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Ligue 1 2019/20: Rennes vs Angers - tactical analysis - tactics

Understanding value betting

The concept of value in betting can often be misconstrued by many, and it is important to understand what value is if you’re looking to turn a profit when gambling. Let’s dive further in to this with our guide to finding value in the market.

To many, it is assumed ‘value betting’ is simply picking a winner, regardless of the price. The reality is that a bet can still be a bad bet, even if it does win.

Odds are driven by traders within a bookmaker, and they will price the specific markets on what they believe the probability of something happening within a football match is. Whether it be the chances of a team winning, a team to have a certain number of corners, or even a player to have a certain number of passes, or tackles in a game.

From a punter’s perspective, the key to finding value is to find a bet you believe has been priced incorrectly, meaning you believe it has a higher probability of occurring than that of the bookmaker. For more information, you can check this post and their value betting guide.

For example, you can calculate the probability of a player scoring a goal in any game given game by considering a multitude of different factors. Once you have decided on what you believe the probability of the player is of scoring a goal is, you can consider whether this is in line with what the bookmaker is offering. To put it simply, you may believe the striker has a one in five chance of scoring in the game, whereas the bookmaker has offered up a price of 9/1. As a result, this would constitute a value bet, as according to the probability calculated, if the match was played out ten times, you believe the player should score twice, whereas the bookies believe they would only score once.

As a result, over a long run, and given that you are calculating the probability correctly, you should theoretically turn a profit, thus making the bet a value one.

Trying to find value in football is tough, especially on the mainstream markets, as these are the markets with the highest interest, and the largest volume of data available to a bookmaker in order to price correctly. Whilst the Premier League , La Liga and other top leagues may have the most-watched games, it is not always the best for value and it is worth looking into other markets as well.

The use of statistical data, such as expected goals, has been a key driver in the move away from form to dictate the prices of markets, particularly the win and goal markets, and as a result these are the markets most likely to be priced correctly, and hardest to work value out of.

Expected goals works out the exact probability of any given shot in a football match of finding the back of the net, and whilst it isn’t a perfect metric, it as scientific and accurate as a bookmaker can find to quantifying a team’s attacking and defensive threat, and can help bookies, as well as punters, to identify where the anomalies in form and goal-scoring maybe for a side.

Value can be found in these markets, however the rise of niche markets, such as that of bookings, corners, or even individual player statistics has opened up a new avenue for finding value. With the tactical side, and context of one game to another, changing so massively, by having an in-depth knowledge of a side’s players, or being able to read how a game will play, can lead you to finding the edge on the bookies in these markets, and thus the value within a market.

These markets are often priced purely off statistics, much like that of goal and win markets, with very little outside influence factored in. However, if you have the knowledge that a team will set up in a certain way tactically, or look to target a player on a certain flank, it can open up so many more possibilities, especially that of the individual markets. Places like Opta are a great source for stats and research.

Prices between bookmakers can often differ, and it is always important to make sure you are getting the best value for your bet. Part of value betting is ensuring you take the best price available, so the use of odds comparison sites is important in guaranteeing this, particularly when looking for long term profit. Prices are particularly volatile on the aforementioned statistical markets, where opinion plays a massive part, so being aware of the different options is key.


It is important to understand that a value bet doesn’t necessarily have to be a winner. Whether it is a value bet is determined before the market goes live, the skill is determining what constitutes a value bet. If you are able to master this skill, you will see a long-term return on your investment, and not be left guessing and punting on the short prices bookmakers may offer.

Whether it is a value bet does come down to your own individual judgement, but if you believe you have the statistical data, or outside of the box thinking, that otherwise suggests that the bet has a higher probability of landing than the bookmaker, you should come up trumps.