In the world of gambling, where luck often plays a significant role, finding ways to gain an edge is crucial. One such method that can significantly increase your chances of success is value betting.
Here we will take a detailed look at the concept of value betting – its importance, how to identify and capitalise on value betting opportunities, various strategies for value betting, evaluating odds, calculating expected value, identifying sports with the best value and specific examples of value betting in football and horse racing. Additionally, we will discuss common mistakes to avoid in order to get the most from your value betting experience.
Value betting is a fundamental concept in gambling that involves placing bets on outcomes with odds that are higher than the actual probability of the event occurring. In simple terms, it means finding bets where the bookmaker has underestimated the likelihood of a particular outcome. This discrepancy between the odds and the true probability presents an opportunity for the bettor to gain an advantage over the long run.
Value Betting Example
The easiest way to explain value betting to take a look at an example. Here we look at the odds given by bookmakers for the 2023 Championship Playoff final between Luton Town and Coventry City. The most common odds were as follows:
Coventry City 19/8 (3.38)
Draw 21/10 (3.1)
Luton Town 6/4 (2.5)
To convert odds to probabilities, we divide the one by the decimal odds to arrive at the following:
Coventry City – 29.6%
Draw – 32.2%
Luton Town – 40%
You will notice that 29.6 + 32.2 + 40 = 101.8. That 1.8 represents the bookies profit margin, so to get a slightly more accurate idea of the percentage, we need to divide each by 101.8 and multiply by 100:
Coventry City – 29.1%
Draw – 31.6%
Luton Town – 39.3%
So, bookmakers feel Luton have just over a 39 percent chance of winning, Coventry 29 percent, and of the scores being tied after 90 minutes plus time added on at around 31 and a half percent.
We now compare those percentages to the winning percentages offered by a value betting site (you do not have to use such a site to get winning percentages, as you can do your own research):
Coventry City – 38.25%
Draw – 28.6%
Luton Town – 33.14%
As you can see via these figures, the bookmakers seem to be over-estimating the chances of a Luton Town win. If you compare the current form of both teams, Coventry (one defeat in 17) do seem to have the edge over the Hatters (three wins in the last six) Therefore a value bet on this game would be on the Sky Blues.
Value Betting – Setting Your Stake
Most punters using level betting or proportional betting to decide upon the size of their stake. Level betting is setting a stake level (say, £1) and sticking to it. Proportional betting depends on the size of your bankroll – if your level is one percent and your bankroll is £100 then again your stake is £1. If your bankroll is £200 then it is £2 and so on.
The Kelly Criterion
If you love to crunch numbers then you may wish to use the Kelly Criterion to decide upon your stake. This is a formula that works out the size of your stake depending on your bankroll, odds, and probabilities. The formula is this:
Plugging in our numbers from the Luton/Coventry match up, and with a £100 bankroll, we arrive at the following (note that odds and probabilities are represented as decimals):
Stake = 100 * (3.38 * 0.3825) – 1 / 3.38 – 1
Stake = 100 * (1.29 – 1) / 2.38
Stake = 100 * 0.1218
Stake = £12.18
Lets say your own research had led to your believing Luton has a 41 percent chance of winning, which is a much tighter edge. Using the KC formula again:
Stake = 100 * (2.5 * 0.41) – 1 / 2.5 – 1
Stake = 100 * (1.025 – 1) / 1.5
Stake = 100 * 0.0167
Stake = £1.67
So, as the edge is so tight, the KC recommends a smaller stake.
The Importance of Value Betting
Value betting is crucial for long-term profitability in the gambling industry. By consistently placing value bets, you are essentially exploiting the odds offered by bookmakers. Over time, even small differences between the true probability and the odds can lead to significant profits. Value betting helps you turn the odds in your favour and overcome the inherent house edge that bookmakers have.
