Sports betting is extremely popular. The main cause is that you can be a master of your own destiny and thus do not have to rely on the chance only. So, what is the key to success in sportsbook? We will outline the basic mathematical strategy, which promises the chance of success in the long run. We also bring an automatic MS Excel Calculator that determines, whether and how much are the odds favorable or not.
There are two key words in sportsbook – information and strategy. Based on information the bookmakers estimate the probabilities of the outcomes of the betting events (e.g. win or loss of a home team, a tie etc.) and offer corresponding odds. Information is important for a better as well to draw a line between good and bad odds. The odds are the main indicator! We will learn how to use it by way of the example below.
The strategy can be defined as a long-term plan aimed at achieving the goals. In the past it used to be connected with military, but strategic principles can be applied to a wide range of human activities including the sports betting.
The importance of strategy and planning was recognized by commanders more than 2000 years ago. Sun Tzu on the Art of War, the oldest military treatise in the world, says: "Thought-out strategy leads to victory, insufficient strategy to defeat: how much more no strategy at all! From this point I can foresee who is likely to win or lose."
The strategy is about being successful in the long run. The basic mathematical strategy for sportsbook is explained in the following chapter. Besides it is important to set clear rules of betting and keep them under all circumstances. It requires a great deal of discipline, but it will help overcome eventual swings and secure a positive balance in the long-term period. Failure to do so means to go astray and losses will occur sooner or later.
The key to success in sports betting is to systematically search for the odds that are underrated by the bookmakers. Let us follow the example below as the best illustration.
Imagine a football match between Team A and Team B. A sports betting agency offers the odds
1.8 for the victory of the home team (A). If we suppose a 10% margin of the betting agency then (according to its bookmaker) it represents
0.5) winning chance of the Team A. How do we arrive at this value? The procedure to determine the odds and winning chances is described at the page Sportsbook odds calculation (clear examples are included). It will be partly obvious from the further text too.
But you give the Team A far greater winning chances – based on your information, analyses, statistics, observation, skill and other factors that form your opinion – say
0.6). The fair odds for the victory of the Team A based on your assumption would be
100% / 60% (or equally
1 / 0.60) =
1.67. The sports betting company thus offers the odds, which are higher (
1.8) than the minimum odds (
1.67), which would be yet acceptable for you (i.e. the fair odds). Therefore it is advantageous for you to make the bet, since your expected return is positive and your edge is exactly
1.8 / 1.67 – 1 = 0.08 = 8%.
Searching for such underrated odds is the strategy that promises a long-term success! Of course it does not mean that you will keep winning every time you bet on such underrated event. Sometimes you will win, sometimes you will lose, but if you bet in this way (positive expected value) then, in a long enough period, your balance will be profitable.
The fair odds (in our example 1.67) are generally the lowest odds that you should accept. However the question is whether it is worth it, since from the long-term point of view your balance would be null.
Let us have a look at the opposite case as well, i.e. you estimate the winning chances of the home team (A) to be
45% only. The fair odds are then
100% / 45% = 2.22 and they are the lowest odds that you should demand to be at least at zero balance. Making the bet would represent an expected loss
2.22 / 1.8 – 1 = 0.2346 = 23.46%.
For your convenience and swift decision making whether the offered odds are favorable or not, we have created a free-to-download Sports betting odds calculator in MS Excel (22 KB). The preview of the odds calculator is shown on the figure below.
You only need to fill in the white blank field, i.e. the probabilities of the outcomes according to your opinion and the odds offered by the sports betting company. All calculations and assessment, whether the odds are favorable for you or not, run automatically.
We have described the basic mathematical strategy that promises a long-term success in sports betting. It is needless to say that you should avoid to pay a fee, which is usually charged by stone betting shops, as it would substantially devalue your betting strategy.
The outlined sportsbook strategy also answers a frequent question, whether it is possible to be profitable in the long run or even make one's living by sports betting. It is certainly possible, however it places considerable demands too – on time, psychics and discipline as well. Information collection may be a full-time job, but it is also a hobby for many.
The betters are people with emotions, therefore the mathematical calculation is not the only condition for being in the black. Besides the patient search for underestimated betting opportunities it is equally important to set and especially to keep the betting strategy – which sport, how often, maximum bets.
Each better must know his limits and choose the sport, competition and region accordingly. Information is vital – the more you know about the sport, the better for you. The information sources are the Internet, watching TV, participation on the matches etc. Betting according to the actual ranking such as "the third team plays the one but last team" is certainly insufficient.
Patience pays off. It is better off to wait for a promising betting opportunity with high odds at best than to bet on anything. It cannot be recommended to bet on the favorites only. The odds are low and so you collect the wins slowly, while hesitations occur and they can easily put you in the red. Also betting a low amount on a great number of events (the odds are multiplied) can be considered a hobby or waiting for a miracle just like in a lottery.