How to use value betting in your odds comparison

Value BettingFor every event that takes place, bookmakers will produce the odds for each competitor in that event to be the winner. These odds reflect the probability of a competitor coming out the eventual winner. But as a gambler, you have to remind yourself that those odds reflect the bookmakers opinions not yours.

As a result there is always going to be a difference of opinion on the odds that are produced. If the gambler believes the odds of a certain competitor winning are better than the odds that are on offer, then that is what value betting is all about. It’s a question of looking for the competitors that you believe are overpriced and in your opinion should be a shorter price.

For example, you want to place a bet on the Men’s Singles tournament at Wimbledon. It’s likely that Novak Djokovic will be a short-priced favourite to be the winner. That means there may well be some value prices out there.  Andy Murray may be available at 7-2 and Roger Federer at 6-1.  Having looked at those odds you come to the conclusion that at 6-1 Federer is a value bet. He’s won the tournament several times in the past and if in form, could well win again, especially if Djokovic or Murray got knocked out early on.

What you have to remember with Value Betting is that it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be backing the competitor who will be the favourite or one of the favourites. It can happen because if you were to see Djokovic at 6-4 to win Wimbledon, you may well think that he should be a lot shorter than that considering his recent record and is a great bet.

More often than not you may find yourself finding the value in one of the outsiders in the event. This can often be the case when betting on horse racing, especially races with a lot of runners. You see a horse that has odds of 5-1 to win but in your opinion it should be being offered at a shorter price and has a 33% chance of winning.  You decide to place a bet on the horse but the fact you believe it has a 33% chance of winning means there is a 67% chance of it losing.

If you were to keep placing value bets on horses at the odds of 5-1 that you believe has a 33% chance of winning, this is the likely situation.  In three races you may get one winner at 5-1 but back two losers. If you stake 10€ on each race, you stake 30€ and get a return of 60€.

Examples of Value Betting

If a team has been struggling for form then their odds of winning their next game will lengthen. However, you may well believe that there is good reason for them to bounce back to form and they may be good value to win. For example, Arsenal may have gone two games without a win and now take on Aston Villa at home. Usually they may be 1-3 to win the game but because of their poor form, they are instead offered at 1-2.  You believe Arsenal are going to get back to winning ways because they have a couple of injured players making their comeback this week so you decide that 1-2 is a value bet.

In horse racing, there are some horses that do much better on certain courses than others. This week they are racing on  one of their favourite tracks so you may believe the odds given are higher than they should be.  Take a look at the form of the horses competing. It may be that one runner has been racing well but had bad luck in running, perhaps being blocked and denied a good run. So when the bookmakers give odds of 10-1 on it winning its next race then that may well be a value bet if it gets better luck this time.

Also look at the form of the other competitors in events. The favourites for a horse race may, in your opinion. not be as good as the bookmakers think. They may lack experience over the distance, have had too long between races or simply in your opinion, are over-rated. With doubts in your mind over the top horses in the market, that means other runners may well be available at higher odds than you feel they should be.

Each-Way Value Betting

It’s not always the case that you need to back a winner to make a profit. Each-way betting can be profitable. Handicap races in horse racing can have fantastic value bets in them. Sometimes even the favourite is priced at 5-1 and some at Royal Ascot can even see the favourite go off at 10-1.

With such good prices available it is a good idea to back selections each-way rather than a straight win bet.  If there are 16 runners then bookmakers will pay on the first four runners home at a quarter of the odds.  Sometimes bookmakers even offer to pay up on the first five runners home, this often is the case with a race like the Grand National.

So in races like that, you may decide to back a horse at the price of 28-1. You believe that price is good value but feel it is best to back it each-way. If you place 5€ each-way bet, your total stake is 10€ – 5€ on the win and 5€ on the place.  Your horse finishes third which means the 5€ win bet goes down. However, the 5€ place bet is a winner and at a quarter of the odds you have 5€ on at 7-1. This gives you a return of 40€ (35€ plus the 5€ stake back) and a handy profit of 30€ on the race.  That’s much better than the 10€ loss you’d have suffered if you’d just decided to place a 10€ win bet.

Also take a look at races where there is a very short-priced favourite in an eight-runner field. The favourite might be 1-3 and the second favourite 6-1. The other runners will be even higher odds and there could well be some good value there especially for each-way betting. It may well be that the odds on favourite flops and you might even get a very good priced winner.

Each-way betting can be carried out in a wide variety of sports.  Golf tournaments have a lot of competitors and the price of the favourite can sometimes be 10-1. So take a good look at the form and seek out the value. Just like those horses that do better on certain tracks, there are golfers who struggle on most courses but do well on others.  Sometimes, especially in the Major tournaments you can get a return on players who finish as low as sixth in the tournament.

Spotting a Value Bet

Having a good knowledge of the sport you are betting on is always important. Knowing your statistics and trends is always a good talent to have. So here’s an idea that might help you. Do some research on an event, say next month’s snooker tournament and work out your own book for the tournament. Then have a look at what the bookmakers are actually offering. Then compare your odds (opinions) with their odds (opinions) and look for the players you think are being overpriced by the bookmaker. There’s your value bets that may well produce a profit for you. The larger the difference between your odds and the actual odds, the more value there is in your view.


The concept of finding value bets can also be used on the exchanges. Work out which competitors are a smaller price with the bookmakers than you believe they should be.  These should be considered a lay because of your belief they are being underpriced. For example, a horse in your opinion should be 8-1 but the bookmakers have it priced up at 5-1 The more a selection is underpriced then the better a lay it is going to be.

Advantages of Value Betting

Most of the bets you place should be considered value bets. There must be some value or you wouldn’t be putting the bet on at all. You may want to look for value but also remember to back the selections that are fairly priced, especially if you think it’s going to win.  If something represents poor value – priced up at 10-1 when you think it should be 14-1 – then it’s not a good idea to place a bet on it.  Value betting can be profitable, especially if you go each-way, a few successful each-way bets on horses priced over 10-1 will soon see your profits climbing. Even if they don’t win then at those prices you are still guaranteed a profit as long as it’s placed. I used to put a lot of bets on horses priced at least 4-1 or 5-1 knowing if they were placed I’d be getting my stake back and if one of them actually won I’d have a tidy profit.

Disadvantages of Value Betting

If you don’t know a great deal about what you are betting on, then value betting isn’t really a good idea. You can’t just look at a 20-runner handicap and select a horse that is good value and can provide you with a profit. It takes plenty of research to come up with some selections that you feel may be good value.

In the short-term you might struggle to make a profit and you have to prepare yourself for a losing run. So if you have a small betting bank, don’t put too much on until that decent priced winner or each-way gamble comes along to save you. Whatever you do, don’t go chasing losses because that is never a good idea.  They say patience is a virtue and with value betting that’s definitely the case.

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