Basics of Sports Betting and Whether There’s Safe Betting or Not

First of all, when betting, there is NOTHING that is 100% certain because if it existed, then every outcome at bookmakers would be offered an odd of 1.00. So, everything is based on the probability that an outcome of the event will happen and bookmakers evaluate each outcome with complex mathematical and statistical processes and with a certain probability that it will happen.

The product of this evaluation is the odds offered by bookmakers for a particular outcome and as such is presented to you as the end-player and user. Everything is further based on your assessment and information on whether a pair/game is worth playing according to a certain (offered odd) or not and with what stakes.

What’s an Odd and How Are Odds Calculated?

An odd is the end-product of complex mathematical and statistical research, as well as of estimates by bookies that represent the probability that an outcome will occur.

A large number of factors are included in the process of creating an odd: the tradition of head-to-head meetings, form, the importance of the match/event for a particular team/player, the absence of key players, injuries, etc. Each of these factors contributes to the final product – an odd – which is presented to the bettor on a certain risk scale and to an appropriate extent. As a rule, lower odds are assessed with less risk and higher odds with bigger risk. But, that is not always a strict rule.

Value Bet

What is a value bet? This could most easily be presented as a bet at certain odds that is worth playing under the offered conditions. One should not be misled that value bet is ALWAYS associated with higher odds, as most people believe. Namely, here is what it is all about. If you are offered an odd of, say, 1.60 on an outcome, bookmakers believe that the probability of that outcome happening is 1/1.60=0.625*100%=62.5%.

If you yourself think that the probability of this outcome is higher than offered (based on various information – e.g. player form, the significance of the match, absences, etc.), and it is 70% according to you, it would mean that, according to you, an odd should be 1/1.7=0.428*100%=42.8%.

Since your estimated odds are lower than the one set, in your opinion it is a value bet. Whether it is really a value bet or not depends on many factors, and above all, how much is your ability to realistically assess this situation.

Odds and Margins of Bookmakers

The odds for a match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton in the English Premier League at one online bookmaker can serve as an example of how the margins of bookmakers are determined. We will take, for example, only the offered odds on the final outcome of this match (1, X, 2) and they are 1: 10.00; X: 8.54; 2: 24.15;

According to this, the following is indicated:

• Chelsea win: 100/1.10=90.90%
• Draw: 100/8.54=11.71%
• The Wolves win: 100/24.15=4.14%
• The sum of the amounts of these estimates gives a total probability of 106.75%.

Wondering how is it possible that this amount is over 100%? Exactly the value that exists over the figure of 100% represents the profit margin of the bookmaker for a certain match. In this case, the profit margin (“bookies over-round”) is 6.75%, which means that the bookmaker, as a bidder, in this match earns a safe 6.75% for every 100 units invested, regardless of how the match ended (1, X, 2).

It is important to note that the margins differ between different pairs on offer. The margins are usually higher in matches with more ‘certain’ outcomes for which the odds are sometimes unrealistically low. Therefore, your goal as a bettor is to choose a bookmaker with small profit margins because it automatically means higher odds and a potentially higher profit for you for the same amount of money invested. Also, the margins vary from bookmaker to bookmaker. As a rule, they are lower at online bookmakers (4-15%) than at brick-and-mortar betting shops (10% and more).

Decline and Growth of Odds

You must have had a situation where you see people coming to the payment point in a bookmaker saying, “Put this and that on my betting slip for this much money because an odd on the Internet has dropped.” This is one of the easiest ways to run out of money in your pocket as a bettor. The decline and growth of the odds can serve as an INDICATOR for a certain pair and NOT AS A BASIC CRITERION when choosing a pair. The drop of an odd MAY but DOES NOT HAVE to signal a bookie error, as there are several reasons why an odd drop occurs, but these are the most common:

• Emergence of new information related to a certain team (player injuries, change of coach, bad financial situation, etc.)
• Large payments per pair (you can never be absolutely sure of this because bookies keep payment information as a national treasure)
• Deliberately lowering an odd by the bookie, the so-called “bait”, happening precisely because of the above type of bettor who only goes after the odds that fall.

