Often, the most reliable and exhaustive source of information about sports betting is experienced punters. Each of them would tell you that one of the prerequisites for becoming a successful bettor is to learn how to correctly determine the chances of а team to finish as a winner and to compare these chances with the odds provided by bookmakers. These are the two main operations on which lies the most profitable in the long-term betting strategy – value bets.
Basically, this strategy involves the practice of finding a bet with odds that give you an advantage over the bookie. If you think that an event is much more likely to happen than what the bookmaker’s odds say, then you have a value bet.
Key Terms Related To Value Betting
The expected value of a bet shows the average amount you “expect” to win. This has to do with how much you would win or lose if you make the same bet multiple times. The easiest way to understand what we mean is to look at the following example situation. If we are to calculate the odds of a card color, there is an even money (decimal odds of 2.00) chance of saying ‘black’ or ‘red’ correctly. If you find odds of 2.10 on either black or red, you have a value bet because the 2.10 odds show a greater chance of winning than the true probability.
Let’s take the example of a possible basketball bet situation. Imagine you have the following data in terms of a $10 stake:
- $10 on Chicago Bulls scoring more than 100 points at odds of 2.1 provides a potential profit of $11.
- $10 on Chicago Bulls scoring exactly 100 points at odds of 4.0 provides a potential profit of $30.
- $10 on Chicago Bulls scoring less than 100 points at odds of 3.5 provides a potential profit of $25.
The wager is placed on the >100-points score option that comes with a probability according to the betting odds on offer of 100 : 2.1 = 47.62% or 0.4762. On the other hand, the probability of this >100-points score not to be realized is the sum originating from the other two outcomes which is 0.25 + 0.2857 = 0.5357. Now, look at the below formula:
(Probability of winning) x (Amount gained per wager) – (Probability of losing) x (Amount lost per wager)
With the Chicago Bulls data we already have, the calculations would look like this:
0.4762 x 11 – 0.5357 x 10 = 5.2328 – 5.357 = – 0.1242
What this calculation means is that betting on Chicago Bulls can possibly cause you to lose a little more than $0.12 for every $10 wagered.
As likely as not, you wonder why it is called value betting when the expected value is negative. Keep in mind that a negative EV does not necessarily mean that you will lose in the long run. Let’s go back to the cards we mentioned above. The chances of guessing the color are “built-in” unless there is something seriously wrong. The odds for guessing the correct color should be 2.00 unless the card has been tampered with.
So, what exactly is true probability in the field of sports betting? Before publishing any odds, online bookmakers are trying to assess the statistical chance of all possible outcomes. Rarely, however, are the presented odds resulting from something more than subjective opinions and simple guidance. The challenging task of figuring out the true probability is a key element of successful value betting. It is possible to meet the term as sharp lines or sharp odds which are practically the odds format of the real statistical chance of the bet.
Those who properly determine the true probability are able to place bets on odds that are exceeding the wrong lines provided by some sportsbooks. Thus, they can have an edge and ultimately beat the bookmaker. Despite what we said about the negative EV and long-run profitability, you are much more likely to enjoy a good overall profit if you stick to positive expected values.
NBA Value Betting Strategies
There are two main strategies for basketball value betting, both of which include calculating the “true probability” of an event and determining whether the expected value is positive or negative. To these, we will add a purely subjective practice of some punters, which is based on “indicators” that have no practical relation to the outcome.
Value Betting Based on Odds
The first and perhaps most widely used value betting strategy is based on determining the true odds and looking for bookmakers that offer higher ones. We know this can be a tough task if you are not yet experienced or if you do not have much time. Fortunately, the Internet is full of different websites that collect the necessary information for you and allow you to compare the odds offered by different bookmakers at the same time. We looked at one such platform to find out what the current Philadelphia 76ers’ chances are of winning the NBA Championship. The vast majority of online bookies offer odds of 7/1 with very few deviations.
However, one of the sportsbooks stands out significantly from the others. At the time of writing, SBK comes with odds of 19/2 marked as drifting. Drifting odds are usually given to a team when its probability of winning unexpectedly has acquired a negative tendency usually due to a significant cash flow going on the other side of the market or some new information (such as an injury of a key player) favoring the opponent. Our advice is not to rush into such opportunities right away, but to carefully consider whether the bookies for which you have gathered information are known for being good enough at compiling odds for specific events. Also called “sharps”, you can use these companies for your “base” odds and then look for less efficient (soft) bookmakers that provide you with more generous odds.
Logically, the more value bets you come across, the bigger your chances of winning. Undoubtedly, value betting software puts you in a good position to take advantage of bookmakers’ mistakes when they happen. The advantageous features offered by most software providers are:
- Comparison of the odds provided by multiple online bookmakers,
- A single page to show all relevant information;
- Automatic notification when a value bet above a certain percentage emerges;
- Value bet calculator
- Warnings about upcoming unfavorable bookie’s actions;
- Keeping track of expected values, placed bets, etc.
Value Betting Based on Analyzes
This is a strategy based on the experience gained in betting and its practical application for a competent analysis of factors associated with a particular sporting event. It is extremely useful when finding value bets to have the most in-depth knowledge possible of the sport where you plan to place bets. There are even professional tipsters who make a living by acting as an ‘oracle’ for a particular market within a discipline.
If betting on basketball is not just a type of entertainment for you, but you plan to spend a lot of time and resources on the activity, it would be reasonable to narrow your focus. No matter which method of betting you choose, comprehensive research and capability to ignore personal preferences and emotions are of utmost importance. Otherwise, you will lose money in the long run. Good knowledge of the chosen market is crucial for a successful betting experience, and the only way to achieve it on your own (without specialized software) is to be patient. Experience comes with time, there is no other way.
Value Betting Based on Personal Prejudices
Here comes the time for the abovementioned practice that lies on subjective facts only. Manifestations of cognitive bias are present in various aspects of our daily lives, but the main types relevant to sports betting are gambler’s fallacy, confirmation bias, and ratio bias.
A few words about each of them. Gambler’s fallacy reflects the tendency to take into account patterns in past events that have nothing to do with forecasting a current sporting event. With confirmation bias, things are different. Those who succumb to this type of prejudice look for and implement only facts that support their thesis and ignore information that contradicts it. Excessively self-confident punters often fall into the clutches of this delusion. As regards the ratio bias, it affects betting devotees who prefer a large selection of options over a smaller sample no matter the probability is better with the latter. We believe that the ratio bias follows from the fact that punters do not always know how to calculate the expected probability.
Pros and Cons of NBA Value Betting
Do not worry if you’ve read our article so far and still can’t figure out what value betting is and whether it can help you achieve a long-term profitable betting experience. Assimilating a large amount of new information is not easy at all, so for your convenience, we have made a brief summary in the form of Pros and Cons.
Pros of Practicing Value Betting
- Although not being mostly risk-free as arbitrage betting, value bets result in higher profits in the long run since you are constantly receiving a return for your wagers;
- Value bettors are difficult to detect therefore it is quite easy for them to stay under the radar for long;
- Placing a bet is much more effortless than with other betting strategies since only a single bet has to be made with no rushing involved. What is more, you can practice value betting while on the go only via your cell phone. This would be quite difficult for arbers, if possible at all.
Cons of Value Betting
- There is a lack of a 100% safe bet. It is possible to lose because punters are betting on one outcome only.
- Although it happens relatively less often, it is still possible to be gubbed by a bookmaker. For those of you who come upon this term for the first time, gubbing is when your account is unilaterally limited or closed by a bookie due to you having gained too much from that particular betting platform.
- If you do not use an automatic betting finder, value betting can be very time-consuming given how much information must be taken into account.