Value Bets – Make More of Your Betting

Value is a word you may have heard mentioned in the context of sports betting, and it refers to one of the most fundamental parts of betting strategy. In fact, it is fair to say that unless you find value in your bets, then you won’t make a profit in the long term.

But in case you’re thinking that “value bet” is an obscure theory obsessed over by a handful of sports bettors, you should bear in mind that it is, in fact, something that we use as a concept every day. Anyone who wants to buy a car or a pair of shoes or even a bottle of milk will apply the principle of value. We all want to know that a product we are buying is the best value we can get.

Value is a concept that we can apply to any form of gambling, from wagering on a sportsbook to playing poker or even casino games, but in the sports betting world, it is known as value bet.

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What Is a Value Betting?

How does value bet work?

When you’re choosing whether to make a bet, you are presented with a range of options. In the case of the Win Market on a football match, you can choose to back the home team, the away team or the draw. You can also opt not to bet, which can be the wisest course. So how do you choose? The most successful sports bettors use the concept of value bets to help them decide whether to bet and which option to bet on. Put simply, if a bet has a positive value, it is the right one.

How to Find a Value Bet?

There is a value bet formula that you can use when decided whether a certain bet represents positive value, but this does not require any complicated maths.

The formula is:

  • V = (P – O)

In this formula, V stands for Value, P represents the Probability, and O is for Odds. If having used the formula, you find that OV is greater than 0, then you have found a value bet.

While the formula is simple, it does require the punter to understand the basic nature of odds and probabilities in order to make the calculation correctly.

Odds and Probability

All odds are an expression of probability. For example, let’s say a football team is quoted by a sportsbook as having a 2/1 chance of winning a game. Odds of 2/1 can also be expressed as a percentage, or a probability, which in this case is 33 per cent or 0.33.

To show how the formula can be used to help you make a value bet calculation, let’s take an example of a match between Liverpool and Manchester City. For this game, Liverpool are priced at Evens (or 1/1) while Manchester City can be backed at 3/1. The respective probabilities for these odds are 0.5 for Liverpool and 0.25 for Manchester City.

Let’s say you have estimated the probability of Liverpool winning the game at 0.45, while you think Manchester City’s chances of winning are 0.33. Putting those figures into the formula gives us the following expected value calculations:

  • Liverpool: V = 0.45 – 0.5 = -0.05
  • Manchester City: V = 0.33 – 0.25 = 0.08

In this example, we have found that Liverpool have a negative value figure, while Manchester City’s is 0.08, which means that Manchester City would represent a value bet whereas Liverpool would not.

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Get Your Estimates Right and Profit

Increase your profit in long term

As you will have noticed from the above formula, the key to making value bets work for you is in correctly estimating the true probabilities of an outcome. If your assessment of Liverpool and Manchester City’s relative chances was wrong, your value bet calculation would also be wrong.

So, does this mean that the value bets are not worthwhile? Not at all. Value betting is not a short cut to profit. To increase your profit in the long term, you will have to be adept at calculating the true odds of a particular betting outcome. That comes with knowledge and practice. But using value bets regularly can be both a safeguard and a training tool.

Many punters bet without discipline, according to instinct, or without taking the probabilities or odds into consideration. But using value bets forces you to weigh up odds and probabilities, bringing discipline to your betting and helping you to be more objective about your bets. And it can also help you to avoid the mistake of betting on an outcome with a negative value.

Make the Right Margin Calls

A further refinement of value bet gambling that many sports bettors apply is the margin. Even the best sports bettors don’t presume that they will be 100 per cent accurate with every assessment, so they like to give themselves a margin for error.

Let’s say, you are confident in your ability to predict the true probabilities in a game of football, but to be cautious, you apply a five per cent margin for error. That means, after doing your calculation, you check that the value figure is over five per cent.

In the case of the Manchester City bet outlined above, the value figure is 0.08, which exceeds your margin, making it an acceptable bet. By applying a margin to your calculations, you may reduce the number of bets you make, but those bets will be of a higher quality.

Our Final Thoughts

Value bet is not just a fancy mathematical theory; it is an essential part of successful betting. Any punter who regularly bets when the value is below zero will be a losing punter in the long run, no matter how well-informed they are. By applying the theory to your own betting, you will improve your betting discipline and give yourself a greater chance of success.

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