprised when they see the extent of these fluctuations over a range as high as 50%. If you get the returns of 50% post 30 bets, would you attribute that achievement to your skill, or simply shrug it aside as a matter of good luck?

If you were to go below -30% on the other hand, would you be confident enough to attribute it to lack of luck, and expect your performance to slowly regress towards the mean?

A second time series was studied showing the moving average returns of level-bets over 100 football matches. One could see a considerable amount of inherent random variability over 20% range from break-even. 23.5% was the largest deviation observed from 300 bets.

What will be your take after posting such impressive results? Would you consider yourself plain lucky, or go about telling everyone that you finally unearthed the holy grail of making correct sports predictions?!

Thereafter, a third time series plot was studied showing the moving average returns of level bets over 1000 football matches. The extent of inherent random variability continued to be high. Please keep in mind, 1000 football games convert into 3000 bets!

This is pretty large compared to what a large majority of sports bettors may bet over several seasons. Still, even in case of samples as big as this, we witnessed sizeable deviations over a considerable time period.

Looking at all these analyses you may argue that it all sounds academic to you, and no one will place such blanket-bets on all away, home and drawn football games. Yes, you’re right in a way. However, you’re going to witness the same kind of noisy random variability when you pick out a sample from even your own betting series.

What we can infer from this study is that simply because you’ve gotten 20% ROI from 300 bets, or a 4% ROI from 3000 bets, it is no indicator that it was your skill at play. You are most likely to get deceived by your own attribution biases unless you learn about the randomness involved in sports across various timescales. The sharpest sports bettors are able to recognise this and are thus able to separate themselves from the competition. Apart from that, majority of whatever happens in the field of sports betting can be attributed to chance.

A very good way of separating winning sports bettors from losers is by looking at the odds availed by those bettors and then comparing those odds with the closing lines of popular bookmakers such as Bet365. The ability of consistently beating the closing odds of a bookmaker or an online casino is the hallmark of a winning sports bettor, and is exactly what sets him apart from the losers.

Whenever a bookmaker or an online casino opens up a market for some upcoming game, statistical analysis of a team’s past performances is used for calculating the opening odds. All other relevant details, for instance, injuries, form, weather conditions etc. are also factored in. On a side note, click here if you’re seeking latest and updated info on bonuses offered by online casinos.

After a bookmaker or an online casino announces the opening odds, sports bettors all over then place their wagers on markets which they consider having good value, forcing the bookmakers to make constant adjustments to those odds, in order to keep their books balanced, avoiding overexposure to either side.

The final odds that are offered just before the start of the game are referred to as the closing line, and are a reflection of the overall market sentiment, betting activities, statistics and news. The closing line is actually the point wherein the market is at maximum efficiency, and hence is the best reflection of the underlying probability.

It’s important for a sports bettor to consistently identify sports bets having positive expected value in order to take luck out of the equation and emerge successful in the long term. The sports bets normally have a better winning chance than what is implied by the odds set by an online casino or a bookmaker such as Bet365, Betfair etc. Talking about Bet365, please note, if you’re keen on placing bets at this highly reputed online casino cum bookmaker, and want to know all about its markets, as well the bonuses offered by it from time to time, you must definitely visit now!

As per probability theory, the EV or expected value of a random event is actually the long-term average value of the repetitions of an experiment represented by it. For instance, let’s look at a coin toss. The probability of getting both tails and heads is 50%. In this case, a bet with positive expected value would look something like:

Tails: 1.80

Heads: 2.10

£ 0.5 is the expected profit for every £ 10 that is bet on heads.

(Bet amount) x [(odds for heads – 1) x (heads probability) - 1 x (tails probability)]

= £ 10 x [(2.10 – 1) x 0.5 – 1 x 0.5]

= £ 10 x [1.10 x 0.5 – 1 x 0.5]

= £ 10 x (0.55 – 0.5)

= £ 10 x 0.05

= £ 0.50

As expected value has come out to be a positive number, you can expect to be profitable in the long term in this market. This is regardless of having a 50% chance of losing in every single coin toss. Therefore, the final aim is not winning every bet, but instead making decisions that hold positive expected value.

However, when it comes to the field of sports betting, the probabilities aren’t as clearly defined as you see in the coin toss example. If you add the constantly fluctuating odds to this scenario, right from the moment they are made available, till the point of closing line, just before the start of a game/match, an important question that may come up is: which odds are the most accurate representation of the actual probability of an outcome?

As per efficient market theory, closing odds are more accurate compared to the opening odds in forecasting the actual probability of an event.

This theory is already used extensively in financial markets. As per this theory, extensive competition in an efficient market, wherein large number of people try maximising their profits by using freely available current information and by predicting the future values of securities, it results in a situation wherein at a certain point of time, the actual market prices give a precise idea about the security’s intrinsic value.

How can that be applied to the field of sports betting? As all publicly available information in the field of sports betting gets reflected in the form of fluctuating odds, no bias related to the betting outcomes can sustain in the long run.

For instance, anytime a sports bettor notices some inefficiency in the provided odds (ex. generous odds for the underdog), he’ll try to benefit from it by placing bets on that market. When he does that aggressively, the odds may shift lower to the point of wherein any such inefficiency may cease to exist.

As opening odds don’t actually reflect all important market-related information, it’s natural for the inefficiencies to exist and for a bookmaker or online casino to make appropriate adjustments to the odds, in order to make them an unbiased reflection of an outcome’s actual probability.

A major concern among the successful sports bettors is if their success is more about scoring a genuine edge over bookmakers, or is simply due to matter of luck. You can consistently and efficiently differentiate between blind luck and a more reliable strategy if you constantly track your ability of beating the closing odds. That way you’ll have a measurable method on your hand. Hence, a consistent record of beating the bookmakers’ closing odds is an excellent indicator of scoring profits in the long term.