For the above reasons, one conclusion emerges: If odd drops in a match, BE SURE to find out more about that match (team lineups, club news…) and only then maturely consider whether it makes sense for an odd to fall or not. If it turns out that the odds are falling due to any of the above reasons (player injuries, change of coach, the bad financial situation…) it still does not mean that it is worth betting on that pair because it is possible that the decline is so great that the odds have lost all value. For example, you estimate that odds of 1.80 on outcome 1 are realistic, look at the bookmaker offer, and see that odds are 2.00 – so you have value, but notice that the odds have started to drop. You find out about the drop and see that two regular defenders and the most efficient striker don’t play for the visiting team and that it has to play the next game, which is much more important to them than this one, in 3 days. You think and conclude that it pays to bet on the outcome 1 and at odds of 1.70, you go to the bookmaker, but there you see that the odds have dropped to 1.60. If your estimate is that around 1.70 is the right odd, then it is NOT WORTH betting on it at 1.60 no matter how much it seems certain that outcome 1 will come.

But, what if an odd goes down and you, despite all your efforts, cannot find information why this is so? First and foremost, remember that bookies think differently than you do. In principle, after the initial setting of an odd, they are very little interested in news about the composition of teams, injuries, etc. From that moment on, they only monitor the flow of money and payments. If their security system shows them, at any time, that they can be in a deficit with the current payment ratio, they only then start examining why, for example, the people massively started to bet on outcome 1. And, if they find some information that would justify it, an odd will be lowered. But, what is even more important, even if they don’t find any information and if the recalculation shows them that their initial odds are in order, they are still STARTING TO REDUCE THE OODS because that is the law of the market and they are trying to level the payments. How so?

Let’s take the example above: You come to a bookmaker (or go online) and you see that the odds have dropped to 1.60. You say “Okay, I’m not going to bet at 1.60 but to see how much X or 2 are?” And on these two outcomes, there is an increase in odds. Then you conclude that you have a higher value to bet against outcome 1 and pay it. Well, then the leveling of the market takes place and the bookies come out of the ‘red zone’ by the beginning of the match and come back to the level of profit. Of course, the mass of people who bet is too lazy to do all this properly but they simply act according to the “Odds are dropping, I’m going to pay it” system.

Public Bet

Public bet, in its simplest terms, can be considered a pair that is on most slips played (regardless of whether in singles, combined, or systems). Usually, in situations like this, it is often the exact same type.

Bookmakers have an insight into all the paid slips in their betting shops (because they are more connected to each other than the bettors) and they know at all times what a public bet is. Games like this, according to some unwritten rule, should be avoided because they usually end ‘strangely’. We would not go into more detail on why and how it is so in situations like this where a match “must come”. But, with simple math, we conclude that it is easier to ensure that such a pair sometimes does not come (it does not even have to happen often, several times a month is enough) for most slips to be lost, and that is exactly the one with the public bet in question.

So, if you go to a bookmaker with the goal of betting on a pair and there you see that everyone is already betting on it because “there’s no way it won’t come” or “the visiting team is falling apart, they’re missing half the team” or “an odd has dropped” or similar, then think carefully about whether to bet on it or not because, if everyone in the betting shop knows that it “must come”, then imagine how much payments are there for that match all over the world and how much the bookmakers have to pay if that pair comes.

Arbitrage Bet

This is the ONLY way to bet and have YOUR PROFIT GUARANTEED. Since everything has its ‘but’ that spoils the whole thing, so it is here. This way of betting guarantees you a profit, but it is a very small percentage (rarely over 3%), and in 99% of cases it is possible only through Internet betting.

Namely, this way of betting is based on comparing odds in several bookmakers and searching for the so-called “miss-match odds”, i.e. odds where variations from bookmaker to bookmaker for the same pair are sufficient to, with a well-calculated stake, GUARANTEE PROFIT regardless of the final outcome. In fact, by comparing the odds for the same pair, you are trying to reduce the profit margin of the bookie below zero, i.e. to make them go to the deficit. The bigger the deficit, the bigger the profit for you. The calculation is made on the basis of the highest odds for a certain type of game, different bookmakers, and the example by which you calculate the margins of bookmakers. In doing so, you have an arbitrage bet if the sum of the probabilities of all three outcomes is below 100%.