13. Choosing A Soccer Selection System
If your soccer betting is based only around Fixed Odds "Favourites", then for sure you will never win much; but neither will you be in too much danger of losing a lot (although the most likely outcome of a season's betting is that your Base Bank will be down rather than up). If that is how you are content to bet, then there is nothing more to say. However, if what you really would like is a plan for winning more when you do win and which would leave you in credit at the end of the season, then the reality is that you have to abandon "Favourites" betting and be able to accurately identify winning "Value Bets".
You've probably heard the term Value Bets before, but you may also have seen advice from those who say that attempting to find Value Bets is a waste of time. It is true that first-class data must be available if a Selection System is to be able to identify genuine winning Value Bets consistently, but we can assure you that it is possible. At the very least, in the absence of any more specific information to enable you to identify Value Bets, it generally makes better betting sense not to place too many bets where the Odds are patently unfair.
It is of course true that most Selection Systems fail to identify winning Value Bets, primarily because they don't bother to tell you what the Fixed Odds are in the first place (hint: Long Odds don't necessarily make for Value Bets). Without that Fixed Odds data it is impossible to identify Value Bets. So when you are looking for a Selection System that will be of help to you, make sure you choose one that recognises that knowing the Odds on offer is fundamental to developing a good Betting Strategy.
A "true" Value Bet is one where:
- the Odds actually being offered by the Bookies for a given outcome (the Bookies' Fixed Odds) are higher than the "fair" Odds; and
- the probability of that particular outcome occurring is greater than that of the other possible outcomes combined (i.e. there is more than a 50% chance of the probability occurring).
Suppose that a trusted Selection System showed you that the probability of a team winning was 55%. You can calculate the fair Odds, simply by dividing the probability figure into 100. This gives you 100/55, which means that the fair odds would be 1.82. If the decimal odds being offered are 2.10, then you have found a Value Bet.
Conversely, from those decimal Odds being offered you can calculate the probability being assigned by the Bookie. All you have to do is divide the number 100 by the decimal Odds figure (100/2.10 in the case above, giving an answer of 47.62%). Since you already know that the probability of obtaining the result is higher than that (being 55%), then you have found a Value Bet.
Because of the limited number of "true" Value Bets that can be found, for our betting purposes we have extended the definition of Value Bets to incorporate those that show the best value compared to the Fixed Odds being offered, on a percentage basis. We do this for all Odds being offered, and compile a priority-ranked list covering all matches for the week. The result is that most weeks we end up with a large selection of Valueless bets (those where the Odds being offered are so unfair as to be a rip-off); we make it a point never to bet on those.
The good thing about "true" Value Bets is that, compared to betting on favourites, you can afford to lose more of them number-wise and yet still make money overall. This is how it works in practice, looking at a series of 10 different teams that have been assessed by a respected Selection System as having a 60% chance of winning, but yet they have been under-rated by the Bookies:
- The "fair" Decimal Odds would be 1.67 (that is, 100/60) but the Odds being offered are higher (say 2.10).
- You put on each of the 10 bets at £1.00 each.
- Only 6 teams manage to win their games, so you receive 6 x £2.10 (which equals £12.60).
- So on this occasion you gain £2.60 for getting only 6 out of 10 bets right!
We have demonstrated how Value Betting will work in principle, but first you have to find a Selection System that can truly assess the chances of a team winning often enough for you to be able to identify Value Bets on a consistent basis. And that's just a case of testing various Selection Systems out over a reasonable period of time before you lay your money out based on any one of their assessments!