author: andriev   3 September 2021Print page

How to find value in football?

Football is the ultimate leader when it comes to sports betting. Top online bookmakers offer dozens of thousands of football betting markets every year, but how much value is there in reality? Read on to find out.

expected value in football guide
IntroductionIExpected value in footbal
Betting is all about securing some value. There are tons of articles about the so-called expected value, however, we can easily summarise it in one simple equation.

Expected Value = (Odds / True odds) - 1

It is quite easy to use. The only thing you need is to calculate the true odds of the outcome. You can do this using various models & approaches and then convert your probabilities to odds. Using the formula, you can get two types of answers:
  • positive EV
  • negative EV
Let’s take a closer look. Assume bookmaker odds are 1.90 (9/10) and the true odds are 1.80 (4/5). In that case, your EV is approx. 0.05, or 5%, which is positive. A negative EV happens when your true odds are longer than the bookmaker ones. That could be anything like true odds - 6.00 (5/1), bookmaker odds - 4.50 (7/2), or anything similar. Remember, whenever your true odds are longer than bookmaker odds, your expected value always will be negative!

It is suggested to bet only on the positive EV, which is greater than 0%. Obviously, it is hard to calculate the true odds, and the process of assessing true probabilities is a completely separate topic. However, a good mix of various risk-assessment tools & mathematical betting models pair with dedication and hard work will surely help you achieve your goals. The game of trying to calculate true odds is a continuous process. It is almost impossible to be entirely sure that your calculated odds for an individual event are close to the actual ones or not. However, a good betting model will show its results in the long run since such errors will be cancelled out.
Expected value in footbal
How can we apply expected value to help us betting on football? An excellent way to apply the EV mechanism and its formula to football betting is by taking a look at the opening & closing market odds. You can say that, on average closing, market odds are closer to the true odds than the opening market ones. Coming from that, it would be safe to assume that the difference between these two odds is the actual expected value that the market initially had. Nevertheless, it is not always true that either type of odds is correct or incorrect. We only say that calculating the difference between the two can be used as a reasonable estimation of the market EV, especially when we never know true odds in reality. Thus, let us change the above EV equation and adapt it for the new calculations. The new formula should look the following way:

Expected Value = (Openning Odds / Closing Odds) - 1

You must also keep in mind that both odds can be shorter than the true odds, as well as one of them being shorter & the other one being longer, and vice versa. So, please, be aware of that before calling this method foolish. Nevertheless, while you might face such situations down the road, the above calculations should give you a solid estimation of the amount of Expected Value possessed by the market.

So, how can punters use this method? Your first step in building your working model based on this approach will be data collection. It would be perfect to get access to a particular market’s historical data (opening & closing odds). Of course, the bigger the set, the better! Then, you would need to apply the above formula and calculate the expected value for each chase. That will help you get the idea about how much EV there was in the past, as well as its average. Analyse it and focus on the results with the EV greater than 0%. Estimate what share of the odds had a positive EV, and divide it into smaller segments based on the EV % range. For example, you can do >0%, >2%, >10%, etc. A little spoiler for you, the greater your EV will get, the smaller share of the odds will actually have it, decreasing exponentially.

Hopefully, you will master this method and achieve better results in the future with the help of it. Unfortunately, this method requires some time to get started since it only tells you about how much EV there was after the market closure, or at least at its very closure. Anyways, that would be too late to place a bet at the initial market odds. However, establishing a good model on the market will help you make quite accurate forecasts & beat your online bookmaker right at the market opening. Good luck!

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