The outcome of pretty much any event from the winner of the Champions League to the result of the US Election can be expressed in odds. In essence, odds are simply a means of expressing the probability of something happening. There’s a one-in-six chance of rolling a die and it landing on three, so that’s 6.0. That’s a cold fact. But with real-world events, opinions enter the mix.
Don’t be afraid to go against the crowd or the popular view if the odds are favourable. If you believe you are right then it can pay handsomely to back your convictions as opposed to adopting the herd mentality.
Sport, for instance, is not quite as linear as rolling a die because there are a multitude of variables to take into consideration, not to mention the completely unforeseen occurrences than can have a massive bearing on the outcome. This isn’t an insulated gambling environment like a casino table game where the odds are carved in stone. It’s the unpredictability and real possibility of an outsider upsetting the odds that makes sport so compelling.
Setting the Odds
A professional gambler will analyse statistics, a side’s recent form, any injury news, and even weather forecasts to create the odds on a football match. His opinion will also play a part in his odds. But the layers aren’t necessarily looking to take a strong opinion and predict the result; they would rather attract enough bets on each outcome in order to ensure a tidy profit whichever way the match ends.
Once an event is nearing kick off the bookie will have one eye firmly trained on the betting exchanges because they are a very good barometer of a team or individual’s chances. This is especially the case with a highly liquid market where backers and layers flock in their droves with opinions on how an event will pan out.
Weighing up the Chances
Let’s say the true odds on Arsenal beating north London rivals Tottenham are 2.5 (6/4 in fractional odds). It means the Gunners have a 40% chance of winning. If this match was played 10 times, Arsenal should, in theory, win on four occasions and either draw or lose the remaining six. The bookmakers chalk Arsenal up at between 2.37 (11/8) and 2.4 (7/5), yet your in-depth analysis and informed opinion suggest Arsenal should be around the 2.25 (5/4) mark. You believe their implied probability of winning is 44.44% and so manage to back Arsenal at 2.45 on a betting exchange – a much better price than your assessment of their chances.
Similarly, certain exchange users look to lay ‘false’ favourites because their opinion, combined with negative factors like consistently dire form in this particular fixture, means the selection doesn’t justify the current odds – or sometimes even favouritism. So if you’re an astute judge when it comes to assessing probabilities and able to back at odds near to the true odds, you’ll stand a much a better chance of coming out ahead in the long run. And the more informed your opinion is, the more likely you are to win.
Form Your Own Views
The betting firms know that clubs with a huge fan base, such as Liverpool and Manchester United, will be blindly backed most weekends, regardless of the opponents, the line-ups and whether these punters are getting good odds. These backers pay for the bookmakers’ winter Caribbean holidays, so the firms will factor this guaranteed weight of money, or mug money, into their odds.
So pays to do your homework, and specialise. That means identifying less popular sports and more obscure markets where there is minimal historical data and less money wagered, which makes matches more tricky to confidently price up. Crucially, though, it’s important to use your eyes and ears to form your own opinions. Don’t be afraid to go against the crowd or the popular view if the odds are favourable. If you believe you are right then it can pay handsomely to back your convictions as opposed to adopting the herd mentality.