You need an edge in the sports betting markets to make money.
Finding An Edge – Sports Betting And Betfair Trading
First off what is an edge in sports betting and trading?
An edge is the reason that you make money from sports betting.
A simple example of an edge that is well documented and used by many is matched betting and arbitrage. Matched betting involves using bookmaker promotions to make frequent profits. Arbitrage capitalizes on bookmakers being slow to move their odds allowing profit to be made on all outcomes.
However the trouble with these edges is that it isn’t easily scalable and it relies on soft bookmakers. Who eventually won’t want your business and limit you to pennies.
That leaves a lot of people searching for an edge that is sustainable over the long term. An edge that offers more scalability and the potential for larger profit.
But what processes can you use to find an edge?
Lets have look at some potential ways to find an edge in both sports betting and sports trading.
One way of looking at finding an edge is to analyse past data. This may reveal profitable trends that potentially still exist in the current markets. Which then can lead to a profitable betting strategy.
Two big advocates of this type of analysis are Cassini. The man behind the sports betting blog green all over, who frequently puts up betting systems based on past profitable trends.
Jon Roberts the man behind the software Predictology. Is also a fan of using past data to look at building profitable betting strategies for the current betting markets.
Is there a downside to using past data?
Well just because something has happened in the past doesn’t guarantee it is going to happen in the future.
However it is certainly a good indicator to use and might highlight some area’s that could be exploitable.
If you have an interest in sports betting. Then you will have probably come across a few mathematical models that people use to try and find value in the betting markets.
For those that are mathematically minded. Developing a sports betting model might be the answer to developing an edge.
It is thought that many of the largest betting syndicates in the world use mathematical modelling for sports betting.
One such syndicate was the legendary brain trust headed by Billy Walters.
Lets take a look at a few models which have been used to try and find value in sports betting.
The idea of Elo ratings is that each team has a rating. Stronger sides will be given a higher rating compared to weaker sides. For example Manchester United would be given a higher rating then Brighton.
Elo ratings are constantly changing, they are calculated based upon the results of matches. When two sides play, the winner of a match will gain a certain number of points in their rating. The losing team loses the same amount.
The number of points won or lost in a match will depend on the difference in the Elo ratings of the teams. By beating stronger teams a side will increase there points by more then by beating a weaker side.
Applying Elo Ratings To Sports Betting
Poisson distribution is a mathematical concept. Used for translating mean averages into a probability for variable outcomes across a distribution.
This is used in football betting for example to calculate on average how likely a team are to score a certain number of goals.
Here are some good articles on Poisson distribution in betting.
Poisson Distribution: Predict the score in soccer betting
Football Prediction Model: Poisson Distribution
In football the expected goals model has risen in popularity lately. Being used quite often in post match analysis by television pundits.
Expected goals is a metric which assesses every chance, it is a way of assigning a value to every attempt at scoring a goal. Each attempt is given a value based based on the expectancy of how likely it is to be scored.
For example an effort from less than six yards out in front of goal was given a rating of 0.91xG. It was such a good chance it should be scored 91% of the time.
Using an expected goals model could indicate how “lucky” or “unlucky” a teams results have been. Which could indicate value on teams that may have been performing well on expected goals but not getting the results.
An analysis of expected goals models
They say a picture paints a thousand words. Often live pictures can tell you much more about a game then the in play stats.
We live in an age where there are free streams of football games all around the world. On a given day you can watch the Japanese league in the morning, the Romanian league in the afternoon and finish off with La Liga at night.
There are quite a few football traders for example that swear by trading only with live pictures.
Psychoff may be one of the best known football traders in the world. He has stated on his twitter account that he makes his goal alert trading decisions based on watching live games. Surprisingly also stating that he doesn’t use statistics for these trades.
With live pictures you can pick up on adjustments in tactics. In football games you can read the tempo and flow of a game. See the weather conditions, body language of players. Having live pictures can often give you a lot of extra information when deciding to make a bet.
Combined with knowledge of the sports and teams. Live pictures might be enough to give you a profitable edge in the markets.
Beating The Closing Odds
In sports betting. If you can consistently beat the closing odds at sharp bookmakers. Then its likely that you are consistently finding value.
Major sports betting markets are pretty efficient. There has been quite a few studies which have shown this using Pinnacle’s closing odds as an example.
Because they are so efficient if you are able to constantly beat the closing odds (after the inclusion of vig). Then you will most likely have found yourself a profitable betting system.
In fact the profitable sports betting tool Trademate is based on this very concept.
Trademate scans for odds across a high number of bookmakers. When it finds odds that are higher then those at the sharp bookmakers it advises a bet.
This is also known as value betting.
It is perhaps one of the simplest ways of finding value in the sports betting markets.
If you are looking for high turnover and a proven method of making money. Value betting is probably one of the easiest ways to do this.
The drawback to this style of betting is that it again relies on soft bookmakers.
Experiencing The Markets
This could probably be classed as using past data.
However specifically relating to Betfair trading I think it deserves its own section.
Experiencing the markets over and over can really help you see potential opportunities for profit.
I will use football as an example as this is the sport I trade the most.
A lot of my own pre match trading strategies were created by watching lots of market movements. Noting odds days in advance for games. Tracking what the odds were leading up to game day and eventually noting the closing odds.
If you do this you start to see patterns and understand what moves a market pre match.
Team news is always going to have a big effect on the market. But by watching markets I also learnt that performances mid week for teams playing in Europe will effect prices for games at the weekend.
If there is a question mark on whether a key player is likely to start, early odds movement can often be a good indication on how likely they are to play or not. As people with this information already will get their bets on before its public knowledge.
Caan Berry has also stated that he records all the horse racing markets he trades. So that he can experience these markets again and build better judgments for future markets. Allowing him to react quicker if future markets trade in a similar way to one he has already experienced.
In Depth Knowledge
As noted earlier in this article. The markets with the most amount of money traded are usually the most efficient.
However odds makers don’t put a huge amount of attention on some of the sports/events that don’t attract the big money.
For example the odds in the Portuguese second division are not going to be as efficient as the Champions league. So for a hardcore fan of the Portuguese second division, value might be easy to spot at first glance.
In lesser known sports/leagues an in depth knowledge may be enough to give you a profitable edge.
The sport of mixed martial arts is still fairly young. Betting on the UFC is growing and odds makers are getting better at pricing up fights.
However if you have an in depth knowledge of the sport then there is great value to be found.
Given that you don’t see fighters week in week out. Along with the promotion of UFC being akin to pro wrestling with a narrative often being written. Occassionally you see some lop sided odds as the betting public often follow the narrative being portrayed.
The best example of this is when Ronda Rousey fought Amanda Nunes.
Rousey was coming back after a year layoff on the back of vicious head kick loss. In a fight where she showed serious flaws in her fighting style.
Nunes was the new champion who had shown to be well rounded and was running through top level competition. On top of that she had shown she was an elite level striker, striking was Rousey’s biggest weakness.
All the media and promotion of the fight was behind Rousey comeback and somehow Nunes was odds of 2.8 as the defending champion come fight night.
The odds were way out of line due to the media being behind only one fighter.
Whenever the media are heavily behind one team/athlete. It is always worth looking at it from a contrarian point of view.
So we have looked at multiple approaches in finding an edge in the sports betting markets.
Depending on your personality and your own skill set some maybe more viable then others
Often a combination of the methods above will be used to find value.
Finding a long term edge in the Betfair trading or sports betting isn’t easy. But for those that do find them the rewards can be huge.
Looking to make money from the sports betting markets.
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