How to Pick Winners: Tips for Football Betting

For the vast majority of people, betting on football is nothing more than a fun hobby. Very few have the determination, knowledge, resources and tenacity to make a living by betting on the beautiful game. However, with betting winning is very closely linked to the fun factor, so you always want to give yourself the best possible chance.

Betting on football is, in essence, a simple thing: just decide your market, your selection, and your stake and away you go. However, your long term success is dependent on so many different factors and on this site we aim to help with them all.

Choosing a great bookmaker is crucial, as that will help you get the best odds whilst also offering you a generous free bet to get you started plus excellent ongoing betting offers to give you long term value for all your bets.

We will assume you already have all of that stuff in hand, so here we will take a look at some key football betting tips, strategies, and guides on how to bet on football and what to look for when you make your bets.

What is a Value Bet in Football?

Whilst finding winners may be most punter’s aim, the serious football bettor is looking for value. Of course, you can only ever profit from winners but the key issue is that until the game is played there is no way of knowing what the winning bet is, only which bet offers value.

What do we mean by value? The simple, technical definition of a value bet is one where the probability of the event happening is greater than the odds imply. For example, if someone offers you odds of better than evens on the toss of a coin then that is a value bet, because the true probability is 50% either way and the odds are better than that.

Implied Probability

The implied probability is basically what the bookies think are the chances of each specific bet happening are.

To calculate the implied probability of odds you must first convert the odds from fractional to decimal. To do this simply divide the first number by the second and then add 1. Here are two examples:

  • 2/1 – 2 divided by 1 = 2. Plus 1 = 3.00
  • 4/6 – 4 divided by 6 = 0.66. Plus 1 = 1.66

Next, divide 1 by your decimal odds to get the percentage probability. So taking the decimal odds we now have from our examples above we would do this:

  • 3.00 – 1 divided by 3 = 0.33 or 33%
  • 1.66 – 1 divided by 1.66 = 0.60 or 60%

In the case of the coin toss there is 50% chance of heads coming up, so if someone offers you odds of 6/5 you’d snap that up. 6/5 is the same as 2.2 in decimal odds, giving an implied probability of 45% which is considerably lower than the true probability.

Finding Your Own Probability

In football the probability of an outcome is not as clear cut as that of the toss of a coin, so knowing the true probability of an outcome isn’t easy. However, assuming Man United are priced at evens to beat Arsenal, if you calculate from your own research or knowledge that they have a greater than 50% chance of winning, odds of evens would be a value bet. One way of considering probability is to imagine the match was played 100 times; how many times would you expect Man United to win based on all the information you have about the game? If you’d expect them to win 60 times that means that odds closer to 4/6 would be fair, so evens is clearly a great bet and you’re on the way to football betting profit.

Manchester United Score [CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL]

Of course, even the greatest of value bets can lose. Even if you back a 5/1 shot that you know actually has a 50% chance of winning, it still has a 50% chance of losing as well. 5/1 implies a probability of just 17% so 5/1 is huge value but there are still no guarantees. Over time though, if you consistently back value bets you will profit from betting on football in the long term, and that’s how you have to approach it. A 5/1 shot with a 50% chance of winning isn’t, sadly, the sort of bet that comes up often – at least not unless you’ve bribed the players – but in that example, if you place 10 such bets and only four rather than the expected five go on to win, you would still yield a huge profit of 14 times your stake.

How to Find Value in Football Betting

As with betting on any sport, the secret to finding value is to do your research. If you know more than the bookie, or even just more than most people betting on the event, you should be able to find some value bets. In the Premier League this can be difficult because the bookies put a lot of work into these games, but in the lower leagues where the bookies put fewer resources and so are less informed, there are often more opportunities.

League Two Odds

Here we list some of the main instances that crop up allowing an opportunity to make a profit betting on football. Whilst most of them rely on getting information before it becomes common knowledge, there are some nice little tricks that may still help you pick out value bets without having to labour too hard on your research.

  • Injuries – Injuries can throw up some great bets in football, especially if you hear about them early and react quickly. If a team loses one or even two of their best players the odds on the other side are likely to offer great value, at least until the bookies reduce the odds. Get on it quickly and you can make a killing.

  • Team News – Related to the above; if a manager decides to rest key players there should be great value to be had on the opposition. With Twitter and other instant forms of spreading news the chance to get such information quickly is high, so take advantage and your football betting could be profitable, as well as fun.
  • Players – Again, related to the above points; you may find value where a player is playing out of position. For example, if a defender is set to play up front due to injuries or a regular penalty taker drops out, there could be great value in the goalscorer markets. Likewise, if a team (or even both teams) have major goalkeeping issues then backing both teams to score or overs could be great value bets.
  • Off-field Problems – Mass illness, a managerial sacking, or players on strike over unpaid salaries can all lead to huge changes in the chances of a side’s success. If you hear of such events and can get on before the bookies slash the odds you can make a real killing.
  • Research – The most boring but effective way to find value bets is to study all available information and come to your own conclusions about both teams’ chances. From time to time bookies will price markets up badly, either through laziness, an error, or bad research of their own, and if you spot such discrepancies and are confident that your assessment of the probabilities is good, go for it.

Grimsby Statistics

  • Old Habits Die Hard – Old habits do indeed die hard, especially when it comes to football betting. Bookies and most punters are very slow, generally speaking, to the changing reality of the world and their odds often carry historical influences that are out of touch with what is happening now. A classic example of this was Man United under David Moyes, where, despite poor performance after poor performance and many home defeats, United were consistently sent out as huge odds-on favourites, with the opposition offering great value to the canny football bettor who recognised a spent force before the masses. Another well-known example of this is betting on the draw in cricket Test matches. The draw used to be a very common result but as run rates crept up and pitch improvements were made, fewer and fewer games ended in draws. It took a long time for most people to realise this, offering up rich pickings for the wise.

Of course, finding value and being sure of it is much easier said than done, but we have hopefully given you a few ideas on how you can improve your football betting. Take advantage of the many available free bets and offers too, and with just a little luck you could well be profiting from your football betting and enjoying it all the more.