Value betting is certainly a better bet for you (no pun intended … maybe) than simply stabbing in the dark, or betting with your heart or ‘I have a hunch betting’. Successful bettors are those that identify the difference between the probabilities that odds suggest, and the true probabilities. It is not, simply, a case of picking winners, time after time. On the whole, winners tend to be short priced, so you’ll need a consistency of around 75 percent in order to maintain a steady profit. With value betting, that consistency can drop to 60 percent, or even lower (but, in truth, not much lower).
How to Identify and Capitalise on Value Betting Opportunities
Identifying value opportunities requires a combination of knowledge, research, and a keen eye for odds discrepancies. Start by analysing the available betting markets and understanding the sport or event you plan to bet on. Research the teams or participants, recent form, injuries, and other relevant factors that may influence the outcome. By becoming well-informed, you can identify situations where bookmakers have underestimated or overlooked certain factors.
Top Value Betting Tip
Don't Pay for Value Betting tips ... at first!
You will probably know that there are ‘value betting tips’ sites all over the internet. You sign up with them and they promise to deliver the best value betting tips for you … but at a cost. You have to pay for the tips that they give you.
If you don’t want to perform your own value betting calculator gymnastics then that is fine, but don’t simply sign up for a sign and hand them your payment details. The best sites with offer a free trial at first so that you can safely evaluate them. Take full advantage of any free trial, then decide if the site adds sufficient value to your betting.
Value Betting Strategies: Tips and Techniques for UK Punters:
Value betting relies upon a strict site of criteria that you routinely follow, so no much variance is possible. The best value betting strategy is simply to define your own strategy (based upon our guidance) and then stick to it. We can provide a couple of handy tips for you, though.
Odds Shopping: Different bookmakers may offer varying odds for the same event. By comparing the odds offered by multiple bookmakers, you can increase your chances of finding value. Take advantage of odds comparison websites or tools to quickly identify the best available odds.
Specialise in a Niche: Rather than spreading your betting across numerous sports, focus on a specific niche where you have extensive knowledge and expertise. By specialising, you can develop a deeper understanding of the sport and gain an edge over bookmakers who may have limited knowledge in that area.
To effectively identify value bets, you need to evaluate the odds offered by bookmakers. Odds represent the probability of an outcome occurring as assessed by the bookmaker. By comparing the bookmaker’s odds with your own estimation of the probability, you can determine whether a value opportunity exists. It is essential to develop a solid understanding of odds formats, such as decimal, fractional, or American odds, to accurately assess value.
Calculating Expected Value
Expected value (EV) is a statistical concept that allows you to estimate the average value of a bet over the long term. It is calculated by multiplying the probability of an outcome by the potential winnings and subtracting the probability of losing multiplied by the stake. A positive EV indicates a value bet, while a negative EV suggests that the bet is not favourable in the long run.
So, the formula for EV is win probability x winning profit – loss probability x stake. So if you’re putting £10 on at odds of 1.50 with a 60 percent win probability, it’s 0.6 x 5 – 0.4 x 10, giving an EV of -1, which identifies it as a bad bet. The EV of -1 means that for every £10 you place on your bet, you’d expect to lose £1.
Let’s apply it to our example above, backing Coventry with our KC stake of £12.18:
0.3825 x 28.99 – 0.6175 x 12.18 = 11.09 – 7.52 = 3.56.
This means for every £12.18 we put on, we’re likely to win £3.56, cementing this bet as a value bet.
If you struggle with numbers, please don’t forget we can provide a number of handy free bet calculators to crunch the numbers for you.
What Sports Can You Find the Best Value?
Certain sports offer better opportunities for value betting due to various factors such as market inefficiencies, bookmaker biases, or less attention from the betting public. While value can be found in any sport, some popular options for value betting include football, horse racing, tennis, and basketball.
Value Football Betting
Football is one of the most popular sports for value betting due to its vast number of matches and extensive coverage by bookmakers. To identify value in football betting, consider factors such as team form, head-to-head records, player injuries or suspensions, playing conditions, and motivation. Look for instances where the odds offered by bookmakers do not accurately reflect the true probabilities of certain outcomes, such as underestimating the chances of an underdog or overlooking recent performance trends.
Value Horse Racing Betting
Horse racing is another sport that offers excellent opportunities for value betting. The key to finding value in horse racing is thorough research and analysis of various factors such as horse form, jockey skills, trainer performance, track conditions, distance, and weight. Look for horses that have been consistently performing well but may not be the favourites according to the bookmakers’ odds. Additionally, keep an eye on horses with improving form or those that have been overlooked by the betting public.
While value betting can be highly profitable, it is important to avoid common mistakes that can diminish your chances of success. Here are some pitfalls to watch out for:
Emotional Betting: Avoid letting emotions influence your betting decisions. Making impulsive bets based on personal biases or attachments to teams or players can lead to poor value and financial losses.
Chasing Losses: It is crucial to maintain discipline and avoid chasing losses by placing irrational or larger bets to recover previous losses. Stick to your betting strategy and bankroll management principles.
Lack of Research: Neglecting thorough research and analysis can severely impact your ability to identify value opportunities. Invest time in gathering information, studying statistics, and staying up-to-date with relevant news and developments.
Ignoring Bankroll Management: Proper bankroll management is essential for long-term success. Set a budget for your betting activities and avoid risking more than a predetermined percentage of your bankroll on a single bet.
UK Online Bookmakers with the Best Odds
Below we have selected for you the leading UK betting sites that we think offer the best odds. Use any of these sites to get the most value out of your value betting strategy, or take a look at all of them to consistently get the very best odds.
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Value betting is a powerful technique that can significantly enhance your gambling success. By understanding the concept, identifying value opportunities, and implementing effective strategies, you can increase your chances of long-term profitability. Remember to conduct thorough research, evaluate odds accurately, calculate expected value, and avoid common mistakes that can thwart your success. Whether you choose to explore value in football, horse racing or other sports, make sure you stay disciplined, and approach value betting with a strategic mindset. With persistence and skill, unlocking the power of value betting can lead to greater returns and a more rewarding gambling experience.
What is value betting in football and how can it be profitable?
Value betting in football refers to a strategy where you identify bets that have higher odds than the actual probability of the outcome occurring. By calculating the expected value (EV) of a bet, which is the potential return relative to the risk, you can determine if a bet is valuable or not. When consistently finding value bets, it can be profitable in the long run, as you’re essentially capitalising on discrepancies between bookmakers’ odds and the true likelihood of an event.
Are there any tips for successful value betting?
Sure! Conduct thorough research and analysis, compare odds across multiple bookmakers, set a bankroll and stick to it, stay disciplined and patient and don’t get discouraged by short-term losses.
Which are the best value betting sites to use?
Several online sports books provide opportunities for value betting. Some popular platforms known for offering competitive odds and value are listed on this page. However, it’s advisable to compare odds across different bookmakers to find the best value for each specific bet.
Is there a value betting calculator available to help with calculations?
Yes, there are value betting calculators available online. These calculators help you determine the expected value (EV) of a bet based on the odds and probabilities. By inputting the odds and your estimated probability, the calculator provides the EV, allowing you to assess whether the bet is valuable or not. You can easily find value betting calculators through a quick internet search.
Can value betting be applied to horse racing as well?
Yes, value betting can be applied to horse racing just like any other sport. The concept remains the same: identifying horses with odds that are higher than their actual chances of winning. Conducting detailed research on horse form, jockey performance, track conditions, and other relevant factors is crucial for finding value bets in horse racing. However, keep in mind that horse racing involves additional variables, such as the horse’s pedigree and distance preferences, which may require more specialised knowledge and analysis.
Sports betting writer
Peter joined the BettingSites.co.uk team in 2023, having previously worked for many high-profile gambling-related sites such as RightCasino, JustSlots, WhichBingo and Gambling.com. An experienced head when it comes to all aspects of iGaming, Peter is a fanatic fan of sport, including football and US sports such as baseball and American football. He is also a multi-published fiction writer, although sadly, not a wealthy one.